THE RISE AND FALL OF "AWESOME"

Once it had to do with awe. Now it just means "great". How did "awesome" conquer the world? Robert Lane Greene explains (and reminisces) …

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In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was awesome.

If this sounds like an irreverent approach to the famous first lines of the gospel of John, I can assure you it’s not. “The word was God,” according to the original. But repeatedly in the Bible, God is “awesome”. Nehemiah, Deuteronomy and the Psalms refer to “the great and awesome God”, “mighty and awesome”, and ask worshippers to praise his “great and awesome name”. How did this once-awe-inspiring word become a nearly meaningless bit of verbiage referring to anything even mildly good?

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