Re: Johannine ARCH (answer to Jonathan)

From: Steven Cox (
Date: Wed Feb 11 1998 - 06:47:05 EST

        Hello again Jonathan
        I don't normally get involved in John1:1 disection
        but as I started this sub-thread I'd better answer :-)

At 18:55 98/02/10 -0500, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>> It may be that part of this is subjective.
>Quite possibly. But I'm a little confused by what people are suggesting.
>Are people actually suggesting that John did not believe Jesus was there
>before all material things were created?

        Looks like it, but myself I wasn't proposing any chronology.

        All I am suggesting is that ARCH in John1:1 probably draws
        on a number of possible sources in roughly this order :
        (a) Gen1:1 LXX
        (b) 1John1:1
        (c) other Johannine uses of ARCH
        (d) Mark 1:1 (or Q?)
        (e) Luke 1:2 (?)
        (f) extra-Biblical Jewish uses (maybe?)
        (g) extra-Biblical non-Jewish uses (unlikely?)

        Where that suggestion leads is that there is more to EN ARCHi
        than a simple chronological statement "At the big bang was
        Jesus". I realise that none of the participants in this thread
        would say that in such a crude terms but that is the way many
        Asian Bibles (Chinese, Korean in particular) say it, and John1:1
        does tend to be used as a proof text (yawn!) rather than read
        as the first stanza in a poem.

>Is this belief derived from John 1?

        No, from 1John1:1, which most would concede was written by
        the same author and is addressed to an audience familiar
        with the Gospel of John (if not Luke1:2 and Mark1:1).

>If so, what contextual clues are there to support that belief? I would
>think that for this question, the context would far outweight the nuances
>of the word as found in other places.

        Yes, but if you'll forgive me that is exactly the point:
        the context should be local, but we habitually bring our
        context to 1:1 from an external source (i.e. Gen1:1 LXX).
        What internal chronological context does John provide?
        None as far as I can see (unless it is Christ's ministry and
        John the Baptist.. though that is based on a block reading of
        the whole prologue v1-18 as one concept)

        The LXX is verbally relevant context, but to vs 1-2 only.
        And as the other key terms in the Johannine prologue (QEOS,
        LOGOS, FWS, ZWH, KOSMOS, SARX etc.) are developed and
        redefined throughout the author's Gospel and epistles that
        follow, so it is not unreasonable to apply the same process
        to ARCH.

        If the above is vague and wishy-washy, apologies, I'm just
        off to eat. In a word the point is that John1:1~18 is less a
        chronological proof text, and more a statement of the priority
        the Mosaic EN ARCHi, and we know that is John's agenda for
        that is where the argument of the prologue concludes.


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