🔼The name Logos: Summary
- Word, Message, Collection Of Statements
- From the verb λεγω (lego), to speak intelligently.
🔼The name Logos in the Bible
The name Logos (meaning Word) isn't really a name but rather a phenomenon that happens to also be a living Person. Together with the important but difficult noun Θεος (Theos) the phrase 'Word of God' is formed. And that is one of the titles of Jesus Christ.
The Word of God is introduced into the Biblical narrative as early as Genesis 15:1, where he is called דבר־יהוה, which is Dabar YHWH. But as an active character, the Word of God obviously appears at the beginning of creation, where God not only "spoke" everything into being, but made creation a manifestation of the Word he contained. In the New Testament these difficult things are explained most clearly by the apostle John, who writes:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things came into being by him, and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Paul says it this way:
For by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth [...]; all things have been created by him and for him, and he is before all things and in him all things hold together.
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
In the twentieth century it became obvious that creation is indeed upheld by a discrete set of data; a kind of code composed with two kinds of nuclei in the core of atoms (quite binary, actually), and again as the tertiary code of DNA in the core of living cells. When Moses built the tabernacle according to patters he was shown, he followed that same design: an entity with at its core the formative code of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 25:40 — read more about this magnificent Biblical superstructure in our article on the Household Set).
What the Hebrews knew is something that science is only recently discovering: to make a universe you need two things: (1) an enormous amount of energy, and (2) a set of rules with which you can manipulate the energy. The Genesis account focuses mainly on the void and formless energy and what it became; John and Paul mostly concentrate on the instructions.
But the name Logos also reflects reverence for human speech in general. In his writings, Timothy states the often misquoted, "all writing is inspired by God" (2 Timothy 3:16 — read our discussion of this verse in our article All Scripture Is God-Breathed?), and writing was in the ancient world rightly regarded as a holy enterprise. Writing (and before that: speaking) allowed an unprecedented exchange of ideas and with that a furtherance of mankind's understanding of creation and its ultimate purpose. But possibly even more important: a speech-based society forces its members into a state of perpetual review of what people are saying, and by wanting to respond, a continuous state of creativity. All speech, therefore, imitates the Creator when he spoke the universe into existence.
But these incredible insightful ideas didn't come falling out of the sky in the first century AD. Much of the Bible is based on notions and imagery from deep antiquity, just like any text is composed from words and techniques that are necessarily much older. The oldest coherent culture that lies at the root of the various Indo-European cultures is that of the Aryans. In her remarkable work The Great Transformation Karen Armstrong writes:
Karen Armstrong — The Great Transformation
The Aryans took the spoken word very seriously. Like all other phenomena, speech was a god, a deva. [...] Quite apart from its meaning, the very sound of a chant was holy; even a single syllable could encapsulate the divine. Similarly, a vow, once uttered, was eternally binding, and a lie was absolutely evil because it perverted the holy power inherent in the spoken word. The Aryans would never lose this passion for absolute truthfulness.
Long after the Aryan culture had collapsed, the people who wrote the Bible still promoted these same ideas. Satan was still called the father of lies (John 8:44), and the Living God was still to be worshipped in spirit and truth (John 4:23). One of Jesus' most repeated statements is "I tell you the truth" (John 5:24) and Paul urged his audience to "investigate everything and hold on to what is right" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Even the very cult of Yahweh ("I AM") appears to have been focused on that which truly existed and violently opposed to those figments that were false ("Who Are Not").
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Logos
The name Logos is a noun derived of the Greek verb λεγω (lego), meaning to speak intelligently:
The verb λεγω (lego) means to speak intelligently, although it appears to have originated in a collecting or gathering together. This verb's Latin equivalent, lego, indeed means to bring together, gather or collect.
From the Latin verb derives the familiar noun legio, legion, and from the Greek verb comes the noun λογος (logos), "word" but in the sense of a whole message, or even more accurate: intelligence as an interconnected network of things known, or the expression of that intelligence.
The name Logos means Word.