What is the Word?

I know very little about religion. Although my smart-ass comments may appear, once in a while, as profound, I’m really ignorant in matters of theology and religion. After all, I have no formal background in these fields that scholars spend their whole life exploring. So, forgive me if this post comes across as pontificating on something I’d better leave to the scholars; but I cannot help wondering what the Word is. I mean, when they say, “In the beginning, there was the Word,” what exactly is the word?

The verse, John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, is again something people have spent much time researching and pondering over. My cursory search unearthed a couple of lines of thought. These lines were mostly concerned with the accuracy of the translation of the verse from Greek, which was complicated by the lack of “the” or “a” articles in the original language. So the verse could be translated as, for instance, “The Word was the God,” consistent with the monotheist notion of Christianity. Or it could be “The Word was a god,” giving quite a different, perhaps pagan, coloration to the issue.

For obvious (atheistic) reasons, I am not interested in this aspect of the verse, nor in these lines of thought. I found another translation, allegedly more literal, that went like, “When the beginning began, the Word was already there.” This suited my purpose better. Still, what exactly was this Word?

My understanding of this statement is as follows. In the philosophy of language, it can be argued that life, universe and everything exists in language, in thoughts, in your brain. The term “language” as defined here doesn’t just mean the communication tool, it also encompasses your thoughts and ideas. It is the vehicle of your thought process. In the absence of language, you have no thoughts, only animal instincts. You have no conscious awareness, only unthinking reactions to your surroundings. You don’t know that you exist, you don’t know that the world exists. The nothingness that engulfs you in the absence of a language is most poignantly depicted in the inspiring story of Helen Keller, coming up in a few days.

In my view, the “Word” that was there in the beginning is language, the ensemble of your thoughts and ideas, and the thought-processing mechanism. It creates our reality. Before we had language, we had no reality; we had nothing. And John 1:1 is a statement of intention to attribute this world of reality, or the opposite of nothingness, created by language to God. And, to me, this statement is the clearest proof that the saint knew how god was born. Obviously, I am rushing in where angels fear to tread. This view of mine will not be embraced (or even tolerated) by anybody who believes in the theological meaning attached to this text of scripture. And to them, I humbly point out that it is just a view, a mere mortal’s view at that! It probably only goes to show that “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose!”


2 thoughts on “What is the Word?”

  1. With respect to the reading and meaning of John 1:1, it may interest you to know that, for the past 17+ years (as of 8/09), I’ve been attempting to collect together every various version/translation of this verse I can find, not only to document their different readings, but to also list in detail the different explanations offered for their differences. Some time next year I hope to eventually publish my findings. To learn more about this, and to keep up with its progress, I invite you (and your readers) to visit: http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

    Until then, when it comes to the rendering of the third clause as, “and the Word was a god” (as you mentioned above), often it is argued that such a rendering would certainly fly in the face of the strict, Jewish monotheistic system of belief, and yet, this quote might prove to shed some light on that particular notion:

    “The Hebrew for ‘gods’ (‘elohîm) could refer to various exalted beings besides Yahweh [or, Jehovah], without implying any challenge to monotheism,…”

    As taken from: Blomberg, Craig L. (b.?-d.?). “The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary.” (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, c2002), “The feast of Dedication” ([John] 10:22-42), p. 163. BS2615.6.H55 B56 2002 / 2001051563.

    Agape, Alan.

    1. Thank you for posting your comment, Alan. It is really nice to hear from someone with such deep knowledge of this verse.

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