Thursday, August 13, 2015

Usage in Context Determines Meaning

D. A. Carson:
The wealth of possible backgrounds to the term logos in John’s Prologue suggests that the determining factor is not this or that background but the church’s experience of Jesus Christ. This is not to say the background is irrelevant. It is to say, rather, that when Christians looked around for suitable categories to express what they had come to know of Jesus Christ, many that they applied to him necessarily enjoyed a plethora of antecedent associations. The terms had to be semantically related to what the Christians wanted to say, or they could not have communicated with their own age. 
Nevertheless, many of the terms they chose, including this one, had semantic ranges so broad that they could shape the term by their own usage to make it convey, in the context of their own work, what they knew to be true of Jesus Christ (cf. Boice, p. 163). In that sense, as helpful as the background study may be, it cannot by itself determine exactly what John means by logos. For that information, while thinking through the background uses, we must above all listen to the Evangelist himself.
The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: 1991), 116.