Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vocabulary: heavenly and religious

I seem to have come across an unusual number of words associated with the heavens (literal or metaphorical) and with religion, Christianity specifically.  This is a little odd because I haven't read any theology at all -- these words all came from books on other subjects.

supernal - celestial or divine
welkin - the sky
beatific - blissful or bestowing bliss
empyrean -  the highest heaven.  (In spite of its -an ending, this word is actually a noun, not an adjective.  It was an ancient term for a region containing pure fire -- the element that rises the most -- and was adopted by Christians.)
numinous - spiritual; supernatural; mysterious; beyond comprehension
paraclete - an advocate or intercessor; when capitalized, the Holy Spirit
theophany - an appearance of a god to a person
afflatus - inspiration, especially a divine imparting of knowledge.  (This word comes from the Latin meaning "to blow on," so it has the bad association in my mind with someone's breath too close to me.)
anagoge - a spiritual or allegorical interpretation of words.  (This word has four syllables, an-a-go-jee.)
soteriology - the doctrine of salvation through Christ (unlike all the other words on this list, this one appears to have a meaning only within Christianity, although I wouldn't be surprised if it gets used metaphorically occasionally).
demiurge - the creator of the world (originally used by Plato in this sense, later adopted by the Gnostics)
hypostasis - (1) the essence or essential part of something; (2) any of the three substance of the Trinity, or Christ in his human or divine nature; (3) in medicine, the accumulation of blood due to poor circulation.

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