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Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament


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phone (Strong's #5456) Voice, Sound, Noise

logos (Strong's #3056) Word, Saying, Speech, Utterance

The Greek grammarians and natural philosophers wrote a great deal about phone and logos and their relation to one another.

In the Authorized Version, phone is translated as "voice" ( Matthew 2:18), "sound" ( John 3:8), and "noise" ( Revelation 6:1). Phone is distinguished from psophos by being the cry of a living creature and sometimes is ascribed to God ( Matthew 3:17), people ( Matthew 3:3), and animals ( Matthew 26:34). Phone is improperly ascribed to inanimate objects ( 1 Corinthians 14:7), such as the trumpet ( Matthew 24:31), the wind ( John 3:8), and the thunder ( Revelation 6:1; cf. Psalm 77:18). But logos, a "word" or "saying" or "rational utterance" of the mind, whether spoken or unspoken, is the correlative of reason and can only be predicated of human beings, angels, and God. The phone may be merely an inarticulate cry of a person or animal. Thus the following definition of the Stoics is incorrect: "Phone of an animal is air struck by irrational impulse, of a person it is articulate air proceeding from thought." The Stoics transferred to the phone what can only be consistently affirmed of the logos. Whenever phone and logos are contrasted, the particular point made is that phone is "inarticulated wind." But even in the Stoics' definition of logos as "a meaningful sound [phone] proceeding from thought" and of legein (Strong's #3004) as "to express a meaningful sound [phone] about something comprehended," this is not the case. Compare the Stoics' definition with Plutarch's: "Phone is something irrational and without meaning, logos is speech [lexis] in a voice [phone] indicative of thought."By this unuttered "word," Plutarch affirmed that the demon of Socrates intimated his presence:

What occurs is not an utterance, but one might liken it to a word [logon] of a demon, without a sound [phones] laying hold of him who is shown what is intended. For sound [phone] is similar to an impact on the soul, receiving the word [logon] through the ears with force whenever they coincide. The mind of the superior one leads the well-disposed soul, needing no impact, by touching the one who has been influenced.

The whole chapter has the deepest theological interest since the great theologians of the early church, especially Origen in the Greek and Augustine in the Latin, loved to transfer this antithesis of phone and logos to John the Baptist and his Lord. John claimed only to be "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" ( John 1:23), but Christ was emphatically declared to be the Word that was with God and was God ( John 1:1). Augustine subtly traced the profound suitability of the "voice" and the "Word" to express the relationship between John and Jesus. Augustine observed that a word is something even without a voice, for a word in the heart is as truly a word as after it is uttered. A voice, however, is nothing; it is an unmeaningful sound, an empty cry, unless it also is the vehicle of a word. When they are united, there is a sense in which the voice precedes the word, for the sound strikes the ear before the sense is conveyed to the mind. Although the voice precedes the word, the voice is not really before the word; the contrary is true. When we speak, the word in our hearts must precede the voice on our lips. The voice is the vehicle by which the word in us is transferred to and becomes a word in another. In the act of accomplishing this, the voice passes away, but the word planted in the other person's heart and in the heart of the speaker remains. Augustine applied this argument to Jesus and John. John is nothing without Jesus, but apart from John, Jesus remains the same, though the knowledge that others have of Jesus may have come through John. Although John was the first in time, Jesus who came after him most truly was before him. John passed away as soon as he had accomplished his mission and did not have a continuing significance for the church. But Jesus, about whom John had witnessed, abides forever.

John was a voice for a time, Christ is the eternal Word from the beginning. Remove the word, and what is a voice? Where there is no understanding, it is an empty noise. A voice without a word strikes the ear, it does not edify the heart. However in our own heart we alter the order of events by edifying. If I think of what I shall say, already the word is in my heart; but wishing to speak to you, I seek how there may be also in your heart what already is in mine. Seeking how this may reach you and how there may reside in your heart what already is in my heart, I assume a voice and with this voice I speak to you. The sound of the voice brings to you understanding of the word, and when the sound of the voice brings to you understanding of the word, the sound itself penetrates and the word which the sound brings to you now is in your heart and does not withdraw from mine.

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Bibliography Information
Trench, Richard C. Entry for 'Voice'. Synonyms of the New Testament. 1854.

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Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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