The Wandering Mind


Posted in Books and Book-Making,Dictionary,Etymology,Mormonism,Religious History by wandren on 3 October 2007

Current interpretations, dating to about 1200 – 1300 C.E., define worship as “the reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.” …But does the current attribution of meaning for the word worship jive with the meaning attributed to the word in its ancient form?

The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the word Worship comes from the Anglo/Saxon wurð/weorð, meaning ‘worth,’ and scip/scipe, meaning ‘ship.’

Worth, also according to the OED, means “equal in value to,” “to come to be,” or “to become, be, to befall.”

My 1975 Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary indicates that the word Worship derives from the Middle English worschip (also spelled weor), which may be related to weorc, the Old English word for Work.

Interestingly, the OED states that as a suffix, -ship/-scip means a state, or “condition of being,” or “to create, ordain, appoint,” further referring to shape (verb), meaning “to create, form, destine.”

According to the Free Dictionary, the word Ship, as a noun, describes, a sailing vessel, aircraft or spacecraft.

So how does etymology affect our interpretation of biblical texts where the word worship appears?

For me, it could alter the meaning significantly. Based on the above etymology, I’d say that to worship (verb), is

  • to raise oneself in equivalence with a deity,
  • to become as a deity, or
  • to ordain the object of one’s worship with value.

As a noun, I’d say that a worship is a vessel that carries one to his/her potential.
If you are Laurence Gardner, author of Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark, and/or you attribute weorchipe as the ancient spelling for the word worship, you would interpret the word as work-shop, or a place in which work for the gods was performed.

Gardner continues, stating that the work performed in temples would have been called a Craft, just as today we recognize the crafts (and craftsmanship) of stone or brick masons and metalsmiths, and temple-workers would have been craftsmen.

Gardner suggests, that since we also use the word crafty to describe someone who has secret knowledge or is secretive or cunning (which derives from cunnen, meaning “to know”), and because temple work was largely concerned with esoteric work, that ancient references to craftsmen actually refer to temple workers, not carpenters and stone masons.

Thus, where ancient Biblical texts refer to Joseph (Jesus’ father) as a craftsman, Gardner believes his occupation has been mis-interpreted as that of carpenter, rather than temple worker.


One Response to 'Worship'

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  1. […] Religious History) As a temple is typically regarded as a building, I doubted that the word Worship could have been vessel (work-ship), because it doesn’t make any sense that a ship would be […]

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