In the Beginning

In the beginning, God created… This  word beginning (Heb. reshiyth) is interesting. It can mean first in time and also in position or prominence, as in head or chief. It is also frequently rendered as firstfruits. The article, the in English, isn’t present in the Hebrew. It just reads b’reshiyth, In beginning… This is common for abstract nouns—the same way we would say he is in love rather than he is in the love—and also for persons. The construction allows for understanding this both in terms of time and of person. Colossians 1:18 brings all these ideas together in the person of the Son: he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead… George MacDonald makes a similar argument, that when John says in his gospel In the beginning was the Word, it should be understood not only, or maybe even not primarily, as a reference to the start of time, but to the fact that all of creation is made in and through the Word. Or, in other words, Beginning was another name for the Word who is with God and is God. He is the origin, the source, the underlying being from which all beings have existence.