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Many people in my tradition read Hebrews 4:12 and interpret "logos" as "the Bible." However, I noticed in "On the Incarnation" that Athanasius seems to interpret "logos" in Hebrews 4:12 as Jesus himself.

  1. Did I understand Athanasius correctly?
  2. Is his interpretation correct?
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  • Excellent question, Caleb! I hope culture & context will help explain the Aramaic & Gnostic interpretations of scripture which could have influenced Athanasius' understanding of Jesus as the "Logos". Aug 27 '20 at 13:24
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I will not comment on the first half of the question about Athanasius (it is an excellent question that ctaylorgraphics well answered) but confine my comments to the second question about the interpretation of the text.

That the Bible itself is the most common understanding of the meaning of "logos" in Heb 4:12 is well-known. However there are several things that suggest that "logos" in this verse has the same referent as John 1:1-3, 14, 1 John 1;1, Rev 19:13.

  • The respected BDAG suggests this interpretation under the heading "logos".
  • In V13 (a continuation of the thought begun in V12), the author twice uses the pronoun "him" with antecedent the "word of God" in V12.
  • In V13 there is another hint as well - the last phrase in V13 is (literally) "to the eyes of him, to whom is our [the] logos."
  • The idiom of the "sharp two two-edged sword (machaira)" appears slightly different from the "sharp two edged sword (rhomphaia)" of Rev 1:12 from the mouth of Jesus but is nonetheless an allusion to it.
  • In Heb 4:12, the logos is described as "living (Zoe) and active".
  • In V12 we have the phrase, "and able to judge the thought and motives of the heart". This might be an allusion to John 5:22, 9:39, etc about Jesus judging.

Thus, Heb 4:12 & 13 gives the impression that the author is almost deliberately blurring the distinction between the written word of God and Jesus as the Word. If nothing else, one is a reflection of the other.

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Could Athanasius correctly interpret the "Word" in John 1:1 along with Hebrews 4:12 to be synonymous with Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth?

  1. What does "logos" (λόγος) mean in Hebrews 4:12?
  • The traditional English translation of "logos" (λόγος) is "Word". * Defined by https://biblehub.com/greek/3056.htm, "Logos" means : a word (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech.
  1. Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth is referred to as the "Word" (λόγος) in John 1:

We read in John 1:1-2: "In the beginning was the Word (Λόγος), and the Word (Λόγος) was with God, and the Word (Λόγος) was God. 2 He was with God - in the beginning."

The Aramaic riddle of the Gnostic Gospel account of John 1:1-2 presents Yeshua (Jesus) Ha-Meshiach (the Messiah) as the symbolic "Word" of God with God - in the beginning - referencing Genesis 1:1:

  • When analyzing the ancient Hebrew word "Bereishit" (בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית) from Genesis 1:1, we find the simple meaning "In-Beginning" from "Be-Reish".
  • However in modern Aramaic Hebrew, the word becomes "Bar-eish" meaning "Son of Man".
  1. As "Immanuel" the coming Messiah of Isaiah 7:14, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth became the living Word of God (YHVH) with the incredible capacity to retain and understand all 3-Parts of the TaNaKh. * The scrolls which form the Hebrew Bible (TaNaKh) contain no punctuation - which means the complete Tanakh is a long string of symbols inspired by Yehovah, or 1 infinite Word of God. This infinite Word of God is considered by Jews to have three Parts:  *Part-1 : Torah ('Teaching'), *Part-2 : Nevi'im ('Prophets') and *Part-3: Ketuvim ('Writings').

In terms of the Gnostic & Aramaic understanding of the Tanakh and New Testament scripture of Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 7:14, John 1:1 along with Hebrews 4:12 - Athanasius could correctly interpret the "Word" to mean Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth.

  • Additional data regarding the views of Athanasius related to his interpretation of the "Word" pertaining to Yeshua: "Athanasius’s two-part work of apologetics, Against the Heathen and The Incarnation of the Word of God, completed about 335, was the first great classic of developed Greek Orthodox theology. In Athanasius’s system, the Son of God, the eternal Word through whom God made the world, entered the world in human form to lead men back to the harmony from which they had fallen away. Athanasius reacted vigorously against Arianism, for which the Son was a lesser being, and welcomed the definition of the Son formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325: “consubstantial with the Father.” - https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Athanasius#ref287409

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