In the beginning was the Word

I am currently trying to unravel the meaning of John 1:10 “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”
What does it mean?

  1. Is the whole verse a reference to his pervasive Logos/Creator presence which was ignored as special revelation?
  2. Or is “in the world” a reference to his Logos/Creator presence and “knew him not” about the incarnation
  3. Or is “in the world” a reference to his incarnation as well?

I am just not sure how to judge between 1&2 . But I am leaning toward the common idea that “in the world” means the presence he already had before he came into the world as a human. This would avoid the odd tense- shift from “coming into the world” (v9) to “was in the world”. And it would also go neatly with “and the world was made by him”.

But I must confess my reasons are partly theological too. I am attracted by the idea that Christ’s presence in the world is not simply mediatorial (as if the Father could have just created the world by himself and it would have been just the same) but that it is in some mysterious way “formal” (as in the Logos as Logos/Son gives the world its form).

If that is true then all the best parts of Neoplatonism come true. I mean bits like this:


As Kingfishers Catch Fire

        As king fishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
            As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
            Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
        Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
        Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
            Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
            Selves – goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
        Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

        I say more: the just man justices;
            Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
        Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is–
            Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
        Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
            To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

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