Divinity

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Divinity and divine (sometimes "the Divinity" or "the Divine") are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in the world. The root of the words is literally "godlike" (from the Latin deus, cf. Dyaus, closely related to Greek zeus, div in Persian and deva in Sanskrit), but the use varies significantly depending on which god is being discussed. This article outlines the major distinctions in the conventional use of the terms.

For academic or professional uses of the terms, see Divinity (academic discipline), or Divine (Anglican)

Contents

Usages

Overlap occurs between these usages because deities or godlike entities are often identical with and/or identified by the powers and forces that are credited to them — in many cases a deity is merely a power or force personified — and these powers and forces may then be extended or granted to mortal individuals. For instance, Jehovah is closely associated with storms and thunder throughout much of the Old Testament. He is said to speak in thunder, and thunder is seen as a token of His anger. This power was then extended to prophets like Moses and Samuel, who caused thunderous storms to rain down on their enemies. (See Exodus 9:23 and 1 Samuel 12:18.)

Divinity always carries connotations of goodness, beauty, beneficence, justice, and other positive, pro-social attributes. In monotheistic faiths there is an equivalent cohort of malefic supranormal beings and powers, such as demons, devils, afreet, etc., which are not conventionally referred to as divine; demonic is often used instead. Pantheistic and polytheistic faiths make no such distinction; gods and other beings of transcendent power often have complex, ignoble, or even irrational motivations for their acts. Note that while the terms demon and demonic are used in monotheistic faiths as antonyms to divine, they are in fact derived from the Greek word daimón (δαίμων), which itself translates as divinity.

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