“HUMANKIND IS DEFINED BY LANGUAGE; but civilization is defined by writing. Writing made historical records possible, and writing was the basis for the urban societies of the Old World.” — Peter T. Daniels (1996, p. 1)
There are competing theories about the origin of writing. Some believed that writing had appeared in one place and then spread out to the rest of the world while others believed that full writing-systems have been invented independently in at least four places such as Mesopotamia (between 3400 and 3300 BC), Egypt (3200 BC), China (1300), and Mesoamerica (between 900 and 600 BC).
The experts themselves aren’t certain about many things regarding the origin of writing. New archaeological discoveries could change the dates of origin, and new decipherments could link up cultures we now think as separate.
Divine Origin of Writing
The least talked about one among all the theories is that of divine origin of writing. The Mayan god Itzamna invented writing in Mesoamerica. Odin as king of gods created the runic alphabets, in Norse mythology. Thoth gave hieroglyphs to the Egyptians. And Hermes gave the Greek alphabet to the Greeks.
Brahma, the Indian god of knowledge, created Brahmi an Indian script. The Indian script Devanagari, too, is not immune from divine origin; deva, in Sanskrit, means 'heavenly' while nagari means 'script of the city'. The inventions of zero, the place number system, negative numbers, and algebra were a byproduct of Nirvana, the metaphysical point of nothingness, of the Hindus and Buddhists. Strangers to the notion of Nirvana, the ancient Greeks initially dismissed the idea of negative numbers as absurd.
The Oracle Bone Inscriptions of Chinese writing date back to the late Shang period (1200 BC). The content of the inscriptions is related to divination as suggested by its name itself.
"The Tao of Heaven operates mysteriously and secretly; it has no fixed slop; it follows no definite rules; it is so deep that you can never fathom it." — Huoi Nan Tzu book (Ch. 9, p.1.b)
The Chinese too attributed the creation of writing to the divine.
Liu Xie (c.465-c. 520) wrote in The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons that Fu Xi, the first sage who invented writing, and Confucius, the ‘Uncrowned King’, who transmitted the knowledge, drew their literary wisdom from the mind of the Tao. They both referenced the divine principles. The Tao is passed down in writing through the sages who make the Tao manifest in their writings. Words, according to the author, Liu Xie, can awaken the world because they are the pattern of the Tao.
Claudio Naranjo (24 November 1932 – 12 July 2019), a principal developer of Enneagram of Personality theories, claims to have received the 9 Enneagram personalities via a process called automatic writing, a psychic ability to channel the subconscious mind and connect with a higher source, of inspiration, for producing written words without consciously writing.
Rudolph Valentino (1895–1926) was an Italian American film actor. Every night his wife Natasha would hold a seance and receive help from the spirit world in her writing endeavors. Holding pencil and paper in hand, she would go into a trance and begin writing. The next day the material would be brought to the movie set and given to the director. Source: Madam Valentino Michael Morris 1991 p160
Another Hollywood celebrity, Mae West, would be upset if no one had been able to come up with a script idea. According to Kenny Kingston, Mae was observed walking about her room saying ‘Forces, Forces, come to me and help me write a script.’ Mae would summon stenographers to record the voices and images and movie plots that she received as she stayed in a trance-like state, dictating as the spirits entered her body. Source: Kenny Kingston on Hollywood actress Mae West.
Could it be the case that the first inventor of writing, too, had received help from the spirit world?
God the Author
The God of the bible is recorded in the book of Exodus to have written the Ten Commandments (also known as the Decalogue) with his own finger on two stone tablets and given to Moses, at a place called Mount Sinai.
Mosaic deity was of a wholly different type than that of the preliterate cultures that represent their deities in terms of a force of nature such as a storm god or a fertility god, etc.
His deity was neither identified with any natural force nor localized at any point in heaven or on earth. Although the deity controls storms, the heavenly bodies, and fertility, it’s not a storm god, a sun god or a fertility god.
Moses knew more about the deity than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew about it. In fact, many new aspects of the Mosaic God never appeared in the Bible until the revelation at Mount Sinai. The new way in which the deity is worshiped reflects the effects of alphabetic literacy.
“Simply put, the invention of the alphabet reconfigured the world.” - Leonard Shlain (1998, p. 66)
The Toronto School of Communication hypothesized on the existence of alphabet effect, arguing that phonetic writing, and alphabetic scripts in particular, promotes the cognitive skills of abstraction, analysis, coding, decoding, and classification. Marshall McLuhan, Harold Innis, Walter Ong and then more recently Robert K. Logan insist that "codified law, alphabetic writing, monotheism, abstract science and deductive logic are interlinked".
The monotheistic God of the Bible is a writer. He wrote in the divine language the equivalence of the phrase Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin, on a wall, as warning against a sacrilegious king.
King Belshazzar of Babylon organized a big party where something occurred. A mysterious hand appeared out of nowhere and wrote a chilling message, in fiery letters, on the king's palace wall. The party crowd is stunned. As the party-goers watch, a hand appears out of nowhere and begins writing in fiery letters on the wall. The handwriting slowly makes words. But nobody could understand the message.
Daniel, the man of God, then came and read and interpreted the writing on the wall. (Daniel 5;26,27).
The Christian tradition maintains that the deity is not only capable of writing but also spoke the world itself into existence.