amen

it is true; so be it
—To all those who claim that dogs are better than cats, I say, Amen!

The Hebrew word amen comes at the end of prayers in the Bible, and also at the end of some books, such as Revelation. Therefore, in the King James Version and in many other translations, it is the last word of the last verse of the Bible:

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.] (Revelation 22:21)

Paul also uses it to close his letter to the Romans:

  Now may the Godof peace be with all of youAmen. (Romans 15:33)

If we shorten now the God of peace be with you all, we get the farewell blessing God be with you, which, in it’s older form, is God be with ye. While most English speakers don’t know it, this is the origin of our goodbye (and good-bye, good-by, bye, and bye-bye). Other previous versions include God be wy you, God b’w’y, Godbwye, God buy’ ye, and good-b’wy. The replacement of God with good was influenced by the similar phrases good day and good night. In meaning, goodbye is related to the French adieu and the Spanish adios, which mean “to God,” as in “I commit you to God.”


 

Epilogue

In one of his letters, the Apostle John refers to another expression that can be used as a farewell as he gives a warning about those who spread false teachings about Jesus:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not give him any greeting [biddeth him God speed], because the person who gives him a greeting shares in his evil deeds. (2 John 1:10,11)

Godspeed comes from the blessing “God speed you.” In the past, speed (or spede) meant “to prosper, or to give success to,” but while the meaning is still understood, Godspeed is not often used today in general conversation. It is, though, used in the US space exploration program, NASA. Shortly before a manned launch by NASA, the launch director routinely wishes the crew “good luck and Godspeed.” The first time Godspeed was used in this way was by Scott Carpenter, a backup pilot for the Mercury 6 mission. He radioed it to John Glenn on February 20, 1962, before Glenn took off to become the first American to orbit the earth. Six years later, on Christmas Eve, 1968, Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon. The crew sent back live images of the moon’s surface and addressed television viewers by reading the creation story from Genesis 1. Genesis later became the name of an unmanned spacecraft sent by NASA in 2001 to collect matter from the sun’s solar wind.

So now our journey following the path of words, idioms, and phrases that originated in the English Bible has led us from the creation of “the heaven and the earth” to the exploration of our solar system and back to the creation story. But now that we’re back to the beginning, we’ve come to the end of Putting Words in Our Mouths, which means it’s time to say, “Amen . . . Godspeed . . . and goodbye.”

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