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Incarnation and Covenant in the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel (John 1:1-18)


Wilson Paroschi

This study deals with the structural and exegetical relationship between pre-existence and incarnation in the dynamics of John‘s Prologue (John 1:1-18). It discusses the point in the narrative at which the shift from the pre-existent Logos to the incarnate Christ takes place and, therefore, the perspective from which the individual parts of the passage (vss. 1-5; vss. 6-13; vss. 14-18) should be interpreted. By making a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the text and evaluating all contrasting views on the subject, the book shows the essential chronological order of the narrative, whose climax (vss. 14-18) is not the announcement of the incarnation proper, but rather a profound theological reflection on the significance of that event based on the covenantal traditions of the exodus story and later prophetic expectations.


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2 The Pre-existent Mode of the Logos (John 1:1-5)


It is almost universally held that the first five verses of the Prologue form one section and that the second section does not begin until vs. 6. 1 This view springs naturally from the feeling that the reference to John the Baptist (vss. 6-8) marks a thematic shift in which the incarnate Christ becomes the new subject matter, against the being and activity of the pre-existent Logos of the previous verses. 2 'E.g., Adolf Harnack, "Über das Verhältnis des Prologs des vierten Evangelium zum ganzen Werk," ZThK 2 (1892): 218; J. E. Belser, "Der Prolog des Johannesevangeliums," ThQ 85 (1903): 485; Wilhelm Heitmüller, "Das Johannes-Evangelium," in Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments neu übersetzt und für die Gegenwart erklärt, 3 d ed., 4 vols., ed. Wilhelm Bousset and Wilhelm Heitmüller (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1917-1918), 4:40- 41; Alfred Loisy, Le quatribne Evangile, 2d ed. (Paris: Nourry, 1921), 87; Theodor Zahn, Das Evangelium des Johannes, 6 th ed. (Leipzig: Deichen, 1921; reprint, Wuppertal: Brockhaus, 1983), 64; M.-J. Lagrange, Evangile selon Saint Jean, 2d ed., EtB (Paris: Gabalda, 1925), 1; Walter Bauer, Das Johannesevangelium, 3 d ed., HNT 6 (Tübingen: Mohr, 1933), 15; Gächter, 101-103; Eugen Ruckstuhl, Die literarische Einheit des Johannesevangeliums: Der gegen- wärtige Stand der einschlägigen Forschungen (Freiburg: Paulus, 1951), 71; Hermann Strath- mann, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 10th ed., NTD 4 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ru- precht, 1963), 29; Walther Eltester, "Der Logos und sein Prophet: Fragen zur heutigen Erk- l...

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