In the Beginning Was the Word: An Annotated Reading of the Prologue of John

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In this extended meditation, Anthony Esolen looks, phrase by phrase, at the majestic Prologue to the Gospel of John, which with good reason he calls “the most influential paragraph in the history of man.” He unfolds its theological richness by showing how the Apostle John has in mind, not only what he saw Jesus do and heard him say, but also the whole witness of Scripture before the time of Jesus, and the way the young Church proclaimed him.

A unique feature of this remarkable work is how Esolen “hears” (and we with him) the Hebrew/Aramaic underlying John’s Greek (which was not his mother tongue), echoing those languages in such a way that, all at once, what we thought could never be more profoundly expressed bursts forth in a renewed poetic splendor that brings into ever keener relief the whole panorama of the theology of the God-Man.

Esolen’s decades-long immersion in Christian poetry and Scripture uniquely positions him as a guide to the astonishing and life-changing “poem” of the Prologue. He says it best: “My hope is not only to illuminate what John wishes us to hear, but to show that, when it comes to this poetry, John is not the originator; he is, rather, the beloved disciple who caught the habit from the Lord Himself.”


“This book is more than biblical interpretation. It is poetry — and poetry about the greatest work of poetry ever generated: the Prologue to John’s gospel.” —SCOTT HAHN

“A word-by-word commentary that is accessible and scholarly, robustly orthodox, and poetically inspiring.” —FR DWIGHT LONGENECKER

“Here philological expertise is brought to bear on the paragraph of text that is arguably the most pregnant with meaning of any ever written.” —FR LUKE BELL

“In this splendid gem of a book, Anthony Esolen reminds us that all Scripture — perhaps especially the Gospel of John — sparkles and delights, if only we would see its theological, philosophical, and poetical brilliance.” —R. J. SNELL

“Anthony Esolen here reveals something of the original tongues that fed into this theological overture, allowing our souls to resonate with the allusive overtones of the Logos that tells us our Story.” —SCOTT RANDALL PAINE

“This unique, arresting book allows a mere eighteen verses to shed their light into the very heart of life and culture!” —R. JARED STAUDT

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