What’s in a spelling?

When I was at school we had an examination every term called the Head Master’s English Test. It was his attempt to stem what he thought were the declining standards of written English. I don’t claim to be perfect, on this score, but I do see that an incorrectly spelt words can give a totally different meaning.

Often just changing one letter gives a different meaning. To my shame, at theological college, I typed a notice announcing that a ballet be necessary to settle an election. I meant of course to say ballot. Likewise it caused confusion when I requested permission to go away with a fiend rather than a friend.

The first Christians had to be just as careful in their spelling of the Greek language, which is the language the New Testament was written and most of the early writings are penned in. In Greek, as in English, the change of one letter can make all the difference to what a word can mean, which is why the early Christians spent a lot of time arguing over the correct way of spelling the word to describe how Jesus Christ related to God.

One version of the word suggested Jesus was a good man who was close to God and rather like him. The other way of spelling it, by changing one letter, said that Jesus was God. The second spelling was the one which won. The fact that Christians believe God chose to be born as a little child is the whole reason for celebrating Christmas. As it says in the carol Once in Royal David’s City

He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all…

It always gives me great comfort and joy to know that God knows exactly what it is to be human and that he has drawn us as near to us as He could.

Father Michael.

Posted By: Father Michael

Comments are closed.