Re: Johannine ARCH (was Jn.1:1b word order)

Date: Tue Feb 10 1998 - 19:31:58 EST

In a message dated 98-02-10 14:29:37 EST, Jonathan wrote:

<< So I think that it is probably true that ARCH does not always mean the
 absolute beginning, and that even EN ARCH may refer to things like "in the
 beginning of the barley harvest", as well as the absolute beginning. The
 context of John 1:1 gives us more hints as to what is intended: all things
 were made through the LOGOS, and nothing that was made was made without
 him. So the LOGOS seems to have existed before all things were created,
 just as God seems to have existed before he created the heavens and the
 earth in Genesis 1:1. >>

This brings up another issue, namely, to what does "all things" refer? If, as
most of us seem to agree, John is drawing from the teaching of Genesis 1, then
"all things" would appear to be limited to those physical things (namely, the
heavens and the earth and all that is in them) spoken of in the first few
chapters of Genesis. "All things," then, may carry a meaning similar to that
of Psalm 8:5, being limited to all physical things.

<<John 1:1-2 does not tell us that Jesus was created
 first, then all other things things were created through him; it says that
 Jesus was in the beginning, and all things were created through him. When I
 compare this to passages where EN ARCH does NOT refer to the absolute
 beginning, these other passages clearly indicate which other beginning is
 intended. In John 1:1, like Genesis 1:1, there is no such indication.>>

If John has the same time period in mind as the writer of Genesis, then it is
safe to assume that the things created in each context are the same. In other
texts where ARKH is used in reference to creation, such as 2 Peter 3:4,
Hebrews 1:0-12, and others, it always refers to various physical "things."
Since these creations range from the heavens, to the earth, to humans
themselves, I believe the "beginning" of Genesis, John, and elsewhere, is a
time period of unspecified duration, in which, among other things, God created
the physical universe through the LOGOS.

Greg Stafford
University of Wisconsin

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