Let us begin by reading the text as though we had never read ahead to verse 14 or 17 and we had not known the story of Jesus Christ. Let us consider what we have here as if we were a Jew or a Greek contemporary of John who has not heard the story of Jesus or ever been presented with the claims of Christianity.
What that Jew knew something about, was the Word, as did the Greek. And so let's begin by considering what they knew about the Word (Logos). it is possible to think that the Jew or the Greek with these notions of the Word could pick up John's gospel and begin to read it and place meaning in the what they read that would not have surprised them or threatened their own understanding. At least not in the first 13 verses.
The non Christian Greek or Jew would read those first phrases appreciating that the Word was the rational principle that ran the universe, they might even see it as a poetical way of referring to God. A term referring to deified majesty.
It is verse 14 that stopped them; stunned them and demanded that they reread all that they had read and re-think all that they had thought of Jesus.