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Posted January 7, 2013

Book: The Gospel of St. John: The Word became flesh
Author: William A. Anderson
Liguori Press. Liguori, Missouri. 2012. pp. 143

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The Gospel of John presents Christ right from the beginning, as the tangible reality of God's plan for the world. John's Gospel, written between AD 90 and 100, speaks about God, creation, and the meaning and message of Jesus Christ.

This gospel focuses on Jesus as the Word Became Flesh, existing before creation. The prologue found in the Gospel of John echoes the creation story in Genesis: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

As you read Scripture passages, reflecting on them with Father Bill Anderson's narrative and applying the spiritual practice of lectio divina, they will enkindle in you a deeper insight into God's love for us.

An Excerpt from the Book:

John 1:1-5 The Word of God

The opening words of the gospel are the same as those found in the opening of the Book of Genesis: "In the beginning --- Here, the beginning refers directly to an existence before the beginning of the world, that is, the eternal that existed before time, creation, etc. . . . John uses the term "Word," to write about the Son of God noting that the Word of God is eternal as God is eternal. This reference to the "Word" is unique to John's Gospel. It may have some philosophical foundations that influenced the author of the gospel. However, the author does not use the term "Word" in an abstract sense but rather refers to a person who is God. In this way, he is drawing on his Hebrew background rather than making use of a philosophical connotation of the term.

The use of the term "Word" recalls the image of Wisdom found in the Old Testament Book of Wisdom, presenting Wisdom as a person who was with God before the beginning of the world, sharing in God's glory, and who will come to earth to guide human beings. Just as this Old Testament author speaks of Wisdom as a person, so the author of the Gospel of John refers to the Word as a person.

"The Word was with God" shows a relationship of presence between the Word and God. In the Book of Proverbs, we read that Wisdom was in the presence of God before the creation of the world. John tells us that the Word was not only with God, but was God. Through these opening words, John tells us that the Son of God, whom he identified as the Word, was one with God from all eternity. John reveals a unity and a distinction between the Father and the Word by stating that the Word was God and, at the same time, that the Word was "with" God. This is a theme that will be developed throughout the gospel. The theological statements of the hymn present an overture for the rest of the gospel and reveal Jesus as the Word made flesh.

The Word of God is always creative, as we discover in the opening lines of the Book of Genesis. In the story of creation, God generates life with the spoken word. When God speaks, something happens. For this reason, the author of the gospel of John can say that the Word existed with God from the beginning, and that everything in creation came into being through the Word. The author stresses creation through the Word by adding that "without him nothing came to be."

Throughout the gospel, John uses contrasts, as he does with the contrast between light and darkness. A major theme of the gospel is the conflict between light and darkness. From the beginning, in the Prologue, John tells us the successful outcome of the Word in creation. Through the Word, life came to the world, and "this life was the light of the human race." This life came to the world as light in the darkness by the power of evil. It is not merely the physical world, but also the spiritual world of God's love and grace that come to us through the Word. The light continues to shine in the darkness, and the darkness has not "overcome it."

Table of Contents:

And the Word became flesh

Jesus gives living water

Jesus, the Bread of Life

Jesus and the Father are one

The approach of Jesus' hour

Jesus sends an Advocate

The crucifixion of Jesus

The resurrection of Jesus