[The Italian version of this article was published on the “Dialogo” website on June 9, 2017 titled “Logos, Verbum, Parola, Spirito”]


Logos, Verbum, Word, Spirit

Logos is a polysemic term in the ancient Greek language. Ethimologists believe, if derives from the proto-indo-european * werdʰo-. In Western culture it has a decisive theological significance expressed in the incipit of the Gospel of St John, originally written in greek:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος,

Καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν

translated into Latin:

In principio erat Verbum,

et Verbum erat apud Deum,

et Deus erat Verbum.


and commonly in Italian:

 In principio era il Verbo,

e il Verbo era presso Dio

e il Verbo era Dio.

The Italian translation sometimes uses “word” instead of “verb”, duplicity that does not arise for Latin, because “verbum” assumes the meaning of both “word” and “verb”.

In my opinion neither the verb nor the word make the deep theological meaning, perhaps even etymological, which the evangelist meant, but who thought “Spirit” as meaning for logos. Try to write: “In the beginning the Spirit was, and the Spirit was with God, and the Spirit was God. He was in the beginning with God …” and we will understand the underlying nature of that logos of St John, which encapsulates a Trinitarian concept. But in the habit has been affirmed this identity.

logos = Word = Verbum.

Since the intent of these considerations is not a theological reminder, I am going to consider the meaning of “word,” which forces people who think and speak to reflect that in the face of “word” we can say:

– Out of the word. It is the attitude of those who speak without regard to etymology, that is, to the story that leads to the origin, to the initial meaning of the word, and puts us in front of the original meaning of language, to the question: why the word exists? How is the gambling play, the game of dominoes, so that the individual words connect to each other to form the grammatics, the syntax of individual languages, in which is written a good part of the history of individual peoples?

– the mechanical use of the word used without asking any questions, as is customary for television broadcasters, politicians, and anyone who does not link the word to the cause of what is said. In other words: a talk to give air to the mouth, a way to breathe;

– thinking inside the word: this is the logos, which is spirit, not language, but in the sense of John’s Gospel. The question becomes then: is language, or word, a man’s invention, or is it a divine gift made by the Creator to men so that they may pray and transmit their feelings? This is also the profound meaning of the Word, Word = Spirit; the Spirit that becomes flesh, that is, humanity; the God who is humanized, who speaks to poets, philosophers, prophets, prayers, so that they can talk to the Creator and explain the incipit of the Bible (Genesis, 2,7):

“… then the Lord God shaped the man with dust on the ground and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and man became a living being …”

The Adam of the origin stands for the new Adam, Christ: Christmas, Easter, Resurrection and Pentecost become one whole. The word is divine breath; it is the Spirit, it is a condition for becoming a “living being”, it is Logos reserved only to the man created with “soil dust”, not with a simple fiat, unlike the rest of creation. It is also explained by the anecdote of Michelangelo, the artist who took the man out of the stone, who, against the statue of Moses, throwing them against the mallet, uttered his famous regret: “Why you do not speak?”. Only God can breathe the breath of the word!