1902 Encyclopedia > Logos


LOGOS. This term is one of the most constant factors in ancient speculation. As it is double-sided, however, expressing both reason and word, the conceptions which it covers differ widely. Taken broadly the doctrine of the Logos may be said to have run in two parallel courses— the one philosophical, the other theological; the one the development of the Logos as reason, the other the develop-ment of the Logos as word ; the one Hellenic, the other Hebrew.

1. To the Greek mind, which saw in the world a _____ [Gk.], it was natural to regard the world as the product of reason, and reason as the ruling principle in the world. So we find a Logos doctrine more or less prominent from the dawn of Hellenic thought to its eclipse. It rises in the realm of physical speculation, passes over into the territory of ethics and theology, and makes its way through at least three well-defined stages. These are marked off by the names of Heraclitus of Ephesus, the Stoics, and Philo.

It acquires its first importance in the theories of Heraclitus. There it is intimately associated with the dominant ideas of a flux in all things, and of fire as the material substrate or primary form of existence. On the one hand the Logos is identified with yvuyfxr} and connected with StK?/, which latter seems to have the function of correct-ing deviations from the eternal law that rules in things. On the other hand it is not positively distinguished either from the ethereal fire, or from the et/Aap/AeV?/ and the avayKrj according to which all things occur. In consistency with his hylozoic doctrine Heraclitus holds that nothing material can be thought of without this Logos, but he does not conceive the Logos itself to be immaterial. Whether it is regarded as in any sense possessed of intelligence and consciousness is a question variously answered. But there is most to say for the negative. This Logos is not one above the world or prior to it, but in the world and inseparable from it. Man's soul is a part of it. It is relation, therefore, as Schleiermacher expresses it, or reason, not speech or word. And it is objective, not subjective, reason. The process of transition between opposites, in which all things are involved, is a process according to orderly relations and definite measures, and the Logos is the eternal principle of this world-process which shows itself in the form of a constant conflict between opposites. Like a law of nature, objective in the world, it gives order and regularity to the movement of things, and makes the system rational.1

Between Heraclitus and the Stoics comparatively little was done in developing a special Logos doctrine. With Anaxa-goras a conception entered which gradually triumphed ovet that of Heraclitus, namely, the conception of a supreme, intellectual principle, not identified with the world but independent of it. This, however, was vovs, not Logos. In the Platonic and Aristotelian systems, too, the Logos appears. But it is subordinate to other more distinctive conceptions, and lacks the definiteness of a doctrine. With Plato the term selected for the expression of the principle

to which the order visible in the universe is due is voCs or _-____, not Xoyos. It is in the pseudo-Platonic Epinomis that Xoyos appears as a synonym for voCs. In Aristotle, again, the principle which sets all nature under the rule of thought, and directs it towards a rational end, is j/oCs, or the divine spirit itself; while Xoyos is a term with many senses, used as more or lass identical with a number of phrases, oS eveKO.; kvepyzia, evreXe^eia, ovcria, elSos, _____, &C.

"With the Stoics, however, the Logos doctrine reappears in great breadth. It is a capital element in their system. With their teleological views of the world they naturally predicated an active principle in connexion with it, living in it and determining it. This operative principle is called both Logos and God. It is conceived of as material, and is described in terms used equally of nature and of God. There is at the same time the special doctrine of the Xo'yos _____,«__/«_, the seminal Logos, or the law of generation in the world, the principle of the active reason working in dead matter. This parts into Xoyoi _-_________!,, which are akin, not to the Platonic ideas, but rather to the Xoyoi kvvXoi Of Aristotle. In man, too, there is a Logos which is his characteristic possession, and which is __________, as long as it is a thought resident within his breast, but ___________ when itjs expressed as a word. This distinc-tion between Logos as ratio and Logos as oratio, so much used subsequently by Philo and the Christian fathers, had been so far anticipated by Aristotle's distinction between the C£OJ Xoyos and the Xoyos _ __ fjruxfj. The Logos of the Stoics is a reason in the world gifted with intelligence, and analogous to the reason in man.

In the period between the Stoics and Philo there are few names of distinct interest in this connexion. But in the Alexandrian philosophy the Logos doctrine assumes a lead-ing place, and shapes a new career for itself. The chief representative of this school is the Hellenized Jew, Philo (born about 25 B.C.). With him God is absolute and incorporeal perfection, apprehensible only by reason, and incapable of contact with matter. An intermediate agent, therefore, is affirmed, the Logos or idea of ideas. This Logos is not eternal in the sense in which God is eternal, but has its being from Him. It is His elder son, as the world is His younger. It resides with God as His wisdom, and is in the world as the divine reason. It is God's instrument in creation and in revelation. Both in the world and in man it is twofold. In man it subsists as the Xoyos ivotdderoi or immanent reason, and as the Xoyos irpoijfioptKos or uttered reason. In the case of the world there is the Logos which has its residence with the arche-typal ideas, and there is the Logos which appears in the form of many Xoyo/. or rational germs of things material. Philo's doctrine is moulded by three forces—Platonism, Stoicism, and the Old Testament. His Logos is the repre-sentative of the world to God as well as of God to the world. It is described as the " image of God " (eucoV ___?>, i. 6) and the " archetypal man" (6 ___ eiKova S.v6pumas, i. 427), as the "son of God" and the "high priest" (dpxtepev's, i. 653), as the "first-born son" (_-pcoro'yoi'oj, i. 414), the " man of God " (avflpcon-os Oeov, i. 411), &c. It wavers all the while between attribute and substance, between the personal and the impersonal.
translation, The Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics.

In the later developments of Hellenic speculation nothing essential was added to the doctrine of the Logos. Philo's distinction between God and His rational power or Logos in contact with the world was generally maintained by the eclectic Platonists and Neo-Platonists. By some of these this distinction was carried out to the extent of predicating (as was done by Numenius of Apamea) three Gods :—the supreme God; the second God, or Demiurge or Logos ; and the third God, or the world. Plotinus explained the Xo'yo6 as constructive forces, proceeding from the ideas and giving form to the dead matter of sensible things (Enneads, v. 1, 8, and Kichter's JVeu-Plat. Studien).

2. The doctrine of the Logos in Hellenic thought thus remains substantially a doctrine of the Logos as reason. The other side, the doctrine of the Logos as word, belongs as essentially to Hebrew thought. The roots of this con-ception lie in the Hebrew Scriptures. The God who is made known in the Old Testament is one who reveals Himself actively in history. He is exhibited, therefore, as speaking, and by His word communicating His will. The word of the God of revelation is represented as the creative principle (Gen. i. 3 ; Psalm xxxiii. 6), as the executor of the divine judgments (Hosea vi. 5), as healing (Psalm cvii. 20), as possessed of almost personal qualities (Isaiah lv. 11; Psalin cxlvii. 15). Along with this comes the doctrine of the angel of Jehovah, the angel of the covenaut, the angel of the presence, in whom God manifests Himself, and who is sometimes identified with Jehovah or Elohim (Gen. xvi. 11, 13; xxxii. 29-31; Exod. iii. 2; xiii. 21), sometimes distinguished from Him (Gen. xxii. 15, &c; xxiv. 7; xxviii. 12, &c), and sometimes presented in both aspects (Judges ii., vi; Zech. L). To this must be added the doctrine of Wisdom, given in the books of Job and Proverbs. As the Word of God is represented in the theocratic sections of the Old Testament as the creative principle of the world, so Wisdom appears with somewhat similar functions in these books. At one time it is exhibited as an attribute of God (Prov. iii. 19). At another it is strongly personified, so as to become rather the creative thought of God than a quality (Prov. vtii. 22). Again it is described as proceeding from God as the principle of creation and objective to Him. In these and kindred passages (Job xv. 7, &c.) it is on the way to become hypostatized.
The Hebrew conception is partially associated with the Greek in the case of Aristobulus, the predecessor of Philo, and, according to the fathers, the founder of the Alexandrian school. He speaks of Wisdom in a way reminding us of the book of Proverbs. The pseudo-Solomonic Booh of Wisdom (generally supposed to be the work of an Alexandrian flourishing somewhere between Aristobulus and Philo) deals both with the Wisdom and with the Logos. It fails to hypostatize either. But it represents the former as the framer of the world, as the power or spirit of God, active alike in the physical, the intellectual, and the ethical domain, and apparently objective to God. Points of affinity between the Hellenic and Hebrew conceptions are also seen in the books of Maccabees (see, e.g., 2 Mace, iii. 38). In these instances, however, and even in Philo, the Hebrew elements are only partially grasped and appropriated. In the Targums, on the other hand, the three doctrines of the word, the angel, and the wisdom of God converge in a very definite conception. In the Jewish theology God is represented as purely transcendent, having no likeness of nature with man, and making no personal entrance into history. Instead of the immediate relation of God to the world the Targums introduce the ideas of the Memra (word) and the Shechind. This Memra, or, as it is also designated, Bihburd, is an hypostasis that takes the place of God when direct intercourse with man is in view. In all those passages of the Old Testament where anthropomorphic terms are used of God, the Memra is substituted for God. The Memra proceeds from God, and retains the creaturely relation to God. It does not seem to have been identified with the Messiah.

The Hebrew Logos and the Old Testament doctrine reach their climax in the prologue to John's Gospel. The three conceptions of the active Word, the Angel, and the Wisdom of God, which had been fused in the Rabbinical idea of a Memra, meet there in the final grandeur of the Word of God incarnate. The question of the genesis of the Johannine doctrine has been greatly debated. There is a remarkable similarity between John's terms and Philo's. But this is due mainly to the fact that John and Philo made use of the same inherited phraseology for the expression of their several doctrines. The Johannine doctrine is not derived from the Philonic. The Logos of Philo is distinctively reason; the Logos of John is Word. The one is metaphysical; the other is theological. In Philo the Logos is the divine principle that creates and sustains. In John the Logos who creates also redeems. In Philo the Logos hovers midway between the personal and the impersonal. In John he is a distinct personality. To Philo the idea of an incarnation of God is alien and abhorrent. The heart of John's doctrine is the historical fact that the Word was made flesh.

In many of the early Christian writers, as well as in the heterodox schools, the Logos doctrine is influenced by the Greek idea. The Syrian Gnostic Basilides held (according to Irenaeus, i. 24) that the Logos or Word emanated from the vovs, or personified reason, as this latter emanated from the unbegotten Father. The eompletest type of Gnosticism, the Valentinian, regarded Wisdom as the last of the series of Eeons that emanated from the original Being or Father, and the Logos as an emanation from the first two principles that issued from God, Reason (vovs) and Truth. Justin Martyr, the first of the sub-apostolic fathers, taught that God produced of His own nature a rational power (StW/uV riva XoyiKijv), His agent in creation, who now became man in Jesus (Dial. c. Tryph., chap. 48, 60). He affirmed also the action of the \6yos o-irep/j-ariKof (Apol., i. 46; ii. 13, &c). With Tatian (Cohort, ad. Gr., chap. 5, &c.) the Logos is the beginning of the world, the reason that comes into being as the sharer of God's rational power. With Athenagoras (Suppl., chap. 9, 10) He is the prototype of the world and the energizing principle (ISea «a! evepyeia) of things. Theophilus (Ad Autolyc., ii. 10, 24) taught that the Logos was in eternity with God as the \6yos evSidderos, the counsellor of God, and that wdien the world was to be created God sent forth this counsellor (crvpBovXos) from Himself as the xSyos irpocpopiK6s, yet so that the begotten Logos did not. cease to be a part of Himself. With Hippolytus (llefict., x. 32, &c.) the Logos, produced of God's own substance, is both the divine intelligence that appears in the world as the Son of God, and the idea of the universe immanent in God. The early Sabellians (comp. Etiseb., Hist. Eccl., vi. 33; .Athan., Contra Arian., iv.) held that the Logos was a faculty of God, the divine reason, immanent in God eternally, but not in distinct per-sonality prior to the historical manifestation in Christ. Origen, referring the act of creation to eternity instead of to time, affirmed the eternal personal existence of the Logos. In relation to God this Logos or Son was a copy of the original, and as such inferior to that. In relation to the world he was its prototype, the ISea iSewr, and its redeeming power (Contra Cels., v. 608 ; Frag, de Frincip., i. 4 ; De Frineip. i. 109, 324).

Literature.—In addition to the histories of philosophy {e.g., those of Eitter, Ueberweg, Zeller, &c), the commentaries on John's Gospel (Liicke, Godet, Westcott, &c), and the systems of Biblical theology (Oehler, Schultz, Immer, Weiss, etc.), the following writings deserve special notice:—Schiirer, Lehro. der N.-T. ZeitgeschiclUe; Hausrath, Neu-Testamentliche Zeitgeschichte; Heinze, Lehre vom Logos in der griechischen I'hilosophie; Soulier, La Doctrine du Logos; Gfrorer, Philo; Siegfried, Philo; Daehne, Geschichtliclie Darstellung der Judisch-alexandrinischen Religions-Phil'osophie; Domer, History of the Development of the Doctrine of the Person of Chri.it; Huber, Philosophic der Kirchen-vater; Weber, System der AU-Synagogalen Paldstinisehen Theologie; Orossmann, Qiuestiones Philoneis. (S. D. F. S.)


1 Cf. Schleiermacher's Herakleitos der Dunkle, &c. ; Bernays's Heraclitea ; Gladisch's Heracleitos und Zoroaster.

Cf. especially Zeller's Phil, der Gr., 2d ed., vol. iii.; or Reichel's
Of. the Targum of Onkelos on the Pentateuch under Gen. vii. 16, xvii. 2, xxi. 20 ; Exod. xix. 16, &c. ; the Jerusalem Targum on Numb. vii. 89, &c.

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