The Original Testament (Torah) didn’t offer the term God as we know it. Instead, God had many, beautiful names, like Elohim, Jehovah, Eheyeh, El, Adonai, and Shaddai, to name the most important ones.
In Greek, Latin and English translations these inspiring names have been replaced by a solitary word: theos, deus, or God respectively. In my opinion, this has opened the Bible’s gate to populism. Why? Because the term God is a wildcard. It has no meaning. Anyone can fill the void, like sketching a sweet-tempered old man with a long white beard, or a jealous, angry, revengeful jerk. 😉
Of course, at the end of the day, God is ineffable, but those ancient names can give us a hunch in which direction we need to move in order to close in on His presence. Psychologically speaking, the images those names induce in our minds guide our associations.
Let’s follow spiritual whispers in the ancient air then, shall we? Elohim created the world in seven cosmic days. Elohim means Powers and has El as its root – the One Power with which creation was performed.
Together with Jehovah (literally, He-Exists), Elohim built the garden of Eden and populated it with living beings, including mankind.
Eheyeh is the name with which God revealed himself to Moses. It’s known as the I-Am, but its literal meaning is actually I-Will-Be adding the sense that despite whatever may happen, God will remain unchanged.
Adonai comes with associations like ruler or lord, but let’s use a more modern term: manager.
Last but not least, I want to introduce my favorite: Shaddai El Chai, meaning Allmighty-Life-Power – I’m always at the risk of grandiosity. 😀
Now, this is the picture I draw on my religious canvas: God is Existence – that which was, is, and will be. He is the eternal, unchanging reality behind the curtain of ever-changing manifestations. He created the world, animates it with his livingness and continues to manage it – God isn’t aloof.
I enhance my big picture of God every day. It may never be finished, but I don’t think it will ever get boring. What portrait would you sketch now?
Picture attribution: copyright/ kalomirael / 123RF Stock Photo