Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Etymology and usage of God

The initial written form of the Germanic word "god" appears from the 6th century Christian Codex Argenteus. The English word itself descends from the Proto-Germanic *ǥuđan. The most linguists concur that the modernized Proto-Indo-European appearance *ǵhu-tó-m was based on the root *ǵhau(ə)-, which destined either "To call" or to "call upon or invoke".

The capitalized form "God" was first used in Ulfilas' Gothic conversion of the New Testament, to signify the Greek Theos.

In the English language the capitalization continues to symbolize a distinction between monotheistic "God" and the "gods" of polytheism. The given name "God" now characteristically refers to the Abrahamic God of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith. Though there are considerable cultural divergences that are implied by these different names, "God" remains the common English change for all.

The name may mean any associated or similar monotheistic deities, for example the early monotheism of Akhenaten and Zoroastrianism.

In the context of relative religion, "God" is also often related to concepts of universal holy being in Dharmic religions, despite the historical distinctions which divide monotheism from polytheism — a difference which some, such as Max Müller and Joseph Campbell, have characterised as a bias inside Western culture and theology.

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