'El Shaddai' means He is omnipotent...but

Wikipedia also says the word may mean ‘Great Destroyer’. Which would equate great power (well, He obviously has great power having made the Universe) but not our modern understanding of omnipotence, where He could do ALL things, seen and unseen, knowable and unknowable…you could be more powerful than anything in the Universe and still not be truly omnipotent: you might still have a limit.
So is our translation, say in Revelation, correct when we say He is ‘omnipotent’ being that ‘El Sahddai’s’ EXACT translation seems unknown?

I don’t know about exact translations of ancient Hebrew words, but it wouldn’t affect the Catholic understanding of God, which is (as you said) omnipotence. God can do anything that can possibly be done. He could make magical unicorns and dragons if he wished.

God cannot do anything that is impossible. For example, God cannot draw a square circle, because square circles cannot possibly exist (whereas unicorns and dragons could).

I think St. Thomas Aquinas proved God’s omnipotence using reason alone in the Summa Contra Gentiles Book 1:

“the mode of a thing’s excellence is according to the mode of its being. For a thing is said to be more or less excellent according as its being is limited to a certain greater or lesser mode of excellence. Therefore, if there is something to which the whole power of being belongs, it can lack no excellence that is proper to some thing. But for a thing that is its own being it is proper to be according to the whole power of being. … God, therefore, Who is His being, as we have proved above, has being according to the whole power of being itself.”

It seems to follow from this that any possible power must be in the nature of God. And I don’t think that’s any different from being omnipotent.

There is a similar argument in the Summa Theologica:

“As stated above (Article 1), active power exists in God according to the measure in which He is actual. Now His existence is infinite, inasmuch as it is not limited by anything that receives it, as is clear from what has been said, when we discussed the infinity of the divine essence (7, 1). Wherefore, it is necessary that the active power in God should be infinite. For in every agent is it found that the more perfectly an agent has the form by which it acts the greater its power to act. For instance, the hotter a thing is, the greater the power has it to give heat; and it would have infinite power to give heat, were its own heat infinite. Whence, since the divine essence, through which God acts, is infinite, as was shown above (Question 7, Article 1) it follows that His power likewise is infinite.”

Is that helpful?

That seems very helpful. Thanks! The only thing I’d dispute (not becuase I disagree but because I’m unsure about it) is that God is infinite being. Thereby, the second of those two arguments doesn’t work for me…yet. There seems to be different views on that one and I haven’t quite made my own mind up about it yet…

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