View of Prayer as Familiar Conversation | Reformed Review

In the years preceding the Protestant Reformation, the early humanist scholar, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, was deeply engaged in a project of translation that would be published just one year before Luther drew up his famous ninety- five theses and nailed them to the door of the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg. Following a fundamental tenet of the humanist movement, Erasmus had undertaken a systematic examination and new Latin translation of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.2 The translation was destined to update and replace the more than one thousand year-old Vulgate of St. Jerome. Arriving at the Gospel of John, Erasmus made an unconventional but telling translation of the opening words of John’s first chapter. Instead of the conventional translation of John’s Greek into the Latin—In principio erat Verbum, Erasmus translated instead—In principio erat Sermo.3 John’s gospel, according to Erasmus, thus opens not with, “In the beginning was the Word,” but rather, “In the beginning was the Conversation.” The shift is subtle, yet it modifies centuries of traditional assumptions and consequent theology. As this essay will demonstrate, it has profound implications, not only for the creation and the process of the very “coming into being” of the world, but also for prayer.

Erasmus’s new and telling translation makes the act of creation not a unific spoken word that in its singular and isolated way brings the universe into being, but rather a communitarian event based on a dialogic process. The implication of Erasmus’s translation is that the act of creation was, and in a very real sense continues to be, an on-going conversation.

With regard to prayer, it is certainly not false to say that prayer is, in part, an act of speaking. Words are indeed an essential component of prayer. But prayer, as a relationship between God, God’s creation, and God’s people, is multidimensional. It is not simply words spoken at the one true God. Erasmus’s opening translation of the gospel of John touches on a richer, dialogical meaning of prayer. Prayer is discourse; it is a conversation which includes not only words but also silences, not only periods of listening but also hearing, not only times of resting in God but also times of responding to God.


Source: View of Prayer as Familiar Conversation | Reformed Review

John 1:1 — “it is not simply that the Word was with God” from Holloman’s Apologetics Commentary on the Bible


XPIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1):

In this opening verse of John’s Gospel, God is set in relation to the Word. The Word, which in verses 14-18 is clearly identified as Jesus Christ, is an eternal being that existed prior to creation. However, it is not simply that the Word was with God (so, too, was Isaiah’s personified Word and Wisdom), but John refers to the Word itself as God. This is quite a claim coming from a Jewish monotheist. From the patristic era (Arius) to the present (Jehovah’s Witnesses), some have argued that, because there is no definite article in front of theos, this verse merely identifies Jesus as a god rather than as God. Interestingly, around 1950 there was a change in how Jehovah’s Witnesses dealt with this verse. Before 1950, they carried a copy of the American Standard Version of the Bible. However, the problem they faced was that the ASV rendered verse 1 accurately with the phrase “the Word was God.” In an effort to resolve the difficulty this rendering posed for its theology, the Watchtower Society (the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ publishing group) issued its own translation of the Bible, which rendered the verse as “the Word was a god” (Reed 1986, 71). However, there are several reasons why this translation is inaccurate.
First, John, as a monotheistic Jew, would not have referred to another person as “a god.” The Jews had no place for demigods in their belief system. Second, if John had placed a definite article before theos, he would have abandoned the distinction between the two persons he established in the previous clause (“the Word was with God”). Third, the view defended by Jehovah’s Witnesses misunderstands Greek syntax. It is common in Greek for a predicate noun to be specific without having an article. For example, later in this chapter reference is made to Nathanael’s confession of Jesus, “you are the King of Israel” (1:49), with no article being before “King” in the Greek (for other NT examples of this construction, see 8:39; 17:17; Rom 14:17; Gal 4:25; Rev 1:20). From these examples, it is clear that the lack of an article in Greek does not necessarily imply indefiniteness (“a” god). Finally, John could have used the word theios if he were simply trying to say that Jesus was “divine” (i.e., that he had God-like qualities) rather than being God himself. The anarthrous (article-less) theos is most likely used to explain that Jesus “shared the essence of the Father though they differed in person” (Wallace 1996, 269). As D. A. Carson explains, “In fact, if John had included the article, he would have been saying something quite untrue. He would have been so identifying the Word with God that no divine being could exist apart from the Word. In that case, it would be nonsense to say (in the words of the second clause of this verse) that the Word was with God” (1991, 117).
The Word was with God, and the Word was God (1:1): Critics often say that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is unbiblical. While it is true that no verse specifically spells out that God is “three divine persons in one essence,” as our historic creeds have stated, the fact is the biblical witness demands the Trinitarian doctrine. The present verse disproves any monistic model of God, for the Word is at one and the same time “with” God, meaning there is some way of making distinction between Word and God, while at the same time the Word is God. Hence from this verse one would conclude that there are at least two personal beings united in the one godhead. A sampling of other verses supporting Trinitarianism includes Genesis 1:26; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 2:10; and Colossians 1:17.

Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible – Gospels to Acts.
page 505