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Should the Divine Name be used in the Christian Greek Bible?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:15 pm
by Rotherham
Much criticism has been levelled at the New World Translation due to its inclusion of the Divine Name, rendered as Jehovah, in the Christian Greek scriptures. Whether Jehovah is the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton is not covered in this article. Suffice it to say for now that it is a valid English rendition of YHWH.

This article will cover three main reasons to establish why the Divine Name has a rightful place, at the very least, in the Christian Greek scripture quotations of the Hebrew Scriptures that contained the Divine Name. The fact that the Divine Name, YHWH, occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures is not contested by scholars.

The first reason that will be addressed is the importance, sacredness and permanence that God himself assigned to his own words and his own name in the Hebrew Scriptures, plus the command to not alter his inspired words. The only defense presented by those who do not include the Divine Name in the Christian Greek Scriptures is to claim that the Christian authors, under direct guidance of God himself, removed his own name from his own inspired writings in the Hebrew Scripture quotations in the Greek Scriptures. As odd as such a claim is, there could be no other reason offered to claim that the Divine Name was not there in those occurrences. This is also the reason that these same scholars give, as to why none of the known and highly regarded Christian Greek manuscripts contain the Divine Name.

The second reason to be covered is the fact that according to the scholars, who omit the Divine Name, they regard “Adonai” or “Kyrios” to be a semantic equivalent of the name YHWH, as is borne out in many of their lexical references.

The fact that no known Christian Greek manuscripts contain the Divine Name is the predominant reason that these scholars do not believe that the Divine Name has any place within the Christian Greek Scriptures. The argument is a valid one and cannot be ignored since those manuscripts provide the primary basis for the rendition of God’s words into other languages. However, as will be shown, there exists very strong circumstantial evidence to establish the belief that the Divine Name was there initially and its removal was due to a corruption of the text at a later date. A noteworthy parallel to this scenario will be presented in regard to the Greek Septuagint that was in use during the first century when Jesus Christ and his disciples were often times using it in their quotations of the Hebrew Scriptures. This will be covered in the third reason presented within this article.


Let’s first take a look at what God revealed about his own name and the sacredness of his inspired words. After these considerations, the obvious question will be why God Himself would violate such sacredness and revelation? In other words, why would God remove his own name from his own inspired words and violate his own commands against doing something of that nature?

Some have claimed that God removed it on purpose to highlight the name of Jesus Christ. Yet, contrary to this is the fact that the name Jesus actually highlights the name of YHWH, as did numerous names of numerous individuals in the Christian congregation and the first century. The very name Jesus means “YHWH is salvation”. The fact that the name of Jesus highlights YHWH certainly casts doubt upon the notion that God was somehow trying to downplay the importance of his own name to highlight Jesus’ name. Also contrary to this is the fact that YHWH is included in the word “HalleluJAH” found within the book of Revelation. So there was no wholesale replacement of the name YHWH in Christian times and writings. The name was interlaced throughout Christian life and their writings via the above.

Also contrary to this notion is the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures retained that name during those times with nearly 7000 occurrences and was contained within the Greek Septuagint translations of the first century. So any who would read the Hebrew Scriptures or the LXX during this time period, would naturally read the Divine Name as it was contained in the text. If the above mentioned theory as to why the name was removed is true, it would not even have been recognized until many years after the death of Jesus when the first inspired writings of Christianity appeared. For God to try and obscure his own name to highlight the name of Jesus, by removing it from common usage, well, I think we can see that the effort would have been meaningless. It was in wide usage in their own Hebrew and Greek LXX scriptures available at the time. The Christian congregation, established before any Christian inspired writings came about, was well aware of the Divine Name.

Also contrary to this idea is what God Himself stated concerning the importance and permanence of His name YHWH. First off, notice what is said of the permanence of YHWH when he declared it to Moses prior to encountering Pharaoh.
Exodus 3:15: “Then God said once more to Moses:
“This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ‘Jehovah the God of YOUR forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac+ and the God of Jacob,+ has sent me to YOU.’ This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me* to generation after generation.””

It is clear that God regards his name as his holy memorial into all generations to come. This is reiterated for us in the following scriptures:

Psalm 30:4
4 Make melody to Jehovah, O YOU loyal ones of his,
Give thanks to his holy memorial;

Psalm 102:12
12 As for you, O Jehovah, to time indefinite you will dwell,
And your memorial will be for generation after generation.

Hosea 12:5
5 And Jehovah the God of the armies, Jehovah is his memorial.

Psalm 135:13
13 O Jehovah, your name is to time indefinite.
O Jehovah, your memorial is to generation after generation.

The point is beyond denial. “Jehovah”(YHWH) was to be God’s sacred memorial name into all generations. We are therefore supposed to think that God would remove his own sacred memorial name from the Hebrew quotations in the Greek Scriptures. What possible valid reason would there be for doing so? We have already seen that it would have been a meaningless endeavor to do it just to highlight the name of Jesus. Remember, the name Jesus actually highlights the name Jehovah.

Notice as well, how God felt about the names of false gods:

Deuteronomy 12 “These are the regulations and the judicial decisions that you should be careful to carry out all the days that you are alive in the land that Jehovah the God of your forefathers will give you to possess. 2 You should completely destroy all the places where the nations you will dispossess have served their gods, whether on the high mountains or on the hills or under any luxuriant tree. 3 You should pull down their altars, shatter their sacred pillars, burn their sacred poles in the fire, and cut down the graven images of their gods, obliterating their very names from that place.

Exodus 23:13
13 “You must be careful to do all that I have said to you, and you must not mention the names of other gods; they should not be heard on your lips.

Joshua 23:7
7 by never mingling with these nations that remain with you. You must not even mention the names of their gods nor swear by them, and you must never serve them nor bow down to them.

Seeing how God wanted to obscure and remove the names of the false gods, how can one think that he would embark on a practice to obscure his own name, his own sacred memorial, without even a meaningful reason to do so?

Plus we should also keep in mind that removing and/or adding to the word of God carries with it grave dangers.

Deuteronomy 4:2
2 YOU must not add to the word that I am commanding YOU, neither must YOU take away from it,+ so as to keep the commandments of Jehovah YOUR God that I am commanding YOU.

Deuteronomy 12:32
32 Every word that I am commanding YOU is what YOU should be careful to do.+ YOU must not add to it nor take away from it.+

Proverbs 30:6
6 Add nothing to his words,+ that he may not reprove you, and that you may not have to be proved a liar.+

Here we see that adding to God’s own words is tantamount to being a liar. Are we supposing that God would stoop to such a practice himself? By removing his own memorial name and adding a substitute, according to this verse, would prove God a liar.

REV. 22:18 “I am bearing witness to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone makes an addition to these things,+ God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll;+ 19 and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life+ and out of the holy city,+ things that are written about in this scroll.

Again, would we suppose that God has done the very thing that he has condemned?

The bottom line is that God would have no cause nor justification to remove is own sacred memorial name from his own inspired words. The name of Jesus, as is the case with many other names in the Christian Greek Scriptures, highlights the name YHWH within it. For God to remove his own name and replace it with a mere title, Lord, that is used of many false gods as well, would be a violation of His own commands to not remove and/or add things to his inspired words.

Due to all the above reasons, there is no reason to think that God would have removed his own name when He inspired the Christian authors to quote from the Hebrew Scriptures. The heavy burden of such a position is surely upon those who would promote it. God would be violating his own commands. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Also, consider the fact that Jesus stated that He was making God’s name known to those whom he would encounter while on earth. Notice what Jesus himself claims at John 17:6, 26. “I have made your name manifest (or known) to the men whom you gave me out of the world.”, “I have made your name known to them and will make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them.”

The opposers to this view claim that what Jesus meant was not the actual name of Jehovah, but was speaking of God’s “reputation”. The problem with this objection is that there is no single example to demonstrate that either Jesus or his disciples ever used the Greek word for “name” (onoma) exclusively in that fashion. In all of the Christian Greek Scriptures, never once is “onoma” used to mean just the “reputation” apart from the actual name of the individual referred to. Why would we view the words of Jesus any differently? In fact, I know of no example where
onoma” occurring with a possessive pronoun isn’t in reference to an actual name.


The second reason that the Divine name has a rightful place among the Christian Greek Scriptures is because it is contradictory for scholars to question its right to be there. It can be seen by their own practices that they regard the word “Kyrios” in a given context as standing for the Divine Name, a semantic equivalent to YHWH. In fact, within a number of their lexical references, one of the ranges of meanings for “Kyrios” is YHWH. One has to wonder how they can find fault with one of the meanings of the word “Kyrios”, especially when we would all acknowledge that the original Hebrew contained the Tetragrammaton in the place that is quoted in the Greek. How can they then, with any consistency, find fault with using an obvious, according to them, lexical meaning of the word “Kyrios”, that being YHWH?

These scholars, by the practice of removing YHWH from the Hebrew Scriptures and replacing it with Lord, are actually establishing that, according to them, Lord is an equivalent of YHWH. If such is the case, if they regard Lord is an equivalent of YHWH in the Hebrew Scriptures, and also according to them, the Tetragrammaton can be rendered either YHWH or Lord, then by what grounds do they say that Lord in the Christian Greek Scriptures would not equally be an equivalent to YHWH?
What about the manuscripts? Why doesn’t the name appear in any of the known Christian Greek Scripture manuscripts? Are we claiming it was there and someone evidently removed it in a wholesale fashion? Yes, that is exactly what we are saying and when we compare what happened to the Divine Name in the LXX, during the SAME time period, there is much indication that this is indeed what occurred.


From the above information it can be seen that there would have been no valid reason for God to remove words from his own writings and insert other words instead. Such a practice would have been a violation of God’s own commands.

What then could have happened to the Divine name in the Christian Greek Scriptures? Is there any evidence that it could have been tampered with and removed, replaced? Yes, there is. Consider the following:

In all of the available fragments of the LXX-manuscripts, down to the second century CE, the divine name occurs in some form. However, in the LXX manuscripts from the second century onward we find the "nomina sacra" (the abbreviations QS and KS for QEOS and KURIOS respectively) used as a replacement of the Divine name where it formerly appeared. We therefore have proof that the divine designations were changed.

Suspiciously, as in the LXX, the NT manuscripts from the second century onward, we find the same abbreviations QS and KS where the Divine Name woud have been quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. This is, as in the case of the LXX, indicative that the divine designations were also changed in the NT because nobody would suggest that the autographs contained those abbreviations, unless they were to think that God himself caused the change and violated his own commandments in regard to the name Jehovah and in regard to not changing his inspired words. What then were they changed from? In the case of the LXX, the divine name would be the original and KS or QS are the substitutes. Keep in mind that the word KURIOS as a substitute for the Tetragrammaton is nonexistent before the second century CE.

Because of this, and because we know that both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures used by Jesus and his disciples contained the divine name, the question should be asked: “Why would Jesus and his followers, prior to this supposed inspirational instructions from God to remove it, which is contradictory to God's own wishes as expressed in the OT, not use the Divine Name when they could see it in the text right in front of them?”

So if we were to make a graph of the Divine Name and it’s occurrence, it presents a very feasible and logical picture that it was removed beginning sometime in the second century CE, the same time that the Divine name began to be removed from the LXX.

Notice what we have, graph-wise.

1. H stands for the Hebrew Scripture manuscripts that contain the Divine Name
2. G1 stands for the Greek LXX that contain the Divine Name.
3. G2 stands for the Greek LXX that do not contain the Divine Name.
4. C stands for the Christian Greek manuscripts which do not contain the Divine Name.
5. ? stands for the time period of the Christian Greek Scriptures that we have no manuscripts available.
6. //// is a marker for the 3rd century BCE. /// is a marker for the first century CE. // is a marker for the 2cnd century CE

Notice the pattern that emerges

What we can see is that the Hebrew manuscripts have consistently contained the Divine Name in the text.

The LXX also contained the Divine Name up until sometime during the second century CE. When the change was made from G1 to G2, the nomina sacra, as mentioned above, was used to designate the change.

Since no 1st century C(Christian Scriptures-Matthew thru Revelation) manuscripts exist, nor the originals, there is no way to visibly see if the Divine Name was there or not. However, the C manuscripts from the same time period that the LXX was changed, also shows that the text was changed in the very same fashion, by use of the very same nomina sacra. No one can successfully argue that the nomina sacra were original so it is sufficiently strong evidence within the Christian Greek manuscripts that there was a change that was affected upon the place where the Divine Name would have been used in the original Hebrew text, the same pattern as found in the LXX, which undeniably contained the Divine name prior to 2cnd century.

There is one thing for certain in regard to the nomina sacra, the earlier you go into the manuscript history, the less nomina sacra there is. When we get to P52,(possibly a second century fragment) it's quite possible that it does not occur at all, certainly far less nomina sacra than what is found in P46. So the evidence demonstrates the trend that as time went on, the nomina sacra increased, which is clear evidence that the nomina sacra exhibits the pattern of being non-original substitutes. In fact, there is no evidence to the contray to establish that the nomina sacra was original. Again, such a claim would contradict God's own words and wishes. See above.

Furthermore, if one believes that the nomina sacra was original, there becomes a question as to why they think it was OK for the translators to expand the nomina sacra into a full word. Is this not a violatation of the manuscript tradition? And if it is OK to do the expansion, then why would not be OK to expand JAH in Revelation to Jehovah, and then there you have it again, the Divine Name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. And if it is OK to expand the nomina sacra from a two-letter abbreviation into a full word such as "Lord" or "God", why then not "Jehovah" if the nomina sacra appears in a place where the Hebrew scripture contained and is being quoted by the Greek writer?

As seen, there is sufficient strong evidence to show that the Divine Name was in the original Christian Greek manuscripts, otherwise, why use the nomina sacra, which no one can establish as original, but was clearly used as a substitute for something else? In the LXX, the substitution was undeniably from YHWH to Adonai. What would make us think that the very same nomina sacra in the Christian Greek manuscripts was not used for very the same reason, especially when this took place in the very same time period.

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