3 The Ministry of the Incarnate Logos (John 1:6-13)
In comparison with the first five verses of the Prologue, vs. 6 ("There was a man . . .") involves a basic change of content. The fourth evangelist moves from statements about the pre-existent Logos and abstract issues such as life, light, and darkness, to a historical person living in a concrete historical situation. In- asmuch as that person is John the Baptist,' the precursor of the Messiah accord- ing to the Synoptic tradition (Matt 3:1-11; Mark 1:2-8; Luke 3:1-18), most mod- ern scholars, even some among those who accept the hymn hypothesis, find it quite natural to understand this new section as referring to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.' Yet, since the incarnation is explicitly presented only in vs. 14, 'Peter Hofrichter's thesis that, in its original form, vs. 6 referred to the Logos and thus consisted of the first mention in the Prologue of the incarnation (Im Anfang war der 'Johan- nesprolog': Das urchristliche Logosbekenntnis, die Basis neutestamentlicher und gnosticher Theologie, BU 17 [Regensburg: Pustet, 1986], 91-94), is interesting but essentially specula- tive. He argues that behind the extant Prologue, which comes from a later ecclesiastical redac- tor, there lies what he calls a "Logos-confession," the first of its kind in early Christianity, whose influence can be detected not only in the Fourth Gospel, but also in almost every NT writing, as well as in the gnostic literature. With regard to vss. 6-8, he suggests that vss. 6c, 7a, and 8 are redactional, and that the...
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