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Old 10-23-2001, 08:53 AM   #1
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Post Origin of the Trinity Doctrine

The Christian idea of a Trinity as a model for the Godhead was officially established at the Council of Nicea c325 AD. Some would say it was a necessary to unify doctrinal disputes between the Orthodox and Arianist factions of Christianity at that time, but that is another post. Theologically,
This model composes the Godhead of three parts, the Jewish God Yahweh as the “father”, Jesus of Nazareth as the “Son”, and another part assigned to the “pneuma”, or “Holy Spirit”.

These ideas are definitely discernable from the NT gospels. The Spirit makes appearances in the gospels at the times of Jesus’s baptism, and the Pentecost. John opens his gospel telling us that Jesus is of God, and does so in a way that suggests the origins of this idea. This is what I wish to explore. First it becomes necessary to understand that early Christiaity associated Jesus to the Christos [or Messiah], and the Christos as the son of God. These associations are definitely Christian in origin. Jewish thought expected the Messiah as a military leader,w ho would free Judea from Rome. The War of 65-70 destroyed that expectation, and the Christian conception became more likely.[The sermons to the Jews in Acts and Mark’s gospel make no sense without the loss of Jerusalem and the second temple in 70AD][1].

In the opening of John’s gospel we find what Burton Mack [1] calls the Logos poem.[2]. “Logos” is Greek and literally means “word”, “thought”, or “utterance”. This idea was apparently well known to John’s readers [no explanation was necessary to his audience]. The Jewish idea of logos was that of a creator god, who carried out the orders or “word” of the creation as spoken by the God in Genesis. [3]

This doctrine had been recently expounded by Philo of Alexandria[4], who was a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth. But Philo did not invent this idea. Interestingly, Philo also expounds on the idea of a god of wisdom, Sophia, literally greek for a type of wisdom]. But to Philo, “logos” was a lesser and distinct god, not [yet] part of the godhead.[4]

This most extensive accounting of The Logos by Philo was based on allegories of Old Testament books authored by Moses, interpreting them in the light of Greek philosophy. He used the term, logos more than 1300 times in his writings, in many varied ways. Of particular note are his references to The Logos as the Divine Reason, by participation in which humans are rational; the model of the universe; the superintendent or governor of the universe; and the first-born son of God. Although there is no direct evidence that John ever even read Philo, it seems clear that the concepts he articulated were firmly in the mind of the evangelist when he wrote his gospel. [5]. We must also realize that while Jesus was contemporary with Philo, John’s gospel was not written until nearly the end of the first century AD. Philo’s literature would have been well known to the author of John. [Oldboy would say that this would be revision “J” of John, which I also consider to be a valid theory on the origin of John ] [6]

Logos in the NT

In the NT, [besides John’s Gospel] references to it are found in the New Testament Epistles, as in John’s First Epistle (1:1; cf. 1:7 - Vulgate). But already in the Epistles of St. Paul the theology of the Logos had made its influence felt. This is seen in the Epistles to the Corinthians, where Christ is called "the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (I Cor., 1:24) and "the image of God" (II Cor., 4:4); it is more evident in the Epistle to the Colossians (1:15 sqq.). The writer of Hebrews in the first chapter, establishes [ Hebrews 1:3-10] the Christ as the son of God and the creator god. In 2 and 3, he associates Jesus with Christ. This association to the creator god is of logos origin. Hebrews, the most eloquent of all the Epistles,
was clearly not written by Paul. Though its author is unknown, the style of writing points to a highly educated Hellenistic Jewish Christian. [The title “Hebrews” is very telling.] . In the Epistle to the Hebrews the theology of the Logos lacks only the term itself. In this epistle we also notice the pronounced influence of the Book of Wisdom, especially in the description which is given of the relations between the Son and the Father: "the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance" (cf. Wis., vii, 26). This resemblance suggests the way by which the doctrine of the Logos entered into Christian theology; another clue is furnished by the Apocalypse, where the term Logos appears for the first time (19:13), and not apropos of any theological teaching, but in an apocalyptic vision, the content of which has no suggestion of Philo but rather recalls Wisdom 18:15.

In the Catholic Encyclopia, we find, “The word Logos is the term by which Christian theology in the Greek language designates the Word of God, or Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Before St. John had consecrated this term by adopting it, the Greeks and the Jews had used it to express religious conceptions which, under various titles, have exercised a certain influence on Christian theology, and of which it is necessary to say something. “

The Logos in Judaism[7]

Quite frequently the Old Testament represents the creative act as the word of God (Gen.,i,3; Ps. xxxii, 9; Ecclus., xlii, 15); sometimes it seems to attribute to the word action of itself, although not independent of Jahveh (Is. Iv, 11, Zach., v, 1-4; Ps. cvi, 20; cxlvii, 15). In all this we can see only bold figures of speech: the word of creation, of salvation, or, in Zacharias, the word of malediction, is personified, but is not conceived of as a distinct Divine hypostasis. In the Book of Wisdom this personification is more directly implied (xviii, 15 sq.), and a parallel is established (ix, 1, 2) between wisdom and the Word.
In Palestinian Rabbinism the Word (Memra) is very often mentioned, at least in the Targums: it is the Memra of Jahveh which lives, speaks, and acts, but, if one endeavour to determine precisely the meaning of the expression, it appears very often to be only a paraphrase substituted by the Targumist for the name of Jahveh. The Memra resembles the Logos of Philo as little as the workings of the rabbinical mind in Palestine resembled the speculations of Alexandria: the rabbis are chiefiy concerned about ritual and observances; from religious scruples they dare not attribute to Jahveh actions such as the Sacred Books attribute to Him; it is enough for them to veil the Divine Majesty under an abstract paraphrase, the Word, the Glory, the Abode, and others. Philo's problem was of the philosophic order; God and man are infinitely distant from each other, and it is necessary to establish between them relations of action and of prayer; the Logos is here the intermediary.
Leaving aside the author of the Book of Wisdom, other Alexandrian Jews before Philo had speculated as to the Logos; but their works are known only through the rare fragments which Christian authors and Philo himself have preserved. Philo alone is fully known to us, his writings are as extensive as those of Plato or Cicero, and throw light on every aspect of his doctrine; from him we can best learn the theory of the Logos, as developed by Alexandrian Judaism. [8 –Bibliography]]

Greek Origins of Logos[9]

Literally, logos, did mean word. It could also mean utterance, speech, logic, or reason, to name but a few. Heraclitus of Ephesus, [See the bibliography below] who lived in the sixth century, BC, was the first philosopher we know of to give logos a philosophical or theological interpretation. Heraclitus might in fact be called the first western philosopher, for his writings were perhaps the first to set forth a coherent system of thought akin to what we now term philosophy. Although his writings are preserved only in fragments quoted in the writings of others, we know that he described an elaborate system touching on the ubiquity of change, the dynamic interplay of opposites, and a profound unity of things. The Logos seemed to figure heavily in his thought and he described it as a universal, underlying principle, through which all things come to pass and in which all things share.

This notion of The Logos was further developed by Stoic philosophers over the next few centuries. The Stoics spoke of The Logos as the Seminal Reason, through which all things came to be, by which all things were ordered, and to which all things returned. See bibliography at [9].

[1] “Who wrote the New Testament” – Burton Mack

[2] Bible, John 1:1-5

[3] Bible - Genesis 1

[4] Philo of Alexandria - Philo, On the Creation V; X; XLVIII

[5] Ibid - Allegorical Interpretation III XXXI

[6] The gospel of John [original and part 2] – OldBoy – THC Christian History forum

[7] The Catholic Encyclopedia

[8] Bibliography / Sources: for Logos in Judaism
 sometimes, influenced by Jewish tradition, Philo represents the Logos as the creative Word of God ("De Sacrific. Ab. et Cain"; cf. "De Somniis", I 182; "De Opif. Mundi", 13);
 at other times he describes it as the revealer of God, symbolized in Scripture by the angel of Jahveh ("De Somniis", I, 228-39, "De Cherub.", 3; "De Fuga", 5; "Quis rer. divin. haeres sit", 201-205).
 Oftener again he accepts the language of Hellenic speculation; the Logos is then, after a Platonistic concept, the sum total of ideas and the intelligible world ("De Opif. Mundi", 24, 25; "Leg. Alleg.", I, 19; III, 96),
 or, agreeably to the Stoic theory, the power that upholds the world, the bond that assures its cohesion, the law that determines its development ("De Fuga", 110; "De Plantat. Noe," 8-10; "Quis rer. divin. haeres sit", 188, 217; "Quod Deus sit immut.", 176; "De Opif. Mundi", 143).

[9] A Bibliography of Logos Sources
[Compiled by Ken Funk]


Anonymous (1967). "lego, logos, rhema, laleo" in G. Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. IV (translated and edited by G.W. Bromiley), pp. 69-136. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B.

Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Davies, P.C.W. (1992). The Mind of God. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Dodd, C.H. (1953). The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Evans, C.F. (1959). "LOGOS" in Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 14, pp. 334-336.

Hawking, S.W. (1988). A Brief History of Time. Toronto: Bantam.

Lao Tzu (1944). The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu (translated by Witter Bynner). New York: Capricorn Books.

Radhakrishnan, S. & Moore, C.A., eds. (1957). A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Wheelwright, P. (1959). Heraclitus. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. [B223.W5]
Heraclitus was a native of Ephesus who lived in the sixth century, BC. He was among the first western thinkers to set forth what could be called a systematic philosophy. His writings exist now only in the form of fragments, preserved by later writers, such as Sextus Empiricus.
Heraclitus, fr. 1 (p. 19)
Although this Logos is eternally valid, yet men are unable to understand it -- not only before hearing it, but even after they have heard it for the first time. That is to say, although all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos , men seem to be quite without any experience of it -- at least if they are judged in the light of such words and deeds as I am here setting forth. ...
Heraclitus, fr. 2 (p. 19)
We should let ourselves be guided by what is common to all. Yet although the Logos is common to all, most men live as if each had a private intelligence of his own.
Heraclitus, fr. 64 (p. 68)
Although intimately connected with the Logos, men keep setting themselves against it.
Heraclitus, fr. 118 (p. 102)
Listening not to me but to the Logos, it is wise to acknowledge that all things are one.
Sextus Empiricus (1935). Sextus Empiricus, Vol. II (translated by R.G. Bury), Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [PA4410.S5]
Sextus Empiricus was one of the philosophers who preserved the fragments of Heraclitus, in the form of quotations used in his own works.
Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians I, 131 (pp. 70-71)
... Heracleitus, then, asserts that this common and divine reason [logos], by participation in which we become rational, is the criterion of truth. ...
The Stoics
Diogenes Laertius (1931). Lives of Eminent Philosophers (translated by R.D. Hicks), Loeb Classical Library. London: William Heinmann Ltd. [PA3612.D5]
Diogenes Laertius summarized the thoughts of early philosophers. He wrote probably in the third, perhaps as late as the fourth, century BC. Though probably not a Stoic himself, the following excerpts summarize some Stoic beliefs.
Diogenes Laertius, VII, 134 (pp. 238-239)
They [the Stoics] hold that there are two principles in the universe, the active principle and the passive. The passive principle, then, is a substance without quality, i.e., matter, whereas the active is the reason [logos] inherent in this substance, that is God. For he is everlasting and the artificer of each several things throughout the whole extent of matter. ...
Diogenes Laertius, VII, 136 (pp. 240-241)
In the beginning [God] was by himself; he transformed the whole of substance through air into water, and just as in animal generation the seed has a moist vehicle, so in cosmic moisture, God, who is the seminal reason [logos] of the universe remains behind in the moisture ...
Diogenes Laertius, VII, 149 (pp. 252-253)
... all things happen by fate ... Fate is defined as an endless chain of causation whereby things are, or as the reason [logos] or formula by which the world goes on. ...
Plutarch (1936). Moralia (translated by F.C. Babbitt), Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [PA4368.A2]
Plutarch was a philosopher of the first and second centuries AD. He was an independent thinker, but was known best for his biographies of other philosophers.
Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, 377-378 (pp. 156-157)
... just as the sun and the moon and the heavens and the earth and the sea are common to all, but are called by different names by different peoples, so for that one rationality [logos] which keeps all these things in order and the one Providence which watches over them and the ancillary powers that are set over all, there have arisen among different peoples, in accordance with their customs, different honors and appellations. ...
Marcus Aurelius (1916). The Communings With Himself of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome (translated by C.R. Haines), Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [PA3939.A2]
Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher of the third century, AD. His philosophy, while not entirely systematic, was a practical rule of life rather than an esoteric doctrine. Though he lived and wrote long after the time the fourth gospel was written, it is believed his thoughts on The Logos were pretty representative of Stoic thought around that time.
Marcus Aurelius, IV, 4 (pp. 70-71)
If the intellectual capacity is common to us all, common too is the reason [logos], which makes us rational creatures. If so, that reason [logos] also is common which tells us to do or not to do. ...
Marcus Aurelius, IV, 29 (pp. 82-85)
... He is an exile who exiles himself from civic reason [logos], ... he who renounces, and severs himself from, the reason [logos] of our common Nature, because he is ill-pleased at what happens -- for the same Nature brings this into being, that also brought thee; a limb cut off from the community, he who cuts off his own soul from the soul of all rational [logical] things, which is but one.
Marcus Aurelius, V, 27 (pp. 122-123)
Walk with the Gods! And he does walk with the Gods, who lets them see his soul invariably satisfied with its lot and carrying out the will of that 'genius,' a particle of himself, which Zeus has given to every man as his captain and guide -- and this is none other than each man's intelligence and reason [logos].
Marcus Aurelius, V, 21 (pp. 124-125)
... What soul, then, has skill and knowledge? Even that which knoweth beginning and end, and the reason [logos] that informs all Substance, and governs the Whole from ordered cycle to cycle through all eternity.
Marcus Aurelius, VI, 1 (pp. 130-131)
The Universal Substance is docile and ductile; and the Reason [Logos] that controls it has no motive in itself to do wrong. For it hath no wrongness and doeth no wrong, nor is anything harmed by it. But all things come into being and fulfill their purpose as it directs.
Marcus Aurelius, VII, 53 (pp. 184-187)
A work that can be accomplished in obedience to that reason [logos] which we share with the Gods is attended with no fear. For no harm need be anticipated, where by an activity that follows the right road and satisfies the demands of our constitution, we can ensure our own weal.
The Hellenistic Jews
Philo of Alexandria (1993). The Works of Philo, translated by C.D. Yonge. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
Philo was a Jew of Alexandria who lived around the time of Christ. He wrote elaborate allegories of the books of the Bible attributed to Moses, interpreting Mosaic writings in terms of Greek philosophy. As such, his writings constitute a summary of Greek thought prevalent up to his time.
Philo, On the Creation V (20) (p. 4)
As therefore the city, when previously shadowed out in the mind of the man of architectural skill had no external place, but was stamped solely in the mind of the workman, so in the same manner neither can the world which existed in ideas have had any other local position except the divine reason [logos] which made them ...
Philo, On the Creation X (36) (p. 6)
The incorporeal world then was already completed, having its seat in the Divine Reason [Logos]; and the world, perceptible by the external senses, was made on the model of it; ...
Philo, On the Creation XLVIII (139) (p. 20)
... For God does not seem to have availed himself of any other animal existing in creation as his model in the formation of man; but to have been guided, as I have said before, by his own reason [logos] alone. ...
Philo, On the Creation LI (146) (p. 21)
... Every man in regard of his intellect is connected with divine reason [logos], being an impression of, or a fragment or ray of that blessed nature ...
Philo, Allegorical Interpretation III XXXI (96) (p. 61)
... But the shadow of God is his word [logos], which he used like an instrument when he was making the world. And this shadow, and, as it were, model, is the archetype of other things. ...
Philo, On the Cherubim -- Part 1 XI (35) (p. 84)
... it is not the pursuits which you follow that are the causes of your participation in good or in evil, but rather the divine reason [logos], which is the helmsman and governor of the universe ...
Philo, On Husbandry XII (45) (p. 178)
... For God, like a shepherd and king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the fire, and the air and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason [logos], his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; ...
Philo, Who Is the Heir of Divine Things XXVI (130) (p. 287)
... it was the untaught God who divides them, and that he divided all the natures of bodies and things one after another, which appeared to be closely fitted together and united by his word [logos], which cuts through everything; which being sharpened to the finest possible edge, never ceases dividing all the objects of the outward senses, ...
Philo, Who Is the Heir of Divine Things XXVII (140) (p. 287)
... God, having sharpened his own word [logos], the divider of all things, divides the essence of the universe which is destitute of form, and is destitute of all distinctive qualities, and the four elements of the world which were separated from this essence, and the plants and the animals which were consolidated by means of these elements.
Philo, Who Is the Heir of Divine Things XXXVIII (188) (p. 292)
... if there is anywhere anything consolidated, that has been bound by the word [logos] of God, for this word is glue and a chain, filling all things with its essence. And the word, which connects together and fastens every thing, is peculiarly full of itself, having no need whatever of any thing beyond.
Philo, Who Is the Heir of Divine Things XLVIII (234) (p. 296)
... the two natures are indivisible; the nature, I mean, of the reasoning power in us, and of the divine Word [logos] above us; but though they are indivisible themselves, they divide an innumerable multitude of other things.
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Old 10-23-2001, 09:36 AM   #2
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This was originally posted on the history Channel's Christian Religious history forum by Your's Truly.

I could use some help over there with the evil Fundamentalists [There is one particularly nasty cuss who calls himself Gateway. Not very intelligent, but particularly vitrolic in his responses. [He gives me more than ample justification to use the adjective "evil" to describe Fundamentalists.]

Example : an ex-military American Indian poster named "ACause" started an off-topic thread about how ground troops are now moving in Afganistan. Our resident Fundamentalist Christian poster responded with this ;

WOW! ACause, WOW! And you are missing out on all this FUN action! What a damn shame. You could be smelling all that gun powder, smoke, fire and blood. LIVE with it! The military has no use for OLD STORY TELLERS. Remember, ACause, old soldiers never die they just FADE AWAY! So FADE AWAY, and stop licking your chops to get in on all the blood and guts! What do you want to be...A BIG MACHO HERO, with TALIBAN SCALPS hanging from your TEEPEE? Get a LIFE! I mean a real LIFE.
The emphasis were his, not mine !
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Old 10-24-2001, 03:02 PM   #3
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no matter how the 'trinity' is identified and subjective premise is allocated,the bottem line difinition is, 'me''myself',and I,..
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Old 10-24-2001, 04:10 PM   #4
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The Trinity is really an unnecessary concept. Why should God manifest himself in 3 persons? If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are fully God, what need is there for God to be 3 persons? The "3 in 1" concept smacks of polytheism to many non-Christians. It makes more sense to say, "They're all God, and that's that," rather than, "That happened because of God the Holy Spirit, but you are saved by God the Son." So what is that supposed to mean? God does some things by being a son, and some by being a father? It makes little sense.
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Old 10-24-2001, 05:20 PM   #5
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Speaking of trinity and polytheism, see this nice link from Hindunet:
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Old 10-26-2001, 02:33 PM   #6
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The "3 in 1" concept smacks of polytheism to many non-Christians.

It also smacks of polytheism to this Christian!

I believe:
There is one God, the Father.

He gave birth to a Son a very, very long time ago and (as such) this Son acquired all attributes of Divinity in the same general way I acquired all attributes of humanity.

The Holy Spirit is a divine influence, not a person.

"God" as applied to Jesus is without the definite article which, in the Greek, can be taken to mean "not that thing but qualitatively like that thing."
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Old 10-26-2001, 07:10 PM   #7
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Originally posted by the_natural777:
<STRONG>The Trinity is really an unnecessary concept. Why should God manifest himself in 3 persons? If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are fully God, what need is there for God to be 3 persons? The "3 in 1" concept smacks of polytheism to many non-Christians. It makes more sense to say, "They're all God, and that's that," rather than, "That happened because of God the Holy Spirit, but you are saved by God the Son." So what is that supposed to mean? God does some things by being a son, and some by being a father? It makes little sense.</STRONG>

The holy trinity is needed to keep God abreast of the changes we make in our environment. This means that we, as sons of God, re-create God in our image. We do this while in oblivion of God and can indeed come to realize that we are God as re-created in man's image.

What is wrong with polytheism?

Old 10-27-2001, 08:17 PM   #8
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Originally posted by o2bwise:
He gave birth to a Son ...
Something is wrong here but I can't quite put my finger up it.
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Old 10-27-2001, 08:56 PM   #9
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"It also smacks of polytheism to this Christian!

I believe:
There is one God, the Father."

"He gave birth to a Son a very, very long time ago and (as such) this Son acquired all attributes of Divinity in the same general way I acquired all attributes of humanity."

What does it mean to aquire, as you say, *all* attributes of Divinity? Is the only difference between this adopted son and God, that God is timeless?

[ October 27, 2001: Message edited by: ChadD ]
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Old 10-27-2001, 09:34 PM   #10
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Originally posted by ChadD:
<STRONG>"It also smacks of polytheism to this Christian!

I believe:
There is one God, the Father."

"He gave birth to a Son a very, very long time ago and (as such) this Son acquired all attributes of Divinity in the same general way I acquired all attributes of humanity."

What does it mean to aquire, as you say, *all* attributes of Divinity? Is the only difference between this adopted son and God, that God is timeless?

[ October 27, 2001: Message edited by: ChadD ]</STRONG>
The son of God became timeless when he entered eternity. This makes eternity the continuity of infinity and time an illusion along with infinity until eternity made infinity known.


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