Consistency in Pronouncing the Divine Name

I am working on a paper for my Theology class and wanted to write about something that I could use for our ministry. I decided to write about the history and significance of the Divine name and then tweak it when I am done in order to use it for our work with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am also speaking about this subject this coming Sunday at Shavano Baptist church in San Antonio, TX and then again at the Witnesses Now for Jesus Convention in Pennsylvania. For more information, check out the calendar on our ministry web site.

During my research I came across this interesting quote from the Watchtower publication The DIVINE NAME That Will Endure Forever. On page 12 it states;

We can relate to Jesus when we use his name the way it is commonly
pronounced in our language. Similar comments could be made regarding all the
names we read in the Bible. We pronounce them in our own language and do not try
to imitate the original pronunciation… And the same is true with the name Jehovah.

Parts of this publication are included on the Watchtower’s website. You can read the above quote here.

Later, in the same brochure, the Watchtower states on page 25;

Additionally, substituting “Lord” for “Jehovah” removes something of pivotal
importance from the Bible: the personal name of God. The Illustrated Bible
Dictionary (Volume 1, page 572) states: “Strictly speaking, Yahweh is the only
‘name’ of God.

After reading the above quotes, I got to wondering what Jehovah’s Witnesses are called in Israel. If we are to follow the advice to use pronunciations that are common to our own language, and the only pronunciation of the name of God is Yahweh, then shouldn’t Jehovah’s Witnesses in Israel be called Yahweh’s Witnesses? I could only think of one way to find out. I called the Writing/Correspondence department of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to find out.

I spoke with a man (who refused to give me his name) and asked him the question. As I figured, it was something he had never thought of and was curious about the answer as well. He had no idea how to figure out the answer so I asked him to check for Hebrew speaking congregations in the New York City area. He checked a number of his sources and kept coming to a dead end. There was nothing listed for Hebrew, Israeli, Jewish, Yiddish or any other name we could think of. I couldn’t help but point out to him the irony that there are no Hebrew speaking congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in an area that is filled with Jews.

He said he knew that the names of all Witnesses world wide were based on the English pronunciation of Jehovah, but could not find the pronunciation for the Hebrew language. There was nothing he could do to help me. His last suggestion was to call the branch office in Israel and see if I could find someone who spoke English. I did just that.

I spoke with someone who sounded like an Englishman and asked my question. He told me that when they go door to door, they introduce themselves as Yehovah’s Edei, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. I asked him if they have trouble using that pronunciation and he admitted that they did. He said that Yehovah (Jehovah in the English) is not a recognized usage of God’s name and that they have never heard it. He added that if people have heard the name, it is because they have heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses and not because it is used as God’s Name.

In order to be fair I asked if Jewish householders would recognize the Hebrew pronunciation of Yahweh and he said that they would not. The Jews have been told too many times that God’s name is too holy to pronounce so they would not recognize any pronunciation for God’s name.

It occurred to me after I got off the phone, don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses take pride in the idea that they are the “only ones” using God’s name and teaching people of all languages and cultures that God expects us to use His name? According to the DIVINE NAME brochure shouldn’t people use the pronunciation of God’s name in their own language? If this is all true, then why are Jehovah’s Witnesses using the English pronunciation of a Hebrew word in a Hebrew speaking country? Why aren’t they making God’s name known to the very people whom God chose for Himself and why aren’t they using the pronunciation that would be appropriate for Israel? It certainly does not seem consistent.

Print Friendly
Facebook Twitter Email

35 Comments

  1. Hey Keith – Enjoyed the article. If there is one area that i dont feel 100% knowledgable in, it is understanding the concept of the “Divine Name”. I am looking forward to hearing the information you have prepared.Take care.

  2. Hi Keith,”Yehovah” is an acceptable Hebrew pronunciation of the divine name. Ancient Hebrew did not contain vowels, only consonants, so God’s name in the Hebrew Scriptures (transcribed) is spelled as YHVH. Now what vowels they used exactly with these four consonants, we cannot know for sure, but YeHoVaH is certainly a viable Hebrew pronunciation.The main point, regardless of the pronunciation used, is that we actually use his name which is a memorial of him “to generation after generation.” (Exodus 3:15)TJ

  3. TJ,You’ve missed my point. Page seven of the DIVINE NAME brochure says, “The important thing is to use God’s name according to it’s conventional pronunciation in our own language.”Regardless of whether it is, as you put it, a “viable” pronunciation in Hebrew, it is not the pronunciation which most scholars view as the most correct for the Hebrew. Why? Because it is based on the English pronunciation and not on their own language.Also take into consideration that the WT writing/correspondence desk specifically told me that all pronunciations world-wide are based off of the ENGLISH transliteration of “Jehovah.” In other words, they are not using the conventional pronunciation in other languages, especially in the Hebrew.

  4. Hi Keith,There is a difference between modern Hebrew and ancient Hebrew. When scholars speculate about the original pronunciation of God’s name, they are speaking in regards to ancient Hebrew, not modern.The brochure does say, “The important thing is to use God’s name according to it’s conventional pronunciation in our own language.” And then it lists many examples of God’s name in other languages. Do you know why none of them look or sound like “Yahweh”? It’s because it is a recent reconstruction of the pronunciation that some scholars have advocated. It’s not like these scholars went to the Hebrew people and asked them how they pronounced it. Like you mentioned before, they don’t! There isn’t any evidence of anyone actually using the pronunciation “Yahweh” throughout history, it just became prominent in the scholarly field recently; it was not used in modern Hebrew!Simply put, there is no one ‘accepted’ or conventional pronunciation of the divine name in modern Hebrew. “Yehovah” is a Hebrew pronunciation, that properly uses all of the letters in God’s name in Hebrew, YHVH.TJ

  5. TJ,What does it mean to “restore” something?

  6. Keith,”Restore” means “to bring back into existence, use, or the like.”Is that what you’re looking for?TJ

  7. I always thought it was YHWH not YHVH. Am I wrong in my thinking.Thank you

  8. “I always thought it was YHWH not YHVH. Am I wrong in my thinking.”No, you’re not wrong. Really, both YHWH and YHVH are proper transliterations of the Hebrew letters. The third letter, vav (or waw) can be transliterated with either a V or a W.In modern Hebrew, I’m quite certain they pronounce the letter with a V sound, but I have no problem with YHWH. :)TJ

  9. TJ,Please define “substitute.”

  10. Hi Keith,”Substitute” means “a person or thing acting or serving in place of another.”Is there a point to this?TJ

  11. TJ said: “Is there a point to this?”Nope, not at all. MUAHAHAHAHAAAA! Just kidding. Of course there is a point to it. Just be patient. 😉 Here’s another question for you.Is it possible to restore something with a substitute?

  12. Hi Keith,You said, “Is it possible to restore something with a substitute?”I guess it would depend. You’re not really ‘bringing something back into use’ if you are using ‘a thing acting in its place.’The best thing would be to restore the original rather than use a substitute if at all possible, especially if the substitute is of inferior value, wouldn’t you agree?TJ

  13. TJ said;”I guess it would depend. You’re not really ‘bringing something back into use’ if you are using ‘a thing acting in its place.’The best thing would be to restore the original rather than use a substitute if at all possible, especially if the substitute is of inferior value, wouldn’t you agree?”Yes, I agree 100%. Here is why I asked you those questions. The thing I don’t understand is why the Watchtower claims from the DIVINE NAME brochure that they have “restored” God’s name in the New World Translation. (P.27) If no one really knows how to pronounce God’s name, or even spell it, then all they have done is offered another substitute.It strikes me as hypocritical that the WT has accused Christians of neglecting God’s name and using a substitute when they are doing the exact same thing.

  14. Hi Keith,You said, “The thing I don’t understand is why the Watchtower claims from the DIVINE NAME brochure that they have ‘restored’ God’s name in the New World Translation. (P.27) If no one really knows how to pronounce God’s name, or even spell it, then all they have done is offered another substitute.””Jehovah,” “Yahweh,” “Yehovah,” etc. are all proper renderings of God’s original name in Hebrew. They take into account all four of the Hebrew letters used in the name. So these are not substitutions, but are different pronunciations of the same name.An example of a substitution is “the LORD” appearing where God’s name appears in Hebrew. There is a separate Hebrew word that means “Lord!” Wouldn’t the Bible writers have used that Hebrew word if they wanted to say “the LORD?”Furthermore, “Lord” is a title, not a name; others who are not Jehovah are also referred to as “lord” in the Bible. (1 Peter 3:6) God’s name is unique in that it applies only to him.So your argument seems to be that if we are not 100% positive of the original pronunciation of God’s name, then anything would be a “substitute.” This is absolutely false. Jesus’ name wasn’t pronounced as “Jesus” by him or his disciples. Does that mean that it’s only a “substitute” and so we are free to go through and replace “Jesus” everywhere with an ambiguous title? Indeed, most every name in the Bible was pronounced differently than the popular pronunciation in English and other languages, but oddly, only the name “Jehovah” has been replaced with a title. Why do you think that is Keith? Do you classify all these other names as “substitutes?”You said, “It strikes me as hypocritical that the WT has accused Christians of neglecting God’s name and using a substitute when they are doing the exact same thing.”As I have shown this charge is manifestly false. Do you really think that “the LORD” is just as accurate as “Jehovah?” Do you prefer “the LORD” over “Jehovah,” and if so, why?TJ

  15. TJ,I was going to answer you point/counter point, but I think there is a better way to communicate what I am getting at. Are you familiar with formal logic? on page 13 of the DIVINE NAME brochure, the WT implicates itself as neglecting the name of God by way of modus tollens.Once you acknowledge that you understand the argument (an example would be nice), I will show you how the WT implicates itself.

  16. Hi Keith,If you have an argument to present, than go ahead and do it. Thus far, I have seen nothing of substance put forth.For what it’s worth, I have been formally trained in logic and I am familiar with modus tollens. If you want an example there are several available at the link you provided.TJ

  17. I would have preferred that you give me an original example so that I can see that you understand the argument, but I’ll take your word for it.On page 13 of DIVINE NAME the WT tells us that the Jews wrote the Tetragrammaton into the Greek Septuagint. In other words, in a Greek translation of the Old Testament, they wrote the name of God in the Hebrew. They did not use Greek, they used Hebrew.Then the WT makes this interesting little statement.”The name of God was not neglected. The translators retained it, writing it in its Hebrew form.”Using “N” for neglect, a “~” for negation, and “R” for retained and applying modus tollens to this statement, you have this.~N->R ~Rtherefore NIn other words, not neglecting (~N) the Divine name implies retaining(R) it in its Hebrew form. But if you do not retain(~R) it in its Hebrew form, you have neglected (N) the Divine name. Indirectly the WT has implied that they have neglected the Divine name. Since the WT has not retained the Divine name in the Hebrew, they have neglected the Divine name.

  18. Hi Keith,Unfortunately, your argument is not sound because the premises are untrue.You have defined R as retaining God’s name in its Hebrew form. This is not what is meant in the publication and so this makes both of your premises false.The paragraph in question says:”As time went on, many Jews came to live far from the land of Israel, and some could no longer read the Bible in the Hebrew language. Hence, in the third century B.C.E., a start was made in translating the part of the Bible that existed then (the ‘Old Testament’) into Greek, the new international language. But the name of God was not neglected. The translators retained it, writing it in its Hebrew form. Ancient copies of the Greek Septuagint that have been preserved to our day testify to that.”When the publication says, “the translators retained [God’s name], writing it in its Hebrew form,” that second part is a side note, not a requirement for it to be defined as “retained.” If the Septuagint translators had transliterated God’s name into Greek, this would still say that they “retained” the name.So by making this side note a requirement in the definition of R, you have created a straw man fallacy.Now let’s look at the modus tollens with true premises from the brochure.~N = Not neglecting God’s name.R = Retaining God’s name (in any form).~N → R~R∴ NOr:1. If God’s name is not neglected, then it is retained.2. God’s name is not retained.3. Therefore, God’s name is neglected.So it is obvious to anyone looking at this situation objectively that the Watchtower publication is not implying that Jehovah’s Witnesses are neglecting God’s name. Far from it!We retain his name (in various forms around the globe) in our translations of the Bible and in our spoken and written vocabulary.In this we follow the example of Jesus Christ. Jesus prayed to his Father, “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6)Compare that with what Jehovah spoke to apostate Israelites, when he said, “‘So if I am a father, where is the honor to me? And if I am a grand master, where is the fear of me?’ Jehovah of armies has said to YOU, O priests who are despising my name.” (Malachi 1:6)We certainly do not want to be like these ones who ‘despised his name.’ Therefore we would actually make use it, in an honorable way, and not bring reproach upon it.Here are some other verses with a bearing on this subject:”I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder … And I shall certainly let remain in the midst of you a people humble and lowly, and they will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah.” (Zephaniah 3:9,12)”For all the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” (Micah 4:5)TJ

  19. TJ,Straw man? Not likely. The point of that whole section of the DIVINE NAME brochure is that the Tetragrammaton was used in it’s original form.Also take into consideration that using anything other than the original is a substitute. Even if it is a transliteration, you are still replacing one word for another. You cannot “retain” an original form of a name with a transliteration of it. What is the point of mentioning that the Divine name was used in its original Hebrew in a Greek book if the point wasn’t that they retained it in the Hebrew? I certainly don’t expect you to agree with me on this, but I would still like to hear your answers to the above questions.I’d also like to get your opinion on a statement made on page three of DIVINE NAME. It states, “It was not merely by chance that Jesus taught his followers to put God’s name first in their prayers. That name was clearly of crucial importance to him, since he mentioned it repeatedly in his own prayers.”Can you please give me an example of of where Jesus addressed God as “Jehovah” in prayer?

  20. Hi Keith,You said, “The point of that whole section of the DIVINE NAME brochure is that the Tetragrammaton was used in it’s original form.”Keith, the point of that whole section, and the whole brochure for that matter, is that God’s name should be used in any form! You have certainly misrepresented our position, that much is obvious.You said, “Also take into consideration that using anything other than the original is a substitute. Even if it is a transliteration, you are still replacing one word for another.”I already addressed this Keith, in the post that you ignored. According to your reasoning above, every single name in the Bible is a substitute. But then why is only God’s name replaced with a title?It is not wrong in a translation to translate a name. For example, let’s say a man name Charles goes to Spain. The Spanish people might call him Carlos, the Spanish translation of Charles, instead. Most of us wouldn’t mind that. But wouldn’t it be rude if they said, ‘I don’t like saying “Carlos,” I’m going to call him HOMBRE instead!’That is what is happening with God’s name. Most translations refer to him as “the LORD,” which is from an entirely different Hebrew word and is not even a name! This is a true substitution of God’s name, not just a translation of it. I hope you can see the difference.You said, “What is the point of mentioning that the Divine name was used in its original Hebrew in a Greek book if the point wasn’t that they retained it in the Hebrew?”The point was that they used God’s name! They didn’t use the Greek word for “Lord,” which is kyrios. If the name was written in Hebrew in an otherwise Greek translation, isn’t that certainly worth noting? You are just plain wrong that the brochure is saying the name is only retained if it appears in Hebrew. It just does not say that. Feel free to call the Watchtower office again and ask directly, or better yet, write a letter to the address found on the inside cover and you’ll get a detailed answer back.You said, “Can you please give me an example of of where Jesus addressed God as ‘Jehovah’ in prayer?”Well, you’re not going to find any form of “Jehovah” in the Greek manuscripts, since it was likely taken out after the first century just as it was taken out of the Greek Septuagint at that time.However, the brochure says he mentioned “God’s name” and it gives several examples on that same page. Here they are:”Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)”Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:28)”I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known.” (John 17:6)Honestly Keith, if this is all your getting out of the brochure, you are missing the whole point. I find it interesting that some people will try to argue against using God’s name, when it was used in the Bible nearly 7,000 times, far more than any other name!TJ

  21. TJ said; You are just plain wrong that the brochure is saying the name is only retained if it appears in Hebrew.I never said that. I said that they implicated themselves on that page. Obviously the whole brochure does not say that and that is precisely why it is inconsistent. Personally, I believe it was a slip up on the part of the writer. He never meant to say it, but he did. It is just an example of how extreme the WT gets in setting forth its position. Some times they aren’t careful in the way they word things and it can come back to bite them. My whole point in bring this out was to prove that if that was the WT’s position, and they stated so on that page, then they are being hypocritical. Some times they commend people for using the original name of God and then some times they disregard it themselves (if they followed that rule).As for the last part of your answer, you missed my point. The brochure clearly states on page three that, “he mention it repeatedly in his own prayers.” What does the term “it” refer to- the phrase your name or the name Jehovah?

  22. Hi Keith,You said, “I said that they implicated themselves on that page.”But they didn’t, you misunderstood what is written, for whatever reason.You said, “It is just an example of how extreme the WT gets in setting forth its position.”Or an example of how you are not willing to understand the sentence in a way that most naturally fits in with the rest of the brochure. When I read it for the first time, I understood that “retained” did not require it to be written in its Hebrew form, that thought never even crossed my mind.It would seem that it is you going to extreme lengths in attempt to find something wrong in this publication. Why is that Keith?You said, “As for the last part of your answer, you missed my point. The brochure clearly states on page three that, ‘he mention it repeatedly in his own prayers.’ What does the term ‘it’ refer to- the phrase your name or the name Jehovah?”Keith, “it” refers to “God’s name” in the previous sentence and “That name” in the beginning of its sentence, like I brought out last time. Jesus mentioned “it” when he said “your name” several times in his prayers to God. This is pretty simple stuff.Now perhaps you can answer for me why it is that only God’s name is replaced with a title that comes from an entirely different Hebrew word, since you seem to be against translating God’s name in the usual way.Thanks,TJ

  23. We are going to have to agree to disagree on the WT implicating itself. Before I forget, where did you get the operators to use for the logic?TJ wrote; “It would seem that it is you going to extreme lengths in attempt to find something wrong in this publication. Why is that Keith?”Or you going through extreme lengths to defend it. 😉 Seriously, there is something wrong with the publication. The emphasis on what the name of God is, is misplaced. I think the brochure makes some good observations, but has missed the point on what it means for God to have a name. More on that later.TJ wrote; “Keith, “it” refers to “God’s name” in the previous sentence and “That name” in the beginning of its sentence, like I brought out last time. Jesus mentioned “it” when he said “your name” several times in his prayers to God. This is pretty simple stuff.”Let me try again. The title of this section is “‘Hallowed Be Your Name’-What Name?” That is the same question I am asking you. When the WT said “that name” and Jesus said “Your name,” what was the name? What name did Jesus use to address God in prayer and please provide an example of it. Surely you are not telling me that Jesus addressed God in prayer as “Dear Name, thank you for this food.” 😉

  24. Hi Keith,You said, “Before I forget, where did you get the operators to use for the logic?”They are unicode characters, but you can simply copy and paste them from where they appear on the modus tollens wikipedia page.You said, “Or you going through extreme lengths to defend it.”I really don’t think so Keith, I’m just taking the natural meaning of the sentence. The critical attitude you are bringing to your study of this brochure reminds me of how certain atheists approach the Bible. They find similar ‘contradictions’ in the Bible because they want to find them.This type of attitude tells us far more about the person than it does about the text under consideration.You said, “What name did Jesus use to address God in prayer and please provide an example of it.”Keith, I have already told you the reason why you will not find an equivalent of “Jehovah” in the Greek manuscripts. There was an organized campaign to remove God’s name from such manuscripts shortly after the first century, which can be proven from the Septuagint evidence.But we know that Jesus highlighted God’s name when he specifically referred to it as “your name” over and over again.I’m asking you yet again, why do you think that only God’s name is replaced with a title, which is translated from an entirely different Hebrew word, in most modern translations, whereas all other names are translated faithfully?Thanks,TJ

  25. TJ,Sorry I could not get back to you yesterday. I was finalizing some things before my trip to the ex-JW convention in Pennsylvania (I’m not an ex-JW). We got up extra early this morning and I’m waiting for my ride, so I figured I’d get this off to you before I leave. I will not have internet access while I am gone, so this’ll most likely be my last post until early next week.TJ said; “This type of attitude tells us far more about the person than it does about the text under consideration.”Shades of an ad hominem attack here. Careful, careful.TJ said; Keith, I have already told you the reason why you will not find an equivalent of “Jehovah” in the Greek manuscripts.”You keep answering a different question than I am asking. I’m not asking for an example of Jesus addressing God as “Jehovah” in prayer from the Greek manuscripts. I am asking where Jesus addressed God as “Jehovah” in prayer in the New World Translation. If I asked you to show me where Jesus used the name “Jehovah” in conversation in the NWT, you could easily go to Matthew 4:7. The DIVINE NAME brochure clearly states that Jesus mentioned it (God’s name, Jehovah) in his prayers. Please provide an example of that.TJ said; “But we know that Jesus highlighted God’s name when he specifically referred to it as ‘your name’ over and over again.”There is a big difference between, as you put it, “highlighting God’s name” in prayer and mentioning it. The DIVINE NAME brochure says Jesus mentioned it in His prayers. Where?TJ said; “I’m asking you yet again, why do you think that only God’s name is replaced with a title, which is translated from an entirely different Hebrew word, in most modern translations, whereas all other names are translated faithfully?”The DIVINE NAME brochure already addresses that question. It says something to the effect of superstitious Jews didn’t want to pronounce it, the pronunciation of the name was eventually lost. Scholars decided to use the title “LORD” to signify when God’s name was in the manuscript.This may be surprising to you, but I agree that the Divine name should be spelled out in the Old Testament. I have no problem with that at all. Of course, I think it should be transliterated to reflect the closest Hebrew pronunciation, but that is another matter for another time.One more thing before I go. I only speak English (well, I speak JW and Mormon too ;-0 )and I enjoy my Western culture. There are times in most cultures when a title can be more personal and respectful than using someone’s personal name. Think about that for a while and see if you can come up with some examples of what I’m talking about. I know there’s got to be something we can agree on. 😉

  26. Hi Keith,You said, “I was finalizing some things before my trip to the ex-JW convention in Pennsylvania (I’m not an ex-JW).”You should try a JW convention. I’m sure it would be a much more positive experience.You said, “Shades of an ad hominem attack here. Careful, careful.”The last thing I need to do is use in ad hominem attack, since I have shown that your argument is a straw man. But it is absolutely true that you are look for contradictions in our literature, just like certain atheists look for them in the Bible. Anyone with a shred of objectivity can see that in your desperately stretched arguments over God’s name. They only work if you put the blinders on and refuse to understand the natural meaning.You said, “You keep answering a different question than I am asking.”And you keep refusing to understand what the brochure meant when it said that Jesus “mentioned it repeatedly in his own prayers.”You said, “There is a big difference between, as you put it, ‘highlighting God’s name’ in prayer and mentioning it.”Not really Keith. When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and the first thing he said after addressing his Father was “let your name be sanctified,” he’s not ‘mentioning’ God’s name? That’s some strange logic your using there.You said, “Of course, I think it should be transliterated to reflect the closest Hebrew pronunciation.”So then you think that all names should reflect the closest pronunciation to their own language, correct? If not, why the inconsistency?You said, “There are times in most cultures when a title can be more personal and respectful than using someone’s personal name.”Different cultures may do all sorts of different things, but I only go by what the Bible says, and it calls him “Jehovah” (YHVH) nearly 7,000 times. If God wanted to be known by a title he would have had Bible writers call him adonai, “Lord,” in all those instances instead. But he didn’t; he wants us to use his name. Don’t you agree?”I am Jehovah. That is my name.” (Isaiah 42:8)Thanks,TJ

  27. I’ve not read the Watchtower’s argument pertaining to such evidence of a systematic replacement of the divine name with “kurios.” I would like to see the discussion. Where can I get that?I would like to say a couple of things about the LXX itself in the field of text criticism, which unfortunately amounts to an immensely complicated discussion. I will highlight a few points I am aware of in scholarship today vis-à-vis the latest manuscript evidence known, and conclusions drawn. Let’s be clear that the manuscript history transmission of the Jewish Greek texts is vast and complicated. There is no “one” way in which this was done.There certainly is manuscript evidence of the tetragrammaton (TET, hereafter) in some LXX circles. Some manuscripts (Mss) include it in the Aramaic square script, while others in paleohebrew script. It is even transliterated as (PIPI) in the Cairo Geniza fragment of Ps 22. Origen knows of Greeks texts that display TET in Hebrew characters. The Mercati palimpsest (of Origen’s hexapla) of Psalms has it in all its columns, including LXX of course. Of course, Jerome (Prologus galeatus) speaks to this as well. But if we look at the Septuagint (strictly speaking just the Pentateuch, since, by consensus, the other books came later), we see a good deal of discussion here. All known manuscripts of Deut. 31.27, for instance, read “pros ton theon” (“to God”) for the Hebrew parent “am-YHWH” (“to YHWH”). In non-biblical texts (2 Macc., 3 Macc., Wisdom of Solomon) we see “Kurios” employed almost exclusively as the divine epithet. Since it is questioned as to whether these were even translated, this is secondary evidence at best.That said, the LXX (Pentateuch) overwhelmingly appears to employ “Kurios” as its translation equivalent to TET, that is, as a proper noun. In essence, kurios becomes both a “name” and a “title” (appellative – perhaps Gen. 4:3, 12:8, Ex 5:2, 9:27, and others), by the hand of the translators. In most cases is occurs without the article (anarthrous), and so bodes well as a suitable translational equivalent for TET. In other words, the translators appear to use Kurios as the equivalent to TET, as the divine name.e.g., Ex. 8:22 LXX: Hina eidehs Hoti ego eimi kurios (YHWH), Ho kurios pasehs tehs gehs“In order that you might know that I am “Kurios,” the Lord of all the earth.In fact, kurios is imbedded into the text so thoroughly in various grammatical cases (nom, gen, dat., with and without the article) that to suggest that a “surrogator” replaced all instances of TET with a Greek “substitute” is beyond amazing.The “blanket” surrogate notion is even more troubling when we see that LXX (again I am still looking at the Pent) used “kurios” as an equivalent to both YHWH and adonai. Ex. 34:23 and Gen 15:2 offer two examples. I will spare you the transliteration.At any rate, to keep a terribly complicated discussion short, I think it can be said that there is little proof-positive evidence in the LXX (Pent.) that TET is original. But even if it is not, this does not mean that the translators wanted to “do away” with the divine name. The shifting of the TET to kurios is a matter of complicated textual transmission, and not conspiracy. As I’ve said, TET is regularly used as the divine name. What’s more, this is similar to how “Christ” (another appellation) became used as a last name in the early church – as a proper noun, a name, and not a title. This does not mean that the title was replaced, only that both were in use. Further, in the Masoretic Text (MT), YHWH is “pointed” with the vowels of adonai, hence the synthetic pronunciation “YAHWEH,” or the German influenced transliteration into English (Jehovah). After all, since traditionally the Jews thought it blasphemous to pronounce YHWH, hence leaving it unpointed, it was intentionally “substituted” with the spoken word “adonai” or in later rabbinic literature “the name” (ha shem). The “qere” and “ketiv” instances in the MT (Masoretic Text) indicate just this. “Qere” means “what is read” and “Ketiv” means “what is written.” YHWH is the “ketiv” reading, but that is not what was spoken. What was spoken was a substitute, adonai, hence the vowel pointing within YHWH. The “qere/ketiv” issue as to the divine name is so pervasive, it was taken for granted and ceased being indicated as qere/ketiv in the marginal readings, where other qere/ketiv issues are explained. So we can say this, the pronunciation Jehovah or Yahweh, is the ultimate result of the Jewish tradition intent on substituting the divine name (YHWH, un-pronounceable) for one that does not commit, in their view, sacrilege.-Randy Gauthier

  28. I would be interested to see your notes, Keith. Or your paper. Whichever.

  29. What I should clarify as to the above is that the MT pointing, which conflates YHWH with a modified pointing of adonai, is a “nonsense” word that cannot be pronounced. This intentional orthographic confusion would, in a sense, remind the reader to pronounce adonai instead of YHWH – however that could be pronounced. My point here is the MT’s tradition of pronunciation has influenced translations, and Hebrew scholars have posited numerous provisional explanations since. The “true” pronunciation, if it ever existed in any form that could be preserved, no longer exists to our knowledge. This intentional “slighting” of pronunciation out of respect has influenced modern translations, whether we like it or not. So to insist upon a kind of pronunciation, seems to me, a little presumptuous.So one might ask, in the name Barbara, whether it makes a difference to pronounce it Berbora, Borbora, or some other variation? Or perhaps more analogous to the shifting of Hebrew yod to an English J…Jorbara, Jurbare, Jerbora, etc. I am trying various vowel options in the name of quasi-consonantal fidelity. In essence, if the significance of the discussion is in making a tried and true genuine “stab” at using the “name” as opposed to a substitution, at what point does it become unacceptable to use “kurios” (as the LXX translators did for their own context), which can by intent convey the same purpose?

  30. Hi Randy,I appreciate the information you posted. Are you rxg as well?You said, “All known manuscripts of Deut. 31.27, for instance, read ‘pros ton theon’ (‘to God’) for the Hebrew parent ‘am-YHWH’ (‘to YHWH’).”According to the NWT appendix, Deuteronomy 31:27 in the P. Fouad Inv. 266 LXX, dated to the 1st century BCE, has the divine name rendered in the form of the tetragrammaton, written in square Hebrew letters.You said, “In essence, kurios becomes both a ‘name’ and a ‘title’ (appellative – perhaps Gen. 4:3, 12:8, Ex 5:2, 9:27, and others), by the hand of the translators.”Indeed, kyrios was used as a name where it substitutes for the tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Scriptures. We agree that this happened. Jehovah’s Witnesses just don’t agree that this should have been done, nor do we agree that it should be done in English. God’s name loses its unique standing when it is substituted with an ambiguous title. Moreover, this type of substitution is not done with any other name and seems to be the product of superstition and subsequent tradition.You said, “In fact, kurios is imbedded into the text so thoroughly in various grammatical cases (nom, gen, dat., with and without the article) that to suggest that a ‘surrogator’ replaced all instances of TET with a Greek ‘substitute’ is beyond amazing.”But take Deuteronomy 32:3,6 as an example. In P. Fouad Inv. 266 (from the 1st century BCE), the tetragrammaton appears in Hebrew letters in both verses. But in the Codex Alexandrinus, from the 5th century CE, kyrios is used, but in two different cases. So I don’t see it as “amazing” that the scribes who used kyrios in the Greek text had the ability to tailor it to fit in with the context.Actually, to be consistent, this is how the original translators should have translated God’s name into Greek in the first place, making use of the various cases as they did with all other names. Leaving just that one word in Hebrew caused considerable confusion to some.You said, “What’s more, this is similar to how ‘Christ’ (another appellation) became used as a last name in the early church – as a proper noun, a name, and not a title. This does not mean that the title was replaced, only that both were in use.”The problem with that though is that the name Jesus, which appears in the Bible, continued to be in use. God’s name however, has been wholly replaced with a title, even in the Scriptures themselves! So this is not just some natural shift in the vocabularly over time. The scribes that copied the LXX manuscripts (or translated them) had consciously decided to replace God’s name systematically. This has no parallel that I’m aware of.Take care,TJ

  31. You said, “I appreciate the information you posted. Are you rxg as well?”Thanks, and yes, I am rxg…I’ve had a blog registered to me for a long time. I just never wanted to use it. I thought I would show my face and sign in…or at least Enkidu’s face, my Chihuahua.You said, “According to the NWT appendix, Deuteronomy 31:27 in the P. Fouad Inv. 266 LXX, dated to the 1st century BCE, has the divine name rendered in the form of the tetragrammaton, written in square Hebrew letters.”You’re right! Of course I hadn’t forgotten P. Fouad 266 (Rahlfs 848), I just didn’t know if it would be worth entering into a text-critical discussion if no one else was interested. 848 is an excellent exemplar of LXX, but is well known to have at least a dozen later corrections toward MT. 266 does include YHWH in Aramaic script (or Hebrew script, if you prefer). At any rate, textual-critics (who by the way have no interest necessarily in the concerns for fidelity of the name Jehovah – unless they are Jehovah’s witnesses of course! But I know of none.) are engaged descriptively in reconstruction of texts and are generally agreed that the change in 266 (R. 848) is a secondary scribal change. For instance, it regularly reads “Mosehs” (closer to MT) instead of typical LXX “Mousehs” (which J.Wevers attributes to a bilingual ‘scribe’ who evidently knew the Aramaic script so as to insert TET – Wevers, Textual History of Greek Deuteronomy, 64). Wevers, as you may well know, is the editor in chief of the Göttingen LXX edition of the Pentateuch, the most exhaustive critical edition of the LXX, begun in 1931 and still in process. If you would like more by way of explanation as to why TET in 266 (848) is regarded as secondary, I should be happy to provide it. But none of this may be of interest to you. Knowing the present discussion of 266, however, did allow me to press the point that TET is likely a secondary scribal insertion, and not original to LXX. This would suggest, as I indicated, that LXX (and again, I am not speaking for the later books), indeed, did use “kurios” as divine “name.” I do know the Nahal Hever (NH) scroll of the minor prophets, for instance, includes TET. However, NH cannot be said to be an exemplar of LXX, since it is a recension of LXX that hebraizes the Greek – that is, as a revision (by definition), it “corrects” the Greek to read more like the MT.You said, “Indeed, kyrios was used as a name where it substitutes for the tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Scriptures. We agree that this happened. Jehovah’s Witnesses just don’t agree that this should have been done, nor do we agree that it should be done in English. God’s name loses its unique standing when it is substituted with an ambiguous title.” I have no argument with translating YWHW as YHWH, or Yahweh, or even Jehovah I suppose. But I think it needs to be clearer what motivates that point. My point is that a systematic replacement of YHWH in Christian/post-Christian times (if I have understood the argument?) with “kurios” is simply not true. Now, to the issue of “kurios,” or the substitution for YHWH by the “hand” of LXX, I feel that I have offered a discussion of that in my previous posts.You said, “Moreover, this type of substitution is not done with any other name and seems to be the product of superstition and subsequent tradition.”No other name was the object of the scriptures, per se. There weren’t other names in the OT, that I can think of, that were revered as holy. The pronunciation of YHWH among the Jews was certainly to be avoided in the history of interpretation, but out of respect to the “name,” as holy. We can see evidence of this in the MT by its strange pointing and also evidence of this in proto-MT by the kinds of issues we are discussing here (see my last post). However, I think we should not push “superstition” here as a viable option for rendering all of the scriptures, divine name included, into the common vernacular. We cannot know this, and quite frankly, I think it breeds mistrust in the manuscripts that all modern translations are dependent upon. Rather, the transmission of manuscripts, scribal insertions, updating, corrections, etc. is a far more complicated issue than to be reduced to pure ideology. At least, this is how I read such a comment. Also, that we do find substitutions in other collections is not to be attributed wholesale to all manuscript witnesses. I don’t know whether you are making that claim, but in any case it is not true.And since the NT quotes from the LXX texts mostly, it simply adopts the readings of the LXX. The import of “kurios” was well understood. So, I do not think the authors of the gospels are insinuating that Jesus is disrespectfully demoting God from his rightful status when in Mark 12:29, the “Shema” is quoted and “kurios” from LXX renders the Hebrew “YHWH” (from MT). I could go on and on and on here. The import and therefore meaning of kurios carried the full weight. The NT has no trouble with this. After all, the LXX was the chief Bible that God, in the superintendence of His Word, chose to convey His Word to the people. It is, on the whole, the Bible of the NT. And certainly the average NT reader/devotee would not have known Hebrew. So why is a distinctly Hebrew spelling of TET the only respectful way God can be addressed if the NT itself doesn’t struggle with this? As I said, I do not have a problem rendering YHWH in English as YHWH, where appropriate – amen, I’m all for clarity. However, I do have a problem “correcting” the NT when it seems content using “kurios” as a divine name.You said, “In fact, kurios is imbedded into the text so thoroughly in various grammatical cases (nom, gen, dat., with and without the article) that to suggest that a ‘surrogator’ replaced all instances of TET with a Greek ‘substitute’ is beyond amazing.”Absolutely, and I stand by this. Again, let me be clear that a non-articulated use of kurios in most cases implies a divine name, and not an ambiguous title. It has been noted that in nearly every occurrence of leYHWH (“to YHWH”) in the Pentateuch is “kurios” in the dative case. It often has the article but often does not. The translator of Exodus did not include the article 23 times, and in 14 cases the manuscript evidence employs a genitive alternatively. In Numbers, non-articulation is at over 90%, with many genitive occurrences as well. So if we want to suggest that the original LXX did not have kyriosbut indeclinable (which has no “case” such as genitive, dative, or nominative) TET, we would have to believe that the kyrios “surrogator,” achieved this high degree of equivalence without any help whatsoever from his Greek text. This seems extreme to me to say the least. So we are not dealing with a few instances, we are dealing with scads, and each follows syntactical protocol. I hope that was clear.?You said, “But take Deuteronomy 32:3,6 as an example. In P. Fouad Inv. 266 (from the 1st century BCE), the tetragrammaton appears in Hebrew letters in both verses. But in the Codex Alexandrinus, from the 5th century CE, kyrios is used, but in two different cases. So I don’t see it as “amazing” that the scribes who used kyrios in the Greek text had the ability to tailor it to fit in with the context.”See above..You said: “Actually, to be consistent, this is how the original translators should have translated God’s name into Greek in the first place, making use of the various cases as they did with all other names. Leaving just that one word in Hebrew caused considerable confusion to some.”I certainly agree, and this is how they did translate it. But doesn’t this undercut what you said earlier – “Jehovah’s Witnesses just don’t agree that this should have been done, nor do we agree that it should be done in English. God’s name loses its unique standing when it is substituted with an ambiguous title”? I’m confused.You said, “The problem with that though is that the name Jesus, which appears in the Bible, continued to be in use. God’s name however, has been wholly replaced with a title, even in the Scriptures themselves! So this is not just some natural shift in the vocabulary over time. The scribes that copied the LXX manuscripts (or translated them) had consciously decided to replace God’s name systematically. This has no parallel that I’m aware of.”My intended point of analogy is the Christ and kurios are both examples of titles in some instances, and “names” in others. Again all I can say, as per manuscript evidence of the NT and LXX, is that the divine name is rendered into the vernacular of the people and the NT uses this. It is a “title” on occasion, but it is a divine name, a proper noun, in a myriad of texts.Thanks for your thoughts, TJ

  32. Hi Randy,You said, “If you would like more by way of explanation as to why TET in 266 (848) is regarded as secondary, I should be happy to provide it.”I would like to see that evidence with references if possible. And if you do believe that the divine name was not original to this manuscript, why do you think it was put in and when?You said, “Knowing the present discussion of 266, however, did allow me to press the point that TET is likely a secondary scribal insertion, and not original to LXX. This would suggest, as I indicated, that LXX (and again, I am not speaking for the later books), indeed, did use ‘kurios’ as divine ‘name.'”But if YHWH was put in, as is your belief, that would have been a restoration much like many English editions have done today. So (assuming your argument is true), we have evidence that some did not agree with substituting the equivalent of ‘Lord’ for the divine name.In addition to P. Fouad Inv. 266, there are scores of early fragments of Greek versions containing the divine name. Wouldn’t that mean that it was at least a popular practice to have the divine name in the LXX early on?You said, “I think it breeds mistrust in the manuscripts that all modern translations are dependent upon.”I really don’t think so, because clearly the divine name was handled differently than everything else. Why else would it be in the LXX, and then be gone? Or, according to you, not be in the LXX, then in it, then out of it.You said, “And since the NT quotes from the LXX texts mostly, it simply adopts the readings of the LXX. The import of ‘kurios’ was well understood. So, I do not think the authors of the gospels are insinuating that Jesus is disrespectfully demoting God from his rightful status when in Mark 12:29, the ‘Shema’ is quoted and ‘kurios’ from LXX renders the Hebrew ‘YHWH’ (from MT).”You can argue whether or not YHWH in the LXX is original, but this does not change the fact that in the first century there were apparently many LXX manuscripts floating around with the divine name in it. And if New Testament writers did not use the divine name at all, where they quote from the LXX or elsewhere, this would not harmonize well with what is said about Jesus when he said, “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” And if Jesus did indeed make the Father’s name manifest to his disciples, wouldn’t it seem strange that they decided to never mention it in their writings?On top of all this, if the New Testament is an extension of the Bible canon from the Old Testament, there is a clear disjoint with regard to the divine name. It is used far more than any other name in the Old Testament and then is completely absent, but still used in theophoric names and in its shortened form in Revelation? That’s very strange indeed.You said, “You said, ‘In fact, kurios is imbedded into the text so thoroughly in various grammatical cases (nom, gen, dat., with and without the article) that to suggest that a “surrogator” replaced all instances of TET with a Greek “substitute” is beyond amazing.'”Just to be clear, those weren’t my words, as your post implied. I quoted them from you.You said, “This seems extreme to me to say the least. So we are not dealing with a few instances, we are dealing with scads, and each follows syntactical protocol. I hope that was clear.?”Not to me. I still don’t see why it would be “extreme” to believe that a scribe could put kyrios into the text, using it as it appears there. Why would it have to be used at the time of translation to appear the way it does?You said, “But doesn’t this undercut what you said earlier – ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses just don’t agree that this should have been done, nor do we agree that it should be done in English. God’s name loses its unique standing when it is substituted with an ambiguous title’? I’m confused.”What I said doesn’t conflict with that statement at all. If the LXX translators had translated or transliterated God’s name into Greek, like they did with every other name, and use it in different cases and so forth, like they did with every other name, this would have been more ideal that keeping it in Hebrew letters which caused confusion. You believe it is acceptable to translate God’s name with an entirely different Greek word, kyrios, and we disagree with that. What other name was handled this way?You said, “It is a ‘title’ on occasion, but it is a divine name, a proper noun, in a myriad of texts.”But only because it was used to completely replace the divine name, which makes this a very different situation from anything else.Thanks,TJ

  33. I am concerned that the length these posts (mine specifically) are taking to express rather complicated ideas, are less and less conducive to a blog or even fruitful discussion. I apologize to Keith for taking this room. I fear I have over stayed my welcome. If I post again, it will be relatively brief.I think I should start by saying that as I have been pondering the issues here, I am finding myself less clear as to exactly what your position is. I will offer some bibliography here for you that I have read in the course of my studies, some even for this. Since I know the Watchtower has depended upon the pioneering works of biblical scholars who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses (for instance, Westcott and Hort, Kingdom Interlinear, 1969, p.5), and undoubtedly the Masoretic text for the OT, my assumption is that you yourself are delving into these works in your pursuit of the text. Thankfully, to my knowledge, the Watchtower has not created an internally produced and therefore unverifiable Hebrew text (or Greek for that matter!), so minimally you and I have as our base of operations the same texts and same witnesses. In essence, we should then be fundamentally “on the same page” in terms of framing the discussion and answering those questions. So I think it would help me to read some of your own material so that I know where you are coming from, and so that I do not offer information irrelevant to the discussion. Who/what are you reading that is leading you to your conclusions? Or better put, what is your method of Bible study? Your hermeneutic seems to tightly control the direction in which certain conclusions can be drawn. I’m curious as to where that comes from. It is no doubt a hermeneutic that I cannot pinpoint in the broader discussions of the text or in any of the literature, scholarly or popular. I take my Bible seriously, as you no doubt have proven likewise. So I speak from the standpoint of someone curious about exactly where the disconnect is. I’m willing to concede that I have not understood properly. But my response is this: please help me to understand. My own approach to the text is somewhat eclectic you might say. By that, I mean I try to read broadly and deeply, taking as many sides of an issue as I possibly can with every intention of allowing my findings to shape, reshape, and reshape my thoughts again and again, prayerfully. I have my faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit, community, and a determined analytical drive to guide me in that process. My primary approach is exegetical and highly text dominant. If I find myself reaching a conclusion that nobody else has seen or agrees with, I think very carefully about proceeding down that path. So I let others serve as dialogue partners in the process of understanding. I had entered this discussion after reading a lengthy discussion on logic, but it didn’t give me a clear sense as to the significance of the use of the divine name for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Probably because you both know well what that is and it didn’t need saying. After all, Jehovah’s Witnesses are named after Jehovah, so clearly the use of the divine name, and probably the pronunciation of that name(?), holds some specific power or importance to your mission. I say all of this because I don’t want us to talk past each other. If there is a deeper, core, philosophical disconnect, we should be talking about that and not LXX textual criticism. A different post? But I think you have either ignored or easily disregarded virtually everything I have said, which tells me that it probably doesn’t matter what I say. I don’t think what I have provided below will cause you to blink. And that is not my goal, but I am interested in getting an accurate picture of the Bible and the divine name onto the table.One final point and then off to some “detail.” I am all for honoring God’s name as a believer in Christ. This is done as I proclaim the one true God through his Son, the Messiah. This is done in the way I honor God’s redemptive plan in my confession and how I seek to make him known to the rest of the world. This is done in how I live my life and love my fellow human beings. That is, I believe I must stand for the divine mission, which includes the Gospel, and uphold his “name” insofar as I can align my life to what God stands for, so that “witness” about him will extend to the “ends of the earth.” I do not know how to pronounce YHWH, but I do know unequivocally that it is not pronounced “Jehovah.” However, this does not prevent me from allegiance to the one true God – that is, from allegiance to his “name.” Nor does my acceptance and proclamation of the word Jehovah, regardless of whatever else I hold to about that God, necessarily mean I am trusting in the God of the Bible. One can falsely witness about Jehovah. This has been done repeatedly throughout history. As an example from the Bible itself, Jeroboam I instituted the Yahweh cult and built shrines in the Dan and Bethel (I Kings 12:28–29). This cult, though named after Yahweh (see ancient Near Eastern inscriptions), is characterized by the image of the golden bulls he erected at these centers (1 Kgs 12:28). The practice of false religion, even among the “people of God,” brought forth God’s wrath in the form of judgment and exile (Amos 5:21; Hos 9:15).THE DETAIL:Now, to 266. One scholar notes how Konen, the scholar who has dated 266 to the middle of the1st century BC, describes the text. “Konen has argued in his notes to the new edition of P. Fouad 266 that the scribe of 848 was unable to write the Hebrew tetragram and hence left space for a second scribe to insert it: Where it [the tetragram] was to occur the original scribe left a blank equal to 5-6 letters (i.e. about the size of ku/rios written in full) and marked it by a high dot at its beginning. A second scribe filled in the Hebrew letters. They cover only the middle of the blank, usually the space of 2 1/2 – 3 letters.The 6 letter kyrios, therefore, served apparently as a spacer for the tetragram which required only half the allotted room. Naturally, this piece of physical evidence ought not be pressed unduly. Yet, for the light it seems to throw on our problem, it is too interesting to pass by without notice.” He goes on to say, “On textual grounds there is, however, complementary evidence for the secondary nature of the tetragram. In Deut 31:27 the LXX text, supported by all MSS, including 847 (by Konen’s placement of the relevant fragment), reads pros ton theon for the Hebrew hwhy-M [a point I previously acknowledged] (, but mistakenly in this instance the scribe(s) of 848, rather than substituting the tetragram for theon, inserted it after pros, thus creating a unique doublet…In any case, the tetragram in 31:27 is clearly secondary..” For a fuller discussion of related issues and other manuscripts see Albert Pietersma’s discussion of this in “Kyrios or Tetragram: A Renewed Quest for the Original LXX” in DE SEPTUAGINTA. Studies in Honour of John William Wevers on his sixty-fifth birthday (ed. Albert Pietersma and Claude Cox.) Benben Publications: Mississauga, 1984. pp. 85-101. See also J. W. Wevers, THGD and R. Hanhart, Review of F. Dunand, Papyrus grecs bibliques (Papyrus F.Inv. 266) in OLZ 73 (1978) cols. 39-45.But back to 266 for a moment. It is not “my” view that YHWH is not primary to the hand of LXX (pent., the others I can’t speak to since the time to do so would be overwhelming) – it is the view of textual critics who actually work with the manuscripts. I am simply distilling (and tentatively affirming) the conversation where it has said something about this one particular manuscript (and others I did not mention). But this is precisely the kind of thing that textual criticism is all about. It is not enough to draw a “therefore” statement about a manuscript because it is merely listed as a witness, per se. This is why books like Metzger’s, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2nd Edition), Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994, gives the amateur reader (me) sufficient external information about these manuscripts that I cannot attain on my own. So, to a good degree, we are dependent upon the text-critics who have devoted their lives to this kind of work, to give us a clearer picture of the data. The NWT interlinear bases its Greek on the Westcott and Hort (career textual-critics) project. So, a catalogue listing of manuscripts is often not enough and can be misleading. And to complicate matters, LXX textual criticism is far and away more complex than MT or NT textual-criticism. It has undergone untold copies, many revisions, scribal updating, etc. etc. I think the introductions to each of the Göttingen fascicles provide a sufficient explanation of text-critical nuancing so that the non-specialist (me) can make a more informed decision when examine these issues. Like much text-critical information, however, these are in German. For the Pentateuch there is Wevers two volumes for each book – a real treasure trove of info! Dogniez’ classified bibliography for the LXX is an excellent place to go since it offers bibliography for virtually every field of LXX research. Jobes and Silva’s work “Invitation to the Septuagint” and Marcos’ “The Septuagint in Context” are excellent intros. Of course Swete’s three volume Intro to the Greek OT is a must and anything by S. Jellico is indispensable. The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate studies (of which I am a member) publishes fantastic monographs yearly on all things LXX and cognate. Finally, Emanuel Tov of University of Jerusalem, has extremely good discussions on MT and LXX text-criticism. See his Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible and The Text-Critical use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research for great tools.You said: But if YHWH was put in, as is your belief, that would have been a restoration much like many English editions have done today. So (assuming your argument is true), we have evidence that some did not agree with substituting the equivalent of ‘Lord’ for the divine name. I’m not clear as to what their fundamental issue was with the “substitution,” which is just a translation. They seem to want to read YHWH in place of “Lord.” So yes, correct, as my first post indicated.You said: “In addition to P. Fouad Inv. 266, there are scores of early fragments of Greek versions containing the divine name. Wouldn’t that mean that it was at least a popular practice to have the divine name in the LXX early on?”Popular? I don’t know. It was a practice as I’ve already conceded. But my point is that it was certainly not universal or complete by any stretch. And in the case of the Pentateuch, at least, nicely debated that a transliteration is not original. Scribes have inserted all kinds of information into texts and margins, etc. throughout the centuries. So, for me, none of this is really a problem one way or another. My problem is sensing that there was some kind of a smear campaign to do away with the divine name. I don’t agree with that. I want to dispel the notion that the NT was based on LXX manuscripts that used YHWH, which only later had them removed. No, there is nothing to support that. What’s more, the NT uses “kurios” and “theos” in its own composition. But again, I’m not sure if that is what you’re arguing against. And by “scores” of early fragments, let’s be clear what you mean.(?) When later revisions and recensions (Aquila, for instance) were composed, these kinds of changes emerged a great deal. It must also be noted that the vast majority of LXX manuscripts we have are well into the AD century.I said: “I think it breeds mistrust in the manuscripts that all modern translations are dependent upon.”You said: I really don’t think so, because clearly the divine name was handled differently than everything else. Why else would it be in the LXX, and then be gone? Or, according to you, not be in the LXX, then in it, then out of it.I say: Now for its rendering in the LXX, YHWH is treated variously (that is, not uniformly in its entirety) since it was rendered by different translators with all kinds of translation techniques. For instance,YHWH = theos (Gen 2:4) “God”despotes (Jer 15:11) “master; lord”eusebeia (Is 11:12) “godliness” = fear YHWHaggelos kyriou (Ex 4:24?) “angel of the Lord”kyrios ho theos (Gen. 4:6) “the Lord God”to onoma kyriou (Is 12:5) “the name of the Lord”stoma kyriou (Is 24:3) “mouth of Lord”Like YHWH, on the whole, the translators also attempted to “translate” other names for God, but only sometimes transliterated them. This was no campaign to oust what has since become elevated to orthodoxy for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, like YWHW, these were a matter of translation practice, whether we choose to accept it or not. Here are just two examples.For Hebrew sûadday “Almighty, Shaddai”LXX = saddai “just transliterated”epouranios “heavenly”theos “God”ho theos tou ouranou “the God of heaven”hikanos “strong, sufficient”kurios “lord”kurios pantokrator “Lord almighty”pantokrator “Almighty”ho to panta poiesas “the one who does all things”Another example is )donai “Adonai, Lord”LXX=hagios “holy”adonai “transliterated”adonaie “transliterated”despoteœs (Jer 15:11) “master; lord”theos “god”theosebeia “godliness”kurios “lord”kurios ho theos “lord God”But “kurios” is what is termed as a “stereotype” rendering. That is, even though it is rendered by many terms, it is generally rendered, probably by precedent, by kurios, since, I suppose, this was deemed most appropriate as a translation. This comports with MT’s tradition to read “adonai” in its place. Many words are stereotypes in the LXX – berit = diatheke “covenant,” for instance.As I was pursuing God’s names and the divine name specifically, I happened inadvertently upon an example in Ps 95:8 the Hebrew reads “kimrîba kyom massa, “Like at Meribah, as in the day of Massah.” My English translation renders this “Meribah and Massah,” that is, as proper nouns transliterated into English. It does not translate them. I noticed that my LXX “translates” (what you seem to be calling substitution) these so as to convey what they considered their Hebrew meaning, “en to parapikrasmo kata teœn heœmeran tou peirasmou,” or “in the provocation, throughout the day of temptation.” This gets picked up by Hebrews 3:8 in the Greek the same as in the LXX, but my NAS reads “Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness,” since the terms are now translated. Are they substituted? Yes, if by “substituted” we mean that they are translated, not transliterated like my NAS chose to do in the OT. So I think a study on other personal names and proper nouns deserves an in-depth analysis. I know this has been done, but a study does not readily come to mind. I have no do my own attempt at that would reveal some interesting details, but that will take a little more time.And this points to an issue, I think. What you are calling “substitution” is really just “translation.” If I have understood you correctly, you think that “transliteration” (YHWH, or Yahweh, or Jehovah) is the only appropriate measure to take. Why? Does the above list of translations take away from the significance of the terms, “Shaddai, Adoni, or El” (which I didn’t supply for El, but the results are similar). How about Meribah and Massah? Are these substitutions (translations) unacceptable because the blur how those words would be pronounced? I think the transliteration often loses the significance of the Hebrew word. The translation, which the LXX did, brings it out. Naomi and Ruth go to Bethlehem (House of Bread) during the famine when they get hungry. The Hebrew reader understood the rhetorical point made, but this is lost on an English audience. But part of our modern problem is that we simply don’t know what YHWH means. To that I would add that YHWH is usually understood as sûmaœ in Aramaic, for (“the name”, similar to LXX Is 12:5). YHWH is often regarded as a play on words with )ehyeh in Ex 3:14 (=LXX ), and is found in a transcription as “Iaouai/e” in Clement of Alexandria Stromata 5:6, 34; Further, the divine name is abbreviated as yah many times (see Ex 15:2; 17:16; Is 12:2; 26:4; 38:11; Psa 68:5,19; 77:12; 89:9; 94:7,12; 102:19; 104:35; 105:45-106:1; 106:48; 111:1; 112:1; 113:1,9; 115:17-18; 116:19; 117:2; 118:5,14,17-19; 122:4; 130:3; 135:1,3-4,21; 146:1,10-147:1; 147:20-148:1; 148:14-149:1; 149:9-150:1; 150:6). So even YHWH is treated variously even in the OT as well as Aramaic and other transcriptions.The lexica (see the Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament [HALTO], by Koelher/Baumgartner for an excellent Hebrew lexicon) remind us that the etymology of YHWH is highly controversial, a point underscored by the nonsensical transliteration in the the Cairo Geniza fragment of Ps 22 (PIPI), which arguably indicates that the translator did not know what it meant and “punted” (By the way, the translators of LXX often didn’t understand their Hebrew text and so this kind of thing would occur – See E. Tov, “Did The Septuagint Translators Understand their Hebrew Text?”, in The Greek and Hebrew Bible: Collected Essays on the Septuagint. Vol 72 (Leiden:Brill, 1999) pp. 203-218). Freedman in JBL 79:151ff argues for an imperfect derivation of hwh, meaning “to blow, fall,” or in the hifil “to destroy.” Eichrodt (1:117) argues for “to be”, Albright (Steinzeit 259ff) “to call into existence,” Goitein VT 6:1ff “to be passionate, act passionately,” perhaps with an Ugaritic origin meaning “to speak” (Bowman JNES 3:1ff), or as a substantive meaning “being” (Koehler WdO 1:405), or “to call ecstatically” R Otto (Gefühl 210, 326), see also Mowinckel (HUCA 32:121ff). Since the Masoretes, who were far closer to the “tradition” than we are today, replaced YHWH orally with Adonai out of reverence, I think an ounce of humility would do us good before we think we have solved the mystery of the divine name history has handed us. Adonai carries much of the weight of kurios, and so the tradition preserved by the Masoretes is not in competition with the LXX, but attests to the fact that the LXX may have operated from a similar sentiment, a proto-MT sentiment. So again, I guess I am a little confused as to what Jehovah’s Witnesses are saying the term Jehovah means, or just why it is so important to retain this “form” and/or pronunciation.(?) Again, I think it is fine to say YHWH in an English translation, but what are you saying this means in the OT? It certainly has been stretched beyond any historical semblance of what it once meant or how it was once pronounced. Ex. 3:14 has no problem with saying that God’s name is )ehyeh, not YHWH (and the LXX renders this quite formally, not as kurios). The conflation of other names with YHWH which are then explicitly equated as his name further complicates matters. I think all “names” need to be considered individually within context. Why does the author choose this particular name or that title? How do we distinguish between name and title when applied to God? This is not always very clear.Names/titles are often combined so as to create a compound name (e.g., Amos 4:13), which have the tendency even in the Hebrew OT to employ YHWH as a title. God’s name and title are frequently equated. Since the text uses the compound name which equates this compound with his name, should we neglect the compound name? YHWH is so often combined with other names of God, it becomes at some point patently artificial to elevate one as more “important” than the others within the same context. In Amos 4:13 we read “yhwh )loœhe-sbaœ ot sûmo “the LORD [YHWH] God of hosts is his name” (see also 2Sam 5:10; 1Kings 19:10,14; Jer 5:14; 15:16; 35:17; 38:17; 44:7; Amos 5:14-16,27; 6:8; Psa 59:6; 80:5,20; 84:9; 89:9). A new compounded “title” IS his name. The LXX translates this with all of the stock lexemes it would normally choose “kyrios ho theos ho pantokratoœr onoma auto.” The prophets are inundated with these occurrences (at well over 100 occurrences). In fact if we want to look at the names of God, we shall see that the LXX renders all of these with overlapping lexemes (see above), never having it mind, apparently, that “Jehovah,” should not be translated in the receptor language. This leads me back to the point I made a couple of posts ago, which has remained unanswered, that YHWH, whatever it meant historically, has been lost to the annals of history. We can guess and no doubt many have done that. We can approximate what the pronunciation would have been or should be, but that is a guess. The translational variance in the LXX testifies to this fact at least two centuries before Christ. The MT points YHWH oddly (out of their own tradition), and this gets transliterated according to their purposeful mis-pronunciation into German, and then incorrectly from German into English as Jehovah. The transliteration practice has a long tradition itself stretching back to the 1500s. So, should the translator’s have rendered God’s divine name as a transliteration? That is a moot point in light of how history played out and how the Bible actually was preserved and used to reveal God as he saw fit. The translators evidently did not with his other names. With YHWH, they tried to make the best sense of a term whose meaning was already obscured. “Jehovah” as an English rendering is fine with me as far as it goes, but it is downright naive to think that it has the same “meaning” it did for the OT audience to whom it was revealed – as though we have conveyed some morphological representation of the name, it somehow means we have retained the name. No on both counts. There is no equivalent to waw in English. It is not the letter v. waw is not a “v,” it is a waw. There is only an approximation. The nearest English approximation of “yod” which has no true equivalent in another language, is “y,” not “J,” etc. ? I still await a response to my earlier post about the qere/ketiv. But what is more, letters and words are symbols. There is nothing magical about the word “Jehovah.” It is an entirely synthetic English construction that serves to evoke in the readers mind the one true God. These symbols convey the one and only true God in distinction from all others. For that reason, I think it is acceptable. Can another symbol convey the same information. Yes.This is precisely what kurios and “the LORD” do for the reader in Greek and English, and what any translation does for any term for the reader. It does for me. It evidently did for the LXX and NT. To suggest that the NT had YHWH or a transliterated form throughout with it does not bear out by our manuscripts. No textual critic on the face of the planet would go there. I’m just emphasizing that “kurios,” whether we agree that this conveys YHWH the best way it could or not, is the way it did happen. To have a problem with the NT in this regard I think has ramifications for inspiration. Evidently intelligibility was at the fore of the authors’ minds in the NT. So I think Jesus could convey the “name” of the Father to his disciples without having to utter the Hebrew form YHWH, or a nonsensical Aramaic or Greek transliteration of it. We don’t know what he said. The author did not think it necessary to make the point to his Greek reading audience. Maybe he did, but maybe not. Further, I would suggest that “name” as it is so often used, is given to metonymy – that is, it often stands in place of what it represents or what it stands for” “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That is, baptize disciples by the power and authority of the one true God. Yes, there is evidence in various LXX manuscripts that this practice of placing YHWH took place, but this to me suggests an early tradition of reverence for the “name” akin to what the Masoretes did with their orthographic practices. You said: You can argue whether or not YHWH in the LXX is original, but this does not change the fact that in the first century there were apparently many LXX manuscripts floating around with the divine name in it.PF 266 in the first century BC. Okay, so what?You said: And if New Testament writers did not use the divine name at all, where they quote from the LXX or elsewhere, this would not harmonize well with what is said about Jesus when he said, “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” And if Jesus did indeed make the Father’s name manifest to his disciples, wouldn’t it seem strange that they decided to never mention it in their writings?My point is that I don’t see where holy writ in the NT uses the divine name. I need to be okay with that. Where did they use the divine name? How do you harmonize your answer to that with your view expressed above, and especially in light of NT manuscript evidence? I’d love to get into NT textual criticism.You said: On top of all this, if the New Testament is an extension of the Bible canon from the Old Testament, there is a clear disjoint with regard to the divine name. It is used far more than any other name in the Old Testament and then is completely absent, but still used in theophoric names and in its shortened form in Revelation? That’s very strange indeed.I say: True, but then again, the age of Hellenism (the LXX being a chief product) brought about a great disjunction between the OT and the NT, namely an immense language disjunction. This is what the translator’s where trying to navigate. These translators were Jews with particular interest in preserving the canonical text, not malign it. Scribes and copyists in ages since have interjected all kinds of interpretation and commentary. Most of this, we can determine. Much of it arose out of conflict between Jews (those practicing Judaism) and Christians in the later first century AD.You said, “What I said doesn’t conflict with that statement at all. If the LXX translators had translated or transliterated God’s name into Greek, like they did with every other name, and use it in different cases and so forth, like they did with every other name, this would have been more ideal that keeping it in Hebrew letters which caused confusion. You believe it is acceptable to translate God’s name with an entirely different Greek word, kyrios, and we disagree with that. What other name was handled this way?”They did indeed “translate” the divine name with inflection (cases, etc), as I have demonstrated. If the name was simply transliterated, it would be indeclinable and therefore without case. As I have tried to articulate, the translators certainly did not do this with every other name as you insist. I will be sure to supply you with many more so as to satisfy this point, when I have the time. I had made the original point about this being amazing in the context of a so called “surrogator.” Had YHWH been transliterated into the LXX it would be indeclinable, by definition. But what we have is in fact a highly stylized, articular and anarthrous, multi-case translation in various books (by the way, these where undoubtedly translated by different translators) throughout the manuscript witnesses. That’s all I was calling amazing. Well, I must apologize again for the lengthy reply. It won’t happen again.-Randy

  34. Hi Randy,This has become far too long to be manageable any longer and it has wandered far, far away from Keith’s original objection. So with that, I will retire from this discussion.The text-critical discussion of the tetragram appearing in the LXX has been covered at length at the b-greek and b-hebrew discussion lists. If you want further information on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ view of the divine name, the brochure which is the text under consideration in the original post, “The Divine That Will Endure Forever,” is available at watchtower.org.Thanks,TJ

  35. TJ, that is fair enough. I’ll take a look at those materials. I am actually a member of the BGreek, Hebrew, and LXX lists. Thanks for taking the time you have to discuss the important issue.-Randy

Leave a Comment