28 February 2011

What's In a Name?

"What's in a name?" Juliet asked in Shakespeare's famous tragedy. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!"

What's in a name? A name is what gives someone an identity. To strip a name away from someone would be to strip them of their personhood. Perhaps this is why we become offended when someone forgets our name, particularly if they have spent a good deal of time conversing with us. Even if we have talked to them about some very personal issues, they surely do not know us because they can't recall our name!
When we think about it philosophically we realize that a name does not primarily exist for our own benefit. I know who I am. My name exists so that you can know me. It creates a relationship between two persons.

We should be amazed, then, when God gave himself a personal name: Yahweh (Hebrew letters - YHWH). Here is this Being who metaphysically can exist by himself but instead chooses to exist as a being-in-relationship. He did not give himself a name for his own benefit. This transcendent Being gave himself an identity so that humanity could know him.

This is a beautiful paradox - the God who cannot be named chooses to be known by a name. He puts himself at the mercy of human language so that we can enter into relationship with him.

What's in a name? Everything.

1 comment:

Manu Martin said...

Your writings left me speechless. I would love to see your drawings as well.. :)