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What Language Does God Speak?

In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, God speaks Hebrew in the first instance, then (presumably) whatever language is needed in order that believers understand divine speech, i. e., Latin, Greek, Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Old Provençal, etc., etc., ad infinitum, depending on the particular time and place in human history. This utterly protean linguistic variability may advert to a theological point.

One of God’s divine attributes is immutability. In terms of apophatic (negative) theology, God is unchanging. But from the linguistic point of view, God speaks whatever language is current among his addressees at any given time and place, including all regional dialects, which means that God is always linguistically au courant. In this (possibly singular) respect, then, God may be said to adapt to circumstances. Whether this implies changing is for a theologian to say.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

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