Thinking about Phrases

Thought it might be interesting to dig into some phrases, that I doubt people know the meaning of. 

Let’s start with: "goodbye", it turns out this phrase comes from: " God Be With You".  Nice to know this one has a great origin and a better meaning than I knew.

Next, lets look at one you might expect from a pirate: "blimey", it turns out this comes from the curse :"May God Blind Me!  So one you might not realize we should not say. 

When we see someone sneezing, we often say: "God Bless You".  It sounds like a nice thing to say but the history shows it isn’t compatible with our church's beliefs.  

 An abbreviated refresher from the information in The "Daring to Differ" book by Sidney Hatch, I recommend anyone read it, if they have not, it is very illuminating.

Genesis 2:7 (NASB)

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being

Genesis 2:7 (KJV)
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

With New American Standard it says man became a living Being vs Kings James Version with Soul.  But if we look at the original Hebrew the translation came from, the word is: Nephesh.

If we compare Genesis 2:7 to Genesis 1:10:

Genesis 2:7 (DARBY)
And Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul.

Genesis 1:20 (DARBY)
And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living souls, and let fowl fly above the earth in the expanse of the heavens.

Soul in each case is from the Hebrew word Nephesh, so we see that animals are also called Souls, so this isn’t something specific to man.

Turning to the Breath part of the verse, that is the Hebrew word Naphash and is also used in Job:

Genesis 2:7 (DARBY)
And Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul.

Job 27:3 (DARBY)
All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,

So we see, Breath of life is just that, breath, the same that in Job says is going through our nostrils.  We are a living Soul, the soul isn’t something floating around in us.

However, the history of Saying “God Bless You” is that people were afraid if you sneezed hard enough you might blow your soul out, like a candle.  

This comes from the beliefs of the Philosopher Plato.  

So you would say God Bless You to comfort the soul.  By the way, you might also look into which god is being talked about, since the original was “May Jupiter Preserve you”, not even our god.

So, instead, when someone sneezes, I recommend: "Salud", the Spanish traditional saying which means “To Your Health” wishing someone good health, orThe German traditional saying: "Gesundheit", which means simply “Health” A lot safer than perpetuating a belief that is not ours.  

You might say that no one knows the real meaning, but I have heard several people talk about how it is a silly saying since they don’t believe their “immortal soul” is going to blow out that easy, when someone said it to them when they sneezed.  

Someone I told my religious beliefs to, heard me say it as a kid and told me, you don’t even believe that, why do you say it?

I have even heard a Muslim correct someone when it was said to them, saying they are Muslim, they don’t follow the beliefs of Plato.   The Muslim was quite upset about it. 

So be careful the phrases you use, they can have impact beyond what you understand about them.

© Vivian P. Kirkpatrick, 2017

Sources:

  • Daring to Differ: Adventures in Conditional Immortality by Sidney Hatch
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV8xgFr0WgU
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_bless_you