John – nothing but questions

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
– NAB

I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t done any bible study stuff and have only read the parts I’ve read just as narrative stories without much analysis, so bear with me.

The main point of this prologue seems to be that Jesus is, as the intro to the NAB notes, “the preexistent and incarnate Word of God who has revealed the Father to us.”

Now come the dumb questions … Is Jesus the same as the Word? If he has always existed, why was he manifested only at that one particular place, time? What is the darkness? What is the significance of “light” to Quakers? Thanks πŸ™‚

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10 responses

  1. Nothing to be embarrassed about — God speaks to us all and sometimes its easier to hear him when we don’t have preexisting studies in our head telling us what it said.There are no dumb questions. To my knowledge, its always been understood that the Word is Jesus. Since John is writing about the life of Jesus, his prologue is also about Jesus. As to the manifestation of Jesus, I think this is arguable. I have heard some claim that Jesus was ‘the Angel of the Lord’ that appeared at times in the Old Testament, but then I’ve had people roll their eyes at me when I said this.The darkness could be man’s sinfulness, our propensity to look at only ourselves and our materiality and our great efforts to satisfy our material needs without regard to others. The light is significant to us all, of course…I’ll let the Quakers answer your question but I think it has to do with that spark of God within each of us (others might refer to it as the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit). The Quaker phrase I love is ‘holding you in the light’ which seems to me a bit gentler and more expansive than “I’ll pray for you.”

  2. The Word of God is the pre-existent second person of the Triune God (according to standard Trinitarian doctrine). The Word became flesh in Jesus at a specific place and time. They are now eternally one in the resurrected Christ.This speaks to me — but in a way that is mainly metaphorical. I think its also true. But its truth as metaphor is more important to me.The Light is the Word is the spirit of Christ who illumines our consciences and teaches us what God wills for us to know.

  3. As Marjorie said: no dumb questions:You said, “What is the significance of “light” to Quakers? Thanks”. My quaker understanding is that light is a metaphor for God, for Christ, for the Spirit. Many Quakers use it largely as a substitute for these other ones; they’re more comfortable with Light than with God.This can be seen as a reaching out toward a universal recognition of the Light in everyone, regardless of their theology (or lack thereof).There is that of God in everyone, the universal Quaker motto, even a creed perhaps.”Holding someone in the Light”, as Marjorie pointed out is a synonym for praying for someone. (Many people find “God talk” offensive. We don’t want to offend so we say, “I’ll hold you, him, her, them in the Light”.)Dear Crystal, I see the light in you waxing every day into the “fullness of the stature of Christ”. Praise God.

  4. Thanks, Marjorie, David, Larry . Of you all (including Meredith and RW), I’m probably the only one a fairly recent christian and I’m trying to catch up on the scriptural info. I like that Quaker phrase – holding one in the light – sounds warm and nurturing.The trinity – now there’s a subject! I don’t understand the theology of it but I’m starting to understand the experiental side … the differences in prayer between being with Jesus and the father. Still drawing a blank on the holy spirit. I’m very happy to be part of this study group πŸ™‚

  5. The Holy Spirit is the one whispering in your ear to remind you what to say while you pray it.

  6. Speaking of poetry and the triune God, have you guys seen this one?John Donne BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend; That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new. I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due, Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end, Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend, But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue. Yet earely’I love you,’and would be loved faine, But am betroth’d unto your enemie: Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe; Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free, Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

  7. I recall a conversation at Meeting where someone used that poem to argue the church supported patriarchy, the oppression of women, and furthered the myth that women want to be raped.I take her point — though I think she was pipping the poem out of its context.

  8. wow, kwake, sounds like an interesting meeting!To me, this poem speaks of the yearning to be with God and the fight against self. It uses imagery of violence and fighting because that is imagery that we can understand — it speaks of passion. We want to be overwhelmed with love for God and its almost as if that is the only way we can get out of ourselves to come to him. And it would be so much easier if he would just take us by force than for us to work to get to him. But it seems to me what he really wants is for us to want him enough to go through the hardship to get to him. He’ll meet us halfway if we even try, though. I would seriously take issue with the idea that this poem speaks of woman’s desire to be dominated and brutalized. How come no one every speaks of a man’s desire to be beaten and robbed and enslaved?

  9. Yeah, K, interesting meeting :-). I agree with Marjorie – after all, this is written by a man about (I assume) himself. Actually, I learned of the poem from Fr. Marsh (spiritual director) … he mentioned there was a mystical tradition of poetic “romance” … writings by people such as St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and even the old testament, that speaks of romantic love/passion and even seduction … “You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; You have overpowered me; You were the stronger” (Jer 20:7)

  10. Marjorie said: “to be overwhelmed with love for God and its almost as if that is the only way we can get out of ourselves to come to him.”Maybe the only emotional way, but I like the quote from The Screwtape letters, that I’ve probably already used here: “Be not mistaken, Wormwood; the cause of our Father Below is never in greater jeopardy that when one of these miserable Christians looks upon a desolate universe from which every vestige of God has disappeared— and still obeys.” I guess that’s something like the “dark night of the soul”.

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