Incarnation as Rupture: Anti-Gnosticism in the Gospel of John

Last year during my intermediate Biblical Greek class, I wrote a 40-page paper on the John 1:1-18. This passage is better known as the Prologue of John. The prologue contains 18 verses of, what I believe, to be some of the most fundamental and well-developed Christology in the New Testament.

Many scholars today want to portray the Gospel of John as a gnostic gospel – a gospel that tries to show that Jesus brings cosmic order and knowledge (gnosis) about what is missing in the world. Essentially, Jesus brings the salvation of knowledge and order to humanity who suffers the lack of order. After studying the Gospel of John, I am convinced that the Prologue is not gnostic in any way.

As I have been reading a lot lately on the incarnation and its implications by Peter Rollins, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Zizek, I am further convinced that the Prologue is set against this idea of cosmic order. Let us take John 1:14 for example: “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as the unique one from the father, full of grace and truth.” This is most likely the most popular scripture used to detail the incarnation – God becoming human. If we take this text seriously, does this verse entail fulfillment of the cosmic order, or a total destruction of it?

It seems to me that the incarnation is exactly the opposite of bringing order. Rather, When God becomes human there is a rupture of every structure and cosmic order. The unthinkable event happens and the world is turned on its head. To take it even farther, the incarnation culminated in God being crucified and dying. If God become human does not disrupt the order enough, then God actually dies. However, it does not stop there. There is an even greater disruption in the cosmic order when Jesus is resurrected. These three events – incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection – shatter any attempt to say that Jesus came to bring everything back into balance. No! Jesus came to bring division and to burn down every system of thought. This is what happens when we take John 1:14 seriously. God became human and nothing has ever been the same.

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