Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

The Career of the Logos: A Brief Biography

Author: Daniel WILLIAMS, Department of Religion, Baylor University



Based on the writings of early church fathers, this paper attempts to review the history of the idea “Logos” as well as its usage among the ancient Greek, Jewish, and Christian thinkers. The notion of Logos is polysemic, entailing the concepts of speech, discourse, reason, and divine will. These ancient thinkers used Logos to account for the connection between the changing, complex creation and an eternal, simple creator. For the Pre-Socratic philosophers, Logos meant a rational principle that ensures the order of the cosmos. Plato spoke of Logos as a generative force, as well as divinely revealed knowledge. The Stoics regarded Logos as both the creator and the moderator of all creation, both transcendent and imminent. Philo the Jewish Platonist believed that Logos was both the highest principle and the subordinate secondary principle, which anticipates the Christian understanding of the Incarnate Logos in the person of Jesus. Justin Martyr adapted the Stoic idea of logos spermatikos to express God’s general revelation. The short “biography” of Logos tells us that during the philosophical era known as Middle Platonism, the concept/ ontology of the logos played a unique role in enabling Pagan, Jewish, and Christian intellectuals to communicate on a small space of common ground.



logos, episteme, Middle Platonism, Sophia, logos spermatikos


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