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The term "logia" (Greek: ????a), plural of "logion" (Greek: ??????

), is used var
iously in ancient writings and modern scholarship in reference to communications
of divine origin. In pagan contexts, the principal meaning was oracles, while J
ewish and Christian writings used logia in reference especially to the divinely
inspired Scriptures. A famous and much-debated occurrence of the term is in the
account by Papias of Hierapolis on the origins of the canonical Gospels. Since t
he nineteenth century, New Testament scholarship has tended to reserve the term
logion for a divine saying, especially one spoken by Jesus, in contrast to narra
tive, and to call a collection of such sayings, as exemplified by the Gospel of
Thomas, logia.
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Ancient use
Papias of Hierapolis
Gospel of Thomas
Modern use
See also
References

Ancient use
In pagan usage, logia was used interchangeably with chresmoi and other such term
s in reference to oracles, the pronouncements of the gods obtained usually throu
gh divination.[1]
The Septuagint adapted the term logion to mean Word of God, using it especially
for translating ???????. In Philo, however, we see that the entire Old Testament
was considered the Word of God and thus spoken of as the logia, with any passag
e of Scripture, whatever its length or content, designated a logion; the sense o
f the word is the same as in the Septuagint, but applied broadly to inspired Scr
iptures.[1] In this sense logia is used four times in the New Testament[2] and o
ften among the Church Fathers, who also counted the New Testament books among in
spired Scripture.[3][4]
From logia must be distinguished a related word logoi (?????), meaning simply wo
rds, often in contrast to deeds (p???e??). Words spoken by Jesus are consistentl
y designated as logoi in ancient documents.[5]
Papias of Hierapolis
Papias of Hierapolis composed around AD 100 a work, now lost, entitled Exegesis
of the Dominical Logia, which Eusebius quotes as an authority on the origins of
the Gospels of Mark and Matthew.[6][7]
On Mark, Papias cites John the Elder:
The Elder used to say: Mark, in his capacity as Peter s interpreter, wrote dow
n accurately as many things as he recalled from memory though not in an ordered fo
rm of the things either said or done by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord no
r accompanied him, but later, as I said, Peter, who used to give his teachings i
n the form of chreiai, but had no intention of providing an ordered arrangement
of the logia of the Lord. Consequently Mark did nothing wrong when he wrote down
some individual items just as he related them from memory. For he made it his o
ne concern not to omit anything he had heard or to falsify anything.
And the brief excerpt regarding Matthew says:
Therefore Matthew put the logia in an ordered arrangement in the Hebrew lang
uage, but each person interpreted them as best he could.

So, Papias uses logia in his title and once in regard to each Gospel. Eusebius,
who had the complete text before him, understood Papias in these passages as ref
erring to the canonical Gospels.
In the nineteenth century, however, scholars began to question whether this trad
ition is actually referring to those texts, especially in the case of what Papia
s ascribes to Matthew. In 1832, Schleiermacher, believing Papias to be writing b
efore these Gospels were regarded as inspired Scripture and before the formation
of any New Testament canon, argued that logia could not be understood in its us
ual sense but must rather be interpreted as utterances (Aussprche), and that Papi
as was referring to collections of the sayings of Jesus. Soon after, it happened
, a new theory of the Synoptic problem emerged, the two-source hypothesis, posit
ing that the double tradition in Matthew and Luke derived from a lost document c
ontaining mostly sayings of Jesus. Holtzmann's defense of this theory, which has
dominated scholarship ever since, seized upon Schleiermacher's thesis and argue
d that Papias was attesting a Logienquelle (logia-source), which he designated ?
. When later scholars abandoned the evidence of Papias as an argument, this hypo
thetical source came to be more neutrally designated as Q (for Quelle), but the
reinterpretation of the word logia already had firmly taken hold in scholarship.
[5][8][9]
Modern scholars are divided on what Papias actually meant, especially with regar
d to the logia he ascribes to Matthew, and what underlying historical facts this
testimony alludes to.[10] Some see this logia as referring still to the Old Tes
tament, thus a collection of prophecies and prooftexts regarding Jesus. Others s
till hold that Papias is speaking of a now-lost sayings collection, noting that
canonical Matthew is especially focused on the sayings of Jesus. Others, noting
how in the account of Mark, the parallel to "things said or done by the Lord" re
quires the meaning of logia to at least be extended to deeds, see Papias as refe
rring to some account more resembling the canonical Gospels. Still others hold t
hat Papias was indeed referring to the canonical Gospels as we know them arguably
even using logia in the sense of Scriptures, and dominical logia as an early ter
m for Gospels and that the account of Papias thus amounts to our earliest testimon
y of their existence and recognition.
Another point of controversy surrounds the statement that Matthew wrote in the "
Hebrew dialect", which in the Greek could refer to either Hebrew or Aramaic.[10]
Some, noting that dialect could mean not only language but also, in a technical
sense, style, understand Papias to be referring to Greek Matthew written in a S
emitic style. Others hold that Matthew wrote a Semitic-language work first, befo
re producing a Greek recension recognized as canonical Matthew. Still others hol
d that whatever lost work Matthew allegedly wrote whether a sayings collection, th
e Gospel according to the Hebrews, or a prototype of canonical Matthew was compose
d in Semitic but translated freely into Greek by others. And some regard Papias
as simply mistaken and telling us nothing of value.
Gospel of Thomas
The nineteenth century saw a consensus gather around the two-source hypothesis,
positing a hypothetical sayings collection, along with a growing use of the term
logia whatever Papias had actually meant by it to refer to such a collection of say
ings of Jesus. It was in this context that the first fragments of the Gospel of
Thomas were discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in 1897, containing otherwise-unknow
n sayings of Jesus. Although the term logia does not occur in the papyri in any
form, the editors saw this discovery as an example of the very sort of logia hyp
othesized and accordingly titled their publication Logia Iesu: Sayings of Our Lo
rd. Later finds shed more light on the work, now identified as the Gospel of Tho
mas condemned by several Church Fathers, which is in fact a series of sayings at
tributed to Jesus, many found nowhere else, with no narrative framework. Althoug
h Grenfell and Hunt soon retracted their inappropriate designation of the text a
s Logia in favor of Logoi, it has since become standard to speak of the composit

ion as logia, and of each individual saying as a logion, numbered in most divisi
on schemes from 1 to 114.[5][8]
Modern use
This sense of logion as something Jesus said is now in wide use among scholars.
The term is sometimes applied to a saying of Jesus contained in any of the canon
ical Gospels, but it is especially used for any agraphon a saying of Jesus not oth
erwise attested.[8] An oft-cited example is Acts 20:35: "And remember the words
of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to rece
ive.""