Kevin's comment to which I was responding read:
The interpretation of Logos in John 1:1 as "logic" is highly anachronistic. Was John a closet Aristotelian philosopher? No, he was a common Jewish fisherman. F.F. Bruce said it best:Here is my response.
"No doubt the English term 'Word' is an inadequate rendering of the Greek logos, but it would be difficult to find one less inadequate... But if logos is not completely meaningless to an ordinary reader, it probably suggest something like 'reason', and that is more misleading than 'Word'. A 'word' is a means of communication, the expression of what is in one's mind...
"The term logos was familiar in some Greek philosophical schools, where it denoted the principle of reason or order immanent in the universe, the principle which imposes form on the material world and constitutes the rational soul in man. It is not in Greek philosophical usage, however, that the background of John's thought and language should be sought. Yet, because of that usage, logos constituted a bridge-word by which people brought up in Greek philosophy, like Justin Martyr in the second century, found their way into Johannine Christianity.
"The true background of John's thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation. The 'word of God' in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance."The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes, 29.
The use of John 1:1 as a proof text for the necessity of logic is silly.
I agree that:
1) John was not a closet Aristotelian philosopher
2) "logos" as "reason" (as understood by some strands of Greek philosophical thought, and as modern readers here are understanding it) may not communicate exactly what the author of the fourth Gospel was trying to convey, and
3) Bruce is mostly correct when he says, "The true background of John's thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation. The 'word of God' in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance."
However, it is my studied opinion that a closer look at both the cultural and textual context reveals a fuller understanding of John's use of "logos" in his gospel than you or Bruce (who I fully admit is a much more qualified scholar than myself to speak on this) seem to be suggesting. Don't take that humble admission too far, though - I do have other scholarship on my side here, and am not pitting myself alone against Bruce.
The gospel of John was written during the time that the early church was dealing with the rise of proto- and early Gnosticism. (As I'm sure you know, Gnosticism varied greatly, but the basic belief was one inherited from Platonism - that all matter is evil. Consequently, according to the Gnostics, Christ did not "come in the flesh," or have a real body - since bodies are matter, matter is evil, and a divine being could not be joined to such an evil thing - but instead his appearance as a man was an illusion.)
In any event, this notion was in play when John wrote his gospel. In fact, the epistles attributed to the apostle John, who is also traditionally credited as writing the fourth gospel, were direct attacks on Gnosticism in its early form as it began to sway the first century church (2 John 1:7 - "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.").
Within this context, then, it is important to perhaps look at the prologue as a whole to understand just how the author was using "logos". If one were a Gnostic reading it, one would be happily trucking right along and have no problem with the first thirteen verses. Suddenly, though, verse 14 hits:
"And the Word (logos) became flesh (sarx)"
What? says the Gnostic. The divine logos could NOT become flesh! (Bear in mind that sarx was the equivalent of dung, or an even stronger term perhaps, to the Gnostic mind. Furthermore, in the Greek these two terms are situated right next to each other, so the juxtaposition could not have been sharper.)
I think this textual and cultural context gives amazing insight into John's usage of "logos". He was certainly aware of the Gnostic claim, and also how they would understand in some fashion what he was talking about when he applied "logos", a term they were probably quite familiar with and to which they had tied certain associations. That he used this term, then stresses that the "logos" became flesh, became matter, argues powerfully that he had this sort of polemic in mind when writing his gospel. I see verse 14 as being the key to understanding John’s point of using logos – to incisively cut down the Gnostic view of Christ, something he would be keen to do, given that he had lived with the man for three years and was witness to both his divinity AND his humanity. I think we don’t give John, or the other apostles for that matter, enough credit when we call them merely common Jewish fishermen. These guys certainly encountered the philosophies hostile to Christianity that were circulating in the ancient world of the first century, and had adequate tools with which to combat them – not only that, but an empowerment by the Holy Spirit to do so. I see John 1 as evidence of that, though really the New Testament is full of more.
Now, I actually do think that later, more Greek-oriented thinkers (such as Justin Martyr) probably took the Logos doctrine farther that John intended. But I don’t think that an understanding of the Greek usage of the term was totally missing from the author’s mind or intent when he wrote his famous prologue. I actually think he was using the enemies own ideas against them – attempting to impale them on their own sword, so to speak.
UPDATE 10/4/07: Upon further reflection and reading, I decided I should probably have used the more specific term "docetism" rather than the much wider "gnosticism" to avoid confusion.