Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Alogians, or Alogi
Alogians, or Alogi (from ἀ privative and Λόγος, deniers of the Logos, or at least of the strongest witness for the Logos; not from ἄλογοι, unreasonable), a heretical sect of disputed existence in the latter half of 2nd cent. (c. 170). Epiphanius invented the term (Haeres. 1. I, adv. Al. c. 3), to characterize their rejection of the Divine Word preached by John (ἐπεὶ οὖν τὸν Λόγον οὐ δέχονται τὸν παρὰ Ἰωάννου κεκηρυγμένον, Ἄλογοι κληθήσονται). He traces their origin to Theodotus of Byzantium (Haer. liv. c. 1). According to his representation they denied, in ardent opposition to the Gnosticism of Cerinthus on the one hand, and to the Montanists on the other, that Jesus Christ was the eternal Logos, as taught in John i. 1‒14.; and rejected the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse as productions of Cerinthus. Heinichen supposes that the Alogi rejected only the Apocalypse and not the Fourth Gospel; but this is directly contradicted by Epiphanius (l. c. 3; cf. Haer. l. iv. 1). That they attributed these books to Cerinthus, the Docetist and enemy of St. John, shows their utter want of critical judgment. They tried to refute the Gospel of St. John by the Synoptic Gospels, but with very poor arguments. In opposition to the Montanists, they also denied the continuance of the spiritual gifts in the church. It is not clear from Epiphanius whether the Alogi rejected only St. John's doctrines of the Logos, or also the divinity of Christ in any form. He calls them in his violent way (l. c. 3) ἀλλότριοι παντάπασιν τοῦ κηρύγματος τῆς ἀληθείας; and says of their heresy (Haer. liv. c. 1) that it denied the Gospel of St. John and the God-Word taught therein (τὸν ἐν αὐτῷ ἐν ἀρχῆ ὄντα θεὸν λόγον). Yet he clearly distinguishes them from the Ebionites; and their opposition to Cerinthus implies that they believed in the real humanity of Christ. Dorner (Hist. of Christology, i. p. 503, German ed.) thinks it probable that they allowed no distinctions in the Godhead, and thought that the divinity of the Father dwelt in the man Jesus. But this would identify them with the Patripassians. Lardner (Works, iv. 190, viii. 627) doubts the existence of this sect, because of the absence of other data, and the tendency of Epiphanius to multiply and exaggerate heresies. But the testimony of Epiphanius is essentially sustained by Irenaeus, who mentions persons who rejected both the Gospel of St. John and the prophetic Spirit (simul et evangelium et propheticum repellunt Spiritum: adv. Haer. iii. c. ii. § 9).
Epiphanius, Haer. 50, and esp. 54; M. Merkel, Historisch-kritische Aufklärung der Streitigkeit der Aloger über die Apokalypsis (Frankf. and Leipz. 1782); F. A. Heinichen, de Alogis, Theodotianis atque Artemonitis (Leipz. 1829); Neander, Kirchengesch. i. ii. pp. 906, 1003; Dorner, op. cit. vol. ii. pp. 500‒503; Harnack, Literatur, ii. 1; Zahn, Neutest. Kanon. i. 220, ii. 967.
- This, it may be remarked, is an argument against the criticism of the Tübingen school, which would bring the composition of the Gospel of St. John down to the middle of the 2nd cent.; for Cerinthus was a contemporary of the apostle. Had the Alogi had any idea of the recent origin of St. John, they would have made much account of it.