What does the word 'divine' mean to you?


On another thread, a poster wrote:

I would add to this that Jesus is God and God has the power to create with His word. When Jesus says ‘this is’, I see it as a very powerful, divine statement.

What did she mean by ‘divine’? Is it a word we use loosely just to legitimise a statement? (As in ‘This is divine, so it must really really be true’.)? Is it a word we use to characterise someone, say Jesus of Nazareth (As in ‘He is both human and divine’.)? without really knowing what it means?

We use the word all over the place. Perhaps we overuse it because we are not sure what it really means.



Etymology: Middle English divin, from Anglo-French, from Latin divinus, from divus god — more at deity
Date: 14th century
1 a: of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God or a god b: being a deity c: directed to a deity


Good answer…

What come to mind when* I hear* the word divine…

Well, if you watched TV in the 50s you may remember Andy Divine… A large Cowboy that rode with Roy Rogers, and other famous western stars… Aways a side kick…

Just a little humor /// trivia…


In an apologetics forum? It means "Of ,or pertaining to, God"
Example: Paul had divine approval to preach the Gospel of Christ.
In secular use? Of the highest quality, extraordinarily appealing to the senses.
Example: This cheesecake is absolutely divine.


Oh dear, this is what I feared.

  1. You know that I have access to as many dictionaries as there are on the internet: I do not need a dictionary definition or I would not be asking this question.

  2. Defining something by itself is surely tautological or circular reasoning: divine = deity = divinity = divine. This gets us nowhere.

  3. You *know *I am not talking about cowboys, cheesecake, a minister of the church, a diviner who finds water underground by using a diving stick which is a Y-shaped piece of wood held upside down and bends when it senses water, or …

I have spent three years trying to make head or tail of this concept. I know that God is by nature and definition Unknowable. But we accept that he is ‘divine’. What was it about Jesus of Nazareth the man that caused people to perceive that he too is ‘divine’?

There are lots of deities - Hinduism has perhaps 330,000 altogether - but the extent to which any deity is ‘divine’ is not clear because I do not know what makes for a deity to be assigned the appellation ‘divine’.

So, from cheesecake to God, from dictionary to Jesus: what does the word ‘divine’ mean to you? Or have you found or worked out a really good definition that you could point me towards? I have scrumbled together a working definition which is somewhat satisfying, but is not authoritative.

In Christ


It appears you had a different question that that which we read in the words of the OP.

My first thought, was a wonder why you were asking us instead of the one who made the statement. What was their intent?

Since I didn’t see the original statement in context. Any comment I would make on what was meant would be a pure guess.

When I use the word, I usually mean it as defined by Adam in ohio above.


The two questions were not meant to be different; they are in fact an attempt to get at the same thing. My intent is the same in both: to understand the meaning of the word ‘divine’ and perhaps if possible then to consider the nature of ‘divinity’ if we can manage the first task.

Adam in ohio did what I was sure would happen: used a dictionary meaning (nothing wrong with that for virtually every word in any language I agree, but in this case not particularly helpful), and a definition which is circular, as I demonstrated above.

Can we tackle it by saying what we mean when we apply the word ‘divinity’ of ‘divine’ to Yaweh, God of the Jews; to Allah, God of Islam; to the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Ganesh or Hanuman? The same; or different?

Is Yaweh the only deity described as ‘divine’? If there are other deities/divinities, what characteristic is common to them all - including Yaweh, our God Almighty?

Further, as ‘divnity’ is an English word (in this case) and man-made, who decides where and when it should be applied?

If we look at the opening post (describing a statement as 'very powerful, divine’) what does the poster mean and by what criteria does she decide to use the word divine? Just because she thinks it might come from a deity?

Is it really true that all we can say about the word ‘divine’ is that it is associated in some way with a divinity? Or does it say something about the Being regarded as a divinity?

In Christ


Every word spoken by Jesus is the the word of God. Every action taken by Jesus is and act of God!


Typically, a word used in a misguided attempt to invoke an Appeal to Authority Fallacy.


Perhaps you can elaborate what you mean to say here?

In Christ


1. Ask HER.
2. Some people use it in slang (divine purse, dress, etc…)
** Others use it only in the religious sense.**

Again, if you want to know what SHE meant, ask HER.



I am asking you, and the 1.2 billion other Catholics, and those of other denominations and faiths, what the word means. (I am not particularly interested in her definition because I believe she used the word loosely. I want to look at it tightly.)

In Christ


Then you’ve changed your original question. It was,
(in regard to a poster on another thread):
“What did she mean by ‘divine’?”

Only she can know what she meant.

What do I mean when I use the word divine?
I mean what I learned almost 60 years ago:
the word divine means 'of God or pertaining to God.'
It means a quality related to Almighty God.

That’s from memory as a cradle Catholic; no dictionary involved.
I first learned the distinction in usage as a 6-yr-old.

That secular society uses the word differently is another issue.


I think you know what I meant by my original question and that I was simply using *her *as an example of how loosely we use a vague word. (We seem to be about the same age, so need not be huffy about this.)

I have already suggested that saying ‘divine’ is what pertains to god is a circular argument.
In your attempt at definition, you have specifically said that ‘divine’ is a quality of the Christian God Yaweh.

*Does that mean that Allah, the Hindu gods and goddesses, for example, are *not * divine? And if not, why not? *

We would need to know what ‘divine’ means if we are going to differentiate.


The Christian God is more easily known as the Blessed Trinity.
The Jewish God is most easily known (by name) as Ya–eh.

You’re confusing YOUR need to differentiate as
our need to differentiate. I have no such need.

God is God.
That is to say:
only God is God.

Furthermore, as a Catholic, you know that.


I detect an inability or reluctance on your part to grapple with the original question and its implications. If you have issues, so be it.

My question still stands unanswered: what do we mean by the word ‘divine’?

In Christ,


“We” use the word "divine to refer to God or to things of God.
Divine grace, divine mercy, divine blessings, etc…
“We” don’t use the word to describe dresses or Hindu “deities.”

The same is true in reference to the word “adore.”
“We” use the word “adore” to describe worship of God Alone.
“We” don’t say we adore a pair of shoes or a song.

It seems that in this “we,” there is some confusion for you.
I can’t explore that with you since I can’t understand it.

I’m talking Baltimore Catechism, 1950. Very basic teachings.


Perhaps then you might leave the question to someone else to have a go. I am not finding your attempts at all helpful, and do not understand your defensive-aggressive stance.

In Christ,


I will peacefully and gratefully leave this “discussion” while reminding you that your own comment (bolded above) seemed to be far less than charitable.


OK, so nobody in this Forum knows the meaning of the word most used in the Bible, save perhaps for the word ‘God’. This is at least surprising, if not incredible!

I mean, there was Jesus, a humble man from Nazareth, trudging around a very small part of the globe, in the hot miserable desert mostly among a bunch of raggedy rangers. He was a plain man, perhaps a woodworker who apparently spoke Aramaic with a sloppy accent so that anyone knew where he came from - and many were not impressed. (I think this is a bit of true, practical reality.) He was on his journey for about three years.

Then all of a sudden he is perceived of as ‘divine’, the ‘Son of God’, a God who is also ‘divine’.

Now did the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was ‘divine’ arise because people were actually looking for a someone who was ‘divine’, as promised by the Old Covenant? Note that in the OT ‘Messiah’ does not mean ‘divine one’: it was used in terms of annointing the King.

Jesus would customarily have fallen into the category of prophet or nabi: it was characteristic of the Jewish people that whenever monarch, priesthood or nation went astray, some ordinary man or woman would simply appear and announce what he or she believed to be God’s view on the matter…They were literally mouthpieces of God (Wilson, p 63).

Or were there certain characteristics which infused Jesus of Nazareth which might be recognised as ‘divine’ by those who knew him? And how did they know what those characteristics were unless they had an idea of what a ‘divine’ person was like?

So what happened? What does ‘divine mean’? What did it mean to those who saw Jesus? Does it have a meaning in Hebrew or Aramaic?

And how do we apply it to deities of other faiths: can we Christians say those deities are ‘divine’? I assume that would be antithetical to the hard-held beliefs of many Catholics, but those who worship those deities are convinced that they are ‘divine’ in most cases.

In Christ

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