Friday, August 4, 2017

Jesus as the Logos, Word & Wisdom of God by J. W. Chadwick 1881

Jesus as the Logos, Word & Wisdom of God by J. W. Chadwick 1881

The idea of the Logos or Word came into Jewish thought from two sides,—-from Persia by way of Babylon, from Greece by way of Alexandria. The Persian-Zoroastrian religion taught that God created all things by his Word. The cosmology in Genesis is of Persian origin. "God said, Let there be light; and there was light." His word is the creative power. Before the time of Jesus, tnis Word of God had become personified in Jewish thought, most frequently under the name of Wisdom. "Wisdom hath been created before all things," we read in Proverbs, also in Ecclesiasticus; and in the Wisdom of Solomon, "She is a reflection of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness." The Greek influence contributed to the same tendency of thought. The later followers of Plato, the Neo-Platonists, had personified his doctrine of the divine idea or reason. They called it the first-born Son of God, born before the creation of the world, itself the agent of creation. It was the image of God's perfection, the mediator between God and man. Philo-Judaeus, who was born about twenty years before Jesus, was possessed with these ideas, and endeavored to connect them with the Old Testament teachings. He quoted, "Let us make man in our own image," to prove that God had an assistant who did all the work, thus saving God from any contact with matter,— a necessity of the Persian system imported into Jewish thought. He calls the Logos the "first-born Son of God," "Second God," and even "God," but this always in a qualitative, never in a quantitative sense.

On the one hand, then, the writer of the Fourth Gospel found this doctrine of the Logos; and, on the other hand, he found a conception of Jesus expressed in terms the most exalted, and bearing a very strong resemblance to the terms of the Logos doctrine of Philo. True, Philo had never dreamed of a human incarnation of the Logos; and Paul had never identified his exalted Christ with the Alexandrian Word. The first to do this was pretty certainly not the writer of the Fourth Gospel. It occurred to many writers at about the same time. To effect an alliance between Christianity and Alexandrian Platonism was the one passionate enthusiasm midway of the second century. Of this enthusiasm, the Fourth Gospel is the grandest monument. The opening verses might have been written by Philo-Judaeus,—-"In the beginning was the Word, ... and the life was the light of men." But Philo never could have written, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," etc. To Philo, this incarnation of the Logos in a human personality would have seemed a blasphemous proceeding; and, even in John, the union of the Logos with the human personality of Jesus is purely verbal...." He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."..."As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself."—J. W. Chadwick (The Man Jesus, p. 240).

No comments:

Post a Comment