The Prologue of John


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome (understood KJV,REB,etc.) it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. 9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'") 16 And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (Revised Standard Version)

In John's prologue, there are 2 significant motivations. They are: 1 homologous structure of different phases of being, and 2 the statement, 'The Word became flesh'. (It metaphorically means that the logos that represents life's integration became the object of human perception. )

The first four verses of John state that logos, God, life and light are structurally identical. The homologous nature of logos, God, life and light gives us a metaphysical context of the gospel. It is basically the similar context of life that Aristotle developed; the theory of causality and actuality in relation to potentiality.

That the logos became flesh means, when we imagine the concept of life's integration through the body, the symbolic system of the myth properly represents the universal form of truth. It becomes the object of human perception. Thus, these codes give the foundation of the metaphysical context of the gospel: the homologous nature of being and its perception.

The codes of John's gospel, the code of being and the code of perception, give us the fundamental contexts of being and its perception. We will develop these contexts in the section of theoretical references. There, the code of being is developed as life's movement based on the nature of light. The code of perception is developed as phenomenology of body, picture theory of propositions, and hermeneutics of metaphor.

The prologue of John's gospel, at first, confirms the structural identity between logos, God, life and light. And then under this context, the logos depicted by the symbols becomes the object of human perception, arranged as a conceptual picture of concept mediated by the body.

The syntactic codes of space (Matthew) and time (Mark) are determined according to the form of perception where we form the concept of life. This is the virtual meaning of 'the Word became flesh'. John's codes provides the foundation for establishing the spatial code and the temporal code. In other words, the reference to the homologous nature of logos, God, life and light and the reference to the incarnation of logos are the guiding principles in rearranging the messages of the gospel. They will direct our interpretation in terms of their own metaphysical context.

The gospel is reorganized as a symbolic system and the Christ resurrected behind its reorganization is, at the same time, the emergence of the concept of life's integration. The reorganization of the gospel according to the codes, is nothing but the acquisition of the concept of life's integration. And to live life's integration subjectively is the coming of grace and truth, as it is said in Zen's Rinzairoku: 'anywhere we stand becomes true, if we keep the subject of truth in the situations we come across.'

According to Yuh Ibuki, a Japanese theologian, two philological difficulties had been raised in dealing with the construction of the prologue. The first question is about the insertion of the statements of John the Baptist, which interrupt the unity of meaning and the rhythm of the whole passage of the prologue. As for this question, philological scholars have agreed that the statements about John the Baptist were inserted later. The other question is about the gap between the 14 th verse (that starts with 'the Word became flesh') and the following verses, and with preceding verses. This question consists of the fact that there is a clear gap before and after 14 th verse. It begins without any connection or transfer with preceding verses. It is the question concerning the kind of relation the 5 th verse ( the light shines in the darkness.....) and the verses after the 9 th ( the true light came to the world......) hold to the 14 th verse and the following verses.

Rudolf Bultman's interpretation is that the writer of John grasped 5 th verse and the verses after 9 th , as the implicit description of 14 th . K seman emphasized "we have beheld his glory" saying the second half of the verse is more important. Because the Word became flesh was already mentioned by the verse "the Word came to the world." He regarded the verses from 14 th to 18 th as a postscript added by the gospel writer. Although the reasons differ, recent theologians such as G. Richter, etc. also support basically the postscript view about the verses after 14 th .

From the standpoint of the Paradigm of Christ, whether the verses are added later or not is less important. It matters whether the revelation becomes more authentic and accurate or not.

If we look at the prologue of John from the viewpoint of life's integration, it was necessary to have the statements of John the Baptist. It also becomes clear what relation the 5 th verse and the verses after the 9 th hold to the 14 th verse, in the following explanation.

In verses 6 th to 8 th , although there is a large qualitative difference from the formal integration, the material integration has a role to give us confirmation that the formal integration must come. Life's integration partially comes into the phenomenal world. Even though the phenomenal world consists of life, the world cannot perceive it.

John's material integration is a conversion experience that allows us to distinguish the poles between the self-conscious and the unconscious. Usually, we are not able to discriminate clearly the destruction and the integration of life until we come across this turning point. By virtue of the coming of John the Baptist, there is already a polarity. Life's integration, in a way, enters the phenomenal world even though the world cannot notice what it is. Hence the world may rely on the proclamation of John. Some, who trusted the Word, can gradually collect (the unconscious contents that correspond to the symbols of the myth) and reorganize the gospel, based on John's polarity, by throwing the net of the frame of life into the unconscious,.

The darkness in the 5 th verse indicates the situation before before the conversion experience. So the dakness does not grasp the integration. Even after John the Baptist, the world in the verse 9 th consists of life as light, the world did not recognize the logos as its origine. After John the Baptist, there is a possibility to realize the Word. However, most people, even after the conversion, fail to recognize the Word.

The Word can be gradually revealed to the people who accept the authenticity of the gospel and believe in it. Therefore in the 14 th verse, it says "And the Word became flesh(RSV) or So the Word became flesh(REB)." (Original Greek starts withΚαι, which means 'and'.) Not every one understands or experiences "the Word became flesh." but only the people who trust and realize the Word. The second half of the 14 th verse says "We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." 'We' here means the enlightened people: those who have individuated and actualized the Self from the unconscious. Therefore, "the Word dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." For such people, Christ is the object of spiritual perception: it is within themselves. 'The word became flesh,' does not mean that Jesus Christ existed with his flesh, but life's integration exists in the enlightened minds as phenomenal bodies.

From the standpoint of the Paradigm of Christ, if the statements of John the Baptist are not inserted, the whole context of the prologue is likely to be misunderstood. The insertion of the statements of John the Baptist makes the metaphorical context of the prologue clear. By the insertion, the prologue introduces the temporality or chronological order by which the incarnation of logos as an outcome of previous passages becomes clear. It indicates that the followers of the Word entered the third temporal zone. To put it in other words, the Word becomes the living concept of life as the picture of the combination of symbolic language, so that we can perceive it. When the followers participate in the living integration subjectively, they are filled with grace and truth: they see the glory of God. 'The Word became flesh' becomes true after the concept of life is understood by human perception, as Heidegger says 'Being exists only when being understands it.' The Word cannot become flesh until the concept of life's integration makes sense for human mind.

It is only material integration that can certify the formal integration as the former can identify the latter in its homologous nature. It is, as it were, nothing but the sense of conscience that can guarantee and confirm the form of the arranged system according to life's integration. However, it takes a long time until the concept by the symbolic system makes sense. Even if one experiences the integrated point through the conversion, it is still fragile and lacking the insight power to grasp the concept. So it waits for the coming of more stable guiding principle, which is more objective and universal. Therefore, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.' The Christ as life's integration represents the universal principle through reorganized symbols. One of the remarkable features of John the Baptist is its waiting for the truth. He asks through his disciples to Jesus, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?"(Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19) Both Andromeda who waits for the coming of Perseus and Penelope who waits for the coming of Odysseus, have the same role as John the Baptist in terms of waiting for the identification with the Self. They are the conscience in the self-consciousness exposed to the danger of the death or the temptation. Therefore John the Baptist cried at the witness in the 15 th verse.

From the standpoint of the Paradigm of Christ, the apparent disconnection at the 14 th verse is not a gap. The beginning of the prologue at first proclaims the homologous nature of logos, God, life and light. Then there are some who receive the logos. (1:12.13) Under these conditions, the logos becomes flesh and dwells among them. The logos becomes visible to the human perception not until this stage. The people who accept logos see the glory when they actualize life's integration. At first they accomplish the metaphorical understanding of life's integration: the intellectual fulfillment in the acquisition of truth, and then they volitionally acquire the ability to love and to accomplish righteousness. It is a long eschatological process of acquiring life's integration. It is life's integration itself that makes our mind genuine, powerful and wise. Therefore it is said to be "filled with grace and truth."

"The Word became flesh," means that life's integration becomes the object of human perception. Since the Word is the gospel as such, it means that life's integration as the symbolic system is arranged in a visible form. The guiding principle that directs our mind towards the integration enters our mind and exists as the picture that forms the concept of life's integration.

The epistemological code 'the Word became flesh', indicates the 'rearrangement of symbolic language from the story to its structural context.' It induces the scrutiny of the essential relation between the phenomenal body, the pictorial form of perception, and the symbolic language. For the flesh means virtually the phenomenal body, and the Word came into this body as the reference of the symbolic or metaphorical system. Therefore we will inquire the epistemological contexts between the Paradigm of Christ and the disciplines of Merleau-Ponty (body), Wittgenstein (picture), and Ricoeur (metaphors). In the17 th and the18 th verses, the prologue ends by declaring that the revelation of Christ is not merely the moral norm but, in letting us perceive the truth, the final revelation.

As a summing up, let us overview how the insertion of the statements of John the Baptist fits temporality of the three announcements into John's prologue and makes the meaning of the 14 th verse much clearer. 1:5 th verse implies that this is the first temporal zone, as the darkness did not understand light. After the reference to John the Baptist, the prologue reaches the second temporal zone. At this point, the prologue distinguishes between the people who do and do not follow the Word. Then, at the point of 14 th verse, for the first time, the logos can become flesh and can dwell among the minds ready to perceive the truth. Therefore they see his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. Because this is the entrance for the third temporal zone, they can gradually see the grace and truth of life's integration. At the 1:15 th verse, John the Baptist who has waited for the coming of the formal integration certifies that this was he of whom I said,...... At the1:16 th verse, the feature of the third temporal zone is described as being filled with grace. Finally, the prologue ends with the declaration that the revelation of Jesus Christ is the most authentic one.