LOGOS or REMA (was new BAGD, etc.)

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Nov 9 11:59:16 EST 1999


At 9:14 AM -0600 11/9/99, Steve Long wrote:
>>
>>  Also...I have been given the task of finding the difference between REMA
>>and LOGOS.  With my finite mind and resources, the nearest I can figure is
>>LOGOS has more to do with HOW it is stated, and REMA with WHAT is stated.
>>Am I completely off here?
>>    Thank you, and God bless;
>>
>>                           Jay
>
>I have thought of the difference like this, LOGOS is the idea behind the
>word including the spoken word and REMA is the word alone. For instance if
>I say 'maroon' it brings up a color to the mind, the LOGOS is the color in
>the mind as well as the word which brings it to mind. But I could also say
>burgandy, mauve, dark red, carmine, etc. Each of those are REMA which bring
>to mind the same LOGOS. That's my own observation, I don't have any lexical
>backup for it.

I think there's something valid to this observation. So far as I can tell
(and I certainly haven't done any definitive examination), the situation is
rather complicated by factors associated with (1) nuances associated with
the Greek verbal roots LEG/LOG and hRH and (2) LXX usage of hRHMA to
translate Hebrew DABAR which has its own extensive semantic range from
"thing spoken" all the way to "event," "deed."

It should be noted first of all that there's considerable overlap in usage
in the GNT; here's what Louw & Nida have to say:

13.115 LOGOS, OU m; hRHMA, TOS n: a happening to which one may refer -
'matter, thing, event.'
33.9 hRHMA, TOS n: a minimal unit of discourse, often a single word -
'word, saying. 'OUK APEKRIQH AUTWi PROS OUDE HEN hRHMA' 'he refused to
answer him a single word' Mt 27:14. In place of a rendering such as
'refused to answer a single word,' it may be more idiomatic to say 'said
nothing' or 'refused to speak.'
33.98 hRHMA, TOS n; LOGOS, OU m (derivative of LEGW  'to say,' 33.69): that
which has been stated or said, with primary focus upon the content of the
communication - 'word, saying, message, statement, question.'

(a) Hebraic usage: Note LSJ: Here 33.98 shows a synonymous usage of the two
words in line with ways in which the two also overlap in classical Greek,
while the usage indicated in 33.9 is closer to the classical Greek sense of
"utterance" for hRHMA; but 13.115 shows a usage dependent on Hebrew DABAR;
compare LSJ s.v. hRHMA:

"3. subject of speech, matter, Hebraism in LXX and NT, =LXX De.2.7,
Ev.Luc.1.37,Ev.Luc. 1.65, Ev.Luc. 2.15; cf. rhêtos IV. Ev.Luc. 2."

(b) Classical Greek background: My impression from classical Greek usage is
that the root LEG/LOG is more commonly associated with the intelligible
content of what is either spoken or written--by which I mean the
intelligible content as a whole statement or assertion or concept, whereas
the root hRH has more to do with oral expression or 'utterance.' It is true
that the future, perfect, and so-called aorist passive of LEGW are formed
from hRH (respectively EREW, EIHRKA, EIRHMAI, ERREQHN), yet hRHTWR is a
public speaker and grammatically hRHMA is "verb" as opposed to ONOMA,
"noun." A hRHMA is what is said or predicated (Aristotle's KATHGOREITAI)
about an ONOMA (in the sense of "subject"), and I think we might say that
the LOGOS, in Aristotelian terms, must consist minimally of an ONOMA and a
hRHMA.

The upshot: the words LOGOS and hRHMA are often enough synonymous, and both
can be used to represent the sense of Hebrew DABAR as "thing, event"; but
LOGOS may represent the more formal notion of a statement, assertion,
proposition or concept (as in the Johannine prologue) while hRHMA may mean
more simply "thing said," or "utterance," or "saying." There's a good deal
of overlap, but also some distinctive senses.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu 
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