Invitation to the Study of Religion Chapter 3: What does it mean?
The statement which is the foundation for the three great western religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – is this:
The Lord is one.
The origin of this statement is Deuteronomy 6:4 (the Shema), which found its way forward into the Christian New Testament as Mark 12:29 (the Great Commandment) and became first half of the confessional statement of Islam, the Shahada.
But what exactly does it mean?
Um, that’s problematic. To begin with, the phrase “is one”, as written in the original Hebrew, can have more than one meaning.
“Is one” could mean, is the only God that exists.
“Is one” could mean, is the only God that we worship. (There may be some other gods existing out there, but we will not follow them!)
“Is one” could mean, is the totality of the universe such that everything in the universe exists as part of God.
What scholars think is --- any or all of these answers could be correct. And I’m not sure I’ve got a complete list. There may be more interpretations out there.
Then there’s the other problem, which is even more confusing, the subject of this statement: The Lord.
Do we know whether or not The Lord exists?
If The Lord does exist, what sort of creature or person or thing is He, or She, or It?
You really want to talk about these questions? This is gonna take awhile … Go to Chapter 4 for a partial answer.