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December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth...

Posted by DeLong at December 24, 2004 06:53 PM

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Over the passage of time, light will eventually be given to everyone at birth.

Posted by: cloquet at December 24, 2004 07:09 PM

Bah, humbug.

Posted by: Andrew Cholakian at December 24, 2004 07:47 PM


I just want our troops back home.

This is a stupid war, for a stupid president. I wish we had chosen a better president.

I like your site. Keep it up please.

Posted by: ruth at December 24, 2004 07:48 PM

Thanks for the plug Brad.

And Don't worry y'all.

I'll deal with this Bush fellow in due time.

Posted by: Jesus Christ at December 24, 2004 07:51 PM

In the beginning of heaven and earth
There were no words.
Words came out of the womb of matter...

Posted by: Strange Doctrines at December 24, 2004 08:04 PM

Y'know, what exactly does that mean, "in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God" ? Is that "word" as in "utterance" or "bunch of letters"? Someone wrote the bible so someone presumably had something in mind. Anyone care to guess?

Posted by: Some dude at December 24, 2004 08:46 PM

I wonder if this site is on UCB computer. If so, how about separation of church and state?

Posted by: curious at December 24, 2004 08:56 PM

Merry ethnocentric religious fantasy to you too.

Posted by: Tim B. at December 24, 2004 09:23 PM

One wonders if we'd see as much bile posted in comments if Brad had quoted any other religious text but the Christian Bible.

Thanks for reminding us what Christmas is about, Brad. Non-Christians (even former Christians such as myself) might do themselves a bit of good just by reading the rest of the Gospel of John. It will have the tonic effect of illustrating just how anti-Christian the fundies really are. Their pig-headed ignorance of the basic teachings of their faith's founder is breathtaking. You might consider all religious belief irrational, but we're talking irrational squared, here.

Happy Holidays, folks!

Posted by: modus potus at December 24, 2004 10:16 PM

and a merry christmas to you too.

Posted by: julia at December 24, 2004 11:47 PM

—Merry Christmas! the man threatened.

Posted by: William Gaddis at December 25, 2004 12:34 AM

I wish u a merry christmas, i wish u a merry christmas, i wish u a merry christmas and a ...

Posted by: Pancho Villa at December 25, 2004 01:03 AM

O come, O come Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
who mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

Posted by: RT at December 25, 2004 05:16 AM

Peace to all.

Posted by: anne at December 25, 2004 06:30 AM

Merry Christmas to all, even you Tiny Tim.
I am making a special prayer for N. Swarskopf to come out of retirement. We need a brilliant man achieve true peace on earth.

(He saw this coming 13 years ago)

Posted by: Dave S at December 25, 2004 06:58 AM

"En arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon, kai theos en ho logos" -- the Greek word logos had a wide range of meanings in Koine Greek, including 'word' but also 'meaning', 'rule' and 'thought'. One need not be a believing Christian to note that John wasn't talking about phonics, letters or spelling (hmm, 'spell' in English is also ambiguous...), but about a rather Platonic notion of deity.

At least, that's one interpretation -- there are many, many others. YMMV.

Posted by: JO'N at December 25, 2004 06:59 AM

TheWord of GOd is His Message. The Message was, according to Christ: "Love the Lord God with all your heart, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Christ was the Message embodied. As were others before and others after.

Posted by: Carol at December 25, 2004 07:18 AM

Read the argument at the beginning of Geothe's Faust, as the doctor asks whether "in the beginning there was the Word" might be possible or might need to be worded anew. In the beginning was the "Deed?" Dr. Faustus tries writing. Ah, Word or Deed? ... The doctor is a man of words who would be a man a action.

Posted by: anne at December 25, 2004 08:00 AM


Posted by: Elaine Supkis at December 25, 2004 09:03 AM

3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Posted by: Dubblblind at December 25, 2004 10:49 AM

John the Gospeller (not the Baptist mentioned in paragraph 2) originated Christian theology with this terse and clever introduction, putting a spin on the Jesus story which the other gospels do not contain. Paragraph 1 has also been translated recently this way:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was towards God, and God was what the Word was. It was with God in the beginning. All things happened through it, and not one thing that has happened, happened without it. Within it was Life, and the Life was the light of the world. And in the darkness the light is shining, and the darkness never got hold of it."

--from The Unvarnished New Testament, translated by Andy Gaus (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Phanes Press, 1991)

So far, so good. It is the perennial philosphy. Change a few terms and you have textbook vedantism, for example... All religions feel called upon to explain why you don't ALREADY exist in the higher consciousness that forms their basis, since the moment of expansion into it, is experienced as something of a RE-call; while the higher state of being itself proves to be an astounding integration of meaning, and begs the question of whether there is anything it didn't already know: positing its pre-existence, as it were.

So theologies all provide for a fall or splitting, leaving you caught since Adam & Eve in an "earthly" state, which contains a certain connection, or mapping, onto the other state, the "heavenly."

In John's milieu that connector was the Word, or the Logos.

Of course John was borrowing "logos" from its high perch as the rational, intelligible principle which pervades the structure of the world--a broad and malleable concept that had already done an extraordinary amount of heavy-lifting throughout Greek philosophy, from Heraclitus to Aristotle, and at one time or another standing for everything--from the perceiving soul, to the homogenous stuff which underlies all, to the the rational compartmentalization of such. Logos is about splitting and distinction-making, the fundament of language and words. It is no exaggeration to say that the Christians were handed, ready-made, the perfect dominant concept, to cement their particular bridging of the split, by focusing the logos into a single human body.

Even then, we might have had only another devotional cult of an avatar. But John's next paragraphs present us with two unnecessary and monumental mistakes, mistakes not made even by the Hindu devotional cults: that no other can get as high as the Light, and that Jesus is the singular conduit of its now-limited apprehension...

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold at December 25, 2004 01:20 PM

Alright, the inner grinch is taking a day off. Merry Christmas to all.

Posted by: Tim B. at December 25, 2004 01:42 PM

Then again, given the nature of the blog, it is only appropriate that we also remember what might be called the "IRS/Census Bureau" version from the gospel of Luke:

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being with child."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Posted by: Joe at December 25, 2004 02:32 PM

The gospels have become something of a sanctuary for those of us who feel the label "Christian" has been hijacked by short-sighted, selfish, vitriolic, and foolish people. I'll also add ignorant for all Christian voters who didn't "get" Jesus' parable of the pharisee and the tax collector, or most of the bible for that matter.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family Brad, and to everyone out there. Thanks for all the effort you put into this blog.

Posted by: clayton at December 25, 2004 10:12 PM

Let it never be said that a lefty Berkeley economist can't publish something politically incorrect.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at December 25, 2004 11:12 PM

I could not have asked for a better xmas present. The self-proclaimed member of the reality-based community descends into christian mumbo-jumbo.

Earth to Brad:

There is no invisible guy who lives in the sky.

The probability is approximately zero that Jesus' daddy was god and his mommy was a virgin.

Funny how the fellows who have blind faith in an invisible hand also tend to have blind faith in an invisible guy in the sky.

This post wasn't just politically incorrect - it was intellectually incorrect. You can't claim to be a member of the reality-based community and then post Christian mumbo-jumbo.

Posted by: Deb Frisch at December 26, 2004 11:38 AM

Well if you go running around in a higher state of conciousness, people just think you're crazy.

Christianity is a lovely mythology composed of many previous lovely mythologies. What does Christ actually symbolize? The way, the truth, and the light.

Follow what you believe to be true, and let it bring you to the light. Just don't do it in public, or really, people will think you're crazy. ;^)

Posted by: donna at December 26, 2004 01:30 PM

Deb Frisch writes:

There is no invisible guy who lives in the sky.

Well taken, Deb!

As it happens, I'm a Christian, and am alarmed that professing Christians think there is a guy (TM) in the sky (TM) who does whatever. (But you do seem to like that rhyme, don't you?)

As for 'intellectual correctness', well, when you acquire the ability to get simple sums right (see your comments at Crooked Timber, passim), perhaps people will be more willing to give you the time of day.

As for the rest of you, happy Christmas, if that concept has any meaning for you; and hearty best wishes even if it doesn't (and that goes for Deb as well).

Posted by: Mrs Tilton at December 26, 2004 06:32 PM

Deb Frisch: Earth to Brad: There is no invisible guy who lives in the sky.

How would you know - you are saying he is invisible?

Posted by: a at December 26, 2004 09:56 PM

[yet another comment spam makes it through]

Posted by: at December 31, 2004 11:57 AM