"It is a common but patent misreading of the opening of John's Gospel to read it as if it said: 'In the beginning was the Son, and the Son was with God and the Son was God' (John 1:1). What has happened here is the substitution of Son for Word (Greek logos), and thereby the Son is made a member of the Godhead which existed from the beginning. But if we follow carefully the thought of John's prologue, it is the Word that pre-existed eternally with God and is God. The same Word that made all things and is the light that enlightens human kind 'became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father'
(John 1:14; cf. vv. 3 and 8)."
Colin Brown, "Trinity and Incarnation: In search of Contemporary Orthodoxy", Ex Auditu (7), 1991.
This patent misreading continues to this very day. Now a little testimony ...
Years ago, when by the grace of GOD, I came to the understanding of who Jesus truly is ... a human being who is GOD's only-begotten Son; and that he was not (a pre-existing) Almighty God or a member of a triune Godhead ... in praying to GOD I asked "how is it that John 1:1-3 reads the way it does??" I was convinced by this time, that Jesus did not pre-exist! He was conceived in the womb of Mary howbeit by the supernatural power of GOD, yet he did not pre-exist his conception just as no human being pre-exists their conception; I was convinced that John was a monotheistic Jew ... I was convinced that GOD alone created all things [Isa 44.24], that He alone was the Creator; I was convinced that John would not contradict Matthew & Luke who have no knowledge of a pre-existing Messiah, but present him being conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of GOD. So why does John 1:1-3 read the way it does????
I asked GOD about this apparent inconsistency to pure monotheism. Because the way John's prologue appears in our English Bibles, on first impression, it would appear that the Messiah may have been the Creator!! However, I knew by then, that this could not be. Jesus never said he was the Creator but quite the opposite, e.g. (Mark 10:6) But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. (Mark 13:19) For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
My question was answered!! I discovered shortly afterwards whilst surfing the Net, an article which presented the fact that the majority of the English Bibles before the KJV translation of 1611 beginning with Tyndale all translated John's prologue as follows ...
(John 1:1-4) In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by IT; and without IT was not any thing made that was made. 4 In IT was life; and the life was the light of men.
Did you see that? i.e.
All things were made by IT ... that is exactly what 'a word'
A word is an IT not a him!
word is not a person! A word is a ...
Therefore Tyndale translated the Greek text in the sense of what John meant. GOD created all things by His word. GOD spoke and it was done. Compare: (Psa 33:6) By the word of YAHWEH were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. (Psa 33:9) For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
Anyways I was
stunned. Of course, I did not take the article's word for it. I was Berean about
it. I searched libraries and researched this matter, to see if these
things were so. And sure enough, from what
I could see ...
Tyndale 1525, Tyndale 1534, Matthew's Bible 1537, The Great Bible 1539, The Geneva Bible 1560, the Bishop's Bible (1568) ...
all had 'it' in John 1:3-4
Sadly after the Catholic Rheims NT was printed in 1582 with him in vv. 3-4; it appears that the KJV translators followed that trend ... placed 'him' in vv. 3-4; and thus, the patent misreading continues.
Nevertheless the majority of the English NTs all had 'it' ... thus the readers of Tyndale, Geneva bibles, etc (no doubt, the majority being trinitarian) would not automatically assume that John 1.3-4 was talking about Jesus, but rather, was talking about the word of GOD, which when spoken, all things came into existence. Granted, in Greek grammar, Greek words generally have a gender, logos being male. Thus a translator could indeed use 'him'. However, many words in Greek have genders & when speaking of attributes & genderless things such as ... light, wisdom (feminine in Greek), rock, tree, etc ... the translator ought to supply the appropriate pronoun i.e. IT. However, no doubt, influenced by their trinitarian theology that 'Jesus, God the Son' is the Creator, the translators chose 'him'. But from the beginning it was not so!!!
Personally, this answered my question, I could now see that Tyndale & others were true to the original sense of John. I realized that one could legitimately and being true to the Greek text, translate John 1:3 as All things were made by IT; and without IT; as shown by Tyndale and others. IT is the pronoun which corresponds to what a word is! The monotheist apostle John was not talking about another creator, he was not talking about the Messiah in his opening verses; he was talking about GOD's powerful spoken word through which GOD made all things. In the process of time, the word/logos of GOD was made flesh, resulting in the conception of Jesus the Messiah.
I quote Kuschel (Born Before All Time?, p. 382) ...
From this it may be concluded that he [Jesus] is the Logos in person, the wisdom of God in human form. ... We may therefore follow Leonhard Goppelt in seeing the focus of the content of the prologue as this: 'The logos of the prologue becomes Jesus; Jesus was the logos become flesh, not the logos as such.'
Anyways, here are some examples of the pre-KJV translations that I speak of ...
- Tyndale 1525: http://alleluya.com/TyNT/jn.htm#1:1
"word" was not capitalized.
I will close with a quote from James Dunn:
The conclusion which seems to emerge from our analysis thus far is that it is only with verse 14 that we can begin to speak of the personal Logos. ... Prior to verse 14 we are in the same realm as pre-Christian talk of Wisdom and Logos [Word], the same language and ideas that we find in the Wisdom tradition and in Philo, where, as we have seen, we are dealing with personifications rather than persons, personified actions of God rather than an individual divine being as such. The point is obscured by the fact that we have to translate the masculine Logos as 'he' throughout the poem. But if we translated logos as God's utterance instead, it would become clearer that the poem did not necessarily intend Logos in vv. 1-13 to be thought of as a personal divine being. In other words, the revolutionary significance of v. 14 may well be that it marks ... the transition from impersonal personification to actual person. This indeed is the astounding nature of the poem's claim. If it had asserted simply that an individual divine being had become man, that would have raised fewer eyebrows. It is the fact that the Logos poet has taken language which any thoughtful Jew would recognize to be the language of personification and has identified it with a particular person, as a particular person, that would be so astonishing: the manifestation of God become a man! God's utterance not merely come through a particular individual, but actually become that one person, Jesus of Nazareth!