The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition (Philemon)
I: “But Philo Judeaus, if this is who you mean, was a serious philosopher and a great thinker.
Even John the Evangelist included some of Philo’s thoughts in the gospe!.”
Anchorite: “You are right.
It is to Philo’s credit that he furnished language like so many other philosophers.
He belongs to the language artists.
But words should not become Gods.”
I: “I fail to understand you here.
Does it not say in the gospel according to John: God was the Word.
It appears to make quite explicit the point which you have just now rejected.”
Anchorite: “Guard against being a slave to words.
Here is the gospel: read from that passage where it says: In him was the life.
“What does John say there?”
I: “‘And life was the light of men and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it.
But it became a person sent from God, by the name of John, who came as a witness and to be a witness of the light.
The genuine light, which illuminates each person, came into the world: He was in the world, and the world became through him, and the world did not recognize him.’ -That is what I read here.
But what do you make of this?”
Anchorite: “I ask you, was this [Logos] a concept, a word? It was a light, indeed a man, and lived among men.
You see, Philo only lent John the word so that John would have at his disposal the word alongside the word ‘light’ to describe the son of man.
John gave to living men the meaning of the, but Philo gave as the dead concept that usurped life, even the divine life.
Through this the dead does not gain life, and the living is killed. And this was also my atrocious error.”
I: “I see what you mean. This thought is new to me and seems worth consideration.
Until now it always seemed to me / as if it were exactly that which was meaningful in John, namely that the son of man is the,Logos in that he thus elevates the lower to the higher spirit, to the world of the Logos.
But you lead me to see the matter conversely; namely that John brings the meaning of the Logos down to man.”
Anchorite: “I learned to see that John has in fact even done the great service of having brought the meaning of the Logos up to man.”
I: “You have peculiar insights that stretch my curiosity to the utmost. How is that? Do you think that the human stands higher than the Logos?”
Anchorite: “I want to answer this question within the scope of your understanding: if the human God had not become important above everything, he would not have appeared as the son in the flesh, but in the Logos.”
I: “That makes sense to me, but I confess that this view is surprising to me. It is especially astonishing to me that you, a Christian anchorite, have come to such views.
I would not have expected this of you.”
Anchorite: ”As I have already noticed, you have a completely false idea of me and my essence. Let me give you a small example of my preoccupation.
I’ve spent many years alone with the process of unlearning.
Have you ever unlearned anything?
Well, then you should know how long it takes.
And I was a successful teacher.
As you know, for such people to unlearn is difficult or even impossible.
But I see that the sun has gone down. Soon it will be completely dark.
Night is the time of silence. I want to show you your place for the night.
I need the morning for my work, but after midday you can come to me again if you like.
Then we will continue our conversation.” [The Red Book, Pages 268-269]