Christ, the Beginning of Creation – Part I
by Fr. Maximilian M. Dean, F.I.
[To see the full article on one page visit Appendix: Christ the Beginning]
The scope of this little study is to show that the true meaning of the Prologue of St. John, according to Sacred Scripture and Tradition, is this: Christ, the Word made flesh, the God-Man, is the beginning in which God created everything.
In establishing that Jesus Christ was “the Beginning of the creation of God” (Apoc 3:14), that all things were created by means of Him (cfr. Jn 1:3; Heb 1:2-3; Col 1:16), it follows that the teaching of Bl. John Duns Scotus on the absolute primacy of Christ is not only “probable,” according to the expression of St. Thomas Aquinas, but revealed doctrine. The Beginning of God’s creation could never be “occasioned”  by any creature or creaturely need. Why? Because if one were to hold that Christ, the summum opus Dei, was “occasioned,” then He would cease to be the Beginning of the creation of God and would rather be reduced to the remedy of the creation of God; He would cease to be the Firstborn of all creatures and would instead become the ‘afterborn,’ that is, the divine ‘afterthought’ resulting from the foreseen consideration of Adam’s sin. And this, as the Subtle Doctor teaches, is “absurd.” 
Let us then study more in depth this assertion: Christ is the Beginning.
“In the beginning was the Word,
And the Word was with God
And the Word was God.
He was in the beginning before God”
This is how John starts his Gospel. And as such we are immediately presented with a very interesting argument: is John, in these initial verses, writing about the Divinity in sé, that is, the Divine Essence and the Divine Persons, without reference to the Incarnation? Or rather is he speaking to us about the Word Incarnate with His two natures, divine and human, and Him before God?
The Divinity in Itself: the Father as the beginning, the Word in the Father
Beyond all doubt the more popular interpretation is that John is speaking of the Divinity in Itself by giving a particular emphasis to the eternal Word in Himself without any reference to the Incarnation. St. Bonaventure states that “this book treats of the Word Incarnate, in whom it considers the double nature, human and divine. It is divided in two parts: in the first part it speaks of the Word in Himself; in the second it speaks of Him in so far as He is united to the flesh.”  For Bonaventure, as also for St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. Augustine (all three of them wrote commentaries on the Gospel of St. John), these first verses do not, of themselves, have any reference to the Incarnation. They speak exclusively of the Divine Essence and the Divine Persons, in particular the second Person who is the eternal Son with/before the Father.
In the midst of innumerable heresies regarding the Trinity and Christ, Cyril and Augustine refer to these words of the Prologue to combat the erroneous doctrine of the heretics on the Divinity of the Word. For all three of them, therefore, in the beginning is a reference to the Father and to the eternal procession of the Word-Son from Him.
Bonaventure states: “Here the beginning par excellence is the Father, hence the meaning is: In the beginning, that is, in the Father, is the Son who is not separated from the Father by essence.” And Augustine: “There is the beginning which does not have a beginning, and this is the Father; there is the beginning which derives from the beginning, and this is the Son.” And Cyril likewise: “God the Father is the beginning, and the Word was in Him by nature.” Therefore, saying that “in the beginning was the Word” means that the eternal Word is essentially in that “eternal Beginning without beginning,” namely in the Father.
The rich explanation of these Doctors is splendid, of this there is no doubt, and the succinct doctrine that follows in their Gospel commentaries is irrefutable because it is doctrine of the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Faith. The holy martyrs of every age and place have given their lives for this Faith and we too desire to profess this Faith until our death. Yet, without denying in the slightest their pure doctrine, there is a difficulty in imposing such an interpretation on these verses of the Evangelist, a difficulty which even comes out in the teachings of these Doctors themselves. For this reason we will now linger upon these first verses of the Gospel, and in particular upon the words “in the beginning.”
 St. Thomas Aquinas, In Sent. III, d.1, q.1, a.3.; cfr. also Summa theol. III, q.1, a.3.
 B. John Duns Scotus, Ordinatio, III, d.7, q.3 (ed. C. Balić, Joannis Duns Scoti, doctoris mariani, theologiae marianae elementa… ad fidem codd. Mss., Sebenici, 1933) 4-7; Ordinatio, III (suppl.), d.19; cod. Assisi com.137, fol.161v.; ed. Vivès (Paris, 1894) XIV, 714; Opus Parisiense, Lib III, d.7, q.4 (ed. Balić) 13-15; Lectura Completa, III, d.7, q.3 (ed. Balić) 188; Reportatio Barcinonensis, II, d.7, q.3 (ed. Balić) 183-184.
 Scotus, Opus Parisiense, Lib III, d.7, q.4 (ed. Balić) 13-15.
 Scotus, ibid.; cfr. also Ordinatio, III, d.7, q.3 (ed. C. Balić, Joannis Duns Scoti, doctoris mariani, theologiae marianae elementa… ad fidem codd. Mss., Sebenici, 1933) 4-7
 Saint Bonaventure, Commento al Vangelo di Giovanni, I, I, n.1 (Città Nuova Editrice, Roma 1990, Vol. 1, p.57).
 Ibid. I, I, n.2 (p.57).
 St. Augustine, Contra Maximin., II, c.17, n.4; PL 42, 784.
 St. Cyril of Alexander, Commento al Vangelo di Giovanni, I, 1 (Città Nuova Editrice, Roma 1994, Vol. 1, p.40).