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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:||As a generalization, there are many traditions/stories in which the words are said to have a profound mystical impact. This can be manifested as tapping into mystical energy (e.g. the word "om" in yoga practice is believed to be very mystical). There's also a very strong tradition of using words and calligraphic writing to tap into mystical energy. I cannot comment specifically on the interpretation of John 1:1 since that really is a matter of Christian theology.|
|Reply From:||Elizabeth J Pyatt click here to access email|