But what does one make of N. T. Wright's new translation in The Kingdom New Testament, released last month?
The Word "was close beside God"? And yet "was God"? How does that work? To be "close beside" still implies distance (just not a lot) and separation.
The variation between "was with" and "was" doesn't seem quite so striking in other translations, but here it hits you - or at least it does me - full on.
The more common translations seem to slide the emphasis in verse 2 to the time frame: He was in the beginning with God (NAB). Wright's choice puts the stress on the second part: In the beginning, he was close to God.
Wright also translates this whole section as prose, whereas many would regard it as a hymn, better rendered in verse (and so less open to dogmatic speculation.)
You do have to wonder what the Johannine author was trying to communicate, though of course we're never likely to know. Strip away the anachronistic Trinitarian bias though, and I wonder if Hugh Schonfield didn't come close.
In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was with God.
So the Word was divine.
It was in the beginning with God.