Divine name in NT

Williams, Wes Wes.Williams at echostar.com
Fri Oct 2 18:02:09 EDT 1998

Jonathan wrote:
> Secondly, even if "J1" were a manuscript from the 2d or 3d century, I
> would
> have to know how Shem-Tov renders those verses to be able to respond
> intelligently to what you say here. I note, for instance, that in Matt
> 22:32, QEOS occurs four times: EGW EIMI hO QEOS ABRAAM KAI hO QEOS ISAAK
> in the same place as each use of QEOS, or only for the first three, or
> only
> for the last? Also, this verse quotes Exodus 3:6, and I notice that in the
> Hebrew MT, this text uses ELOHEY, not YHWH. I'm trying to figure out where
> YHWH might plausibly be inserted in this verse, and I'm coming up empty,
> which makes it really difficult to respond to what you say here. Since I
> don't have access to Howard's work or to Shem-Tov's translation, could you
> perhaps quote the Hebrew translation for these verses? 
> Finally, I note that Howard himself concludes that "J2" is "in a much less
> corrupted form than Shem-Tob", which implies to me that Howard sees
> Shem-Tov as significantly corrupted.
Dear Jonathan,

As I mentioned previously to Rolf, I cannot cross town to my friendly
neighborhood Seminary to access their library in the short term. You might
try your local Seminary where you presently are in Tokyo. : ) Or perhaps
someone else on the list can post the references where the Shem-Tob MS uses
YYH and how it is used, or I will email you when I can access Howard's book
later. I have with me his 20 page JBL article on "The Tetragram and the New
Testament," 1977 (which I recommend to become familiar with the issues), but
he does not deal extensively with Shem-Tob there.

> Note that both of these translations were probably made for Jews who would
> be familiar with the use of the divine name in these Old Testament
> passages. Hence, it makes lots of sense to use the divine name in
> translations of these quotes, if only to make sure that the target
> audience
> recognizes the quotes.
Yes. I agree with you that this is a plausible possibility. The other
possibility is that a Jewish scribe faithfully copied the text. The Jewish
scribes included the Tetragram as part of their tradition. Thus, we find the
Tetragram or representations of it in all copies of the LXX throughout the
first century and into the second (Aquila uses Hebrew YHYH, infamously
misread as Greek PIPI?). Also, Origin noted that copies of the LXX in his
day contained the Tetragram. However, Howard notes that it is a different
matter with the Greek scribes. See "The Tetragram and the New Testament,"
JBL, 1977. Howard's point was that it is significant to have the name in the
NT because no pious Jew in the Middle Ages, such as Shem-Tob who was no
friend of Christianity, would dignify a Christian text by inserting the
Tetragrammaton or a form of it. That is why he concluded that the source
text likely derived from a family representing the original Matthew and did
not descend from a later Greek family.

> >Translations that include the name 
> >"Jehovah" or, I saw one recently that just inserts the Tetragrammaton in 
> >the NT, do not use these secondary sources as their primary line of 
> >argumentation. There are other considerations. 
> I would like to see a list of these considerations, since I saw no such
> list in the appendix of the study Bible that sparked this discussion.
> Where
> can I find such a list?
I am unsure to what extent this discussion would fall in the guidelines of
b-greek. However, there is much in the archives I recall, that deal with the
prevalence of the Tetragrammaton in the first-century Hebrew and LXX MSS and
the views of the first-century Jewish mind with respect to the Tetragram. A
search on "Tetragrammaton" or "YHWH" may prove helpful. I can discuss things
not in the archives offline with you. 

> >For example, in James 5:10, 
> >we have: Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the 
> >exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of KURIOU.
> Here 
> >we have an example of a statement that is textually correct but factually
> >wrong. They spoke in the name of YHWH. What should a "literal" translator
> >do when there is secondary textual evidence that the Divine Name was 
> >originally there but removed? What they do may depend on their
> translation 
> >principles. But reference to Hebrew versions containing nomina sacra in 
> >various forms would be secondary sources, IMO.
> Your assertion that this statement is factually wrong depends on a
> particular interpretation of the phrase "in the name of". I'm stuck in a
> hotel room, without access to the reference works I need, but in both
> English and Greek, the phrase "in the name of" does not necessarily imply
> invoking that person's name literally. For instance, if I say to you,
> "Stop! In the name of the Law!", I do not need to know whether that name
> is
> "Fred" or "Shirley", because the phrase "in the name of" does not require
> a
> literal invocation of a particular name. The same seems to be true of
> Greek. For instance, in Matt 10:41, hO DECOMENOS PROFHTHN EIS ONOMA
> PROFHTOU MISQON PROFHTOU LHMYETAI, I can't think of any way to interpret
> the phrase EIS ONOMA for which a literal invocation of a particular name
> makes any sense.
While I mostly agree with your semantic evaluation of the phrase EIS ONOMA,
I am talking about translation procedure (how are we to translate a proper
name?), not semantics (what is the meaning of the phrase "In the name of"?).
Elijah spoke: "This is what YHWH has said," and not "This is what KURIOS (or
ADONAY) has said." The primitive sounds across languages may be different
and thus a proper name might use different sounds in a target language (thus
YHWH = Yahweh, Jahve, Yaho, Jehovah, Yehowa, etc.), but the core of the
proper name is the same. If we translate literally, semantics can only be
applied in such cases AFTER the act of translation. To translate KURIOS for
YHWH in our case is factually wrong regardless of the meaning of "in the
name of".

> If your translation changes the original before translating it, on the
> basis of an interpretation like the one above, then I don't think that it
> is a literal translation. Even in a less literal translation, think it is
> vital that such a change be carefully footnoted, together with its
> justification, because otherwise the reader has no way of knowing that the
> text itself has been changed before it was translated. (By the way, which
> Greek text was used as the basis for the New Testament portion of the New
> World Translation?)
> >In conclusion, I see a line of defense for its inclusion in the NT where
> OT 
> >quotations and expressions included the name, at least until hard
> evidence 
> >in the form of earlier NT MSS can be found. Or, as you suggested,
> footnotes 
> >are a fine assistance to the reader. On the other hand, I think it proper
> >to note that there is no justification for the removal of the Divine Name
> >YHWH in the O.T. by the translation "LORD." Should not a "literal" 
> >translation translate the name in some form in the OT? With that in mind,
> >even if NT MSS that contained the name were found, it may likely have 
> >little impact on current translations. 
> I rather like the Jerusalem Bible, especially in French (though I can
> barely scrape by in that language). It uses "Yahweh" where the
> Tetragrammeton occurs. The other translations I use generally have
> introductions that show exactly what words are used to translate the
> Tetragrammeton, but I agree with you that using a transliteration like
> "Yahweh" makes it clearer that the Tetragrammeton was used in the
> original.
Yes, I appreciate that fact as well about the Jerusalem Bible (as well as
the New JB) and consult it occasionally. I, like you, think Yahweh is a fine
translation since it conveys the core of the proper name YHWH.

> An interesting piece of trivia: since I represent my company to the World
> Wide Web Consortium, I had to vote on a proposal to add the Tetragrammeton
> to the UNICODE character set. Naturally, I voted "yes".
Well done, good and faithful Jonathan! So, does that mean we are going to
get it?

Wes Williams

More information about the B-Greek mailing list