It’s all Greek

Did you know that much of the New Testament language we use is not only based in Greek, but coloured or flavoured by Greek culture from the time of Christ and before?

Of course you did. I’ve known for some time that my audience is mostly scholars of ancient culture and biblical studies.

It does, however, present the odd problem when dealing with words out of context.

I’m beginning a project based on a text from the first chapter of John’s Gospel. The passage describes Christ as The Word (lots of capital letters) and in Greek that would be “logos” (obviously written in funky Greek letters, not this alphabet) (Ooh “Alphabet” – another Greek word hiding in our language)

Except that Logos has a distinct meaning in Greek culture before Christ which John is deliberately referring to. It’s OK for me to associate Christ and the Logos, but I now feel I need to undertake a couple of weeks undergraduate study to find out the relationship between the Greek Classical “Logos” and the Biblical use of the word, including how the use in John’s Gospel makes use of the pre-existing Greek meaning.

Phew! A quick consultation of Wikipedia proves two things – firstly that some people are really clued up on this, and secondly that they’re being edited randomly by people who aren’t. So much for the Internet I feel.

And what is this wonderful project I’m working on? It’s going to be called “logos” with a lower case L, and it’s going to be a music and art thing, ironically requiring no written words in any of the pieces which will make it up.

Is there a point to this? Yes, I wish to provide a focus for my creative energy other than the Musical I’m writing, and the other little composition projects I have on the boil. I also want to include as many other people as will give up their gifts for it. I like it when arty people work together even if it tends to get like a sack full of sleep-deprived freshly shaved cats sometimes.

It’s good to talk (Thanks, BT) but it’s sometimes even better not to talk and instead let the art do it’s job. Assuming I’ve identified a valid cause and use of art in the first place. I feel that discussion could require some further study as well. I get the horribly appealing idea that I should get on with doing the project and leave the undergraduate navel-gazing where it belongs – firmly in the past.

Which brings me full circle to dredging up a dead branch of the ancient tree of language and trying to apply a word from that language to a culture and concept some two thousand years anachronistic to the people who originally used it.


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