23 The sheer comprehensive power of the Word ANTHONY ESOLEN Howmight we render John’s words, then, to illuminate the sheer comprehensive power he attributes to theWord [Logos]? By him, all things came to pass (egeneto), and nothing that came to pass (egeneto) did so without him. All things happened through him, and no happening came to happen without him. All things were begotten through him, and without him nothing was begotten, that was begotten.... What does the evangelist mean, however, when he says that all things came to pass through the Word? The King James translation, almost always sensitive to figurative meanings and suggestions made present in and through the literal, here is a bit weak: “All things were made by him.” John’s preposition, dia, is the strongest possible for what he wants to express. It means through, suggesting motion all the way through to the end. It is not the most common word for mere instrumentality or agency. So God “spake by [dia] the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began,” says Zacharias the father of the Baptist (Lk 1:70). The prophet is not some inanimate trumpet to be played and then set aside. He is fully himself and fully energized by the Lord; most fully himself, because most filled with God. Or, for a terrible alternative, even a sinner may be wholly taken up in God’s providential plan. “Truly the Son of man goeth,” says Jesus to his apostles at the Last Supper, “but woe unto that man by [dia] whom he is betrayed!” (Lk 22:22). So Milton in Paradise Lost describes the Son as being in himself the fullness of the Father’s creative power: And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee This I perform, speak thou, and be it done. (7.163-64) So spake th’Almighty, and to what he spake His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect. (7.174-75) ... The Word of God [Milton] portrays in action here in creating world upon world is much closer to the Word as revealed to us in the words of Saint John than he is to a mere teacher, or to any man we might appreciate and patronize. Let us never reduce Christ to mere greatness. To say that all things were made, or come to pass, or are begotten not merely by but through the Word, the Speaking, is to rule out any opposition between Creator and Redeemer. Anthony Esolen is a professor of humanities, and writer in residence, at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts. He has written or translated twenty-five books on language, literature, culture, and the Christian faith, including a three-volume translation and edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy and a collection of original religious poetry, The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. The excerpt is from his recent poetic commentary on the Prologue to the Gospel according to Saint John. Anthony Esolen, In the Beginning was the Word: An annotated reading of the Prologue of John (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2021), 24-25.