John 1:1-4, 14: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. [. . .] The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Concept of Logos

The original term translated as "Word" in this passage is the Greek word logos. When John (under the Holy Spirit's inspiration) applied this concept to Christ, he was making a radical claim. Logos in Greek philosophy is an impersonal rational order that directs and controls the universe. Thus, John can claim that through the Word "all things were made." But he can also state that "The Word became flesh." That impersonal force, he tells us, is actually a personal Being who entered history. Jesus came to show us what God is like. John is also invoking the ancient Hebrew notion of wisdom. To be "full of grace and truth" is to express all that Jewish tradition claimed for Sophia.

Reality Has a Linguistic Structure

The concept of a logos suggests that reality is inherently linguistic in structure, that we need words to relate to, understand, and exist with the world. It equally implies that an order and harmony exists in creation that is uncoverable, and for this too, we need words. Wisdom is found in abiding by this structure and harmony, and in Christ alone is this experienced. Furthermore, it is Christ the Logos who shows us the pattern by which we relate to the cosmos and more importantly to the cosmos' Creator.

Language only has meaning in the end because God has ordered the creation. Literature can only offer us wisdom because God has designed it as part of the order of the universe.

Effects of Sin on Words

Yet Christians also believe that humans are partially out of phase with our world. Sin has clouded our ability to name correctly what is there. We often use words in a fragmented, halting, cursory way. We misunderstand, misname, and miss the point. Sometimes, our names are even out-flat lies. Literature, which depends on words, is often part of this mistaken signification.

No wonder that the Supreme Word needed to become one of us. We needed true language to come dwell among us with a human accent.

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Central Insight: Literature shares in the linguistic structure of God's creation and is an important medium for the pursuit of wisdom.

Suggestions for Application: Reflect on the wisdom present in a particular passage of the text. Make a connection between it and Christ's example. Or look at how certain words are essentially to the meaning of a text. Place this in the context of the linguistic structure of creation.