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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Language and the Divine|
|Question:||I am very interested in the way language has been associated wth divinities in different cultures (e.g. the Babylonian Nebo/Nabu, the Egyptian Thoth, the Greek Hermes, the Roman Mercury, the Hindu Saraswati/Vac, the Japanese Benzaiten, the Celtic Ceridwen and the Aztec Tezcatlipoca) and the idea of the word as sacred. In this connection, I have always been puzzled by John 1:1 in the New Testament ''In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God''. I realise it is subject to many interpretations but is there an underlying attempt to identify and equate God with language or is that a misunderstanding of the Greek term logos? Is language being seen as a manifestation of god and the link between god and humanity? (By way of comparison, for example, the Greek philosopher Proclus described Hermes as responsible for distinguishing and interpreting things and Mercury as filling all things with divine reasons and elevating souls to intellect; Porphyry described Mercury as presiding over rational energy.)|
|Reply:||In most cultures, particular words are vested with magic power. Personal names may be kept private. Some words may be disallowed. There may be a belief that you can curse someone, or that particular forms of words can get a god to do something for you. It's all part of humans wanting to be strong and powerful and have control and make gods in their own image. John 1.1 is (in part) a reminder of the first creation myth of Genesis, where God creates the world by speaking: "And God said, let there be light, and there was light." The gospel of John is a carefully crafted document that links the life and sayings of Jesus to big religious themes. (PS: readers may be shocked to discover that long long ago I did study some theology.....) Anthea|
|Reply From:||Anthea Fraser Gupta click here to access email|