[b-hebrew] Questions about YHWH

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Mon Jul 18 13:28:47 EDT 2005

Dear Uri,

Your point regarding amun is well taken.  To view the supreme God so great 
and unique that
he does not have a name, or that his name is ineffable and cannot be
pronounced, is older than Rabbinic Judaism.  A. Marmorstein, himself a
rabbi, has discussed this subject in a very interesting way ("The Old
Rabbinic Doctrine of God" (1927).  I would like to bring two quotes from the

"Greek philosophy, Jewish Alexandrian theology, Christian apology and
Gnostic lore concur in the idea of God`s namlessness.  That God has no name
was taught by Aristotele, Seneca, Maxim of Tyre, Celsus, and Hermes
Trimegistus." (p. 17).

The four last ones evidently were influenced by the first one mentioned,
namely, Aristotele (and the same is true with Philon).

"We notice a far-reaching difference between Palestinian and Alexandrian
theology concerning the Tetragrammaton. A bitter struggle between Helenists
and Hasidim centered around the pronunciation of the Divine Name.  A similar
controversy arose afterwards around the use of the name Elohim, and even as
to the substitution of the Tetragrammaton." (p. 13).

The conclusion of Marmorstein is that Hellenistic influence was the main
reason why the divine name ceased to be pronounced in Palestine.

Marmorstein is an old but excellent source.  I would also like to recommend
and even older but superb article, namely "Nameless gods" in Hastings 
Encyclopedia of
Religion and Ethics. vol. 9 (1908). Amun-Ra is also mentioned in this
article.  I will also recommend G. F.Moore (1955). "Judaism in the First
Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim Judaism", vol. 1, who
discusses why the name of God ceased to be pronounced.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli

University of Oslo

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Uri Hurwitz" <uhurwitz at yahoo.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005 5:31 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Questions about YHWH

>   The following citation from a hymn to Amun-Re may be relevant to the
> discussion of YHWH, and the issue of not pronouncing his name:
>       Amun,
>   "...He is too hidden to reveal his majesty,
>       he is too great to investigate,
>          too powerful to be known.
>    One falls down dead from terror,
>       if one pronounces his secret name,
>         intentionally or not.
>     None of the gods knows how to call him by name,
>        hidden Ba is his name,
>          hidden it is."
>    This is from Zandee's translation cited by De Moor in a section
> entitled The  new Kingdom in Egypt.
> Also, if memory serves, Herodotus when referring to an Egyptian main god
> states that he cannot mention the name because of its holiness. So the
> practice existed there from at least  his time.
>  Uri

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