Re: John 1:1

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Feb 02 1998 - 06:51:36 EST

At 5:16 PM -0600 2/1/98, Lex Kuhta wrote:
>One other thing to remember is that the "prolog" of John was probably
>written after the "historical" sections as an introduction to the gospel
>as it was on its way to publication, so to speak. Just because something
>is presented first in the gospel doesn't mean it has no context. And the
>gospel is probably addressed to believers who have probably already
>heard John preach, so it wasn't like it was a big surprise to them to
>hear the concept of LOGOS in the prolog.

I think that both these assertions depend upon unprovable assumptions about
the author of the Johannine gospel, his/her identity, and the original
community for which he/she wrote. It has been argued (although I don't
think this has been proven either, that the Johannine prologue existed
independently as a non-Christian liturgical piece into which the Johannine
author has inserted a few interpolations (Bultmann, for instance, has
argued this, but he's not alone). At any rate, there's no evidence for the
chronological relationship of the body of the Johannine text and the
prologue to each other, one way or the other.

>There was no doubt as to who the LOGOS was in the mind of the writer.
>1 John 1 is a good reminder of that.

Raymond Brown (_Community of the Beloved Disciple_) argues that 1 John 1:1
was written in the third generation of the community after the schism
referred to in 1 John in order to insist upon a LOGOS become SARX against a
docetic interpretation held by the schismatics who had left the community.

>The original audience had plenty of context. We are the ones in serach
>of context and it's a big job to enter the biblical world from several
>thousand years away.

This, I think, is a pretty safe statement!

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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