Friday, November 03, 2006

Theology: The "Word of God", is it Jesus or the Bible?

Perhaps this will garner much attention, or perhaps no one will notice it. Nevertheless, I ask the tough question: What is the Word of God? Is the Bible (or Holy Scripture in general) the Word of God? Is Jesus the Word of God? What does "the word(s) of God" and "the word(s) of the LORD" mean? Is Scripture really referring to itself? Did Scripture come to Jeremiah? To Amos? To Obadiah? To Jonah? Or is "the word" something else?

I posit that the phrase, when found in Scripture, means "revelation from God" generally, and specifically refers to an encounter with the Word of God, the second Person of the Trinity. Jesus equates himself with the Word, and John the Evangelist recognized this (John 1:1-14). Other New Testament writings support this stance. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is the totality of revelation from God made present to us. When he spoke, it really was the words of God coming from the Word of God. It couldn't be otherwise. Jesus = the Word of God = revelation from God.

So what does that make the Bible? Scripture is a witness or testimony to the Word. It contains the Word, it describes the Word, but it is not itself the Word. Frankly I find it hard to believe one would accept "Jesus is the Bible" and not "Jesus is the Eucharist". If one is going to argue that "Jesus is in heaven, and therefore he's not on earth as a piece of bread" (an argument I have received on the subject) then the idea that "Jesus is on earth in/as the Bible" is equally ludicrous.
  • Genesis 1:3, where it is the voice of God, the Word of God, through which light (and all things) came into being. God didn’t create the universe with Scripture.

  • Luke 8:11, where Jesus explains the parable of the sower and the seed. In equating the seed with the “word of God”, Jesus equates the “word of God” with himself, for he describes himself as the seed which must fall to earth and die to bear great fruit.

  • John 1:1-14, where John proclaims that the Word is God, and that the Word manifest itself in the flesh in the human Jesus.

  • Hebrews 11:3 and 2 Peter 3:5, where we read that “the world was created by the word of God” (RSV), which cannot mean the Bible or Scripture.

  • 1 John 2:14, where John writes that “the word of God abides in you” (RSV). He means not Scripture, but the commandments of God, revealed to us and written on our hearts (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34), a new covenant through Jesus Christ.

  • Revelation 6:9, which describes “those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne” (RSV). These are not people who died for the sake of a book, but for the sake of Jesus Christ. (Cf. Revelation 1:2 and Revelation 20:4, where “the word of God” and “Jesus” are both used—again, this refers not to particular Scriptures (especially since the Bible was not formulated at the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation), but to the revelation received from God.)

  • Revelation 19:13, which clearly states “He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” The name of Jesus, before ever he was Yeshua Baryosef (or similar), was The Word of God.
I open the floor to your interpretations, opinions, beliefs, etc. Whether you agree or disagree, please provide references to Scripture (and explanations) that support your position. Writings from the Church Fathers (a source which I have not looked into yet) are acceptable and appreciated.


preacherman said...

Great post.
I believe the word of God is Jesus, and the Bible.
If you look at John and His gospel and letters you see that in the beginning was the word was with God, the word was God...The word became flesh and dwelt among us. That is refering to Jesus.
I believe the Bible is also the word of God. The prophets you mention were empowered by the Holy Spirit. God spoke through them. God used them.
F.F. Bruces is a great scholar.
I recommend his book "The Canon of Scripture".

Grey Owl said...

Our jargon trips us up.

We use the word 'Logos' or 'Word' to describe contact with the Creator.

The easiest word we have that translates those words is 'consciousness.'

We desire to come into contact with the Consciousness of God.

The only problem being that God speaks only in Wisdom, that means we either accept it and let the meaning form by itself, or we choose what meaning we want from the wisdom.

We prefer the security of prose. But the language of the spirit world is poetry. It causes a lot of problems for us.

Weekend Fisher said...

If "the Word of God" is God's self-revelation, then that's primarily Jesus. Scripture largely exists to testify of Jesus (not just Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and large sections of the epistles and the prophets, but also the ceremonial law and all the foreshadowing).

I don't see a need to make this a sharp either/or kind of thing. If you haven't had a chance to read Athanasius _On the Incarnation of the Word of God_, I'd recommend it.