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The Adventure Link: Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? Session Fifteen
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister, Covenant Community Church on Mar 19, 2004, 13:57

The Adventure Link

Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

Session Fifteen


The title Logos is rarely used in the New Testament for Jesus. We find it prominently in the prologue to the Gospel of John where we read, “In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In spite of the infrequency, this title became the focal point of the theological development of the Christian church’s understanding of Jesus in the first three or four centuries of church history. It was the dominant concept by which the theologians of the church considered their own doctrine of Jesus. The great minds of Alexandria, of Antioch, of East and West, poured themselves into an exhaustive study of the meaning of this title. There are significant reasons for that. The title lends itself, perhaps more than any other title, to deep philosophical and theological speculation. That is precisely because the word logos was already a loaded term, one pregnant with meaning against the background of Greek philosophy.


As in the case of other titles we’ve already considered, there is a common meaning and a more technical meaning to the word logos. The common meaning for the word is simply “word, thought, or concept.” English translations of the New Testament normally translate logos by the word word. But from the prologue of John we see that logos had an exalted meaning as well. The word logic in our English language derives from logos, and we also derive a suffix that is attached to many words in our vocabulary from this term. The suffix “ology” that is attached to different academic disciplines and sciences comes from it. Theology is “theos-logos,” a word or concept of God. Biology is “bios-logos,” a word or concept of life.


John did not use this term by accident...he Christianized the view and understanding of the Logos and contrasted it to the concept that was found in ancient Greek philosophy.


The ancient Greeks were preoccupied with finding the ultimate meaning of the universe and the stuff from which everything was made. They perceived the vast diversity of creative things and sought for some point of unity that would make sense of it all. As in the case of Greek art, the thinkers of the day abhorred chaos and confusion. They wanted to understand life in a unified way. Thus, in many theories of philosophy that came before the writing of the New Testament, the Greek word logos functioned as an important concept.


In early Greek thought there was no concept of a personal God who by his wisdom and sovereignty created the world in order and harmony. At best there was a speculative postulate of an abstract principle which ordered reality and kept it from becoming a blurb of confusion. This abstract principle they would call either a “nous” (which means mind) or the “Logos,” an impersonal, philosophical principle. The concept of Logos was never considered as a personal being who would become involved with the things of this world, but the idea functioned merely as an abstraction necessary to account for the order evident in the universe.


By the time the Gospels were written, the notion of Logos was a loaded philosophical category. The apostle John dropped a theological bombshell on the philosophical playground of his day by looking at Jesus and talking about him not as an impersonal concept, but as the incarnation of the eternal Logos. He does not use the term in the same way that the Greeks did, but he baptizes it and fills it with a Jewish-Christian meaning. For John, the Logos is intensely personal and radically different from that which was found in Greek speculative philosophy. The Logos is a person, not a principle.


In the beginning...the Word...WOW

The adventure continues......

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