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Logos

Music: Caedmon's Call - Before there was time (lyrics)




RE: John 1:1 in the Daniel Mace New Testament

Background:

In a recent discussion on theology (that will be apparent, but I don't want to really get into, as will be seen) The first chapter of John came up.




I've got a long list of English Bible translations, and when I'm confronted with an issue, I like to research what the various translations have said through the years.

Discussion:

From the earliest English Versions through the beginning of the 20th Century, John 1 is fairly uniformly translated with a few exceptions. While some variations in John 1 seem to be controversial, one translation in the 18th Century caught my eye as uniquely different.

In 1729, Daniel Mace Translated John 1:1-4 by using a fonetic spelling of the greek word "Logos" instead of translating it to an English word. His Translation appeared in parallel collumns to the actual Greek text, so this made me wonder what he was trying to get across.
Why transliterate instead of translate if the goal is to improve understanding? What did Logos mean in 1729? For that matter, what did LOGOS mean in AD40-100 when the Gospel was written.

The work by Daniel Mace is not a consensus work that represents a large body of people's ideas about what the Bible should say in English. It is a work by a single person. As such, I do not endorse it as a primary source of scripture. However, to fully understand what the Bible in English is telling us, studying the variations does help to understand what the bible doesn't say, and it does sometimes illuminate things that are lost.

If you study Greek mythology at all, and even if you haven't, you probably are aware that in the time of Jesus, the Idea of a single 'God' was not popular. Back then, gods weren't almighty beings, but were just powerful humanoids that could be tricked by humans. However, There was in the time of Jesus an awareness among Greek contemporaries that Everything on the planet seemed to fit into a grand scheme. Life was not best explained by stories about the gods. Everything seemed to be ordered into a grand scheme, a grand plan. everything on the planet seemed to have a place, and everything fit together too well for it to be a random collection of events. Today scholars call this idea 'intellegent design'. In the time of Jesus, in Greece, this idea was referred to as "Logos". That idea of "Logos" is best represented today by the "LOGIC" rules we use in Geometry.

As John wrote the Gospel for the Greek Polytheistic world, He didn't try to declare the Almighty was actually Zeus or Prometheus. He declared right up front that God wasn't a god (an object in the world with special powers, affected by other beings), but was in fact Logos (the plan by which the world came into existence, and by which the whole world continues.) The idea of "Bible" was still 200 years in the future. Scriptures in Jesus days were known as "the Law", "the prophets", and "the writings", so if John had been referring to the scriptures in John 1:1, He likely would have used the plural of Logos, since there were many volumes involved.

Today, "Word" is The standard English translation used for Logos in the first chapter of John is "Word". This goes back to the first English Translation by Wyclif's group. I strongly suspect that in 1380, "The Word" was at that time not understood to mean strictly the canonized Bible, but was understood to mean something closer to what John originally wrote. Words weren't cheap in 1380, 50 years before the press was invented. You planned carefully what you would write and spent TIME on each single letter.

If in John 1, Logos is Translated as Plan:

1. Before there was time, there was The Plan. The Plan was with God, and God was The Plan.
. . .
14. The Plan became flesh and dwelt among us...


It would represent the meaning of What John intended as well or better than the grandfathered-in "Word".


I'm still developing this idea... and would like your feedback. Please feel free to comment.