Friday, July 22, 2011

Logos, Word and why John is the only NT writer to address Jesus as the Word.

As I venture to write this I know that almost all of you have read the writings of great scholars, textual critics, church fathers (Irenaeus, Eusebius ...) and you are all more knowledgeable than me. Requesting you to forgive my misadventure, I present what I have studied from the Word of God. I have this confidence that it is neither scholars nor church fathers who judge me but the word that Jesus spoke - Jn 12:48.

No, not again, those esoteric Memra and Targum stuff!


Any discussion about Logos (λόγος, Greek for word) inevitably takes one to detailed discussions on Memra (Aramaic for "word") and Targum (Aramaic version of Old Testament). Try to read all those stuff and I am sure you will come out with nothing! Or at best, you will be more confused than you were before reading them! We need to find answers from the Bible (the word of God).

Isa 34:16  Seek and read from the book of the LORD: Not one of these shall be missing; none shall be without her mate...

With this blessed assurance let us seek the answer for our question: Why John alone addressed Jesus as the Word (Logos)?


Personification of Word of God in the Old Testament.


We can see hundreds of verses where we are told that "the word of the LORD came" to so-and-so. The first instance of this is in:

Gen 15:1 After these things the wordH1697 of the LORDH3068 came unto Abram in a vision..



We keep meeting the same combination of words more than 250 times in the books of the prophets like Isaiah (38:4), Jeremiah (1:2, 1:4, 1:11 ... ), Ezekiel (1:3, 3:16, 6:1...) and Zechariah (1:1, 1:7, 4:6, 4:8 ...)


Though the syntax or structure of these verses are no different from a person coming to another, it may be argued that "the word of the LORD came X" boils down to "the LORD spoke unto X". Yes, it amounts to the same. That is the case with the Memra and Targum as well.



Were Apostles and NT writers well aware of Aramaic scriptures?



Most of the scholars want us to believe that all the Apostles were well aware of Hebrew and Aramaic (Targum is in Aramaic) scriptures. 


We can see from the scriptures that Jesus and the disciples used to speak in Aramaic (Mar 5:41, Mar 15:34) rather than Hebrew. We do not find Jesus or disciples speaking Hebrew anywhere (the only instance Jesus uttered anything Hebrew was in the vision given to Paul on the way to Damascus - Act 26:14).  

Probably the only other language that Jesus spoke was Greek, while addressing a woman of Greek origin in Mat 7:25, 26 (unless, of course, the women knew Aramaic as well - which is more likely. An Indian who stays in the USA is more likely to speak English to his neighbors than his  neighbors speak to him in Hindi).

Scholars claim that the disciples were highly educated - although there is nothing in the scriptures prove such claims. One even said that apostle John was a Levite, because Jn 18:15 says that he was known to the high priest. You may be known to Mark Zuckerberg, but does that make you Harvard educated OR a co-founder of Facebook? Jesus said that God has hidden things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. (Mat 11:25) Paul also talks about God not choosing the wise of this world. We can safely say that the disciples were ordinary men, definitely not highly educated!

The state of ordinary men in the days of Jesus is well exemplified by a small incident at Golgotha:

Mat 27:46) About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
47) And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, "This man is calling Elijah."
...
49) But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him."

What Jesus said was in Aramaic, it was part of Jewish Targum, but still it was unknown to common citizen of the day! There is hardly any reason to think that the disciples where anywhere superior to these ordinary men of their days!


If all the disciples were knowledgeable about Targum and knew that there is a personification of word of God and also that the expression points to Jesus Christ, all of them should have used it to give extra strength to their claims that their teacher is in fact the Messiah!

Unless someone can come up with some logical and scripturally viable explanation, none of the apostles were aware of Memra tradition.


Where did John get the Logos concept?


Critics of the Bible would claim that many of the concepts in the Bible are plagiarized from earlier traditions (eg: Philo of Alexandria). But for a child of God it is amply clear that all the scriptures are inspired by God (2Ti 3:16). So we need to obtain the answers from the scriptures and not from Targum or any other tradition or extra Biblical sources.


There are 316 verses in which the word Logos (λόγος - G3056) is used in the New Testament. Of these 61 verses are from the writings of John (the gospel, 3 epistles and the revelation). If you have a good Bible software, like e-sword, try searching for G3056 and name and you will see that there are only 3 verses written by John that has both the words appearing together (Jn 17:6; Rev 3:8; Rev 19:13).

Please read Rev 19:11-16. Here is the most important verse:

Rev 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

The passage is clearly talking about Jesus, unless someone can point out another person or entity that matches the description of the passage.

The Revelation (Apocalypse) was exclusively given to John and precisely the same is the reason that John alone addressed Jesus as the Word (Logos).


Repercussions


This finding has a serious repercussion: it indicates (or even proves) that the Revelation was written before the gospel of John. I think you might have felt this. I may be found as challenging the views of Irenaeus. All that I say is, I am accountable to the Word of God than any church father or scholar. (unless, of course, someone can prove that extra Biblical writings have primacy over the scriptures, as for me they have no value at all).



In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal