The Scripture Scout
Word with a Capital W
My German Summer, part 1
Elfi is a young workingwoman who plays piano and loves to meet new people. She is also a profound thinker, although it is sometimes hard to see that because she is just getting used to a more fluent English and it is hard to explain herself. (I totally get that!) She wants to read to learn new vocabulary. So this afternoon we read from “World and Press” (the same newspaper the coffee gals introduced me to). We chose an article and worked through the harder vocabulary. She likes having something somewhat bilingual so that she can learn new words, phrases, and idioms. I showed her my bilingual bible (the GermanEnglish one) and she wanted to try it, so we read from the book of John because he is pretty easy to understand, although somewhat philosophical.
Elfi read first in English, picking out difficult vocabulary words about which to ask questions. Then she brilliantly thought of reading the German (in her mind) and translating it to me into English in her own words. This brought out a very interesting discussion.
Before the world was created, the Word already existed; he was with God, and he was the same as God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him. The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
Am Anfang, bevor die Welt geschaffen wurde, war Er, der das Wort ist. Er war bei Gott und in allem Gott gleich. Von Anfang an war er bei Gott. Durch ihn wurde alles geschaffen; nicts ist enstanden ohne ih. In allem Geschaffenen war er das Leben, und für die Menschen war er das Licht. Das Lict strahlt in der Finsternis, und die Finsternis hat es nicht auslöschen können.
The word “word” in English is capitalized by the English translators when referring to Jesus. One reason is because we English-speakers do not capitalize our nouns. Germans do. Every last one of them. So it is very interesting that the word “Word” would be capitalized in English and none other.
As Elfi is fascinated by word history, our English chat had an interesting theme (since I share that love). Nouns are the substance of a sentence. They give you the reason for the sentence. Without nouns, ya get nada. Without grammar, your nouns don’t always make a whole lot of sense. The Greek word 'logos' has an interesting history. The written word on a page is different than “the Word with a capital” as she called it. The written word is what we look at and read in order to understand language and communication. The Word with a capital is what we look at to understand God. John referred to Jesus as the Word because of what Jesus was trying to communicate – a way to “get” God.
No one can understand God, and he is a fool who says he does. But I “get” Jesus. Just like nouns and grammar, God is the substance of life. He gives us the reason to exist. Without God, in my humble opinion, ya get nada. Without Jesus, God doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense. But this Word (Jesus) shined in the darkness and put new light on a way to “get” God.
The Jews had (or maybe still have) this expression; “You can never put your foot in the same river twice.” The expression means to some that God is the moving force amoung us. The logos is explained (in grammar) as now and ongoing, like the river. And John says this same The Logos (The Word) is the ultimate source of the light.
Good reason to have a capital letter. Elfi thought so too.
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