Linguistic Cynicism

Just for the record: My use of Oester and Odin as symbols are a matter of semantic choice; it’s grammar in the sense of usage — what’s familiar to the broadest portion of the reading audience. One of the few times I might recommend Wikipedia, you should look up Odin and Oester if you need a summary of the original historical myths. It’s not a matter of real learning, but those links will give an idea how much there is to know.

Oester as a mythological figure arises from ancient roots where she is goddess of the dawn. Modern Western culture has almost zero awareness of that. Instead, we have the medical term “oestrogen” as proof that the name is associated to that which is quintessentially female. I have seen some oddball New Age feminist stuff that names Oester as the patron goddess of the modern feminist mythology, something totally different from her original identity. Of course, the modern feminist mythology arises from the sour and sad Germanic tribal mythology about what constitutes “normal,” that women are inherently at conflict with their men.

The same goes for Odin. Look him up on Wikipedia and you’ll get a decent review of the scholarship. It’s too complex to summarize here, so that should serve as a warning that it’s murky in the first place. The name is associated with a wide variety of differing local mythologies, sometimes even conflicting, across the numerous Germanic tribes. However, most Westerners associate his name with the comic book version. Would it surprise you that the comic book version dominates public school education texts? I’ve seen his name referenced by Red Pill/Men’s Movement guys as their patron saint. Thus, I use them in the sense familiar to most ignorant Westerners. That’s because the mythological deities aren’t really the point of the discussion; they are mere symbols.

Also, given the vast difference between how Westerners organize their thinking in the first place, versus almost every other culture, it’s very difficult for us to be sure some ancient references to any number of mythological figures wasn’t mere lyricism. Scripture does that, but most Western Christians get bent out of shape when you tell them that. In other words, it’s not meant to teach mere cerebral knowledge, but to draw your awareness into another place in your soul.

It’s no different from the proper name we use for God. First of all, you have to understand that an awful lot of names in the Bible are not proper personal names; they are titles. Even when the English translation says “in the name of…” it’s a reference to the titled position and authority, not necessarily the individual person. Keep in mind: English as a language takes broad liberties with words it has stolen from other languages; most of modern English is not actually English. And a great many traditions of usage today were established by translation scholars with a distinct social and political agenda. That happens quite often in Bible translation. The nearest we come to God’s actual personal name, as revealed to Moses (Exodus 3:13-15) is popularly written as Yahweh. Like most Hebrew words, it was meant to convey a vast range of associations that the word itself could not contain.

But because of some stubborn obsolete habits of translation, it often shows up in the Bible text as “the Lord.” It has to do with some crazy idea that actually saying God’s name too casually would get you into trouble with God, so we insert some titled euphemism. But that’s not the Ancient Hebrew way; that’s a Jewish way. Not the same thing. To be precise, “Jewish” is Hellenized and legalistic, a departure from the mystical Ancient Hebrew outlook. And I’ve written often how that same legalism crept into Western Church tradition, so that even the act of translating Scripture tends to be corrupt before it even starts.

At any rate, in modern English usage, you can use the form Jehovah for the divine proper name. Adonai is a title, as as El and all the various titles combined with El. It’s also trendy to use Yahweh. But none of this really matters if He’s not actually the God you serve as your ultimate loyalty.

About Ed Hurst

Avid cyclist, Disabled Veteran, Bible History teacher, and wannabe writer; retired.
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1 Response to Linguistic Cynicism

  1. Pingback: Heathen Religious Wars | Do What's Right

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