Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Names(?!) of God

This article struck me odd on so many points. I don’t fault the author, he was merely relating the facts as they are currently promoted by Judaism. But I do want to comment on a few segments from that article.

Before I do though, I want to explain why I even went looking for such an article. Sometime between the printed copy of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) that I have in my library (copyright 1985) and the online version found here, (with cross-reference to here), the Jewish publishers decided to make some changes that seemed very wrong to me. The one that “stuck in my craw” was that my printed edition has no problem printing the word “God.” However, the online version changed it to “G-d.” I must admit, the first time I saw this, I thought they were abbreviating “god damn,” which was very offensive to me. Therefore, I performed an internet search for “G-d” and found the article in the first link.

Ok, so now lets get into the article. Under the heading “The Names of God,” the writer states: “I have often heard people refer to the Judeo-Christian God as "the nameless God" to contrast our God with the ancient pagan gods. I always found this odd, because Judaism clearly recognizes the existence of a Name for God; in fact, we have many Names for God.”
Indeed, the majority of religions claiming to be Christian have eliminated the name of God from their Bible, thus becoming the main contributors to the ignorance of the masses today regarding the fact that God does indeed have a name. Although later in the article, the writer argues against the English form of the Tetragrammaton rendered “Jehovah” and/or “Yahweh,” it was, nonetheless, in common usage for centuries, which the writer recognizes. I’ve proposed/argued before that now more than ever it is imperative that people know and differentiate the God of the Bible from false gods.

Continuing under the above heading, the fourth paragraph starts: “God is also known as El Shaddai. This Name is usually translated as ‘God Almighty,’” Again, that statement struck me as very odd. Both “god” and “almighty” are not names, they are titles. Just because God referred to himself using numerous titles, does not make it a name. A man named John can be “father, president, chief, chef” and numerous other titles and even be called by those titles as a sign of respect, but that doesn’t mean any of those titles are his name.

Under the heading “Writing the Name of God,” the author states: “It is worth noting that this prohibition against erasing or defacing Names of God applies only to Names that are written in some kind of permanent form. Orthodox rabbis have held that writing on a computer is not a permanent form, thus it is not a violation to type God's Name into a computer and then backspace over it or cut and paste it, or copy and delete files with God's Name in them. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form.”
I really don’t mean to be disrespectful, but quite honestly this made me laugh. The notion that printing something makes it permanent is ludicrous. Shredding paper has become so common today there are companies that make a profit from picking up and recycling paper that their business clients have shredded. Before the proliferation of office computers, white-out was commonly used. Point being, nothing is permanent, especially things manmade. And as far as backspacing on a computer to be something that current-day rabbis actually considered, well it reminds me of Jesus’ words about piling on rules but neglecting the more important matters. But coming back to the point about printing it. It is a good thing that Moses and the other ancients didn’t feel the way modern-day rabbis feel – we would have never known any specifics about God’s name. Yes, Moses both spoke and wrote God’s name and his titles, even as the author notes (under the heading “Pronouncing the Name of God”) “Nothing in the Torah prohibits a person from pronouncing the Name of God. Indeed, it is evident from scripture that God's Name was pronounced routinely.” (So why did the Jews stop using it and represent even the title “God” as “G-d,” it was due to the evolving oral tradition which began to supersede the original Word of God. See second paragraph under the “Pronouncing” heading.)

All things considered, I thought the writer of the article was very well spoken. I respect that he merely stated the facts of Jewish belief. I also have a deep respect for the origins, roots, foundations of Jewish beliefs as solidified in the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. Without the history of the Jews, Christians would have no history themselves. Although strictly speaking Judaism considers Jesus to be the worst false prophet to ever arise, still that Jesus was a Jew and that his lineage is preserved in the Bible, is enough for anyone who claims to be Christian to have some level of respect for them.

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