I have seen quoted in the name of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), also spelled Marcellus Ficin, that all nations of the world worship a God whose name is spelled with four letters. Does anybody know where this might occur in Ficino's writings and if there has been any discussion of Ficino's assertion? The source where I saw this quoted was in The Concilliator by Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel of Amsterdam (1604-1657), see here on Google Books.

This alludes on a passage in Marsilio Ficino’s commentary on Plato’s Philebus, which you can find here on Google Books (in Latin). On pages 181-182, he writes about the four letter names of God:

Cur omnes Deum quatuor vocant literis? Hebraei quatuor vocalibus hae ho hai, Aegyptii Theuth, Persae syre, Magi Orsi, unde Oromasis. Graeci Theos. Nos deus. Arabes alla; Macometh abgdi. Nos item Jesu a Gabriele accepimus, in quo nomine etc. Certe non aliter tam diversae Gentes in uno ignoti Dei nomine convenissent, nisi divinitus. Ac si acceperunt ab Adamo, divinitus hoc potius quam alia acceperunt. Tradunt Hebraei in nomine illo omnia fieri posse miracula, si vere pronuntietur, quod omnium difficilimum et miraculo solo pronuntiatur. Deum puto adeo difficile instituisse, ut nemo pronuntiaret, miraculaque per ipsum faceret, nisi Deus per ipsum quasi per tubam clamaret. Quod ostendit Jesum Deo fuisse omnium acceptissimum: quem fatentur Judaei per id nomen recte pronunciatum fecisse miracula. Ipsi vero per Heloin pronunciant. Graeci per Tetragrammaton. Deus omnia disponit, scilicet per essentiam esse vim, actionem. Caelestia, per quatuor triplicitates. Sub caelum, per quatuor elementa. Sic quatuor voluit literis exprimi.

In English, with my comments between square brackets, this would translate as:

Why does everyone call God by four letters? The Hebrews have four vowels: e-o-a-i, the Egyptians call him Theuth [note that in Greek, “th” is one letter “θ”], the Persians Syre, the Magi Orsi (whence Oromasis), the Greeks Theos [note once again that in Greek, “th” is one letter “θ”], we [= in Latin] Deus, the Arabs Alla, Mahomed calls him Abdi. We also received the name Jesu from Gabriel [compare Luke 1:30-31], by which name etc. [An allusion to Acts 4:7, where Peter and John are accused of doing miracles in Jesus’ name.] Certainly, such different nations would not otherwise have agreed on the one name of the unknown God, except by divine power. And if they received it from Adam, then it was by divine power they received it [that name] rather than others. The Hebrews say that in this name, if pronounced correctly, all miracles are possible — but it is so difficult, it already takes a miracle to pronounce it. God, I think, made it so difficult, in order that nobody should pronounce it and do miracles, unless God should pronounce it through him like through a trumpet. This shows that Jesus was the most acceptable of all to God: the Jews admit he has done miracles by pronouncing that name correctly. They [the Jews] pronounce it by Elohim, the Greek by the Tetragrammaton. God orders everything by essence, being, power or action. In heaven by the four groups of three [this might be a reference to the twelve signs of the Zodiac], under heaven by the four elements [earth, water, air and fire]. Therefore, He wanted to be designated by four letters.

I don’t know if there has been any further discussion of Ficino’s assertion.

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