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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

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
Date: 12-Nov-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Language and the Divine    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (12-Nov-2012)
  2. Re: Language and the Divine    James L Fidelholtz     (12-Nov-2012)
  3. Re: Language and the Divine    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (14-Nov-2012)

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