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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 into
being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light
of all people. The light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness
did not overcome it. (John 1:1–5)
John’s emphasis on Jesus as the Word
of God incarnated is indebted both to Greek philosophy and to his
Jewish heritage. The Greeks developed the concept of a divine force
governing the balance between binary opposites in the universe.
They called this force Logos, best translated as “Word” or “Reason.”
In many Greek conceptions, it is Logos that determines the balance
between light and darkness, flesh and spirit. A world without Logos,
the Greeks believed, would be chaos. The influence of the concept
of the Logos was felt strongly by the Jewish sect knows as the Essenes,
ascetics who believed that the world was shaped by struggles between opposing
forces. John takes his philosophical inspiration, which manifests
itself through his Christology and theology, from the Greeks via
the Essenes. Jesus is the Word, the Logos, who is the instrument
of total victory of light over darkness, its binary opposite: “What
has come into being in him was life. And the life was the light
of all people” (John 1:4).
John’s reference to the Essene and Greek systems of philosophy to
explain Jesus’s origin and significance is reflective of his Gospel’s
careful pedagogical style. More than the authors of the other Gospels,
John is concerned with explaining significance rather than recording