18.104.22.168 John 1:1
Another verse quoted in defense of the “Trinity” is the verse of John 1:1 :
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
When I first learned of this verse it appeared to me that I had finally found my elusive goal. However, after substantial research into Christian theological literature, I would later come to learn that this verse too can not be interpreted to justify a “triune” God. My own experience has shown that this verse is the one most popularly quoted by most Christians in defense of the Trinity. For this reason I shall spend a little more time in it’s analysis than in the analysis of the other verses.
First of all, it is quite obvious from simply reading the above verse that even in the very best case, this verse speaks only of a “Duality” not a “Trinity.” Even the most resolute conservative Christian will never claim to find in this verse any mention whatsoever of a “merging” of a Holy Ghost with God and “the Word.” So even if we were to accept this verse at face value and just have faith, even then, we find ourselves commanded to believe in a “Duality” and not a “Trinity.” But let us see if this verse does in fact even command us to believe in a “Duality.” To do this we need to notice the following points:
1) Mistranslation of the text:
In the “original” Greek manuscripts (Did the disciple John speak Greek?), “The Word” is only described as being “ton theos”(divine/a god) and not as being “ho theos” (The Divine/The God). A more faithful and correct translation of this verse would thus read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was divine” (If you read the New World Translation of the Bible you will find exactly this wording).
Similarly, in “The New Testament, An American Translation” this verse is honestly presented as
“In the beginning the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was divine.”
The New Testament, An American Translation, Edgar Goodspeed and J. M. Powis Smith, The University of Chicago Press, p. 173
And again in the dictionary of the Bible, under the heading of “God” we read
“Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated ‘the word was with the God [=the Father], and the word was a divine being.'”
The Dictionary of the Bible by John McKenzie, Collier Books, p. 317
In yet another Bible we read:
“The Logos (word) existed in the very beginning, and the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine”
The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, by Dr. James Moffatt
Please also see “The Authentic New Testament” by Hugh J. Schonfield and many others.
If we look at a different verse, 2 Corinthians 4:4, we find the exact same word (ho theos) that was used in John 1:1 to describe God Almighty is now used to describe the devil, however, now the system of translation has been changed:
“the god of this world (the Devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.”
According to the system of the previous verse and the English language, the translation of the description of the Devil should also have been written as “The God” with a capital “G.” If Paul was inspired to use the exact same words to describe the Devil, then why should we change it? Why is “The God” translated as simply “the god” when referring to the devil, while “divine” is translated as the almighty “God” when referring to “The Word”? Are we now starting to get a glimpse of how the “translation” of the Bible took place?
Well, what is the difference between saying “the word was God,” and between saying “the word was a god (divine)”? Are they not the same? Far from it! Let us read the bible:
“I have said, Ye (the Jews) are gods; and all of you are children of the most High”
“And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made you a god to Pharaoh”
“the god of this world (the Devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
What does all of this mean? Let me explain.
In the West, it is common when one wishes to praise someone to say “You are a prince,” or “You are an angel” ..etc. When someone says this do they mean that that person is the son of the King of England, or a divine spiritual being? There is a very slight grammatical difference between saying “You are a prince” and between saying “You are THE prince,” however, the difference in meaning is quite dramatic.
Further, it is necessary when translating a verse to also take into account the meaning as understood by the people of that age who spoke that language. One of the biggest problems with the Bible as it stands today is that it forces us to look at ancient Hebrew and Aramaic scriptures through Greek and Latin glasses as seen by people who are neither Jews, Greeks, nor Romans. All of the so called “original” manuscripts of the NT available today are written in Greek or Latin. The Jews had no trouble reading such verses as Psalms 82:6, and Exodus 7:1, while still affirming that there is only one God in existence and vehemently denying the divinity of all but God Almighty. It is the continuous filtration of these manuscripts through different languages and cultures as well as the Roman Catholic church’s extensive efforts to completely destroy all of the original Hebrew Gospels (see last quarter of this chapter) which has led to this misunderstanding of the verses.
The Americans have a saying: “Hit the road men.” It means “It is time for you to leave.” However, if a non-American were to receive this command without any explanation then it is quite possible that we would find him beating the road with a stick. Did he understand the words? Yes! Did he understand the meaning? No!
In the Christian church we would be hard pressed to find a single priest or nun who does not address their followers as “my children.” They would say: “Come here my children”, or “Be wary of evil my children” … etc. What do they mean?
A fact that many people do not realize is that around 200AD spoken Hebrew had virtually disappeared from everyday use as a spoken language. It was not until the 1880s that a conscious effort was made by Eliezer Ben-Yehudah to revive the dead language. Only about a third of current spoken Hebrew and basic grammatical structures come from biblical and Mishnaic sources. The rest was introduced in the revival and includes elements of other languages and cultures including the Greek and Arabic languages.
Even worse than these two examples are cases when translation into a different languages can result in a reversal of the meaning. For example, in the West, when someone loves something they say “It warmed my heart.” In the Middle East, the same expression of joy would be conveyed with the words: “It froze my heart.” If an Mideasterner were to greet a Westerner with the words: “It froze my heart to see you,” then obviously this statement would not be greeted with a whole lot of enthusiasm from that Westerner, and vice versa. This is indeed one of the major reasons why the Muslims have been so much more successful in the preservation of their holy text than the Christians or the Jews; because the language of the Qur’an has remained from the time of Muhammad (pbuh) to the present day a living language, the book itself has always been in the hands of the people (and not the “elite”), and the text of the book remains in the original language of Muhammad (pbuh). For this reason, a translator must not and should not “translate” in a vacuum while disregarding the culture and traditions of the people who wrote these words. As we have just seen, it was indeed quite common among the Jews to use the word “god” (divine) to convey a sense of supreme power or authority to human beings. This system, however, was never popularly adopted by them to mean that these individuals were in any way omnipotent, superhuman, or equal to the Almighty.
2) Basic message of John:
Now that we have seen the correct translation of the verse of John 1:1, let us go a little further in our study of the intended meaning of this verse. This verse was taken from the “Gospel of John.” The very best person to ask to explain what is meant by a given statement is the author of that statement himself. So let us ask “John” what is his mental picture of God and Jesus (pbuh) which he wishes to convey to us:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”
So the author of John tells us that God is greater than Jesus. If the author of this Gospel did indeed wish us to understand that Jesus and God are “one and the same,” then can someone be greater than himself? Similarly,
“Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come [again] unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.”
Can someone “go” to himself? Can someone be “greater” than himself?
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:”
If John meant to tell us that “Jesus and God are one and the same” then shall we understand from this verse that God is saying to Himself “Self, glorify me so that I may glorify myself”? Does this sound like this is the message of John?
“While I (Jesus) was with them in the world, I kept them in thy (God’s) name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
If the author of John wanted us to believe that Jesus and God are one person then are we to understand from this verse that God is saying to Himself “Self, while I was in the world I kept them in your name, self. Those who I gave to myself I have kept …”? Is this what the author intended us to understand from his writings?
“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
Similarly, did the author intend us to interpret this as “Self, I will that they also whom I have given myself be with me where I am; that they my behold my glory which I have given myself, for I loved myself before the foundation of the world”?
So, we begin to see that in order to understand the writings of a given author, it is necessary to not take a single quotation from him in a vacuum and then interpret his whole message based upon that one sentence (and a badly mistranslated version of that sentence at that).
3) Who wrote the “Gospel of John”?:
The “Gospel of John” is popularly believed by the majority of regular church-goers to be the work of the apostle John the son of Zebedee. However, when consulting Christianity’s more learned scholars of Church history, we find that this is far from the case. These scholars draw our attention to the fact that internal evidence provides serious doubt as to whether the apostle John the son of Zebedee wrote this Gospel himself. In the dictionary of the Bible by John Mckenzie we read
“A. Feuillet notes that authorship here may be taken loosely.”
Such claims are based on such verses as 21:24:
“This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”?
Did the apostle John write this about himself? Also see 21:20, 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, and 21:20-23. The “disciple who Jesus loved” according to the Church is John himself, but the author of this gospel speaks of him as a different person.
Further, The Gospel of John was written at or near Ephesus between the years 110 and 115 (some say 95-100) of the Christian era by this, or these, unknown author(s). According to R. H. Charles, Alfred Loisy, Robert Eisler, and other scholars of Christian history, John of Zebedee was beheaded by Agrippa I in the year 44 CE, long before the fourth Gospel was written. Did the Holy Ghost “inspire” the apostle John’s ghost to write this gospel sixty years after he was killed? . In other words, what we have here is a gospel which is popularly believed to have been written by the apostle John, but which in fact was not written by him. In fact no one really knows for certain who wrote this gospel.
“Since the beginning of the period of modern critical study, however, there has been much controversy about [the Gospel of John’s] authorship, place of origin, theological affiliations and background, and historical value”
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 2, Abingdon Press, p. 932
4) Who “inspired” the author of this gospel to write this verse?:
The words of John 1:1 are acknowledged by most reputable Christian scholar of the Bible as the words of another Jew, Philo of Alexandria (20BC-50AD), who claimed no divine inspiration for them and who wrote them decades before the “gospel of John” was ever conceived. Groliers encyclopedia has the following to say under the heading “Logos”(“the word”):
“Heraclitus was the earliest Greek thinker to make logos a central concept ……In the New Testament, the Gospel According to Saint John gives a central place to logos; the biblical author describes the Logos as God, the Creative Word, who took on flesh in the man Jesus Christ. Many have traced John’s conception to Greek origins–perhaps through the intermediacy of eclectic texts like the writings of Philo of Alexandria.”
T. W. Doane says:
“The works of Plato were extensively studied by the Church Fathers, one of whom joyfully recognizes in the great teacher, the schoolmaster who, in the fullness of time, was destined to educate the heathen for Christ, as Moses did the Jews. The celebrated passage : “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God” is a fragment of some Pagan treatise on the Platonic philosophy, evidently written by Irenaeus. It is quoted by Amelius, a Pagan philosopher as strictly applicable to the Logos, or Mercury, the Word, apparently as an honorable testimony borne to the Pagan deity by a barbarian……..We see then that the title “Word” or “Logos,” being applied to Jesus, is another piece of Pagan amalgamation with Christianity. It did not receive its authorized Christian form until the middle of the second century after Christ. The ancient pagan Romans worshipped a Trinity. An oracle is said to have declared that there was ‘First God, then the Word, and with them the Spirit’. Here we see the distinctly enumerated, God, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, in ancient Rome, where the most celebrated temple of this capital – that of Jupiter Capitolinus – was dedicated to three deities, which three deities were honored with joint worship.”
From Bible Myths and their parallels in other religions, pp. 375-376.
5) What was “The Word”?
“O people of the book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which he bestowed upon Mary, and a spirit preceding from him so believe in Allah and his messengers. Say not “Three,” desist! It will be better for you, for Allah is one God. Glory be to him. Far exalted is he above having a son. To him belong all things in the heavens and the earth. And enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs.”
The noble Qur’an, Al-Nissa(4):171
In the Qur’an we are told that when God Almighty wills something he merely says to it “Be” and it is.
“Verily! Our (Allah’s) Word unto a thing when We intend it, is only that We say unto it “Be!” – and it is”
The noble Qur’an, Al-Nahil(16):40 (please also read chapter 14)
This is the Islamic viewpoint of “The Word.” “The Word” is literally God’s utterance “Be.” This is held out by the Bible where thirteen verses later in John 1:14 we read:
“And the Word was made flesh”.
In the Qur’an, we read:
“The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be.’ And he was.”
The noble Qur’an, Aal-Umran(3):59.
Regarding what is meant by Allah by “a spirit preceding from him” I shall simply let Allah Himself explain:
“And [remember] when Allah said to the angles: ‘I shall create a human (Adam) from sounding clay, from altered mud. So when I have fashioned him and have breathed into him of my spirit, then fall down in prostration before him'”
The noble Qur’an, Al-Hijr(15):29
“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of
theLORD is with us’? But, behold, the false pen
of the scribes has made it into a lie.