“In the beginning was the Word” reads the opening verse of the Gospel of John, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In the context of the gospel, it is clear that the Word is identified with Jesus of Nazareth, the charismatic preacher who had been crucified by the Romans some 60 years before the gospel was written. John’s gospel is exceptional in the New Testament for the explicitness of its claim that Jesus was divine. Nonetheless, it is both the culmination of a trend within Judaism and a good indicator of the course Christian theology would take in the following centuries. This development would accentuate the gap between emerging Christianity and Judaism.
By nearly all accounts, at the end of the first century C.E. strict monotheism had long been one of the pillars of Judaism.1