In an introductory workshop in which I have been involved twice in the last few months we have been at pains to emphasise the importance of recognising that Jesus of Nazareth is a human being and that what we see in him is the Logos about which the prologue of John’s Gospel speaks. In discussion afterwards it has become clear that we have to be careful of the vocabulary we use to describe what is going on. In the end, of course, we cannot describe the indescribable and we engage with this at a deeper level than thought.
My concerns are really about Christ and Logos. John’s Gospel uses the expression, (ὁ) λόγος (Logos) which means (the) Word and is translated as Word in most English bibles. The word (ὁ) Χριστός, (the) Christ, is a translation into Greek of the Hebrew word, מָשִׁיחַ (Messiah). מָשִׁיחַ means anointed, usually for a specific purpose or function. John’s Gospel’s Word and the more generally used expression in the gospels, Christ, are not interchangeable and in some ways we might be more correct to talk of the Cosmic Logos or Cosmic Word instead of Cosmic Christ which is the expression often used to describe the Christ who is present with us and in the universe as opposed to the man Jesus of Nazareth who lived two thousand years ago.
We have to distinguish between Jesus’ anointing as the Christ/Messiah and his divine nature. When we are aware of the distinction then we are better equipped to read the gospels with sensitivity to the story-tellers’ intention.