[b-hebrew] yhwh pronunciation

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Sun Jul 24 07:54:18 EDT 2005

Dear list-members,

Even though we cannot on the basis of our the data answer the principal question, namely the ancient pronunciation of YHWH, I think the discussion has been fine. Much information have been cited or quoted, and this may help the readers to understand that many popular views regarding the teragram have no secure foundation.  Moreover, the different viewpoints have been presented in a cordial way. I find that I have little more to contribute,   But I will make a few comments on two recent posts.

Peter Kirk wrote:
"Yes, James, this does make sense, at least to me as a linguist. Your 
explanation of how Hebrew W became Greek beta in IABE etc is good, and 
this is good evidence for a pronunciation Ya(h)ve derived from Yahwe; 
the Greek forms IAOUE and IAOUAI also clearly support the pronunciation 
Yahwe. So Rolf is wrong to state that there is no ancient evidence for 

I have never said there is no ancient evidence for Yahweh; to the contrary,  I have mentioned that among different Greek renderings of the divine name among the Church fathers we also find IABE.  And I have mentioned Samaritan evidence, though this is late.  What I have said is that there is absolutely no evidence in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic writings for Yahwe.

Yigal Levin wrote:

"3. Does anyone also know when the rise of the pharisees and the saducees
took place? And the beginnings of the attitudes we read about in
the gospels?

The only complete description that we have of the pharisees and the saducees is in Josephus, and even that seems simplified. The two groups apparently arose during the Hasmonean period, say around 100 BCE, although they obviously did not apear out of no-where. As far as the way in which the Gospels portray the pharisees, let someone else comment."

I agree with the origin of the Pharisees about 100 B.C.E., and this may throw some light on the use of the tetragram in B.C.E.  Tosefta Yeadim 2:20 says: 
"The Morning-bathers /probably Hemerobaptists, see Justin "Dialogue with Trypho, ch 80/ say, "We complain of you, Pharisees because you pronounce the Name before you bathe.  The Pharisees reply, "We complain of you Morning-bathers because you mention the Name with a body which contains defilement."

If this was a typical dialogue between the two groups, and the Pharisees originated around 100 B.C.E. it means that at the same time that the Qumran people did not use the name, other groups did use it.  

Let me also add that J. D Fowler (1988). "Theophoric Personal Names in Ancient Hebrew: a Comparative Study" shows that the frequency of using the theophoric element  YHWH in proper names increased through time:

Before the United kingdom: 62 names
The United Kingdom: 71 names
The Divided kingdom: 194 names
Exile/Post-Exile 261 names.

Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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