What language does God speak?

By  Julia Liu, Wren McMillan, Ann Rayburn

This is a genuine question.

For all we know, God most probably speaks a language. Or rather, language holds an incredibly role in the Bible as well as the Old Testament narratives.

In Genesis, God created the world by commanding. He said, “let there be light”. And there was light. It was God’s words that made the world. In the Old Testament narrative, the tradition of commanding is continued. “The creator of angels, the giver of life, commanded light to come forth over the spacious abyss. The high king’s order was quickly fulfilled; for them there was a holy light over the void, as the maker commanded” (11). In addition, God “created the name ‘night’” (13), and lifted up the earth “by his own word” (13). From there, he commanded waters to be gathered and commanded oceans to be united (13). The world was created by God’s commands. Aside from having a huge impact on the world, God’s language also has a huge impact on all the beings he rules, since we all have to listen to and obey his commandements. After Adam and Eve’s fall, they understand that they have to undergo a punishment “as they had broken God’s commandment” (61). Not only does God speak a language, he speaks a powerful one.

We continue to see the importance of language in Genesis in the story of the Tower of Babel, when men’s powers are united to the point that God is threatened, he chooses to use language to separate men. Once men speak different languages, they cease to be able to communicate and their strengths can no longer be united to reach the level of God. By dividing language, god divides people.

From these instances, it seems that language is a way of establishing power. Just by saying “let there be light”, God is able to make light happen. What kind of terrifying power is that? It creates a gap between divine and human existence. As humans, our words don’t mean anything. We are taught that it is the action that matters. We need our actions to prove our words, or else they will be empty. God is on a completely different level of existence from us. His words carry weight and authority. He does not need action to live up to his language. Just by commanding, the world changes.

In addition to a way of establishing power, language is also a way of bringing something into existence. On a physical level, God brought the world into existence by commanding. On a mental level, putting something into words makes it true. Retelling a miracle to something gives it weight of truth. In Daniel, the king is not able to comprehend his dream because he doesn’t have the language to bring it into existence. The advisors he asks do not know what he is talking about because he cannot retell it with words. Daniel is able to interpret the dream, and he does it with his language. Can one understand something without words or language? The story of Daniel seems to say no because we need language to bring concepts into life.

What is the role of the Bible then? The the ancient Greek tradition, poets are able to connect the gods and mortals through poetry, since poetry is the language of God. With language, poets communicate the gods’ will to the people. Perhaps similarly, the Bible manages to record God’s will and commands to distribute to the people.

 

Anlezark, Daniel, ed. and trans. Old Testament Narratives. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.

8 thoughts on “What language does God speak?

  1. This is a super interesting question, and one very important to the Bible. I’ve wondered a lot about it as well. Out of curiosity, do you think it’s possible that God’s speech/language in general can be connected to the Greek idea of logos? The Book of John starts with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” However, arguably the use of ‘Word’ there is a mistranslation, since the initial word in the Greek is ‘logos,’ which has a much more complex meaning. God’s language could thus connect to the larger question of the meaning of speech itself–it’s a manifestation of humans’ innate reason, their logos. God himself could be the representation of reason (kind of like the Platonic deity), containing within himself all meaning. The Bible might be almost a representation of God on Earth. Since the Bible is the word of God, and God is the Word itself, the Bible could be almost like a portrait of God, a picture of his reason. Does that make sense as a logical thought, or am I stretching things?

    1. This is amazing!! I love the connection you draw of God as the representation of reason and the meaning of speech and everything else. And I love the idea of the Bible as a portrait of God. I think it definitely makes sense and it has given me so much to think about. Thanks for your insightful comment!!

    2. I don’t believe Yah ever felt threatened by those bozos at the tower babel,BUT… He sure divorced those nations in favor of another people!!

  2. God wants us to obey the Ten Commandments he has said in the Bible that vengeance is his he does however get happy about those who are god lovers and peacemakers he is a jealous god and wants u to worship only him and do not make false idols or worship false gods he says you shall have no other gods before me he says that all of you are not worthy of the kingdom of god he sees the turmoil amongst thy people and shuns them wanting them to love thy neighbor as thyself your sins have reached high into the heavens

  3. Its posture allows projects to become easier to be executed, changes to be successfully implemented and problems to become great opportunities for the future. A good professional is able to inspire and be inspired by the leader. Therefore, we thank you for the inspiration that your work gives us and for your encouragement for our growth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.