December 27: John 1:14 (continued)

John 1:14, continued

“and we looked at his splendor,
splendor as of a monogenh/$

At the close of the previous note, the point was made that the do/ca (“honor, splendor, glory”) of the incarnate Logos, which believers behold (“look at,” vb qea/omai), is the very do/ca of God Himself. Yet it is clearly something which the Logos possesses, and thus may also be referred to as the “glory of the Logos” or the “glory of Christ”. To gain a better sense of this dynamic, from the standpoint of the Johannine theology (and Christology), it is worth surveying the usage of the noun do/ca elsewhere in the Johannine writings.

As it happens, the noun occurs 18 times in the Gospel, but not at all in the Letters, which is curious. There are also 17 occurrences in the book of Revelation, but even when including these, it becomes clear that do/ca is not an especially distinctive Johannine term, in comparison with the overall usage in the New Testament (165 occurrences). However, the occurrences in the Johannine Discourses (of Jesus) are significant. They are nearly all found in the first half of the Gospel, the so-called ‘Book of Signs’, and the first instance in 2:11 establishes the point of reference, in terms of the meaning and theological significance of do/ca:

“This Yeshua did in Kânâ of the Galîl (as the) beginning of the signs, and made his splendor [do/ca] shine forth, and his learners [i.e. disciples] trusted in him.”

Through the miracles, and other signs, performed by Jesus (of which the miracle at Cana was the first), he made the Divine do/ca “shine forth”. It was the first clear indication that God was manifest in the person of Jesus, and his followers began to trust in him. In the final, climactic miracle of his ministry (the raising of Lazarus), the do/ca of God again shines forth, and the people behold it (11:4, 40).

In 5:44, we see the opposite illustrated—a lack of trust by people who had witnessed a sign (the healing miracle in chapter 5). This lack of trust is revealed in terms of active opposition, for which Jesus has harsh words of rebuke:

“I have come in the name of my Father, and (yet) you do not receive me [cf. 1:10ff], but if another (person) should come in his own name, that (one) you will receive. How can you (ever) be able to trust, receiving (the) honor [do/ca] (that comes from) alongside others, and (yet) you do not seek (the) honor [do/ca] (that comes from) alongside God?” (vv. 43-44)

Much the same point is made by Jesus in 7:18. By way of contrast with the unbelieving populace, Jesus stresses how he does seek the honor/splendor of God; as the faithful Son, Jesus honors the Father. Note how he states this in 8:50ff:

“I do not seek my own honor [do/ca]…
if I honor [vb doca/zw] myself, my honor is nothing; my Father is the (One) honoring me, of whom you say that ‘He is our God,’ and (yet) you have not known Him—but I have known Him” (vv. 51, 54-55a)

At the close of the ‘Book of Signs’, the Gospel writer summarizes the lack of faith among the populace in wording similar to 5:44 (cf. above): “they loved the honor of men much over [i.e. more than] the honor of God” (12:43). And it is clear from the reference in 12:41 (the allusion to Isa 6:1ff) that the do/ca manifest in the person of Jesus is the do/ca of God Himself.

The noun do/ca occurs again three times in the great Prayer-Discourse of chapter 17. The first instance is in the opening section of the prayer, v. 5, expressed with a Christological emphasis that could almost have come from the Prologue-hymn:

“And, now, may you honor [vb doca/zw] me, Father, with the honor [do/ca] (from) alongside your (own) self, which I held, before the being [i.e. creation] of the world, alongside you.”

This statement reflects the pre-existence theme of the Christ hymns (cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Heb 1:2b-4), whereby the exaltation of Jesus, following his death and resurrection, effectively mirrors the exalted state he had (as the pre-existent Son of God) at the beginning. Here, however, within the more developed Johannine Christology, this aspect is even more pronounced. The pre-existent Deity of Jesus, as the Son and the Word/Wisdom (Logos) of God, is given special emphasis.

The final two occurrences of the noun do/ca are distinctively Johannine. At the close of the Prayer-Discourse, Jesus returns to the do/ca-theme of verse 5, only now believers are included in the promise of exaltation and glorification (cf. verses 12-13 of the Prologue):

“And I have given to the them the honor/splendor [do/ca] which you have given to me, (so) that they should be one, even as we (are) one. ….
Father, (for) that which you have given to me, I wish that, where(ever) I am, they also would be with me, (so) that they might look at my splendor [do/ca] which you have given to me, (in) that you loved me before the casting down [i.e. foundation/creation] of the world.” (vv. 22, 24)

This brief survey should, I think, give us some added insight regarding the meaning and significance of the word do/ca as it occurs in verse 14 of the Prologue. It is the do/ca (honor/splendor/glory) of God the Father, manifest in the person of Jesus, the incarnate Logos. The next line in v. 14, however, provides a clearer picture as to the nature of this relationship, and how it is that Jesus and God the Father share the same do/ca. It hinges on an accurate interpretation of the adjective monogenh/$. Because of the difficulty and sensitivity involved in explaining (and translating) this term, it is best to devote a separate note (the next daily note) for this task.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *