Let me start with a recent post which illustrates exactly what I had been reading in Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels. Theophrastus has linked to the first chapter of the gospel of John in the Matthew's Bible, which interprets the pronouns referring to the word of God as "it."
- All thinges were made by it
and wythout it
was made nothynge that was made.
In it was lyfe
and the lyfe was the lyght of men
and the lyght shyneth in the darcknes
but the darcknes comprehended it not.
- All things were made by him;
and without him
was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life;
and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not.
- Iranaeus tells us that Valentinus's disciple Ptolemy, reading these words, envisioned God, word and finally Jesus Christ as, so to speak, waves of divine energy flowing down from above; thus, he suggests, the infinite divine Source above reveals itself, in turn, in the more limited form of the human Jesus.
But Irenaeus declares that such an interpretation misses what we saw in Chapter 2 as the central conviction John wants to convey - that Jesus embodies the divine word that comes forth from God and so, on earth, is "Lord and God" to those who recognize him. So Iranaeus challenges Ptolemy's interpretation of John's prologue and argues instead that "God the Father" is equivalent to the word, and the word is equivalent to "Jesus Christ."
And because Iraeneus's bold interpretation came virutally to define orthodoxy, those who read John's gospel today in any language except the Greek original will find that the translations make his conclusion seem obvious - namely, that the man "who dwelt among us" was God incarnate.
Perhaps this is why Mike has remarked,
- I’m really curious about how pervasive the ability to simply read ancient Greek as Greek is. That is, an English gloss doesn’t come to your mind even unintentionally.