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Can you think of the bible as organising logos?

I know there are different readings of the bible, as myth, as parable, as event, etc.. What sort of reading is that claim, that the Christian bible doesn't "create" logos but organises it, makes it what it is. That it is ontologically independent but not optically.

Either from a post structuralist perspective, or indeed biblical hermeneutics?

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato (427–347 BCE), used the word hermeneutics in dealing with poets as ‘hermeneuts of the divine’, and his student Aristotle (384–322 BCE) wrote the first extant treatise on hermeneutics

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  • oh cool,. back to the "you have no idea what philosophy is" problem
    – user56770
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 11:15
  • I've re-openend the question, having no desire to be unduly restrictive. I'll leave the question for others to assess.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 14:00
  • cool. why do you think it's a bad question @GeoffreyThomas I'm confused. it's not readily attainable on-line. it's clear imho. as to usefulness, well I have no agenda other than getting an answer for something not readily available on-line / through google. does that make it unhelpful? everyone thinks and studies philosophy for different reasons, and what the bible is may be one of them
    – user56770
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 14:40
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    I think I had two reservations. One is that I was not clear what either 'organising' logos or 'creating' logos referred to. The other was that since the NT is such a heteregeneous collection of documents, I was sceptical that 'it' could fulfil the function of 'organising' logos, whatever activity that might be. But you have received an answer that satisfies you, so I'm naturally ready to accept that I failed to understand your question and that the fault was mine. Welcome to PSE, btw. You offer a fresh voice.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 15:52
  • why do you suppose the fault is yours? I think we share the blame @GeoffreyThomas by creating logos I mean logos existed before the bible was written, which was unclear. I was unclear what 'organising' meant, and that was the basis of the question. I am a poor user of this site
    – user56770
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 15:54

4 Answers 4

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In ancient philosophy across much of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, 'Logos' is the metaphysical reason behind the universe, the unseen essence that gives the universe order, structure, and meaning. Abrahamic philosophy and Christian theology in particular attributed this essence to God, who spoke the original words that separated light from dark and laid out everything in the world in its proper form and place.

The bible is at best (as I see it) a compendium of recollections about people who had particular insights into Logos. It is not the word of God (Logos), but stories about and teachings of those people who (ostensibly) came close to understanding God. The idea that the bible itself is Logos is a feature of certain fundamentalists sects in Christianity, based on the following ideation:

  1. That those who come close to God necessarily speak in God's voice: prophecy is unsullied by human frailties
  2. If human errors have crept into the bible we cannot know what they are — since we are imperfect in our understanding — so we must have perfect faith, believe the whole book is The Word, and trust that we will be guided past pitfalls

The fundamentalist soteriology insists that the highest priority is to avoid incurring the wrath of God by muddling his (ostensible) Word. It's a bind between the wrathful Father and the Loving son, Jesus will forgive our inadequacies no matter how awful they may be, but God will punish any sort of hubris that dismisses his Word.

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  • recollections of logos. ok thanks. do you have any authority on that, besides the tone of your language (which I find fine!). I definitely don't think my claim reduces to christian fundamentalism tho! you would have to add various claims about 'truth' in order to get anything close to it
    – user56770
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 15:27
  • the answer may be 'narrative'
    – user56770
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 15:36
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    @vqlk: Mmph. To quote Nietzsche: “To live alone one must be either a beast or a god, says Aristotle. Leaving out the third case: one must be both - a philosopher.” Which is merely to say I have a relationship with 'authority' that people can find problematic. I don't claim it, and I don't honor it. That's leaves a dysphoric vacuum at times, but at the end of the day I feel authentic, which is what matters to me. Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 16:00
  • right. I'm not asking you to justify yourself, relax. I'm merely shitting in the stackexchange pool, I guess, and I see no relevance to how you view your profession or hobby to this discussion.
    – user56770
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 16:05
  • @vqlk: I'm just messing with you in the most philosophical way possible. I get the sense you're misinterpreting what I said, but I don't know enough about your worldview to know if that's true (much less dress the issue, if it exists). So I threw a curve ball to see how you swung at it. What's your greater goal here? What point are you pushing on that I can't see? Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 16:36
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Can you think of the bible as organising logos?

In Saint John's Gospel, the logos is the creative word of God. Presumably, Christians think of the Bible as the word of God and so as the logos.

I think the question is confusing the Christian's notion of logos with the original and much older notion.

In pre-Socratic philosophy, the logos is a principle governing the cosmos or the principle that put order into the primordial Chaos.

The Christian concept of logos is obviously a recycling, conscious or unconscious, of the pre-Socratic concept, but the two notions are very different. Given that Christians think of God as the creator of the world, they may see Him as the one that put order into chaos, but certainly not in the same sense as the pre-Socratic logos.

The Bible itself is a collation of miscellaneous stories, the oldest of which dates broadly from the 10th century BCE.

The first piece of writing is much older than that. A 3,000-year-old stone slab thought to be Olmec is regarded as the oldest piece of writing in the Western Hemisphere. Egyptian and Sumerian scripts are possibly even older.

More fundamentally, writing scripts are now understood to have emerged slowly out of the technical and commercial activities of humans alive at the time:

Archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat determined the link between previously uncategorized clay "tokens", the oldest of which have been found in the Zagros region of Iran, and the first known writing, Mesopotamian cuneiform.[33] In approximately 8000 BC, the Mesopotamians began using clay tokens to count their agricultural and manufactured goods. Later they began placing these tokens inside large, hollow clay containers (bulla, or globular envelopes) which were then sealed. The quantity of tokens in each container came to be expressed by impressing, on the container's surface, one picture for each instance of the token inside. They next dispensed with the tokens, relying solely on symbols for the tokens, drawn on clay surfaces. To avoid making a picture for each instance of the same object (for example: 100 pictures of a hat to represent 100 hats), they 'counted' the objects by using various small marks. In this way the Sumerians added "a system for enumerating objects to their incipient system of symbols". -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing

Thus, scripts come out of human activities, not the other way around. The creation of the Bible was clearly a very messy process which is apparent both in its structure and its style.

So, no, I don't think the Bible could reasonably be taken to be the organising logos.

It is interesting in this context to note that the initial notion of logos was replaced by two very different notions: logic and the laws of nature. Since at least Aristotle, logic is seen as a property of the human mind. As such, it is the reasoning principle that allows humans to make sense of the world. This is this capacity that allowed humans progressively to interpret events in the real world in terms of laws of nature. Thus, logical reasoning and the scientific investigation of nature have come to replace the original notion of logos.

If we understand our logical capacity as a by-product of natural selection, and therefore of nature, we can understand our own logic as a mere consequence of the natural order.

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It probably depends on what other assumptions you have about the bible. I won't attempt to find an author who defines the approach that the word of God exists independent of the bible but the bible changes its meaning.

"100% the word of God" would make it a totalising system (not a mere a narrative, an account of possibly fictional events). 100% true about the word of God may, for me, make it a bit like a 'constellation'

The stars in the night sky are where they are regardless of how we look at them and there is something in how they are positioned above us that suggests the image we construct of them. But having said that, the names we use for constellations are embedded in history, tradition and myth.

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The Logos strain is two separate streams that met about the time of the Biblical Deuterocanonicals and never separated afterward. There is a whole book on this topic by Samuel Gregg. But to go directly to your question, The Bible is progressive revelation, meaning what is revealed does not crowd out or even give the reader any hint at what is still to be revealed. So in the OT, we see sickness as a punishment for sin and that view is repudiated by Jesus. But that was never a Bible teaching, it was a cultural artifact that was only crowded out by later revelation.

The only organizing principle I know of , biblically, is that nothing is irrational that is part of the Faith. And this is the dividing line between Biblical religion and Islam

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