2. Logos endiathetos
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28 chapter two Logos endiathetos O f the three authorities medievals most often associated with the idea of interior discourse—namely Augustine, Boethius, and John Damascene—only the last wrote in Greek and, although much later than the other two, offers our investigation a more immediate contact with the terminological tradition of the Greek philosophical schools of the first centuries a.d. Originally from Damascus—as his name indicates— this educated eighth-century Christian (c. 674–749), a monk and preacher well known in Jerusalem (then under Muslim rule), near the end of his life compiled The Sources of Knowledge, a history and general synthesis of orthodox Christian theology in the form of a compilation of Greek extracts woven harmoniously together. The third and most imposing part of this work was dedicated to a systematic exposition of theology; under the title De fide orthodoxa, it became one of the required references on matters of theoretical theology for Latin scholastics ; Thomas Aquinas, for example, often used it. To be sure, for the most part the medievals did not read Greek, and their access to the terminology employed by Damascene would have been mediated through the Latin translation executed by Burgundio of Pisa around 1150 and revised by Robert Grosseteste at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Relevant to the theme of interior discourse, however, this translation preserves, in a passage from book II, chapter 22, the Greek expression transliterated endiatheton modifying the Latin word sermo. More than a hundred years later, the great Dominican translator William of Moerbeke, perhaps encouraged by this precedent, will speak, in his Latin version of Ammonius’s commentary on the Perihermeneias, of an orationem vocatam endiatheton. Through these two passages, one in a major theology text and the other in a logical treatise, thirteenth- and fourteenth-century readers would be put almost directly in the presence of the Greek expression logos endiathetos (literally, “discourse laid out in the interior”), which had been an integral part of the common philosophical vocabulary for centuries. Although for the most part unknown to the medievals, from the first century a.d. to John Damascene in the eighth century there survive a good number of textual appeals to the distinction generally accepted by the Greek philosophi1 . John Damascene, De fide orthodoxa: Versions of Burgundio and Cerbanus 36, ed. E. M. Buytaert (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: Fransciscan Institute, 1955), 135. 2. Ammonius, Commentaire sur le Peri Hermeneias d’Aristote: Traduction de Guillaume de Moerbeke, ed. G. Verbeke (Louvain: Publications universitaires de Louvain, 1961), 42. F6925.indb 28 F6925.indb 28 10/24/16 12:52:20 PM 10/24/16 12:52:20 PM Logos endiathetos 29 cal schools between logos prophorikos (spoken discourse) and logos endiathetos (interior discourse). In this chapter, I wish to review what we know today on the subject of this properly philosophical tradition in the first three centuries a.d. and to propose, occasionally, some hypotheses of interpretation. I will first examine the delicate question of the role of the Stoics in the history of this terminological pair. I will turn, second, to the most ancient author we know to have made repeated use of it: Philo of Alexandria, in the first century, for whom the philosophical vocabulary came to nourish allegorical exegesis of the sacred texts of Judaism. Third, exploration of the occurrences of our two expressions in the philosophy of the second and third centuries will reveal a concentration of their usage in certain parts of Asia Minor. Fourth, examination of the most significant passages mentioned by John Damascene on the subject of logos endiathetos will bring us back—via their sources—to the intellectual milieus of Alexandria, Antioch, Pergama, and especially Ephesus and Smyrna on the Aegean Sea, where Judaism, Christianity, and various Egyptian and Oriental cults continually engaged in fruitful dialogue with Greek—especially Platonic—philosophy, particularly with regard to the notion of logos. Many problems remain to be elucidated, and much research must still be done on the appearance and transmission of this terminology. I can offer nothing more here than a review of a given number of texts, assembled by more than a century of scholarship. From this review emerges, it seems to me, a general image that, while occasionally sketchy, nevertheless reveals the principal philosophical problems that may have motivated recourse to the pair logos prophorikos/logos endiathetos through the centuries. A Stoic notion? Until recently there was quite general consensus among intellectual historians attributing the paternity of this distinction...


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