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Pagan Christs, by John M. Robertson, [1911], at

§ 2. The Logos.

All such doctrines, it is probable, were represented in the later, if not in the earlier, Babylonian religion; and the idea of the Logos is probably early in Mazdeism; 2 but in any case it was from the outside that it was pressed upon Judaism, to the extent, as we have seen, 3 of making a personality out of that Word of God which originally "came" to the prophets in the sense that his spirit was held to have entered into them. The whole evolution is noticeably parallel to that of the principles of law and government in States, from the stage in which the king or chief is judge and as such "God" to that in which he is surrounded by graded orders of priests and councillors, jurists and administrators. The Logos is in a manner the heavenly Grand Vizier. 4

It is impossible, however, to fix a date for the origin of the special dogma of the Logos. To take it as a Greek invention is to ignore the very problem of origins. An eminent Sanskritist assures us in one passage not only that the doctrine of the Logos is "exclusively Aryan," but that "whoever uses such words as Logos, the Word, Monogenês, the Only-begotten, Prototokos, the First-born, Hyios tou theou, the Son of God, has borrowed the very germs of his religious thoughts from Greek philosophy"; 5 while in another passage he admits that the conceptions of the Word as found in the Psalms 6 and of the Angel as found in the Pentateuch "are purely Jewish, uninfluenced as yet by any Greek thought." 7 Other eminent Sanskritists, again, have shown that the River-Goddess Sarasvatî is in the later Brahmanic mythology "identified with Vâch" or Vâc [= Speech] "and becomes under different names the spouse of Brahma and the goddess of wisdom and eloquence, and is invoked as a Muse"; while in the Mahâbhârata she is called the "mother of the Vedas." 8 Elsewhere the personified Vâch enters into the

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[paragraph continues] Rishis or sages as inspiration. 1 Again, "When the Brahmarshis were performing austerities prior to the creation of the universe 'a voice derived from Brahma entered into the ears of them all: the celestial Sarasvatî was then produced from the heavens!'" 2

As among the Greeks and the Jews, so among the Hindus the doctrine of the sacred or creative Word is various. In the Satapatha Brâhmana, Prajapati (who is "composed of Seven Males") first of all things created the Veda, which became the foundation on which he "created the waters from the world in the form of speech. Speech belonged to him. It was created. It pervaded all this." In the same document the cosmic egg is the primordial source: "From it the Veda was first created—the triple essence. Hence men say, 'the Veda is the first-born of this whole creation.....They say of a learned man that he is like Agni, for the Veda is Agni's mouth.'" 3 The personified Vâch, Sarasvatî, River-Goddess and Goddess of Speech, is doubtless the later evolution, 4 just as is the Græco-Jewish Sophia; but there can be no question that the conception of the Veda as the Word, the first-created thing or first-born Being, is fully present in the Brâhmanas. In the Taittariya Brâhmana, "Vâch (speech) is an imperishable thing......the mother of the Vedas, and the centre point of immortality"; 5 being thus identified with Sarasvatî as aforesaid; but this does not affect the dogma, set forth by Sankara, that "from the eternal Word the world is produced." 6 Again, in the Satapatha Brâhmana "Speech is the Rig-Veda, mind the Yajur Vedah, breath the Sâma Veda." 7 In the Taittariya, it is true, the Veda is created after the Soma; 8 but such a variation, we shall see, occurs also in Jewish lore. And among the Vedantists, finally, "the 'word' (sabda) is 'God' (Brahma)." 9 As regards, again, the more philosophical side of the Logos doctrine, the conception of an all-pervading and primordial Reason (Tao or Tau), we find it most explicitly and coherently set forth in China by Lao-Tsze, with a doctrine of a unity and trinity of forms of existence, 10 in the sixth century before our era. 11

Are we then to suppose that such speculation originated with the Ionian Greeks, was passed on by them to the Jews, and by Jews or

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[paragraph continues] Greeks or both to the Persians, and thence to the Brahmans and the Chinese? Such a hypothesis is visibly unmanageable. The Pythagorean derivation of Plato's doctrine of the Logos is tolerably clear; and its connection with the planetary lore of the eight heavenly powers, as well as with the lore of numbers and proportion, 1 tells of a source such as only the Chaldean or Egyptian schools of astrology and astronomy can be supposed to represent in the early Greek sphere. Babylonian religion contains the principle of the Logos in its most definite primary form, the doctrine of the Divine Name, which is the germ of the Platonic doctrine of ideas no less than of the Philonic and Johannine theology. We even find it in a form approximated-to in the Pentateuch (where the "name" of Yahweh is "in" the promised "Angel" leader), 2 and made familiar later by the Jewish Toledoth Jeschu as well as by the modified Christian formula—the teaching, namely, that the mystic name of the Supreme God is known to him alone, and is revealed by him solely to his son, who has thus virtually all power in heaven and on earth. 3

"This idea, which prevailed equally in Egypt and in Western Asia, is purely animistic. To pronounce a name is to call up and conjure the being who bears it. The name possesses personality...... To name a thing is to create it: that is why creation is often represented as accomplished by the word." 4

[paragraph continues] Further, we know from Damascius—whose list of Babylonian God-names is made good by the remains actually discovered in recent times—that Tauthê, Mother of the Gods, first bore a son, Moymis, who was "the intelligible world." 5 Here is the very formula of Philo. Of the God Nebo, too, who has so many attributes of the Logos, it is noted that his Akkadian prototype "was once the universe itself" 6—a likely source of such an identification in his case. If then the Jews had the Logos idea before their contact with the Greeks and the Mazdeans, 7 the reasonable assumption is that they had it from a source from which the Mazdeans and Ionian Greeks could also have it—the Babylonian lore, in which were accumulated the current fancies of thousands of years of Asiatic speculation, including that of the ancient civilisation from

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which was derived that of the Chinese. And when we find the Brahmanic philosophy, like the Babylonian and Greek, making all things originate from a watery abyss, 1 and again from the cosmic egg, 2 we have at least cause to surmise that the Babylonian and Indian systems draw from one central source. It is true that the Indian lore seems best to combine the ideas of origination through the Word and through Water; and that the word Saras means not only Water but Voice, whence Sarasvatî = not only "the watery" but also "the vocal" or "the sounding." 3 Here, too, we seem to be in touch with primitive thought, for among the (perhaps partly Semitised) Yorubas of Nigeria there seems to have been a primary conception of moving water as the source of sound and of wisdom. 4 But while this is visibly more homogeneous than the late Hebrew evolution of a creative Sophia who equates with the creative Logos without any adaptation to the primordial abyss of waters (or "Ocean Stream" as in Homer) on which the "Spirit" had creatively moved, on the other hand the relative lateness 5 of the evolution of Vâch and Sarasvatî leaves open the presumption that a foreign influence has been at work. Agni, also, the Fire-God, is finally identified with the Word; he too, in the Vedas, is the Son of the Water and messenger of the Gods; 6 and his worship connects visibly with the fire-worship not only of the Mazdeans but of the Babylonians, for whom also Gibil and Nusku (or Gibil-Nusku) the Fire-Gods are sons of the Creator, Gibil in particular being "the first-born of heaven (Anu) and the image of his father," while Ea, the Water-God, is the lord of life, and also the father of the Fire-God, who in turn is the messenger and counsellor of the Gods, clothed with their attributes. 7 The blended characteristics of Sarasvatî, finally, are found in the Babylonian Goddess Sarpanitum, who, as finally blended with Erua, the daughter of Ea, was at once "lady of the deep," "voice of the deep," and "the possessor of knowledge concealed from men "attributes all deriving from the fact that "wisdom and the life-giving principle were two ideas associated in the Babylonian mind with

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water." 1 In these various nations, surely, we have the true "germs" alike of the Hindu, the Heraklitean, and the Platonic concepts of the Word or Reason; of the conception of Hermes as Logos and Messenger of the Gods; of Apollo as his father's wisdom; of the Hindu, of the Hebrew, and of the Greek formulas of "First-born" and "Only-begotten"; and so alike of the later Judaic and the Christian theosophy.

The further research is carried into the affiliation of the cults and creeds of Asia Minor and Syria, the more clearly does it appear that all relate to the great central mass of theosophy accumulated in Babylonia, which was still a culture force in the earlier centuries of the Christian era. 2 That system had inferribly given to the Christian Gnostics their astrology and magic; their doctrine of the immortality of souls (not bodies); their Sophia; their conception of a Saviour, Knowledge-Giver, and Mediator: 3 it is sufficiently unlikely, then, that it had failed to evolve as did Brahmanism the concept of the Logos. The rational presumption is that it gave that concept to Greek and Jew alike.

But the Jewish evolution was apparently piecemeal. Different ideas and doctrines, such as that of Metis, Thoth, Thoth-Khonsu, the combined Logos (Moon-God) and Sun-God; 4 Vohumano, the "Good Mind," combined with Mithra; 5 and the Platonic Logos, probably motived the separate evolution in Judaic literature of the personifications of Sophia or Wisdom, 6 the "Good Spirit," 7 and the later Logos. In one book the Logos "leaps down from heaven out of the royal throne," 8 and "as a fierce man of war" wields the divine command as a destructive sword; 9 in another, Sophia is as distinctly personified: she "came out of the Most High," but he created her "from the beginning before the world," and she alone "encompassed the circuit of heaven." 10 The writer means to be metaphorical, but for the many the effect must be graphic. And

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this development took place and prepared for yet others, though Judaism was ostensibly bound to resist the multiplication of personalities thus set up, and was further predisposed to a male as against a female principle. In this respect, as in so many others, it exhibits its derivations from and affinities with savage thought, for among the Yorubas of Nigeria, in our own time, we find the primary conception, first, of the "natural" trinity of Father, Mother, and Son, with the general concept, behind that, of the Mother of All, who in time tends to be resolved into or superseded by a male; 1 perhaps as a result of the supersession of the matriarchate. Some such progression seems to have taken place among the Hebrews. The original "Holy Spirit," properly feminine, had in general been kept very much in the background, perhaps in fear of the old developments of goddess-worship, in which the symbol of the dove, taken by the Christists as standing for chastity, had really represented sexuality and fecundity. 2 But the mythopœic faculty, in its new forms of verbalism and pseudo-philosophy, was stronger than dogma, and stronger than fear. Accordingly we have Philo, at the traditional beginning of the Christian era, accumulating round the Logos the various aspects of the earlier Word and Sophia, and fitfully adding to them those of divine Sonship and Messiahship, and even the creative function of Demiourgos, thus at times reducing Yahweh to a somewhat remote abstraction.


218:2 See Below, Part III, §§ 4, 5, 9. The first known use of the term Logos as = orderly causation is by Herakleitos (in Hippolytus, Refut. Hæres. ix, 9 [4]. Cp. Ritter and Preller, Hist. Philos. ed. 2a, n. 31, 38, 41, 42). Thus the idea arises in Ionia, in the sphere of the Babylonian culture. Logos is translated "truth" by Fairbanks, First Philos. of Greece, p. 25. Cp. Zeller, as there cited. But Prof. Jülicher (Encyc. Bib. art. Logos) adheres to the usual interpretation. For a full exposition of that see Drummond, Philo Judæus, 1888, i, 32-47, following Heinze.

218:3 Above, pp. 86, 90, 178.

218:4 Above, p. 86

218:5 Max Müller, Theosophy, or Psychological religion, 1893, pref. p. x.

218:6 Ps. xxxiii, 6; cvii, 20; cxlvii, 18.

218:7 Work cited, p. 405. Cp. Nicolas, Des doctrines religieuses des Juifs, p. 190 sq.

218:8 Muir, Ancient Sanskrit Texts, 3rd ed. v, 342. Cp. Gubernatis, Letture sopra la mitologia vedica, 1874, pp. 132-3; Barth, Religions of India, pp. 16, 256.p

219:1 Muir, iii, 105.

219:2 Id. first cit.

219:3 Id. iv, 22-23.

219:4 Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda, 1894, p. 63.

219:5 Muir, iii, 10. As to the various meanings of Vâch see i, 325, n.

219:6 Id. iii, 104-5.

219:7 Id. iii, 1.

219:8 Id. iii, 8.

219:9 Ballantyne, Christianity Contrasted with Hindu Philosophy, 1859, p. 193.

219:10 Compare the Tau Têh King, cc. 1, 14, 42, with Plato's Parmenides and Philebus.

219:11 Pauthier, Chine Moderne, p. 351 sq. Cp. Chalmers, The Speculations of Lau-Tsze, p. xi. The Chinese translation of the New Testament uses Tau for the Logos in John i, 1. Id. p. xii. Cp. ch. xxv of the Tau Têh King (Chalmers, p. 19). And Lao-Tsze not only lays down (ch. 63) the Golden Rule, but has a set of six maxims closely resembling the Beatitudes (ch. 22).

220:1 Cp. Cæsar Morgan, Investigation of the Trinity of Plato and of Philo Judæus (1795), ed. 1853, pp. 1, 3, 5.

220:2 Exod. xxiii, 20-23. In the Talmud, this angel, though he is represented in the pseudo-history by Joshua, is declared to be the Metatron, who in turn is identified with the Logos. Above p. 163. and below, Part III, § 8.

220:3 Tiele, Hist. comparée des anc. religions, p. 175.

220:4 Id. ib.

220:5 Id. p. 183; Cory's Ancient Fragments, ed. 1876, p. 92; Sayce, p. 386.

220:6 Sayce, p. 405.

220:7 Cp. Nicolas, as cited above.

221:1 Muir, i, 24. Cp. Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, p. 371.

221:2 Muir, iv, 22-23.

221:3 Gubernatis, Letture sopra la mitologia vedica, pp. 132-3.

221:4 Dennett, Nigerian Studies, pp. 210, 212.

221:5 Relative, that is, to such a God-idea as that of Indra (Oldenberg as cited above). But the Brâhmanas are yet "the oldest rituals we have, the oldest linguistic explanations, the oldest traditional narratives, and the oldest philosophical speculations" (Weber, Hist. of Indian Literature, p. 12).

221:6 Max Müller, Physical Religion, pp. 151, 168; Gubernatis, p. 120. Agni is also born of stone, wood, herbs, and the skies. Müller, p. 146. Cp. Gubernatis, p. 109, sq. This is simple naturalism. But he is joined with Matarisvan, for whose name there is no Aryan etymology (Müller, p. 152). A Central-Asiatic influence must be inferred. Cp. Tiele, Outlines, pp. 109-110, 115. In the Babylonian system the Fire-God Gibil, protector of the family and the hearth, seems the source of the Indian cult. Cp. Justi, Gesch. der oriental. Völker im Altertum, p. 147; Jastrow, Religion of Babylon and Assyria, 1898, p. 277.

221:7 Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 275-280.

222:1 Id. pp. 122-3. Cognate names to Sarasvatî are found in the Bactrian Haraqïti and the Persian Harauvati. Tiele, last cit. p. 115.

222:2 A collection of Babylonian hymns of the times of the Seleucids and Arsacids, bringing the life of the system down to 86 B.C., has been published by the Berlin Museum. Anz, Zur Frage nach dem Ursprung des Gnosticismus (in Gebhardt and Harnack's Texte and Untersuchungen, Bd. 15, Leipzig, 1897), p. 60. And three priestly schools are recorded to have survived in Babylonia—at Sippar, Uruk, and Babel-Borsippa—in the times of Strabo (B. xvi, c. i, § 6) and Pliny (Hist. Nat. vi, 30, 6). Cp. Anz, pp. 61-3, as to the later religious developments.

222:3 Anz, as cited, p. 55 (as to general derivation), 90-3 (as to Ishtar-Sophia), 93-8 (as to Marduk the Saviour and Mediator).

222:4 Tiele, Egypt. Relig. pp. 154, 178.

222:5 See below, Pt. III, §§ 5, 9.

222:6 Cp. Prov. iii, etc., Wisd. of Sol. i, 6; vii, 22, etc.; Ecclesiasticus, passim.

222:7 Nehemiah, ix, 20.

222:8 Or "off royal thrones": cp. Var. Bib. Either way, the logos seems to be already conceived as πρὸς τὸν Θέον.

222:9 Wisdom of Solomon, xviii, 15-16.

222:10 Ecclesiasticus, xxiv, 3, 5, 9.

223:1 Cp. Dennett, Nigerian Studies, pp. 63, 64, 79, 81, 85, 100. As to other Hebrew parallels, see pp. 99, 114.

223:2 Cp. Gubernatis, Letture sopra la mitologia vedica, pp. 144-5; Lang, Myth, Ritual, and Religion, 2nd ed. ii, 271.

Next: § 3. Derivations of the Christian Logos