The Logos, Targums, “…and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Many have been confused how, in John 1:1, the Word can be with God (1:1b) and the Word can be God (1:1c). I have argued in a previous post my interpretation of John 1:1b, where I give an abundance of evidence indicating that that clause has nothing to do with Jesus being with the Father prior to his birth. In regard to John 1:1c (…and the Word was God), I suggest that a fresh look at the Jewish Targums associated with the “word” (Hebrew: ‘davar’, Aramaic: ‘memra’) helps clarify this obscure passage at the beginning of John’s Gospel. For those who are not familiar with what a targum is, see the helpful (I can’t believe I am about to give this link) article on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Targum).

 

Now for the Targum evidence relating to John 1:1c:

Gen. 1:3 – “Let there be light, and there was light”

“…there was light according to the decree of the Word.” Targum Neofiti

 

Gen. 1:7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30 – “…and it was so.”

“…and it was so according to his Word.” Targum Neofiti

 

Gen. 3:1 – “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”

“….which the Word of the LORD had made.” Targum Neofiti margin

 

Gen. 3:8 – “And they heard the sound of the LORD God…”

“….And they heard the sound of the Word (memra)…” Palestinian Targum

 Image

Gen. 3:10 – “He said, I heard the sound of You….”

“…the sound of the Word” Targum Neofiti

 

Gen. 14:19 – “…Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.”

“…who by his Word created the heaven and earth.” Targum Neofiti

 

Gen 15:6 – “Then he believed in the LORD and it was reckoned…”

“He believed in the Word of the LORD.” Targum Onqelos

“He had faith in the Word of the LORD.” Tagrum Pseudo Jonathan

 “Abram believed in the name of the Word of the LORD.” Targum Neofiti

 

Exod. 6:7 – “Then I will take you for My people and I will be your God…”

“…I will be to them my Word, a redeemer God…” Targum Neofiti

 

Exod. 19:17 – “And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God…”

“…to meet the Word of God.” Targum Onqelos

 

Exod. 20:11 – “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth…”

“the Word of the LORD perfected” Targum Neofiti marginal gloss, similar comment found in Exod. 31:17

 

Exod. 25:22 – “There I will meet with you…”

“There I will appoint my Word…” Targum Neofiti, Pseudo Jonathan, and Onqelos

 

Exod. 29:45 – “I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.”

“…and I will be to them, in my Word, a redeemer God.” Targum Neofiti

 

Exod. 33:22 – “…and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.”

“…I will shield you with my Word…” Targum Onqelos

 

Lev. 1:1 – “Then the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him…”

“The Word of the LORD called to Moses and the Word of the LORD spoke to him…” Targum Pseudo Jonathan

 

 

Lev. 11:45 – “…from the land of Egypt to be your God…”

“to be, in my Word, your redeemer God.” Targum Neofiti margin

 

Lev. 22:33 – “…from the land of Egypt to be your God…”

“to be, in my Word, your redeemer God.” Targum Neofiti

 

Lev. 25:38 – “I am the LORD your God…”

“I am, in my Word, the LORD your God” Targum Neofiti

 

Lev. 26:12 – “I will also walk among you and be your God…”

“…and be, in my Word, your God.” Targum Neofiti

 

Lev. 26:45 – “…in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God.”

“I might be, in my Word, their God.” Targum Neofiti

 

Num. 6:27 – “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel…”

“So they shall put my name, my Word, upon the sons of Israel.” Targum Neofiti

 

Num. 7:89 – “…between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.”

“…the Word spoke to him.” Targum Neofiti and Pseudo Jonathan

 

Num. 14:22 – “…and have not listened to My voice,”

“and have not received my Word.” Targum Onqelos and Pseudo Jonathan

 

Num. 15:41 – “I am the LORD your God…”

“I am, in my Word, the LORD your God.” Targum Neofiti margin

 

Num. 17:4 – “…in front of the testimony, where I meet with you.”

“The Word meets you.” Targum Neofiti, Pseudo Jonathan, and Onqelos

 

Deut. 4:24 – “the LORD your God is a consuming fire…”

“the LORD your God, his Word, is a consuming fire.” Targum Onqelos

 

Deut.  26:17 – “You have today declared the LORD to be your God…”

“…declared the LORD to be, in my Word, your God.” Targum Neofiti

 

Deut. 32:15 – “But Jeshrun grew fat and kicked, You are grown fat, thick and sleek, Then he forsook God who made him…”

“…forsook the Word of God who/which made him” Targum Neofiti

 

Deut. 32:18 – “…and forgot the God who gave you birth.”

“and forgot the Word of God who/which made them.” Targum Neofiti

 

Psalm 106:25 – “…they did not listen to the voice of the LORD.”

“they did not receive the Word of the LORD.” Targum on the Psalms

 

Isa. 44:24 – “…I, the LORD, am maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself…”

“I stretched out the heavens through my Word” Targum on Isaiah

 

 

Isa. 45:12 – “It is I who made the earth…”

“I, by my Word, made the earth” Targum on Isaiah

 

Isa. 48:13 – “Surely My hand founded the earth…”

“By my Word I founded the earth.” Targum on Isaiah

 

Isa. 63:5 – “…So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me.”

“…by the Word of my pleasure I helped them.” Targum on Isaiah

 

Jer. 27:5 – “I have made the earth…”

“I, by my Word, made the earth” Targum on Jeremiah

 

In short, God’s creative word (logos) is a reflection of himself, which became embodied in the human Jesus (John 1:14). One can properly speak of the preexistence of God’s creative word, but not of the son of God. Jesus began to exist in the womb of Mary, where he was begotten (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35; John 3:16; Gal. 4:4; 1 John 5:18).

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