Thursday, November 09, 2006

Names of God: Proper

Definition of God's proper names by Herman Bavinck.

"Definition of God's proper names:
When we speak of God's names in the more limited sense of that term (i.e., in distinction form his attributes), we understand thereby those appellatives which designate God and by means of which we address him as an independent, personal being. Such names are found in every language. Though in himself God is without name, nevertheless, we must be able to designate him, and we can do this in no other way than by means of the use of names. "For unless you know the name, your knowledge of the objects which it indicates will perish."

Generic Names: theos, daimon, kyrios, God, Asura, Ahura

Formerly the Greek word theos was held to be dreived from tithenai, theein, theasthai. At present some philologists connect it with Zeus, Dios, Jupiter, Deus, Diana, Juno, Dio, Dieu. So interpreted it would be identical with the Sanskrit "deva," the shining heaven, from "div," to shine. Others, however deny all etymological connection between the Greek theos and the Latin Deus and connect the former with the root thes in thessasthai to desire, to invoke. In many languages the words heaven and God are used synonymously: the oldest Grecian deity Uranus was probably identical with the Sanskrit Varuna; the Tartar and Turkish word "Taengri" and the Chinese word "Thian" mean both heaven and God; and also in Scripture the words heaven and God are sometimes used interchangeably; e.g., in the expression "kingdom of heaven" or "kingdom of God."

Another Greek word daimon is dreived from daio meaning: he who determines one's destiny.

The words kyrios from kyros characterizes God as the Mighty One, Lord, Owner, Ruler.

Our word "God" is of uncertain origin. Attempts have been made to prove its derivation from the word "good"; from the Avestan "khoda": "independent in existence"; from the Sanskrit "gudha" or "gutha," keutho, which would designate God as the "Hidden One," or from the root "ghu," Sanskrit "hu," meaning to invoke, so that God would be the One to whom invocations are made; or from a root kodo, kosmos to which the meaning: to arrange, to order, has been given; or from the Aryan "cuddhas," pure, good, etc., but all these derivations are uncertain.

The Indian "Asura" and the Persian "Ahura" designate God as the Living One."

[Bavinck, Herman The Doctrine of God Translated by William Hendricksen. Pp. 98-99 The Banner of Truth Trust copyright 2003]

I will quote more in the days to come as a meditation on the names of God.

No comments: