There’s a strange little story that just moved on the wire from the Los Angeles Times. It’s about Southern California universities acquiring rare sacred texts. It begins:
“LOS ANGELES — The words of gods have appeared in many forms over the centuries, as scribes and printers have transmitted holy writings by hand and machine. Now two Southern California universities are preserving some of this history with separate sets of rare religious texts that originated 1,500 years apart but share a common biblical thread.”
So guess which “gods” are mentioned in these rare texts that originated 1,500 years apart? Gilgamesh? Baal? Marduk? Ishtar? Quetzlcoatl? Shango? Bumba? Jupiter?
Nope. The rare texts are all about a little-known deity. English-speakers refer to Him as
“Azusa Pacific University has acquired five fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest known versions of the Hebrew Bible.
The 2,000-year-old goatskin shards, featuring passages from the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, will be exhibited in May at the evangelical Christian university.
At Loyola Marymount University, a leaf from one of the first Gutenberg Bibles is now available for public viewing at the campus…”
This isn’t a story about the words of gods. This is a story about the Word (or at least the words) of God — with a large G. God is what English-speaking Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and Mormons call their deity. It’s what English-speaking Jews call their deity. It’s what English-speaking Muslims call their deity.
But what about Hindus? Hindus also describe themselves as monotheistic. They say there is one supreme God — with a capital G — though he has many names and manifestations. Referring to Hindu’s God as a god is likely to cause offense.
It’s awfully hard to find polytheists — especially these days. It’s even harder to find polytheists who are printing books, with machines, about gods.
So why refer to God with a small ‘g’?