Friday, February 17, 2006
The Nine Billion Names of God
In the comments section attached to the recent article "Josh the Baptist calls Christian's God false," Saint Josh tells us that God has but one Name, and that we darn well should use it when we talk to Him or about Him, or else He'll get ticked off.
The Christian site CharacterBuildingforFamilies.com lists 603 names that are acceptable unto God, most of which are English phrases that represent some Aspect or Trait of God. Examples include "Buckler to all those that trust in him," "Creator of the ends of the earth," and "King of Heaven." Why are these Names acceptable to Christians but "Great Architect of the Universe" isn't?
The same webpage also lists another dozen or so "Name of God" variations on the Names El and Yahweh, which is translated into Greek as Jehovah.
Lambert Dolphin presents an excellent webpage listing Old and New Testment Names for God. These names include El, Elohim, El Shaddai, Adonai, Jehovah, Jehovah-Jirah, Jehovah-Rophe, Jehovah-Nissi, Jehovah M'Kaddesh, and Jehovah-Shalom. Other Names of God used in the Old Testament include Shepherd (in Psalms, Genesis, and Isaiah), Judge (Isaiah), Jehovah-Elohim, Jehovah-Tsidkenu, Jehovah-Rohi, Jehovah-Shammah, Jehovah-Sabaoth, El Elyon, Abhir, Branch, Kadosh, Shaphat, El Roi, Kanna, Palet, Yeshu, Gaol, Magen, Stone, Eyaluth, Tsaddiq, El-Olam, El-Berith, El-Gibhor, Zur, Attiq Yomin, Melekh, Father, First and Last.
In the New Testament we find many Names, mostly translated into Greek, that are attributed to Jesus and/or God, such as Kurios, Despotes, Theos, I Am, Theotes, Hupsistos, Soter, and Logos.
The Name Jesus, as most people know, is the Greek translation for Joshua, which itself is actually Yeshua, sometimes written Y'shua. Originally it meant "Jehovah is Salvation." If you google a bit further, you can find devout Christians who have worked themselves into a frenzy, tirading against the use of the Name "Jesus," saying that It is a false Name, and that the Son of God, Savior of the World should properly and reverently only be referred to as Yeshua, the name He went by on earth. The folks at EvangelicalOutreach.org argue against this point, saying Jesus is the only name of God. According to their website, the "call Jesus Yeshua" movement are "Yeshua people... spreading amazing lies, fabrications and misinformation about the name that makes demons shudder and brings salvation and therefore they need to be corrected and opposed."
One of the earliest used Names for the Hebrew God, El, is interestingly enough also the root word origin of another now-common Name for God, Allah. I'm sure many Christians would argue that Jehovah and Allah aren't really the same God, but I digress.
Dolphin tells us that other New Testament titles for Jesus include Shepherd of the Sheep; Master; King of kings; Lord of lords; Bishop and Guardian of our Souls; Daystar, Deliverer, Advocate, Last (or Second) Adam, Ancient of Days, Branch, Chief Cornerstone, Immanuel, First Born, Head of the Body, Physician, Rock, Root of Jesse, Stone, Potentate; Chief Apostle; Great High Priest; Pioneer and Perfecter of our Faith (or Author and Finisher); Lamb of God; Lamb Slain before the Foundation of the World; Lord God Almighty.
It's nice to see that thoughtful Christians have looked into this matter... it's refreshing to know that not all Christians are literalists who don't have to end everything they write with a shouted "for the living God!" A well-presented, scholarly discourse on the Names of God from a Hebrew-Christian perspective can be found at Hebrews4Christians.com. Another good reference is Bible.org's article The Names of God.
You may also wish to wade through Nathan Stone's The Names of God, a 1944 scholarly treatise on the God-Names El, Adonai and Jehovah. Or just google the phrase "names of God."
But for a really quick, easy and quite enjoyable five-minute online read, check out Arthur C. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God.
Names of God | God | Arthur C. Clarke