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RE: [GTh] The Logos as Nous

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  • David C. Hindley
    ... because he did not work out a systematic theory of this concept, it has some internal contradictions and inconsistencies. This in no way, though, denies
    Message 1 of 4 , May 29, 2001
      Frank McCoy states:

      >>As you point out, Philo's concept of the Logos is complex and,
      because he did not work out a systematic theory of this concept, it
      has some internal contradictions and inconsistencies. This in no way,
      though, denies the possibility that it (even if only in an incomplete
      and somewhat mis-understood fashion) was used by early Christians,
      perhaps even by Jesus himself.<<

      No argument from me there. It is indeed *possible* (although that in
      no way proves it did happen). Still, I am inclined to see the
      influence of Greek ideas (whether or not it is adapted to or used to
      reinterpret Jewish tradition) affecting the Hellenized writers and
      editors of the NT books more than Jesus himself. I do not think that
      Philo's Hellenized/middle-Platonic way of explaining Jewish tradition
      and scripture would have been that well know in Judea or Galilee,
      except perhaps among the Jewish aristocracy and their retainers. <Yes,
      yes, I know about Neusner's "Judaisms" and K. C. Hanson's
      archeological research concerning commercialization in Galilee, and
      all the speculation about how the Jews and Gentiles in Galilee hung
      out at the theaters and agoras together sharing culture and jesting
      with vagabond Cynic philosophers who drifted in from the Decapolis,
      but as you can probably guess by my descriptions above I think it is
      often a tad overstated>

      Philo was trying to make Jewish tradition and scriptures intelligible
      to Greek speaking Gentiles, primarily those resident at Alexandria. If
      it had not been for late 2nd and third century CE church thinkers,
      many of whom were active in Alexandria, and most of whom were
      influenced by Platonic thought and anxious to explain Christian
      beliefs (which are largely in debt to Jewish traditions and
      scriptures) to "Greeks" in Platonic terms, Philo may not have survived
      to this day except as fragments.

      As for Jesus being called "the Image of the invisible God" in
      Colossians 1:15, I personally think that this is indeed a Platonic
      concept, but I also think it could have reached the author/editor of
      this passage by any number of means, not limited to the works of
      Philo. Some form or another of Platonism was commonplace among
      Hellenistic writers and thinkers. In fact, I am inclined to see a
      common middle-Platonic influence on the development of *both* the
      "Christology" of the church and of Gnostic-Jewish ideas and myths.

      >>As respects your comment, "Several of the descriptive terms above
      could work against your explanations", please give me an example and
      we can discuss it.<<

      No need, really. As you agreed, "Philo's concept of the Logos is
      complex and, because he did not work out a systematic theory of this
      concept, it has some internal contradictions and inconsistencies." I
      wanted to be sure you acknowledged that. I also agree that Wolfson had
      his own difficulties making sense of the subject. However, have you
      ever heard of Rube Goldberg's ridiculously complicated imaginary
      contraptions designed to perform completely mundane tasks that could
      have been done much more simply and directly? They were spoofs of
      course, but just be sure you don't let your system get ridiculously
      complex as those. Good luck!

      Regards,

      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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