If you have access to JStor, I strongly recommend reading Daniel Boyarin’s The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John.

The University of Berkeley has also provided a version here:

Click to access 108%20Gospel%20of%20the%20Memra%20(2001).pdf


The Tabernacle was placed in the midst of the camp of the Israelites as they journeyed from Sinai to the Promised Land. After the conquest under Joshua and Caleb, the Tabernacle was located a Shiloh, a central place among the Twelve Tribes. The Ark in the Holy of Holies represented the presence of God: He was said to be enthroned between the cherubim, His throne guardians.

God also walked among His people as the Word, as the Angel of Yahweh, the Commander of Yahweh’s host. The Word visited Abram (Gen. 15:1), the Angel guided the Israelites in the Wilderness (Exod. 23:20-23), and the Commander encouraged Joshua before battle (Jos. 5:13-15). In the time of the Judges, the Angel of Yahweh foretold the birth of Samson to his parents (Jdg. 13).The Word called Samuel to ministry (1 Sam 3:21).

In referring to Jesus as the Word of God (Jn 1:1; Rev 19:13) and in telling his readers about Jesus’ claim to be the Temple of God (Jn 1:14; 2:19, 21), John was directing them to see Jesus as the Old Testament God who moved among the Israelites, now made flesh. Resisting a prophet of God is bad enough; but Jesus was more than a mere human prophet. He was God himself, come to speak to His people Israel. He reminded them that they had seen Him before: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (Jn 8:56).

As the King of the Jews (Matt 2:2; 27:11, 37; Jn 19:19-22), Jesus was more than a mere descendant of King David. He was Yahweh’s vice-regent in the Divine Council, who rules the Church (the human part of the Divine Council) on Yahweh’s behalf, and who will come again to rule Israel from a throne in Jerusalem (Matt 5:35; 25:31).

Sometimes we need to remember that Jesus is the God who walked in the midst of Israel: it is important to our outreach to Jews and Muslims. We must not give in to the lie that Jesus is some mysterious figure who “came from nowhere” in c. 4 BC. The points made in today’s post underlie Jesus’s stern messages about Israel’s rejection of Him (e.g. Lk 19:44).

Josephus must have understood something to this effect in the aftermath of 70 AD, since he interprets the fall of Jerusalem according to the paradigm of its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in the time of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Jerusalem fell in Nebuchadnezzar’s day because Judah had been compromised by idolatry. In the time of the Apostles, it fell because Judah did not know the time of her visitation by Yahweh (Lk 19:44). Just as God was faithful in restoring the Jews to the land of Israel under Cyrus and his successors, so we have seen God doing the same thing today. His work is not finished, but we can see the signs of its progress with the coming of many Jews, both inside and outside Israel, to faith in their Messiah. May God’s work continue.