Name and Form

                       If God had a name , what would it be?
                       And would you call it to his face
                       If you were faced with Him in all His glory?
                       What would you ask if you had just one question?

                                —Eric Brazilian “One of Us”

Jesus, name all names above,  Jesus best and dearest. Jesus, fount of perfect love, Holiest, tenderest, dearest. Thou the source of grace completed, Thou the purest and the sweetest. Thou, the well of power divine, Make me, keep me, seal me thine! 

Jesus, open me the gate That of old he entered. Who in that most lost estate, Wholly on thee ventured. Jesus, leave me not to languish: Helpless, hopeless, full of anguish! Jesus, let me hear thee say, ‘Thou shalt be with me today!’  

—Theocistus of the Stadium, c. 890 (translated by John  Mason Neale)

The title of this post is taken from a Sanskrit term found in the Upanishads.  In one of so many instances where Sanskrit terminology has mapped the deeper reaches of reality, the two terms are linked together as nama (name) and rupa (form), nama-rupa or namarupa.  It is a continuation of the argument for structure and purpose begun in my post Fibonacci Rules.  Structure and purpose, then, must be viewed as part of creation.  To quote from the Upanishads: “Verily, at that time the world was undifferentiated. It became differentiated just by name and form, as the saying is: ‘He has such a name, such a form.’ Even today this world is differentiated just by name and form….He entered in here, even to the fingernail-tips, as a razor would be hidden in a razor-case, or fire in a fire holder. 

Name and form are part of the Judeo-Christian account of creation, as we read in Genisis 1:2: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” We are created “in the image of God”, which is not to say that God has a bodily form as we do, but that our personhood is linked to the Personhood of the Divine.  What does this mean?  In a mysterious way we are somehow connected with God’s nature. 

The Sanskrit scriptures add additional perspective: Robert Ernest Hume, translator of the thirteen principal Upanishads, describes nama-rupa as A Sanskrit idiom for the modern term “individuality’, and states that at the point of death, “the sixteenfold human person tends to return to, and merge into, the immortal Person, and therein to lose his finite individuality.” And it is here that Divine Personhood has its importance:”apprehension of the unitary basis of the manifold world as being a knowable Person removes the fear of death.”  We appear as name and form and, likewise, disappear when it is our time to depart in the same manner.  This appearance is from God and we likewise pass away into God.  In Praśna 6:5, “As these flowing rivers that tend toward the ocean, on reaching the ocean, disappear, their name and form [or individuality] are destroyed, and it is called simply ‘the ocean’— even so of this spectator these sixteen parts that  tend toward the Person, on reaching the Person, disappear, their name and form are destroyed, and it is called simply ‘the Person’.”

Creation, in the Judaic view, takes on a personal aspect.  Psalm 139:1-18 speaks eloquently of how we are known by God:

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Using Hume’s translation as “individuality”, it could be said that, as a part of the creation of life, God knows us by name.  And we, in turn, name people and things.  Naming gives us power, but not only that.  It gives meaning—to know someone or something by name.  This is manifested most completely as a part pf the baptism ceremony.  And, in turn, we seek through naming to know the Divine.

Judaic culture is full of the attempts to ascribe a name (connected with a quality) for God:

El Roi: “God of vision”  Hagar, Abraham’s  second wife, flees to the desert and hears the voice of God.  She utters this eloquent reply, “Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here    looked after him that seeth me?” The Jerusalem Bible reads: “Hagar gave a name to Yahweh who had spoken to her: ‘You are El Roi’, for, she said, ‘Surely this is a place where I, in my    turn, have seen the one who sees me? 

El Shaddai: the God of Heaven; (JB notes) sometimes translated “Mighty God” but more accurately  “Mountain God”    Eloah: An ancient name for God, recalling the theophany of Exodus 19:16 where Yahweh the Holy One  advances.  His coming is described as an advancing storm cloud.,  The expressions     refer sometimes to the cloud, sometimes to Yahweh who is present in it. 

Eloi: almighty in strength

Elohim: God

Elyon: (Psalm 91) “If you live in the shelter of Elyon…”, the Most High

Elaah: existence without beginning

HaShem: a respectful referring to God as “the name” rather than his direct nane

Hhelgion:   unchangeable (that is, nothing but his own will can change him)

Jah:  knowledge that comprehends without being comprehended

Adonai:  full and free, and freely full

Jehovah:  a combining of the several names, the Hebrew God(see Yahweh)

Lahai Roi: In Hagar’s vision, Lahai Roy may mean ‘the well of the Living One who sees me’; It was to this place Isaac was later to come.

Ruach Adonai: the Spirit of the Lord, closely related to Shekinah

Ruach Elohim: the Spirit of God.  The website hebrew4Christians.com  states “…as the ruach is to the created nephesh, [the vital spirit in human  beings] so the Ruach Elohim is to God    himself, part of God and  identified with God.”

Ruach Hakkodesh: the Holy Spirit

Ruach Adonai: the Spirit of the Lord God

Ruach-El: the Spirit of God 

Shaddai: the presence of God, as in Job 29:5 “when Shaddai dwelt with me”

Shalom: the Eternal One

Shekinah: the “presence” [of God] (Sirach 14:27; Exodus 16:10; 24:16)

Yahweh: Jerusalem Bible notes state “Attempts have been made to explain the name Yahweh (abridged forms like Yaho, Yah, etc. are found both in biblical and non-biblical texts)    from Hebrew roots but there seems little doubt that it is an archaic form of the verb ‘to be’.”  James Robinson describes this as God’s personal name and that even Greek manuscripts hesitate to change the name, even adopting the original Hebrew form of the letters and not the Aramaic form common in that time.  Jehovah came from Christians trying to pronounce the consonants of the Hebrew word Yahweh with the vowels of Adonai and came up with a nonexistent name for God.  (Adonai (Lord) is the read aloud by the rabbis.  The vowels for Adonai are written beneath the consonants for Yahweh as a reminder.

Further notes from the Jerusalem Bible provide depth to the meaning of Yahweh: “It may be that Yahweh is used here to imply the impossibility of giving an adequate definition of God.  In Semitic thought, kknowledged of a name gave power over the thing named: to know a god’s name was to be able to call on him and be certain of a hearing. The true God does not make himself man’s slave in this way by revealing a name expressive of his essence. This refusal to reveal is contained in the formula Elyeh asher ehyey (‘I am who I am’, ‘I am what I am’) which, in the third person becomes Yahweh, ‘He is’. Understood in this fashion the name does not define God; nevertheless, for Israel it will always call to mind God’s great deliverance of his chosen people and the divine generosity, fidelity and power that promoted it. In Christian thought this interpretation brings out the transcendence of a god for whom man can never find a worthy name. Tradition, however, following the Septuagint, has commonly preferred to take Ehyeh asher ehyeh as meaning ‘I am the One who Is’, ‘I am who am’; the name Yahweh, ‘He is’, would then express not necessarily the absolute nature of  God’s essence as a later philosophy and theology were to state it, but at least god’s unlimited existence as opposed to the  ‘nothingness’ of the gods.”

Moses, “the friend of God’, “the one who talked with God”, was a spiritual adventurer, a pioneer of faith. There is even a recorded dialog in which God reveals a name to him: “Moses said unto God Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I Am That Am: and he said, This shalat thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.”

Extending across religious traditions, “I Am” equates to Amen, AUM, OM, or Amin, the universal source-sound or Pranava.  This name, or sound, was actually heard in 2000 by a team of astronomers at the California Institute of Technology as a deep hum as their telescope was focused  on the origin of the Big Bang where the universe had its beginning.”the cosmos’s primordial song: a low hum, deep in its throat, that preceded both atoms and stars…a simple sound, like the mantra ‘Om”.  But hidden within its harmonics are details of the universe’s shape, composition, and birth.”

Ultimately, God is beyond naming—it is simply impossible to capture God with a name. Jerusalem Bible notes to Exodus 6:2-3 explain why this is so; “In Semitic thought, knowledge of a name gave power over the thing named: to know a god’s name was to be able to call on him and be certain of a hearing.  The true God does not make himself man’s slave in this way by revealing a name expressive of his essence; this refusal to reveal is contained in the formula Ehyeh asher ehyeh (‘I am who I am’, ‘I am what I am’) which, in the third person becomes Yahweh, ‘He is’.  Understood in this fashion the name does not define God; nevertheless, for Israel it will always call to mind God’s great deliverance of his chosen people and the divine generosity, fidelity and power that promoted it.  In Christian thought this interpretation brings out the transcendence of a god for whom man can never find a worthy name.”

Swami Satchidananda takes a different view, one with a practical application.  AUM is the word most expressive of God, and “the name that God gives himself. Indeed, this is what God revealed to Moses.  We have given many names to God.  These names of God, whatever they be, are more or less partial; they are not full. “I am” [=Amen=AUM=OM=Amin] does this.  Satchidananda explains, “God’s name should not only denote the fullness of God, but it should bring God to you, it should itself represent God.  And such a full name cannot be anything else except OM….I say only the OM can denote God and can be God itself because all the ancient scriptures say so….There should not be any difference between the word and God.  The word should have all the qualifications, capacities, powers of God.  Or, strictly speaking, it should transcend your imagination of God.  And such a word is OM..”  And, if this is our mantra of choice, it alternately rises and disappears with its repetition during the meditation  process as deeper levels of consciousness are reached.  In its manner of operation it is totally at one with God’s creation process.  Through this holy name, God may be closer to us as we had supposed.  We may not be privileged to experience a revelation like Moses on the mount, but God can still speak to us. 

The very structure of Hebrew writing was influenced by this hesitancy to ascribe a name.  Yahweh, the name of God as spoken, was never written as such; only the consonants YHWH appear.  (You can see this in the image chosen for this post).This is supported in scripture when God appears to Moses in  Exodus 2:13-15 “The divine name revealed”: “…And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am.  This’, he added ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: ‘I Am has sent me to you’.”

An understanding of ruach, (Greek, pneuma, Sanskrit prana) is a further key to this understanding. David Abram provides this background in his book The Spell of the Sensuous (New York, Vintage Books, 1996).  Here he explores the development of Hebrew phonetic writing, among the first in the ancient world: “They were perhaps the first nation to so thoroughly shift their sensory participation away from the forms of surrounding nature to a purely phonetic set of sings, and so to experience the profound epistemological independence from the natural environment that was made possible by this potent new technology.  To actively participate with the visible forms of nature came to be considered idolatry….Yet although the Hebrews renounced all animistic engagement with the visible forms of the natural world…they nevertheless retained a participatory relationship with the invisible medium of that world—with the wind and the breath.  The power of this relationship may be directly inferred from the very structure of the Hebrew writing system, the aleph-beth.  This ancient alphabet, in contrast to its European derivatives, had no letters for what we have come to call ‘the vowels’….While consonants are those shapes made by the lips, teeth, tongue, palate, or throat, that momentarily obstruct the flow of breath and so give form to our words and phrases, the vowels are those sounds that are made by the unimpeded breath itself….And the breath, for the ancient Semites, was the very mystery of life and awareness, a mystery inseparable from the invisible ruach—the holy wind or spirit. The breath…was the vital substance blown into Adam’s nostrils by God himself, who thereby granted life and consciousness to humankind.  It is possible, then, that the Hebrew scribes refrained from creating distinct letters for the vowel-sounds in order to avoid making a visible representation of the invisible.  To fashion a visible representation of the vowels, of the sounded breath, would have been to concretize the ineffable, to make a visible likeness of the divine.  It would have been to make a visible representation of a mystery whose very essence was to be invisible and hence unknowable—the sacred breath, the holy wind.  And thus it was not done.”   

To best understand the range of meanings of the name and naming, it is best to study their occurrence in scripture.  While it is an extensive list, it will amplify our understanding of the extensive instances of names and naming in the Old and New Testaments.

(Genesis 2:19) “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature.

In Genesis 4:25-26, following the birth of Adam’s son Enos, people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

In Genesis 16:13, this is Hagar’s beautifully evocative description of Yahweh as El Roy.

In Genesis 17:5, God changes Abraham’s name: “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.”

In Genesis 21:33, Abraham plants a grove in Beersheba, and calls there on the name of “the Lord, the everlasting God.”  Calling upon, or proclaiming, the name of the Lord is repeated extensively in scripture.

Genesis 32:24-30 recounts Jacab’s well-known wrestling with “the angel” (who may have been a theophany of God himself) involves naming. “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

In Exodus 23:13, God prohibits calling upon the names of other gods: “And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.”

In Exodus 32:12, the grace of God comes from knowing him by name.  God tells Moses, “Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.”

In Leviticus 19:12, the Ten Commandments include And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.”

(Deuteronomy 6:13) “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.”

In Deuteronomy 12:11, the Temple is established as “a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord”

In Deuteronomy 16:6, the Passover is celebrated “at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.”

In Deuteronomy 18:18-22, the test of the Prophet is whether he (or she) speaks in the name of the Lord: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

(Psalms 90:2) “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” The Psalms are full of praising the name of the Lord, remembering the name of the Lord, being defended by the name of the Lord, seeking the name of the Lord, declaring the name of the Lord.

(Proverbs 22:1) “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”

In Isaiah 7:14, the Messiah is identified as Immanuel, “God with us”:“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Zephaniah 3:12 speaks of the humble, “an afflicted and poor people”, who “shall trust in the name of the Lord.”

Zechariah 6:12-13 introduces the name of the Messiah as “Branch”. I see this as directly related to the Tree of  Lif e: “Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:  Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

(Malachi 1:11) “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Malachi 2:5-6 describes the coming Messiah: “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity”.

Matthew 6:9 mentions the name of God as a part of the Lord’s Prayer: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

(Matthew 7:22) “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”

(Matthew 10:22) “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

The name of Jesus is the foundation of Christian community:  In Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

In Matthew 19:29, true discipleship involves forsaking “houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake”, and promises that they “shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

On Palm Sunday, the multitudes chant, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”

Baptism invokes, in Matthew 28:19, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”.

The name is powerful against demonic forces, in Luke 10:17, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”

Luke 10:20 encourages believers  to rejoice, for their names “are written in heaven”.

In John 5:43, Jesus identifies himself with the name of his heavenly Father: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.”

(John 15:16) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

It is worthwhile to include in its entirety Jesus’ farewell address to the disciples, in John 117:1-23: “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

Calling on the name of the Lord enables those who do so to escape doom, in Acts 2:20-21: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

(Acts 19:11-13) “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.”

Colossians 3:16-17 includes a beautiful benediction spoken as believers go forth: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

And finally, the apocalyptic vision:

(Revelation 2:17) “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

(Revelation 3:8) “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

(Revelation 14:1-3) “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”

(Revelation 14:10-11) “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

(Revelation 15:2-4) “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

Revelation 19:11-13 describes a vision of the Lamb of God: “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”

So there is God, who exists in deep mystery, but then  there is Jesus, who has been revealed, whom we know.  Like God, he is called Lord.  Because of his work on earth, his resurrection, and his continuing nearness to us, his name is powerful.   He has other names as well, and there are many: in prophecy he is the Branch, translated “rising sun” in Luke 1:78. He is the Christ, Christus. He is the Word, the Logos, who “was with God and was God” in the first chapter of John. He is called the Son of God, as well as his self-referred title “the Son of Man”, emphasizing his humanness. And the name Jesus, Yeshua, is “God saves”, or, as most dictionaries translate it, “God is salvation”.  He is available to us.  His saving work, as in the time of his embodiment on earth, continues.

The great advantage which devotees of Christ possess is that this is not just a spiritualized religion, removed from the human realm.  We participate in the life of Emmanuel, God with us.  This is the fulfillment of Divine Personhood seeking to break through into human history. He was anticipated in the visions of the Hebrew prophets. He was born among those of his time and lived in fellowship with them.  He performed healings and miracles, demonstrating his spiritual power.   He was manifested in the power of the Spirit at his baptism and during the Transfiguration, linking his New Testament revelation to that of Moses and the prophets.  His Resurrection completed his manifestation and showed him as the Lord of all time, with post-resurrection appearances continuing to this day. His name and form transcend all human names and forms.  And there is more: our participation in his baptism is the means by which, united with him, we bridge the dissolution of name and form.  And, after all, isn’t this what we want from a Savior?





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