Patristic Interaction with Logos and Sophia

Continuing our discussion on John’s Prologue (which originally started on the topic of gender in translation, but I have taken the oppurtunity to move into the discussion of Logos and Sophia), we make a brief side step into the Patristic Interaction in which it was a common thought to united Word and Wisdom (Logos and Sophia) into the Incarnation.

Wisdom

Origen, himself a root of heresies, states ‘and they call this Word and Wisdom and the very Power of God’ when speaking about the ‘second substance (ousia)’ (PE VII 12.1.2) (See John 1.1; Wisdom 7.26)

In Alexander’s letter to all the bishops regarding Arius, he calls Christ the Word and Wisdom of God (asking of Arius that if Christ is such, how could there be a time when He did not exist). In the letter, he quotes John 1.1, 3; Ps 45.2 (lxx), 110. 3 (lxx); Wisdom 7.26, Colossians 1.15; ebrews 1.3, and Malachi 3.6 (lxx).

In the creed promulgated at the Council of Serdica, the Western Bishops used Wisdom 7.22 (feminine), connecting it to John 1.3 (neuter, masculine?).

Baruch

In Athanasius’ defense of the Nicene Definition, he quotes Baruch 3.12, allowing him to call Christ Wisdom and Life, connecting it to the Father as source of the Son.

Ambrose (18.222) quoted Baruch 3.37 to promote the idea that Christ did indeed take on human flesh.

I intended for this to be brief because there are more important things to do, and many do not take the Deuterocanon as worth studying – yet, we know from the Christological controversies in the 3rd and 4the century, both Wisdom and Baruch played a part along side of John in defending the deity of Christ. While the defenses were, for the most part solid, it shows us these many years later that the early Church Fathers had no qualms in combining the feminine Sophia (Wisdom) to the masculine Logos (Word.) It further shows us that the wisdom tradition found in the Old Testament was co-opted into the New with the use of Logos.

Why is this important to a conversation started about grammer?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it shows that the Church Fathers regarded the Logos in John’s prologue as an ‘it’, or at the very least, found the feminine compatible with the masculine. For another excellent post, please see here.

Post By Joel L. Watts (10,153 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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3 thoughts on “Patristic Interaction with Logos and Sophia

  1. Good morning Polycarp…
    What an amazing letter written by Alexander!
    Baruch and Wisdom are excellent sources of understanding…So much to learn so little time!
    I hope that someday you might do a post on the term Godhead/Godhood… Romans 1:20 and Acts 17:29 compared to Colossians 2:9 when spoken of Jesus…
    Have a great day P…
     
     

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