The God and a god
by Eugene Halliday
The Gospel of John, the fourth gospel in the New Testament, starts with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. So says the English version. But the original Greek version says something slightly different, and this slight difference is of tremendous importance.
The literal translation of the Greek says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and God was the Word”. It goes on, “This one was in the beginning with the God. All things through him were generated, and without him was generated not one thing which has been generated”.
In the Greek the word for “the” is used before God when God is first mentioned. Then “God” is used without the word for “the”. Then it says, “This one (that is, this God without the word “the” before it, this Word-God) “was in the beginning with the God”.
What is the meaning of this? Why is the word for “the” used before “God”, then “God” used without “the”, then “the” used before “God” again?
In the Greek, to put “the” before the word “God” makes this God more important than “God” without “the”. Without “the” before it “God” is merely “a” god. Let us put this down. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word. This one (a god, which was the Word) “was in the beginning with the God.” Now let us simplify it further.
“In the beginning (of Creation) was the Word (the principle of order), and the principle of Order was with the God (the supreme God, or ultimate source of the principle of Order), and the principle of Order was (equivalent to) a god, and was in the beginning of Creation with the supreme Source of Creation. All things were generated by the principle of Order and without this principle nothing was generated.” This begins to sound a little more explicit. Let us re-word it.
“In the beginning of creation was the principle of order, which was with the supreme Source. The principle of order was the generator of all things which came into being.”
In the Greek the term the English give as “Word” is “Logos”, which means “Ratio”, or “Reason-Word”. The Greeks had also another term for “Word”, that is, “Mythos”. But “Mythos” does not mean “Rational Word”. It means a word coming from below the level of the rational mind. In French the same distinction is observed in the two terms for word, “parole” and “mot”. “Parole” contains the idea of rationality which is not expressed in “mot”. The English term “word” implies a principle of order, that is, a rational principle.
What is the basic idea behind the concept of order or rationality? To order is to arrange things in such a manner that what is arranged can clearly be seen for what it is. Rationality is the power which places things in such relation that the ratio of one thing to another may be clearly seen. Both order and rationality pre-suppose an arrangement of things such that the relation of each thing to the others is seen. The basic idea behind “order” and “rationality” is “arrangement”, that is, the placing of things where their form and nature may clearly be seen.
The Logos or Rational Word or ordering principle is the energy which brings order out of chaos. Creation is a process which puts energy into orderly forms. Before creation the forces of the universe must be thought of as moving chaotically, that is in a disorderly manner. This is why John’s Gospel says that in the beginning, (that is, in the beginning of creation), the forces which had been running about chaotically were brought into order; all the disorderly forces were subjected to a superior controlling force which imposed order upon them. This superior ordering force is what John calls the Logos or Word, the principle of order. By principle of order we mean the force which first imposed order on all the other forces which were before moving haphazardly throughout space.
In the beginning of the creation the forces which before this were moving chaotically, were constrained into orderly relations by a superior force which circumscribed them, and so imposed upon them the form of motion we call rotation. This rotatory motion in its first all-encompassing action is called, in certain schools of thought, the Great Rota. It acts like a huge centrifuge, separating out into their appropriate zones, band around band, all the various types of motion found in Chaos. Chaos, by this centrifugal action, is flung towards the rim of the Great Rota and, each type of motion moving into a band corresponding to its own frequency and motion-pattern, is appointed to an orbit in which its characteristics may express themselves.
Whatever scientific thinkers may think of this, what is certain is that every existential being in the whole system of universes is primarily determined in its location, function and form by the fact of rotation, by the fact of the cyclical nature of manifest motion. To think other than this is to ignore the facts of visible existence and of all phenomena.
Every created thing is a function of rotation, that is, of a rationalising force, a principle of order. And as John says, “Without this principle of order, this Logos-Word, no being which exists could have come into being.”
To exist, to be, is to rotate, to be circumscribed, to turn, and in turning to generate a wheel of forces, the rim of which wheel is the outer limit of existential being. The Logos-Word, the Ratio, the Great Pi-function of the original circulating force, is the originator of all existential forms of being whatever. As long as things exist, in any world whatever, the circulatory force, the Great Pi-Ratio function, will remain the basic ground of their being. The Logos functions, therefore, as a God of existential reality. Underneath and beyond all rational forces is the supreme power of the Infinite who is called the God. Underneath the Logos-form is the power which keeps it in being. The Logos-energy is the working process of the infinite power of the God. The God, therefore, incarnates or embodies itself in the form of the Logos-energy, a god for all existential beings, and a fit object of worship for the beings who owe their existence to its eternal function.
To know the Logos-God which is the formulating energy of the God, Supreme Source of all things, is to know the incarnation of the God in its self-revelation. Here is the possibility for man, by pure reason, of comprehending the mystery of the Infinite in its manifest self-expression. “Who has seen me”, says Christ, “has seen the Father.”