Recently in a correspondence with a very sincere lady who is struggling between the non-Trinitarian versus Trinitarian views of Scripture, she asked me to comment on Jn. 1:1-3 and Jn. 17:5. These two passages are problematic for non-Trinitarian Pentecostals, and in her question she pointed out that in older English translations, the pronoun “he” is translated as “it” in Jn. 1:1-3. Such a translation, at least from the non-Trinitarian point-of-view, might suggest that the logos was not personal. Further, she suggested that in later English versions (KJV and after), the use of the word “he” instead of “it” was imposed on the text, implying that this was an inappropriate rendering. In the Jn. 17:5 passage, non-Trinitarian Pentecostals tend to take the words “glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (KJV) to mean something along the lines of “glorify thou me as thine own self…”, thus, once again, removing from the passage any personal distinction between the Father and the Son. Should you be interested in reading over my shoulder, so to speak, here is what I said to her.
...let me briefly address the passages you cited, beginning with the prologue to John's Gospel. You are correct: some of the early English translations of John's Gospel translated the Greek personal pronoun autou and the Greek demonstrative pronoun houtos as "it" in Jn. 1:2-3 (this was true in the Tyndale Version, the Great Bible and the Bishop's Bible), though John Wycliffe, who was earlier than all three, translated the pronoun as "him", not "it". I doubt that the rendering "it" should be taken to mean that the logos was impersonal, however. Whether it is to be translated as "him"/"he" or "it" is merely a translator's choice. The personal pronouns can be translated either way, and both are grammatically correct. The deeper issue is one of grammatical agreement and contextual meaning. When one uses a word like logos, grammatical agreement might lead one to use the word "it" as a pronoun, since typically we don't think of a "word" as personal. However--and this is quite important--the larger context of the passage indicates that the logos WAS personal. The logos was the one through whom God created the world (Greek dia with the genitive case, which means "through the agency of"). The logos was the light that shined in the darkness but was not understood. The logos was the light that illumines every human person born in the world. This logos, in his incarnation, was "in" the world that he himself had made, but the world did not recognize him. The logos "became" flesh and tented among us, and here, the verb ginomai (= became) is especially important, for it cannot be swept aside as some sort of "dwelling" Christology (which is typical in non-Trinitarian thought) but must be taken as a true incarnation. By the time all three of these early versions cited above (Tyndale, Bishops, Great Bible) reach Jn. 1:10, without exception they all begin to use the pronouns "he" and "him", based on that same Greek pronoun autou. Hence, I don't think one should make too much of the translation "it" as though it favors a non-Trinitarian doctrine. It doesn't. Further, the charge that the idea of pre-existence was "imposed" on the text by later versions, such as the KJV and following, cannot be sustained. The actual Greek text, which twice says the logos was "with" God (Greek proposition pros with the accusative case), directly describes pre-existence and cannot mean anything else.
The language of Jn. 17:5 is described as "the glory that was before the world began". This, if you'll pardon me saying so, is an unfortunate way of phrasing it (and the way non-Trinitarian folks would like to phrase it as they attempt to escape what the passage plainly says). What the text plainly says in Greek is this: "Father...now glorify me with yourself with the glory which I had with you before the world [came] to be." Twice the text uses the preposition para, once in a genitive construction as para seautou (= alongside yourself) and the other in a dative construction as para soi (= by the side of you). This passage is crystal clear in describing Jesus' pre-existence, and grammatically it cannot be taken any other way! The prepositional constructions "alongside yourself" and "by the side of you" are death knells to the modalistic teaching. Non-Trinitarians want to say something like "Father...glorify me as yourself (instead of alongside yourself)", but the preposition para simply cannot be taken in this way. Such an interpretation is not possible in the Greek NT.