Theological English (6): Connections – Vowels

In this seventh video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne continues looking at the spiritual content of language. Speech, like creation (Genesis 2:6-7), is made up of three elements: breath (the letter “h”), water (the vowels – hold a vowel sound and water will collect in your mouth) and flesh (the consonants, made by obstructing the passage of breath with the lips or tongue – that is, with the flesh). Here we see examples of word connections made by changing the vowels according to where they are pronounced in the mouth.

To access all the videos in this course, use the drop-down menu “Theological English (Video Course)” above. The videos can be watched on Vimeo and YouTube.

Theological English (3): The Alphabet

In this fourth video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at the twenty-six letters that make up the Latin alphabet as it is used in English – h, five vowels, three semi-vowels, fourteen consonants, and three “redundant” letters (c, q and x) – and sees how these letters are used to represent the three elements of speech which are also the three elements of creation: breath, water, and flesh.

To access all the videos in this course, use the drop-down menu “Theological English (Video Course)” above. The videos can be watched on Vimeo and YouTube.


Theological English (1): Away from the Line – AIO

Having looked at the line, which represents the ego in English (I) and the number 1, in this second video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at the three ways of moving away from the line – the triangle, the cross and the circle. Truth is paradoxical, so while a cross represents suffering, it is also a plus-sign. This is the meaning of Christ’s injunction to lose our life in order to find it.

To access all the videos in this course, use the drop-down menu “Theological English (Video Course)” above. The videos can be watched on Vimeo and YouTube.


Theological English (0): The Line

In this first video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at the line, which represents the ego in English (I) and the number 1. Countable nouns are nouns that can have a line drawn around them – a book, a car, a tree. They are accompanied by the indefinite article, a/an. When God made man, he in effect made a countable noun – he drew a line around us and gave us free will. We do the same with products of the earth – we draw a line around them in the form of packaging – but we do this not to give things free will, but to trade in them, to sell them to each other. We appropriate for ourselves the role of author (things begin with us), when in fact we are translators (things pass through us).

To access all the videos in this course, use the drop-down menu “Theological English (Video Course)” above. The videos can be watched on Vimeo and YouTube.


There is a very important distinction in grammar between countable and uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns are generally concepts, things that have no boundaries, that cannot be circumscribed (a line cannot be drawn around them). Examples would be ‘love’ and ‘righteousness’. Countable nouns are nouns that can have a line drawn around them, they can be separated in our imagination from the rest of the environment. These nouns – and this is very important – are preceded by the indefinite article a or an. Examples would be ‘a house’, ‘a car’, ‘a person’. Compare the concept of ‘light’ with the countable noun ‘a light’. ‘Light’ is what fills the sky. ‘A light’ would be a single bulb – that is, it can have a line drawn around it and be contained.

When God created man in chapter 2 of the Book of Genesis, what he did was create a countable noun – a being separate from him (with its own free will). Of course, ‘man’ (here it is uncountable, it is not preceded by the indefinite article) is contained within God, he can never be quite separate, but ‘a man’ is allowed his own free will to make decisions, to believe in God or not, to love or hate, to react with kindness or anger…

The name that God reveals to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14, for me the most important verse in the Old Testament, is ‘I AM WHO I AM’ or simply ‘I AM’. Most of us would say ‘I am Jonathan’, ‘I am Rebecca’, etc. But God says only, ‘I AM’. There is no need for him to add a name because he is everything. Now in the study of speech sounds (called phonetics, the study of where speech sounds are produced in the mouth), the consonants, the hard sounds, so to speak, are divided into seven pairs, one of which is m-n. These two sounds are produced close to each other in the mouth.

If we apply this pair to the name of God without the personal pronoun, AM, we get an, the indefinite article. We can understand that from God came an individual human being, a countable noun. And if we put these two words one after the other, we get AM an – which is to say that God created a man.

The letter a is the first letter in the alphabet, it comes at the beginning, and so it is the letter I most associate with the act of creation (described in chapters 1 and 2 of the Book of Genesis). What was the name of the first man? Adam. If we turn Adam around, we see that he was made (I have allowed fluidity to the final vowel so that a becomes e).

Adam’s partner was Eve. Here the dominant vowel is e. We are progressing in the alphabet. Eve resembles another word very closely: eye. Now we are drawing close to the vowel i because eye and i sound the same.

When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, they didn’t heed God’s command, they turned away from AM and said I’m, they made this progression from the vowel a to i.

The reverse of man is name, and that indeed was man’s purpose in Genesis, chapter 2, when God brought him the creatures to name (not to make). Name, with the letters rearranged, spells mean (by naming the creatures, he gave them meaning) and amen (Adam agreed with God’s plan for him). In the Fall, however, together with Eve, he took the fruit and said not amen anymore, but mine. Again, he replaced the vowel a with the vowel i.

We live now in the era of the i. This is the vowel that is used to represent the ego in English: I. In the system we have at the moment, it is every man for himself. Yes, we may receive some help, but basically every person has his or her own money, his or her own address, and has to struggle, more or less successfully, to make ends meet.

Where do we go now that we have succumbed to the wishes of the ego, of the I? Well, if we treat the ego (I) as a number (1), there are two ways we can go – upwards (2) or downwards (0). We can start to count (the objects around us, all of which are countable nouns – this is how we package and sell them) or we can make the much shorter journey to zero (a word, by the way, that is very close to eros).

The Latin alphabet, the alphabet we use in English, counts up. The last letter of the Latin alphabet is Z, so in effect it counts from I to Z (1 to 2). This would reflect a more rational, self-reliant way of thinking, a view that treats the world as a way of making money.

As an aside here, I would like to ask why it is we teach our children the basic skills of writing and counting. Is it not in a sense to record what is in the world by writing down what there is and counting it? Are we not instilling this rationalistic way of thinking in our children from the very start (not to mention the huge emphasis placed in school on marks)?

The Greek alphabet, on the contrary, counts down. The last letter of the Greek alphabet is omega, which we can write O (it is a long o; there is also a short o in Greek, omicron). Greek is the language of the Gospel, so this would reflect a God-oriented way of thinking.

The other way of writing omega is W (this is how it is written lower case in Greek). If we put the three vowels I have talked about – the A of creation, the I of the Fall and the O of spiritual enlightenment/repentance/recognition – together, we get AIO. If we use the Greek way of writing omega, we get AIW.

Now what is very interesting is that this progression of spiritual growth that puts God (0) at the centre of the picture is found in the name of God himself: I AM. All I have to do is turn the W upside down. God is indicating to us the path that we should follow – we should turn to him.

What is the most famous aspect of the Old Testament, of the Jewish Bible? It is the law – Moses received the Ten Commandments when he met with God on Mt Sinai; the Jews are famous for their rules and regulations (Jesus is often criticized for healing on the Sabbath); and indeed Christ, in the New Testament, says that he has come to fulfil, not to abolish, the Old Testament law (‘not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished’, Matthew 5:18).

The word law contains the same progression, AIW, and is clearly related to the name of God in Exodus, I AM.

What of the New Testament then? Is there any indication in language to support the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (who he says he is)?

In John 14:6, Jesus says to Thomas, who has asked how they are to find the way to heaven, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

Here we find the third word that is related to the progression AIW: I AM – law – way. The letter y is the semi-vowel that corresponds to i, they are often interchangeable. Note that Jesus says, ‘No one comes to the Father except through me.’ We could rewrite this, ‘No I comes to the Father except through me.’ That is, each individual I must pass through him.

And so we find that the whole purpose of the spiritual journey in this life (AIW) is found in the name of God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14 (I AM), is found in the law that Jesus came not to abolish, but to fulfil, and is found in Jesus himself, who is the way.

There are many other confirmations in language that Jesus is the Son of God. Let us take the word Messiah, which is a combination of the name of God, I AM, and she (the Virgin Mary). I have written about these confirmations in my book Stones Of Ithaca.

But there is one other confirmation that Jesus is who he says he is that I would like to include here. At the beginning of John’s Gospel, John the Baptist sees Jesus coming towards him and declares, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ Jesus is the sacrificial lamb who will be sacrificed on the Cross to atone for our sins. He will take our sins upon his sinless self. He will take the blame for our sins (lamb and blame are clearly connected, as are words like balm and psalm).

But let us look a little more closely at the word lamb (the last letter of which is silent). Again we see the name of God, I AM, in the first three letters.

The whole of the Bible can be reduced schematically to: I AM – law – way/lamb. Here we find a spiritual map, so to speak, an indication of the road we must take, which passes not through counting the objects around us and dealing in them (often to the detriment of the environment and of our fellow man), but in placing God at the centre of our lives and acknowledging him.

Jonathan Dunne,

Word in Language (15): AIO (0)

Ideally, human life, like the Greek alphabet, should be a progression from the letter A to the letter I to the letter O: AIO.


A represents the act of creation described in chapters 1-2 of the Book of Genesis, in the beginning, when God created the world. It is the first letter of both the Greek and Latin alphabets, so it represents the first act in the history of time, the first thing we have to write about.


We already saw that the name God reveals to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14 is AM (in this word we see both the A and the O – the latter written W, like the Greek letter omega – because God stands outside time, of which he is the beginning and the end). AM created AN, the indefinite article, the article that is used for countable nouns, for nouns that we can see and draw a line around, that we can separate from ourselves and give free will. AM and AN combine to give A MAN, whose name was Adam.


ADAM also contains the name of God in Exodus 3:14 – AM – as well as both ways of writing the final letter of the Greek alphabet: O/W (D closely resembles O, M is an upturned W). It is as if the new Adam is already present in the old. These two ways of writing the last letter of the Greek alphabet, O/W, can be used to describe the Holy Trinity: O3, or 3 in One. Adam is not a chance name assigned to the first human, it has the imprint of God stamped all over it.


ADAM in reverse reads MADE, just as EARTH in reverse reads THREE (because it was created on day three and is the third planet in order of increasing distance from the Sun). Adam was made by God, who shaped him from the dust of the ground and breathed the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life, into him.


Adam’s task was not to create all the creatures, it was to name them – that is, to translate – and we see this purpose accorded to Adam in the reverse of MAN, which is NAME (with addition of final e, very common in word connections).


Now NAME, if we rearrange the letters, spells MEAN and AMEN. When we name someone or something, we give them meaning. We acquiesce in the process of God’s creation, we accept our role in the same, and say AMEN.


But, in chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were tempted to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. See how EVE is already taking us away from the letter A and towards the letter I. If we apply the physical pair (pair of letters that look alike) v-y to EVE, we get EYE, and EYE sounds the same as the letter I (which, if we rotate it by ninety degrees, represents a closed eye).


We can see this progression away from the letter A towards the letter I in the name of the garden where Adam and Eve lived, EDEN, which is connected to ADAM by the phonetic pair m-n and the pair of vowels a-e.


With the Fall, described in chapter 3 of Genesis, we have turned our attention away from God and towards ourselves. The Fall corresponds to time. It is the era we live in, the timeline drawn by a teacher of English on a whiteboard, the letter I, when despite being surrounded by all of God’s goodness – the earth and all it contains – we think we can do very well without him (despite the fact we could not even breathe without him).


So, instead of calling on God, AM, we start to say I’M. Instead of saying AMEN to God’s commandments, we lay claim to our surroundings and say MINE. We have made the progression from A to I. This means that, while our physical eyes may be open, our spiritual eyes are closed: I.


Put three of these Is together, and you get the word ‘ill’, a triple ego if you like. We are spiritually sick because we have detached ourselves from the source of all goodness, the Holy Trinity. If you don’t believe me, look at what happens if we make the progression from A to I to I: we get the word ‘ail’. But God in his ineffable mercy always offers us a way out, because if we add breath to the start of this word and slightly alter the vowels, ‘ail’ gives rise to ‘heal’.


We saw in the article Alpha and Omega that one of the ways to escape the ego, I, is to treat it as a number, 1, and to count down to 0. This can be likened to opening our spiritual eyes: I to O. We turn our hearts to God in repentance, we realize we cannot live without him, or at least our life is ultimately without meaning if we do not live in, for and with him. This is the purpose of human life – to realize our need. There is nothing wrong with this. We sink to the bottom of the overturned pyramid, to use St Sophrony of Essex’s image, we descend into the hell of uncertainty and emerge the other side, strengthened and joyful.


Now, instead of saying I’M, we say OM, but I do not mean the mantra, I mean the Holy Trinity: O3. We redirect our sight away from ourselves to the centre of all being.


We saw in the article Chemistry that God the Father can be written O1, or no one. OM is connected to NO by the phonetic pair m-n, and ONE is NO in reverse with the addition of final e. So when we turn away from the I with all its hereditary fears and selfish demands, instead of saying I’M, we call on NO ONE, as we were meant to do because we are human.


The name of God is spread throughout language – language is insisting, albeit unobtrusively, that salvation for ourselves lies in calling upon God, but it must be a question of free will, a freely taken decision. We are given all the time in the world to make this step.


Instead of saying MINE, we say NEMO, which is the Latin word for NO ONE, or OMEN, a sign for the future, perhaps.


We make the progression from A to I to O, the progression of human life, which involves committing a mistake (or many mistakes) and then owning up to it.






Now perhaps I have just made this all up. Well, not exactly. We also saw this same progression from A to I to O (AIO) in the question words WHAT – WHY – WHO.


‘What?’ is the question word of Creation: what is this creature? What will you call it?


‘Why?’ is the mantra of modern society, of the Fall: why should I do this? Why should I believe you? (‘Why?’ simply indicates a lack of obedience.)


The real and only valid question is ‘Who?’ (or ‘How?’, it makes no difference), and the answer is Jesus Christ. We see this progression in the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, YHWH, which corresponds to WHY, and in the Greek Septuagint translation of the name of God in Exodus 3:14, O WN (or O WH), found in icons of Christ Pantocrator, which spells WHO and HOW. We have made the progression, we have gone from the letter of the law to the spirit of the law, to the law in human form.




Another example. The name of God in Exodus 3:14 is I AM, which gives us ‘law’ if we apply the physical pairs i-l and m-w (one letter is an extension or a reversal of the other). We associate LAW with the Old Testament, a set of rules which must be blindly followed, even to the detriment of people (for example, not healing on the Sabbath). This LAW, as we all know, can be a WALL. It protects us, but it also stands as an obstacle, especially when it is the letter of the law – and not the spirit – that is being applied.


If we make the progression from A to I, from LAW we get WILL: we apply our own will. We don’t obey the commandments to love the Lord our God with all our being and to love our neighbour as ourself. We seek our own will, we place ourselves – our profit, our comfort, our status – above the other and pursue our own self-interest. We have gone from the PROPHETS of the Old Testament to an obsession with PROFITS, as if the purpose of human life was solely to make money. It is not. The purpose of human life is to turn to God and, in God’s love, to show concern for our neighbour. That is to restore God’s image in us, to become properly human. We see many examples of this transformation in our everyday lives.


The Church Fathers, including St Sophrony, are always talking about God’s self-emptying (or kenotic) love. We imitate this love, taking ourselves – the I – out of the equation, opening our arms, making space for the other. We humble ourselves (St Sophrony goes so far as to speak of self-hatred). And what is the position of humility? It is LOW. We give space to the other, we ALLOW them. Instead of saying WILL, we say WON’T.




Language is clearly indicating to us the path of repentance for those who wish to follow the example of Christ. I don’t know how to make it any clearer than this, but I will give just a few more examples. Note that all these examples of the progression AIO are between words. There are also examples of the same progression inside words, and we will see some of those in the next article.


Here is one of my favourite examples. In the Garden of Eden, there was no competition: DRAW. The ethos of our modern society, with its competition and counting up from the number 1, is to WIN. But Christ came along and told us to LOSE our life for his sake in order to gain it (Mt 10:39). Look at the vowels, and you will see the progression of repentance.




Losing, as we have seen, can be a frightening experience because it looks as if we are condemning ourselves to self-extinction, but I have likened this to the process of translation, where in order for a text to appear in another language, it must first disappear in the mind of the translator. This, for me, is what death is. It is a matter of having faith in the Translator.


Another favourite example. The SWAN may be taken as a symbol of purity. Certainly, it is very white. On the contrary, SWINE are a symbol of filth, the filth the Prodigal Son found himself literally rolling in when he was reduced to feeding his neighbour’s swine after he had wasted his father’s inheritance. What word will take us to the O of repentance? It is said that no one flake is ever the same. It falls out of the sky and alights on our nose. When we step in it, it soon becomes slush, or it can become frozen and cause us to slip, but newly fallen it transforms the landscape, turning it white again, forming a blanket under which Nature has a chance to rewind. I am talking about SNOW, of course.




And one last example. The creature I most associate with the depths of history is WHALE, this creature that swims the world’s oceans and seems to have been doing so ever since the beginning of time. It is a creature I associate with the Creation, primordial and wise. What word do I get if I make the progression from A to I? WHILE, which corresponds to the process of time, time which has been spread out like a carpet for us to walk on while we make up our minds. And if I count down from the ego and make the progression from I to O? I become WHOLE, a combination of the Old Testament name of God, El, and O WH.




We already saw other examples of the progression from the I of the Fall to the O of redemption: LIVE-LOVE, SIN-SON and CHRIST-CROSS.


Language is urging us not to count up, not to make out that we are the owners of everything in existence. We are not. We are here to act as vehicles of love, to become sons, children of God, to lose our life for Christ’s sake on the Cross in order that we might receive everlasting joy in the resurrection.


Language confirms this. The Greek alphabet does the same, it provides the example. We may associate this with Eastern spirituality (for me, that is Orthodoxy) or with kenotic love and spontaneity, which doesn’t count the cost. There is another example, however, and I’m afraid it is provided by the Latin alphabet, which may be taken to signify a greater reliance on reason. Reason always counts the cost.


And that is because the Latin alphabet, instead of counting down from I to O, as the Greek alphabet does, counts up: from I to Z. This means that you have taken everything that was created, A, and used it for yourself.


Jonathan Dunne,

Word in Language (10): Father (0)

What do we know about the Father? Perhaps we know about him as much as our ability to love. He is generally portrayed as an old man with white hair and a white beard, next to his Son, with the Holy Spirit hovering above. We may associate him in particular with the act of creation and the Fall in chapters 1-3 of the Book of Genesis. According to Orthodox tradition, all appearances of God in the Old Testament are by the Logos, the Word of God, that is Jesus Christ. The New Testament is associated with the earthly life of Christ, his birth, teaching, crucifixion and resurrection. And the Holy Spirit is associated with Pentecost, the beginnings of the Church. The Father can remain in the background. Certainly, we cannot know his essence, and of God’s qualities St Maximos the Confessor says that it is only infinity that can be grasped fully by the intellect (see the end of his First Century on Love).


In an earlier article, I made the connection between TREE and THREE and put forward the analogy of the Father as the trunk and the Son and the Holy Spirit as two branches, as in a child’s drawing, the Son begotten and the Spirit proceeding. This is why in the Orthodox Creed it is said that the Spirit proceeds from the Father – not from the Father and the Son, as is erroneously stated in Western Churches – because otherwise the Spirit would have to be a sub-branch of the Son, making for a lopsided drawing. This doesn’t make sense.


Christianity is the only religion that professes God the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is shared love, which crucially involves a third person, otherwise it could be construed as being exclusive. This love among the three persons is not jealous. It is like love in a monastic community – it professes love for the brethren, but also welcomes pilgrims, newcomers. The arrival of newcomers can be very unsettling, but somehow we have to find a place for them, to see that our reaction is immediately, naturally, spontaneously, one of love.


You cannot have the Father without having a Son. His first characteristic is that of being a Father, which immediately places emphasis on relationship. The Holy Spirit can be seen as a kind of conjunction – and – that welds the love together. I have already stated that this little conjunction, AND, contains the name Alpha and Omega (A ’N’ O) and spells DNA in reverse. It is a crucial word in language, and barely a sentence exists without it.


I would like to suggest that there is proof in language for the existence of the Father. This doesn’t surprise me, for from him all things come. The Son is begotten by the Father, the Spirit proceeds from the Father, and we are his creation. We saw in the previous article how the world is a kind of spiritual womb, from which the body of the Church is in the process of being born. We make the mistake of thinking that life in this world is all there is and our birth has already taken place, but I don’t think this is quite true – our physical birth has taken place, sure enough, but our collective spiritual birth is still happening, which is why for me St Paul writes, ‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now’ (Rom 8:22).


The first indication that the Father is who we understand him to be – the source of all life – can be found in the alphabet. But we should sound a note of caution: if we can find proof for the existence of the Father in language, shouldn’t that point us in the direction of the Holy Trinity? Shouldn’t that suggest that the Father is truly behind and in his creation, just as we make him out to be? How else could he be in language, a set of words we ourselves have come up with in order to communicate, a set of letters which we use to write these words down? This should give us pause for thought – if we can find proof for him in language.


Language is made up of three elements. The first of these is breath. Breath forms the basis of all language. There can be no language without breath. Without breath, we are in effect dead, and we are not going to communicate by means of our bodies. Breath is represented in the alphabet by the letter h, a very important letter since it represents the basis of all speech, and yet (or because of this) it is dropped in dialects like Cockney and not pronounced in languages like Spanish. That for me is a sure sign of its importance.


If all we do is huff and puff, we are not going to make much sense, and so, as anyone who has been present at a childbirth knows, the next thing that comes along is voice, the vowels. We breathe out (the baby breathes out) and add voice (the baby bawls – loudly), and now we have sound. We also have words – words like a, I and o! We can even put a vowel before breath and exclaim, ‘Ah!’ We have the beginnings of speech.


If we hold a vowel for long enough, as when we visit the doctor’s, water will collect in our mouth, and this is because vowels are like a river – they flow. We can see that FLOW and VOWEL are connected by the phonetic pair f-v, addition of e. But the vowels do not emerge from our throat, where language originates, in the same order that they appear in the alphabet. Actually, they emerge in the following order, from the back of the mouth to the front:


u – o – a – e – i


forming a V-shape as they do so. This means that the first word the human apparatus is capable of pronouncing is breath (h) plus the first vowel to emerge from the throat (u): hu (I am assuming that breath on its own does not constitute a word, which I don’t think it does).


You might wonder, ‘So what?’ Well, this little word hu is from Sanskrit and means ‘invoke the gods’. So the first word a human is capable of pronouncing is an invocation of God. It is also the root of our word God, as any good dictionary will tell you. This is extremely interesting, but it doesn’t stop there.


Have you noticed that we are human? The science of etymology, which studies the evolution of language over time and, like all science, is limited in its vision (only faith is not limited, which is why we need it), will tell you that human derives from the Latin word for ‘man’, homo. Yes, maybe. But word connections – which are the study of language outside time, and hence far more interesting – will enable us to see that HUMAN is a combination of HU and MAN. It seems that God stamped us with his seal when he made us. We have already seen how MAN contains AM and AN.


But we still haven’t seen any proof for the Father. Let us continue. If all we had was breath and water, h and the vowels, we would do a lot of whining and exclaiming (some people do that, it is true). But to form words, real words, we need to obstruct the passage of air with our lips and tongue to form the consonants. Now we get proper chunky words. The consonants, as I have explained, can be divided into seven phonetic pairs:


b-p     d-t     f-v     g-k     l-r     m-n     s-z


depending on where in the mouth they are pronounced and which piece of flesh – the lips or tongue – is used to obstruct the passage of air when they are pronounced.


That accounts for twenty letters, but the English alphabet has twenty-six. Three of the remaining letters are semi-vowels – that is, the passage of air is only partially obstructed. The semi-vowels j and y correspond to the vowel i; the semi-vowel w corresponds to u (think of the name of the letter).


And the other three are what I call redundant letters. We don’t need them. They are c, q and x, all of which can be written using a combination of the letters k and s: the letter c is pronounced either k or s, q is pronounced k and x is pronounced ks. And yet they serve a purpose, because the double pronunciation of c as k/s enables me to make word connections through both these letters (we will see an example in a moment).


That accounts for the whole of the English alphabet: h, five vowels, seven pairs of consonants, three semi-vowels and three redundant letters. The letter h corresponds to breath, the vowels to water and the consonants to flesh.


What is very interesting is that the exact same three elements – breath, water and flesh – correspond to the act of creation in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis. Remember that a wind (breath) swept over the face of the waters (Gen 1:2). Remember that to form the sky (air/breath) God separated the waters from the waters (water) (Gen 1:6-8). Remember that God then gathered the waters under the sky into one place and formed the land (flesh) (Gen 1:9-11). Remember that man was formed from the dust of the ground (flesh) (Gen 2:7) and God then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (breath).


So the same three elements of breath, water and flesh are involved in the creation. But why should we be surprised, given that we know that God spoke the world into being? Doesn’t almost every paragraph in Genesis chapter 1 begin, ‘And God said’?


Do you remember how the letter c can be pronounced k or s? We might now see a connection between SPACE and SPEAK.


We might also see that WORLD contains LORD and WORD. The WORLD is a combination of LORD AND WORD:


world = lord + word


Hence those three words that are constantly repeated in Genesis: ‘And God said.’


But we still haven’t found proof for the existence of the Father in language. You need to know that there is an ‘eighth’ phonetic pair (and it isn’t even a pair): b-v-w. These letters are closely related. In Modern Greek, b is pronounced v; in Spanish, v is pronounced b. In Latin, v is pronounced w; in German, w is pronounced v. This enables me, through v, to connect b/w with f (the partner of v according to the phonetic pairs), and many word connections are made using this combination.


Now we will begin to see that the three elements of breath, water and flesh – the elements that make up speech, a daily occurrence, and also the creation of the world we inhabit – have one word in common. I am not making this up because I am obeying phonetic rules, so it is in language (not in my imagination!).


BREATH is clearly connected to FATHER by this combination I talked about, f-b/w.


WATER is clearly connected to FATHER by the same combination, f-b/w, addition of h (one of the two most commonly added letters).


FLESH is clearly connected to FATHER by the phonetic pair l-r, the alphabetical pair s-t, addition of a.


The elements of speech and creation have the word FATHER in common. That is remarkable and ought to make us bow our heads in worship. The next time we open our mouths to speak, we might be a little more respectful of what we are doing and remember how the Father is in the elements of speech, in our very human being.


Jonathan Dunne,