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|Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky|
Orthodox dogmatic theology
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The name of the Second Person — the Word.
Often in the Holy Fathers and in the Divine service texts the Son of God is called the Word
or Logos. This has its foundation in the first chapter of the Gospel of John the Theologian.
The concept or name “Word” we find in its exalted significance many times in the books of
the Old Testament. Such are the expressions of the Psalter: “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word abideth
in heaven” (Ps. 118:89); “He sent forth His Word and He healed them” (Ps. 106:20) — a verse
which refers to the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt; “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens
established” (Ps. 32:6). The author of the Wisdom of Solomon writes: “Thy all-powerful
Word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a
stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of thy authentic command, and stood and filled all things
with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth” (Wis. 18:15-16).
With the help of this Divine name, the Holy Fathers make attempts to explain somewhat the
mystery of the relationship of the Son to the Father. St. Dionysius of Alexandria (a disciple of
Origen) explains this relationship in the following way: “Our thought utters from itself the word
according to what the Prophet has said: `My heart hath poured forth a good word' (Ps. 44:2).
Thought and word are separate one from the other and each occupies its special and separate
place: while thought remains and moves in the heart, the word is on the tongue and the lips.
However, they are inseparable, not for one moment are they deprived of each other. Thought
does not exist without word, nor word without thought, having received its existence in thought.
Thought is, as it were, a word hidden within, and word is thought which has come without.Thought is transformed into word, and word transmits thought to the hearers. In this way,
thought, with the help of the word, is instilled in the souls of the listeners, entering them together
with the word. Thought, coming from itself, is as it were the father of the word; and the word is,
as it were, the son of the thought. Before the thought, the word was impossible, and the word
does not come from anywhere outside, but rather from the thought itself. Thus also, the Father,
the greatest and all embracing Thought, has a Son, the Word, His first Interpreter and Herald”
(Quoted in St. Athanasius, De sentent Dionis., no. 15).
This same likeness, the relationship of word to thought, is used much by St. John of Kronstadt
in his reflections on the Holy Trinity, in My Life in Christ.
In the quoted citation from St. Dionysius of Alexandria, the quotation from the Psalter
shows that the ideas of the Fathers of the Church were based upon the use of the term “Word” in
the Sacred Scripture not only of the New Testament, but of the Old Testament as well. Thus,
there is no reason to assert that the term “Logos” or “Word” was borrowed by Christianity from
philosophy, as certain western interpreters assert.
Of course, the Fathers of the Church, as well as the Apostle John the Theologian, were not
unaware of the conception of the “Logos” as it was interpreted in Greek philosophy and in the
Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria (the concept of the Logos as a personal being intermediate
between God and the world, or as an impersonal divine power); but they sharply contrasted
this understanding of the Logos with the Christian understanding of the Word — the
Only-begotten Son of God, one in Essence with the Father, and equal in Divinity to the Father
and the Spirit.