Saturday, February 10, 2007

logos

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.

7 comments:

Stacy said...

Of all your posts I've ever read, this is one of my favorites. I've long been intruigued by Logos. I appreciated the insight that Christ the Eternal Tao brought forth on the issue as well. The profundity of John's Gospel is so lost without this foreknowledge of culture and thought.

NathanColquhoun said...

Beautifully put.
Wow

"john opens his text by stating that this man jesus is literally the pre-existing idea or reason behind all things."

We are going through John right now at theStory, and you worded that beautifully.

jeremy said...

when you mention the logos as carrying greatest meaning when "non-abstract," I consider this to affirm that the logos is best known as person (rather than somehow manifest, incarnate abstraction), not just that we experience it as persons. i think that true 'person' lies at the ontological center of "existence," without 'person' there would be no idea, or reason (like the "Thou" that you mentioned so long ago when reading Buber's "I and Thou").

anyway, it was good to run into you today, it felt good talk even briefly.

thanks for sharing your reflections. we are all participants in an existence that is too real to be consigned to the ranks of "abstraction," mystery yes, but mystery does not dissolve the fact of particulars/persons.

peace.

elnellis said...

well said jeremy,
there is nothing more mysterious than the most intimate of relationships.

it was good to bump into you, i look fwd to hearing about your time overseas.

peace

losveloz said...

Phil,
It seems you are surrounded by Orthodox Jeremys

elnellis said...

i know, it's kinda creepy.

Anonymous said...

The beauty of how John uses Logos is that the reasoning (Logos) is speaking (Logos) and showing HIS actions (Logos). Through out the Gospel, it's a marvelous adventure to watch the Living Logos (Jesus) speak and to behold His actions.