[b-hebrew] YHWH discussion recap

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Jul 25 09:55:23 EDT 2005

On 25/07/2005 14:12, Schmuel wrote:

>     For consideration, probably just a decade or two ago, the "Yahweh" usage would have
>likely been the almost-overwhelming consensus on a scholarly forum, and we have also in
>the last decades seen it make its way into various translations, from the catholic Jerusalem 
>Bible to the Everett Fox translation to others.  It was becoming mainstream (socalled "sacred
>name" or "qodesh name" Bibles had been using various such forms for 50 years).   
>    Yet now we see a major turn-around, and to put it a bit indelicately, the promoters and 
>defenders of "Yahweh" for the Tetragrammaton are a bit on the defensive, and the 
>scholarship has shifted rather radically to at least a strong level of simpatico to the 
>three-syllable "Yehowah/Yehovah" forms.  And this is shown even on a scholarly forum like 
>this one,  possibly the most advanced discussions of the issues anywhere.   And some
>of the credit should, I believe, go to three writers on the topic, Gerard Gertoux, Nehemiah
>Gordon and Carl Franklin, all defending forms close to Yehovah, while the "Yahweh" 
>scholarship has been rather stagnant. 

I am not convinced that this is a fair summary. I don't think that 
authors like Gertoux, Gordon and Franklin have been taken at all 
seriously by the scholarly world. I am not saying that they shouldn't 
be, but that they are outsiders. I don't think any of them have a 
recognised academic position, and I have not seen publications by them 
in peer reviewed academic journals. I may be wrong here, if so please 
correct me. But if this is true or nearly true, their position can 
hardly be considered to represent a shift in "scholarship". The real 
scholars in this field have probably not even seen the arguments of 
these three, and so have seen no reason to confirm the continuing 
scholarly consensus for "Yahwe" or similar.

In fact, don't overestimate this forum as "scholarship". Few of us on 
this list hold recognised academic positions either.

> ...
>If one decided on a two-syllable form, there would be NO starting vowels at all.  
>It seems that "Yahweh" would be one of a dozen or so possible forms, and one that 
>has a major problem to begin with (multi-syllabic Theophoric names invariably start
>with "Yeh", per the pages on the Gerard Gertoux paper).  It only exists as one scholarly
>reconstruction, hard to defend.  

You have missed a point here. The existing multi-syllabic theophoric 
names in fact invariably start with Y:ho-, where the colon represents a 
sheva, rather than a real "e" vowel. And that sheva is almost certainly 
a reduced form of another vowel, which could be an "e" vowel (as in the 
name Jehu, which could be an abbreviated form of one of these names with 
the original vowel preserved) but is also very likely to be an "a" 
vowel, qamats. Certainly if the names had originally started Yaho-, with 
the first vowel as qamats, they would have been reduced, in that 
unstressed initial position, to the recorded form Y:ho-. So this is good 
reason to think that the initial vowel is "a", although it could also be 
"e" or "i".

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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