Name of god

This article is about names for the monotheist notion of a singular God. For theonyms generally, see List of deities.

Names of God, or Holy Names, describe a form of addressing God present in a monotheist notion of a singular God in liturgy or prayer.[1] Prayer involving the name of God has become a part of both Western and Eastern monotheist spiritual practices. A number of traditions have lists of many names of God, many of which enumerate the various qualities of a supreme being.

The English word "God" is used by multiple religions as a noun or name to refer to different deities.[2]

Ancient cognate equivalents for the word "God" include proto-Semitic el, Hebrew Elohim (God or/of gods), Arabic 'ilah (a or the god), and Biblical Aramaic Elaha (god). The personal or proper name for god in many of these languages may either be distinguished from such attributes, or homonymic. For example, in Judaism the Holy Name is sometimes related to the ancient Hebrew ehyeh (I will be).

Correlation between various theories and interpretation of the name of "the one god", used to signify a monotheistic or ultimate Supreme Being from which all other divine attributes derive, has been a subject of ecumenical discourse between Eastern and Western scholars for over two centuries.[3] In Christian theology the word must be a personal and a proper name of God; hence it cannot be dismissed as mere metaphor.[4] On the other hand, the names of God in a different tradition are sometimes referred to by symbols.[5] The question whether divine names used by different religions are equivalent has been raised and analyzed. See also Taboos below.[6]

Exchange of names held sacred between different religious traditions is typically limited. Other elements of religious practice may be shared, especially when communities of different faiths are living in close proximity (for example, the use of Om and Gayatri within the Indian Christian community) but usage of the names themselves mostly remain within the domain of a particular religion, or even may help define one's religious belief according to practice, as in the case of the recitation of names of god (such as the japa).[7] Guru Gobind Singh's Jaap Sahib, which contains 950 names of God.[8] The Divine Names, the classic treatise by Pseudo-Dionysius, defines the scope of traditional understandings in Western traditions such as Hellenic, Christian, Jewish and Islamic theology on the nature and significance of the names of God.[9] Further historical lists such as The 72 Names of the Lord show parallels in the history and interpretation of the Name of God amongst Kabbalah, Christianity, and Hebrew scholarship in various parts of the Mediterranean world.[10]

One definition of the Name of God was given by Elisha Mulford as "that name which passes into the common forms of thought". The author states that in its derivation, it may have an ethical significance.[11] Other writers suggest that the "name of God represents the nature of God".[12] The attitude as to the transmission of the Name in many cultures was surrounded by secrecy. In Judaism, the pronunciation of the Name of God has always been guarded with great care. It is believed that, in ancient times, the sages communicated the pronunciation only once every seven years;[13] this system was challenged by more recent movements.

The nature of a holy name can be described as either personal or attributive. In many cultures it is often difficult to distinguish between the personal and the attributive names of God, the two divisions necessarily shading into each other.[14]

Abrahamic religions

Further information: El (God)

According to the Bible, the name of God was used during the lifetime of Adam and Eve, but by the time Moses was born, the scriptures imply that none of mankind still knew the name. In the Book of Exodus, God commands Moses to tell the people that 'I AM' sent him, and this is revered as one of the most important names of God according to Mosaic tradition.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation".

— Exodus 3:13-15


Further information: Yahweh and Elohim

In the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Neither vowels nor vowel points were used in ancient Hebrew writings.

Some claim the pronunciation of YHWH has been lost, while other authorities say it has not and that it is pronounced Yahweh. References, such as The New Encyclopædia Britannica, validate the above by offering additional specifics:
Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and claim that this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.[15]

Clement of Alexandria transliterated the tetragrammaton as Ιαου. The above claims were founded upon the understanding that Clement of Alexandria had transliterated YHWH as Ιαουε in Greek, which is pronounced "Yahweh" in English. However, the final -e in the latter form has been shown as having been a later addition. For a more in-depth discussion of this, see the article Yahweh.

The original statement commonly translated "I AM" is Ehyeh (Hebrew: אהיה), from Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, "I Am that I Am (or will be, ongoing)" and is commonly given as a sacred name for God. Rabbinical interpreters and some scholars have asserted that Yahweh is an archaic third person form of hayah "to be", which is rendered Ehyeh when spoken by God in the first person; critics of this theory note that the proper triconsonantal root would seem to be h-w-h.

Instead of pronouncing Leviticus 24:11).

A common title of God in the Hebrew Bible is Elohim (Hebrew: אלהים), as opposed to other titles of God in Judaism. The root Eloah אלה is a feminine noun, meaning goddess, also used in poetry and late prose (e.g., the Book of Job) and ending with the masculine plural suffix "-im" ים creating a word that indicates a plurality of both masculine and feminine essences, yet in a singular identity.

The Hebrew name of God—El: The word El comes from a root word meaning—might, strength, power. Sometimes referring to God and sometimes the mighty when used to refer to the true god of Israel, El is almost always qualified by additional words that further define the meaning that distinguishes Him from false gods.

Most religious Jews forbid discarding holy objects, including any document with a name of God written on it. Once written, the name must be preserved indefinitely. This leads to several noteworthy practices:

  • Commonplace materials are written with an intentionally abbreviated form of the name. For instance, a Jewish letter-writer may substitute "G-d" for the name God. (Note that not all Jews agree that non-Hebrew words like God are covered under the prohibition.)
  • Since the Divine presence (or possibly an appearance of God) can supposedly be called simply by pronouncing His true name correctly, substitute names are used.
  • Copies of the Torah are, like most scriptures, heavily used during worship services, and will eventually become worn out. Since they may not be disposed of in any way, including by burning, they are removed, traditionally to the synagogue attic. See genizah. There they remain until they are buried.
  • All religious texts that include the name of God are buried. See also Taboos below.

In Exod. 6:12), he was unable to pronounce it accurately.

The Torah further describes the role of Aaron who acted as Moses' mouthpiece and conveyed the name of God distinctly to the Israelites (transcribed as 'YHWH' in Biblical Hebrew). The pronunciation of YHWH is described in Psalms 8.2 by the prophet who wrote, 'Thou hast made babes, infants at the breast sound aloud Thy praise.' Several thousands of years later commentaries additionally suggested that the true pronunciation of this name is composed entirely of vowels, such as the Greek Ιαουε,[15] as they allow the creation of language, thus conveying the absolute infinite potential of God's character. However, this is put into question by the fact that vowels were only distinguished in the time-period by their very absence due to the lack of explicit vowels in the Hebrew script. The resulting substitute made from semivowels and glottals, known as the tetragrammaton, is considered the proper name of God in Judaism, and is not ordinarily permitted to pronounce it aloud, even in prayer. The prohibition on misuse (not use) of this name is the primary subject of the command not to take the name of the Lord in vain. See also Taboos below.

Almost all Orthodox Jews avoid using either Yahweh or Jehovah altogether on the basis that the actual pronunciation of the 'tetragrammaton has been lost in antiquity. Many use the term HaShem (The Name) as a euphemism, or they use God or The Lord instead.


Main articles: Names of God in Christianity and Holy Name of Jesus

The authors of the New Testament took for granted the existence of the God of the Old Testament. They believed in Yahweh, "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," whom the Jews worshipped as the one true God.[16]

The New Testament teaches that there is only one God[17] who is pure Spirit;[18] the Creator of the world,[19] holy and good,[20] all-powerful,[21] and worthy of humanity's worship and love.[22] English Bible translations of the New Testament render ho theos (Greek: Ο Θεός) as God and ho kurios (Greek: Ο Κύριος) as "the Lord".

Following the Christian New Testament, God is referred to in slightly abbreviated form as the 'Alpha and Omega', the beginning and the end, literally and figuratively.

Another title of God is ho on (Greek: Ο Ων), often depicted in Orthodox iconography, literally meaning he who is or he who exists but usually translated as the living God or "I Am that I Am".

Regarding the Old Testament, the Israelite theonyms Elohim and Yahweh are mostly rendered as "God" and "the Lord" respectively, although in the Protestant tradition, the personal names Yahweh and Jehovah, based on the tetragrammaton, are also used. Jehovah appears in Tyndale's Bible, the King James Version, and other translations from that time period and later. Many translations of the Bible translate the tetragrammaton as LORD, following the Jewish practice of substituting the spoken Hebrew word 'Adonai' (translated as 'Lord') for YHWH when read aloud.[23]

Jesus (Iesus, Yeshua, Joshua (Yahshua),[24] was a common alternative form of the name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ ("Yehoshuah" - Joshua) in later books of the Hebrew Bible and among Jews of the Second Temple period. The name corresponds to the Greek spelling Iesous, from which comes the English spelling Jesus.[25][26] or Yehoshûa) (Arabic:يسوع, Yasū') is a Hebraic personal name meaning "Yahweh saves/helps/is salvation".[27] Christ means "the anointed" in Greek (Greek text: Χριστός). Khristos is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah (Arabic:المسيح, al-Masih); while in English the old Anglo-Saxon Messiah-rendering hæland 'healer' was practically annihilated by the Latin Christ, some cognates such as heiland in Dutch and Afrikaans survive—also, in German, the word "Heiland" is sometimes used as reference to Jesus, e.g., in church chorals).

In the 22:13.

In Messianic Judaism, generally regarded as a form of Christianity, YHWH (pre-incarnate) and Yeshua (incarnate) are one and the same, the second Person, with the Father and Ruach haQodesh (the Holy Spirit) being the first and third Persons, respectively, of ha'Elohiym (the Godhead). YHWH is expressed as "haShem," which means 'the Name.'

Some Quakers often refer to God as The Light. Another term used is 'King of Kings' or 'Lord of Lords' and Lord of the Hosts. Other names used by Christians include Ancient of Days, Father/Abba, 'Most High' and the Hebrew names Elohim, El-Shaddai, and Adonai. The name, "Abba/Father" is the most common term used for the creator within Christianity, because it was the name Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah) himself used to refer to God.


In Moroni 10.34

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses use the name Jehovah for God the Father as this is a commonly used rendition of the personal name YHWH (Hebrew: יהוה) that God has revealed to humans through his written word the Holy Bible. Psalm 83:18 (Exodus 6:3, Isaiah 12:2 & 26:4) King James Version.[31] The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania believes that God has only one name, Jehovah, and that he has many attributes, such as love, wisdom, justice, and power, which he uses to guide, defend or care for his people. In such cases it becomes necessary for him to take on various roles, i.e., Creator, Father, Sovereign Lord, Shepherd, Hearer of prayer, Judge, Grand Instructor, Repurchaser, Saviour, Avenger, Counselor, etc.

In the case of Pharaoh, he was about to prove himself by taking up his role as ‘Deliverer’. When he destroyed Pharaoh and his host, he proved to be "Jehovah of armies". (2 Sam 6:2) Some of God’s servants accredit his deeds. For instance, Abraham found a ram caught in a thicket and subsequently offered it instead of Isaac. Abraham viewed this ram as Jehovah’s provision and therefore named the place Jehovah-jireh (Gen.22:14). Moses built an altar and named it Jehovah nissi on account of God’s promise to annihilate the Amalekites (Ex 17:15). These roles are often mistakenly referred to as 'names of God’, when really they are simply titles. See Psalms 83:18. Jesus is seen as taking on on various roles to accomplish his work while on earth (Isaiah 61:1-4).

In addition, the Bible highlights the IMPORTANCE of using Jehovah's name:

1 Chronicles 16:8 - "Give thanks to Jehovah, CALL on his name....."

Psalm 9:10 - "Those KNOWING your name will trust in you......."

See also Ps. 68:4; Joel 2:26,32; Acts 2:21; Rev 11:18


In the movement Imiaslavie ("name glorification") opposed by the Russian Orthodox Church, the name of God is God Himself and can be used to evoke miracles.

Shangdi 上帝 (pinyin shàng dì, literally 'King Above') is also used to refer to the Christian God in the Standard Chinese Union Version of the Bible. Korean Catholics and Korean Anglicans use a cognate of this name (sangje, which has largely fallen out of regular use in favor of the term cheon-ju/Tian Zhu listed below; this usage was applicable only not using the vernacular haneunim, which was the traditional Korean name for the mythological God of Heaven, a primary, but not the only, Korean mythological deity; liberal-minded Korean Protestants also use haneunim, but not sangje, and conservative Korean Protestants do not use sangje or haneunim at all but instead use hananim, which implied the oneness of the Almighty distinct from the mythological implications they see in the term haneunim).[32] Many Vietnamese Christians also use cognates of this name (expected to have a distribution in usage similar to Korean Christians, with Anglicans and Catholics using sangje in ritual/ceremonial contexts and Protestants not using it at all), to refer to the Biblical God.

Shen 神 (lit. God, spirit, or deity) was adopted by Protestant missionaries in China to refer to the Christian God. In this context it is usually rendered with a space, " 神", to demonstrate reverence.

Zhu, Tian Zhu 主,天主 (lit. Lord or Lord in Heaven) is translated from the English word, "Lord", which is a formal title of the Christian God in Mainland China's Christian churches. Korean Catholics also use the Korean cognate of this term, cheon-ju, as the primary reference to God in both ritual/ceremonial and vernacular (but mostly ritual/ceremonial) contexts.

The Followers of Zendar. The Name of the creator, (GOD of all living) His real name is Zendar. Refer to The Church of Zendar Bible. Type in the Church of Zendar and you will find his bible.


Further information: Allah

Allah is the most frequently used name of God in Islam. It is an Arabic word meaning "The God".[33] Also there are many many names for Allah, like Ar-Rehman, Ar-Rahim, Al-Quddus, Al-Malik, etc. Besides these Arabic names, Muslims of non-Arab origins may also sometimes use other names in their own languages to God, such as Khoda in both Persian language and Urdu or the Ottoman anachronism Tanrı (originally the pre-Islamic Tengrianist Turks' celestial chief god, corresponding to the Ancient Turkic god Tengri). The use of the word "God" in English is also seen as acceptable to Muslims.

The term is used throughout the Qur'an in passages detailing the existence of God and of the beliefs of non-Muslims in other divinities. Notably, the first statement of the shahadah is "there is no ʾdeity but al-Lāh", "there is no god but Allah" (The Almighty God), which cancels out the possibility of other "gods" as it uses "the" referring to "One".


In Sufism, defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam, Hu, Huwa or Parvardigar are used as names of God.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í scriptures often refer to God by various titles and attributes, such as Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Wise, Incomparable, Gracious, Helper, All-Glorious, and Omniscient.[34] Bahá'ís believe the greatest of all the names of God is "All-Glorious" or Bahá in Arabic. Bahá is the root word of the following names and phrases: the greeting Alláh-u-Abhá (God is the All-Glorious), the invocation Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá (O Thou Glory of the Most Glorious), Bahá'u'lláh (The Glory of God), and Bahá'i (Follower of the All-Glorious). These are expressed in Arabic regardless of the language in use (see Bahá'í symbols).[35] Apart from these names, God is addressed in the local language, for example Ishwar in Hindi, Dieu in French and Dios in Spanish. Bahá'ís believe Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, is the "complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God".[36]


Main article: God in Sikhism

There are multiple names for God in Sikhism. Some of the popular names for God in Sikhism are:

  • Waheguru, meaning Wonderful Teacher bringing light to remove darkness, this name is considered the greatest among Sikhs, and it is known as "Gurmantar", the Guru's Word.Waheguru is the only way to meet god in Sikhism.
  • Ek Onkar, ek meaning "one", emphasizes the singularity of God. It is the beginning of the Sikh Mool Mantra.
  • Satnam meaning True Name, some are of the opinion that this is a name for God in itself, others believe that this is an adjective used to describe the "Gurmantar", Waheguru (See above)
  • Nirankar, meaning formless One
  • Akal Purakh, meaning timeless One

God according to Guru Nanak is beyond full comprehension by humans; has endless number of virtues; takes on innumerable forms, but is formless; and can be called by an infinite number of names thus "Your Names are so many, and Your Forms are endless. No one can tell how many Glorious Virtues You have."[37]


Several religions have taboos related to names of their God. In some cases, the name may never be spoken, only spoken by inner-circle initiates, or only spoken at prescribed moments during certain rituals. In other cases, the name may be never freely spoken, but when written, more limited taboos apply. To avoid saying names of God, they are often modified, such as by clipping and substitution of phonetically similar words.

The earliest mention of the name of God in the Koran is found sura 2, The Cow: "When your Lord said to the angels: 'I am placing on the earth one that shall rule as My deputy,' they replied: 'Will You put there one that will do evil and shed blood, when we have for so long sung Your praises and sanctified Your Name?'. During the lifetime of Adam and Eve, the record from the Bible indicates that the name of God was used, but by the time Moses was born the scriptures show that none of mankind still knew the Name. Perhaps an argument could be made that this knowledge was lost at the time of Noah, when only he and his relatives survived the flood. When Moses first spoke with God and asked His Name, God said, "I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not let myself be known by My Name." When Moses heard the name of God he realized that since he had a speech impediment as a result of a harelip, he was unable to pronounce it accurately. He was able to say "Allah" and that was the name conveyed to Pharaoh and the Egyptians and the name Allah was referenced from that point in time till today. Further details in the Torah describe the role of Aaron who acted as Moses" mouthpiece and conveyed the Name of God distinctly as "YHWH" to the Israelites. The pronunciation of YHWH is described in Psalms 8.2 by the prophet who wrote, "Thou hast made babes, infants at the breast sound aloud Thy praise."

This name constitutes the First Commandment and embodied in the rest of the Ten Commandments is the rest of the alphabet as revealed by God to Moses and Aaron, ultimately replacing for the first time the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. At the completion of Solomon"s Temple the name of God was made unlawful; its public use was punishable by death by the Jews living at the time. "Allah" was the only name which remained commonly preserved and has continued to be used throughout the Middle East. In the New Testament the reference is Matthew 21:16. [38]

It is common to regard the written name of one"s God as deserving of respect; it ought not, for instance, be stepped upon or dirtied, or made common slang in such a way as to show disrespect. It may be permissible to burn the written name when there is no longer a use for it.

  • In Christianity, God's name may not "be used in vain" (see the Ten Commandments), which is commonly interpreted to mean that it is wrong to curse while making reference to God (ex. "Oh my God!" as an expression of frustration or anger). Another natural interpretation of this passage is in relation to oath taking, where the command is to hold true to those commands made 'in God's name'. (The idea that Christians should hold to their word is reinforced by certain statements by Jesus in the Gospels.) [Matt, 5:37]] God's name being used in vain can also be interpreted as trying to invoke the power of God, as a means to impress, intimidate, punish, condemn, or control others. This can also be used to refer to the idea of saying that one acts "in God's behalf" when doing things that are clearly personal actions.
  • Different Christian cultures have different views on the appropriateness of naming people after God. English-speaking Christians, Evangelicals and Catholics alike; generally would not name a son "Jesus", but "Jesús" is a common Catholic Spanish first name. Spanish-speaking evangelicals share this idea with English-speaking Christians. This taboo does not apply to more indirect names and titles like Emmanuel or Salvador. The word "Christian" is sometimes used as a first name, and is currently the name of about 1 out of every 1500 males in the United States.[39]

See also



External links

  • Bibliography on Divine Names in the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Ehyeh and YHWH—The Relationship Between the Divine Names in Exodus 3:14-15
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911- Turks
  • Hebrew Names of God
  • Jehovah (Yahweh)
  • Judeo Christian Biblical Names of God
  • Meher Baba
tl:Pangalan ng Diyos
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