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Word Wisdom: Myriad

The latest inspirational column from Rev. Dr. John Kreutzwieser
Word Wisdom

While in church the other day I was struck with a phrase in the Nicene Creed, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” What things are invisible? Scientifically, wind and gravity can seem invisible, but we observe their effects. Religiously, angels are believed to be invisible to humans most of the time. The Christian Church has a day set aside to remember angels, the messengers of God, on September 29 each year. Religious writings imply there are myriads of angels. The Revelation of Jesus to John states, “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12)

Myriad comes from the Greek word murias, meaning countless. The Greeks also used murias for the specific large number of ten thousand. It was first used in English in the mid-16th century as a great number. He had a myriad of ideas for improvements to the property.

By the early 1700s myriad began to be used as an adjective meaning innumerable, both numerous and diverse. There are myriad snowflakes falling from the clouds today. The myriad grains of sand on the shoreline provided a wonderful beach area for visitors.

In the Smithsonian Magazine (October 23, 2023) Margaret Osborne wrote, “Past studies have also linked red meat to a myriad of diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.” Such studies have made me more aware of the amount of red meat I used to consume and have led me to add more fish and poultry to my diet. Although our freezer is still full of myriad amounts of beef and pork, because I like red meat, especially barbecued.

Synonyms for the noun myriad include multitude, heap, and host, which all imply a great number. A heap of issues arises from being overweight. There are a multitude of reasons for the housing crisis in Canada. With her education she has a host of options for employment. 

Other adjectives for myriad comprise innumerable, numberless, uncountable, and untold. God promised Abraham that his descendants would increase to amounts as the innumerable stars in the heavens. Circling around all those stars are numberless planets, many like earth. Under the waves of our oceans live uncountable fish and sea creatures. Untold generations have lived and died in the vast African plains.

The Bible uses the Greek word murias (myriad) several times in the New Testament and the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The Gospel writer Luke recorded, “In the meantime, when so many thousands (myriad) of the people had gathered that they were trampling one another, Jesus began to say . . . (Luke 12:1) “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable (myriad) angels in festal gathering.” (Hebrews 12:22) Jude penned, “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands (myriad) of his holy ones.”” In the Song, the lover is unique among countless others, “My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among thousands (myriad).” (Song of Solomon 5:10) Daniel had a vision of the end of time, “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands (myriad) served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand (myriad) stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.” (Daniel 7:9) A myriad of enemies cannot put fear in those who trust God. “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands (myriad) of people who have set themselves against me all around.” (Psalm 3:7)

I enjoy writing these word columns each week, and it seems like I’ve done a myriad of them. A quick check indicates only 128, certainly a countable amount. Angels, though, it seems are myriad.

John would like to know if anyone has a sincere interest in a relevant word that he could possibly research for an upcoming column. If so, please send your requests to Words will be selected according to relevance and research criteria. We cannot confirm that all words will be used.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 

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