See: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (b)
4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, for Cain slew him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of the LORD.
The Name of the Lord. God’s Name is sacred, yet we know what it is – YHWH. The Name is sometimes written as Yahweh in English Bibles, but in Judaism no vowels are listed in the Name and it is a name even too sacred to pronounce. Some English Bibles preserve this ancient Jewish sense that one never uses the Name of God and will substitute in the bible “the LORD” in place of YHWH, God’s Name. Some Jewish texts will not even use the generic word God for the Creator Lord and following the Jewish practice of leaving out vowels will write only “G-d”. In Christian theology, Jesus is the Word of God incarnate – Jesus is God revealed to us. Jesus’ own name contains the Name of God for Jesus means “YHWH saves.” Christianity believes God’s Name is a significant part of God’s revelation which is recorded in the Scriptures. Moses at the burning bush specifically asks God for His Name. There he learns that God’s Name is YHWH, or in the Greek, “ego eimi o On” – “I am who I am” or “I am the One Who Is.” In almost every Orthodox icon of Jesus Christ in the halo around his head, there is the image of the cross in the halo, and within this image of the cross are the Greek letters for God’s Name, “o On.” Christianity affirms the revelation in Christ that Jesus is fully God and fully human. Jesus is “The One Who Is” for He is of the same essence as God the Father. So in every icon of Christ we encounter the Name of God. In the Church we bless with and are blessed by the Name of the Lord. God’s sacred and holy and powerful Name is an integral and essential part of our Orthodox Faith.
Why is God’s Name so important? It has to do with Judaism’s absolute monotheism. Because Judaism abhors idolatry, there is an absolute prohibition against thinking that God has any form whatsoever. “Therefore take good heed to yourselves. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, … And beware lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and worship them and serve them” (Deuteronomy 4:15. 19). The Genesis stories which describe God in anthropomorphic terms (J-Source stories, see Source Theory) represent an alternative tradition to the absolute monotheistic prohibition on idolatry of the transcendent God found in the P-Source stories. The texts describing God in graphic anthropomorphic terms remain as authoritative Scripture. They will be however ultimately filtered through the lens of the tradition which says God has no form and are interpreted in a non-literal fashion. It is another example of more than one tradition being fully accepted in the scriptures especially when it comes to describing God, who cannot be completely understood by humans. But the God who has no form, is incorporeal and non-anthropomorphic, because He cannot be seen in any way and is “invisible” to humans, thus to some extent non-existent. For such an invisible God there would be no sign of His existence, though there might be signs of His activity in the world. The invisible God does take on a real existence in His Name. His Name makes Him real and present. The Genesis witness is we are not worshipping an invisible God with no name. To know His Name in this world is to experience His presence. His Name is in some ways an incarnation of the invisible God. His Name makes Him real to people who can talk but who are forbidden to make any image of Him. A totally transcendent and formless God would be totally unknown to us. But knowing His Name virtually brings Him into our experience – causes Him to have as “tangible” an existence as an incorporeal being can have. His Name makes Him personal and real – not an impersonal force or natural power – but a personal being. When we pray “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, we are invoking the presence and power of that particular divine being who has a Name and who wants us to be aware of His presence and wants us to worship Him.
Next: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:-2 (a)
The complete reflections on the entirety of Genesis 4 is available at https://frted.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/gqhc_gen4.pdf
2 thoughts on “God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (c)”
Pingback: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 4:25-26 (b) « Fr. Ted’s Blog
Pingback: God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:1-2 (a) « Fr. Ted’s Blog