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Posts tagged ‘Greek’

Knowing old sayings to understand the Bible

When we do read the Bible we may never forget that we do have to do with an old culture. In the Old times they had a totally different way to express themselves. We should keep that in our mind when we go through those 66 old books which form all together the Holy Scripturesor Bible like we de have it today.

English: Hebrew Bible, Jer. 27

English: Hebrew Bible, Jer. 27 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the years, several translations tried to bring the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek writings back into contemporary language. But because language is a living thing, also that translation became older and had other words and ways of saying than in later years.

This was long thought to be the only portrait ...

This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life, until another possible life portrait, the Cobbe portrait, was revealed in 2009. The portrait is known as the ‘Chandos portrait’ after a previous owner, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. It was the first portrait to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1856. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Shakespeare’s time (16-17th Century) when they used the word “bully” they did not mean some one who acted like or was like a bull, but they meant a  “homosexual”. When we speak of a bully today we do think about something else.
When you would read an older text and presume that the man spoken of is a cruel oppressor of the weak, you probably have the opposite impression than the soft man who wants to share his love with an other man. So people should think about all different things than a ruffian hired to beat or intimidate anyone.

In Dutch we also can find the word ‘gijzelaar’, which was until the previous century the person who “gijzelde”. The suffix “-aar” confirms the action wich is mentioned before (in this case ‘gijzel’) ‘Gijzelen’ means taking hostage or to kidnap. A second meaning is also to imprison for contempt or to commit to prison for contempt. Hold hostage. The “aar” means that it is a person who holds hostage.

The last few years words like gijzelhouder and ‘gijzelnemer” were introduced. The “gijzelhouder” being also the kidnapper, hijacker, skyjacker.

In the 21st century several television stations were using “gijzelnemer”, literally translated “hostage taker” for the person who was taking somebody hostage. But for the one taken hostage they started using “gijzelaar”. Reading a newspaper in the 1960ies would use “gegijzelde” for the one taken hostage by the “gijzelaar” (hostagetaker). Today it means for many younger people just the opposite of what the older Dutch speaking generation understands by it.

In the English language you also shall be able to find such changes. If someone today was to read about a building being described as “awesome” in older English they might not understand that the building is being described as terrible.

Sometimes imposing a later meaning on the same word used earlier can result in a distortion of the actual meaning. The same change in a word’s meaning happens in the Bible too (it was written over the course of thousands of years).

Next time when you read a Bible and encounter ways of saying remember also the ways of thinking of the people of that time.

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Dutch more elaborate version: Oude spreekwijzen kennen om de Bijbel te begrijpen

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  1. Another way looking at a language #1 New Year, Books and Words
  2. Another way looking at a language #2 Meanings
  3. Another way looking at a language #4 Ancient times
  4. Another way looking at a language #5 Aramic, Hebrew and Greek
  5. The Importance Of Scripture

    Lots of  people do laugh at those who enjoy reading the old Books of Books, the Bible. Of all those books the last series bring the world Glad Tidings.

  6. The importance of Reading the Scriptures
    We can find many letters on papers or on the screen, but the words shall have to get meaning. There have been many writers, but those who were in the hands of God and wrote down the Words of God, can bring us the most important words to go through life in the best way.

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  • Bible Translation – The Necessity of Translation (mindrenewers.com)
    People speak different languages, so translation is necessary.  That’s entirely logical.  But since this series is on Bibliology, a theology of Scripture, we start with what God Himself has said.  Then, we can apply logic as appropriate.
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    It is the Word of God, not human logic, skilled oratory, or clever presentations, that penetrates the heart and turns a soul to the Saviour, as we see in Hebrews
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    The Great Commission doesn’t mention the need to teach Biblical languages to the lost as a precursor to giving the Gospel.  The Philippian jailer wasn’t told to learn Hebrew when he asked how to be saved.  Knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is not a prerequisite for salvation.  The Holy Spirit didn’t give all believers the gift of tongues (as we saw above), nor was evangelism the primary purpose for which the gift was given, anyway (I Corinthians 14:21-22).
  • Lutherans Latest to Reject New NIV Bible Over Gender Language (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
    The updated NIV Bible has gained another critic: the Lutheran  Church-Missouri Synod. In a recent report, a panel of Lutherans cautioned  against use of the new NIV over gender-related issues.

    “The use of inclusive language in NIV 2011 creates the potential for  minimizing the particularity of biblical revelation and, more seriously, at  times undermines the saving revelation of Christ as the promised Savior of  humankind,” the Commission on Theology and Church Relations Executive Staff  stated in an August report.

  • Notable Sayings About the Bible by Great Leaders. What Has Happened? (promisebook.net)
    What has happened to the teachings of godly, Bible-based principles that were once taught to the children, and present in the family?
  • Using the Bible to Meet with God (paulburkhart.wordpress.com)
    When it comes to the Bible, we should start thinking more in verbs, not nouns. The Bible is “simply” a meeting place for God and his people, where he might meet them as he desires, by His Spirit.
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    Let the text inside of you and just ruminate in your heart. Try to “translate” the text into images, rather than words. Reflect on the text; maybe even journal your thoughts. Put yourself in the story in your mind–imagine how all five of your sense would be engaging in this moment. Spread your focus as equally as you can on the mind, emotions, and will.
  • The Hebrew Bible as Background to the Gospels (gaudetetheology.wordpress.com)
    The primary “background” for the Gospels is the Hebrew Bible. Anyone who approaches the Gospels without a knowledge of the history and culture of the Hebrew Bible will not appreciate fully the claims made by the Gospels.
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    Background to the Gospels.
    in order to understand the gospels, it is also important to place it in a biblical context. Christians reading the Gospels tend to bracket out world history, imagining the stories something like an epic Hollywood production from the 1950s.
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    The Jewish backgrounds of the New Testament have been historically downplayed by Christian scholars until very recently.

  • Before the KJB: The Coverdale Bible (manifoldgreatness.wordpress.com)
    The Coverdale Bible is much rarer than the first printing of the 1611 King James Bible and is known to be 3 or 4 times rarer than the First Folio of Shakespeare. University of Dayton Libraries is excited to present this rare and magnificent book.
  • Reading Scripture Publicly (gentlereformation.org)
    One of the most underestimated and neglected portions of Christian worship services is the reading of God’s Word.  In many places it has simply been set aside, replaced with other activities such as music and drama.  Where the reading of Scripture is still practiced, people struggle devoting attention to it on both sides of the pulpit.

Hellenistic influences

The early days of Christianity

2.1. Hellenistic influences

An ingenious and learned school, formed at Alexandria, had contrived, by a system of allegorical interpretation, to infuse Platonism into the Old Testament, the school at Jerusalem had been growing increasingly rigid, and interdicted any such daring exegesis.

In the first centuries of our current calendar the influence of the Greek culture in the Roman Realm was still noticeable and guarded Greece its cultural inheritance one of the most important universities of the Roman Realm which stood in Athens.

At the Athenian schools also Christians, like Prohæresios, the sophist, were found under its members.

Sophists (sophistēs, meaning “wise-ist, one who does wisdom,” and σοφός, sophós means “wise man”) were a category of traveling teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. As itinerant intellectuals they taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others which could be of good use for the youngsters to be able to have their say in the official meetings or ekklèsia (Ecclesia)

Many sophists’ questioned the existence and roles of traditional deities and investigated into the nature of the heavens and the earth, which prompted a popular reaction against them. The attacks of some of their followers against Socrates prompted a vigorous condemnation from his followers, including Plato the most famous student of Socrates, and Xenophon. The sophists became considered greedy instructors who used rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. according to some the sophist was not concerned with truth and justice, but instead looked for power.

File:PopesixtusII.jpg

The martyrdom of Saint (Pope) Sixtus II and his deacons. Martyre de saint Sixte II et de ses diacres. Cote: Français 185 , Fol. 96v . Vies de saints, France, Paris – 14th century. – Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs

Sixtus II, or Xystos, who suffered martyrdom in Rome about 258 C.T., also may have studied in Athens and is called “the son of an Athenian philosopher”. But the most noted men who frequented the schools here were Basil from Kæsareia, and Gregory from Nazianzos, about the middle of the fourth century. These schools of philosophy kept paganism alive for four centuries, but by the fifth century the ancient religion of Elevsis and Athens had practically succumbed. In the Council of Nikæa there was present a bishop from Athens. In 529 the schools of philosophy were closed. From that date Christianity had no rival in Athens.[1]

Jesus clearly taught that Jehovah is “the only true God” and that the human soul is mortal. (John 17:3; Matthew 10:28) Yet, with the death of the apostles and the weakening of the organizational structure, such clear teachings were corrupted as pagan doctrines infiltrated Christianity.

A key factor was the subtle influence of Greek philosophy. Explains The New Encyclopædia Britannica: “From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.” Once philosophically minded persons became Christians, it did not take long for Greek philosophy and “Christianity” to become inseparably linked.
As a result of this union, pagan doctrines such as the Trinity and the immortality of the soul seeped into tainted Christianity. These teachings, however, go back much farther than the Greek philosophers. The Greeks actually acquired them from older cultures, for there is evidence of such teachings in ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions. As pagan doctrines continued to infiltrate Christianity, other Scriptural teachings were also distorted or abandoned.

File:HermesTrismegistusCauc.jpg

Hermes Trismegistus

The question how the Son was related to the Father (Himself acknowledged on all hands to be the one Supreme Deity), gave rise, between the years 60 and 200 C.T. to a number of Theosophic systems, called generally Gnosticism, and having for their authors Basilides, Valentinus, apologist and ascetic Tatian the Syrian or the Assyrian , writer of the Diatessaron (a  prominent Gospel harmony) and other Greek speculators.[2] According to some, it was through Gnosticism that pagan influences slipped into Christian worship. Gnosticism, they assert, served somewhat as a bridge between paganism and Christianity.[3] The Gnostic systems revealed more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Kabbalah, which includes the tracts named Sefer Yetzirah, The Zohar, Pardes Rimonim, and Eitz Chaim, seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.
The Hellenistic main source is the Corpus Hermeticum or the Hermetic Corpus, a collection of texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which became again of importance in the New Age. Therein astrology and other occult sciences and spiritual renewal are addressed. Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

Alexandria was full of Jews, the literary as well as commercial centre of the East, and the connecting link between the East and the West. There the largest libraries were collected; there the Jewish mind came into close contact with the Greek, and the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. There Philo wrote, while Christ taught in Jerusalem and Galilee, and his works were destined to exert a great influence on Christian exegesis through the Alexandrian fathers.

During the fourth century Egypt was going to give to the church the Arian heresy, the Athanasian orthodoxy, and the monastic piety of St. Antony and St. Pachomius, which spread with irresistible force over Christendom.

The theological literature of Egypt was chiefly Greek. Most of the early manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures — including probably the invaluable Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. — were written in Alexandria. But already in the second century the Scriptures were translated into the vernacular language, in three different dialects. What remains of these versions is of considerable weight in ascertaining the earliest text of the Greek Testament.

To the Jews, that were the mostly receptive for Hellenic influences, belonged the priests. For many of them meant the accepting of the Hellenism a manner to have Judaism going with its time.

While many Jews accepted the Hellenism, a new group calling themselves Hasidim or Chassidim — devout people (literally “loving kindness”, diverted of the Hebrew חסידות (chassidoet), meaning “piety”) — encouraged people to keep stricter obedience to the Law of Moses. The first group of Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans (the Anglicized form, derived through the Greek asidaioi, of the Hebrew Hasidim, “the pious”, men endowed with grace (Psalm 39:5; 148:14)), were an ancient Jewish sect that developed between 300 B.C.E. and 175 B.C.E. They were the most rigid adherents of Judaism in contradistinction to those Jews who were beginning to be affected by Hellenistic influences. The Hasidim led the resistance to the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria, and they figured largely in the early phases of the revolt of the Maccabees or Machabees, Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C.E. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. Their ritual strictness has caused some to see them as forerunners of the Pharisees. Throughout the Talmudic period numerous figures were referred to as Hasidim. [4]

The Hellenization of the Jews in the pre-Hasmonean period was not universally resisted. Generally, the Jews accepted foreign rule when they were only required to pay tribute, and otherwise allowed to govern themselves internally. Nevertheless, Jews were divided between those favoring Hellenization and those opposing it, and were divided over allegiance to the Ptolemies or Seleucids. When the High Priest Simon II died in 175 BCE, conflict broke out between supporters of his son Onias III (who opposed Hellenization, and favored the Ptolemies) and his son Jason (who favored Hellenization, and favored the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with priests such as Menelaus bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest. He established an arena for public games close by the Temple. (Ginzberg, Lewis. “The Tobiads and Oniads.”. Retrieved 2007-01-23. Jewish Encyclopedia.) Author Lee I. Levine notes, “The ‘piece de resistance’ of Judaean Hellenization, and the most dramatic of all these developments, occurred in 175 BCE, when the high priest Jason converted Jerusalem into a Greek polis replete with gymnasium and ephebeion (2 Maccabees 4). Whether this step represents the culmination of a 150-year process of Hellenization within Jerusalem in general, or whether it was only the initiative of a small coterie of Jerusalem priests with no wider ramifications, has been debated for decades.” (Levine, Lee I. Judaism and Hellenism in antiquity: conflict or confluence? Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. pp. 38–45. Via “The Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism.”)

The ordinary people were disgusted by the Hellenised priests and chose more and more party for the Chassidim. There broke a period of martyrdom when Jews in the whole country were forced to go along or to settle with pagan happenings and offerings or to die.[5]

A gold multiple of “Unconquered Constantine” with Sol Invictus, struck in 313. The use of Sol’s image appealed to both the educated citizens of Gaul, who would recognize in it Apollo’s patronage of Augustus and the arts; and to Christians, who found solar monotheism less objectionable than the traditional pagan pantheon

Constantine (C., Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was during the decline period of the Roman Realm the Big Emperor (306–337 C. T.) and tried to merge Christianity with particular pagan customs and doctrines. He undertook the first steps to make this merger religion as the official state religion. Accordingly Greece became a part of Christendom. He moved the capital of the realm of Rome to Byzantium, which he named in honour of himself Constantinople.

In 321 C. T. Constantine ordained that the Sunday (Lat.: dies Solis, an old title that was connected with astrology and sun worshipping, not Sabbatum [Sabbath] or dies Domini [day of the Lord]) would be a day of rest for everybody, except for the farmers. Constantine moreover placed Sunday under the protection of the State. Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun as the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas.

The winged sun was an ancient (3rd millennium BC) symbol of Horus, later identified with Ra

Belief in the old polytheism had been shaken; in more stolid natures, as Roman Emperor Diocletian, it showed its strength only in the form of superstition, magic, and divination. Probably many of the more noble-minded recognized the truth contained in Judaism and Christianity, but believed that they could appropriate it without being obliged on that account to renounce the beauty of other worships. Such a man was the Emperor Alexander Severus; another thus minded was Aurelian, whose opinions were confirmed by Christians like Paul of Samosata. Not only Gnostics and other heretics, but Christians who considered themselves faithful, held in a measure to the worship of the sun. Constantine cherished this mistaken belief.[6]


[1] Christian Athens, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[2] Arianism., Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[3] Notion and characteristics, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[4] In the 18th Century Eastern Europethis movement would be taken up again for the third time by Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer (1698-1760) also known asIsrael Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism.

[5] S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1962); S. G. Kramer, God and Man in the Sefer Hasidim (1966); A. L. Lowenkopf, The Hasidim (1973).

[6] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

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Some Jews are known to have engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration in order to join the dominant cultural practice of socializing naked in the gymnasium, where their circumcisionwould have been a social stigma.

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Previous: The early days of Christianity 1.2. Considered as a danger 1.2.2. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit

Next: The early days of Christianity 2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

  • contemplative political philosophy (acourseaboutnothing.wordpress.com)
    Contemplation has always been at the heart of liberal education.  Contemplation was known as practice, the practice of political philosophy.  All who had intimations of Socrates’ presence and purpose knew it.  Contemplation was (and is) an activity of mind-body.  Athletics (what the Greeks called gymnastics) was no less education than music and the performing arts.  Together these formed an organic whole in the image of a human creature.
  • Local Deities? Mystery Cults and Osiris and Isis. Soul and Spirit. (jamesbradfordpate.wordpress.com)
    Koester says that “The old Greek religion was a religion of city gods”, in which gods were the patrons of cities.  He says on pages 164-165 that “None of these cults would ever claim to be a world religion since the belief that deities were bound to particular holy places was still very much alive.”  But Koester narrates that people moved around and economics, politics, and science became increasingly universal, and so people were becoming dissatisfied with local deities.
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    In Christianity, Jesus dies and rises again, whereas it is not said in the myth of Osiris that Osiris was resurrected, but Osiris after his death goes to the realm of the dead to rule, while his son takes charge of this world.
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    Koester makes interesting points about the goddess Isis.  For one, he says that the woman in Revelation 12 resembles Isis, which stood out to me, as one who was raised in a denomination that tried to disassociate from the “pagan” elements of the “world’s” Christianity.  Second, according to Koester on page 189, Isis in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses 11.5.1-3 is treated as the “one and only god” and “ruler of the the universe” (Koester’s words).  As I look at the passage itself, there seems to be therein an acknowledgement that other gods exist, but there’s also an affirmation that Isis is “The single form that fuses all gods and goddesses” (the passage’s words).
  • Baptism of Pagan Practices (bythepen.me)
    Mount Carmel was previously a pagan site. In the Old Testament, we see that it was there that Yahwhey and Elijah took on Jezebel and the priests of Baal. Anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists eat this up, of course, but in reality, history has unfolded with Our Lord as the victor. This is just one of the several instances where that ancient serpent has been “crushed by the heel of Our Lady” – one of Christ’s most powerful tools.
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    there were bound to have been some parallels of Christian truth among pre-Christian beliefs and rituals. The early Christians were well aware of this and sometimes used it to their advantage in order to convert the pagans. In fact, St. Paul does this very thing in the Acts of the Apostles. I think of Paul as the father of the interpolation tactic described there. Unlike the Twelve, he was well educated in Hellenistic as well as Jewish law and religion, which is why I believe Christ chose him with a special purpose as “Apostle to the Gentiles”. He was a huckleberry who knew his stuff and how to use it to reach them.
  • Ancient Hellenistic Harbor Discovered in Acre, Israel – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
    An ancient harbor where warships may have docked 2,300 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in the Israeli port city of Acre.The harbor, the largest and most important found in Israel from the Hellenistic period, was uncovered during archaeological excavations carried out as part of a seawall conservation project, the Israel Antiquities Authority said today. Among the finds were large mooring stones incorporated in the quay and used to secure sailing vessels, the IAA said.
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    The excavation will continue in those sections of the harbor that extend in the direction of the sea, the IAA said. The archaeologists will try to clarify if there is a connection between the destruction of the harbor and the Hasmonean uprising in 167 B.C., the destruction wrought by Ptolemy in 312 B.C. or some other event.
  • We owe a cock to Asclepius (ins2ition.wordpress.com)
    SO were the final, last Words said by Socrates.
    No one could help by then, Even Hippocrates.
    if YOU’VE said it once you’ve said One thousand times.
    I Don’t only say it because that line rhymes.
  • Live as the world wishes you to and accept all events: Stoic Philosophy (by Devin) (lvv4ublyth.wordpress.com)
    Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno in early 3rd century, it was originally taught by him at the Stoa Poikile. Another famous stoic is Marcus Aurelius, a famous roman emperor. The discipline of Stoicism teaches self-control as a means of defeating destructive emotions, which they believed were caused by errors in judgment and would not be felt by a true sage. Stoicism became the foremost philosophy among the leaders of Hellenistic and Roman society.
  • Pherecydes of Leros [Pherecydes of Athens] (vonfaustus.blogspot.com)
    Dionysus leading the Horae.
    [Day of Saturn + Hour of Mercury]
    Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell
    O Bacchic [Bakkheios] Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysius [Dionysos], parent of the vine,
    And of celestial Venus [Aphrodite] Paphian queen, dark eye-lash’d Goddess of a lovely mien:

Pluralis Majestatis in the Holy Scriptures

Pluralis Majestatis in the Holy Scriptures.

Marcus Ampe

“And God (elohim – plural of deities) said, Let US (plural) make man in OUR (plural) image, after OUR (plural) likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26 (KJV)

Some would say that it was evidently to His only-begotten Son and the one “whom all things have been created through Him” that Jehovah spoke to when saying, “Let us make man in our image.”-(Ge 1:26) And since Jehovah is the one primarily responsible for all this creative work, that is why it is ascribed to Him.

In the Holy Scriptures plus the Torah, considered as the Word of God and the Koran God often refers to Himself using the word ‘We’. But this does not mean that Jews, Muslims and all the Christians believes in the existence of more than one God.

The King James Version of the Holy Bible inten...

The King James Version of the Holy Bible 1611

In both Arabic and Hebrew, there are two types of ‘we’. One is the plural pronoun used by English speaking countries (such as “we rode in the car together,” “we all come from the same country”…etc.). The second is the plural of respect.

In English I (the speaker/writer) is a first person pronoun, you (the listener/reader) is a second person pronoun, and he/she/it are third person pronoun. First and third person pronouns also have a plural form: we (first person plural) and they (third person plural), whereas you is both the singular and plural form. The form of the verb has to agree with person. For example, I am, you are, he is, we are they are. For regular verbs all forms are the same except in the third person singular present tense which takes -s (e.g. she laughs, it works) – this is agreement or concord.

Words often have alternative expressions for the same thing (‘car’ and ‘auto’), and a given word can carry different senses (‘river bank’ vs. ‘savings bank’) or function as different parts of speech (‘to steal’—verb; ‘a steal’—noun). Because languages naturally adapt to their situations of use and also reflect the social identities of their speakers, linguistic variation is inevitable and natural. [1](1)

English persons think mostly in the plural form when they hear “we”. Plural means “more than one.” English handles these things more simply than many languages. And they often seem to forget that when they read a translation from an other language or from a writing from an other culture. They also forget that they have similar plural forms they should use. In some noun phrases, the “head noun” gets the plural, even if it’s not at the end of the noun phrase: mothers in law, attorneys general, courts martial. (Such forms may be disappearing, but they’re still preferred.)

According the Wikipedia and other encyclopedias is We is the nominative case of the first-person plural pronoun in English.

== Etymology ==]] from Old English, which was pronounced something like way in modern English. It is related to Frisian wy, Dutch wij, German wir, and Danish vi.

Other Indo-European languages that have cognates with English we include Hittite, which has wês, and Sanskrit, which has vayam.

The Latin nos represents the enclitic form of the pronoun, which is preserved in English us.

The personal pronouns I and we are said to be in the first person. The speaker uses this in the singular to refer to himself or herself; in the plural, to speak of a group of people including the speaker, but is also used when the speaker is in a higher function speaking about himself in his function. It is used to refer to the speaker together with other people regarded in the same category: “nobody knows kids better than we teachers do”. “people in general: “we should eat as varied and well-balanced a diet as possible”.

To this day, if an English speaking person were to go to any Arabic speaking country and to read any official letter directed to a dignitary or high official (or even a newspaper), or to attend an official speech, they will find that the dignitary is always addressed as “they” and “them” and “you” (plural “you”). So, when addressing an ambassador, King, or leader of a nation for example, this ONE person is always addressed as “THEY have arrived,” not “HE has arrived.” Or “I gave THEM the sealed letter,” not “I gave HIM the sealed letter.” So we must ask, if “we,” implies a “Trinity,” then is this king or this dignitary also a “triune” dignitary? Is he three persons merged into one? The same argument applies when this Arabic-speaking dignitary refers to himself in a public speech. In such a case, he will almost always refer to himself as “We.” For example, he will say: “We, the leader of this great nation…” and so forth. Dr. Jamal Badawi once observed that since the Queen of England refers to herself in the plural form then is she too a “Trinity”?

The plural use is simply the nature of the Arabic language. This is how an Arab displays respect and humility. Even when speaking of one’s wife, a Muslim in many Arab countries usually does not mention her by name. Neither does he say “she” or “her” but rather “they” and “them.” This is also a form of respect for our wives, mothers and sisters. This is why we find that in the over one billion Muslims all over the world, even the simple Muslim shepherd in the desert does not pray to a “Trinity.” Because they know their language.

This system is not restricted to the Arabs alone. The Arabs are a Semitic tribe, and their Semitic cousins, the Jews, also use the same system to refer to God. In the Old Testament, the Jews refer to God as “Elohiym” Elohim {el-o-heem}. “Elohiym” is the plural form of “’elowahh” {el-o’-ah}, which means “god.” We will notice that the Jews also do not pray to a “Trinity,” even though their book refers to God in the plural form. This is the way the Semitic languages of Arabic and Hebrew work.

In the Eerdmans Bible Dictionary we read the following explanation of the word “Elohiym”:

“As a name or designation of the God of Israel, the term is understood as a plural of majesty or an intensive plural, indicating the fullness of the supreme (or only) God … the canonical intent is clearly monotheistic, even where the accompanying verbs or adjectives are grammatically plural (e.g. Ge20:13, Ex 22:9 [Mt 8])”

Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, edited by Allen C. Myers, William B. Eerdmans Publishers, p. 331

The exact same system is also used in the Urdu language of Pakistan and India, as well as to a more limited degree in the French language. For example, a French king might be addressed as follows: « La présence de votre majesty est un honneur pour notre ville, vous avez apporte avec vous le bonheure. » In French we sometimes also find the person not put in plural but the verb. This gives for example in French the first person plural form “Je parlons”. In the sixteenth century this was common usage. [2](4)

Now that we see the true meaning of the Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, and French use of the word “We” in reference to God Almighty we should take the Words of God when He says “we” as the acceptable way of speaking by the Most Highest. Also for us it is the most respectful way to hear Him talk as the Only One Creator of everything, the most Devine.

Used in formal contexts for or by a royal person, or by a writer or editor, to refer to himself or herself: in this section we discuss the reasons. We call it an editorial we when editorial columnists in newspapers and similar commentators in other media refer to themselves as we when giving their opinions. Here, the writer has once more cast himself or herself in the role of spokesman: either for the media institution who employs him, or more generally on behalf of the party or body of citizens who agree with the commentary.

Popes used the we as part of their formal speech up until recent times. John Paul I was the first to dispense with this practice, instead using the singular I. John Paul II continued to use the singular.

In historical writings we do find a lot of examples of the use of the plural form to indicate only one person. This second person “we” for a singular person is also called the royal weor ‘royal plural’ (Pluralis Majestatis) and is the first-person plural pronoun when used by an important personage to refer to himself or herself. or the “Victorian ‘we’” because it has usually been restricted to august personages such as monarchs, bishops, popes, and university rectors.

The idea behind thepluralis majestatis is that a monarch or other high official always speaks for his or her people. For example, the Basic Law of the Sultanate of Oman opens thus:

On the Issue of the Basic Law of the State We, Qaboos bin Said, Sultan of Oman… [3]

In the English language, the Queen of England refers to herself as ‘We’ instead of ‘I’.
Used in certain formal contexts by bishops and university rectors, though the person himself or someone talking about such one person uses “we” as Pluralis majestatis (“majestic plural”)refers to one person alone. There is no intention at all to indicate to more than one person.

Today in many countries and in different languages this is still an ordinary form of speech and in writing used by several persons. Monarch still say “We, the king of … (Belgians).” Or in speeches we find“As Minister of state we …” then it does not mean that there are different ministers or different or more then one king. Teachers still often say “we think” or use “we” for the school or institution. (In Afrikaans, Dutch and Flemish the plural form is used by a higher person.)

“It’s I,” which, though “right” — traditionalists will tell you it is in the nominative case, and that a copulative verb requires the same case in the subject and the predicate — is too stilted for all but the most formal situations. “It’s me” sounds a thousand times more natural. If you like being the sort of person who says “It’s I,” that’s fine, but know that most of your audience, including most of the educated part of your audience, will find it out of place. When something would be affirmed or accentuated more often you shall find that the person is going to say: “ It is we …”, though it is only him that is saying something. Nobody shall think it would be more than one person saying something.

Some languages, in particular the Austronesian languages, Dravidian languages, and many others such as Taiwanese and Mandarin have a distinction in grammatical person between inclusive we, which includes the person being spoken to in the group that is included in we, e.g.:

·We can all go to the zoo today.

This contrasts with exclusive we, which excludes the person being spoken to, e.g.:

·We mean to stop your evil plans!

English does not draw this distinction in its grammar. In terms of pronoun usage, most Native American languages are far more specific than Indo-European languages, regardless of the languages’ families. Cherokee, for instance, distinguishes between four forms of “we.” These are: “you and I (inclusive dual)”; “another and I (exclusive dual)”; “others and I (exclusive plural)”; and “you, another or others, and I” (inclusive plural). Fijian goes even further with six words for “we,” with three size categories—dual, small group (three or four people), and large group—and separate inclusive and exclusive forms for each size category.

Similar to the editorial we is the practice common in academics of referring to a generic third person by we (instead of the more common one or the informal you):

By adding three and five, we obtain eight.

“We” in this sense often refers to “the reader and the author”, since the author often assumes that the reader knows certain principles or previous theorems for the sake of brevity (or, if not, the reader is prompted to look them up), for example, so that the author does not need to explicitly write out every step of a mathematical proof.

Famous examples of purported instances:

·We are not amused. — Queen Victoria (in at least one account of this quotation, though, she was not speaking for herself alone, but for the ladies of the court.)

·The abdication statement of Nicholas II of Russia uses the pluralis majestatis liberally.

·We are a grandmother. — Margaret Thatcher announcing the birth of Mark Thatcher’s son Michael in 1989.

·In January 1996 Hillary Clinton became the first US First Lady to be subpoenaed to appear before a criminal grand jury, in connection with the Whitewater affair; objecting to the release of documents, she said “I’m not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers – we are the President.”

Another view of the form is that it reflects the fact that when a monarch speaks he or she speak both in their own name and in the name of their function, office or status.

United States Navy Admiral Hyman G. Rickover told a subordinate who used the royal we: “Three groups are permitted that usage: pregnant women, royalty, and schizophrenics. Which one are you?” This was said as the subordinate was speaking for superiors without authority as well as in an unofficial capacity.

It is to be distinguished from pluralis modestiae, also pluralis auctoris (inclusion of readers or listeners). For instance:

Let us calculate! — Leibniz

We are thus led also to a definition of “time” in physics. — Albert Einstein

In some Romance languages including Spanish and Catalan, the word for “we” (from Latin nos) is supplemented by the word for “others” (nosotros and nosaltres “we-others” — similarly in the Quebec French locution nous autres).

Written and formal spoken French retains “nous,” but in colloquial French, “nous” is almost entirely replaced by the third person singular pronoun on (“one”). Verbs are conjugated to the third person singular. The direct and indirect object form is nous, and the possessive is notre/nos, but the reflexive form is that of on (se; e.g. On se calme vs. Ils nous agacent).

The oblique case of we in English is us; the genitive case is our, and the possessive predicate adjective is ours. [4]

Prescriptivists follow the tradition of the classical grammars of Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, which aimed to preserve earlier forms of those languages so that readers in subsequent generations could understand sacred texts and historical documents. [5]

Descriptivists would point out that English has made no distinction between the adjective and adverb forms of ‘fast’ for over five hundred years, but prescriptivists are not concerned about that. As to “They don’t have none’ or ‘any,’’ descriptivists would observe both forms in common use, thereby demonstrating their grammaticality. Descriptivists might also note that different social groups favor one expression or the other in conversation, while only the latter appears in published writing. Prescriptivists have argued that such “double negatives” violate logic, where two negatives make a positive; thus, according to this logic, “They don’t have none” should mean “They do have some” (which, descriptivists note, it clearly does not mean). On logical grounds, then, prescriptivists would condemn “They don’t have none,” while descriptivists would emphasize the conventional character of ways in which meaning is expressed. (1)

‘y’all’ is frequently heard in the American South and ‘yous’ among working-class northeastern urban residents of the United States, as well as elsewhere in the English-speaking world. In those communities, a distinct word for plural you has proven useful. (Most prescriptivists would condemn ‘yous’ because it is an innovation, disregarding the argument that distinct singular and plural forms are desirable.) As to ‘between you and me’ and ‘between you and I,’, descriptivists would note that both are used by educated speakers, though the latter seldom appears in edited writing. Prescriptivists would argue that, despite educated usage, pronouns should have objective forms after prepositions (“Give it to me/us/them”); thus, only “between you and me” is correct. [6]

Similar we find for They the English third person nominative plural personal pronoun. Them is the accusative form sometimes the use to indicate only one person. The singular they is a special case of that pronoun where they is used as a gender-neutral singular rather than the plural, although this use is disputed. (See also: English personal pronouns). [7]

Elohim, a plural name of the Hebrew deity Yahweh.

This use of the plural form we do find as well in the a common name of God in the Hebrew Bible:Elohim (Hebrew: אלהים). Elohim (אֱלוֹהִים , אלהים) expresses high dignity or greatness: comp. the similar use of plurals of “ba’al” (master) and “adon” (lord). In Ethiopic, Amlak (“lords”) is the common name for God. concepts of divinity. It is apparently related to the Hebrew word ēl, though morphologically it consists of the Hebrew word Eloah (אלוה) with a plural suffix. Elohim is the third word in the Hebrew text of Genesis and occurs frequently throughout the Hebrew Bible.

Elohim has plural morphological form in Hebrew, but it is used with singular verbs and adjectives in the Hebrew text when the particular meaning of the God of Israel (a singular deity) is traditionally understood. Thus the very first words of the Bible are breshit bara Elohim, where bara ברא is a verb inflected as third person singular masculine perfect. If Elohim were an ordinary plural word, then the plural verb form bar’u בראו would have been used in this sentence instead. Such plural grammatical forms are in fact found in cases where Elohim has semantically plural reference (not referring to the God of Israel). [8]

In most English translations of the Bible (e.g. the King James Version), the letter G in “god” is capitalized in cases where Elohim refers to the God of Israel, but there is no distinction between upper and lower case in the Hebrew text.

Its exact significance is often disputed. The “we” who created is denoting a singular person, Thé One God. Despite the -im ending common to many plural nouns in Hebrew, the word Elohim, when referring to God is grammatically singular, and takes a singular verb in the Hebrew Bible. The word is identical to the usual plural of el meaning a god or magistrate, and is cognate to the ‘lhm found in Ugaritic, where it is used for the pantheon of Canaanite Gods, the children of El and conventionally vocalized as “Elohim” although the original Ugaritic vowels are unknown. When the Hebrew Bible uses elohim not in reference to God, it is plural (for example, Exodus 20:3). There are a few other such uses in Hebrew, for example Behemoth. In Modern Hebrew, the singular word ba’alim (“owner”) looks plural, but likewise takes a singular verb.

Another popular explanation comes from the interpretation El means power; and so Elohim is the plural construct-powers. Hebrew grammar allows for this form to mean “He is the Power (singular) over powers (plural)”, as the word Ba’alim above, means owner. He is lord (singular) even over any of those things that he owns that are lordly (plural).

Other scholars interpret the -im ending as an expression of majesty (pluralis majestatis) or excellence (pluralis excellentiae), expressing high dignity or greatness: compare with the similar use of plurals of ba‘al (master) and adon (lord).

While the words El, Elohim, and eloah are clearly related, with the word El being the stem, some have claimed it is uncertain whether the word Elohim is derived from El through eloah. These have suggested that the word Elohim is the masculine plural of a feminine noun, used as a singular. This would imply indeterminacy in both number and gender from Canaanite texts in Ugarit, this is what appears to be intended in this case. However, to many this is speculative and confusing, although consistent with many other Jewish and Christian views of the nature of the Godhead. [9]

In the Pentateuch the name elohim connotes a general concept of God; that is, it portrays God as the transcendent being, the creator of the universe.

In appearance, Yahweh or Yahaweh prologued to ya(h)wa(h), ya(h)wa(h)y, or the like [10] /Jehovah is the third person singular imperfect “kal” of the verb “to be”, meaning, therefore, “He is,” or “He will be,” or, perhaps, “He lives,” the root idea of the word being, probably, “to blow,” “to breathe,” and hence, “to live.” With this explanation agrees the meaning of the name given in Ex. 3:14, where God is represented as speaking, and hence as using the first person—“I am”, from, the later equivalent of the archaic stem. The meaning would, therefore, be “He who is self-existing, self-sufficient,” or, more concretely, “He who lives,” the abstract conception of pure existence being foreign to Hebrew thought. There is no doubt that the idea of life was intimately connected with the name Yahweh from early times. He is the living God, as contrasted with the lifeless gods of the heathen, and He is the source and author of life (comp. 1Ki 18.; Isa. 41: 26-29, 44: 6-20; Jer 10:. 10, 14; Gen 2:. 7; etc.). So familiar is this conception of God to the Hebrew mind that it appears in the common formula of an oath, “ai Yhwh” (= “as Yahweh lives”; Ruth 3:13; 1Sa. 14: 45; etc.). [11]

The One and Only One “Who is who He is”, the “I am who I am” (Ex 3:14) is “a God; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God… .” (Ex 6:7 ASV) “”I am ADONAI your God.” (Ex 20:2 CJB) He is the Holy one. ( Le 19:2) the God of gods. ( (De 10:17) “The Only One God” (NB) (Ex 29:46; 2Sa 22:32)) Yahweh/Jehovah our Father (Isa 9:6; 64:8; Jo 14:28) the God of Israël who is holy (Re 4:8)and sanctifies us (Ge 35:10;Le 11:45; Ex 4:22; 31:13; Le 20:8; 21:8, 23; 22:9) Thé One (Le 18:5). “Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, which they hallow unto me, and that they profane not my holy name: I am Jehovah.” (Le 22:2 ASV) We should not profane Jehovah’s holy name (Ex 20:7) in the things they are sanctifying to the Lord of Lords because He only can say. “I am Jehovah.” (Ex 6:3; 9:16; 20:7 Mt 12:21; Php 2:9) “31 “And YOU must keep my commandments and do them. I am Jehovah. 32 And YOU must not profane my holy name, and I must be sanctified in the midst of the sons of Israel. I am Jehovah who is sanctifying YOU, 33 the One bringing YOU out of the land of Egypt to prove myself God to YOU. I am Jehovah.” (Le 22:31-33) or “I am the only One who sanctifies you” (NB) or “we are the only One who sanctify you” Yahweh/Adonai Jehovah, the Lord your God. “I, Thé One am God over you” (NB) (Le 23:22) He the only one is our God (Le 26:1; Jer 10:10).the King of Kings (Ps 22:28; 33:12; Isa 66:10; Ezr 7:12; Zc 6:11; Na 1:2; 1Co 10:26) who makes the best laws (Ps 19:7; Isa 33:22; Ac 21:14)“See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; And there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” (De 32:39 ASV) He of whom is said “we created the earth” is “The We who are” “See now that I, [even] I [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand.” (De 32:39 Webster) “39 SEE now that I—I am he And there are no gods together with me. I put to death, and I make alive. I have severely wounded, and I—I will heal, And there is no one snatching out of my hand. “ (NWT) “Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, Jehovah, the first, and with the last, I am he.” (Isa 41:4 ASV) “…“I, Jehovah, the First One; and with the last ones I am the same.” (NWT) (Isa 44:6; Re 22:13)

Jehovah was the One who created everything. (Ge 1:1; Pr 12:1; Re 4:11) Out of respect for the one who gives us everything we should be aware that he is the most righteous person to use the majestic plural form. Jehovah is the Highest of all high placed persons. He is more than any V.I.P. (Ps 83:18; Da 4:17; Lu 1:32; 6:35) The Royal we is what is due to Him. As such it is also used in Genesis. As well as in the Torah as in the Koran we are told who is the Only One to receive full honour because nobody can be like Him. (Ex 20:5; Nu 25:11; Na 1:2; 1Co 8:4)

“Say: He is Allah the One (and only). Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He neither begets nor was he begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.” [ Qur’an, al-Ikhlas(112).] (1Co 8:4; Eze 31:8)

“Allah! There is no God but Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedes with Him save by His leave? He knows that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what He will. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.” [Qur’an, Al-Bakarah(2):255] (Ge 17:1; 25:23;1Sa 1:3; Isa 40:18; Col 1:18; Ps 150:2)

“Your God is One God; there is no God save Him, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” [Qur’an, Al-Bakarah(2)163.]

“Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. He has revealed unto you (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. Aforetime, for a guidance to mankind; and has revealed the Criterion (one of the names of the Koran). Verily! those who disbelieve the revelations of Allah, theirs will be a heavy doom. Allah is Mighty, Able to Requite (the wrong). Verily! nothing in the earth or in the heavens is hidden from Allah. He it is who fashions you in the wombs as pleases Him. There is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise..” [ Qur’an, A’al-Umran(3):2-6] (Ge 21:33; De 33:27; Ps 9:7; 46:1; 111:10; 119:89, 160; Isa 26:4; Jer 10:10; Ex 15:18; Isa 24:23)

“Allah (Himself) is witness that there is no God save Him. And the angels and the men of learning (too are witness). Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise. Verily! religion with Allah (is) ‘Al-Islam’ (the surrender). Those who (formerly) received the Scripture differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves. Whoso disbelieves the revelations of Allah (will find that) Verily! Allah is swift at reckoning. And if they argue with you, (O Muhammad), say: I have surrendered my purpose to Allah and (so have) those who follow me. And say unto those who have received the Scripture and those who read not: Have you (too) surrendered? If they surrender, then truly they are rightly guided, and if they turn away, then it is your duty only to convey the message (unto them). And Allah is Seer of (His) bondmen.” [Qur’an, A’al-Umran(3):18-20.]

The plural “we” is a from of surrender. It is the most respectful way of the Highest Person speaking. The Lord of Lords has to be honoured and receive reverence. His Words may come to us as the Words of the King of Kings, He that may reign over everything, and call Himself We Jehovah God of gods.


[1]Edward Finegan, professor of linguistics and law at the University of Southern California. He is author of Language: Its Structure and Use, 4th ed. (Thomson Wadsworth, 2004) and Attitudes toward English Usage (Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1980) and co-editor (with John R. Rickford) of Language in the USA (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

[2] The First Person Plural Form: Je Parlons
Alexander Hull
The French Review, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Dec., 1988), pp. 242-247

[5] Edward Finegan

[6] Edward Finegan

[10]G. R. Driver

[11]Jewish Encyclopedia

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