On Logos

West Coast Reactionaries:

The next conception of λόγος, Reason, is closely related to the idea of Wisdom, though it is non-biblical. In this form, we can trace it back to Heraclitus, but it is commonly associated with Stoicism.6 The Stoics held there to be a Divine Reason, or Order, which they called λόγος, that governs the world through intelligible law, accessible to all rational beings. A person must contemplate human nature to understand the overarching natural law which, when aligned with, will lead to happiness. There is an objective standard given by this universal Reason, a duty that binds all to follow in order to transcend the vicissitudes of time. The Stoics identified this Reason with the universe itself, making λόγος a governing pantheistic principle, rather unlike the creative Word of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, as his audience was the Christian community in general, and since he was writing in Greek, John is playing into the Hellenistic familiarity with λόγος as Reason; as rational universal Order. Certainly, early Christians accepted this truth and used it to their advantage. For example, St. Justin Martyr employed the Stoic conception of λόγος, coupled with Christ as λόγος, to convert non-Jews.7 Furthermore, the idea that the universe is ordered and intelligible, i.e. reasonable, was integral for the medievals both in their pursuits of natural philosophy, which later developed into the physical sciences, and in their ethics, best exemplified by St. Thomas Aquinas’ formulation of Natural Law which built on Aristotle and the Stoics. Though I cannot investigate these further for the sake of brevity and focus, the Hellenistic influence upon λόγος in Christian thought is clearly undeniable.


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