In the Beginning God...

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. NIV
In the beginning, when God created the universe,... TEV

In Hebrew there are numerous names for God. Yahweh (Jehovah) is written with only 4 consonants (YHWH, ), so the vowels are unknown. Yahweh is the personal name of God and has a meaning based on the verb, to be: I AM, which is a statement of perpetual being, in the past, present, and future - forever. When used in English versions of personal names it is shortened to "...iah".

Elohim is a generic name, god or God. It is plural and yet is assigned singular verbs. This is typically understood to indicate a plurality of persons in the one God. In English God refers to the only true God, while god refers to beings and objects that are false gods. A short version is "El".

In an effort to avoid using the personal name of God in an inappropriate manner, the Jews used the name Adonai, meaning Lord, when the written text used Yahweh.

El Shaddai means God Almighty, referring to God's infinite power.

The original Chinese name for the one true God, the Creator, is Shang Di , meaning the God, or Emperor, above, the ultimate ruler. (Shang means above.) There are two oracle bone versions of Shang Di, . The second version has a 3-fold design, possibly suggesting mouths or persons, reflecting the Christian concept of 3 persons in the one God - the Trinity.

The first version may have many components. In Dr. Nelson's analysis she sees 3 other symbols for God:
, then
, where (shi / to show, manifest)
There is a second form of the ancient character, looking more like the modern version: This gets compressed to when it is the left part of a character.
This is similar in meaning to the Greek source for "epiphany", which refers to God showing himself.

It appears from the books that there may be two ancient forms of the right side of another character for God. In bronzeware there is a character for "instruction" which appears to be made up of two person characters joined end to end, with the second upside down, becoming . These are combined with the God radical (manifest) to make (Shen / God).

The second form uses symbols for hands: (zhua / hand), with the thick form coming from bronzeware and the thin forms from seal characters and oracle bones. A vertical line was used to indicate a perfect person, with the further emphasis of a black dot in the bronzeware version. Hands reaching down to the person
becomes the word for "instruct, explain". This is combined with the God radical (manifest)
to complete the second version (Shen / God).

The modern form of Shen (Traditional and Simplified; the generic Chinese name for god or deity) is , with the fingers still visible on the right side. Notice the meaning in the symbols. God is the one who reached down to the first two people to instruct them.

The Chinese also have a way of avoiding the direct mention of God. Tian means heaven (where God dwells), but also sky, overhead, day, and season. The ancient form was built using a character for a great or noble man and the character for above: . A second form () and the bronzeware have a head which is actually a flame, indicating the holiness or glory of God.

Whereas Shen is a weak word, meaning only god (a lesser being), there is another expression that seems most powerful. Tian Zhu means Lord of the Heavens: , therefore the ruler over everything.

The books reviewing ancient Chinese literature give Shang Di the same attributes as Yahweh - a monotheistic God, the Creator of all things. And yet there are similar indications of a plurality of 3 persons within the one God.

Back, Next
Beginning, Oracle Bones, God, Water, Earth, Mankind, Adam, Eve, Good Tree, Bad Tree, Penalty, Clothes, Lamb, Gate, Murder, Flood, Lifespans, Scattering, Border Sacrifice, Genesis 1 to 11