John 1:1

New Testament

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it. 6 A man came, sent from God, whose name was John.

Genesis Rabbah 1


The great Rabbi Hoshaya opened [with the verse (Mishlei 8:30),] "I [the Torah] was an amon to Him and I was a plaything to Him every day." Amon means "pedagogue" (i.e. nanny). Amon means "covered." Amon means "hidden." And there is one who says amon means "great." Amon means "nanny," as in (Bamidbar 11:12) “As a nanny (omein) carries the suckling child." Amon means "covered," as in (Eichah 4:5) "Those who were covered (emunim) in scarlet have embraced refuse heaps." Amon means "hidden," as in (Esther 2:7) "He hid away (omein) Hadassah." Amon means "great," as in (Nahum 3:8) "Are you better than No-amon [which dwells in the rivers]?" which the Targum renders as, "Are you better than Alexandria the Great (amon), which dwells between the rivers?" Alternatively, amon means "artisan." The Torah is saying, "I was the artisan's tool of Hashem." In the way of the world, a king of flesh and blood who builds a castle does not do so from his own knowledge, but rather from the knowledge of an architect, and the architect does not build it from his own knowledge, but rather he has scrolls and books in order to know how to make rooms and doorways. So too Hashem gazed into the Torah and created the world. Similarly the Torah says, "Through the reishis Hashem created [the heavens and the earth]," and reishis means Torah, as in "Hashem made me [the Torah] the beginning (reishis) of His way" (Mishlei 8:22).

 Notes and References

"... The hermeneutical move would be presumably similar to the one made in Bere'shit Rabbah, where we read: "The Holy Blessed One looked into the Torah, and created the world, as the Torah says, 'In the Beginning God created,' and 'Beginning' can mean nothing but Torah, just as it is said, 'H' begat me/made me/acquired me at the Beginning of his way' " (ed. Jehuda Theodor and Hanoch Albeck; Bere'shit Rabbah [Jerusalem: Wahrmann, 1965]). The difference in the role between the Logos and the Torah is of central importance: the Logos is an actual, personified agent, while for the Rabbis, Wisdom has been captured in a Book, and there is only one agent, but the hermeneutical move that lies behind this midrash and behind the opening verse of the Fourth Gospel is surely the same ..."

Boyarin, Daniel The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John (pp. 243-284) Cambridge University Press, 2001

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