In this fifteenth video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at the importance of names. “Name” is “man” in reverse with a final “e”, and we read in Genesis chapter 2 that God brought the creatures to Adam so that he could “name” them – in effect, so that he could translate them and choose the right word. God didn’t ask Adam to make the creatures because he is not an author – he cannot create out of nothing. He, and the rest of humankind, are translators. So “name” is central to man’s role in this world. What can the names of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary tell us about their roles? And what meaning can we find in the names of people like Strauss and Grant Gustin, and countries like Ukraine?
In this eleventh video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne starts to look at word connections between words that do not have the same number of letters, where it is necessary to add one or two letters. If we do not want to be like Narcissus and only to hear our own voice, we must open our spiritual eyes and ears. This will lead to a seed being planted in our heart. The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbour: love – other – theos. It is “love” that makes us “whole” (without the initial “w”, a letter that resembles the number “3” and can be taken to refer to the Holy Trinity, all we have is a “hole”). There is a second video on this theme: “Addition of Letters (1)”.
In this tenth video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at the shape of letters in the alphabet and how this can be used to make word connections. Just as the order of letters was borrowed in part from Egyptian hieroglyphs, so the shape of some of our capital letters was taken from here. This video focuses on the similarity between lower-case letters, which can be turned back to front, upside down, or continued. This enables us to make connections between birth and death, the Old and New Testaments, opposites such as “north” and “south” or “east” and “west”, and love and money. Language is full of information, words carry spiritual meaning, we only have to have “eyes” to “see” it.
In this third video on “Theological English”, Jonathan Dunne looks at another Christian paradox, the concept of the Holy Trinity – God as “three in one”. How is it possible for God to be three and one? Surely he is one or the other. The answer can be found in language.
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).
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, http://www.stonesofithaca.com
We have been placed on this earth, we’re not really sure how, except to say that we emerged from our mother’s womb after a gestation period of nine months. When we emerged, having survived in water, we took a breath of fresh air and thus became suitable for the environment we now inhabit. Once we had breathed in, we could breathe out and we joined all the other creatures in translating the environment around us.
It is important that we understand this concept of translating the environment around us. We generally look down on translation. It is second best to the original. It contains mistakes and isn’t as good as reading the original text. The translator’s name is hidden, eclipsed. When we need a translator, that person is essential, but we soon forget about them afterwards. Perhaps because the translator takes control away from us, we cannot access the original language ourselves and so we must rely on the other.
But translation goes further than this. The person who sits down and writes the original text is also translating – translating their experiences, the stories they have heard, the knowledge they have acquired, the words they have learned, their understanding of conversations. And they translate all of that on to a piece of paper. The way they write it one day will not be the same if they write it on another day, so the text is susceptible to their mood on that day and the environment around them (any disturbances). Creativity is a fragile thing.
And while they are doing this, they are translating the air by breathing, translating the food they had for breakfast that morning, translating (making sense of) any conversations they may overhear. Everything in this world is translation because nothing begins or ends with us.
The same might be said of our thoughts. Do they truly originate with us? Or are they placed in our minds to see what we will make of them, how we will react? I believe that the only thing that is ours, strictly speaking, is our reaction, how we choose to react – whether we choose in a given moment to show love or hatred. This also is translation because our reaction, our choice of words or deeds, is like choosing the words with which to represent a text in another language. Again, it will not be exactly the same on one day as the next.
Air passes through us. Food passes through us. Even life passes through us – the life we receive from our parents and pass on to our children, precisely because we are not the authors of life. Even trade, the desire to make money, involves things passing through our hands. They do not begin with us, we do not come up with the raw materials, more often than not it is the earth that does that. We change them in some way (a process that normally involves packaging) and pass them on, fixing a price as we do so.
But we would prefer to think of ourselves as authors. We lay claim. We say this piece of land, this object, this product is mine – because I paid for it, because I got here first. Once we draw the line and say something is mine, we open ourselves to conflict, because it is a false assumption. We don’t own the land we live on, someone else made it, and it wasn’t us. We don’t own what the earth produces, we certainly didn’t invent the seed that gave rise to the crop.
If you fail to recognize the other, then what the world contains, even other people, are fair game, you might think, a potential source of profit. But this is a corrupted way of thinking. We should use what is placed at our disposal for the good of others, not to make a profit.
This claiming ownership is really making ourselves out to be the source of what is around us, and only God can do that, the same God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus, chapter 3, and sent him to free the Israelites from bondage to the Egyptians. When Moses asks, naturally enough, on whose authority he is to do this, who he is to say has sent him, God replies, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ This is the name of the one who sent you.
In Greek, this phrase is translated ‘ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν’, literally ‘I am the being’, and the last part of this phrase – ‘ὁ ὤν’, ‘the being’ – is included in icons of Christ Pantocrator, since in Orthodox tradition it is the pre-incarnate Christ who appears in the Old Testament. The letters are written in capitals: O WN.
Not only do these three letters spell three words in English – own, won and now – not only do they spell a number if we rotate one of the letters – ONE – they make clear, as all of language does, who the author is, who is the one that can lay claim to ownership. The rest of us are just passing through.
Jonathan Dunne, http://www.stonesofithaca.com
In this and the next three articles I am going to look at the rules for making word connections. In this article we will look at connections between words that have the same letters, be they in the same order or in a different order. We have seen examples of these, how HUMAN is a combination of HU and MAN, for example, or LISTEN has the same letters as SILENT, but the letters have been rearranged. We have also seen contractions (I’LL-ILL, WE’LL-WELL). In this section I include words that sound the same (for example, EYE and I), also changes that involve the semi-vowels (i-j/y, u-w), the letter c (pronounced k or s) and the letters ph (pronounced f). Sometimes it is necessary to double a letter, as in the example BELIEVE-BELLY EVE, which we saw in the previous article.
I worked out these word connections simply by taking a pencil and writing down the words on a piece of paper, jumbling up the letters to see what I could find. When the words have the same letters in the same order, we need to divide them at some point to find a deeper meaning. Others are homophones (they sound the same, although they are spelt differently). We may change the letters if they are i, u, c and ph, as I mentioned above, or double a letter. You may like to have a go before looking at the connections I made, so here are the words we are going to look at that involve keeping the letters in the same order. See what you can find:
HEEL SOLE (homophones)
And here are the words that involve the same letters, but in a different order. Again, see what connections you can find, bearing in mind the semi-vowels i-j/y, u-w, the correspondence c-k/s and f-ph and the doubling of a letter:
ANGEL DOGMA DUNE HADES MIRACLE NOSTALGIA
CRIME GUIDE (i-j/y)
ANGER BAA BE EARTH GERM POISED SUMMER (double letter)
Words contain meaning. This may or may not be the meaning that we give them. They have something to tell us about human life, about God, about the purpose of our existence on earth and our ultimate destination. They are encoded. Just as the body has DNA, so words have DNA. We need to put them under the microscope and to see what we can find. In this sense, language is like the human body or the environment. They reveal things on closer inspection, we discover wonders if only we pay attention. Unfortunately we spend much of our time thinking that words, like the human body, like the environment, have been put there for our use and we are far too busy to consider that they may have a meaning of their own, a message they wish to transmit, a testimony they wish to give. This is a sign of our spiritual blindness. We are born into this world physically blind, but we soon overcome this. Our spiritual blindness remains, however, and it is some time before it begins to go away. This usually coincides with a spiritual experience. We become aware of another level to existence. It isn’t just what we can see with our physical eyes, it isn’t just two- or three-dimensional. There is another level, one we hadn’t been aware of before, and this conditions our behaviour. We start to repent of our previous behaviour, when we took what was there for our own benefit and enjoyment, without a thought for the consequences. The other takes on a new importance, we understand that they are intrinsic to our salvation and deserving of our respect, they are not put there for our benefit or enjoyment, just as language, the body and the environment are not purely utilitarian things for me to exploit, for me to express my opinion, for me to get what I want. We are in a relationship, and it is that relationship with the other that will save us. Difficulties are inevitable, because the world doesn’t necessarily see things the same way we do. Some still believe we are here to make money, to make a profit, to make ourselves as comfortable as can be. For some, this existence is all there is, and their aim is to extract as much as possible. The philosophy ‘live for the day’ – carpe diem – can easily lead in this direction. But the world is a spiritual womb. We are here to learn, to grow spiritually, and this necessarily involves some suffering. We are to receive the good times joyfully, but to endure any difficulties that come our way patiently. This engenders a sense of humility. This planet wasn’t put here for my sole enjoyment and it doesn’t revolve around me, much as we may resent this. We are here to learn to love, to turn the EGO to GOD, to count down from LIVE/EVIL to LOVE, to fulfil our potential and become the person we are meant to be. The world is a spiritual nursery. And death is perhaps not the end – that is only our perspective – rather it is a second birth, a spiritual birth, when we are forced out of the spiritual womb we have been in for three score years and ten into new surroundings. Death, for me, real death, is separation from God, not the end of our physical existence on earth, which is a tunnel, an opening, a new beginning, just as the exit from our mother’s womb was.
So we may take ourselves APART, but we are still A PART. What I do influences others, and what others do influences me. This is surely obvious at the time of the Coronavirus, with which I started writing these articles. LOCAL is GLOBAL – literally, because the two words are connected by the alphabetical pair b-c, addition of g. PASSION leads to spiritual death – PASS I ON. If I indulge the passions, I will come to a spiritual dead-end and then I will have a choice: either I perform a U-turn (repentance) or I insist upon my actions (spiritual death).
Life is a pilgrimage. We are here to learn. This involves walking, placing our weight first on our HEEL and then forwards on to our SOLE. What is the outcome of this process? That we HEAL our SOUL. For this, we need help – the action of the Holy Spirit; participation in the sacraments of the Church, most notably confession and communion – we must be careful not to think we can achieve this on our own. This was the attitude of the PHARISEE: FAR I SEE. They believed more in themselves than in God, sought recognition, strict adherence to a set of rules, even if these rules were not life-giving.
But what are we to believe? The Church has held seven Ecumenical Councils to write a Creed, to decide what people must believe. This is important – to establish the tenets of faith (for example, that Christ has two natures, divine and human), as a way of averting heresy (the suggestion that Christ might be anything less than fully both, a man adopted by God or God who took on the appearance of being human). But the word DOGMA itself, if we read it in reverse, says AM GOD. A simple statement that reminds us of the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush: I AM WHO I AM (Ex 3:14).
We are sensitive, sentient creatures. We have feelings. A slight breeze, and goose pimples arise on our flesh. We are naked. Look around and see where nature seems most naked, and you might come up with DUNE, the letters of which rearranged spell NUDE. Is there any part of nature that is so bare, so open to the wind?
In Greek mythology, HADES is the place where a SHADE goes. It is the place of spiritual death, of insubstantial beings who have insisted on the road of the passions. HADES is also connected to DEATH by a step in the alphabet (s-t). It is very close to EARTH (same vowels, phonetic pair d-t, alphabetical pair r-s). We must be careful. We can find ourselves in this state of spiritual death while still on earth. The important thing is how we react. And this is where a MIRACLE is performed. We look for signs and wonders. But we are surrounded by signs and wonders every day – our own existence, the existence of others, the world we inhabit, the breath of wind, the taste of food, a sudden realization, a moment of mutual recognition, the moment when a dog on a lead freezes, his body freezes, but his ears flap in the wind, young people in the stadium – a time capsule – play football against the backdrop of a mountain on which the observatory is a golf tee. How many moments are there like this in every day – the crunch of bread, the return of someone, sitting down on a sofa to watch a film that will transport us, the sip of hot tea, the sheer beauty of a newly opened rose? The true MIRACLE, for me, is when we RECLAIM ourselves, we defeat the enemy, we snatch ourselves back from the grip of sin, we present ourselves to our Creator, we dedicate ourselves to him. We don’t look back because, if we were to return to the GARDEN OF EDEN, we would only be in DANGER OF NEED again. Looking back is not the answer. This is why NOSTALGIA spells LOST AGAIN.
We have a GUIDE in Jesus Christ. He is our Saviour. He is our friend, the one who looks at me every morning, I look at him. But at the Last Judgement, when he comes again, he will be our JUDGE. These two words are connected (i-j). We mustn’t lose hope, however, because in the CRIME itself there is MERCY. All we have to do is repent of our sins and confess them to a priest. This is what we are here for, to make spiritual progress – not to make money, not to amass possessions, but to amass spiritual wealth, the virtues. ANGER won’t serve us, bearing a grudge against our enemy; if we are not careful, our ANGER will turn to GANGRENE (I have doubled the three middle letters). ANGER is also clearly connected to CANCER (phonetic pair g-k/c).
ANGER is also connected to ANGEL (there is righteous anger and it is possible to change, just as someone with a STAIN can become a SAINT). At the Second Coming, Christ will send out each ANGEL to GLEAN the field, to gather in the weeds and the wheat (we read about this in the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13). WEED and WHEAT are connected (phonetic pair d-t, addition of h), but it is interesting that only wheat has ears. This is why Christ ends the explanation of this parable with the words, ‘Let anyone with ears listen.’
We must hope to be counted among the sheep (Mt 25:32-3). What sound does a sheep make? BAA. And what other word involves these letters? ABBA. When we are sheep in the sense that Christ speaks about them, then we form part of the Father’s flock (abba is the Aramaic word for ‘father’). But it is always possible to make a mistake, to veer off in the wrong direction. If we add the letter that represents the ego in English, I, to ‘baa’, we get ‘Baal’, the name of a false god. Even here, though, even when we make a mistake, it is possible to find help if we acknowledge our need – as in the CRIME, there is MERCY, as when instead of calling upon God, AM, we say I’M, but can always add an initial h, a small puff of wind, and say HIM, so with BAAL, if we apply the phonetic pair b-p and add the letter h again, we can make the change to ALPHA and begin again.
AM-I’M-HIM. BAA-BAAL-ALPHA. CRIME-MERCY. The world is our chance to offer repentance, to fall down and get to our feet, every day if necessary, so long as our wish is to improve, to acquire the virtues, to learn to love not just our neighbour, but our enemy as ourself. Truly to love. Without a hint of lust, of self-interest, of what is in it for me. Is it so difficult? ‘All the world’s a stage,’ wrote Shakespeare in his play As You Like It. Well, if we double the letters, we will see the EARTH is a THEATRE, thereby confirming Shakespeare’s words. We are on the stage for a while, in the womb of the theatre (don’t forget the world was created by separating the waters from the waters, Gen 1:6, it is a kind of womb), but at some point the lights will go up and we will have to leave.
This is why BE in reverse reads EBB. Like the tide. Like our breathing. It is part of life. Things come and go. We must beware of those that would do us harm, especially at this time of the Coronavirus, when a GERM would MERGE with us. Spiritually speaking, we must try to avoid these germs, to wash them off with the water of renewal.
It is like when we watch television. An EPISODE is left POISED to keep our interest.
It is like when, after nature has had the chance to REWIND during WINTER (phonetic pair d-t), we RESUME in SUMMER.
Language would teach us. It is full of information. We just have to have EYES to SEE, an EAR to HEAR, so that a SEED can be planted in the EARTH of our HEART. It’s not difficult. Not really. Every day has its moments of beauty.
In the next article, we will look at word connections made by changing the vowels and the consonants – the water and flesh of language – according to phonetics, to where they are pronounced in the mouth.
Jonathan Dunne, http://www.stonesofithaca.com
It is a remarkable thing that the name of God revealed to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14, I AM, contains the progression of human life, AIO, which is also the progression of the Greek alphabet, if we write the last letter, omega, in the Greek way: AIW. You may remember that the letter A refers to the act of Creation described in the first two chapters of Genesis; the letter I, which represents the ego in the English language, refers to the Fall, when we turned away from God and began to rely on ourselves; and the letter O is the letter of repentance, of recognition, when we turn the ego, I, into a number, 1, and count down to O.
All of this is contained in the simple statement/name I AM. Note that God does not say, ‘I am God. Thus you shall say to the Israelites…’ He does not use a predicate, something after the ‘I am’, in the way that you and I would. ‘Hello, I am Jonathan.’ If I stood in a room and said, ‘Hello, I am,’ people would think I was strange. They expect a name to follow the enunciation ‘I am’. But in God’s case, it is enough for him to say simply, ‘I am.’ He is in all, and all things come from him. He is the Author of all things, the origin, the source. We are translators, because things pass through us, nothing begins with us – life, food, oxygen, thoughts… What belongs to us is our reaction, our free will, how we choose to respond to the things, the people, we meet on our road. We give them meaning and take away meaning from our encounter. This is why we are translators, because this is the process of translation.
In the act of Creation, AM created a separate object, a countable noun, AN. The indefinite article, a/an, is used for things that can have a line drawn around them: a book, a room. It is used for things that we can visualize and, in order to visualize them, we have to be able to separate them from ourselves. We cannot do this with concepts such as love and righteousness, so when we talk about concepts we do not used the indefinite article. We use it only for things that are separate from ourselves. Why does the indefinite article, therefore, refer to the creature that God created in the beginning? Because he made that creature separate from himself – he endowed it with free will. It is not a machine, remotely controlled. It may make its own decisions. That is why it is a countable noun, because it is separate from God. God did not want hangers-on, he wanted true, living, breathing human beings who would love him of their own accord.
If we combine the name of God, AM, and the indefinite article, AN, we get A MAN, and the name of that man was ADAM (which contains the name of God, AM). So while we are separate, we do bear God’s imprint. After all, we are made in his image and likeness and, to quote St Augustine, ‘our hearts are restless until they rest in You’.
Christ came to fulfil the Old Testament law and prophets, to make the law personal, relevant to you and me, and there are numerous words that show this connection, but let us take the name of God in Exodus 3:14, I AM, and see how this relates to Christ. It relates in four ways. The first is that it gives us the words ‘law’ and ‘way’. For ‘law’, we apply the physical pairs, pairs of letters that look alike, i-l and m-w, that is we replace the capital I with a lower-case l and turn the M upside down. For ‘way’, we again turn the M upside down and replace the vowel i with its corresponding semi-vowel y.
Christ says as much in John 14:6: ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (my italics). Language confirms this because the two words – ‘I am’ and ‘way’ – are connected.
But we also find the name of God from Exodus 3:14 in a common appellation of Christ, first given to him by John the Baptist in John 1:29: Lamb. ‘I am’ is found in ‘lamb’. Again, language seems to confirm his provenance.
In Revelation 22:13, towards the end of the Bible, Christ cries, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ We will see how ‘first’ and ‘last’ might be connected in the next article, but the name Alpha and Omega, or A+O, contains the three ways of escaping the ego (I): to make reference to a third point and form a triangle (Δ), to delete the I and form a cross (†) or to treat the I as a number and count down (0). These three symbols, Δ†0, spell the name spoken in the Book of Revelation, Alpha and Omega (A+O), and are referenced already in the name of God in Exodus, I AM, which contains that same progression, AIW (only the I has not been deleted).
And finally this name of God in Exodus is translated into Greek as O WN, the three letters found in the halo of icons of Christ, because according to Orthodox tradition it is Christ who appears to Moses at the burning bush. O WN, if we rotate the second letter, gives us ONE, a reference to the Holy Trinity, because it contains the chemical symbols for all three persons: the Father (O1, no one), the Son (O2, oxygen) and the Holy Spirit (O3, ozone), only in chemistry the subscript 1 is not normally written down: ONE (the 2 has toppled over, the 3 is back to front).
So we see a strong connection between Christ – the way, the Lamb, the Alpha and the Omega, O WN – and the name of God in Exodus, I AM. We have also seen how AM and SON combine in the word RANSOM if we omit the initial r. The word RANSOM seems to confirm what Christ says in Matthew 20:28 about coming to serve and to give his life a ransom for many – that life was the life of the SON and it was given on the Cross, in accordance with the pre-eternal design of the Holy Trinity.
Now I would like to see if there is any indication in the English language not only to affirm that Christ is the Son of God, as we saw in the previous article, but also to point to Mary as his Mother. Perhaps you have already seen the link.
When we discussed the progression AIO inside words, we saw that it is contained in common appellations of the Virgin Mary: ‘lady’ and ‘maid’. It is also in the word AID, and in Orthodox prayers we often ask the Virgin Mary to ‘come to our AID’. But I would like to see if there is a connection between Mary and I AM, as there was between Christ and I AM.
It is remarkable that I AM is contained in MARY if we replace the vowel i with its corresponding semi-vowel y and add the letter r. The name MARY contains the name of God in Exodus 3:14, I AM, and that is surely a coincidence. Not only that, but if we again add the letter r, we get the word MARRY:
I AM – MARY – MARRY
Christ came into the world, became incarnate, as a result of the action of the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father, and through the wish and obedience of the Virgin Mary. She could have said no. God relied on her willing cooperation, the free will we talked about earlier in relation to countable nouns. But after the initial surprise (how is that to be if I have not known a man?), when it was explained to her by the Archangel Gabriel, she bowed to God’s will, she acquiesced, and the ‘marriage’ took place. This led to the Incarnation, Christ becoming fully human, and ultimately to our salvation (if Christ became fully human, it was so that we could become fully divine, a process known in Orthodoxy as theosis – we become gods by adoption).
All this connection, all this lineage, is contained in the name of the Virgin MARY: the name of God in Exodus 3:14, I AM, the human progression from A (Creation) to I (the Fall) to O or W (the act of repentance, the moment when our hearts comprehend that of ourselves we are not enough, on our own we can do nothing, we do not avail – we become aware of our own limitations, and it is curious for me that AWARE contains AM and the second person singular of the verb ‘to be’, ARE: AWARE conjugates the verb ‘to be’).
Language is a wonder. Whoever would have said that AWARE conjugates the verb ‘to be’? There is more on this, the different parts of the verb ‘to be’, perhaps I will write about it in the future.
So MARY contains the name of God in Exodus, I AM, and if we double the letter r, we get MARRY, which is how the Incarnation took place.
Is that all there is? Well, no. A very important word to describe Christ is the Messiah. He is the long-awaited Messiah, the one that would come to earth and atone for our sins, make everything right again, give us a way to return to God, but a different way, not the way we have come through sin, the Fall, this is not a return to the GARDEN OF EDEN, where once again we would be in DANGER OF NEED. We do not go back to the first letter of the alphabet, A, because what would be the point of that? It would only all start again – the Fall, repentance… No, we must break the circle, so we progress on to the letter O, not back to the letter A, we progress to the end of the alphabet.
Can you find the name of God in Exodus, I AM, inside the word MESSIAH? It is there. And what word can you spell with the remaining letters, bearing in mind that letters may be doubled?
M E S S I A H
The word is SHE.
MESSIAH is a combination of I AM and SHE. It is as if the Messiah would only come when God, I AM, combined with a certain woman, the Virgin Mary. This event took place in history, and Christ was born.
I will provide one more example. You remember at the end of the previous article we saw that, if we do some dance-steps in the alphabet, if we put our best foot forward, then JERUSALEM can be turned into JESUS AMEN. All we have to do is apply three alphabetical pairs: l-m, m-n and r-s. Something similar can be done with the word MOTHER, but this time we must take one step forward and one step back: m-n and s-t.
What two words can be found in MOTHER? To whom does the Mother point in icons of her with Christ? She points to HER SON. I would say that this is what the MOTHER achieved through her obedience: the life, death and resurrection of HER SON, which were not isolated incidents that have no bearing on us. They changed the course of history. By his life on earth and his descent into hell, Christ brought the possibility of salvation to all human persons, wherever they might be. But this was only possible by the consent, purity and experience of the Virgin Mary. Without her, there would be no salvation, and the road – the way to I AM – would be closed.
It’s amazing what you will find in three letters.
Jonathan Dunne, http://www.stonesofithaca.com