Taking the lord's name in vain-how did it start?

I was just thinking about this lately-what’s the origin of people saying things like, “Jesus Christ!” like they would “Oh dammit!” or whatever.

I think that “Goddammit!” was originally to curse others, but what about “Oh my God!” or “Jesus Mary and Joseph!”

And do other religions have this? Do Buddhists yell out, “Buddhadamn telemarketers!”

[Louie Anderson]
Goddammit! Or Allahdammit, I don’t know…
[/Louie Anderson]

The origin of saying"JESUS CHRIST", more than likely came from when someone was either surprised or scarred by something while they were praying,or seeing something that just bogeled the mind,or an idea or revalation that came to mind,or someone over heard someone else YELL it out while praying,when something at the same time, in the ear reach of someone else,mis-took what they were saying.In another way,they hit there self with a hammer at the same moment!??something like that. :slight_smile:

Um, got a cite for that, kid? This is GQ, after all. :smiley:

Cabantous, in his book, Blasphemy (FindArticles.com | CBSi) claimed it was the channelling of anger about life’s misfortunes from Satan (where it belonged) onto God. He goes on to postulate much about the reaction of society to the blasphemer, which feared having the Wrath of God called down onto the community due to the acts of the blasphemer.

And other religions have it too. Just look at A brief history of blasphemy by Richard Webster (A brief history of blasphemy: blasphemy, censorship and 'The Satanic Verses') for a nice scholarly work on the history of taking Allah’s name in vain, among others.

Though Buddhism appears to consider the entire idea of blasphemy to be rather ludicrous: http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200203/ldselect/ldrelof/95/95w51.htm

Hope that helps!

Don’t know if there was trash-talking going on amongst the Israelites during their time of bondage in Egypt, but “Don’t take my name in vain” makes the list of forbidden activites by Exodus 20-said to be ~1941 BC. “Jesus Christ” and “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” obviously didn’t come along for another couple of thousand years. I’d be interested to know if an Egyptologist has ever found a picture of a man looking at a broken chariot, exclaiming, “Pharaoh dammit!” :wink:

I just recently had this discussion with one of my girlfriends. I used the phrase “Oh m’ Gawwwwwwwd” in that 1980’s Valley Girl voice and her 5-year-old son scolded me for using the word God.

It was never intended to take “the name of the lord in vain” so was it really a bad thing?

Depends upon how the term is defined. Some consider “taking the Lord’s name in vain” to mean saying “God” (etc.) frivolously. Others see it as vowing a false oath in the name of God.

1941? That’s a very early (and exact) date for the exodus. Most scolars would put it in the 1200s, if it occurred at all. The main competing hypothesis puts it in the 1500s. And of course most scholars believe that the Book of Exodus was written much later.

An old joke asked what the Chicago Cubs and Billy Graham had in common. They both had the ability to make 30,000 people stand up and say “Jesus Christ!” Hey, I said it was an old joke.

Does the original prohibition in Judaism refer only to “taking the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (emphasis mine*), or does it also refer to using names for God? Strictly literally (according to a reading in English), only frivolous use of God’s name** would be prohibited; but this was extended so that even using this name in reverence was forbidden. If it’s not allowed even in religious ceremonies, you can imagine that it would be very serious if it were used in anger. But what about Adonai and Elohim and the other terms used for God in the OT? What about the modified forms used to avoid using the reverent terms (essentially Hebrew versions of ‘gosh’ or ‘golly’ but more like ‘lawrd’ instead of ‘lord’)?

I’m not really sure about other living religions, but I know the Romans used to take the names of their gods in vain – they said things like ‘hercle’ (by Hercules!) and ‘pol’ (by Pollux!). Generally I would think bans on using religious terms in a given culture would depend on the degree of piety and the degree to which the religion protects and reveres the terms. (But not always – French Canadians were once extensively Catholic and have a system of profanity largely based on Catholicism.)

*: I’ve seen ‘emphasis added’ referring to ancient texts, as if there were bold and italics in the Dead Sea scrolls.
**: I won’t use it to, hopefully, avoid offense; I mean the name written with the tetragrammaton.

You mean “Allahdmit, I don’t know!” :smiley: - Jinx

The there is the curse invoked in Psalm 137:

This is considered a proper use of God’s name — wishing to see your enemy’s babies smashed against rocks.