SPECIAL TOPIC: HEBREW AND GREEK BACKGROUND OF LOGOS (John 1:1)

Background concept of the term "word" or "spoken word" (i.e., 20,2,4, BDB 180, KB 210 II)

1. Hebrew background

a. the power of the spoken word (Isa. 55:11; Ps. 33:6,9; 107:20; 147:15,18), as in Creation (Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24, 26,29) and the Patriarchal blessing (Gen. 27:1ff; 49:1) 

b. Proverbs 8:12-23 personifies "Wisdom" as God's first creation and agent of all creation (cf. Ps. 33:6 and the non-canonical Wisdom of Solomon, 9:9)

c. God's control of nature (cf. Ps. 147:12-20; 148:8) and angels (cf. Ps. 103:19-20)

d. the Targums (Aramaic translations and commentaries) substitute the phrase "Word of God" for logos because of their discomfort with anthropomorphic terms

2. Greek background (logos)

a. Heracleitus – the world was in flux; the impersonal divine and unchanging logos (i.e. law) held it together and guided the changing process

b. Plato – the impersonal and unchanging logos kept the planets on course and determined the seasons

c. Stoics – the logos was the "world reason" or manager, but was semi-personal (possibly from Anaxagoras)

d. Philo – he personified the concept of logos as "High Priest that set the soul of man before God," or "the bridge between man and God," or "the tiller by which the Pilot of the universe steers all things" (kosmocrater).  He called the Logos, God's "first-born son" and God's "Ambassador" or God's "Advocate."  He emphasized God's transcendence and the Logos was the link to the physical realm.

 

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