Logos, Creation and the Wisdom of God

nativity-iconBy: Jay Dyer

“1 In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

St. John’s usage of the term “Logos” has long been debated, yet forms a consistent pattern within the confines of Scripture.  Indeed, while many have sought to read the Johannine Prologue as employing and utilizing Greek philosophical sources, the concept of both Logos (and “logoi”) are biblical concepts, though at times implicit.  The Prologue is not merely an apologetic against both Judaism and Hellenism, but in fact contains the totality of Orthodox Christology and Triadology in seed form.  As we will see, the dogmatic interpretation of this text is correct and demonstrates that only within Orthodox Tradition is the proper balance preserved – from both the empty speculations of unbelieving “scholarshIp” and the equally dangerous irrational, fideistic approach of many within the Church.

In fact, St. John’s usage of the text as an apologia is a rebuke to those in schism in Protestant and evangelicalism, too.  The text is, in part, an apologetic and thus presupposes the usage of the faculty of man’s reasoning, especially since in Orthodox theology deification includes the totality of man’s being being healed and raised.  Christ’s assumption of human nature includes the raising of man’s rational faculty, as well as his soul and body, as the purifying of his nous sees Christ more clearly in all of created reality, leading to the direct vision of God, or theoria.  Further, St. John’s Prologue not only demonstrates crucial theological truths, it also elucidates truths concerning the doctrine of Creation as a recapitulation of the Genesis narrative, presupposing not only the deity of Christ, but also the traditional doctrine of Creation as a historic event.

The term “logos” has a varied sense in the history of Greek language, signifying logic, mathematical principles, rhetoric, sentences, definitions, dialectic, propositions, etc., in Plato and Aristotle.  In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the term is used to signify instances of “the word of the Lord.”   By the time St. John uses the LXX generally in his Old Testament citations, the notion of “logos” was a common usage, given the diaspora and the prevalence of Koine Greek.[1]  For Greek philosophy, a sampling of uses and commentary will help to give a picture of the sense of the term.  

The Archaeological Study Bible explains, concerning the Stoic logos spermatikos:

“The word logos, however, also had a rich tradition in Greek thought.  While logos can be a very general term, meaning simply “word, account, explanation or thing,” the philosopher Heraclitus (c.535-475 B.C.) used it in the sense of an ordering principle for the universe.  Thus, the logos is the divine logic that gives order to the universe.  Heraclitus appears to have associated it with fire and to have linked it with reason in human beings.  This sense of logos was most fully developed by the Stoics, who taught that the universe was permeated with the logos that gave order and rationality to all things….There was a logos within each person (human reason) [logoi] and a logos that pervaded the universe (a rationality that governs the universe).  By extension, the logos within human beings enabled them to move in harmony with the logos of the universe.  Those who were governed by passions and emotions, however, were thought to have turned away from the universal logos and to have become bestial in their behavior.  This concept provided the basis for the Stoic ethical system.[2]

In Plato’s Thaetatus, for example, “logos” is considered by Socrates to mean the description of a thing, including all the names given to it, concerning the question of what constitutes knowledge:

“Let me give you, then, a dream in return for a dream:—Methought that I too had a dream, and I heard in my dream that the primeval letters or elements out of which you and I and all other things are compounded, have no reason or explanation; you can only name them, but no predicate can be either affirmed or denied of them, for in the one case existence, in the other non-existence is already implied, neither of which must be added, if you mean to speak of this or that thing by itself alone. It should not be called itself, or that, or each, or alone, or this, or the like; for these go about everywhere and are applied to all things, but are distinct from them; whereas, if the first elements could be described, and had a definition (Logos) of their own, they would be spoken of apart from all else. But none of these primeval elements can be defined; they can only be named, for they have nothing but a name, and the things which are compounded of them, as they are complex, are expressed by a combination of names, for the combination of names is the essence of a definition (Logos). Thus, then, the elements or letters are only objects of perception, and cannot be defined or known; but the syllables or combinations of them are known and expressed, and are apprehended by true opinion. When, therefore, any one forms the true opinion of anything without rational explanation, you may say that his mind is truly exercised, but has no knowledge; for he who cannot give and receive a reason for a thing, has no knowledge of that thing; but when he adds rational explanation, then, he is perfected in knowledge and may be all that I have been denying of him. Was that the form in which the dream appeared to you?”[3]

For Plato, the “logos” is directly related to the definition of a thing, or what it truly is.  The term is also associated with images, or Eikons, and mathematics.  Plato scholar G.M.A. Grube highlights the earlier Pythagorean conception:

“The general trend of their philosophy, however, was to insist the the essential reality of things was to be found not in the material components but in their logos, that is, the mathematical ratios and proportions of the different mixtures, so that they said things were numbers or like numbers.  And, leaving out the account of magic and mysticism which led them to attach all kinds of symbolic meanings to particular numbers, we may give them credit for having built on the solid fact that all physics, if not all science, has a mathematical basis.”[4]

In Plato’s Republic, “logos” is integral to argumentation and the process of seeking truth, or the forms, through dialectic:

“And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will understand me to speak of that other sort of knowledge which reason (Logos) herself attains by the power of dialectic, using the hypotheses not as first principles (Archai), but only as hypotheses –that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole; and clinging to this and then to that which depends on this, by successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensible object, from ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends.”[5]

Here, logos operates as human reason, or human reason as a manifestation of the universal principle of logos. However, logos is at odds with speculation, opinion and belief.  It is associated with certain knowledge, whereas the poet or the artist are characterized by inspiration of the daemon.  Instead, Plato praises the “beauty of reason (Logos).”[6]  Grube comments:

“Not only the inspiration of the poet, but the beauty of the work he produces is freely admitted in the Ion, and there is here no quarrel between philosophy and poetry, so long as poetry does not, like the poets in the Apology, lay any claim to knowledge.  In short it is the business of the poet, as Socrates tells us in the Phaedo to tell stories and not to give, qua poet at least, a logical account of things.”[7]

And in the Laws, Plato associates logos with the declaration and pronunciation of laws, in accord with reason, “Education is drawing and guiding children to follow the right and reasonable discourse (Logos) uttered by the law, which the elders’ experience has shown to be truly right.”[8]  Logos here is pedagogical, where child rearing and the process of education is dialogical.  Indeed, throughout Plato’s works the dialectical process is both metaphysical and epistemic: The individual consciousness gradually ascends the ladder of gnosis towards direct perception of the Ideas or Forms.  Connecting this notion to Plato’s Philebus, Frede comments:

“Our experiences are logoi (statements) “written into the soul as into a book,” often supplemented by pictures (Eikones), which can be actualized by the soul itself (38e-39b).  If the soul entertains pleasant expectations or visions about the future as accurate depictions of the future, then these logoi or images are true or false…”[9]

The association of logoi with icon is correct, since, as we will see below, the logoi in Orthodox Theology are the eternal patterns and archetypes within the Divine Mind, all one in the Logos, and properly defined to be themselves uncreated energies, yet which also have a created aspect in that they come to be within time.

In Aristotle, logos takes on the notion of a definition, as well as a form of speaking that explains or exegetes a thing or defines a thing.  In his Politics, Aristotle’s usage is as follows:

“Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech (Logos). And whereas mere voice is but an indication of pleasure or pain, and is therefore found in other animals (for their nature attains to the perception of pleasure and pain and the intimation of them to one another, and no further), the power of speech (Logos) is intended to set forth the expedient and inexpedient, and therefore likewise the just and the unjust. And it is a characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and unjust, and the like, and the association of living beings who have this sense makes a family and a state.”[10]

Icon of the Logos creating.

Icon of the Logos creating.

And in Posterior Analytics:

“Aristotle defines “definition” as an “account which signifies what it is to be something” (logos hos ti en einai semainei).  As accounts of a thing’s nature, definitions are the product of scientific and philosophic inquiry, not of lexicography.”[11]

With Plotinus, we have association of the Logos as the secondary emanation from the Monad, which draws upon the usage of previous Platonists and Stoics.  For Plotinus, Logos takes on an intermediary function between the One, the dyad (nous) and the soul, the third principle.  It also forms the universal reason-principle of the world, although it is lower than the third principle, which differs strongly from the Christian Triad, as each emanation maintains a lesser ontological status, as Plotinus explains in the Enneads:

These considerations oblige us to state the Logos [the Reason-Principle of the Universe] once again, and more clearly, and to justify its nature.

This Reason-Principle, then- let us dare the definition in the hope of conveying the truth- this Logos is not the Intellectual Principle unmingled, not the Absolute Divine Intellect; nor does it descend from the pure Soul alone; it is a dependent of that Soul while, in a sense, it is a radiation from both those divine Hypostases; the Intellectual Principle and the Soul- the Soul as conditioned by the Intellectual Principle engender this Logos which is a Life holding restfully a certain measure of Reason.  –Third Ennead 

And,

By their succession they are linked to the several Intellectual-Principles, for they are the expression, the Logos, of the Intellectual-Principles, of which they are the unfolding; brevity has opened out to multiplicity; by that point of their being which least belongs to the partial order, they are attached each to its own Intellectual original: they have already chosen the way of division; but to the extreme they cannot go; thus they keep, at once, identification and difference; each soul is permanently a unity [a self] and yet all are, in their total, one being.

Thus the gist of the matter is established: one soul the source of all; those others, as a many founded in that one, are, on the analogy of the Intellectual-Principle, at once divided and undivided; that Soul which abides in the Supreme is the one expression or Logos of the Intellectual-Principle, and from it spring other Reason-Principles, partial but immaterial, exactly as in the differentiation of the Supreme. -Fourth Ennead

For Plotinus, the one soul which is the lower manifestation of the third emanation, while in Orthodox Theology the Logos is specifically the Son of the Father.  It would seem Plotinus was under some level of Christian influence, but fell much further on the side Platonism (obviously).  Plotinus would also see no distinction between created and uncreated, since in Platonism there is no ex nihilo creative act by God or the One, as well as no notion of the demonic.  Emanationism relativizes all concepts, distinctions and dualities in the attempt to overcome the assumed dialectical tension between the one and the many.  In this regard, as a purely speculative philosophical system, Platonism and Orthodox Theology are strongly at odds. [12]

When St. John uses the term Logos as applied to Jesus, the formulation within the first few verses of the Gospel, as well as verse 14 of chapter 1 and the later references to “the Spirit,” form the nucleus of biblical Triadology in the Orthodox sense.  Recapitulating the Genesis creation account, St. John explicitly identifies Jesus the Messiah as the pre-existent eternal God, over and above created reality.  Jesus is the uncreated God in flesh, “tabernacled” among us as the “Angel of the Lord” guided and tabernacled among the Israelites (Ex. 13:21).[13]  Albert Barnes explains:

“The Hebrews, by expressions like this, denoted eternity.  The eternity of God is described (Ps. 90:2), before the mountains were brought forth….There is but one Being that is uncreated, and therefore Jesus is divine.  ‘Word,’ the term was used by the Jews who were scattered among the Gentiles, and especially those conversant in Greek philosophy…It was possible the doctrine of the gnostics had spread by the time of John.  They were an Oriental sect that held that Logos or Word was one of the Aeons that had been created, and that this Aeon had been united to the man Jesus.  If that doctrine had begun to prevail, it was of the more importance for John to settle the truth in regard to the rank of the Logos or Word…And now, Oh Father, glorify me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5).[14]

John’s approach is diametrically at odds with gnosticism.  Firstly, because in Gnosticism generally, creation is a cosmic accident.  For St. John, the creation identified as “good” in Genesis 1 is the creative act of God, including the second Person of the Godhead, the Logos.  “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”  (Col. 1:16-17).  

Protestant commenter Herman Ridderbos explains:

“In gnosticism God and the world are dualistic opposites.  In the Johannine Prologue all things – the “heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1) – have been made by the Word who with God and was God.  John 1:14, 18 mentions the only begotten who made the Father known to us, and the reason for this mission of revelation is later found in the love which God, in Him, “loved the world” (John 3:16)….It is true that in both the Prologue and gnosticism that the word “world” is used to express a break between God and humanity.  But in John human souls are not, as in gnosticism, imprisoned in preexistent particles of light in the darkness, and their salvation does not consist in their acknowledgment of their divine origin in the redeemer who comes to and in their being led by him out of this prison of flesh.”[15]

Medieval Chain of Being.

Medieval Chain of Being.

In fact, the background to the Johannine Prologue is not gnosticism and Greek speculation, but the very words of Genesis, and later Wisdom texts.   Proverbs 8 reads:

22“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,

Before His works of old.

23 I have been established from everlasting,

From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.

24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,

When there were no fountains abounding with water.

25 Before the mountains were settled,

Before the hills, I was brought forth;

26 While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,

Or the primal dust of the world.

27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there,

When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

28 When He established the clouds above,

When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,

29 When He assigned to the sea its limit,

So that the waters would not transgress His command,

When He marked out the foundations of the earth,

30 Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;

And I was daily His delight,

Rejoicing always before Him,

31 Rejoicing in His inhabited world,

And my delight was with the sons of men.”

Here, Wisdom stands in the same theological place as “Logos,” with the craftsmanship of the created order receiving its meaning and imprint and form through the Logos.  The Son is not a lesser being or entity or Aeon, but equal in power, dignity and nature, or ousia, as Hebrews explains using similar terminology, showing the angelic celestial hierarchies were also created by the uncreated Logos (again preventing any version of gnostic Aeons, with their multitudes of ontological gradations):  

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Heb. 1:1-4).  

Further insight is given in the canonical book of Wisdom itself, where much of the language and imagery used in the New Testament directly utilized the LXX and its wisdom texts.  It should be noted that this includes the Book of Wisdom, which Protestantism foolishly and recklessly ejected from their “canon” based on the whim of the sectarian “reformers.”  Had they maintained the Deuterocanon and the Wisdom texts, they might not have fallen prey to so much higher critical disbelief, especially given the astounding context Wisdom provides as a backdrop to John’s Prologue, demonstrating the milieu for John is not gnosticism, but the Bible itself – namely his usage of the LXX.  Note as well the direct parallel of the language with that of Heb. 1:1-4 cited above:

“21 I learned both what is secret and what is manifest, 22 for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, 23 beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. 24 For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things25 For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. 26 For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. 27 Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; 28 for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom. 29 She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars.  Compared with the light she is found to be superior,  30 for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail. -Wisdom 7

And,

“9 Wisdom is with you and knows your actions; she was present when you made the world. She knows what pleases you, what is right and in accordance with your commands. 10 Send her from the holy heavens, down from your glorious throne, so that she may work at my side, and I may learn what pleases you. 11 She knows and understands everything, and will guide me intelligently in what I do. Her glory will protect me.” -Wisdom 9

The “Wisdom of God” is thus the “Logos of God,” the direct reflection of His Person, who is also the Incarnate Messiah – God Himself, the pattern and archetype of Creation who became man.  The created order, modelled after the Tabernacle and Temple, are, by the Incarnation, raised and transfigured to become a tabernacle and temple of God in the fullest sense.  The Fall of Man damaged this potentiality by introducing death and sin, while the Incarnation, death and resurrection restore and raise this relationship to new heights.   What was lost in Eden through Adam as the head and steward of creation is restored by the Creator Himself entering into created time and space.  By assuming universal human nature, the scope of the restoration of all the cosmos is solidified through the humanity of Christ.   

The means by which is this is accomplished is not just because the Logos is the Creator of the world, but also its pattern, archetype, sustainer and telos – this is the sense in which all things are in Him and subsist in Him (Acts 17:28).  In Him we have our being and it is in Him that all Being is to be brought to its telos, or eternal purpose.  St. Maximos the Confessor explains in Ambiguum 7 that the “Logos” also necessitates the doctrine  of the logoi, that all created beings have their meaning and purpose established in Him, as the pattern to the archetype:

“If by wisdom and a person has come to understand that what exists was brought out of non-being into being by God, he intelligently directs the soul’s imagination to the infinite differences and variety of things as they exist by nature and turns his questing eye with understanding towards the intelligible model (logos) according to which things have been made, would he now know that the one Logos is many logoi? This is evident in the many incomparable differences among created things. For each is unmistakably unique in itself and its identity remains distinct in relation to other things. He will also know that the many logoi are the one Logos to whom all things are related and who exists in himself without confusion, the essential and individually distinctive God, the Logos of God the Father. He is the beginning and cause of all things in whom all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created from him and through him and for him (Col. 1:15-17, Rom. 11:36). Because he held together in himself the logoi before they came to be, by his gracious will he created things visible and invisible out of non-being. By his word and his wisdom he made all things (Wisdom 9:1-2) and is making all things, universals as well as particulars, at the proper time…

For we believe that a logos of angels preceded their creation, a logos preceded the creation of each of the beings and powers that fill the upper world, a logos preceded the creation of human beings, a logos preceded the creation of everything that proceeded from God, and so on. It is not necessary to mention them all. The Logos whose excellence is incomparable, ineffable and inconceivable in himself is exalted beyond all creation and even beyond the idea of difference and distinction. This same Logos whose goodness is revealed and multiplied in all the things that have their origin in him, with the degree of beauty appropriate to each being, recapitulates all things in himself(Eph. 1:10). Through his Logos there came to be both being and continuing to be, for from him the things that were made came to be in a certain way and for a certain reason, and by continuing to be and moving, they participate in God. For all things, in that they came to be from God, participate proportionally in God. For all things, whether by intellect, by reason, by sense-perception, by vital motion, or by some habitual fitness, as the great inspired Dionysius the Areopagite taught. Consequently, each of the intellectual and rational beings, whether angels or human beings, through the very Logos according to which each were created, who is in God and is with God (John 1:1), is called and indeed is a “portion of God,” through the Logos that preexisted in God as I already argued.

If someone is moved according to the Logos, he will come to be in God, in whom the logos of his being pre-exists and is his beginning and case. Furthermore, if he is moved by desire and wants to attain nothing more than his own beginning, he does not move away from God. Rather, by constant straining toward God, he becomes God and is called a “portion of God” because he has become fit to participate in God…he ascends to to the Logos by whom he was created and in whom all things will ultimately be restored (apokatastasis)…The logoi of all things known by God before their creation are securely fixed in God. They are in him who is the truth of all things.

…For all created things are defined by their essence and in their way of developing, by their own logoi and by the logoi of the beings that provide their external context. Through these logoi they find their defining limits.

We are speechless before the sublime teaching about the Logos, for he cannot be expressed in words or conceived in thought. Although he is beyond being and nothing can participate in him in any way, nor is he any of the totality of things that can be known in relation to other things, nevertheless we affirm that the one Logos is many logoi and the many logoi are One. Because the One goes forth in goodness into individual being, creating and preserving them, the One is many. Moreover, the many are directed toward the One and are providentially guided in that direction. It is as though they were drawn to an all-powerful center that had built into it the beginnings of the lines that go out from it and that gathers them all together. In this way the many are one. Therefore we are called a portion of God because the logoi of our being pre-existed in God. Further, we are said to have slipped down from above because we do not move in accordance with the Logos (who pre-existed in God) through whom we came to be….

In such a person the apostolic word is fulfilled: In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). For whoever does not violate the logos of his own existence that pre-existed in God is in God through diligence; and he moves in God according to the logos of his well-being that pre-existed in God when he lives virtuously; and he lives in God according to the logos of his eternal being that pre-existed in God. On the one hand, insofar as he is already irrevocably one with himself in his dispositions, he is free of unruly passions. But in the future age when graced with divinization, he will affectionately love and cleave to the logoi already mentioned that pre-existed in God, or rather, he will love God himself, in whom the logoi of beautiful things are securely grounded. In this way he becomes a “portion of God,” insofar as he exists through the logos of his being which is in God and insofar as he is good through the logos of his well-being which is in God; and insofar as he is God through the logos of his eternal being which is in God, he prizes the logoi and acts according to them. Through them he places himself wholly in God alone, wholly imprinting and forming God alone in himself, so that by grace he himself is God and is called God. By his gracious condescension God became man and is called man for the sake of man and by exchanging his condition for ours revealed the power that elevates man to God through his love for God and brings God down to man because of his love for man. By this blessed inversion, man is made God by divinization and God is made man by hominization. For the Word of God and God wills always and in all things to accomplish the mystery of his embodiment.”[16]

Fr. Florovsky comments on this passage:

“According to St. Maximus the Confessor these types and ideas are the Divine all-perfect and everlasting thoughts of the everlasting God— noêseis autoteleis aïdioi tou aïdiou Theou.45 This eternal counsel is God’s design and decision concerning the world. It must be rigorously distinguished from the world itself. The Divine idea of creation is not creation itself; it is not the substance of creation; it is not the bearer of the cosmic-process; and the “transition” from “design” [ennoêma] to “deed” [ergon] is not a process within the Divine idea, but the appearance, formation, and the realization of another substratum, of a multiplicity of created subjects. The Divine idea remains unchangeable and unchanged, it is not involved in the process of formation. It remains always outside the created world, transcending it. The world is created according to the idea, in accordance with the pattern it is the realization of the pattern but this pattern is not the subject of becoming. The pattern is a norm and a goal established in God. This distinction and distance is never abolished, and therefore the eternity of the pattern, which is fixed and is never involved in temporal change, is compatible with temporal beginning, with the entering-into-being of the bearers of the external decrees.

Things before their becoming are as though non-existent,” said Augustine, utiquae non erant. And he explains himself: they both were and were not before they originated; “they were in God’s knowledge: but were not in their own nature” erant in Dei scientia, non erant in sua natura.46 According to St. Maximus, created beings “are images and similes of the Divine ideas,”47 in which they are “participants.”48 In creation, the Creator realizes, “makes substantial” and “discloses” His knowledge, pre-existent everlastingly in Himself.49 In creation there is projected from out of nothing a new reality which becomes the bearer of the Divine idea, and must realize this idea in its own becoming. In this context the pantheistic tendency of Platonic ideology and of the Stoic theory of “seminal reasons” [spermatikoi logoi] is altogether overcome and avoided. For Platonism the identification of the “essence” of each thing with its Divine idea is characteristic, the endowment of substances with absolute and eternal (beginningless) properties and predicates, as well as the introduction of the “idea” into real things. On the contrary, the created nucleus of things must be rigorously distinguished from the Divine idea about things. Only in this way is even the most sequacious logical realism freed from a “pantheistic flavor; the reality of the whole will nevertheless be but a created reality. Together with this, pan-logism is also overcome: The thought of a thing and the Divine thought-design concerning a thing are not its “essence” or nucleus, even though the essence itself is characterized by logos, [logikos]. The Divine pattern in things is not their “substance” or “hypostasis;” it is not the vehicle of their qualities and conditions. Rather, it might be called the truth of a thing, its transcendental entelechy. But the truth of a thing and the substance of a thing are not identical.50 “[17]

Thus, Logos is a doctrine expanded from earlier wisdom texts such as Proverbs and Wisdom, as well as the Genesis account, in chapter 1.  The doctrine is not a borrowing from Oriental gnostic sects, and bears a striking dissimilarity to the Stoic and Platonic notions of the universal reason-principle.  While Plotinus may have been influenced by the Christian Triadology, the doctrine of the Logos as a hypsotasis precedes the Enneads’ usage of “hypostasis,” precisely in its usage in Hebrews 1:2, “…The direct image (Eikon) of His Person (hypostasis).”   Likewise, “Logos,” while sharing affinities with Stoic or Platonic ideas is directly associated by the Gospel writers from the earlier Wisdom texts as a divine Person, the Creator God Himself, as well as the Angel of the Lord.  While the Greek philosophical schools may have pined after this deeper notion, they fell far short of what revelation would give in relation to the Logos.

Assumed in the doctrine of the Logos, as taught in John 1 is the corollary of the doctrine of the logoi, as outlined by St. Maximos, where the patterns and archetypes of Creation have their meaning and foundation in the one Logos.  This is implicit in texts like Col. 1 and Acts 17, where ontological existence is conferred upon, and sustained, for all of created reality through the Logos.  This Logos did not merely craft preexisting matter,[18] but brought into being all that is, and by extension, will transfigure all reality into His Image, when He is in all and through all, as the Spirit works to complete this action within history (Rom. 8:22-24, 1 Cor. 15:28).

Read all of Jay Dyer’s works on philosophy, film, science, and geopolitics at Jay’s Analysis.


[1] Hamilton, James.  “The Influence of Isaiah on the Gospel of John.”  Perichoresis. 2007. https://jimhamilton.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/perichoresisinfluence-of-isaiah-in-john.pdf

[2] Archaeological Study Bible, Ed. Walter Kaiser. Zondervan, 2005, pg. 1721.

[3] Plato, Collected Works. Eds. Hamilton & Cairns. Princeton University Press. 1961, 908-9. 

[4] Grube, Plato’s Thought. Beacon Press. 1958, 2. 

[5] Plato, Collected Works, Republic, 746. 

[6] Plato, Ibid., 401b. 

[7] Grube, Plato’s Thought, 182-3. 

[8] Ibid, 245. 

[9] Frede, Dorothea. “Disintegration and Restoration: Pleasure & Pain in Plato’s Philebus,” in The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Cambridge University Press. 1992, pg. 445. 

[10] Aristotle, Politics in Collected Works. Random House, NY. 1941, pg. 1129. 

[11] Smith, Robin. “Logic,” Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, Cambridge Press. 1995, pg. 51. 

[12] See Rahner, Hugo. “The Christian Mysteries and the Pagan Mysteries,” in The Mysteries: Papers From the Eranos Yearbooks. Princeton, 1955.

[13] In the Gospel of John, Jesus is consistently portrayed as the fulfillment of many of these symbols and images from Exodus and Numbers, such as the serpent on the pole, the Passover Lamb, etc. (John 3:14, Num. 21). 

[14] Barnes, Albert.  Barnes on the New Testament: Luke-John. Baker Books, Grand Rapids: 1953, 173-4. 

[15] Ridderbos, Herman.  The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary. Eerdmans, pg. 30-1. 

[16] Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, trs., On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, pp 58, 59, 70-71

[17] Florovsky, Fr. Georges. “Creation and Creaturehood.” Collected Works. Nordland Publishing, Mass, 1976. Pgs 43-78.

[18] Craig, WIlliam Lane and Paul Copan. Creation Out of Nothing. Baker Academic, 2004.  71-101.

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