Language Studies in Light of the Gospel

Irreconcilable Differences?

Tower of BabelUpon the exercise of creative imagination, primitive man developed language. It has evolved through gestures, signs, cries, imitative sounds, intonation, and accent, to the vocalization reflected by alphabets. Language is human kind’s greatest and most serviceable thinking tool. Today there is a need for greater emphasis on linguistic development as it serves to facilitate the expression of evolving thought. We must also recognize that the language of mathematics trains our thoughts along lines of exacting precision. We hold that the spread of civilization has always waited upon the development of language because growing languages promote civilized thinking.

Depicted here is the Tower of Babel according to one artist’s conception. Tradition, and the eleventh chapter of Genesis, teach that the tower was built “so that we may make a name for ourselves.” The group that wanted the tower to be a memorial to their racial superiority thought it ought to be a great and imposing structure, insuring the admiration of all future generations. Another faction wanted the tower designed to commemorate the Dilmun culture. They believed “Bablot” should become a great center of commerce, art, and manufacture. And finally, there was a small contingent holding that the tower should be devoted to the worship of the Father of all.

The groups never were able to reconcile their differences. Their languages clearly reflected a diverse, and largely incompatible, set of values. The biblical story describes how God, displeased with the builders’ intent, confused their languages and scattered the people.

Scholars have, for centuries, been searching for the shared language that was in use before the people went their separate ways. It has been described as a “paradox” that the first evidence of written Sanskrit occurs centuries later than that of the Prakrit languages which are thought to be its linguistic descendants. One such scholar, Sir William Jones, originally went to India to work as a supreme Court Judge in Calcutta. Proficient in many European and Asian languages from an early age, Jones developed a keen interest in the study of Indian culture and civilization. He found an outlet to his enlightened interests in the form of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta, which he established in 1784, with the support of his friends and colleagues.

In 1786, while delivering his third lecture, Sir William made the following statement which aroused the curiosity of many scholars and finally led to the emergence of comparative linguistics. Noticing the similarities between Sanskrit and the Classical Languages of Europe such as Greek and Latin; he declared: “The Sanskcrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could not possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothick and the Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskcrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family… (Jones, Collected Works, Volume III : 34-5).

Sir William thereby shook the foundations of an age old European belief that Hebrew was the source language for all the world languages. He introduced another Copernican revolution that, two hundred years later, would lead to a comparative study of the origin and evolution of Proto Indo European Language or PIE. The value of PIE in this particular case is to be found within the Indo European languages as they may have stemmed from a common source. As a designation for a root language, PIE leads us to a point in time of about 7,000 BC and a place in space somewhere in Asia Minor, perhaps the shores of lake Van, the Caspian Sea, or Anatolia in Turkey. And so it would appear that the best elements in human language were divided between the different slices of the linguistic PIE.

Within the Aevia Group we have thereby come to believe that one of the three words in a truly compact statement of the Jesusonian Gospel should be the sanskrit term Namasté. Jesus said: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” It stands to reason that, unless we each live in a universe that is exclusively egocentric, the Kingdom of Heaven probably resides in others as well. Namasté is one of the few Sanskrit words commonly recognized by Non-Hindi speakers. In the word namasté there is sandhi, or coalescence, between the two Sanskrit words namah and te, meaning “I bow (reverentially) to you.” Throughout history, and across cultures, namasté has been used with the following meanings:

  • “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me.”
  • “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells.”
  • “I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace.”
  • “When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.”
  • “I salute the God within you.”
  • “I greet the God within.”
  • “That which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you.”
  • “The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you.”
  • “All that is best and highest in me greets/salutes all that is best and highest in you.”
  • “The light in me sees the light in you.”
  • “Your spirit and my spirit are One.”

The other two words in our compact Gospel are equally meaningful. The Incarnation revealed a technique of divine parenting. It is the spiritual equivalent of getting on the floor to see things from your child’s perspective. It places great emphasis on understanding, by experiential means, one with imperfect or immature development. Understanding our brothers and sisters in this way is an important part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

“As I have loved you.” Can we even begin to envision all the ways Jesus loved and continues to love us? Just how important is it that we comprehend this teaching? After all, Jesus prefaced this call to action with the words “This is my command.”
The GospelJesus said: “This is my command, that you love one another the way I have loved you.” In this use case “love” is definitely a verb. It is not something in and out of which someone falls. As Jesus used the term, it is a call to action.

One of the Latin terms often cited as a root for the term love is līberē. It is defined as freely, without restraint or hindrance. It is often characterized as openness, boldness, and frankness. And yet, when we share a love with someone, we can enjoy true liberty while also stopping short of taking license. This brings us to the other oft cited Latin root, lubēt, which literally means to please, to be pleasing, or to be agreeable. The Apostle Peter once found himself on the wrong side of this particular concept as he was stunned by the rebuke “Get behind me Satan.” It appears from the record that, although Peter was anxious to please, he had momentarily forgotten that pleasing God must take precedence over pleasing men.

Subjective gratification must eventually give way to an objective satisfaction only the faithful will ever know. Their enthusiasm is clear and convincing evidence that the center-most truth in the Gospel of Jesus was his teaching that “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”

Enthusiasm therefore is the truth pill that will ultimately kill all doubt. Open up that particular capsule and you will find granules of enthousiasmos. This Greek term comes from the adjective entheos which is formed from en which means in or within, and theos, the term for “God.” Enthusiasm literally means “having God within.”

Living a life illuminated by physical light, intellectual insight, and spirit luminosity fosters the creative imagination, favors the advancing precision, and supports the highest mission of our language arts. It is through the triune complement of higher values that we come to realize the totality of reality — a universe of universes infused with the truth, beauty, and goodness of God. It is upon the appreciation of these facts and the rock solid triad of enthusiasmnamasté, and love that we grow to understand the Gospel of Jesus.

 

© 2011 The Aevia Charitable Trust (The ACT) — Robert H. Kalk – Lead Trustee

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