traditions regarding tetragrammaton?
GregStffrd at aol.com
GregStffrd at aol.com
Sat Aug 25 11:53:13 EDT 2001
In a message dated 08/24/2001 11:09:08 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
furuli at online.no writes:
In "The Rule of the Community" (VI,27-VII,2) of the Qumran sect,
there seems to be a prohibition against using the tetragrammaton.The
text is broken, but a prohibition is the most likely interpretation.
In some of the DSS texts we find the tetragrammaton in Old Hebrew
characters, and I suppose this is what you call "Phoenician
characters". These characters are used, according to the majority
view, to indicate that the tetragrammaton should not be pronounced. >>
Let me add that in addition to the mss. we have which predate the first
century and which show a phonetic transliteration of the divine name (namely,
4QLevLXXb where we find IAW), we have testimony from later periods regarding
what appears to be a wider use of this form of the name in the Hebrew
Scriptures. In Contra Celsus 6.32 Origen refers to those involved in the
magical arts who took the name IAW "from the Hebrew scriptures," which is the
"name used by the Hebrews" (APO DE TWN hEBRAIKWN GRAPHWN TON IAW [or in some
mss. IAWIA] PAR hEBRAIOIS ONOMAZOMENON). It is unlikely then, that there was
only ONE mss. of the "Hebrew scriptures" from which the name was taken.
Additionally, Diodorus, who was a contemporary of Julius Caesar and Augustus,
speaks about how, among the Jews, Moses "referred his laws to the god who is
invoked [EPIKALOUMENON] as Iao [IAW]" (See the LCL's Diodorus vol. 1, page
These and other historical facts show that what we find in 4QLevLXXb is
actually representative of a much more widespread use of this particular
name, which undercuts the belief that a large segment of Judaism prohibitied
the use of the name in and around the first century CE.
Regarding the Dead Sea community, certain groups and communities certainly
did in fact take a stand against any use of the divine name. As you
mentioned, in 1QS (the so-called "Community Rule") 6.27-7.2, we read: "Anyone
who speaks aloud the M[ost] Holy Name of God, [whether in . . .] or in
cursing or as a blurt in time of trial or for any other reason, or while he
is reading a book or praying, is to be expelled, never again to return to the
Society of the Yahad" (Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The
Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation [New York: HarperCollins, 1996], 135).
But this reference seems to indicate that the divine name was pronounced by
some, and that extreme measures were taken to safeguard it against misuse.
However, while what is here stated applies to this particular group, there is
not enough evidence to suggest that this was commonplace throughout
Palestine. In fact, if 1QS had such a great influence on a large portion of
the Jewish community, then it is significant that by the time of the writing
of Sotah 7.6 use of the divine name had become **less restrictive,**
permitting pronunciation of the divine name in the sanctuary: "In the
sanctuary one says the Name as it is written but in the provinces, with a
euphemism." This seems to imply the preservation of an accepted pronunciation
of the divine name, and specifically indicates its use by the priests. Of
course, this cannot be considered definitive in terms of establishing the use
of the divine name in the first century. But it does show that even the
compilers of the Mishnah acknowledged that the priests pronounced the divine
name "as it is written."
Compare Tosefta Yadaim, chap. 2, end, where a group known as the
"Morning-Bathers" complain about the Pharisees who "speak the Name in the
morning, before bathing," and of the Pharisees' complaint against the
Morning-Bathers, "who speak the Name, with a body containing defilement."
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