thee and God
Posted by Art on July 04, 1998 at 09:36:43:
In response to Not quite so simple., written by Caroline on July 02, 1998 at 22:46:35
In contradicting you I mean no disrespect, Caroline, but God is addressed as "thee" not because He is singular, but as an expression of our intimate and close individual relation with Him. The thee/you usage has two levels: the first and most obvious - the lexical level - is simply the contrast between addressing a single vs. a plural other. The second level is more subtle and interesting in that, to a degree, it adumbrates and even defines our relationship to the person being addressed. To "tutoyer" someone in French can be and usually is an expression of informality and/or intimacy, even of affection, and it is these feelings that thee/thou is meant to imply in a liturgical setting in English (as well as other settings). It's worth noting, too, that the informal mode of address can also be patronizing and condescending, and imply a lack of respect, depending on the circumstances. In earlier days a lord of the manor would "tutoyer" his servants and retainers as a tacit reminder of who was in charge, while the servants would address him with the more formal, respectful (and plural) "vous." And cf. the royal "we." These tacit relationship definitions were inherent in the thee/you contrast in English as well, and are now quite lost to speakers of English except as seemingly antique phrasings in our various liturgies. As an aside, the Quakers in England refused to address ANYONE - judges, magistrates, the king himself - as other than thee/thou because, in their view, all were equal in the eyes of the Lord - the king and the farmer - and so no one was entitled to any particular respect over and above the absolute respect due any of God's children, even the very least.
- True! Caroline 12:10:32 7/04/98 (0)
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.