I’m reading Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty by Stephen Turley with a group of Catholic ladies on Voxer. We joke that I’m the token Reformed girl of the group.
Anyway, Awakening Wonder is seriously challenging my mental abilities. I read Chapter two three times, the final time I drew Venn diagrams just so I could understand. I was pretty sure I wasn’t smart enough for this book the first time through that chapter.
I’ve been working on Chapter 3 which I understand better – probably because of the work I did in Chapter 2. I’m still outlining it, but I think I’ll only take 2 passes this time. Maybe.
In Chapter 3, Turley is attempting to show how the early Christian church took the work done by the early Greeks and saw how truth was encapsulated within it, then expanded upon and refined that thought within a Christian framework.
The prologue of the Gospel of John begins: “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.” The term logos represents one of the central concepts in classical Greek culture. Logos has the dual meaning of “counting” and “speaking,” and thus from its beginning it had the sense of a lingusitic order or metrical word and was associated very much with verbally expressed ratio relations. Starting with Heraclitus in the sixth century BC, the term increasingly began to be associated with the world as a grand rational and intelligible order, what the Greeks called cosmos. Many of us are familiar with the Latin-rooted term quintessence; in classical cosmology there were four essences–earth, air, fire, and water–and the quintessence, or what the Greeks called logos, was the cosmic principle in which the totality of the universe cohered. (Awakening Wonder, pg 22; italics his, bold mine)
So, the logos of the Greeks–the quintessence–gets appropriated as the Logos of John 1. It is the element, the essence that held everything together. In Colossians 1:16-17, Paul tells us that Jesus created all things and in him all things “hold together.” It isn’t a big leap to Jesus being logos.
But what I love about the quote I selected today – and I love the words selected in the pairings too – is the completelness, wholeness, fullness, totality described in such phrases as “linguistic order” and “metrical word.” The combination of “…’counting’ and ‘speaking’… ;” word and number; Trivium and Quadrivium together as logos is a beautiful thing to behold. I love how using numbers and words together is described in those phrases.
The idea that those ways together is how we find Jesus … that idea takes my breath away.
Isn’t this what we’re about?!
The thing I don’t like about the quote and the reason I almost didn’t select it is that I wonder what he means by “associated … with verbally expressed ratio relations.” Do you know what that means?
We have linguistic order. OK. Language and Order. Check.
Metrical Word. Yes, Words with count, meter, rhythm, poetics. Check two.
But, “associated with ‘verbally expressed ratio relations.’ I know what all of those words mean, but he seems to mean something in particular with that phrasing (and Google search fails me). Is it more poetics? Is it mathematical ratios and statements like Pi or the Pythagorean Theorem? I’m just not clear what he means. Then, thinks I, “Smart people read Wednesdays with Words, maybe they can help me.” So. Help? What do you think he means?
I don’t usually explain – or need to explain – the graphic choices I make, but this week is a bit different. I chose a hymn for the background of the graphic this week because we have metered words. Music being a Quadrivium discipline and the words belonging to the Trivium. The hymn I chose is one we sang on this past Lord’s Day and, can I say, brought tears to my eyes with its beauty in word and meter and harmony? Our congregation sings parts and the beauty of the men singing “crown him” and the sound being full and diverse made me think of that fullness in Christ, the many members of one body doing their work, and the majesty of Christ. Christ, the logos .. the ending point of our searching ways.