* The Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, and all the other holy books are enshrined by many of us in the innermost part of our heart and believes. Some would even kill heathens, if they dare to blaspheme their divine scriptures.
But why would you kill for “the word of God”, when these words never did and never will represent the truth of God? Language is subjective and a necessary withdrawal from reality, since the finite human needs to simplify the complexity of being in order to convey what he perceives.
Firstly, even if words might denote a putative entity, such the word right, words as well as entities are not stable, neither in their essence, nor in their connotations, which we ascribe them.
Besides the fact that right has several meanings, some might connect right to positive feelings, while others associate it in a subliminal way with, say, fascism or conservatism.
Left, on the other hand, derives from the word winistar and had always negative connotations, such as weak or foolish (see also: gauche and sinister). So we can understand words diversely and even attribute very personal thoughts and feelings to them.
Scholars such as Norman Fairclough and Noam Chomsky even opine that language undergoes a perpetual struggle for power, whereby the ruling class attempts to control language and to define words after their needs.
Secondly, language is not only depending on coding, but also on decoding, which might be different depending on individual and society. Otherwise Luther would not have translated a different version of the bible and pundits would not dispute whether the Koran urges to kill “infidels” or not.
But how can this be, if, for example, it is written in the bible that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) or “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17)?
Very simple: the word word does here not refer to the linguistic word as we know it. Many scholars believe word derives in this instance from the translation of the old Greek word logos. Logos has several meaning, such as, for example, reason.
Stoic philosophers thought of logos as a godly, omnipresent and animating principle. It is no coincidence that this definition does not seem to be incompatible with the hinduistic concept of Self.
Some scholars argue that “word” stands in this case for Jesus. Therefore, Jesus becomes the personification of reason, the divine principle. In the same way Sufis saw Mohammed as the personification of logos, and argued that there could be no connection to God without this requisite link.
Maybe it did not happen by chance that neither Jesus, nor Mohammed, or Buddha ever pinned any word down. Besides the accusations of illiteracy, it might have been due to their knowledge that words could never convey the entire truth of God and that transfixed words on paper easily become dogmas.
Or perhaps it was just because they never existed and were simply a symbol for the divine logos, the Self that is all-encompassing. Thus, if the word is all-embracing, we should not kill for it, but cherish its manifold manifestation.
Nevertheless, these best-sellers are certainly not written in vain, because they are a beautiful and wise road sign pointing towards the right direction. Yet, it is still us who have to walk, and it is also us who can get lost on the way.
* Photo: Jim Hafiz