The word λόγος (logos) evolved from a primarily mathematical term to one identified with speech and rationality. At a basic level, logos means “to pick up, collect, count up, give account [in a bookkeeping sense]”—the act of bringing concrete items into relation with one another. Mathematicians used it to describe ratios, mathematical descriptions of two measurements in relationship to each other (Brann, Logos, 10–11).
In the sixth—fourth centuries BC, Greek philosophers made efforts to limit its meaning to rationality and speech. Modern translators must consider the context in which logos appears since its meaning varies widely depending on the author and the time of writing (Schiappa, Protagoras, 91–92, 110).
The Chinese language contains a similar term, tao, which means both “thinking” and “speaking” (Longxi, Tao and Logos, 27). Logos offers no easy translation since the concept of the word is necessarily bound up with Greek-influenced Western ideas (Mbiti, “Challenges of Language,” 145).
"The Stoics believed all things were composed of matter, which was passive and inert; the active, ordering principle was logos. Stoics understood logos as the immanent power, force, or law in reality. The true god was identified with logos, but the creator of the material world—often referred to as the demiurge—made the universe using the logos as a template. Therefore, what is logical appears so because it is consistent with the ordering principle that shaped the world (Hiller, Logos to Trinity, 24–25).
The sum of Stoic ethics lies in living according to nature so that all of one’s faculties are dominated by rationality. Living according to nature meant living in accord with the design of the universe, thus bringing humans into harmony with the universe itself. Stoicism was highly influential in the Hellenistic world. Philo (ca. 20 bce–50ce) was the primary example of Hellenistic Judaism as he sought to interpret the Mosaic law in light of Greek philosophy" and provided the conceptual foundation for later Christians. He believed that God does not govern creation directly but only through the logos, which is the cosmic bond holding all things together - "an intermediate entity existing between God, who was completely transcendent, and the material universe".
The advanced concept of logos as Holy Spirit continues to influence Western culture since it's foundational to most Christian theology. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, where did this concept come from? It is natural to immediately assign the origin of a concept to our own cultural ideologies. The Judeo-Greek concepts of Logos and the Aramaic concepts of Meimra, both with variant connotations, were a major influence in
Heraclitus (ca. 540–480bce):
The Stoics revived Heraclitus’ emphasis on logos as a cosmological and divine entity. For the Stoics, god, nature, and logos were one and the same. The Stoics understood fire as a primal element identified with logos, both of which are identified with Zeus (Brann, Logos, 110).
Brann, Eva. The Logos of Heraclitus. Philadelphia: Paul Dry, 2011.
Mbiti, John. “Challenges of Language, Culture, and Interpretation in Translating the Greek New Testament.” Swedish Missiological Themes 97 (2009): 141–64.
Brian K. Gamel, “Logos, Greek Background,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
Douglas Estes, “Logos,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
Schiappa, Edward. Protagoras and Logos: A Study in Greek Philosophy and Rhetoric. 2nd ed. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003.
Hillar, Marian. From Logos to Trinity: The Evolution of Religious Beliefs from Pythagoras to Tertullian. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Divine Theology (Logos/Memra) - Divine duality is alluded to as the Lord of Spirits is clearly different from the Lamb.
This divine power shares in God's nature and exercises divine rights in heaven. There are other scriptures that compound this idea and together over millennia have formed the Christian trinitarian theology.
2. Hellenistic Developments More important developments occurred among the Stoics, whose school of philosophy was founded at Athens by Zeno (ca 300 B.C.). Recalling Heraclitus, Stoic philosophers regularly used lógos as a technical term for the underlying principle of natural order pervading the universe. Zeno, Cleanthes, and others identified this with Zeus, the supreme god of the Greeks, and interpreted lógos as a pantheistic world soul (see texts in Barrett, NT Background, pp. 61–65). Sometimes lógos was also identified with Hermes the messenger god.
R. B. Edwards, “Word,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 1103.
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