Graham Jackman filled a book with (more than) 366 pages examining the meaning of the title phrase, taken from John 1:14, in relation to several key aspects of John’s Gospel.
At its centre stand, inevitably, two chapters focusing on the person of Jesus as portrayed by John, including one examining critically the use made of John’s Gospel in support of a Trinitarian conception of Jesus.
The title of this book, “The Word Became Flesh” taken from John 1:14, is normally taken to refer to the notion of ‘incarnation’, which understands ‘the word’ as a pre-existent Son of God and ‘becoming flesh’ as the transformation of this ‘word’ from a heavenly, divine existence to the life of a human being. Against this conventional interpretation the author argues that John’s use of the term ‘word’ really does refer to an act of speaking, God’s expression of His will, and that ‘becoming flesh’ describes the realisation or embodiment of His intentions, from creation onward, in a form perceptible to human senses, not only in the ‘flesh’ of Jesus but also in historical reality in the world of men. This has implications for other aspects of John’s Gospel, including its historicity, its literary form, and its relationship to the Old Testament, and leads to very different conclusions about the central issue in John’s Gospel, the person of Jesus and his relationship to God the Father and to those who believe in him.
Other chapters explore the implications of John’s phrase in relation to the world’s response to God’s word in Jesus, to the historicity of John’s Gospel, its relation to the Old Testament, and the form of the Gospel itself. In addition, two appendices consider the identity of the writer of this Gospel and its relationship to John’s First Epistle.
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