[B-Greek] QEOS and KURIOS : enough already?

furuli at online.no furuli at online.no
Sat Sep 20 06:45:32 EDT 2003

Dear Al.

Because of your great expertise in the Septuagint your post is 
appreciated. I wondered why you did not participate in the thread 
because I knew you were on the list.

>Sorry to have missed the present discussion till now, due to my 
>absence. Whether I can claim to be saying anything new on the matter 
>I'll leave to you to decide. I did some years ago write an article 
>on the topic ("Kyrios or Tetragram: A New Quest for the Original 
>Septuagint" De Septuaginta: Studies in Honour of John William Wevers 
>on his sixty-fifth birthday [ed. A. Pietersma and C. Cox; 
>Mississauga, 1984]  pp. 85-101. (Unfortunately I have no electronic 
>copy of the article. ) The line of argument I adopted there (and 
>still epouse today) is that it is first and foremost the INTERNAL 
>evidence of the text, whether NT or LXX, that must tell us what it 
>read in its original form. That is to say, if the writers of the NT 
>wrote the tetragram instead of kurios one should be able to point to 
>some linguistic information in the NT that gives evidence to that 
>effect. In other words, one needs segments of text that can be 
>explained BETTER on the tetragram hypothesis than they can be on the 
>kurios hypothesis. I stress "better" to indicate where the burden of 
>proof lies. Since all known mss read kurios the burden of proof 
>would seem crystal clear. I know of no such segments of text in the 
>NT but will readily admit to non-expertise in the NT.

As to your article, I refer to my book Furuli, R (1999) "The Role of 
Theology and Bias in Bible Translation With a special look at the New 
World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses", Huntington Beach: Elihu 
Books, where i use 50 pages to discuss the LXX and NT evidence for 
KURIOS  or the tetragrammaton.  Here I discuss your article, and 
reach the opposite conclusion of you, and I  discuss the 1317 
occurrences of QEOS  and the 717 instances of KURIOS and the internal 
evidence of the NT as well.  A student at the University of Oslo told 
me that he mentioned my book for you in a letter, but I don't know if 
you have read it. Your article is fine with good arguments, but it is 
in no way conclusive. You may recall that Emanuel Tov in a lecture at 
the congress of The International Organization for Septuagint and 
Cognate Studies in Oslo in 1998 said that your main point was invalid.

>The same is true for the LXX (here limited to the Pentateuch): it is 
>the text itself that must tell us what it originally read. Yet here 
>I note in the present discussion an alarming leap from what seems to 
>me such an obvious dictum. Thus Professor Furuli confidently 
>declares in a note of Sept 13: "There is no evidence that LXX 
>translators substituted YHWH with KURIOS, as Youtie suggests." 
>Whence this confidence? "In all fragments of the LXX (or LXX-like 
>texts) from the 2nd and first centuries and from the 1st century 
>C.E. we find either YHWH in Paleo-Hebrew or square Hebrew, or as the 
>Greek phonetic transcription IAW." Several observations are 
>immediately in order:
>1. In fact there is no II BCE evidence for or against either a form 
>of the tetragram or kurios, since no instance is extant in Ra 957 
>(P. Rylands 458).
>2. Similarly, Ra 942 (P. Fouad 266), dated to I BCE has not 
>preserved any instance of either some representation of the 
>tetragram or kurios.
>3. Likewise Ra 847 (P. Fouad 266), dated to I CE, has not preserved 
>any instance of either.
>4. The same can be said a several Qumran fragments: Ra 805 
>(pap7QLXXExod)(I BCE), Ra 803 (4QLXXNum) (I BCE), Ra 801 (4LXXLev-a) 
>(I BCE), Ra 819 (4QLXXDeut) (I BCE?).
>Thus to state that ALL evidence from II BCE to I CE attests to some 
>representation of the tetragram is patently incorrect and hugely 

In a discussion like this, the arguments need to be short.  When I 
spoke of "all evidence" I had in mind fragments which could throw 
light on the question under discussion, i.e. fragments where YHWH 
occurred in the Hebrew text. I assumed that the readers would 
understand this, but I realize now that I  after "all fragments" I 
should have written "where the Hebrew text has YHWH" or something 

It is interesting to see the list of Greek fragments from B.C.E. that 
you give, but I do not see how the fragments that do not have any 
form of the name, have any bearing on the present discussion. So from 
this point of view your list is unnecessary. However,  RA 957 (P. 
Rylands 458) may be used in this discussion even if it does not have 
any form of the name.  The broken space where the name probably was 
written is too big for KS, and  Paul Kahle wrote regarding this 
fragment ("The Cairo Geniza" (1959), p. 222: "/C. H./Roberts supposed 
that the scribe must have written the word kyrios in full, not in the 
shortened form used for the nomen sacrum. In reality the unabridged 
tetragrammaton was written here, and Roberts agreed with me when I 
pointed it out."  Thus some argue in favor of  2nd century B.C.E. 
evidence for the use of the tetragrammaton as well.

I agree with your words above that "it is the text itself that must 
tell us what it originally read." On the other hand, your article, 
which is a fine piece of work, have a completely different approach. 
You argue against what the known manuscripts show, that on the basis 
of internal evidence in late manuscripts one can conclude that the 
original LXX substituted YHWH with KURIOS. This is a legitimate 
approach, and therefore we should grant Howard and others the the 
right to take the same approach in connection with a possible use of 
YHWH in the NT autographs.

>In fact, of the eight pentateuchal fragments from II BCE to I CE 
>that can readily be enumerated, only two can be cited in support of 
>some form of the tetragram: Ra 802 (pap4QLXXLev-b) (I BCE) and Ra 
>848 (P. Fouad 266) (I BCE). That is not to say, of course,  that all 
>eight could not have had some form of the tetragram but simply that 
>the vast majority have nothing to say on the issue under discussion. 
>Thus they should not be implicitly cited in support of either.
>But let us take a further step on the question of attestation for 
>the tetragram, and consider the three witnesses Furuli cites in 
>support of his argument for the originality of the tetragram in the 
>1. Ra 802 (pap4QLXXLev-b) a Septuagintal witness which attest to a 
>variety of  seemingly Hebraizing corrections. As Furuli notes, it 
>has the tetragram in Greek transcription IAW.
>2. Ra 848 (P. Fouad 266), a Septuagintal witness to which the 
>tetragram was secondarily added in Hebrew square script. As Koenen 
>notes, the tetragram was added in a space left by the main scribe, 
>large enough for kurios. The same phenomenon of leaving a space for 
>later infill has been noted, for example, in 11QPs-a
>3. 8HevXIIgr, a non-Septuagintal witness of I BCE-I CE which has the 
>tetragram in palaeo-hebrew. I call this ms "non-Septuagintal" since 
>by universal scholarly consensus it is a recensional text which has 
>heavily and systematically revised the Old Greek (LXX) text of the 
>Twelve Minor Prophets towards the Hebrew. Thus to rely on this text 
>to give us orginal Septuagint reading  in any way shape or form 
>would seem rather ill advised.
>Since this note is already  longer than is desirable let me just 
>make three concluding points:
>a) Even if all three mss were bona fide exemplars of the LXX, we 
>cannot overlook the fact that the three witnesses speak with three 
>distinct voices. To count the three as one is misconstruing the 
>b) Were one disposed to hold that the original LXX had the tetragram 
>rather than kurios, one would then have to decide which of the three 
>forms should be counted as original and how the subsequent variety 
>of representations can be accounted for.
>c) That not only the palaeo-hebrew script in general and the 
>preoccupation with and interest in the divine name in particular 
>were topical in the late period is obvious from Qumran. Thus there 
>is no difficulty in explaining a similar interest evidenced in Greek 

The evidence you refer to in your post corroborates with my claim 
that there is no evidence for the use of KS or KURIOS in LXX (or 
LXX-like) manuscripts (where YHWH is found in the Hebrew text) 
before the second century C.E. Thus the manuscript evidence we have 
argue against an early substitution.

If the question is the *use* of YHWH or a substitute in the LXX, in 
my view, manuscripts with YHWH in old or square Hebrew characters and 
with IAW speak with one voice against substitution. Adding this to 
the Syriac evidence, "families" of LXX  with the name in different 
forms may have existed in B.C.E. The translator of an OT book into 
Greek would obviously render the name in a uniform way throughout his 
manuscript; all the different books may even have rendered it the 
same way. Because IAW is a phonetic transcription whereas YHWH is a 
transliteration, they are not mutually exclusive, but different 
scribes could have used either of them instead of using a substitute.

>The long and short of the tetragram-kurios issue is, it seems to me, 
>that it can only be resolved from within the LXX text itself. I 
>began that process in my article cited above. More evidence can be 
>readily be added. There is plenty of internal LXX evidence that 
>speaks against Furuli's thesis. And if it is highly questionable for 
>the LXX it is even more questionable for the NT.

The hypothesis that the tetragrammaton occurred in the NT autographs 
does not stem from me but from G. Howard.  But I have found his 
discussion convincing, and I have done further studies along the same 
lines. It it interesting that you and I are in a similar position 
regarding the LXX and NT respectively. On the basis of internal- and 
other evidence I argue against the manuscript evidence that YHWH may 
have been used in the NT autographs. On the basis of internal- and 
other evidence, you argue against the manuscript evidence that KURIOS 
may have been used in the LXX autographs.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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