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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lxxxix. φωνή, λόγος.

On these words, and on their relation to another, very much has been written by the Greek grammarians and natural philosophers (see Lersch, Sprachphilosophie der Alten, part iii. pp. 35, 45, and passim).

Φωνή, from φάω, ὡς φωτίζουσα τὸ νοούμενον (Plutarch, De Plac. Phil. 19), rendered in our Version ‘voice’ (Matt. 2:18), ‘sound’ (John 3:8), ‘noise’ (Rev. 6:1), is distinguished from ψόφος, in that it is the cry of a living creature (ἡ δὲ φωνὴ ψόφος τίς ἐστιν ἐμψύχου, Aristotle), being sometimes ascribed to God (Matt. 3:17), to men (Matt. 3:3), to animals (Matt. 26:34), and, though improperly, to inanimate objects as well (1 Cor. 14:7), as to the trumpet (Matt. 24:31), to the wind (John 3:8), to the thunder (Rev. 6:1; cf. Ps. 76:19). But λόγος, a word, saying, or rational utterance of the νοῦς, whether spoken (προφορικός, and thus φωνὴ τῶν λόγων, Dan. 7:11) or unspoken (ἐνδιάθετος), being, as it is, the correlative of reason, can only be predicated of men (λόγου κοινωνεῖ μόνον ἄνθρωπος, τὰ δὲ ἄλλα φωνῆς, Aristotle, Probl. ii. 55), of angels, or of God. The φωνή may be a mere inarticulate cry, and this whether proceeding from man or from any other animal; and therefore the definition of the Stoics (Diogenes Laërtius, vii. 1. 38. 55) will not stand: ζώου μέν ἐστι φωνὴ ἀὴρ ὑπὸ ὁρμῆς πεπληγμένος, ἀνθρώπου δέ ἐστιν ἔναρθρος καὶ ἀπὸ διανοίας ἐκπεμπομένη. The transfer here to the φωνή what can only be constantly affirmed of the λόγος; indeed, whenever it sought to set the two in sharp antithesis with one another, this, that the φωνή is a πνεῦμα ἀδιάρθρωτον, is the point particularly made. It is otherwise with the λόγος, of which the Stoics themselves say, λόγος δέ ἐστι φωνὴ σημαντική, ἀπὸ διανοίας ἐκπεμπομένη (ibid.), as of the λέγειν that it is τὸ τὴν νοουμένου πράγματος σημαντικὴν προφέρεσθαι φωνήν. Compare Plutarch (De Anim. Proc. 7): φωνή τίς ἐσιν ἄλογος καὶ ἀσήμαντος, λόγος δὲ λέξις ἐν φωνῇ σημαντικῇ διανοίας.1 His treatise De Genio Socratis has much on the relations of φωνή and λόγος to one another, and on the superior functions of the latter. By such an unuttered ‘word’ he affirms the Demon of Socrates to have intimated his presence (c 20): τὸ δὲ προσπίπτον, οὐ φθόγγον, ἀλλὰ λόγον ἄν τις εἰκάσειε δαίμονος, ἄνευ φωνῆς ἐφαπτόμενον αὐτῷ τῷ δηλουμένῳ τοῦ νοοῦτος. Πληγῇ γὰρ ἡ φωνὴ προσέοικε τῆς ψωχῆς, δι᾽ ὤτων βίᾳ τὸν λόγον εἰσδεχομένης, ὅταν ἀλλήλοις ἐντυγχάνωμεν. Ὁ δὲ τοῦ κρείττονος νοῦς ἄγει τὴν εὐφυᾶ ψυχήν, ἐπιθιγγάνων τῷ νοηθέντι, πληγῆς μὴ δεομένην.

The whole chapter is one of deepest theological interest; the more so seeing that the great theologians of the early Church, above all Origen in the Greek (in Joan. tom. ii. § 26), and Augustine in the Latin, loved to transfer this antithesis of the φωνή and the λόγος to John the Baptist and his Lord, the first claiming for himself no more than to be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (John 1:23), the other emphatically declared to be the Word which was with God, and was God (John 1:1). In drawing out the relations between John and his Lord as expressed by these titles, the Voice and the Word, ‘Vox’ and ‘Verbum,’ φωνή and λόγος, Augustine traces with a singular subtlety the manifold and profound fitnesses which lie in them for the setting forth of those relations. A word, he observes, is something even without a voice, for a word in the heart is as truly a word as after it is outspoken; while a voice is nothing, a mere unmeaning sound, an empty cry, unless it be also the vehicle of a word. But when they are thus united, the voice in a manner goes before the word, for the sound strikes the ear before the sense is conveyed to the mind: yet while it thus goes before it in this act of communication, it is not really before it, but the contrary. Thus, when we speak, the word in our hearts must precede the voice on our lips, which voice is yet the vehicle by which the word in us is transferred to, and becomes also a word in, another; but this being accomplished, or rather in the very accomplishment of this, the voice has passed away, exists no more; but the word which is planted now in the other’s heart, no less than in our own, abides. All this Augustine transfers to the Lord and to his forerunner. John is nothing without Jesus: Jesus just what before He was without John: however to men the knowledge of Him may have come through John. John the first in time, and yet He who came after, most truly having been before, him. John, so soon as he had accomplished his mission, passing away, having no continual significance for the Church of God; but Jesus, of whom he had told, and to whom he witnessed, abiding for ever (Serm. 293. § 3): ‘Johannes vox ad tempus, Christus Verbum in principio aeternum. Tolle verbum, quid est vox? Ubi nullus est intellectus, inanis est strepitus. Vox sine verbo aurem pulsat, cor non aedificat. Verumtamen in ipso corde nostro aedificando advertamus ordinem rerum. Si cogito quid dicam, jam verbum est in corde meo: sed loqui ad te volens, quaero quemadmodum sit etiam in corde tuo, quod jam est in meo. Hoc quaerens quomodo ad te perveniat, et in corde tuo insideat verbum quod jam est in corde meo, assumo vocem, et assumtâ voce loquor tibi: sonus vocis ducit ad te intellectum verbi, et cum ad te duxit sonus vocis intellectum verbi, sonus quidem ipse pertransit, verbum autem quod ad te sonus perduxit, jam est in corde tuo, nec recessit a meo.’ Cf. Serm. 288. § 3; 289. § 3.

1 On the distinction between λόγος and λέξις, which last does not occur in the N. T., see Petavius, De Trin. vi. 1. 6; and Lersch, Sprachphilosophie der Alten, vol. iii. p. 45.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G3056,G5456.]

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