Names of God
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Names of God, or Holy Names, describe a form of addressing God present in liturgy or prayer of various world religions. Prayer involving the Holy Name or the Name of God has become a part of both Western and Eastern spiritual practices. A number of traditions have lists of many names of God, many of which enumerate the various qualities of the Supreme Being.
The English word "God" is used by multiple religions as a noun or name to refer to different deities.
Ancient cognate equivalents for the word "God" include proto-Semitic el, Hebrew elohim (God or/of gods), Arabic 'ilah (a or the God), and Biblical Aramaic 'Elaha (God). The personal or proper name for God in many of these languages may either be distinguished from such attributes, or homonymic. For example, in Judaism the Holy Name is sometimes related to the ancient Hebrew ehyeh ( I will be). In Hinduism the term Brahman or Parabrahman is often used or it is also symbolized by the word Om (pronounced 'Oum'), while, in other cases, the proper name for a deity is given special significance as a true name of God or incorporated from earlier beliefs, as in the case of the Native American appellation Gitche Manitou.
Correlation between various theories and interpretation of the Name of God, used to signify a monotheistic or ultimate Supreme Being from which all other divine attributes derive, has been a subject of ecumenical discourse between Eastern and Western scholars for over two centuries. In Christian theology the word must be a personal and a proper name of God; hence it cannot be dismissed as mere metaphor. On the other hand, the names of God in a different tradition are sometimes referred to by symbols. The question whether divine names used by different religions are equivalent has been raised and analyzed. See also Taboos below.
Exchange of names held sacred between different religious traditions is typically limited. Other elements of religious practice may be shared, especially when communities of different faiths are living in close proximity (for example, the use of Om and Gayatri within the Indian Christian community) but usage of the names themselves mostly remain within the domain of a particular religion, or even may help define one's religious belief according to practice, as in the case of the recitation of names of God (such as the japa). The Divine Names, the classic treatise by Pseudo-Dionysius, defines the scope of traditional understandings in Western traditions such as Hellenic, Christian, Jewish and Islamic theology on the nature and significance of the names of God. Further historical lists such as The 72 Names of the Lord show parallels in the history and interpretation of the Name of God amongst Kabbalah, Christianity, and Hebrew scholarship in various parts of the Mediterranean world.
One definition of the Name of God was given by Elisha Mulford as "that name which passes into the common forms of thought". The author states that in its derivation, it may have an ethical significance. Other writers suggest that the "name of God represents the nature of God". The attitude as to the transmission of the Name in many cultures was surrounded by secrecy. In Judaism, the pronunciation of the Name of God has always been guarded with great care. It is believed that, in ancient times, the sages communicated the pronunciation only once every seven years; this system was challenged by more recent movements.
The nature of a holy name can be described as either personal or attributive. In many cultures it is often difficult to distinguish between the personal and the attributive names of God, the two divisions necessarily shading into each other.
According to the Bible, the name of God was used during the lifetime of Adam and Eve, but by the time Moses was born, the scriptures imply that none of mankind still knew the name. In the Book of Exodus, God commands Moses to tell the people that 'I AM' sent him, and this is revered as one of the most important names of God according to Mosaic tradition.
Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, " I AM who I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, YHWH (possibly "the One who is, was and will be"(and a 3rd person form of "I Am"i.e. "the One Who (Eternally) Is")) has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I Am, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.
— Exodus 3:13-15
According to Islam, the earliest mention of the name of God is found in the Koran sura 2, The Cow: "When your Lord said to the angels: 'I am placing on the earth one that shall rule as My deputy,' they replied: 'Will You put there one that will do evil and shed blood, when we have for so long sung Your praises and sanctified Your Name?"
In Exodus 6:3, when Moses first spoke with God, God said, 'I used to appear to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make myself known to them by My Name YHWH.' When Moses heard the name of God he realized that since he had a speech impediment as a result of what he called "uncircumcised lips" (Ex 6:12), he was unable to pronounce it accurately.
The Torah further describes the role of Aaron who acted as Moses' mouthpiece and conveyed the name of God distinctly to the Israelites (transcribed as ' YHWH' in Biblical Hebrew), and conveyed the name of God distinctly as 'YHWH' to the Israelites. The pronunciation of YHWH is described in Psalms 8.2 by the prophet who wrote, 'Thou hast made babes, infants at the breast sound aloud Thy praise.' Several thousands of years later commentaries additionally suggested that the true pronunciation of this name is composed entirely of vowels, such as the Greek Ιαουε, as they allow the creation of language, thus conveying the absolute infinite potential of God's character. However, this is put into question by the fact that vowels were only distinguished in the time-period by their very absence due to the lack of explicit vowels in the Hebrew script. The resulting substitute made from semivowels and glottals, known as the tetragrammaton, is considered the proper name of God in Judaism, and is not ordinarily permitted to pronounce it aloud, even in prayer. The prohibition on misuse (not use) of this name is the primary subject of the command not to take the name of the Lord in vain. See also Taboos below.
The Bahá'í scriptures often refer to God by various titles and attributes, such as Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Wise, Incomparable, Gracious, Helper, All-Glorious, and Omniscient. Baha'is believe the greatest of all the names of God is "All-Glorious" or Bahá in Arabic. Bahá is the root word of the following names and phrases: the greeting Alláh-u-Abhá (God is the All-Glorious), the invocation Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá (O Thou Glory of the Most Glorious), Bahá'u'lláh (The Glory of God), and Bahá'i (Follower of the All-Glorious). These are expressed in Arabic regardless of the language in use (see Bahá'í symbols). Apart from these names, God is addressed in the local language, for example Ishwar in Hindi, Dieux in French and Dios in Spanish. Bahá'ís believe Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, is the "complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God".
The authors of the New Testament took for granted the existence of the God of the Old Testament. They believed in Yahweh, "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," whom the Jews worshipped as the one true God.
The New Testament teaches that there is only one God
Following the Christian New Testament, God is referred to in slightly abbreviated form as the ' Alpha and Omega', the beginning and the end, literally and figuratively.
Another title of God is ho on (Greek: Ο Ων), often depicted in Orthodox iconography, literally meaning he who is or he who exists but usually translated as the living God or " I Am that I Am".
Regarding the Old Testament, the Israelite theonyms Elohim and Yahweh are mostly rendered as "God" and "the Lord" respectively, although in the Protestant tradition, the personal names Yahweh and Jehovah, based on the tetragrammaton, are also used. Jehovah appears in Tyndale's Bible, the King James Version, and other translations from that time period and later. Many translations of the Bible translate the tetragrammaton as LORD, following the Jewish practice of substituting the spoken Hebrew word 'Adonai' (translated as 'Lord') for YHWH when read aloud. Almost all Orthodox Jews avoid using either Yahweh or Jehovah altogether on the basis that the actual pronunciation of the 'tetragrammaton has been lost in antiquity. Many use the term HaShem (The Name) as a euphemism, or they use God or The Lord instead.
Jesus ( Iesus, Yeshua, Joshua (Yahshua), or Yehoshûa) (Arabic:يسوع, Yasū') is a Hebraic personal name meaning "Yahweh saves/helps/is salvation". Christ means "the anointed" in Greek (Greek text: Χριστός). Khristos is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah (Arabic:المسيح, al-Masih); while in English the old Anglo-Saxon Messiah-rendering hæland 'healer' was practically annihilated by the Latin Christ, some cognates such as heiland in Dutch and Afrikaans survive - also, in German, the word "Heiland" is sometimes used as reference to Jesus, e.g. in church chorals).
In Messianic Judaism, generally regarded as a form of Christianity, YHWH (pre-incarnate) and Yeshua (incarnate) are one and the same, the second Person, with the Father and Ruach haQodesh (the Holy Spirit) being the first and third Persons, respectively, of ha'Elohiym (the Godhead). YHWH is expressed as "haShem," which means 'the Name.'
Some Quakers often refer to God as The Light. Another term used is ' King of Kings' or 'Lord of Lords' and Lord of the Hosts. Other names used by Christians include Ancient of Days, Father/ Abba, 'Most High' and the Hebrew names Elohim, El-Shaddai, and Adonai. The name, "Abba/Father" is the most common term used for the creator within Christianity, because it was the name Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah) himself used to refer to God.
Jehovah's Witnesses use the name Jehovah for God the Father as this is a commonly used rendition of the personal name YHWH (Hebrew: יהוה) that God has revealed to humans through his written word the Holy Bible. Psalm 83:18 (Exodus 6:3, Isaiah 12:2 & 26:4) King James Version.
In Mormonism Father God's name is Elohim and Jesus name in his preincarnate state was Jehovah. The Book of Mormon ends with "to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the eternal Judge of both the quick and dead. Amen." Moroni 10.34
In the movement Imiaslavie ("name glorification") opposed by the Russian Orthodox Church, the name of God is God Himself and can be used to evoke miracles.
Shangdi 上帝 (pinyin shàng dì, literally 'King Above') is also used to refer to the Christian God in the Standard Chinese Union Version of the Bible. Korean Catholics and Korean Anglicans use a cognate of this name (sangje, which has largely fallen out of regular use in favour of the term cheon-ju/ Tian Zhu listed below; this usage was applicable only not using the vernacular haneunim, which was the traditional Korean name for the mythological God of Heaven, a primary, but not the only, Korean mythological deity; liberal-minded Korean Protestants also use haneunim, but not sangje, and conservative Korean Protestants do not use sangje or haneunim at all but instead use hananim, which implied the oneness of the Almighty distinct from the mythological implications they see in the term haneunim). Many Vietnamese Christians also use cognates of this name (expected to have a distribution in usage similar to Korean Christians, with Anglicans and Catholics using sangje in ritual/ceremonial contexts and Protestants not using it at all), to refer to the Biblical God.
Shen 神 (lit. God, spirit, or deity) was adopted by Protestant missionaries in China to refer to the Christian God. In this context it is usually rendered with a space, " 神", to demonstrate reverence.
Zhu, Tian Zhu 主,天主 (lit. Lord or Lord in Heaven) is translated from the English word, "Lord", which is a formal title of the Christian God in Mainland China's Christian churches. Korean Catholics also use the Korean cognate of this term, cheon-ju, as the primary reference to God in both ritual/ceremonial and vernacular (but mostly ritual/ceremonial) contexts.
The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, believe that God has only one name, Jehovah, and that he has many attributes, such as love, wisdom, justice, and power, which he uses to guide, defend or care for his people. In such cases it becomes necessary for him to take on various roles, i.e. Creator, Father, Sovereign Lord, Shepherd, Hearer of prayer, Judge, Grand Instructor, Repurchaser, Saviour, Avenger, Counsellor, etc.
In the case of Pharaoh, he was about to prove himself by taking up his role as ‘Deliverer’. When he destroyed Pharaoh and his host, he proved to be "Jehovah of armies". (2 Sam 6:2) Some of God’s servants accredit his deeds. For instance, Abraham found a ram caught in a thicket and subsequently offered it instead of Isaac. Abraham viewed this ram as Jehovah’s provision and therefore named the place Jehovah-jireh.(Gen.22:14) Moses built an altar and named it Jehovah nissi on account of God’s promise to annihilate the Amalekites. (Ex 17:15) These roles are often mistakenly referred to as 'names of God’, when really they are simply titles. See Psalms 83:18 Jesus too, took on various roles to accomplish his work while on earth. (Isaiah 61:1-4)
Besides these Arabic names, Muslims of non-Arab origins may also sometimes use other names in their own languages to God, such as Khoda in Persian language or the Ottoman anachronism Tanrı (originally the pre-Islamic Tengrianist Turks' celestial chief god, corresponding to the Ancient Turkic god Tengri). The use of the word "God" in English is also seen as acceptable to Muslims.
The term is used throughout the Qur'an in passages detailing the existence of God and of the beliefs of non-Muslims in other divinities. Notably, the first statement of the shahadah is "there is no ʾdeity but al-Lāh", "there is no god but Allah" (The Almighty God), which cancels out the possibility of other "gods" as it uses "the" referring to "One".
In Sufism Hu, Huwa or Parvardigar are used as names of God.
In the Hebrew scriptures the Jewish name of God is considered sacred and, out of deep respect for the name, religious Jews do not say the name of God and do not erase it if it is written. (See Exodus 20:7) The tetragrammaton (Hebrew: יהוה, English: YHVH) is the name for the group of four Hebrew letters which represent the name of God. The Tetragrammaton occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew text in the Biblia Hebraica and the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Neither vowels nor vowel points were used in ancient Hebrew writings.
Some claim the pronunciation of YHWH has been lost, while other authorities say it has not and that it is pronounced Yahweh. References, such as The New Encyclopædia Britannica, validate the above by offering additional specifics:
Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and claim that this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.
Clement of Alexandria transliterated the tetragrammaton as Ιαου. The above claims were founded upon the understanding that Clement of Alexandria had transliterated YHWH as Ιαουε in Greek, which is pronounced "Yahweh" in English. However, the final -e in the latter form has been shown as having been a later addition. For a more in-depth discussion of this, see the article Yahweh.
The original statement commonly translated "I AM" is Ehyeh (Hebrew: אהיה), from Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, " I Am that I Am (or will be, ongoing)" and is commonly given as a sacred name for God. Rabbinical interpreters and some scholars have asserted that Yahweh is an archaic third person form of hayah "to be", which is rendered Ehyeh when spoken by God in the first person; critics of this theory note that the proper triconsonantal root would seem to be h-w-h.
Instead of pronouncing YHWH during prayer, Jews say Adonai ("Lord"). Halakha requires that secondary rules be placed around the primary law, to reduce the chance that the main law will be broken. As such, it is common religious practice to restrict the use of the word Adonai to prayer only. In conversation, many Jewish people, even when not speaking Hebrew, will call God "Hashem", השם, which is Hebrew for "the Name" (this appears in Leviticus 24:11).
A common title of God in the Hebrew Bible is Elohim (Hebrew: אלהים); as opposed to other titles of God in Judaism, this name also describes gods of other religions, angels, or even humans of great importance (John 10:34-36). The root Eloah אלה is a feminine noun, meaning goddess, also used in poetry and late prose (e.g. the Book of Job) and ending with the masculine plural suffix "-im" ים creating a word that indicates a plurality of both masculine and feminine essences yet in a singular identity.
The Hebrew name of God - El: The word El comes from a root word meaning - might, strength, power. Sometimes referring to God and sometimes the mighty when used to refer to the true god of Israel, El is almost always qualified by additional words that further define the meaning that distinguises Him from false gods.
Most religious Jews forbid discarding holy objects, including any document with a name of God written on it. Once written, the name must be preserved indefinitely. This leads to several noteworthy practices:
- Commonplace materials are written with an intentionally abbreviated form of the name. For instance, a Jewish letter-writer may substitute "G-d" for the name God. (Note that not all Jews agree that non-Hebrew words like God are covered under the prohibition.)
- Since the Divine presence (or possibly an appearance of God) can supposedly be called simply by pronouncing His true name correctly, substitute names are used.
- Copies of the Torah are, like most scriptures, heavily used during worship services, and will eventually become worn out. Since they may not be disposed of in any way, including by burning, they are removed, traditionally to the synagogue attic. See genizah. There they remain until they are buried.
- All religious texts that include the name of God are buried. See also Taboos below.
A prof. John Mbiti has compiled a list of indigenous names which have been used for God by various peoples of Africa, for example:
- Abaluyia (Kenya): Wele, Nyasaye, Nabongo, Khakaba, Isaywa
- Acholi (Uganda): Juok Or Jok, Lubanga
- Adjuru (Côte d'Ivoire): Nyam
- Afusare (Nigeria): Daxunum
- Akamba (Kenya): Mulungu, Ngai, Mumbi, Mwatuangi, Asa
- Akan (Ghana): Nyame, Nana Nyankopon, Onyame, Amowia, Amosu, Amaomee, Totorobonsu, Brekyirihunuade, Abommubuwafre, Nyaamanekose, Tetekwaframua, Nana, Borebore
- Alur (Uganda, Congo Dr): Jok, Jok Rubanga, Jok Nyakaswiya, Jok Odudu, Jok Adranga, Jok Atar
- Amaxhosa (South Africa) : uThixo (God - Christian)
- Amba (Uganda): Nyakara
- Ambo (Zambia): Lesa, Cuta
- Ankore (Uganda): Ruhanga, Nyamuhanga, Omuhangi, Rugaba, Kazooba, Mukameiguru, Kazooba Nyamuhanga
- Anuak (Sudan): Juok
- Arusha (Tanzania): Engai
- Basa (Nigeria): Agwatana
- Basoga (Uganda): Kibumba, Kiduma, Kyaka, Nambubi, Lubanga
- Basuto (Lesotho): Molimo
- Bavenda (South Africa): Raluvhimba, Mwari
- Baya (Central African Republic): So, Zambi
- Beir (Sudan): Tummu
- Dungi (Nigeria): Kasiri, Kashira
- Duruma (Kenya): Mulungu
- Ebrié (Côte d'Ivoire): Nyangka
- Edo State (Nigeria): Osanobua, Osa
- Efik mythology (Nigeria): Abasi, Obong
- Egede, Enugu (Nigeria): Ohe
- Ekoi mythology (Cameroon, Nigeria): Osawa, Nsi
- Elgeyo people (Kenya): Asis
- Embu (Kenya): Ngai
- Chukwu (or Chi-Ukwu) (Nigeria): Igbo
- Obatala, Olodumare (Nigeria): Yoruba
Hindu Literature mention that there are 330 million Devas and 660 million Asuras. There are sects of Hindus who worship a particular deity for several generations. Thus, to that sect, the name of their God could come from any one of those 330 million.
Some sects of Hinduism also identify a Supreme Godhead and use multiple names to refer to this personality.
Within Hinduism, there are a number of names of God which are generally in Sanskrit, each supported by a different tradition within the religion. Brahma, Indra, Bhagavan, Ishvara, and Paramatman are among the most commonly used terms for God in the scriptures of Hinduism. But it is also literally referred "that which is sounded out loudly". But actually it means "The lord who is the creator, caretaker and destroyer of everything ".
- Adi Purush (ādi-puruṣ) means "Timeless Being", "Primordial Lord", "First Person".
- Bhagavan (Bhagwan or Bhagwaan) means "God" or "The one who has the six celestial powers" (Those powers are thereby "knowledge or wisdom,wealth,beauty,stoicism, supremacy and to be eternal)
- Brahma (Brahmā).
- Ishvara (īśvar) means "Cosmic Controller" or "Lord".
- Maheshvar (mahā-īśhvar) means "Great Lord", used as an attribute of god Shiva within Shaivism traditions.
- Para Brahman (para-brahma), an ineffable entity, best translated as "The Absolute Truth", Supreme Brahman, or Supreme Cosmic Spirit.
- Paramatman (parama-ātman) means "Supreme Soul" or "The One Absolute Divine Soul"
- Parameshwara (parama-īśvara) means "Supreme Lord".
- Vishnu is seen as Para Brahman within Vaishnava traditions, and the Vishnu Sahasranama enumerates 1000 names of Vishnu, each name eulogizing one of His countless great attributes. The names of Vishnu's Dasavatara in particular are considered divine names.
- Krishna (Kṛṣṇa)(meaning: who cuts the bond of a soul from worldly relation and diverting it to the supreme soul) is associated with Vishnu and certain Vaishnava traditions also regard Him as Para Brahman and Svayam Bhagavan (svayambhagavān) or the Lord Himself. In Krishna-centered schools of Vaishnavism, which includes the Nimbarka, Vallabha and Caitanya schools, Krishna is held as the Supreme Personality of Godhead based on the descriptions of Him within the Bhagavata Purana and Mahabharata, with particular reference to the Bhagavad-Gita.
- Rama (Rāma) is associated with Vishnu and is especially venerated in bhakti literature, such as that of Kabir and Ravidas, and more recently in the writings of Mohandas Gandhi.
A Sahasranama sahasranāma, literally "a thousand names") is a type of Hindu scripture in which a deity is referred to by 1,000 or more different names. Sahasranama are classified as stotras, or hymns of praise, a type of devotional scripture. There are Sahasranama for Ganesha, Lalita, Rama, Shiva and Vishnu. There are also many shorter stotras which have only 108 names.
There are multiple names for God in Sikhism. Some of the popular names for God in Sikhism are:
- Waheguru, meaning Wonderful Teacher bringing light to remove darkness, this name is considered the greatest among Sikhs, and it is known as "Gurmantar", the Guru's Word.Waheguru is the only way to meet god in Sikhism.
- Ek Onkar, ek meaning "one", emphasizes the singularity of God. It is the beginning of the Sikh Mool Mantra.
- Satnam meaning True Name, some are of the opinion that this is a name for God in itself, others believe that this is an adjective used to describe the "Gurmantar", Waheguru (See below)
- Nirankar, meaning formless One
- Akal Purakh, meaning timeless One
God according to Guru Nanak is beyond full comprehension by humans; has endless number of virtues; takes on innumerable forms, but is formless; and can be called by an infinite number of names thus "Your Names are so many, and Your Forms are endless. No one can tell how many Glorious Virtues You have."
Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
According to Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, the accurate name of the one God is Shiva or Shiva Baba. Shiva means benefactor and Baba means father, normally just called "Baba" for short. Shiva does not have the same meaning in Hinduism.
In the Japanese shinshūkyō Happy Science, God is known as "El Cantare".
In Tenrikyo, God is referred to as Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, Tsukihi or Oya.
Ahura Mazda "Lord Wisdom" is the name of the supreme benevolent god in Zoroastrianism.
The 101 Names of God ( Middle Persian: صد و یک نام خدا Sad u yak nam-i khoda) is a list of names of Ahura Mazda. The list is preserved in Persian and Gujarati. Parsi tradition expanded this to a list of "1001 names of God".
Several religions have taboos related to names of their God. In some cases, the name may never be spoken, only spoken by inner-circle initiates, or only spoken at prescribed moments during certain rituals. In other cases, the name may be never freely spoken, but when written, more limited taboos apply. To avoid saying names of God, they are often modified, such as by clipping and substitution of phonetically similar words.
The earliest mention of the name of God is found in the Koran sura 2, The Cow: "When your Lord said to the angels: 'I am placing on the earth one that shall rule as My deputy,' they replied: 'Will You put there one that will do evil and shed blood, when we have for so long sung Your praises and sanctified Your Name?'. During the lifetime of Adam and Eve, the record from the Bible indicates that the name of God was used, but by the time Moses was born the scriptures show that none of mankind still knew the Name. Perhaps an argument could be made that this knowledge was lost at the time of Noah, when only he and his relatives survived the flood. When Moses first spoke with God and asked His Name, God said, 'I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not let myself be known by My Name.' When Moses heard the name of God he realized that since he had a speech impediment as a result of a harelip, he was unable to pronounce it accurately. He was able to say 'Allah' and that was the name conveyed to Pharaoh and the Egyptians and the name Allah was referenced from that point in time till today. Further details in the Torah describe the role of Aaron who acted as Moses' mouthpiece and conveyed the Name of God distinctly as 'YHWH' to the Israelites. The pronunciation of YHWH is described in Psalms 8.2 by the prophet who wrote, 'Thou hast made babes, infants at the breast sound aloud Thy praise." In what is commonly referred to as the 'New Testament' God is referred to by a slightly abbreviated form as the 'Alpha and Omega', the beginning and the end, literally and figuratively. This name constitutes the First Commandment and embodied in the rest of the Ten Commandments is the rest of the alphabet as revealed by God to Moses and Aaron, ultimately replacing for the first time the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. At the completion of Solomon's Temple the name of God was made unlawful; its public use was punishable by death by the Jews living at the time. 'Allah' was the only name which remained commonly preserved and has continued to be used throughout the Middle East. In the New Testament the reference is Matthew 21.16.
It is common to regard the written name of one's God as deserving of respect; it ought not, for instance, be stepped upon or dirtied, or made common slang in such a way as to show disrespect. It may be permissible to burn the written name when there is no longer a use for it.
- In Christianity, God's name may not "be used in vain" (see the Ten Commandments), which is commonly interpreted to mean that it is wrong to curse while making reference to God (ex. "Oh my God!" as an expression of frustration or anger). Another natural interpretation of this passage is in relation to oath taking, where the command is to hold true to those commands made 'in God's name'. (The idea that Christians should hold to their word is reinforced by certain statements by Jesus in the Gospels.)
- Different Christian cultures have different views on the appropriateness of naming people after God. English-speaking Christians, Evangelicals and Catholics alike; generally would not name a son "Jesus", but " Jesús" is a common Catholic Spanish first name. Spanish-speaking evangelicals share this idea with English-speaking Christians. This taboo does not apply to more indirect names and titles like Emmanuel or Salvador. The word "Christian" is sometimes used as a first name, and is currently the name of about 1 out of every 1500 males in the United States.
- Perhaps because of taboos on the use of the name of God and religious figures like Mary, mother of Jesus, these names are used in profanity (a clear case is Quebec French profanity, based mostly on Catholic concepts). More pious swearers try to substitute the blasphemy against holy names with minced oaths like Jeez! instead of Jesus!, or Judas Priest! instead of Jesus Christ!
Literature and fiction
- Names of God in Old English poetry
- Aigonz is the word for God in the lingua ignota of Hildegard of Bingen.
- Eru Ilúvatar (also Ëu), a name of the one, God in Quenya, a fictional language invented by J. R. R. Tolkien, a professor of linguistics. It means "The One, All-father". Notably, the creation of the universe is named Eä, (all that) Is, from the proclamation "Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be!", a probable reference to Ehyeh by the devoutly Catholic Tolkien.
- " The Nine Billion Names of God", a short story by Arthur C. Clarke.
- Maleldil is the name of God (or, more accurately, of the allegorical character associated with Jesus) in Old Solar, the true language in the Space Trilogy books by C. S. Lewis. In The Chronicles of Narnia series, Aslan is similarly associated with Jesus as a lion in a fictional other world.
- In the movie Pi, the characters are looking for the true name of god, which is 216 letters long.
- In the movie Warlock the main character seeks out the pages of the Grand Grimoire which can be commanded to reveal the true lost name of God. If it can be spoken backwards, the universe will end. Viewers are shown the letters forming, but not the actual word, and the Warlock does not get beyond pronouncing the first (last) syllable before he is killed.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana nearly gets killed trying to spell the name of God (Jehovah) in an ancient word puzzle. He had stepped on "J" and nearly fell to his death, then remembered that in Latin Jehovah begins with an "I".