So the ‘xam went well in the end. I think blogging helps too, getting as many thoughts out as possible in a short space of time. Currently I’m working on the last assignment before mum’s flying me off to Brisbane nek week. This one’s an exegetical on John 1:1-5, the being and creation history of the Word. 2500-3000 words on five verses. I’m actually so super-excited about this! Here’s the text:
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being  in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John has the ability to write both super-accessible, simple sounding theology yet with so much depth. I remember a friend of mine making a connection between John’s style and his, in the KJV, “leaning on Jesus’ bosom” (13:23). This image of resting implies a meditative beloved disciple who clearly had some deep thoughts!
Currently I’m reading through Ernst Haenchen’s Hermeneia commentary from the eighties on these verses. It’s hard to get past his fascination with different textual traditions that John might have been borrowing from, yet I’ve been interested in his situating of these verses as a gnostic polemic, against those who denied the reality, value, etc of the material world, which is of course a very Johannine concern (e.g. John 1:14; 19:34; 20:27; 1 John 4:2-3). Through the Word, all things, not only spiritual things as gnostics would contend, came into being. This is clear not only in the statement in v.3 which emphasises this with both a positive and negative clause but in an alternative reading of the verse. The NRSV, as also the UBS standard Greek text,¹ places “What has come into being” (he gegonen) at the beginning of a new sentence leading into v.4, in line with how the Church Fathers, as well as gnostics, read the text. However, many other translations read v.3 as a whole, thus the NIV: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Ostensibly this is redundant, although that isn’t a huge problem as v.2 also seems a redundant restating of v.1. What is significant about this reading is why the gnostics chose the former.² If he gegonen completes one sentence in v.3 then John leaves no possible alternative translation: The Word made all which has been made, that is, the already made physical world. Alternatively, without this clause, it is apparently easier to read v.3 immaterially, as early gnostics did without question!
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¹That is, one of the standard agreed upon texts. This is still under debate as the original manuscripts were not punctuated.
²The Fathers did too, yet clearly for other reasons, bar probably Origen!