[b-hebrew] Questions about YHWH

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Sun Jul 17 23:25:05 EDT 2005

On Jul 17, 2005, at 11:46 AM, Yaacov Yeretz wrote:
> And if I'm right: Could anybody tell me, when the
> pronunciation of the
> Tetragrammaton became banned?

Okay, I'm a little reluctant to chime in on this because I am away  
from home and pretty much working strictly from memory on this.  
However, I offer the following observations:

(1) The tendency of the Septuagint and other Greek translations to  
supply κυριος for יהוה - does that suggest a reticence to  
actually pronounce the Tetragrammaton at the time those translation  
were made? If so, this would take us back to the beginning of the  
fourth century BCE. Or do our surviving LXX MSS represent a later  
development in this regard?

(2) As I recall--though again, I am embarrassed to say it because I  
am not in a position, physically/geographically, to check sources on  
this--some of the Dead Sea Scrolls have the Tetragrammaton written in  
a Paleo-Hebraic script while all the rest of the text around it is  
written in an Aramaic square script. I have a JPEG of one such  
instance on my hard drive, but I don't have proper documentation on  
disk of which MS that is (and I don't know if I can send attachments  
with b-hebrew messages in any case). This would at suggest that no  
later than the first or second century BCE (depending on which texts  
show this orthographic variation), the Tetragrammaton was being  
treated as something special and apart from ordinary language. The  
use of the paleo script may (speculation alert!) have been a "flag"  
to mark the qere perpetuum, maybe ... (speculation alert!).

Please take all this for "thinking out loud," not actual proposals  
(at least for now).


R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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