Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Potential Sources for Justin Martyr's Logos Concept

We might be inclined to believe that the Fourth Gospel primarily supplied the contextual literary background for Justin Martyr's Logos notion. However, Peter R. Forster has argued that the scholarly world is uncertain whether Justin depended on the Fourth Gospel at all. He argues that Justin's ideas of the Logos are informed by "Stoic and Platonic terms, with Stoic monism to a degree softening Platonic dualism." There appears to be a number of ideas at work in Justin: the Stoic Logos combined with the Platonic World-Soul possibly informed by late Judaic notions of the Word or Hokhmah/Sophia.

See Peter R. Forster, “Divine Passibility and the Early Christian Doctrine of God,” in The Power and Weakness of God: Impassibility and Orthodoxy, edited by Nigel M. de S. Cameron (Edinburgh: Rutherford House Books, 1990), 29.


Matt13weedhacker said...

Hi Edgar. Me again. I'm looking for an obscure, but doctrinally important reference in JM, you might know it.

Before me computer crashed, (Again Sigh!), two or three months back, I lost years of research etc. I lost a reference concerning the Father as God in JM that went something like:

"...He does not communicate [Or "speak to/talk to"] with anyone [Literally] ( of ) Himself..."

I can't remember where it was. I do remember it was worded differently in the standard translations.

Does this ring a bell? Anything pop into your head as to where it might be? Apology 1? 2? Dialouge?

Edgar Foster said...

Hi Matt13weedhacker,

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of that much research; it easily can happen with computers. I'll try to help if I can with the quote, but it does not readily come to mind now. I've read both of the works you cite. However, I cannot remember that passage at the moment.

Anonymous said...

As a side note, how do you interpret John 1:3, which says that without the Word not even a single thing came into being?

Edgar Foster said...

One can apply John's words to the material order or to the human sphere alone:

"4b ('this life was the light of men') seems to indicate that not all creation but only living creatures or, more likely, men are meant by 'that-which had-come-to-be in 4a'" (Raymond E. Brown. Anchor Bible Commentary
on John Vol. 1. P. 7).

"following vs. 3, the clause represents a narrowing down of creation; v. 4 is not going to talk about the whole of creation but a special creation in the
Word [i.e. men]" (Ibid.).

I partly concur with Brown's construal of hO GEGONEN, but I would probably not limit v. 4 to the creation of men. Instead it seems to refer to the entire material order. At any rate, Brown's comments show that PANTA in
John 1 may be understood in a relative sense and that hO GEGONEN possibly elucidates the phrase "all things." Read in context, John 1:3-4b does not rule out Christ being brought forth by his Father.