FW: IAO--How's it said?

David C. Hindley dhindley at compuserve.com
Tue Nov 16 10:44:41 EST 1999


I was unable to e-mail this response to you due to an invalid address.
Hopefully, the "powers that be" will agree with me that the contents of
this reply will fall under the umbrella of the scope of b-Greek.

-----Original Message-----
From: dhindley at compuserve.com [mailto:dhindley at compuserve.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 1999 8:49 AM
To: cowmonky at granbury.com
Subject: IAO--How's it said?

Mitchell Gray said:

>>I have been reading a book that has a section that discusses the
Tetragrammaton.  In one part it says that there are some Greek MS that use
IAO as the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew YHWH.  My question is, How would
you translate IAO?  Is that possible?  If so, how would it be said in


Were you asking yourself how they got IAO (in which the "O" is the Greek
Omega, and in B-Greek's transliteration scheme is written "IAW") from
YHWH, which is usually believed to have been pronounced "Yahweh?"

The answer is probably to be found in the Elephantine papyri, among which
are Aramaic letters written by members of an Egyptian military unit
comprised of Jews. In these, the Jewish God is designated as YAHO (and
remember that in the Persian Period, from which these texts belong, the
Jewish province was also known as Yahud).

In the Greek magical papyri the name of God is very commonly
transliterated (not translated) IAW, and I suspect that it ultimately
derives from this Aramaic YAHO (or its Hebrew equivalent). Semitic "Y"
became Greek "I", and the Semitic "H" drops out (i.e., the consonants YW,
transliterated into "IAW", with the Greek "A" probably intended to
facilitate pronunciation). For IAW in Greek magical texts, see Hans Dieter
Betz's _The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation_ (Chicago: U. of Chicago
Press, 1986). In the glossary of that book (pg. 335) the Greek term IAW is

It is noted that not only did IAW become "an important deity in magical
literature," but that the use of Greek IAW for Hebrew YHWH is attested
even in a Greek fragment from the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q Lev-b LXX). I am
not aware, though, of any other cases where IAW was used in a mss of the
LXX to represent YHWH (although this does not mean that such mss do not
exist). Generally, LXX mss translated Hebrew YHWH with the Greek word
KURIOS, or sometimes retained the Hebrew spelling YHWH either in square
script or even in the ancient paleo-Hebrew script, rather than translate

I'll bet that your source was making reference to one or both of these

Hope this helps!


Dave Hindley

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