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Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Friday, May 27, 2016

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Through which everything that came to be

Deacon Owen Cummings


Q — In the first paragraph of John’s Gospel, we read about the “Word.” Isn’t this the same as the Logos? And isn’t the Logos the creator god in Greek mythology?

A — I don’t think that Logos functions as a creator god in Greek mythology, but I am no expert in this area. Understood as “reason” or “rationality” one will find Logos has a range of high functions in the philosophy of Plato. 

The question is most interesting because the exact meaning of “Word” in the Prologue to St. John’s Gospel is impossible to tie down absolutely. The Greek is, as you intimate Logos, translated most often in this context as “Word.”

However, if one were to consult a major Greek dictionary (e.g., Liddell-Scott-Jones), one would find a large number of possible translations, and if one went on to look at a patristic Greek dictionary (e.g., that edited by Geoffrey Lampe) that large number would be greatly increased. 

Some of the major Christian meanings would include: Word, Wisdom, Reason, Intelligence, etc. A number of Scripture scholars, especially the great Aramaic and Targum specialist — a Targum is an Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Old Testament — Father Martin McNamara, MSC allow for the Aramaic Memra/Word with its dynamic meaning equivalent to the Hebrew dabhar, the creative Word of God. 

At any rate, in the context of the Johannine Prologue, where the Logos/Word is that through which everything came to be, many scholars now believe that it is patterned after creative Wisdom in passages such as Proverbs 8.





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