“In the beginning was the Word … ” John i.1
Philosophers and scientists have always claimed to know precisely how the universe began. However, their claims and stories keep changing and they contradict one another. Although none of us were there at the beginning, those who claim to be wise describe those moments vividly as if they had witnessed the birth of the cosmos.
When the Bible speaks about the beginning, its writers are not guilty of encroaching into the domain of humanity’s frail science. Instead, when scientists air their guesses regarding the origins of the earth, they step outside their domain and challenge the divine revelation found in the Bible. They would rather keep God out of their discussions even though He alone was there at beginning. Unlike scientists, the evangelist John was certain about the beginning. He echoed the opening words of Genesis in the first sentence of his gospel. En arche, In the beginning …. Moses and John were not indulging in conjecture when they wrote definitively about the beginning of time. They were inspired by the divine Holy Spirit to convey a sacred revelation to all their readers.
In the beginning God … These first words of the Holy Bible tell us that we need to believe in God and enthrone Him at the center of all our spiritual and intellectual pursuits in order to make sense of the universe. These words introduce the Creator of everything seen and unseen. He is the Fountain and Source of everything. In the beginning God … The universe had a definite beginning. Only God is eternal, without a beginning or an end. God is not part of this universe. He was already there in the beginning.
While Moses thus introduced the beginning of creation, John’s words – “In the beginning …” – introduced the beginning of a new creation and a new covenant. The original Jewish readers of this book wouldn’t have missed John’s allusion to Genesis i.1. These words created a sense of expectation. The author was about to announce the beginning of something new and wonderful. The new covenant in Jesus Christ was essentially a continuation of what God had done in the past. At the same time, there was a discontinuity too. God was about to discard the shadows of Old Testament symbolism and introduce the reality to which these pointed.
The old ways would fade away. The newness of life through Jesus Christ was now available to everyone who believed, to Jews and Gentiles! A new Vine, a new Shepherd, a new flock, a new River of life, a new light, a new commandment, a new Comforter, a new mission, … The evangelist was poised to introduce all these and more to his people. Why would he choose an opening line other than that of the sacred Torah? In the beginning was the Logos.