Words about the Word: Esolen’s “In the Beginning. . .”
Whenever people ask me what they should read to help them understand the Catholic faith, I say: “Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel.” In his new book, In the Beginning Was the Word: An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John, Anthony Esolen has distilled that to just the first 18 verses of John 1. Professor Esolen has written a tour de force of linguistic and Biblical scholarship that may well endure as an essential evangelical tool for years to come. If you look at John in the right way, it’s hard then to look away. Ever.
But why just the Prologue? Esolen writes:
For a long time, the so-called prologue . . . was called “the Last Gospel,” because it was read after the dismissal at every Mass. Thus would the people leave having heard not only some things that Jesus said, but who Jesus was: and thus might the temptation be checked, to patronize Jesus, to humiliate Him by exalting Him to the status of a great teacher, a deeply spiritual man, an advocate for the poor and the insulted and the injured, and so an icon of peaceful resistance against evil.
That John is the most theological of the four Gospels is common knowledge, although there’s theology in Matthew, Mark, and Luke too.