The Johannine Logos

 

LogosSeveral years ago I saw John 1:1 translated as: In the beginning was The Logic and The Logic was with God and The Logic was God.  This fascinated me to some degree because it really changed how I had always read, yet hardly understood, the first few verses of The Gospel of John.  At that time, apologetics was a rather new interest of mine and I had only just started to look at epistemology and how it relates to the Christian faith.  Little did I know, seeing this translation of John 1:1 was going to change the way I viewed the Christian worldview and, most importantly, every other system of thought available.

Fortunately for me there was a footnote that linked to a book entitled The Johannine Logos by Dr. Gordon Clark.  Dr. Clark’s little book was rather simple in its presentation.  For the most part it did a word study on the word logos as used in John’s Gospel, gave some historical highlights to other usage of the word in extra biblical material at the time and came to a basic conclusion about John’s use of Logos as a title of Jesus Christ.

This series of posts serves a few purposes.  The first is to emphasize the Christian worldview and its relationship to epistemology, logic and truth.  There seems to be very little material that is readily available for the average person to consume regarding this topic.  Unfortunately, it’s one that seems to be so frequently misunderstood but with a little bit of honest study it can become one of the greatest tools the Christian has when defending his faith.  The second is to point readers to Dr. Clark’s material.  While this series of posts is loosely based off of the outline of his book, it in no way can serve as a replacement for any of his work.  I would hope that this can springboard into further study for others.  The third primary reason for this series is to have something that can be pointed to when discussion allows.  Naturally, saying something like “Jesus Christ is The Logic” to the average person will need some unpacking and my goal is that these pages can provide that necessary groundwork.

In the Preamble to the series I give a brief introduction to the word logos and its translation as word in the prologue to John’s Gospel.  I look at how “the Word” points back to various places in the Old Testament; Genesis 15 in particular.  Having something as far back as Genesis 15 demonstrates that the idea of the logos being Yahweh and yet distinct from Yahweh isn’t something new that John was having to interact with.

One of the common claims regarding John’s logos doctrine is that John was somehow borrowing logos ideas from various worldviews.  This is the primary discussion in Part 1: The Logos In Opposition.  Here, I take a brief look at various competing worldviews at the time John was writing in order to establish the fact that John’s idea of the divine logos was vastly different than any of these other systems of thought in the arena of ideas.

And since John wasn’t creating anything new or borrowing from other philosophical systems it only makes sense to establish the groundwork in the Old Testament along with first century Jewish Theology that everything John introduces in the prologue to his Gospel has its root in the Old Testament Scriptures.  Part 2: The Logos And The Memra takes a look at Memra doctrine in first century Israel and how it correlates to the divine logos in John’s Gospel.

Once all of that initial work is out of the way, in Part 3: Logos And Logic I take a look at what the word logos actually conveys and how that relates to the translation of John 1:1.  While the word logic is a suitable translation choice it may not help much in communicating the idea behind John’s use of the word.  Because of that, a more suitable English translation is offered.

In Part 4: Logos And Rheemata I explore the differences in the two Greek terms logos and rheemata.  This is necessary to establish that while rheemata may connote actual speaking and words themselves, logos is better understood as what the intellectual content that those words are intended to mean.  It’s important to note that while there may be some overlap in the usage of these words, Jesus is never called the rheema and therefore it would be wise to make sure we understand the differences between the two words that might otherwise get used interchangeably.

And finally, in Part 5: Logic And Epistemology everything is put together with examples from Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s infamous debate with Dr. Gordon Stein.  Here, the relationship between the divine logos, logic and epistemology are investigated and the Christian worldview established as the only rational system of thought available.

  •  Posted by at 11:45 am