"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Word Made Flesh
Birth of Jesus
John 1:1-18 Commentary
by Thomas B. Slater
To say that “the Word became flesh” in the first Christian century carried a variety of meanings.
Platonists believed that the high god was transcendent and aloof from the world. They also believed that the mind was the superior part of human beings and that the mind had to control the flesh. The flesh was weak and leaned toward pleasure to the excess. The Word becoming flesh would have been a ridiculous statement for Platonists: while a god might assume human-likeness, surely no self-respecting god would actually become human.
Stoicism did not believe the high god was aloof. Indeed, the Stoics believed that God and universe were two aspects of the same reality, that is God and world were inseparable. God was the logical center of the universe, giving rationality and logic to the whole. Moreover, a spark of the divine was in every living creature. For the Stoics to say “the Word became flesh” could simply mean that God was at the center of human activity. While Stoics might quiver with the details of what that means, it would be a starting point for an intriguing conversation. ...
| Bible Text
2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL297: Word Made Flesh
December 24, 2017
This is the podcast for John 1:1-18, the Narrative Lectionary reading for the morning of Dec. 24, 2017, featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Karoline Lewis. Podcast recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.