Re: LOGOS in Classics (Plato) & John 1

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 25 1996 - 21:53:35 EDT

David Moore has suggested some things well worth looking at. I don't really
want to get started on this because, as Protagoras said about "gods," "the
subject is too large and life is too short." However, just a couple little
comments: you need to look at both Greek and Hebraic background. For
Hebraic background don't ignore the Sophia/Hokhma traditions of Hellenistic
Judaism as they appear in Job 28, Proverbs 8 and Wisdom of Solomon; they
definitely loom in the background of the Johannine and Philonic conceptions
of LOGOS. On the Greek side, the important elements in the earlier
philosophic tradition are Heraclitus and the Stoics; LOGOS does not really
loom very large as a cosmological/metaphysical principle in the work of
Plato himself, but it becomes very important in the Hellenistic period when
the chief philosophic notions of the Stoa, the Academy, and the Lyceum are
coming together in a notion of a providential, rational principle of
world-governance and world constitution--that is what fuses with the older
Hebraic notions of DABAR and HOKHMA/Sophia and bears fruit in the Philonic
and Johannine conceptions of the LOGOS. You might look at the article on
LOGOS in F.E. Peters' little book, _Greek Philosophical Terms_--if you can
get hold of it--it's out of print but has nice brief summaries of the
historical development of specific terms in the Greek philosophic tradition.

And--warning--more has been written and thought about this subject than can
reasonably be digested within one lifetime, and I rather doubt that all the
ins and outs of the controversial questions related to it will find any
resolution soon. But it surely is a rich field for speculation!

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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