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Gordon Holmes Fraser
©1975

Tengri, Khuday, Deos and God
The word "God" in different languages

Links

The citations below from the article (from "A Symposium on Creation" Vols. 1-5 @ http://www.creationism.org/symposium/) is used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, copyright ©1968-1975.  All rights to these materials are reserved.  Materials are not be be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company.
http://www.creationism.org/symposium/symp5no1.htm

Introduction

The contents below are based on The Gentile Names of God by Gordon Holmes Fraser, ©1975, posted on http://www.creationism.org/symposium/symp5no1.htm. I made some minor editing to "unbias" the history from the religious convictions of the author, and therefore call this posting a "citation", with a full understanding that a great credit must be given to the author for a well researched and comprehensive overview. What is striking, is the universality and the preponderance of the  morphemes Ti/Te/Di/De throughout our world and our history, applied to the Supreme God, whether it is Tengri, Khuday, Deos or God. Trying to concentrate on this subject, and on the initial written records of it, I "boxed out" the other valuable, but non-specific information.

Original Names of God

In the earliest stages of written language known to us, a single written symbol did duty for several phonetic values, and in some cases a single symbol represented synonyms, the immediate context indicating which word was intended. The symbol for Deity, for example, expressed both ideas and phonetic values.

In the oldest known line-written pre-cuneiform Sumerian tablets, God is written with a triad of stars (Figure 1, below). This was later simplified to a single star. Then as cuneiform emerged and became stylized, the star was written with the cuneo stroke of a stylus. As the cuneiform script expanded its inventory of written symbols, the star was simplified further to a cross, then to a simpler cross, and finally to a single horizontal stroke (Figure 1, below).26

Figure 1. The earliest symbols for God

The symbol expressed, in addition to "God," "light," "day," "heaven," "brightness," and, as ancestor veneration developed and monarchies were established, "king," "deified ancestors," "hero."

As the attributes of Deity were distinguished, the same symbol was used for El, the Almighty; JH, The Eternal; and Ti, the Most High, a term used later, and comprehensively, as the Gentile name of God. In all cases the context indicated which term was meant.

As tribal languages and dialects emerged, new phonetic values were expressed by the same symbol, and this trend continued as long as the cuneiform script was used in Sumerian, Hittic, Ugaritic, Chaldean and Babylonian, and Old Persian. C. J. Ball writes that "the character Fig.#1-D, an 'high,' 'heaven,' and, 'The God of Heaven,' which was read (in Sumerian - Translator's Note) Dingir

in the sense of a god also meant (in Semitic - Translator's Note) Ia'u or Ya'u and Ia-a-ti or Ya-ti. The latter is the Assyrian first person pronoun . . . and may well be the prototype for the Semite first personal pronoun."27 He also suggests that Ia'u and Ya'u are the predecessors of the final form of the Hebrew JHVH.28

Ball also gives a clue to the development of the name of God among the Ural-Altaic, Turkic, Nenets peoples. Their names for God vary only slightly and within a dialectic pattern: Tengri (Kalmuck), Tengeri (Buriat), Tangere (Tatar), Tangara (Yakut and Dolgan). Mongolian folklore speaks of the Blue Tengri and the Eternal Tengri. A striking coincidence is the name Tangaroa, one of the names of God in the South Pacific archipelagoes. When the term is reduced to its dominant phonemes, the similarity is even more evident. The phonemes /d/ or /t/, /n/, /g/ and /r/ are the same. Vowel sounds vary with dialects and the added vowels in the South Pacific forms are a requirement of the Polynesian and Melanesian languages. More will be said on this when we study the area in question.

As is the case in most languages the same term also accommodates the common noun for gods and ancestors as well as for the sky itself. Ball says: "The ordinary Sumerian term for 'god,' Dingir, Digir, Dimir is written Fig.#1-D, which in the oldest form of the script appears as a single star, while mul ( Fig.#1-D) is a group of three stars. Not only so, the word Fig.#1-D (Digir, etc.) is recorded to have meant (in Semitic - Translator's Note) kakkabu, 'star' as well as (in Semitic - Translator's Note) ilu, 'god.' See Tab. 5R 21539 while Tab. C T XXI 4 adds (in Semitic - Translator's Note) to these meanings ellu, 'bright,' 'pure' (equals El-Supreme). The reason for these applications of the word lies in the fact that Digir is an intensive compound, meaning (in Türkic - Translator's Note) something like 'bright flashing'; made up of di, 'to sparkle' or 'glitter' (nabtu) and gir, 'lightning,' 'to flash.' "29 The term persists in Turkish in connection with the worship of heaven. M. A. Czaplika writes, "Sacrifice to the sky, Tigir, is one of the most persistent ceremonies among the old and modern Turks and is performed every third summer."

A single root word, Di or Ti, can be isolated in languages and language families worldwide. It is a language factor or morpheme which indicates:

(1) the name of God,
(2) a common noun for deities,
(3) sacred concepts,
(4) an honorific for ancestors or kings.

The morpheme is present in the first recorded phonetic expressions of the early Sumerian clay tablets (c. 3000 B.C.), and is still turning up when previously untranslated languages are being rendered in writing.

This language factor is present as a complete word in isolating languages like Chinese and inflectional languages like English. It is found as a prefix, suffix, or infix in agglutinative languages like Finnish and Navajo and polysynthetic languages like Algonquin. This is certainly solid evidence that the factor was disseminated worldwide from a common source, and when the tribes of the world carrying this trait were starting to migrate.

The presence of the morpheme in the American Indian languages is evidence that these tribes brought the word with them from the old world at a date late enough to demonstrate that variations were already developing, variations that would be expected as peoples break up into tribes and nations.

A ready demonstration of the dispersion of the root word or morpheme is the Indo-European family of languages. Unthinkingly we use deity as a generic term to express the concept of the Supreme God as well as gods.

Deity draws on a Latin word deus, which immediately suggests, for instance, the Italian Dio, French Dieu, Spanish Dios, Old Irish Dia, Welsh Duw, Breton Doue, Lithuanian Dievas, Lettish Dieus, Sanskrit Dyu, Greek Theos, Catalonian Deu, Cornish Dew, Gaelic Dia.

God may seem unrelated but is in fact related to the German Gott, and the Danish and Swedish Gud, etc.

An apparently unrelated variation used in the Slavic languages is represented by the Russian Bog, Czech-Slovak Bogu, Serb-Croatian Bog, Avestan (India) Baga, etc.

God is descended from the northern India where Khu Da is used in the Brahui dialect in Baluchistan, the Musalmani dialect in Punjabi, and the Urdu of Hindustani. Hudah is a variant used in the Balochi dialect of Baluchistan. An ancient variant close to the original is Gu ti, the high-god of the Gutians, the mountaineer tribe that conquered Sumer and Akkad c. 2230 B.C. and remained in power for a century.30 They later spread from Armenia to Persia. They were probably identical to the ancient Qurti, the predecessors of the modern Kurds.

The Kirgiz of the Asian steppes used Kudai as the name of the high-god; the ancient Persians used Hudai, which suggests an ancient relationship between the two peoples. Solomon C. Malan relates these two words to the English God: "A satisfactory reason for the use of 'God,' without the article, lies ... in the meaning of the word itself. It is akin to Khuda or Khudai, . . . and as a name which belongs to the Most High, like (in Semitic - Translator's Note) Illati and Elillah, [it] means 'a being who has brought himself into existence. . . .'God' would probably be taken to mean 'self existent.' "31

The Bog of Russian, Baga of Avestan, Buh of Bohemian, etc., are also from an Aryan (Indian? Not Türkic, I guess, Not Persian, just Arian whoever we call that  - Translator's Note) word, Bhaga, of the Urartian-Armenian-Slavic chain of development. We find, for instance, the Kurkus using Bag Da as their name for the Most High God. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics informs us that "the Kurkus (west central India) worship Bagh or Vagh Deo . . . who pretends to know spells by which he can protect himself and his parishioners from the beast (tiger)."32

The Balahis and other tribes in west central India know both the Bhagda and the Khudai. "Bhagwan ... is also called Paramatma (supreme Spirit), Parmeshwar (Supreme God), Ishwar (God), Khuda (name of God used by Moslems). Bhagwan comes nearest to the concept of God of the monotheistic religions. The Balahis clearly distinguish the deas and matas. They do not identify Bhagwan with any of the Hindu triad, Brahma, Beshnu, Makesh, as they call them. They maintain that these are the creatures of Bhagwan. . . . They believe that Bhagwan has a distinct personality, is eternal, without father or mother."33

Ball finds parallels between the Sumerian and the Chinese which he considers an indication of a common time element and linguistic source: the Sumerian word meaning "month," iti or itu, is equivalent to the Chinese uet; the Sumerian word ezen, "festival," "fixed time," isinnu, compares with the Chinese sun, a period of seven or ten days.34

L. W. King suggests also a correspondence between the written forms. He cites a diorite statue of Gudea, Patesi of Shirpurla (Louvre; Déc. en Chald. PL 14.) which shows the early cuneiform symbols arranged in vertical columns much as Chinese symbols are arranged. These show the transitional form of Ti as Fig.#1-C instead of Fig.#1-D. In this inscription both cuneo stroke and the more ancient line writing is used. Several symbols in this inscription have a distinct resemblance to the Chinese characters. On the Blau monument (Br. Mus. No. 86260), the characters are written in vertical columns and the pre-cuneiform character Fig.#1-B is used for Ti.35

Developed Names of God

China and East Asia.

The Chinese can be said to be the only people who have existed as a literate nation, without interruption, through all the ages of recorded history. They (2,500 BC - Translator's Note) had a rudimentary literacy when they migrated to the valley of the Hwang Ho, and this literacy was refined and codified into a more or less permanent form within a few centuries of their existence as a homogenous people. It has not changed perceptibly during the forty-five centuries of Chinese history, and Sinologists today are able to decipher, with comparative ease, the inscriptions on the oracle bones.

Some will insist that the records of the first six centuries, from 1766 B.C. (Shang Dynasty) to 2,356 B.C. (reign of Fu Hsi), are so mythical that they are without historical value. While it is true that much myth is woven into any ancient lore, it is also true that mythology is romanticized history. The basics are valid. It is a fact in favor of the reliability of this record that, less than one hundred years after Homer composed his Iliad, the writings of China had grown to such volume that Kung Fu Tzu was preparing an anthology of the literature of the fifteen centuries that had preceded his time. It is a known fact that libraries consisting of hundreds of thousands of volumes were in existence centuries before the western Europeans began to emerge as civilized nations.

The fact that is important for our present study is that they carried with them the name and concept of the Most High God, and so implanted it in their language and literature that the record has been continuous since their writing began. Note that the first appearance in writing of the Chinese name for God the Most High antedates the first biblical use of the term (Genesis 14:18-22) by several hundred years.

Two names for God competed for supremacy in ancient China. Both are essentially correct, stemming from the same root, Ti. The Shang people insisted on the use of Shang Ti, whereas the Chow insisted on T'ien. Eventually Shang Ti designated the person of Deity and T'ien, heaven, His dwelling place.

The Chinese language possesses two terms which, as far as etymology goes, seem adequate to stand for "God." The former of the two is Shang Ti or Sovereign (Ti) above (Shang); the second is T'ien, or heaven; often used in later centuries for the visible heavens, but explained in the ancient Han Dynasty dictionary as the Exalted in the highest, being formed of signs meaning the one who is great.

It is not lawful to use the name Shang Ti lightly, and therefore we name Him by His residence, which is Tien, or heaven.

The earliest reference to Shang Ti, or indeed to any religion whatever, in the ancient history of China, is found in the words, "The yellow Emperor (2697-2598 B.C.) sacrificed to Shang Ti, gathered the whole populace together and diffused among them the principles of government and religion.36

The universal acceptance of Shang Ti is evidenced by its wide distribution throughout the many languages and dialects of China, as well as the languages of tribes within China's sphere of influence.

The written form of Shang Ti is always the same, but the spoken form varies slightly with each language and dialect. Thus Shang Ti in Mandarin is Sheung Tai in Cantonese, Sing Di in Hainanese, Son Ti among the Hakka of Kwangtung Province, Shiong Doi in Kien Ning, and Zong Ti in Tai Chow. There are probably as many as fifty variants of the spoken form.

Among other Asian people, more or less within China's sphere of influence, the Pnongs of Indochina use N'du Chiong, obviously a transposition of the Chinese term; the Kamhow dialect, spoken in the Chin Hills of Burma, uses Shiang Tho; and the Chungchi, a non-Chinese tribe living in Kweichou Province, uses Sang Da.

Probable uses of the term as a common noun include Wati, "king" in Lisu; tuan (which could be a loan word from the Chinese t'ian or the Sumerian tian), "chief in Malay; and du, "chief in the language of the Kachins.

Shinto, "The Way of the Gods" in Japanese, is undoubtedly borrowed from the Chinese. Other Japanese uses of the morpheme are: Ta kama, "The Plain of High Heaven"; Diaboth, a goddess; Dai koku, the god of both the rain and the artisans; and Hotei, the god of magnanimity.

'The Japanese seem to have been theists originally rather than ancestor worshipers. A Shinto scholar, Atsutans Hirata (A.D. 1776-1843) says: "The object of fear and worship in foreign countries is known by several names; the Supreme Being, Sovereign Ruler, Imperial Heaven, or Heaven. He is none other than our Heavenly Kami who dwells in Heaven and governs all the affairs of the world."37

The Ainu, non-Japanese aborigines living on the island of Hokkaido, are largely shamanistic and animistic; they have, however, a rudimentary knowledge of the Most High God. George C. Ring writes: "Ainu archaeology testifies to belief in survival after death but the findings throw no further light on the race's ancient religion. Nowadays they acknowledge Nis Ti, a Supreme Being domiciled in the upper firmament. He is invoked in prayer on special occasions but since he is mysterious and remote and has committed mundane affairs to the Kami (spirits), these latter are the recipient of every day cult."38

The Koreans, certainly within the Chinese sphere of influence in classical times, have Siang Tiei as their Supreme God, obviously a use of the Chinese Shang Ti. The Koreans, like many others, use the root word as an affix in their names for deities; Tigyama is a protective deity of the home and Tachue, "Lord of the Place," is expected to avert evil and bring luck to the house.

Africa.

The study of the knowledge of the Most High God on the continent of Africa can be a rewarding one. Probably no area of the world has had its native religions so closely observed, and the "dark continent" has been characterized, more than any other, as a land of witchcraft, shamanism, orgiastic rites, demon possession, and contagious and imitative magic. As is invariably the case, most observers have seen only the most dramatic religious excesses and have not inquired concerning a higher concept of the high-god.

Confirming that African tribes did have a knowledge of God is the fact that, when the Scriptures were translated into the native languages, almost without exception a satisfactory name was found for the Most High as Almighty, Creator, and Sustainer. In over 120 Scripture translations studied by this author, only one, the Gu or Dahomey, uses the term Jiheyehe, obviously a transliteration of the name Jehovah; and only nine, all from the Islamic-dominated Sudan, Sierra Leone, French West Africa, and Nigeria, use a modification of Allah. All the others use colloquial terms, the most prominent of which are the Mulungu, Mungu, Molongo and the Nzambi, or variants of the Bantu languages.

The use of the universal root word for the Most High are infrequent, although cultural anthropologists have discovered some: Ti xo of the Kaffir in Basutoland; Dyu of the Bassa of Central Liberia; Dyem of the Angas Tribe of Nigeria's Bauchi Highlands; Deban of the Agoas of Abyssinia; and a deteriorated term, Da, the serpent god of Dahomey. Other likely instances are Asiata of the Nanda of the Africa Gold Coast; Awondo of the Munshi of Northern Nigeria; Katonda of the Boganda, a Bantu tribe of East Africa; and Tilo, the "dim mysterious power associated with the Sky," of the Thonga Tribe of South Africa.

Australia.

The aboriginal Australians have challenged the imagination of anthropologists since first coming to their attention. They assumed that they had at last discovered the earth's most primitive people who, because of their isolation, had been bypassed in their evolutionary advance. A. L. Kroeber surmises that "the Native Australian culture . . . has been most nearly cut off and therefore remote from the continents during the tens or hundreds of thousands of years that man and his culture have been spread over the earth ... it is sound in designating the Australian general level as retarded by thousands of years behind the Eurasiatic . . . levels of culture."39

The anthropologists thought they had surely found "fossil man," but thorough research revealed that there was no such thing as a typical Australian aborigine, only human beings that fell into many categories. On Murray River in South Australia, they were described as extremely hairy of chest and body,40 which puts them in a class with western white Europeans (or Ainu, or Armenians and Georgians, you name it - Translator's Note) who are probably the world's hairiest people. In the Victoria Desert they have "copper colored skin, sloping foreheads, prominent brow-ridges, with almost aquiline noses, most of them slightly built."41 In Central Australia they have "deep-set eyes and broad nostrils. Some of their women-folk . . . have fair copper tinted hair."42 On the border between Northern Territory and Western Australia are "people with Jewish-like profiles and prominent noses."43 Kroeber describes the native Australian as "black-skinned, very broad nosed, long-headed, prog-nathus, but their hirsuteness, full beards and wavy head-hair take them out of the pure negroid sphere."44 Hooten classifies them as a "composite, predominantly white race."45 Our best conclusion is that we have here a wide variety of peoples who migrated to the dead end of the southeast Asian land mass over a period of centuries and from a number of points of origin. Their mode of transportation poses no problem: the peoples of the southeast Asiatic archipelagoes were, from the beginning, competent seafarers with craft far more seaworthy than the western Europeans used for their first journeys of exploration. Competent native navigators could have spanned the Torres Strait between the Malay archipelago and the Australian mainland, a distance of not more than one hundred miles, in less than a good sailing day.

While they had nothing but wooden or crude stone tools, which classifies them as paleolithic, they did have a highly developed societal system with strict kinship patterns. Kroeber describes the Australians' "social, conceptual and ritual world ... as definitely elaborate: full of distinct features and precise rules, well interrelated. In fact, nowhere else have theoretical ethnologists and sociologists been able to demonstrate so neat a functional integration of the parts of culture to the whole as among the Australians."46

The tribes of Australia, like all primitive societies, possess the ancient concept of the God of Heaven. Early investigators, unable to discover this because of the natives' reluctance to reveal their tribal lore, concluded the Australians were no more than animists without a definite animistic cult. Lang wrote in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics that "the idea of a supreme being is not of late appearance in culture, and is not a reflection from human kings. It is found among the democratic tribes of Australia, who, at most, have a 'head man' of the community, while the council of the mature men makes his position more or less constitutional. 'The All Father' is not the glorified ghost of such an one, because He had before death, in the myths, entered the world; and he still exists, usually in a world of His own, above the sky."

Mircea Eliade writes that Kurnai youths are dedicated at puberty rites to the sky-god. "The instructors raise the novices into the air several times, the novices stretching their arms as far as possible toward the sky."47 He identifies their sky-god as Daramulen. Another scholar adds that "it is among the Kurnai, whom on other grounds we have regarded as the most archaic of the tribes, that we meet with a monotheistic belief in its simplest forms."48

Another Australian name for the Most High is Kela di.

Among the Kaitish and surrounding tribes the name of God is Atnatu. In another encyclopedia article, Lang describes the native conception of Atnatu: "Atnatu was prior to Alcheringa or, 'Age of Beginning of All Things'; He arose up in the sky in the very far back past. . . . He made Himself and gave Himself a name . . .he expelled from His heaven a number of His sons who neglected his sacred service, and they came down to earth, to which Atnatu sent everything that the black fellow has."

It seems highly probable that Atnatu is cognate with the ancient Sumerian name Anutu or Anuti. The same must also be the case with names used by other tribes of the Malay archipelago and the adjacent mainland: for instance, the Radé in Annam use Anete; the Laté of Papua use Anotu; the Ragetta of New Guinea use Anuti; the Katé Tribe of Finschaven in Papua use Anutule; the Yabin of Huon Gulf in Eastern New Guinea use Anoto; and the Ilcano of Northern Luzon use Anito.

Oceania.

The island masses of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific furnish one of the most thickly populated and, at the same time, remote areas for the study of our subject.

Streams of migrants left the mainland of Asia for the larger islands, and then the larger islands for the smaller ones and the atolls, in response to the pressure from population. Continued migrations from the interior of Asia caused a blending of racial stocks and languages, resulting in new cultures and ways of life. Scarcely a single atoll more than a few acres large failed to be settled by families and tribes seeking new homes.

This migration could have started as early as 2000 B.C. and continued until the eighteenth century. It consisted of tribes without recorded literacy. The most remote of the islands, Easter Island, a mere 2,030 miles from the South American coast, had a literacy the remnants of which have been discovered within the past century. It seems to be indigenous, although some have tried to identify it with the never deciphered Indus Valley Script, there are similarities, but both are pictographic so the similarities could be pure coincidence.

The culture of the South Pacific, like most cultures, had two levels of religious concepts. The first European observers saw only the lower level, the superstitions, omens, mana, tabus, the sorcerers practicing contagious and imitative magic, idols, temples, and other paraphernalia associated with religious rites. A prominent ritual was the recital of a lengthy genealogy that ended only when the reciter reached the god from whom his family supposedly descended.

When later investigators entered the field and gained the people's confidence, they discovered that throughout the entire South Pacific the same pantheon was recognized, and it equaled the high-gods of the anthropologists and the Supreme Being of the theologians. Three divine names dominate the scene: Tané, Tan-garoa, and Atua; their attributes are identical and may well refer to the same Being.

Atua is used most frequently by Bible translators. Variations in the spelling by the translators are probably due to the acuity of the hearing of the scribe. Atua becomes Otua on Tonga, Aitu in Rotoma, Toa in Samoa, Atu Motua on Mangareva, and Akua in Hawaii where /t/ becomes /k/. Atea is universally the God of Space.

Tané is the Creator God throughout Polynesia; Tané Mahuta is the Maori sky-god who separated light from darkness; Tané becomes Kané on Hawaii.

Tangaroa appears as the Creator, self-begotten. In Tahiti he becomes Ta'aroa; in Banks Island, Tagaro; in Samoa, Tagaloa-lag, Tagaloa of the heavens; on Easter Island, Hangaroa (the God of Oceans), /t/ becoming /h/.

The Americas.

The diffusion of the name of God in the American continents is a challenging subject to study; it is also a point of controversy between those who insist that there is no language connection between America and the Old World and those who insist there is.

The fact that each of the language families of the Western Hemisphere contains the universal morpheme for the name of Deity, with allowable variations, suggests separate migrations from several Old-World points of origin. The degree to which the knowledge of God has receded would be a clue to the time of migration from the old world.

(It is reasonably safe to say that the migrations to the Americas, and the coming of the pre-columbian tribes,49 continued well into the Christian era. The tribes occupying the Western Hemisphere at the coming of the Europeans were descendants of the migrants who crossed a land bridge some 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. That there was a land bridge we do not question.  - Translator's Note)

The "half educated and wholly prejudiced Europeans"51 who explored, traded, and attempted to be missionaries were quite sure that the American natives (estimated to number 50 million ca. 1,500 AD and reduced to 5 million by 1,800 AD  - Translator's Note) were less than human and seemed exasperated that such savages should reject European culture and oppose the immigration of these palefaced newcomers. The Europeans totally rejected the culture of the natives, thinking it unworthy of notice. At least 300 years passed before a few Europeans started considering the possible worth of American Indian traits, customs, and beliefs.

The Spaniards ruthlessly destroyed everything in their path and "converted" the natives at the point of the sword. Everything of cultural significance was destroyed as heathenish.

The French Jesuits were quite skeptical when the Hurons in Canada told them that they worshiped the true God of heaven. The missionaries quickly introduced Bon Dieu as the proper name of God.

The English colonists' evaluations of the Indians ranged from the "lost tribes of Israel" to cultureless savages unworthy of the graces of the Christian religion. John Eliot of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was somewhat of an exception to the rule. He considered the natives people, preaching the gospel and ministering to them. When he translated the Scriptures into the language of the Mohicans in 1640, however, he assumed that they had no name for God and simply transliterated the English word God.

As competent observers started to inquire about the beliefs of native tribes, they discovered that these "savages" were quite mature and reasonable humans whose beliefs and practices ranged from animistic ritual to true theism. They usually had two levels of religious belief and practice: first and most obvious was a ritualism that appeased the ever present malign spirits that surrounded them, spirits of the dead (manism) and natural forces, and which required priests or shamans to administer it; second and not so obvious, especially to untrained observers, a belief in powerful heavenly forces and a high-god who is Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler and who dwells in the heavens. Hartley B. Alexander writes: "There is hardly a tribe that does not possess its belief in what may properly be called a Great Spirit, or Great Mystery, or Master of Life. Such a being is, no doubt, seldom or never concerned anthropomorphically, seldom, if ever, as a formal personality; but if these preconceptions of the white man be avoided, and the Great Spirit be judged by what he does and the manner in which he is approached, his difference from the Supreme Deity of the white man is not so apparent."52

The evolutionary writers either persistently ignored or evaded the evidence of the concept of high-gods. If they acknowledged the concept, they insisted it had been implanted by Europeans or, as Tylor argued, missionaries: "The 'Great Spirit' creator and controller of the universe, of whom we read in modern descriptions of the North American Indians, came from teachings of the Jesuits in the seventeenth century; and similar divine beings elsewhere seem as little genuine."53

One of the firmest arguments to refute Tylor's statement is that missionaries who translated the Scriptures into the native languages found, in a majority of instances, a native word or name which included either the universal morpheme for Deity or a colloquial term that expressed such attributes of Deity that the missionaries found it a satisfactory name for God.

P'ere Ragenau, one of the most astute Jesuits, wrote of the Hurons: "Though they were barbarians, there remained in their hearts a secret idea of divinity, and of a first principle, the Author of all things, whom they invoked without knowing him."54 A Pawnee chief, interviewed by P'ere Ragenau on his journey of exploration and missionary effort through the Mississippi Valley, said: "The white man speaks of a Heavenly Father; we say Tirawa Atius, the Father Above, but we do not think of Tirawa as a person. We think of Tirawa as in everything, as the power which has arranged and thrown down from above everything that man needs. What the power above, Tirawa Atius, is like, no one knows. No one has been there."55 One could fill endless pages with quotations from research reports on the beliefs of tribes from the Aleutians to Patagonia. It will suffice, however, to list representative uses of the universal morpheme in the names of God among the various language families.

The Yuki of Northern California, whose language belongs to the Yukian language family,56 honor Tai komol as the God of Heaven. Neighboring Athapascan tribes, the Huchnom and Kato, use the same term; they probably borrowed it from the Yuki. Other Athapascan tribes in Northern California, the Hupa and Chilula, use a compound name, Yinantuwingyan, a term apparently borrowed from their Algonkian neighbors, the Yurok. In Southern California certain tribes of the Yuman language group, a segment of the Hokan-Siouan family, have cognate terms: the Yuma use Tu Chiapa, the Juanenos Tu kma, and the Havasupai and Hualapai in western Arizona To chopa. All of these terms are said to mean "The Benificient One."

Among the northwest coastal tribes we find a variety of forms of the name of the high-god. The Chinook and other tribes of the Salish family from the Columbia River to the Strait of Juan de Fuca have a form of the name that has come to refer to any supernatural power; it also refers to sinister power, particularly among the Chehalis and cousin tribes of the Puget Sound area, and they call it Timanawas. James G. Swan writes that the Wilapa Bay Salish tribes believe each man has his own Tomanowas.57 Another term for Deity is Sahale Tyee, "The Chief Above." Another Salish form is Tahoma, sometimes written Takkobad or Dokibahl.

In the far north of Canada, the Beaver Tribe uses Tgha and other tribes of Athapascana on the McKenzie River use T'ta Nitosi. The Tlingits on the coast of Alaska use Ta hit. The Nootka on Vancouver Island and their neighbors to the north, the Tsimshians, use Ti ho, "The Power of the Shining Heavens." The Haida on the Queen Charlotte Islands use a term equivalent to that of the Tlingits, Tachet or Taxet. The Kuskowin Eskimos use Toiten. The Eskimos on the east coast, Greenland, and Labrador use Gutip or Gudip, terms that show European influence.

The Siouan tribes of the plains area and their cousins, the Iroquois, use Wakenda, sometimes Orenda. Many of these people were devout theists.

The Muskoghean tribesóCreek, Seminole, Choctawóhave a concept of God as the Master of Breath, Esauge Tuh emissee, which could very well be an onomatopoeic word distinguished by the infix, Tuh.

A number of tribes have adopted colloquial terms, either because they had lost the original word or because it had deteriorated and failed any longer to express the dignity of the high-god. Samples are K'mukamtoh, "The Old Man," of the Klamath; Olelbis, "He Who Sits Above," of the Wintun; Yuttore, "That Which Sits on High," of the Babines (Carrier) in Northern British Columbia.

Most anthropologists have a preconceived notion of what they will find as they examine a strange culture. In this way they fail to discover that the native people are really quite human and just as astute as the anthropologist; too often their findings reflect their own thinking rather than that of the informant.

An interesting example is the case of Silas Heck, the last hereditary chief of the Chehalis Tribe of the Coast Salish. He had been interviewed by many anthropologists and had become quite cynical. The author knew him as an anthropologist and as a friend. "They would ask questions the way they wanted them answered, so I told them what they wanted to hear," said the old man. He had a vast store of knowledge despite his limited formal education in a frontier school of the 1890s. He was competent in French and English and knew at least four Indian languages well enough to serve as an informant.

His teacher in Indian lore and religious concepts was his maternal grandmother, who was a girl in her teens when Captain Gray entered the Columbia River in 1793. The Chehalis Tribe lived inland from Gray's Harbor and had only slight contact with whites before the 1850s. Thus their beliefs were not colored by the teachings of Christian missionaries.

During informal visits I asked the old man about the tribe's concept of God and about any lesser gods in which the tribe believed. His answers were frank and uninhibited: "The anthropologists would smile out of the corner of their mouths when I told them we knew and believed in one high-god. They would say that that was just an idea we had picked up from the missionaries. We worshiped God with prayers that I heard my grandmother use when I was a small boy. She never knew any white people."

The colloquial name for the high-god of the Chehalis was Hawlawk, meaning "The Greatest Great or Highest High." Sometimes they invoked Him as Sahale Tyee, the Chinook "Chief Above." He was Creator, Sustainer, and heavenly Ruler. He was pure spirit and could not be pictured. His worship involved no ritual and no priesthood. Shamanism was related only to the Timanawas spirits. Silas Heck explained: "There were two groups among our people [the Coast Salish]. There were those who worshiped Hawlawk and those who worshiped the black Timanawas. The Timanawas spirits lived in the forest and were evil spirits, and the spirits of Indians who had died, and came back to haunt. Fourteen-year-old boys would go out in the woods and fast until they got their life vision and totem spirit. They would talk to the Timanawas and when they got older they would be medicine men. They would learn from the older medicine men how to make fetishes and beat the drums. We Hawlawk people never used drums." Devout theists rejected the ministrations of the medicine men. They had what were called white Timanawas, the valuable lore of the tribe that was taught to the youngsters as they grew to manhood: how to use wild foods and herbal remedies, how to stalk deer and snare small game.

Of the lesser gods that appear constantly in the anthropological literature, Silas Heck explained:

"Sure, we had a long list of totem animals like beaver and thunder-bird and eagle and muskrat. We had heroes like the snow brothers and spider woman. These were the people in the stories we told the youngsters around the fire and there were ceremonies in which all of these woods people were acted out. One old story teller could make the story of the snow brothers last all winter, telling a little each night. You white people have the same things: you have Little Red Riding Hood talking to the coyote; you have Mickey Mouse and Woody Woodpecker and stories about knights and dragons. Spider Woman got bad little Indian children and took them away like you have your bogey man. The Hudson Bay people stole our beaver and made it their totem. The English had their totems of the lion and the unicorn. The Americans took our eagle totem."

Unwittingly he separates the levels of religious thought and worship, the sinister from the innocuous, reducing much of the anthropologists' "religious pantheon" to culture heroes.

Latin America.

Highly developed cultures such as those of the Valley of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula in Central America, Oaxaca and Monte Alban in North America, and the Inca area in South America, demand detailed study that is impossible in a paper of this length. One noteworthy fact is that these cultures seem to have been imported from Asia without the prolonged migrations that produce indigenous cultures. Gladwin, Buck, Heyerdahl, and others insist on the logic of a series of migrations directed by the eastward-flowing equatorial currents to the coast of America between Panama and the tip of Baja California. Such trips from island groups already settled in the South Pacific could have been made in a matter of six weeks or less by these skillful mariners.

Of interest in this paper are the striking correspondences in the form of the name of God. The Aztecs who were conquered by the Spanish had inherited the lore and language of the Toltecs who, in turn, had inherited these from the little known Teotihuanicans. The sequence of these cultures dates back to the time of Christ or before. The term consistently used for God was Teo, and the same term was used as a common noun for sacred objects or culture deities. Teotl was the tutelary Deity, but Teo is used constantly in the language. The ancient sacred city is Teotihuacan, "The city of the gods"; Teocalli is a temple or sacred place; Xochipilli cinteotl is the flower or maize god; Teoyaoimqi is the warrior death god; Teteo innan is the deity of fertility; teotlalli is a wide expanse of land (god land); and Teoatl is the ocean or "god water." This is just part of a long list of common nouns and place names in Mexico.

The Aztec-Toltec use of the morpheme /teo/ bears a striking resemblance to its use by the descendants of the Veddoids in India. For instance, Dulha Deo is the bridegroom god of the Gonds; Nagar Deo is the custodian god of the cattle among the Garwal; Ghansyam Deo is the crop god of the Gonds; Sonal Deo is the name of the sun god among the Bhils of the Satpura Hills. The Deo of the Indians, the Teo of the Aztecs, the Dyu of Sanskrit-speaking peoples, and the Deo of the Latins all correspond.

The pre-Incas of South America, who may have had advanced cultures, used a slightly different form of the morpheme: Tiahuanaco is the name of the sacred city; Titicaca is the lake on an island which was the home of the gods. The Tiki of the Easter Islanders could be in the same line of migration.

The name of the Most High God used by the Amazon drainage tribes suggests another transpacific migration. The Tupi-Guarani use Tupan; the Chorotes in the Gran Chaco, Tumpa; tribes on the Amazon drainage of British Guiana, Tuma; and the Guarani of Paraguay, Tupa. These are reminiscent of forms used in the Malay Archipelago: the Loda dialect on Sumatra uses Toehan; the Pakkua dialect of Northern Celebese, Tuhan; the Makushi of British New Guinea, Tuma; and the Battak of Sumatra, Tuhan.

The mention of the South Pacific crossings always brings cries of protest, not because of a lack of evidence or logic but because of the violence it does to the land bridge of Bering Strait and the 35,000-year period so well established in the textbooks.

The Melanesians and Polynesians were accomplished seafarers probably 1,500 years before the Europeans timorously started to explore the shores of Africa and the poorly equipped and poorly trained (Chukchis? Koryaks? Inuits? i.e. Asians - Translator's Note) sailed along the south side of the Aleutians to seek the wealth of America's north coast. They traveled on seaworthy craft that carried whole families, domestic animals, and equipment. They were adept at fishing and at snaring sea birds. They used celestial navigation. Every island and atoll became settled, obviously by eastward-moving migrations. Is it logical to assume that no parties ever traveled beyond the islands now known to be inhabited from early times? Certainly parties moved eastward in hope of locating new islands and, finding no new islands, would drift or sail on eastward until the inevitable landing on the shores of North or South America.

Conclusions

A study of the universal diffusion of the name and concept of the Most High God leads to several inescapable conclusions.

1. The synthetic scheme of evolution, which begins with animism, magic and fetishism, tabu and totemism, and ancestor worship, advances to tribal gods and divine kings, propitiation of nature and fertility cults, and then reaches the concept of monotheism, is lacking in substantiating evidence and is contrary to the findings of a number of competent researchers and linguists during the last 150 years.

2. The American continents were populated by mature humans who brought with them the name of the Most High God as the Heaven Dwelling One.

Bibliography and Endnotes

Bibliographical note: sources for the names of God, in addition to those cited in the footnotes, are:

Virgilius Perm, ed., Ancient Religions (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950);

Eric M. North, ed., Book of a Thousand Tongues (New York: Harper, 1938); and

Bessie Gordon Redfield, ed., A Dictionary of Deities of All Lands (New York: Putnam, 1931).

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ENDNOTES

1. "Are Savage Gods Borrowed from Missionaries?" The Nineteenth Century (January 1899), p. 132.

2. Robert Lowie, Primitive Religion (New York: Grossett and Dunlap, 1952), p. 153. Lowie analyzes both the totemism of Durkheim and the animism of Tylor and compares the two.

3. The Golden Bough, 13 vols. (New York: St. Martin's, n.d.). Condensed by Theodore H. Caster, The New Golden Bough (New York: Mentor, 1964).

4. The Native Tribes of Central Australia (London, 1899); The Northern Tribes of Central Australia (London, 1904).

5. Primitive Revelation, trans. Joseph J. Baierl (St. Louis: R. Herder, 1939), pp. 120, 121.

6. The Origin and Growth of Religion (New York: Dial, 1931), pp. 167, 168.

7. Primitive Revelation, p. 125.

8. Ibid., p. 123.

9. Ibid., p. 125.

10. Anthropology (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1960), p. 13. Tylor applied the theory of evolution to culture and religion and Lyell applied it to geology; their combined efforts provided the long period of time essential to Darwin's theory of organic evolution.

11. Besides his articles in The Nineteenth Century and in The Contemporary Review (the most notable being "The Evolution of the Idea of God," 1898), Lang authored Myth, Literature and Religion (1887), Magic and Religion (1901), and The Making of Religion (1896).

12. Formazione a Sviluppo del Monoteismo Nelle Storia del Religioni (Milan, 1922).

13. "Sky Gods, Universality and Antiquity," in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 13 vols., ed. James Hastings (New York: Scribner's, 1908-1927), 11:580.

14. Origin and Growth, pp. 170, 171.

15. A morpheme is any word or part of a word, an affix or combining form, that conveys meaning and that cannot be divided into parts that also convey meaning; its meaning, even in various contexts, is relatively stable. Bake is a free morpheme; er is a bound morpheme, meaningless by itself but meaningful when suffixed to bake.

16. P. J. Wiseman, New Discoveries in Babylonia About Genesis (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, n.d.), pp. 24-26.

17. Richard Albert Wilson, The Miraculous Birth of Language (New York: Philosophical Library, n.d.).

18. The Gift of Language (New York: Dover, 1955), p. 73.

19. L'unita d'Origine del Linguaggio, Saggi Glottologia Generate Comparata (Bologna, 1920); Elementi di Glottologia (Bologna, 1923).

20. Gift of Language, p. 74.

21. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Indian Population in the United States and Alaska (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1915).

22. Dawn of World Redemption (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), pp. 81, 82.

23. Quoted in B. Delbruck, Introduction to the Study of Language, trans. E. Channing (London, 1882), p. 1.

24. Ulfilas, appointed missionary bishop to the Goths in A.D. 341, reduced Gothic to writing and translated the Scriptures into that language. The Gothic version of the Bible is the only extant example of fourth-century Gothic.

25. Study of Language, p. 131.

26. Rudolph E. Brünnow, A Classified List of Simple and Compound Ideographs (Leyden, 1897), p. 26.

27. Sumer and Shem (New York: Oxford University, 1915), pp. 14, 15.

28. Ibid., p. 32.

29. Ibid., p. 9.

30. Hans G. Güterbock, "Babylonia and Assyria: History." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 24 vols. (Chicago: William Benton, 1970), 2:961.

31. Who Was God in China? (London, c. 1895), p. 8.

32. 5:8.

33. Stephen Fuchs, The Children of Hari (Vienna, 1950), p. 228.

34. Sumer and Shem. D. 5.

35. History of Sumer and Akkad (London, 1910), p. 66.

36. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 6:272.

37. Quoted in The Mythology of All Races, ed. Louis Herbert Gray, 13 vols. (New York: Cooper Square, 1964), 8:48, 49.

38. Religions of the Far East (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1950), p. 76.

39. Anthropology (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1948), p. 138.

40. Ronald L. Berndt and Catherine H. Berndt, The First Australians (New York-Philosophical Library, 1954), p. 26.

41. Ibid.

42. Ibid.

43. Ibid.

44. Anthropology, p. 148.

45. Quoted in Anthropology, p. 158.

46. Ibid., p. 763.

47. Birth and Rebirth (New York: Harper, 1958), p.7.

48. William J. Sollas, Ancient Hunters and Their Modern Representatives (London: Macmillan, 1924). D. 311.

49. Anthropology, p. 683.

50. "Footprints in Stone," Bible Science Newsletter 10 (April 1972):5.

51. "Are Savage Gods Borrowed?" p. 135.

52. In Mythology of All Races, 10:82.

53. Anthropology, p. 218.

54. Hartley Burr Alexander, in Mythology of All Races, 10:16, 17.

55. Ibid., 10:80-82.

56. R. F. Heizer and M. A. Whipple, The California Indians (Berkeley: University of California, 1965), p. 5.

57. The Northwest Coast (Fairfield, Wash.: Ye Gallion, 1966), p. 173. Originally published in 1857.

 

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