22 March 2014

Prologue of John's Gospel, an alternative

In chapter 1 of the Gospel of John, the writer introduces his story with a prologue which reads (in the Authorized Version of James I, King of England and head of its Church):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The word here in the original Greek is “Logos”.

Unlike some others in Greek, the word Logos can be translated several ways.  Logos can be translated as “study of”, like in “gelogia” (geology), or “study of earth”.  Logos can be translated as “word”, like in the opening of the work known as the Gospel of John.  Logos can also be translated as “Reason”.

Another word, this time in the KJV, needs to be translated into modern English.  Few people, especially among American fundamentalist Christians, who try to interpret the meaning of the word “comprehended” understand that in the 16th and 17th centuries “comprehend” did not mean “to understand” but “to overcome”.

Now the early modern translators of the Bible into English could have validly rendered Logos as “Reason” instead of “Word”, producing the following, in modern English:

In the beginning was Reason.  And Reason was with God and Reason was God.  Reason was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Reason, because nothing could be made without it.  In Reason was life, and that life was the light of humanity.  The light of that Reason shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

Imagine that.

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