THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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GOD, the common Teutonic word for a personal object of religious worship. It is thus, like the Gr. θεός and Lat. deus, applied to all those superhuman beings of the heathen mythologies who exercise power over nature and man and are often identified with some particular sphere of activity; and also to the visible material objects, whether an image of the supernatural being or a tree, pillar, &c. used as a symbol, an idol. The word “god,” on the conversion of the Teutonic races to Christianity, was adopted as the name of the one Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, and of the Persons of the Trinity. The New English Dictionary points out that whereas the old Teutonic type of the word is neuter, corresponding to the Latin numen, in the Christian applications it becomes masculine, and that even where the earlier neuter form is still kept, as in Gothic and Old Norwegian, the construction is masculine. Popular etymology has connected the word with “good”; this is exemplified by the corruption of “God be with you” into “good-bye.” “God” is a word common to all Teutonic languages. In Gothic it is Guth; Dutch has the same form as English; Danish and Swedish have Gud, German Gott. According to the New English Dictionary, the original may be found in two Aryan roots, both of the form gheu, one of which means “to invoke,” the other “to pour” (cf. Gr. χέειν); the last is used of sacrificial offerings. The word would thus mean the object either of religious invocation or of religious worship by sacrifice. It has been also suggested that the word might mean a “molten image” from the sense of “pour.”

See Religion; Hebrew Religion; Theism, &c.


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

Links to other EB articles: Links to articles residing in other EB volumes will be made available when the respective volumes are introduced online.
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