Blessing and Other Words

I love studying languages and how the words change in pronunciation and meaning over time. Sometimes it can be instructive to back to an ancient source to get a better understanding of the modern term once we know where it came from.

The Greek word for “blessing” in the bible is “eulogia.” The prefix “Eu” means “good.”  When we bury someone, the funeral service often contains a short homily or sermon sometimes called a “eulogy.” This is the English transliteration of the Greek “eulogia” meaning “good word.” But it gets deeper.

Greek has several terms for what we call “word” in English.

  • Lexi”=the spoken or written word. The English term “lexicon” comes from this.
  • Logos”= (biblical & earlier philosophical usage) the animating, life-giving communication of God that created the universe. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word (logos)…” (modern) the use of logic in creating a thought or written piece. English “logic” is derived from “logos” Furthermore, Jesus Christ is God in self-revelation. Christ is the logos (Word) in John’s Gospel.
  • Eidos”=(philosophical) Plato=”idea” (“idea” is derived from eidos). Aristotle =”form or essence”
  • Rhema”=(biblical & philosophical) utterance or the spoken word

Notice that the biblical idea of blessing is to give someone God’s good Word, God’s life-giving force and God’s logic of creation. As a Christian, you are also giving them Christ. Giving a blessing is to give these things to someone. We should not do it lightly, irreverently, or unadvisedly. A real blessing given to someone might enable them to understand their life in a completely new way. A blessing might enable someone to overcome an addiction, heal a broken relationship or discern their true calling.

Armed with this information, you might also notice that what Christians glibly toss off as “the Word of God” is considered by most evangelicals and biblical literalists to be printed words on a page. This is a gross misreading of the bible. If that were correct, the Greek would be “lexi,” but in fact, it is “logos.”

If the Word of God is reduced to printed words on the pages of a King James Bible, then a sufficiently arrogant preacher can stand up and proclaim that they know the “truth” of God’s word. The preacher can then violate James’ prohibition about “wrangling over words” and then give you their interpretation of the printed words on a page that has already been translated two or three times.

But if God’s Word is the logic of creation and the essence of Christ, it becomes a little more of a challenge for humans to puff themselves up and present the “one, true meaning.” In fact, there is most likely NOT one single meaning to God’s word. That is the beauty and timelessness of it. It is multivalent. I personally think that for preachers to understand God’s logos, we should take a few years of graduate level mathematics and quantum mechanics because that is the logic of creation.

The next time someone tries to tell you about the “truth of God’s word,” run away as fast as you can.

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