In the beginning was the Word.  3

What beginning? What word? Whose word?  4

I am an old fogey, and ramble a lot. Sorry! Got interrupted. So, where was I? Ah, yes. John 1:1:  5

      "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word." This is a translation from the Neo-Vulgate:  6

"In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum." Latin has no articles. The word Verbum may be translated as "word," "a word," "the word." The Gospel of John is an anonymous work written in Ancient Greek which has no indefinite article, and so, as far as I know, translation offers the same options.  7

Continuing—from the Neo-Vulgate—"Hoc erat in principio apud Deum." "He was with God in the beginning." "He"? Could also, as far as I know, be "That." "That [the Word] was with God in the beginning."  8

But who am I to argue. The Bible and its translations have been studied by hordes of experts. So, don't take my word for it. Shouldn't even have written it. By gollywolly, I haven't ever read the Bible in its entirety. Perhaps a dozen of the six dozen books; plus. The Bible is a fascinating document, no question about that, but it can get tiresome. To my mind, that is. A thing is clear though; that there has been a lot of thinking and rethinking how accurate its sources, its translations, and the manual copying of hundreds of editions have been or are.  9

Among my favorite authors is Karen Armstrong. Once a relgious sister, she has written and spoken extensively about religion, spiritual transcendence, and compassion. She holds the view that "religion isn't about believing things. It's about what you do. It's ethical alchemy. It's about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness." Among her major works is "The great transformation," a book that begins with what "word" meant to the Aryans. I'll quote:  10

      "The Aryans were not a distinct ethnic group, so this was not a racial term but an assertion of pride and meant something like 'noble' or 'honorable'.... They had lived on the Caucasian steppes since about 4500, but by the middle of the third millenium some tribes began to roam farther and farther afield, until they reached what is now Greece, Italy, Scandinavia, and Germany. At the same time, those Aryans who had remained behind on the steppes gradually drifted apart and became two separate peoples, speaking different forms of the original Indo-European. One used the Avestan dialect, the other an early form of Sanskrit."11

      "The Avestan Aryans called their gods daevas ('the shining ones') and amesha ('the immortals'). In Sanskrit these terms became divas and amita.... They were not omnipotent and had no ultimate control over the cosmos. Like hunan beings and all the natural forces, they had to submit to the sacred order that held the universe together.... It made life possible, keeping everything in its proper place and defining what was true and correct.  12

      "Human society also depended on this sacred order. People had to make firm, binding agreements about grazing rights, the herding of cattle, marriage, and the exchange of goods. Translated into social terms, [the social order depended on] loyalty, truth, and respect, the ideals embodied by Varuna, the guardian of order, and Mithra, his assistant. These gods supervised all covenant agreements that were sealed by a solemn oath. The Aryans took the spoken word very seriously. Like all other phenomena, speech was a god, a diva.... they found that the act of listening brought them close to the sacred. Quite apart from its meaning, the very sound of a chant was holy; even a single syllable could encapture the divine. Similarly, a vow, once uttered, was eternally binding, and a lie was absolutely evil because it perverted the holy power inherent in the spoken word. The Aryans would never lose this passion for absolute truthfulness."  13

The Roman historian Tacitus, writing around 98 AD, appears to testify to that: "Good morality is more effective in Germany than good laws are elsewhere." To be sure, all I quoted about Aryans has nothing whatsoever to do with what Nazi propaganda made of Aryans. For one thing, Semites are Aryans. But I am off my topic, Word.  14

In the beginning was a word and that word was God

      "and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.
      "He was with God in the beginning
      "All things were made through Him, and nothing that was made was made without Him.

Lines that correspond neatly with how the Bible starts out in "Genesis:"  

      "In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
      "But the earth was empty and unoccupied, and darkness was over the face of the abyss; and so the spirit of God was brought over the waters.
      "And God said,'Let there be light.' And light became.
      "And God saw the light, that it was good; and so he divided light from the darkness.
      "And he called the light 'Day,' and the darkness, 'Night.' And it became evening and morning, one day.

And so forth. You know the story, presumably. Or where to find it.  

I just love a creation story by Harari in his "Sapiens: A brief history of mankind" (2014):

      "About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space came into being in what is known as the Big Bang. The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics.

      "About 300,000 years after their appearance, matter and energy started to coalesce ino complex structures called atoms, wich then combined into molecules. The story of atoms, molecules and their interactions is called chemistry.

      "About 3.8 billion years ago, on a planet called Earth, certain molecules combined to form particularly large and intricate structures called organisms. The story of organisms is called biology.

      "About 70,000 years ago, organisms belonging to the species Homo sapiens started to form even more elaborate structures called cultures. The subsequent developmemt of these cultures is called history."  

Several times I have been asked, "Do you believe in God?" Don't remember my replies, but the thing is that I really should have responded with "Who or what do you mean by God?" Dumb question! Genesis 1:26-27 tells us:

      "And he said: 'Let's make Man in our image and likeness. And let him rule over the fish of the sea, and the flying creatures of the air, and the wild beasts, and the entire earth, and every animal that moves on the earth.

      "And God created man to his own image; the image of God he ceated him; male and female, he created them."

On the sixth day that was. Before taking a day off.  

Dumb question. If man is made in the image of God, well then, God is a spitting image of man. Elementary, dear Watson, Let's not quarrel over the genitalia because the story was here a little ahead of itself. Jumping to Genesis 2:21 et al—maybe filled in by somebody else—we read:

      And so the Lord God sent a deep sleep upon Adam. And when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and he completed it with flesh for it.

      And the Lord God built up the rib, which he took from Adam, into a woman. And he led her to Adam.  

"The image of God." For millenia, philosophers and theologians have gone all over hell's half acre trying to ferret out the exact meaning of this phrase. Image and likeness. And so, my question doesn't seem so dumb after all. A bit agressively argumentative, maybe; socially speaking. Trying to put somebody in his place. Better to simply say "No" or mumbledy-bumbledy find some exit.  20

The last time a pair of Jehova's Witnesses came to the door they asked me if we could discuss the Bible. I said, "Sure. What would you like to know?" Did they ever turn tail fast. Wasn't very nice of me. Teeny-weeny bit of Schadefreude.  21

Come to think of it, those Aryans we were talking about were pretty well bound to where they were born and raised. Karen Armstrong wrote in "The great transformation": "The Aryans could not travel far, because the horse had not yet been domesticated, so their horizons were bound by the steppes." She wrote that in 2006. Not entirely true.  22

I found on the internet that the horse had by then been domesticated but that this did not mean that Aryans right away travelled far. (Last year, from National Geographic, "Ancient DNA Study Pokes Holes in Horse Domestication Theory.") Science marches on.  23

Personally, I am satisfied—have to be satisfied—that the world as we know it is somehow part of a world, a non-material world, we simply cannot ever hope to understand for the simple reasons that the means by which we understand—our senses and mind— are not up to it. We already know that various animals employ senses humans just don't have. They know different things, fewer probably. We might name that non-material "envelope" God. Why not? But answering the question whether or not I believe in God, I should for all practical purposes declare myself agnostic.  24

In Karen Armstrong's "The case for God" (2009) I find a Brahmin belief that the ultimate reality is a transcendent mystery that could never be plumbed.  25

      "The Chinese called it the Dao, the fundamental 'Way' of the cosmos. Because it comprised the whole of reality, the Dao had no qualities, no form; it could be experienced but never seen; it was not a god; it predated heaven and earth, and was beyond divinity. You could not say anything about the Dao, because it transcended ordinary categories: it was more ancient than antiquity and yet it was not old, because it went far beyond any form of "existence" known to humans, it was neither being nor nonbeing. It contains all the myriad patterns, forms, and potential that made the world the way it was and guided the endless flux of change and becoming that we see all around us. It existed at a point where all the distinctions that characterize our normal modes of thought became irrelevant."  26

I tend to go along with that; I think. Neither a believer nor an atheist be.  27

* * *

I did here a lot of quoting. Apart from books and articles, my mind is now well supported by the internet. Scaffold for my memory. Sure cuts down on my rambling.  28

Still, I am an old fogey. I do pee a lot. While I am forgetting what was on my mind.  29

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