Saturday, February 10, 2007
last summer i took a philosophy course which explored, among other things, the origins of the word logos which appears in the epic opening of john's gospel. lately it's been on my mind a whole lot. we translate it into "word" yet this option does little to convey the meaning of this loaded word. it was coined in the days of the pre-socratics and developed by plato himself. the logos is the idea- mind, word, pure intellect, reason. when aristotle began to categorize the universe, he unpacked it piece by piece, all the way down to the question of what is the essence of being? the answer was logos- a thing is defined by the pure idea behind it. christ was born in a world that can be described as jewish-hellenism in thinking. the logos was a common concept- so john opens his text by stating that this man jesus is literally the pre-existing idea or reason behind all things. to state simply that christ is the logos is problematic to me because of the extracted, non-contextual and non-holistic nature of "pure reason." but for john to then say that this logos became flesh (interjected into the particular, contextual and holistic realm) was to turn centuries of greek thought completely on its head- for the greek had been concerned with unpacking the universe in search of the logos, john said "here he is, and he carries his greatest meaning when he is non-abstract." for me, this is a call to live in the particular, to venture outside the world of theory, to crash into one another and be with- mud, blood, sweat, tears, laughter, dirt... humanity.