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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Logos (The 'Word')



The Logos [Word]



NOTE: The following information and conclusions are based solely on NON-Watchtower sources. To the best of my knowledge the Watchtower Society does not teach the following concerning the source of the word Logos - see Insight, “Word.” I have simply used some of the best Trinitarian and “orthodox” authorities themselves as a basis for making these conclusions. If I am wrong, blame me and the sources I used, not the Watchtower Society. – RDB.

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(As in most of the files here, the emphasis and information in brackets found in quotes has been added by me.  Greek words can be copied and converted to Greek characters by using the Symbol font. - RDB)

In the Prologue of the Gospel of John (written about 90 A.D.) we see that John 1:1c reads in the original language: [Use 'Symbol' font for the following and other places where the NT Greek has been used] καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (“and god was the word”).[1] This has been translated as (1) “and the Word was a god,” (2) “and the Word was divine,” and, most often, (3) “and the Word was God.”

There are a number of questions concerning this and the rest of the Prologue to the Gospel of John.

First is the interpretation by a few that the Logos here is merely a concept or 'plan' in God's mind. I think we can dismiss this by examining Jn 3:17; 8:23; 17:3,5; Phil 2:6; and 1 John 4:9.


Since John did not explain his concept of the Word (Logos), what would his readers have understood him to mean when he used the term in the Prologue? And, more important, what would his readers have understood as the meaning of καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (“and god was the word”) at John 1:1c?


Although some trinitarians hotly dispute it, (1) when an unmodified, nominative case ‘god’ (θεὸς) in the original Greek of the earliest NT manuscripts) has the article (ὁ) with it (ὁ θεὸς) in all the writings of the Gospel writers, it always refers to the most high God and is translated into English as “God,” and, (2) it is an easily proven fact that when an unmodified nominative case count noun (like ‘god,’ θεὸς) has no article (ὁ) with it, as in John 1:1c above, it should normally be translated into English as an indefinite noun (like ‘a god’) no matter what its position in the sentence! - See the DEF; SEPTGOD; HARNER; and PRIMER studies.


For example, see John 4:19 (“a prophet”); John 6:70 (“a devil”/“a slanderer”); 9:24 (“a sinner”); John 10:33 (“a man”); John 18:37a (“a king”); etc. So grammatically, as well as contextually, the proper rendering of Jn 1:1c is “the Word was a god”![2] - See the DEF and HARNER studies.


A few trinitarians actually attempt to “prove” that John 1:1c should be translated as “and the Word [Logos] was God” rather than “and the Word [Logos] was a god” by appealing to one of the strictly pagan concepts of “The Logos”! For example, in an attempt to justify the common trinitarian rendering of “God” at Jn 1:1c, trinitarian Daniel B. Wallace wrote:


“The Greek concept of God was, for the most part, personal and finite. But their concept of the Logos [‘the Word’] was greater than their concept of God... thus ... it is highly improbable that the Logos could be ‘a god’ according to John.” - p. 96, Selected Notes on the Syntax of New Testament Greek, Daniel B. Wallace, 1981 ed.


But, as we will see, what it all boils down to (and even many of the most authoritative trinitarian sources agree) is this: either the Gospel of John (written around 90 A.D.) truly reflects John’s Jewish background and the teaching of Jesus and the 1st century Christians (the “primitive” Church) or it reflects popular pagan Greek philosophies of the time and is, therefore, “a work of imagination, a theological romance of a type not unparalleled in [pagan Greek] literature.” If it were the latter, of course, it wouldn’t matter what Jn 1:1c says anyway, since it would certainly not be the inspired word of God. If it is the former, all the evidence (as many trinitarian authorities themselves admit) shows John is basing his Logos [‘Word’] concept on that of the Jewish teaching of Philo.


Philo (who lived in Egypt about 20 B.C. - 50 A.D.), the best-known, most-respected Hellenistic Jewish theologian by those living in the first and second centuries, clearly and repeatedly taught that the Logos is a god (one lesser than God) and showed this in his writing by using theos (θεὸς) without the definite article (“a god”) to refer to the Logos but used theos with the definite article ( θεὸς) when referring to God. Since John obviously based most of his Logos statements on Philo’s concept, we would expect him to use theos without the article (“a god”) to refer to the Logos. And that is exactly what he did at John 1:1c! [3]


So let’s examine the concept of Logos (“Word”) and what John based it on, even according to many trinitarian authorities:


“LOGOS...term used to designate Christ in the prologue to the Fourth Gospel. There has been much discussion among scholars as to the source from which the writer of the prologue drew the term. Sources which have been mentioned are the word of God of the Old Testament [see Ps. 33:6]; the concept of Logos, or reason, in [Greek] Stoic philosophy; and the term as used by Philo.” - p. 62, Encyclopedia International, vol. 11, 1966.


But we can see that the pagan Stoic philosophy that Wallace (and a few others) ascribes John’s usage of Logos to, taught the Logos as something clearly and basically out of harmony with the Bible. It taught that


“the universe is the product of this divine mind [logos], which yet is immanent [existing within] in it. In this materialistic pantheism, divinity pervades everything, but only in the outer heaven is it pure. On earth only man possesses it in the form of the logos or reason, and hence, though his body is animal, he shares part of his nature with divinity.” .... [We also find] “the doctrine of logos, as a universal human attribute,...” - p. 289, Encyclopedia International, vol. 14, 1966.


Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics also tells us that the Stoics’ concept of God gave Him more personal attributes than could properly belong to their impersonal Logos concept. In other words, even for the Stoics, the Logos was not a person nor was it equal to God (who did have personal attributes). - vol. 8, p. 134.


Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1982, Bethany House Publishers, also rejects a Greek pagan philosophy as the source of John’s Logos. This trinitarian reference work which claims to give “the main views held by reputable evangelical scholars” states:


Plato used Logos to represent the universal Man in the eternal world.” And “the Stoics called logos ‘the soul of the world’.” “It is more likely, however, that John derives his Logos Christology from the personified Wisdom of Proverbs 8 [Prov. 8:22-30].” - p. 389.


The equally trinitarian New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1982, Tyndale House Publishers, tells us:


“The Word possesses a like power to the God who speaks it (cf. Is. 55:11) and effects his will without hindrance. Hence, the term [Logos] may refer to the creative word of God. In the Wisdom literature the creative power of God is referred to as his Wisdom, and in a number of passages is spoken of as an hypostasis distinct from him (see especially Pr. 8:22-30...)” - p. 703.


The “personified Wisdom” (see the BWF study) of Prov. 8:22-30, which has been most frequently applied to Jesus since the time of the Apostle Paul, at least, shows “Wisdom” to have been created by God before any of the rest of creation (and thereafter at his side as a master worker).


The New Bible Dictionary further states:


“Right at the beginning of the Gospel [of John] he is affirmed to be the ‘Word’ (Logos) of God.... The use of ‘Word’ [Logos] is singularly happy, for by it John was able to speak to Jews who had already taken some steps toward regarding God’s creative Word (Ps. 33:6 [logos in the Septuagint OT]) as in some sense a separate being from God (cf. the figurative description of Wisdom in Pr. 8:22 ff.)” - p. 608.


But, even though the OT “Word” and “Wisdom” concept is properly a Jewish (and scriptural) source, it does not fulfill most of the basic requirements to qualify as the source for the Logos as John clearly intended it in the Gospel of John. It was the basis of Philo’s earlier (and well-published) development of the Logos concept, however.


We are also told in an article by Frederick C. Grant of the Union Theological Seminary, New York City,


“Another term found in koine [New Testament] Greek and adopted by the early Christians is Logos (Word), meaning...the divine mediator between God and the world (John 1:1-18) or the divine thought or utterance, by which - or by whom - all things hold together (Colossians 1:17); that is, the One who is God’s agent in the creation and the continued existence of the universe (Hebrews 1:3). Such a term is not entirely philosophical: its real background...is not Stoicism or Stoical Platonism so much as it is the theosophical or ‘mysteriosophical’ theorizing of various religious cults and movements found here and there in the ancient Near East [the most influential and best-known by far of these being that of the Jewish theosophy of Philo - RDB].” - Encyclopedia Americana, 1957, vol. 3, p. 654.


“The outstanding Alexandrian Jew [‘the chief representative of Alexandrian Judaism’ - J. B. Lightfoot’s commentary: Epistle to the Philippians, p. 130] is, of course, Philo Judaeus (20 B.C.-A.D. 50). .... It has been said rightly that the history of Christian philosophy ‘began not with a Christian but a Jew,’ namely Philo of Alexandria.” - p. 35, The Rise of Christianity, W. H. C. Frend (trinitarian), 1985, Fortress Press.

Eminent trinitarian scholar Dr. E. F. Scott writes:

“The prologue [of the Gospel of John] consists of a succinct statement of a Philonic doctrine of the Logos, which is forthwith identified with Jesus Christ.” - p. 54, The Fourth Gospel, Its purpose and Theology.

“The idea of a Logos, an immanent reason in the world, is one that meets us under various modifications in many ancient systems of thought, - Indian, Egyptian, Persian. In view of the religious syncretism of the second century, it is barely possible that these extraneous theologies may have exercised some influence on the Fourth Evangelist, but there can be little doubt in regard to the main source from which his Logos doctrine was derived. It had come down to him through Philo, after its final development in Greek philosophy.” - p. 146.

“…. every verse in the Prologue offers striking analogies to corresponding sayings of Philo. We have seen reason to believe that John had acquainted himself directly with the works of the Alexandrian thinker, and consciously derived from them.” - p. 154, The Fourth Gospel, Its purpose and Theology, E. F. Scott, D.D.


Philo, the famous Jewish philosopher, .... is the most important example of the Hellenized Jews outside Palestine... he believed wholly in the Mosaic scriptures and in one God whose chief mediator with the world is the Logos” - Philo, vol. 5, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1988.


Speaking of theosophy and Philo,


We find that Philo Judaeus was a “Jewish philosopher: b. about 20 B.C.; d. not later than 54 A.D.”


“...his philosophy was thus strictly a theosophy. It rested, as its direct foundation, on the Jewish scriptures as an inspired revelation....”


According to Philo, “Between God and the world there is an intermediate being, the Logos.” And “The Logos is the most universal of all beings except God.”


Philo also (unlike the pagan Greek Stoic philosophers) “gives the Logos the titles of Son of God [John 1:34], paraclete[4] [‘Comforter,’ ‘Advocate,’ ‘Helper’ - 1 John 2:1], and mediator between God and man [1 Tim. 2:5].” - Americana, 1957, v. 21, pp. 766, 767.


Philo also:


“differentiates the Logos from God as his work or image [2 Cor. 4:4].” Philo’s Logos is also “first-born son [Ro. 8:29]....divine [a god - Jn 1:1] but not God, is with God [Jn 1:1], is light [Jn 1:4],...manna [Jn 6:31-51],...and shepherd [Jn 10:11].” - Encyclopaedia Britannica, p. 251, vol. 14, 1968. (Cf. Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 8, p. 135.)


And,


Philo describes the Logos in terms which often bear striking resemblance to NT descriptions of Christ .... Philo distinguishes God as the cause by which [and]..., the Logos as that through which (di’ hou),... the cosmos originated” [Jn 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6] and “even as θεὸς [‘a god’] in a subordinate sense” [Jn 1:1] and one “from which drawing water one may find eternal life instead of death [Jn 4:14].” - A Dictionary of the Bible, p. 135, vol. 3, Hastings, ed., Hendrickson Publ., 1988 printing.


We also see that:


Philo....made use of it [Logos] on the basis of such passages as Ps. 33:6 to express the means whereby the transcendent God may be the Creator of the universe and the Revealer of himself to Moses and the Patriarchs. .... On the side of biblical exegesis the Logos is identified with the Angel of the Lord...and is described...as High Priest [Heb. 6:20], Captain and Steersman, Advocate (Paraclete) and the son of God.” - p. 703, New Bible Dictionary.


In fact, Philo even said that


“the Logos is the eldest son [first-born or created] of God.” [Ro. 8:29] - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (trinitarian), p. 639, vol. 3 (also vol. 1, p. 178), 1986, Zondervan.


Trinitarian Dr. H. R. Boer also tells us:


Philo...put a mediator between God and the world. This mediator he found in the Logos. He is the greater of the powers with which God is surrounded [these ‘powers’, the angels of God, are sometimes called ‘gods’ by Philo, the first Christians, and even in the Bible itself - RDB]. In him Philo saw a divine power that is less than God [cf. John 1:1c, AT and Moffatt], standing between God and the world. Through him God has created all things [cf. John 1:3]. Later, this thought played a large role in the attempt of Christian thinkers to explain the relationship of Christ to God.” - A Short History of the Early Church, 1976, p. 12.


Philo of course conceives of the Logos - which he occasionally calls divine (θεὸς) [literally, 'a god'], but never ‘God’ (  θεὸς) - as the highest angel and as the highest idea at the same time....” - p. 126, John 1, Haenchen, Fortress Press, 1984.


We even find Philo saying: the Divine Logos “has been anointed” [Messiah/Christ means the ‘Anointed One’] and “his father being God, who is likewise Father of all” - p. 69, Philo, vol. 5, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press.


The Encyclopedia Britannica also tells us about Philo’s “Logos”:


“Thus there is close similarity of symbolism between Philo and the fourth evangelist [John], and they move in the same [Jewish] world of thought ....” - p. 251, vol. 14, 1968.


And the trinitarian Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 833, also admits:


“Though it is clear that the author was influenced by the same background of ideas as Philo, his identification of the Logos with the Messiah was entirely new.” – Oxford University Press, 1990. (But, of course, we have seen a connection between one who has been anointed [messiah] and the Logos in the works of Philo described in Philo, vol. 5, quoted above.)


Yes, as we have seen above, a large number of highly distinctive descriptions of the Logos by Philo have also been used by John to describe his Logos: Jesus! These terms are used by Philo alone, not by other trinitarian-proposed sources of John’s Logos concept!


Philo alone took the term “Logos” from the Greek concept and modified it to match Old Testament scriptural concepts (including “Wisdom” - Prov. 8:22-30 and “Word” in Ps 33:6).


“There is evidence, however, especially in Philo, that the form of the Logos was virtually identical in substance with that of Wisdom [in Prov. 8].” - p. 126, John 1, Ernst Haenchen, Fortress Press, 1984.


After discussing all other trinitarian-proposed origins of John’s concept of the Logos (including, of course, those of the Stoics; the OT Wisdom concept; etc.) and rejecting them all, a highly-respected trinitarian work concludes:


“In the question of the origin of the Logos-concept [by John], pre-eminent significance is therefore to be attributed to Hellenistic Judaism [Philo].” - p. 1117, vol. 3, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Zondervan.


Respected Church historian Cairns (trinitarian) also tells us:


“Multitudes were later mentioned as becoming a part of the Church (Acts 5:14). It is rather interesting that many of these were Hellenistic Jews (Acts 6:1)” - p. 60, Christianity Through The Centuries, Zondervan, 1977.


So there were many Hellenistic Jews who had become Christians and were, therefore, very familiar with Philo’s Logos at the time John wrote his Gospel.

In fact, we are told at Acts 6:7, 9 that there were Alexandrian Jews in Jerusalem when Stephen was martyred. And Acts 18:24 tells us that even Apollos was an Alexandrian.

John simply could not have used a strictly pagan Greek philosophy as a basis for his ‘Logos.’ As popular trinitarian New Testament scholar Dr. William Barclay tells us,


“John thinks in Jewish categories because he could do no other.” - p. 80, The Letters of John and Jude, 1976 ed.


And the Universal Standard Encyclopedia, p. 6596, vol. 18, 1954 ed., tells us that “[Philo is] considered the greatest Jewish philosopher of his age.” And, “To Philo the divinity of the Jewish law was the basis and test of all true philosophy.”


Even the famed Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics tells us that John must be referring to Philo’s conception of the Logos:


“It is clear from the tone of the Prologue [John 1:1-18] that Philo’s conception of the Logos, or something akin to it, was already familiar to those for whom the Evangelist [John] wrote. No explanation of the word Logos is given [anywhere in the entire Gospel]; and almost every verse in this Prologue might be paralleled from Philo [and only Philo].”[5] - p. 136, vol. 8.


And the trinitarian The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Inter-Varsity Press, Tyndale House Publishers, 1980, says


Only the Philonic Logos-teaching [Philo’s teaching of the Logos] provides a clear theological scheme in which the Word possesses a like unity with God and a like distinction from him, and in which both creative and sustaining activity in the universe and revelatory activity towards man is ascribed to it. Further, the necessarily unique concept of incarnation is nevertheless a proper development of the identification of Philo’s [and only Philo’s] Logos with the Ideal Man [Jesus].” - vol. 2, p. 909 (also see the New Bible Dictionary, pp. 703-704, 2nd ed.).


“... in the cosmology explicit in the Prologue [verses 1:1-18 of the Gospel of John] and elsewhere there is evidently close kinship to the Philonic allegory.” - p. 934, New Bible Dictionary (trinitarian), 2nd ed., Tyndale House Publ. (trinitarian), 1984.


“With striking vigour and originality of thought Philo built up a religious philosophy, in which the Logos is endowed with personality” - [something all other Logos concepts did not have, but which the author of the Gospel of John certainly used for his Logos!] - A Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings (ed.), p. 283, Supplement, 1988 printing, Hendrickson Press.


I don’t intend to accuse the Apostle John of actually adopting part of Philo’s theosophy (and certainly not the pagan philosophy of the Greeks), but if he were making a comparison between Christ and a popularly understood Hellenistic concept of the word Logos at that time, he would have used the popular Logos concept of Philo, the Jewish theosophist who at least based his theosophy “as its direct foundation on the Jewish scriptures as an inspired revelation.”[6]


As The Expositor’s Greek Testament tells us in its introduction to the Gospel of John: “The idea of the Logos was a Jewish-Alexandrian idea, and that the author [of the Gospel of John] sought to attach his Gospel to this idea is unquestionable…. the term and the idea of the Logos are used by the author to introduce his subject to the Greek readers. As Harnack says: ‘The prologue [John 1:1 - John 1:18] is not the key to the understanding of the Gospel, but it is rather intended to prepare the Hellenistic reader for its perusal’.” - p. 671, Volume One.


And if John were writing to a group of the “many ... Hellenistic Jews” who had become a part of the Church (or who were at least interested in Christianity), there would be no need to explain the Logos concept which they were already very familiar with from Philo’s Hellenistic Judaism.[7] (The lack of any explanation of his Logos concept by John has been very troubling to many students of the Prologue of the Gospel of John.) And that concept is that the Logos (although the second highest power in the universe, the Son of God, the Mediator between God and Man, the one through whom God created all things) is an intermediate entity who is not the Most High God but is ‘a god’!


The Encyclopedia Britannica sums it up pretty well:


“The Logos which having been in the beginning, and with God, and divine [‘a god’], had entered human life and history as the Word ‘made flesh!’ .... But the identification of Jesus with the Logos was not tantamount to recognizing him as ‘God.’ Neither the ‘Word of God’ in Hebrew nomenclature nor the Logos in Greek speculation was ‘God’ though it was definitely ‘divine’ [‘a god’].” - Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., vol. 13, p.25.


So, it is untrue that the Greek “concept of the Logos was greater than their concept of God” as Wallace states. But it really matters very little anyway because it is extremely unlikely that John would take his Logos concept from such a strictly pagan source when writing to the Hellenistic Jews.


Yes, if his intended audience were primarily to be interested pagan Greeks, we might assume John would have used a pagan Greek Logos concept (possibly Stoic) with which they would have been most familiar. But if John’s intended audience for his Gospel were primarily of Jewish background, we could properly assume his Logos concept was one that was well known in the Jewish world (Philo’s Logos). Some trinitarians (for obvious reasons) insist that John was writing primarily to non-Jewish pagans, but the very language and ideas used in the Gospel of John show that the writer was writing primarily to those of Jewish background. Those unfamiliar with Jewish customs, ideas, and language would have been confused:


“Features of John which suggest more convincingly a Jewish and even Palestinian background are its language, its echoes of rabbinic ideas and methods of argument, and its parallels in thought and language with the recently discovered documents of the [Jewish] Qumran community”! - The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 942, by the very trinitarian Abingdon Press, 1962.


This same respected trinitarian source also tells us that the Jewish concept of the Messiah at this time was also clearly more in line with Philo’s concept of the Logos than with the pagan Greek speculations concerning the Logos:


“The figure of the ‘Son of Man’ [as used frequently in the Gospel of John - e.g. Jn 1:51 - even though an incomprehensible term for non-Jews] ... was, moreover, in accord with ... that of a pre-existent heavenly angelic being who, at the end of time, will appear at the side of God as judge of the world.” - vol. 3, p. 364.


(The Trinitarian New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1984, also tells us that for the writer of the Gospel of John “a Jewish audience is probably in mind” and, “it is an attractive hypothesis that he wrote especially for the Jews of the Diaspora and proselytes in Hellenistic synagogues. .... the view that the Gospel was written primarily to convert the thoughtful Gentile ... is unlikely.” - p. 607.)


This brings us to the fact that John would have likely been writing to those Jews in the largest and most influential area of Hellenistic Judaism in the known world at that time: Egypt (particularly Alexandria and the many synagogues influenced by it).


It is significant that:


“The existence of John’s Gospel is attested in Egypt before AD 150 [probably 100 – 125 AD] by the Rylands Papyrus 457 [p52], the earliest known fragment of a NT MS.” – p. 610, New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition, Tyndale House Publ., 1984.


“The apparent lack of knowledge of John in Asia gives weight to the claims of Alexandria: here John was certainly used very early by the Gnostics (cf. also the papyri), the climate of thought (Hellenistic Judaism) could be regarded as suitable, and the general remoteness of Alexandria would explain the Gospel’s slow circulation.” – p. 611.


This respected trinitarian Bible dictionary, therefore, admits that the writings of John were found very early in Egypt and only slowly crept outward to other congregations around the Mediterranean. This strongly indicates that Alexandria (or, possibly, another Egyptian synagogue) received the original of John’s Gospel. The Hellenistic Jews most familiar with the Logos of Philo were the very ones John wrote his Gospel to originally.


To further verify this we have the evidence of the earliest manuscripts of John ever found.


The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts lists the fragments of 11 separate manuscripts as all the very earliest MSS known of the Gospel of John. They include the earliest of all, p52, which is now dated to 100 – 125 AD, which is very soon after the original was written!


The others are 0162; p5; p22; p28; p39; p45; p66; p75; p90; p95. (We also find the very earliest MS of 1 John, p9, was found in Egypt.)


Out of all 11 of these manuscripts (or 12 if we include p9), only two (p80 and p95) were from unknown locations (in museum, discoverer and original location unknown). All of the others were from Egypt! – Philip Comfort and David Barrett, Baker Books, 1999.


Yes, John wrote his Gospel to Hellenistic Jews in Egypt who had to be well aware of the Logos concept of Philo of Alexandria, and who would be using that concept themselves! Therefore, when John wrote them his Gospel account, there was no need to explain what was meant by “Logos,” the Word. They already knew, and it was Philo’s Logos.




The trinitarian resource book, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, also tells us:


“Now if the author of John can be shown to be primarily Jewish in his ideas and background [see Barclay quote above], it is open to the critic to admit the possibility that the tradition which he preserves is primitive [reflecting the actual teaching of Jesus and his Apostles] more easily than if he appears to be primarily Hellenistic [Greek philosophy/religion based]. And conversely, if he appears to be primarily Hellenistic, then it is easier to regard his gospel as a work of imagination, a theological romance of a type not unparalleled in Hellenistic literature.” - vol. 2, p. 942.


In other words, if John were truly using a Logos concept based on the Greek philosophers (such as used by the Stoics, Platonists, etc.), he was not writing ideas that came from Jesus and his apostles but ideas from his own imagination. In that case the Gospel of John should not be considered as inspired scripture anyway. But if he was using the Logos concept as the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo taught it (primarily in line with Jewish OT teachings), then the Gospel of John can be considered as reflecting the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles. In that case, of course, one may consider, as we do, the Gospel of John as inspired scripture. If we consider “Logos” as being strictly from pagan Greek sources, then, we must discount John 1:1c as not being God’s inspired word in the first place. If we consider John’s “Logos” as reflecting Philo’s concept, then, John 1:1c also should reflect Philo’s Logos concept: “The Logos [Word] was a god.”


And, contrary to Wallace’s statement, it is not “highly improbable that the Logos could be ‘a god’ according to John” based on either the OT “Word of God/Wisdom” concept or on Philo’s Logos. Remember, angels are called “gods” (and Philo’s Logos is also the Angel of the Lord), and Jesus himself points out in the Gospel of John that even certain men were called “gods” by God Himself (John 10:34,35). – see BOWGOD study, note #1.


As the trinitarian scholar Dr. Robert Young noted:


“65. GOD—is used of ANY ONE (professedly) MIGHTY, whether truly so or not, and is applied not only to the true God, but to false gods, magistrates, judges, angels, prophets, etc., e.g. Ex. 7:1; ... John 1:1; 10:33, 34, 35; 20:28...” - Young’s Analytical Concordance, preface.


It is, therefore, a near certainty that John’s (Philo) Logos concept makes Jesus “a god,” an intermediary between God and Man, “a divine power that is less than God.”


The highly respected (and highly trinitarian) The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Revised) tells us of Philo’s teaching of God and the Word:


“... he [Philo] maintained that God was the Father who governed the world as well as each individual soul by His Providence. He accorded a central place in his system to the Logos, who was ... the intermediary through whom men know God.” - p. 1084, Oxford University Press, 1990.


In fact, Philo, when speaking of God, always used ho theos (with the definite article), and when speaking of the Word, Logos, (whom, as we have seen, he did not consider equal to God) he would use theos without the article [a god]! - p. 72, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 2, 1986, Zondervan.


So, if John is using a comparison with Philo’s Logos concept to describe Jesus’ relationship with God (as indicated by even some of the best trinitarian scholars), then his use of theos without the article at John 1:1c clearly shows the Word is not equal to God but is called “a god”!


We might also examine John 1:18 as written in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts: “No one has seen God at any time; but an only-begotten god [monogenes theos] who is beside the Father has explained him.” – translated from Westcott and Hort text (also see the equally trinitarian United Bible Societies’ text and Nestle’s text).


This reminds us of the quote by Moule:


“in John i.18 (reading μονογενὴς θεὸς [monogenes theos]) the omission of the article is striking, and reminds one of Philo’s (anarthrous) deuteros θεὸς [deuteros theos, ‘a second god’[8], as applied to the λόγος [Logos].” - An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, p. 116, Cambridge University Press, 1990 printing.


In other words, John’s Logos is a god (at John 1:1 and John 1:18) in similar fashion to Philo’s Logos who was a god in a subordinate fashion (as are angels) to the one true God.


The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible also tells us:


“[Philo’s Logos] can, indeed be described as θεὸς (without the article, to distinguish him from God, (ὁ θεὸς).” - vol. 4, p. 870, by the trinitarian Abingdon Press, 1962,


And Ernst Haenchen writes:


“...θεὸς and ὁ θεὸς (‘god, divine’ and ‘the God’) were not the same thing in this period [when the Gospel of John was written]. Philo has therefore written: the logos means only θεὸς (‘divine’) [literally: ‘a god’] and NOT ὁ θεὸς (‘God’) since the logos is not God in the strict sense.... In fact, for the [writer of the Prologue of the Gospel of John] only the Father was ‘God’ (ὁ θεὸς) cf. 17:3); the Son was subordinate to him (cf. 14:28).”[9] - p. 109, John 1, Fortress Press, 1984.


We are also reminded by John 1:18 of Jesus’ response to his disciples’ request to see the Father when, of course, no man has ever actually seen the Father (Jn 1:18, 6:46): “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” - John 14:9, NIV. Since no man has ever literally seen the Father, what did Jesus mean? Well, notice how John would have understood the Logos concept as taught by Philo:


“ ‘The divine Logos is Himself the Image of God, chiefest of all beings intellectually perceived, placed nearest, with no intermediary distance, to the truly Existent One [The Father]’ (De fuga et inventione 101); ‘it well befits those who have entered into comradeship with knowledge to desire to see the Existent [the Father] if they may, but, if they cannot, to see at least his Image, the most holy Logos’ (De confusione linguarum 97). The Logos, then, is the image of God.” - New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 8, p. 967, 1967 ed.


John obviously had this (Philo’s) Logos concept in mind when he wrote John 1:1, John 1:18, and John 14:9 as quoted above.


Notice this admission by respected trinitarian scholar Prof. John J. Collins:


“Even the extreme claim of the Gospel of John that the Word was God could be defended in a Jewish context by appeal to Philo’s distinction between the analogical use of ‘God’ without the article [theos or ‘a god’], which could refer to the Logos, and ‘the God’ [ho theos or ‘God’], with the article, which was reserved for the Most High” - p. 96, Aspects of Monotheism - How God is One, Biblical Archaeology Society, 1997.


The Jews were very familiar with the scriptural teaching that angels may be called “gods” and “sons of God.” They were also very familiar with Philo’s teachings that the Logos was the “Angel of the Lord,” the “firstborn son of God,” and “a god.” Therefore, we cannot imagine that John would write to this Jewish audience and call Jesus “the Logos” and “the Son of God” without any qualifications or further explanation unless he actually intended the already well-known Jewish (Philo’s) understanding of these terms - including “a god” (who is not God!).


It is extremely important that we look beyond the modern-day concept in English of using the word/title “God/god” in a very narrow sense. It was a very common custom in ancient times and among both the Jews and the early Christians to call various “mighty persons” by that word/title. Some Bible writers, on occasion, followed this custom and some, apparently, did not. There did not, at that time, need to be any supernatural significance or sense of a rival of the true God attached to every usage of the word. - See the DEF study.


It is significant that John is the only Gospel writer to point out that God called men “gods” (plural form of theos), and since John is the only Gospel writer who also clearly calls Jesus theos (John 1:1c, 1:18, also the context of John 10:33-36 demands that the Jews referred “a god,” as rendered in the NEB, to Jesus - see the THEON ['RDB's Rule'] study).


It is equally significant that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who did not use theos for Jesus, also did not use Logos for Jesus! The one usage is clearly tied to the other in both Philo’s and John’s concept of the Logos, and John’s distinctive use of them in combination clearly indicates their source and significance: as with Philo, John’s use of theos for the Logos [the Word - Jn 1:1c] means “a god” and not “God”!


The earliest Christian writers have also clearly shown that they understood John’s Logos concept to be basically that of Philo’s Jewish “Logos.” The Encyclopedia of Religion, Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987, vol. 9, p. 15, discusses very early Christian writings concerning John’s use of Logos:


“...another sentence from [Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho]... ‘There is, as has been said, another [heteros] god and lord below the Creator of the universe...the Creator of the universe has no other [allos] god above him’ (56.4). .... Origen himself will downgrade the Logos in calling it ‘second [deuteros] god’ (Against Celsus 5.39, 6.61, etc.) or again in writing ‘god’ (theos) without the article, whereas he calls the Father ho theos, ‘the God’ (Commentary of Saint John 2.2.13-18).” And, “Thus Philo had used the presence or absence of the article to distinguish the ‘true God’ from the Logos god (On Dreams 1.39.229-230), and had marked out the Logos as being ‘the second god’ (Questions and Answers on Genesis, 2.62). Before [Christian writers] Justin and Hippolytus [and Origen and the writer of the Epistle to Diognetus - DEF-7, etc.], Philo sees in the Logos ‘another god’ (ibid.). .... It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Christian theologians of the [first,] second and third centuries, even theologians of the caliber of Origen...came to see the Logos as a god of second rank.”


These respected first Christian scholars “came to see the Logos as a god” because that is obviously what the Apostle John meant in his Prologue at Jn 1:1c and Jn 1:18! [10]


Trinitarian scholar Dr. H. R. Boer comments on the Apologists in his A Short History of the Early Church. He tells us that the very first Christians to really discuss Jesus’ relationship with God in their writings were the Apologists. And then he admits what they taught:


“Justin and the other Apologists therefore taught that the Son is a creature. He is a high creature, a creature powerful enough to create the world but, nevertheless, a creature. In theology this relationship of the Son to the Father is called Subordinationism. The Son is subordinate, that is, secondary to, dependent upon, and caused by the Father.” - p. 110.


The Encyclopedia of Religion tells us:


“Ignatius of Antioch [who died in 107 A.D.] writes as follows: ‘There is only one God, who makes himself known to us through Jesus Christ his Son, who is his Logos....’” - p. 14, vol. 9.


Speaking of the Apologists An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm, ed., 1945 ed., says:


Adopting the mode of thought which the Jewish philosopher Philo, a contemporary of Paul, had employed ... [the Apologists] declared Jesus to be the incarnation of the Logos.” - p. 166.


And trinitarian scholar Prof. John J. Collins tells us:


“The theology of Justin Martyr and Origen, in second-century C.E. [A.D.] Christianity, is not greatly removed from that of Philo, except that the Logos is now believed to be incarnate in the person of Jesus.” - p. 104, Aspects of Monotheism - How God is One, Biblical Archaeology Society, 1997.


Again, these very first Christians to write about Jesus’ relationship with God “adopted” the mode of thought of the Jewish philosopher Philo because they believed that had to be the only credible source for John’s reference to the Logos.


As we said at the beginning: it all boils down to this (and many of the most authoritative trinitarian sources agree): either the Gospel of John primarily reflects the Jewish teaching of Jesus and the 1st century Christians (the “primitive” Church) or it primarily reflects popular pagan Greek philosophies and is therefore “a work of imagination, a theological romance of a type not unparalleled in [pagan Greek] literature.” If it were the latter, of course, it wouldn’t matter what Jn 1:1 says anyway, because it could not be the inspired word of God. If it is the former, as internal evidence proves it is, all the evidence (as admitted by many trinitarian authorities themselves) proves John is basing his Logos concept on that of the Bible-based Jewish teaching of Philo.


Yes, John, as a member of the earliest Christian church (which was considered a sect of Judaism at that time - see the CREED and ISRAEL studies), wrote his Gospel for another, larger, sect of Judaism (Hellenistic Jews). In an attempt to reach and convert members of this large group John used terms and concepts that were already familiar to them.


This is a method of teaching that Christians have always used. Paul tells us that in order to win converts he will “be as a Jew” to win Jews, and he will be as a non-Jew to non-Jews to win them over - 1 Cor. 9:20,21. He even quotes paganistic poets to help convince a pagan audience - Acts 17:28. The writings of Christians of the first three centuries show this very same technique of using terms and concepts that are most familiar to the audience being addressed and applying them in accordance with Bible teachings. (Of course they use only the aspects that can be shown to correspond to Bible teaching. They don’t take all the teaching included in the poem, doctrine, etc. in question.)


So, when writing to Hellenistic Jews, it should be expected that John would use terms that are most familiar to them. And Philo’s teaching of the Word (Logos) was, by far, the most well-known Logos doctrine known to them.


“He [Philo] was the most important figure among the Hellenistic Jews of his age” - p. 1083, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (trinitarian), Revised, Cross, Oxford University Press, 1990.


Only Philo had the proper Jewish credentials.


“That he [Philo] was essentially in the mainstream of Judaism, however, is indicated by his respect for the literal interpretation of the Bible, his denunciation of the extreme allegorists....” - The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990, vol. 9, p. 386.


Yes, only Philo


“in anticipation of Christian doctrine ... called the Logos the first begotten Son of God, the man of God, the image of God, and second to God [and other highly distinctive descriptions as found in the Gospel of John].” And only Philo, “the most important representative of Hellenistic Judaism....[also] occupies a unique position in the history of philosophy. He is also regarded by Christians as a forerunner of Christian theology.” - The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1990, vol. 9, pp. 385, 386.


“The large obligations of the author of the Fourth Gospel [John] to the Philonian School [Philo] cannot reasonably be denied.” - Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 8, p. 136.


Although noted Trinitarian scholar C.H. Dodd seems to believe that the pre-incarnate Logos was an aspect [the thought?] of God Himself, he also tells us:


The opening sentences, then, of the Prologue [Jn 1:1] are clearly intelligible only when we admit that [Logos]...has also a meaning similar to that which it bears in ... Philo". – p. 280, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, Cambridge University Press, 1995 printing by C. H. Dodd. [11]



CONCLUSION


The fact that the writer of the Prologue of the Gospel of John did not give any explanation or comment at all concerning his concept of the Logos (the Word) means that he intended it to be understood by his readers from the standpoint of their own backgrounds. It has been determined by many trinitarian Bible scholars that his readers were Hellenistic Jews (Jews living in Greek-influenced lands).


It is also known that the pre-eminent religious spokesman for these Hellenistic Jews was Philo of Alexandria (Egypt) whose writings were well-known to Hellenistic Jews (and Christians) during the first few centuries A.D.


Furthermore all of the very earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John (including one dated to 100-125 AD – very close to the time of the original writing) have been found in Egypt (the home of Philo’s Hellenistic Judaism). The evidence of the spread of John’s Gospel shows it slowly spread outward from Hellenistic Egypt into the rest of the world.


So it is almost certain that the writer of the Prologue would have intended his Hellenistic Jewish readers to have understood the Logos as that concept which had been developed by the renowned Philo of Alexandria, Egypt. When he applied that term to the heavenly pre-existent Jesus, therefore, his intended readers would have properly understood it as a comparison to Philo’s Logos.


The further fact that the Gospel of John took so many of the distinctive terms and descriptions used by Philo to describe his Logos and applied those same terms to the Christ confirms the above conclusion. No other Bible writer used Logos in this way and no other Bible writer applied so many of Philo’s Logos descriptions to Christ!


Philo clearly and repeatedly taught that the Logos is a god (one lesser than God) and frequently showed this in his writing by using “theoswithout the article to refer to the Logos (“a god”) but used “theoswith the article when referring to God. Since John obviously based his Logos concept on Philo’s, we should expect him to use “theos” without the article to refer to the Logos exactly as he did at John 1:1c: “and the Word was a god.” Respected Christian writers of the first 3 centuries A.D. also showed this very understanding of Logos as used for the Christ!


A careful study of the Logos concept as used by John confirms the grammatical evidence (see the DEF, QUAL, and MARTIN studies) that John 1:1c is properly translated, “and the Word was a god” as found in the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most trinitarian scholars will do their utmost to deny this conclusion (for obvious reasons), but it is inevitable by any honest standard of evidence, reason, and objectivity.



NOTE: The information and conclusions in this paper are based solely on NON-Watchtower sources. To the best of my knowledge the Watchtower Society does not teach the above information concerning the source of the word Logos - see Insight, “Word.” I have simply used some of the best Trinitarian and “orthodox” authorities themselves as a basis for making these conclusions. If I am wrong, blame me and the sources I used, not the Watchtower Society. – RDB.


....................................................................................................




NOTES




1. The earliest NT manuscripts were written without spaces between words, without punctuation or capitalization, and with numerous abbreviations. So the verse in question, John 1:1, was actually written somewhat like this:


Ἐνἀρχῇἦνὁλόγοςκαὶὁλόγοςἦνπρὸςτὸνθεόνκαὶθεὸςἦνὁλόγος, or in our English alphabet:


enarkheenologoskaiologosenprostonthnkaithsenologos


This is understood by modern scholars to be separated into NT Greek words in this way:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θν [abbrev. for θεόν] καὶ θς ἦν ὁ λόγος

Or, in modern English letters:


en arkhe en ho logos kai ho logos en pros ton thn [abbrev. for theon] kai ths [theos] en ho logos


This translates into English as:


in beginning was the word and the word was with the god and [a] god was the word




2. One proper way to help solve such ‘problems’ as found in the Prologue of John is that proposed by the very trinitarian scholar, C. H. Dodd. He wrote that a question concerning the Prologue of the Gospel of John


“… cannot be decided either by the lexical meaning of the terms employed or by an elucidation of the propositions of which the Prologue is composed, in their proper interrelations. It receives an answer only when the student has made up his mind about the purport of the gospel as a whole. – pp. 3-4, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, Cambridge University Press, 1995 reprint.


Of course, most trinitarian scholars would prefer to ignore a careful, objective study of “the lexical meaning of the terms employed” (such as I have done, along with syntactic considerations, in my DEF and QUAL studies) and careful, objective “elucidation of the propositions of which the Prologue is composed” (such as I have done in this LOGOS study). And, although I disagree strongly with Dodd’s dismissal of such very important (and very proper) approaches to the truth, I must agree with his suggestion of using the intent and purpose of John’s Gospel as a whole to help explain questions about the Prologue, including John 1:1.


But what is the “purport of the gospel [of John] as a whole”? John himself explains this for us!


“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” –John 20:30, 31, The NIV Study Bible (NIVSB).


And the footnote for this passage in this same popular trinitarian study Bible tells us:


This whole Gospel is written to show the truth of Jesus’ Messiahship and to present him as the Son of God, so that readers may believe in him.” – f.n. for John 20:31 in the NIVSB.


Noted trinitarian scholar and Bible translator, William Barclay, agrees:



“THE AIM OF THE GOSPEL


“…


“No passage in the gospels better sums up the aim of the writers than this [Jn 20:30, 31].” – p. 279, The Gospel of John, vol. 2, The Daily Study Bible Series, Revised Ed., The Westminster Press, 1975.


So how did John, himself, “sum up” his “Gospel as a whole” at John 20:30, 31?


He does not say, nor even hint, that Jesus (or the Word) is God! He tells us that the intent of his Gospel “as a whole” is to declare that Jesus is the Messiah (i.e., the Christ) and the Son of God. If you look up the clear meaning of both of these terms to Jews and Christians from the time of the writing of the earliest part of the OT up to the time of the writing of the last book of the NT, you will find that they were not understood as terms for God Himself. They were terms for faithful angels of God and faithful men of God!


For example, An Encyclopedia of Religion, Ferm, 1945 ed., p. 726, says,


Son of God: Hebrew religion was strictly monotheistic, and the term ‘Son of God’, as found in the O.T., must not be understood in any literal sense. It has its origin in the Semitic idiom which expresses any intimate relation as one of sonship. As royal ministers are sons of the king, so the angels are sons of God, and this name is likewise given to judges and sovereigns, ruling in God’s name.”


See also the New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., (trinitarian) pp.1133,1134, “Sons of God” and pp.763-766 (“Messiah”), Tyndale House, 1984; NIVSB, (trinitarian), Zondervan, 1985, f.n. for Ps. 82:1; The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (trinitarian), p. 132, vol. 1, Eerdmans, 1984 printing; Today’s Dictionary of the Bible (trinitarian), p.591, Bethany House, 1982; .


Yes, John clearly states “the purport of the gospel as a whole” and it is not that Jesus is God, but that he is the high servant of the only true God who may be called “a god” and “son of God” as commonly understood by the Bible writers themselves!


This, then, properly “sums up the aim of the writer” (‘the purport of the gospel as a whole’) of the Gospel of John and helps explain any question concerning John 1:1 of the Prologue as Dodd suggested. John would not have written this whole Gospel “to show the truth of Jesus’ Messiahship” if he had revealed anywhere in it the totally incredible, overshadowing “truth of Jesus’ equal Deity”!!!






3. And, possibly, Jn 1:18, Jn 10:33 [see esp. NEB, NWT, and Young’s Commentary] and Jn 20:28 as well. – See the OBGOD; ONE; and MYGOD studies.


4. The trinitarian The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (TNIDONTT) by Zondervan, p. 704, vol. 3, 1986 ed. shows the rarity of this use of the word by being unable to find “where John derives the title ‘Paraclete’ (parakletos) from,” whereas it obviously comes from Philo who also calls the Logos “Paraclete”!




5. For example, John, unlike the other NT writers (none of whom call Jesus the Logos) repeatedly calls Jesus “the light [phos]” (e.g. Jn 1:9) and “the light [phos] of the world” (e.g. Jn 8:12). It is certainly no coincidence that in Philo’s concept of the Logos “the logos is light [phos]” and John also clearly identifies his Logos (Jesus) as “light” (Jn 1:9)! - p. 493, TNIDONTT, vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986.


This is highly significant! TNIDONTT also says: “Surrounded as they were by ‘a cultural and religious atmosphere that was saturated with all kinds of astrological false belief’..., the Israelites laid great stress [which John could not help but know] on light having been created, in order to render abortive any attempt to deify it. There is only one God Yahweh [Jehovah, the Father only]. He creates light and darkness.” - p. 491.


In fact, this same trinitarian source, on the same page, also quotes G. Von Rad referring to light as “the first-born of creation [Gen 1:3].” This is exactly what the Apostle Paul called Jesus at Col. 1:15 (see BWF study). - Cf. Rev. 3:14, KJV. Philo also said that the Logos “is over all the world, and is the most ancient ... of all the things that are created.” - p. 70, The Works of Philo, Yonge, Hendrickson Publ., 1993.


The obvious conclusion is that John used Philo’s concept of the Logos. And since Philo clearly taught that the Logos was a creation by God, it is not surprising that the understanding that “light” itself is a creation of God also indicates that “light” cannot actually be God Himself.


So when we see the Messiah described as “light,” we could consider that as evidence of his creation by God.


“Light” has an obvious literal meaning but also many different figurative meanings. When referring to its literal meaning of radiated energy which is visible to men, it truly is something created by God.


And most figurative uses of “light” also refer to things created and produced by God. For example, when “light” is figuratively meant as spiritual enlightenment or knowledge concerning God’s purposes and will for those who would gain divine favor (Jn 9:5; cf. Is. 42:6, 7; 61:1, 2; Lu 4:18-21), it is something produced or created by him. It comes to men in a package they can literally see (and hear) much like literal light. This is the figurative use of “the light” as applied to the Messiah in the Logos description by John at John 1:9 (cf. 3:19).


However, there are many other figurative uses of “light” found in the scriptures. One has to do with purity and holiness. It’s in this sense that “God is light”! “God’s holiness is expressed in terms of light... cf. 1 Jn 1:5.” - p. 701, New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., Tyndale House Publ., 1984.


So some trinitarians will tell us that Jesus is God, and “prove” it with the following comparison: “God is Light” and “the Word is light.” Therefore, they will say, the Word is God!


This common trinitarian trick (see TC and MINOR studies) takes advantage of the various levels of meaning given to many words and titles used in the inspired scriptures. It ignores the fact that many besides God and the Word are also called “light” in the inspired scriptures. It ignores the fact that the expression “God is light” is referring to God’s absolute purity and holiness, whereas “the Word is light” refers to the Word being the messenger of spiritual enlightenment to men. This is a creation by God who gives the spiritual knowledge leading to salvation to men. It is the same kind of “light” as that of Ro. 2:19 (Jews); 2 Cor. 4:4 (the Gospel); Acts 13:47 (Christians); etc.


John made the very same connection of Logos with “Light” (on the “spiritual knowledge which leads to salvation” level of figurative meaning) as Philo had taught.


“Philo used phos [‘light’] particularly with reference to questions of knowledge. .... he viewed salvation in terms of light.... The logos is light.” - p. 493, TNIDONTT, vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986.


So, exactly like Philo, John recognizes that God may be called “light” on one level, whereas the Logos (who is not ‘God,’ but ‘a god’) may be called “light” on a different level (particularly that of one who is the bearer of spiritual knowledge and enlightenment which can lead to salvation)!


6. “The Logos-doctrine is placed first [in the Gospel of John], because, addressing a public nurtured in the higher religion of Hellenism, the writer wishes to offer the Logos-idea as the appropriate approach, for them, to the central purport of the Gospel” – p. 296, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, C. H. Dodd, Cambridge University Press, 1995.



7. Many terms and expressions in the Gospel of John can be explained only by acknowledging the fact that John was writing this Gospel for those familiar with Hellenistic Judaism! One of many such examples is the use of the expression “the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). This, like “the Word was a god,” goes without further comment by John who had to know that his readers already understood it. Yes, they were already very familiar with the Old Testament, the Law, and the traditions of the Temple, whereas other people would not understand.


These Christian Jews knew that until the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., “Every morning and every evening a lamb was sacrificed in the Temple for the sins of the people (Exodus 29:38-42)” - Barclay. Therefore, the expression, “the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” needed no background information to be clear to these Jews. This was a person whose sacrificial death would be great enough to take away the sin of the entire world.




8. Trinitarian “anti-cult expert” Dr. Walter Martin in his 90-page diatribe against Jehovah’s Witnesses tells us that the Watchtower Society has introduced this “blasphemous” concept into Christianity: “Jehovah’s Witnesses sum up their latest blast at the Trinity doctrine by informing us that John 1:1 should be rendered ‘In the beginning was the Word [Logos] and the Word [Logos] was with God, and the Word [Logos] was a god.’ This is another example of the depths to which the Watchtower will descend to make Jesus ‘a second god’ and thus introduce polytheism into Christianity.” - KOTC, 1985 ed., p. 69. But we can see that this is entirely untrue. The very first Christians already had this understanding (LOGOS 8-9) and were merely repeating the Logos concept as John also obviously intended it in his Gospel. The Watchtower has clearly reintroduced the original concept as John intended it and the first Christian writers understood it. – See note #10 below.




9. “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father [in heaven], for the Father is greater than I.” - Jn 14:28, NIV.


Many trinitarians, of course, want us to believe that this statement by Jesus that the Father in heaven is greater than he is refers only to the time while Christ was in the flesh, on earth. They, as trinitarians, insist on his equality with the Father during his heavenly existence.


But does this make sense? What reason is given for the disciples to be glad that Jesus is leaving them? They are to be glad because the Father is greater than he is. Why should this make them glad? If, as trinitarians insist, The Son is going to heaven to become equally great with the Father, he would have said so:


‘Be glad for me because I am leaving you to become as great as the Father!”


But he didn’t say this or anything like that!


So what is the sense of saying ‘Be glad I am leaving you, because the Father is greater than I am’? There is no sense to it if we believe that Jesus will become (or already is) equally God with the Father! Why should the reminder that the Father is presently greater than Jesus make them glad that he is going away to the Father? It would be a senseless statement if Jesus were really to become equal to the Father.


Doesn’t it make much more sense for Jesus to say ‘Be glad for me because I will be at the right hand of someone even greater than I’?


Isn’t it like some religions today (and, historically, the earliest Christians also) which rejoice upon the death of a faithful member? We should be glad for him, they say to those who are sorrowing, because he has gone to be with Almighty God! There is certainly no intent by them to imply in the slightest degree that the deceased will become equal to God! No, we should be glad for him because he will now be with a much greater person than he who will love and care for him with His great power!


And such is the obvious intent of Jesus’ statement above. The Father is, and always has been, greater than he.


--------------------------------------------


This is reminiscent of John 6:38 -


“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” - NIV.


Verses 39 and 40 unmistakably show that Jesus is speaking of the Father as the one whose will he must do, and the Father is the one who sent him.


So what did Jesus say was the reason for him, while he was still in his heavenly ‘pre-existence,’ to come to earth? To do the will of the Father who sent him!


But if, while in his heavenly glory, Jesus is equal to the Father, as trinitarians insist, why would he say he came to do the Father’s will? Shouldn’t he say he came down to do the Son’s will or even (the trinitarian ‘3-in-one’) God’s will?


Instead, he clearly says that he was sent from heaven to do the Father’s will! (Do equals send one another?) Obviously, even in his heavenly pre-existence he was in subjection (not equal) to the Father who is God!


--------------------------------------------


Again, this reminds us of Paul’s statement at 1 Cor. 11:3 concerning the glorified, heaven-restored Son of God:


“... the head of every [Christian] man is the Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” - 1 Cor. 11:3, RSV cf. REB; NJB; KJV; NIV; etc.


“... and the head of Christ is the Father.” - 1 Cor. 11:3, NAB (‘70).


God is the Head of his church. The “church” is the body of human Christians. It can have more than one head. If a king lives and rules in England (for example), but has a colony established in a distant land (Australia for example), he will appoint a Governor or Head of his people in that land. The Governor is more accessible to the colonists than the King. The Governor is the head of the colonists. The King is the head of the colonists (and of the Governor), too.


This could be described this way: “The head of the colonists is the Governor; and the head of the Governor is the King.” Or even, “the children belong to the colonists, the colonists belong to the Governor, and the Governor belongs to the King.” When we read these statements, don’t we also realize that the King is also the Head and Master of the colonists? That the colonists are a part of the King’s colony and the Governor’s colony? Would we really think the King and the Governor were the same person? Or a “multiple-person” King?


So if we see both “the church of God” and the “church of Christ,” what does it mean? Is there really some great mystery here? What does “the head of every man [the church?] is Christ...and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3) mean? (Compare “the head of the colonists....” above.)


Trinitarians really can’t explain 1 Cor. 11:3 rationally (as long as they stick to the long-established trinitarian Creeds - including the Nicene Creed, of course - and teachings of 99% of the churches today). They admit that the Father is a different person from Christ, but insist that he is absolutely equal to him in every other respect. They insist that he is equally God with the Father (and with the Holy Spirit).


It is difficult to come up with a twist on the clear, literal statement of 1 Cor. 11:3, but many trinitarians are forced to do so, often by giving some odd meaning to ‘head.’ When we compare the similar Eph. 5:22, 23 with 1 Cor. 11:3, we can see very clearly what “... the head of a woman is her husband...” (1 Cor. 11:3 RSV) was intended to mean. The man is the head of the woman (his wife), not in some sense that the wife is equal to the man, but that she is subordinate to him. Eph. 5:22, 23 explains the meaning of “head” unmistakably.


Yes, when Eph. 5:22, 23, 24 (NRSV) says “Wives, be subject to your husbands .... For the husband is the head of his wife just as Christ is the head of the church .... Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands,” we know exactly what Paul intended.


This passage in Ephesians clearly explains what “head of the wife” and “head of the church” means. It means the wife is to be under subjection to the husband and the church is to be under subjection to Christ!


Just as clear is the further clarification by Paul in Col. 3:18 - 4:1 where Paul describes (1) the obligations of those Christians under authority and, (2) in turn, the obligations of those in authority:


“[A.1] Wives, be subject to your husbands .... [A.2] Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. [B.1] Children, obey your parents in everything .... [B.2] Fathers do not provoke your children.... [C.1] Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters .... [C.2] Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly” - RSV.


We see that, obviously, a slave is to obey, is under subjection to, his head, his human master. And children are to obey, are under subjection to, their heads, their parents. And, again, the wife is under subjection to her head, her husband.


Even the passage in 1 Corinthians itself clarifies by context what is meant by “head.” Paul, continuing to speak about the husband being the head of his wife, speaks of the woman’s subjection to her husband being symbolized by her head covering when publicly praying aloud:


“For this reason a woman ought to have a sign of submission on her head” - 1 Cor. 11:10 NAB (‘70), St. Joseph ed. The footnote for 1 Cor. 11:2-16 in this trinitarian Bible says: “a woman’s [head covering] is regarded as a sign of dependence on the authority of her husband.”


“For this reason a woman ought to retain upon her head the sign that she is under someone else’s authority” - 1 Cor. 11:10, William Barclay’s translation.


“[the woman’s head covering] is the symbol of the authority that the man with the uncovered head has over her. It is, as we see it, more a sign of subjection....” - p. 161, vol. IV, A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the N.T.


“[In 1 Cor. 11:3-16] the veil [or ‘head covering’] was ... a sign of inferiority. .... it was unthinkable that women should claim any kind of equality with men.” - pp. 97, 99, Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Revised Edition), The Daily Bible Study Series, The Westminster Press, 1975.


Book I of Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (ca. 250-300 A.D.):


“Let the wife be obedient to her own proper husband, because ‘the husband is the head of the wife.’ ” - p. 394, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, Eerdmans.


So we see that the head of the woman is the man. And this means she is under her husband’s authority, she is to obey him. It was “unthinkable” at that time that the wife should be considered equal in any way with her husband.


Christ is the head of every [Christian] man. 1 Cor. 11:3 is further explained at Eph 5:23, “Christ is the head of the church.” And this means, again, not that the church is in any sense equally Christ himself, but that it is subordinate, subject to him, must obey him and serve him!


Whether we want to interpret the husband’s headship over his wife as merely Paul’s desire to follow existing customs, or something temporary, etc. doesn’t affect the most important aspect of 1 Cor. 11:3 (the head of the heaven-resurrected, glorified Christ is God).


It’s the meaning of the word “head” [one in authority over another] in this triad that is important, not whether you think it no longer applies to women or not. The meaning for Paul was the same in each instance: The husband is head over his wife; The Son of God is head over the man; God [the Father - NAB] is head over the ascended, glorified Son of God.


It should be obvious to all that (1) the men of the church are not equally Christ, but he is someone else in authority over them: their head. And (2) the wife is not equally the husband, but he is someone else in authority over her: her head. And (3) the heaven-resurrected, glorified Christ is not equally God, but God is someone else (the Father - NAB)) in authority over Christ: his head!


(In fact, the trinitarian Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity, 1977, pp. 112-113 admits:


“Before the Council of Nicaea (A D 325) all theologians viewed the Son as in one way or another subordinate to the Father.” - also found on p. 114 in the revised 1990 ed. of The History of Christianity, Lion Publishing.)


Saint Irenaeus (ca. 130-200 A.D.), for example, wrote:


“But there is only one God, the creator ... He it is ... whom Christ reveals .... he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ....” - p. 111, A Short History of the Early Church, H. R. Boer (trinitarian), Eerdmans Publ., 1976. (Also see pp. 406, 428, 434, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ANF), Roberts, Eerdmans Publishing.)


And,


“The Father is indeed above all, and He is the Head of Christ [cf. 1 Cor. 11:3]” - Against Heresies, Ireneaus, Book V, Chapter 18.2.


Clement of Alexandria wrote (ca. 195 A.D.):


The Head of Christ is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - p. 453, ANF, vol. 2, Eerdmans.


Origen (185-254 A.D.) wrote that the heavenly ascended Christ is:


“the head of all [other created] things, having as head God the Father alone ; for it is written, ‘The head of Christ is God.” - Origen De Principiis, II, vi:1.


Book I of Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (ca. 250-300 A.D.):


“Let the wife be obedient to her own proper husband, because ‘the husband is the head of the wife.’ But Christ is the head of that husband who walks in the way of righteousness [a true member of the church]; and ‘the head of Christ is God,’ even his Father. Therefore, O wife, next after [1] the Almighty, our God and Father, the Lord of the present world and of the world to come, the Maker of everything that breathes, and of every power; and [2] after His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom glory be to God, do thou fear thy husband and reverence him” - p. 394, ANF, vol. 7, Eerdmans.


Yes, even the glorified, heavenly-ascended Jesus, at the right hand of God (Mk 16:19, Acts 7:55, Col. 3:1, RSV), is still not equally God! He is subject to the Father, who alone is God. He calls the Father “my God” (Rev. 3:2, 12, RSV), and the Father, God alone, is the head of Christ!




10. Origen (185-254 A. D.) was “probably the most accomplished Biblical scholar produced by the early Church” (Universal Standard Encyclopedia) and “the greatest scholar and most prolific author of the early church. ... not only a profound thinker but also deeply spiritual and a loyal churchman.” (The History of Christianity, a Lion Book). “Origen, the greatest and most influential Christian thinker of his age” - p. 89, A History of the Christian Church, 4th ed., Williston Walker, Scribners, 1985. “The character of Origen is singularly pure and noble; for his moral qualities are as remarkable as his intellectual gifts.” - p. 229, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. IV, Eerdmans.


Origen’s Commentary on John is “the first great work of Christian interpretation.” Origen was certainly the most knowledgeable about NT (koine) Greek of any scholar. He studied it from early childhood and even taught it professionally from his teens onward. - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, pp. 291-294, vol. X, Eerdmans Publ., 1990 printing.


Origen distinguishes between those who are called “god” and He who is called “God” by the use of the definite article (“the”) being used with theos to mean “God” and by the definite article not being used with theos to mean “god” in the NT Greek. He further teaches that God “made first in honour some race of reasonable beings; this I consider to be those who are called gods [angels], and .... [finally he made] the last reasonable race, ... man.” - p. 315, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. X., Eerdmans.


In speaking about the Word (or Logos) of John 1:1, Origen tells us in his “Commentary on John” that the Son is the highest of angels! He says: “as he is the Word He is the Messenger [actually, literally ἄγγελος, the angel] of Great Counsel” (p. 320) and that “His name is called Angel of Great Counsel” (p. 315); “there are certain creatures, rational and divine, which are called powers [angels]; and of these Christ was the highest and best” (p. 321); and he (like all early Christian writers who refer to this scripture) teaches that Jesus was the personified Wisdom of Prov. 8:22-30* who was created by the Father (pp. 303, 306, 307, 317). - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. X.


Origen continued in his “Commentary on John” by actually discussing the grammar of John 1:1. He wrote: “We next notice John’s use of the article [ho: ‘the’] in these sentences. He does not write without care in this respect, nor is he unfamiliar with the niceties of the Greek tongue. In some cases he uses the article and in some he omits it. He adds the article to the Logos [‘the Word’], but to [theos: ‘god’ or ‘God’] he adds it only sometimes. He uses the article when [theos] refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named [theos]. .... God on the one hand is Very God (Autotheos, God Himself); and so the Saviour says in his prayer to the Father, ‘That they may know thee the only true God [Jn 17:3];’ but that all beyond the Very God is made [theos] by participation in His divinity, and is not to be called simply God (with the article [ho theos]), but rather [theos] (without the article). And thus the first-born of all creation [Jesus, Col. 1:15], who is the first to be with God, and to attract to himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods [angels] beside him, of whom God [ho theos, the Father only] is the God [Rev. 3:2, 12; 2 Cor. 11:31; Eph. 1:3, 17, etc.], as it is written, ‘the God of gods...’ It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods.... The true God [the Father alone, Jn 17:3], then, is ‘The God,’ and those who are formed after him are gods....” - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. X, p. 323, “Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of John”, Book 2, part 2, Eerdmans, 1990 printing


Obviously the most knowledgeable scholar of all concerning the New Testament language knew of no “rule” which could make Jn 1:1c say that “the Word was God.” In fact, although they did not use capital letters to distinguish proper names or significant nouns as we do today, Origen himself is clearly saying that the proper understanding of Jn 1:1c is “the Word was (definitely not God, but) a god”!!!


_________________________________


* The very trinitarian The Ante-Nicene Fathers tells us: “Prov. viii 22-25. This is one of the favourite Messianic quotations of the [early Church] Fathers, and is considered as the base of the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel.” - ANF 1:488, f.n. #10, Eerdmans, 1993 printing.




11. Trinitarian Dr. Dodd is one of the most-respected Bible scholars of modern times. He further states in this same work:


“The most serious objection that is raised against interpreting λόγος [Logos] in the Prologue in a sense similar to that which it bears in Philo is that the term is not elsewhere in the gospel used in any such sense. [Although this is in reality a trivial objection by some desperate trinitarians, Dodd answers it. His first reply is:]


“It is only in the Prologue that the evangelist deals with cosmology. It is only here, therefore, that he could have any occasion to use λόγος [Logos] in a cosmological sense.” – p. 278.


Dodd continues by explaining that, as we have seen in the body of this paper above, although John doesn’t continue to use the term Logos in the remainder of the Gospel of John, he, nevertheless, uses a multitude of the descriptions and statements Philo used for his Logos and applies them to the Christ.


“It can hardly be an accident, in any case, that even where the term λόγος is not used [in the remainder of John’s Gospel], functions which in Philo belong to the Logos are assigned to Christ.” – p. 279.


Dodd concludes with:


“I conclude that the substance of a Logos-doctrine similar to that of Philo is present all through the gospel, and that the use of the actual term λόγος in the Prologue, in a sense corresponding to that doctrine, though it is unparalleled in the rest of the [fourth] gospel, falls readily into place.” – p. 279, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, Cambridge University Press, 1995 reprint.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

In The Watchtower of June 15 2005 is an article about Philo and it makes a very brief comment that Philo's teaching about the Logos (or, Word)contributed to the development of the Trinity doctrine.

Are you able to make any observations as to how he did that?

Elijah said...

There is no doubt that Philo loved to over-interpret and over-philosophize the scriptures (as did even many Christian writers after him). And, yet, it is clear from his extensive writings that he believed in one person only “who was God who was the first being who had any existence, and the Father of the universe”. This person is the only unbegotten, and all else has been begotten by Him (including the Logos).

I imagine that in the immense amount of writings by this Jewish religious philosopher there are a few difficult passages which can be interpreted as implying some sort of multiple ‘Godness,’ but, as with scripture itself, such seemingly self-contradictory passages will, upon examination, prove to be capable of other interpretations which are in line with his many-times, clearly-stated words of his belief in the single-person God: the Father alone.

Timitrius said...

The parallels between John and Philo are remarkable and hard to refute. Do you think it could lead us down a dangerous path though? If we trace Bible teachings to uninspired sources, might we start doing the same with other teachings?

I always argue that the Rich Man and Lazarus cannot be literally true as it's elements derive from uninspired teachings, and contradict the Bible. Thus Jesus must have been parodying Jewish ideas to expose the wickedness in the hearts of the Pharisees.

But if we accept that John's concept of the Logos came from a similarly uninspired source, do we contradict this?

What are your thoughts?

tigger2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tigger2 said...


John’s Prologue may begin with a statement which would be understood by those who were familiar with Philo’s Logos, but is then modified to fit Jesus. As explained in the study, John is writing to Hellenic Jews (probably in Alexandria) and uses a concept they are very familiar with to begin his Gospel. - See end note #6 in the study.

This is not unlike Paul, who “became all things to all men,” 1 Cor. 9:20-22, who used Greek pagan inscriptions and poets to introduce Christianity to Greek pagans - Acts 17:23, 28 (see NIVSB footnote).

The Expositor’s Greek Testament tells us concerning Paul’s use of Greek poets in Acts 17:28:

“As the words of the [pagan] hymn were addressed to Zeus, a difficulty has been raised as to the Apostle’s application of them here …. But he must at least have known that they were not originally written of the God Whom he revealed. If so, however, there seems no more difficulty in supposing that he would apply such a hemistich to a higher purpose, than that he should make the inscription on a heathen altar [verse :23] a text for his discourse.” - p. 376, Volume Two, Eerdmans, 1956 (2002 reprint).