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The idea of the LOGOS being with God and active in creation always seemed to me to be alluding to Genesis 1 where God creates the world by speaking, "Let there be..." and I think that's still valid.

However, while reading Proverbs 8:22-31 LXX I was struck by many parallels with John 1:1-3 (and other NT allusions):

Brenton LXX Proverbs 8:

22 The Lord made me the beginning of his ways for his works. 23 He established me † before time was in the beginning, before he made the earth: 24 even before he made the depths; before the fountains of water came forth: 25 before the mountains were settled, and before all hills, he begets me. 26 The Lord made countries and uninhabited tracks, and the highest inhabited parts of the world. 27 When he prepared the heaven, I was present with him; and when he ‡ prepared his throne upon the winds: 28 and when he strengthened the clouds above; and when he secured the fountains of the earth: 29 decree. and when he strengthened the foundations of the earth: 30 I was by him, suiting myself to him, I was that wherein he took delight; and daily I rejoiced in his presence continually. 31 For he rejoiced when he had completed the world [IE: "saw that it was good"], and rejoiced among [IE: "very good"] the children of men.

Now, the "he rejoiced when he completed the world" seems to refer to God seeing that each day of creation was made well, ala Genesis 1. But the references to being "with God" fit both Genesis 1 and Proverbs 8.

So is John 1:1-3 alluding to God's utterance being with him at creation, with the utterance being God's "fiat" (IE: "Let there be x") or both Genesis 1 and Proverbs 8:22-31 with the Messiah being both God's utterance and his wisdom personified?

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Yes.

John 1:1-3 derives from the rich Jewish interpretive traditions of Proverbs 8 and Genesis 1.

Psalm 33:6a is also part of this biblical background:

בִּדְבַר ה' שָׁמַיִם נַעֲשׂוּ

"With the word of the LORD the heavens were made"

Some Jewish Interpretative Background:

Wisdom in Gen 1:1 in the Targums:

For example, compare the Aramaic translations of Genesis 1:1 where God creates the heavens and the earth with his wisdom. (Compare this with Prov. 8:22 where wisdom describes or calls itself "the beginning [of His path]".)

Targum Neofiti: [ ] and ( ) indicate a variant reading

מלקדמין בחכמה [בחוכמתא] ברא (ד)ייי (ו)שכלל ית שמיא וית ארעא

"From the beginning, with wisdom, the LORD created, (and) he perfected the heavens and the earth."

Fragment Targum: { } indicates marginal gloss

בחכמה {מן לקדמין} ברא וייי ושכליל ית שמיא וית ארעא

With wisdom {from the beginning} the LORD created and perfected the heavens and the earth.

The Word of the LORD in the Targums:

Also compare the usage of memra (word) in the Targums.

For example, in the Fragment Targum, all of the speech and creative acts in Genesis 1 are from "the word of the LORD" (מימריה/מימרא דייי) or simply "His word" (מימריה). For example, here is its translation of vv. 3–5:

ואמר מימריה דייי יהי נהור והוה נהור במימריה

And the word of the LORD said "Let there be light", and there was light by His word.

וגלי קדם ייי ית נהורא ארום טב ואפריש מימריה דייי בין נהורא ובין חשוכא

And the light was revealed before the LORD that it was good and the word of the LORD separated the light from the darkness.

וקרא מימריה דייי לנהורא איממא ולחשוכא קרא ליליא והוה רמש והוה צפר והוה סדר עובד בראשית יום קדמאי

And the word of the LORD called the light "Day" and the darkness he called "Night". And there was evening and there was morning and there was the order of work in the beginning, the first day.

Targumim Sources: http://cal.huc.edu/. English translation my own.

The Wisdom of Solomon:

Further, compare how the personified wisdom of Proverbs 8 is developed and described in the Wisdom of Solomon. For example: (All texts from NRSV and LXX Rahlfs.)

Wis 9:9:

With you is wisdom, she who knows your works and was present when you made the world; she understands what is pleasing in your sight and what is right according to your commandments.

καὶ μετὰ σοῦ ἡ σοφία ἡ εἰδυῖα τὰ ἔργα σου καὶ παροῦσα, ὅτε ἐποίεις τὸν κόσμον, καὶ ἐπισταμένη τί ἀρεστὸν ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς σου καὶ τί εὐθὲς ἐν ἐντολαῖς σου.

7:17–22:

For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists

αὐτὸς γάρ μοι ἔδωκεν τῶν ὄντων γνῶσιν ἀψευδῆ

22 for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.

ἡ γὰρ πάντων τεχνῖτις ἐδίδαξέν με σοφία.

If we are to understand καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος in John 1:1 qualitatively as "And the word was (what) God (was)" then these following verses are especially relevant:

7:22–26:

There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, 23 beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. 24 For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. 25 For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. 26 For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.

Ἔστιν γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ πνεῦμα νοερόν, ἅγιον, μονογενές, πολυμερές, λεπτόν, εὐκίνητον, τρανόν, ἀμόλυντον, σαφές, ἀπήμαντον, φιλάγαθον, ὀξύ, 23 ἀκώλυτον, ὐεργετικόν, φιλάνθρωπον, βέβαιον, ἀσφαλές, ἀμέριμνον, παντοδύναμον, πανεπίσκοπον καὶ διὰ πάντων χωροῦν πνευμάτων νοερῶν καθαρῶν λεπτοτάτων. 24 πάσης γὰρ κινήσεως κινητικώτερον σοφία, διήκει δὲ καὶ χωρεῖ διὰ πάντων διὰ τὴν καθαρότητα· 25 ἀτμὶς γάρ ἐστιν τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀπόρροια τῆς τοῦ παντοκράτορος δόξης εἰλικρινής· διὰ τοῦτο οὐδὲν μεμιαμμένον εἰς αὐτὴν παρεμπίπτει. 26 ἀπαύγασμα γάρ ἐστιν φωτὸς ἀϊδίου καὶ ἔσοπτρον ἀκηλίδωτον τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἐνεργείας καὶ εἰκὼν τῆς ἀγαθότητος αὐτοῦ.

There are also other parallels in John 1. for example:

27 Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; 28 for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom. 29 She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, 30 for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.

μία δὲ οὖσα πάντα δύναται καὶ μένουσα ἐν αὑτῇ τὰ πάντα καινίζει καὶ κατὰ γενεὰς εἰς ψυχὰς ὁσίας μεταβαίνουσα φίλους θεοῦ καὶ προφήτας κατασκευάζει· 28 οὐθὲν γὰρ ἀγαπᾷ ὁ θεὸς εἰ μὴ τὸν σοφίᾳ συνοικοῦντα. 29 ἔστιν γὰρ αὕτη εὐπρεπεστέρα ἡλίου καὶ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἄστρων θέσιν. φωτὶ συγκρινομένη εὑρίσκεται προτέρα· 30 τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ διαδέχεται νύξ, σοφίας δὲ οὐ κατισχύει κακία.

Also see interesting parallels in other Second Temple period literature such as Sirach (e.g., ch. 24) and logos in Philo's works.

The gospel writer is drawing from not only what is written in Genesis 1, Proverbs 8, and Psalm 33:6 and perhaps other biblical passages but from the rich Jewish interpretative heritage of those passages as well as from logos theologies that existed in his time. John 1:1-3 would not be a unique perspective. The uniqueness comes in v. 14 where this word becomes flesh and is identified as Jesus in v. 17.

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It should be noted that, in Prov 8:26-29, "Wisdom" is telling us that "I" was THERE when "HE" (God) did the following: made the earth, fields, highest part of the dust of the world, the heavens, set a compass upon the face of the depth, set the clouds above, strengthened the fountains of the deep, gave the sea a decree, made the foundations of the earth. From this, I see that "The Word", or "Wisdom" WAS THERE when HE (God), did all of these things, as a "spectator", watching enthusiasticly, but not as a "participant". He was "there", perhaps "along side" God, but in no place do I see where "I" was doing the creating, or even helping. In each verse listed, "I" tells us that "HE" was doing the creating.

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  • What about this?: [Pro 8:30 CSB] (30) "I was a skilled craftsman beside him. I was his delight every day, always rejoicing before him. – Ruminator Nov 23 '19 at 16:25
  • Yes, that's an example of how Prov 8:30 is hard to figure. From what I've researched, the Hebrew word "amon" rendered "master workman" or "skilled craftsman" in some translations is rendered "constantly at His side" or "as one brought up by Him" in others. It's rendered "Then I was beside Him, as a master workman" in the NASB, but interestingly, the article "as" is in italics, so it was added by the translators. Leaving the "as" out, it becomes "Then I was beside Him, a master workman", which seems to alter the intended meaning entirely, pointing now to HIM as the workman. It's not clear. – Cory Haffly Nov 24 '19 at 5:46
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What is written about the Word cannot be delimited to verses 1-3:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) [ESV]

When considered in the full measure of Scripture, the Word in the Gospel is not the Wisdom of Proverbs. Yes, they both share personification, but no where does Wisdom become human in order to reach man. To the contrary, Wisdom's appeal is for men to come and find her:

30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man. 32 “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. 33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. 34 Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. 35 For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, 36 but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8)

Wisdom is an observer to creation and in bringing life and favor (i.e. grace) to mankind. On the other hand, the Word is active in going to man and is their source of life and grace:

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11)

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Further, to the extent Wisdom is the Law, the Word is much different:

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

Through the Word comes both grace and truth; both which are distinct from, and superior to Wisdom. Finally, the Word made a sacrifice which Wisdom cannot do or comprehend:

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:13-14)

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

It defies all logic, reason, and wisdom that God would come to His creation to be rejected and to permit Himself to be crucified in order to give man the ability to live with Him whom they killed.

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  • Thank you for the response. So is Sophia another unsung being or consort besides the LOGOS who was there in the beginning, and who was a workman, etc. 30 I was by him, suiting myself to him, I was that wherein he took delight; and daily I rejoiced in his presence continually Was it the LORD's wife? Was it the LOGOS' Mommy? – Ruminator Jun 6 at 17:19
  • @Ruminator The Hebrew says YHVH possessed me in the beginning. So if all things come from Him, what did the LORD not possess in the beginning? And if He created all things, what of His creation would not rejoice in His presence? You trying to equate a small piece of what the Word is to the Word. The Word is not equal with wisdom because the Word has knowledge, the Law, the truth, light, life, grace, mercy,...which are not found in Wisdom. – Revelation Lad Jun 6 at 19:24
  • Actually, I believe the Hebrew reads more like "acquired" while the Greek has KTIZW - possibly "created". – Ruminator Jun 6 at 19:25
  • @Ruminator The Hebrew קָנָה means both. The first three uses in Genesis 4:1, 14:19, and 14:22 are possessed. It can also mean purchased, so Genesis 25:10. When the Word became flesh and purchased us with his own blood, did He possess or purchase us? Or did He קָנָה? – Revelation Lad Jun 6 at 20:40
  • The KJV translates Strong's H7069 in the following manner: Buy (46x), get (15x), purchased (5x), buyer (3x), possessor (3x), possessed (2x), owner (1x), recover (1x), redeemed (1x), miscellaneous (7x). to get, acquire, create, buy, possess (Qal) to get, acquire, obtain of God originating, creating, redeeming His people possessor of Eve acquiring of acquiring knowledge, wisdom to buy (Niphal) to be bought (Hiphil) to cause to possess blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/… – Ruminator Jun 6 at 21:46
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A fine question indeed: if both Genesis 1 and Proverbs 8:22 are alluded - which I think is the case - then there is a clear statement of uncreatedness and full divinity of Logos, because He is the very "say" of God, without which "say" He cannot even "pronounce" the "let there be", that is to say, is absolutely impotent to perform the act of creation. To think that God has some another hidden "say", or hidden "Logos" through which He creates the next "say", that is to say, next Logos, through which He again creates the world, will amount to introduction of a negative infinity within God, for this first "say" will also require another "say" and so ad infinitum. Therefore, the Proverbs 8:22's "Lord made (ἔκτισεν) me" is impossible to be interpreted in a strict sense of "creation", for God cannot create without Wisdom, and this Wisdom, thus, is always, co-eternally with Him, unless we assert a blasphemy that God does not eternally possess His ability to create, but first created this ability - a.k.a Wisdom/Logos - and then created the world. But this is a mythology adhered by Arius and his modern-day followers like Jehovah Witnessists and others, but hardly a theology deserving this noble name.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Caleb Apr 14 '19 at 17:20
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As I was researching another question just now about John's sources I came across this Wiki that says that scholars now believe that John's sources do in fact include Proverbs 8:22 and following, as I surmised.

...But the author was also familiar with non-Jewish sources: the Logos of the prologue (the Word that is with God from the beginning of creation) derives from both the Jewish concept of Lady Wisdom and from the Greek philosophers, while John 6 alludes not only to the exodus but also to Greco-Roman mystery cults, while John 4 alludes to Samaritan messianic beliefs.[17]...

"Wisdom" aka "Sophia" (the Greek word) is, in Hebrew a feminine form and is presented as the "virtuous woman" who invites the clueless sinner to dine at her house contrasted to the "heathen woman" whose house is a portal to hADES.

Sophia has an obvious and overarching female character for most of the chapter but is also referred to as a "workman".

So yes, I find with other modern scholars that John is expounding both texts in his narratives about the Messiah, clarifying the origin and nature of the Messiah as the embodiment and expression of God's utterance and his wisdom.

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