Is The Name YHWH in the New Testament?


Why did the New Testament writers NOT include the Divine Name in their writings ... or Did They?

References, both scriptural and secular, are herein designed to answer this seeming dilemma with regard to the OT use of The Name (in the Hebrew manuscripts) around 6,972 times ...

It is true, no reference to The Divine Name, in it's complete form, can be found in the extant
manuscript copies of the original text of the "New Testament".  However, an abbreviated form of The Name does occur at Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6, in the expression "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah" in KJ, Dy, JB, AS, and RS.

The logic presented for the absence of the "full form" of the Divine Name in the NT had been that the inspired writers of the NT made their quotations from the Greek Septuagint version of the OT, which substituted Kyrios or Theos for the Tetragrammaton (an expression generally referring to the Divine Name, literally meaning "having four letters"); that they, therefore, followed the same custom or precedent in their own writings.  However,in recent times at least ten fragments of the OT have been found, some of which are the oldest copies available, that did preserve the Tetragrammaton, usually in ancient Hebrew characters.

Commenting on the fact that the oldest fragments of the Greek Septuagintdo contain the divine name in its Hebrew form, Dr. P. Kahle says:

"We now know that the Greek Bible text [the Septuagint] as far as it was written by Jews for Jews did not translate the Divine name by kyrios; but the Tetragrammaton, written with Hebrew or Greek letters, was retained in such MSS [manuscripts].  It was the Christians who replaced the Tetragrammaton by kyrios, when the divine name written in Hebrew letters was not understood any more." (The Cairo Geniza, Oxford, 1959, p. 222)

When did Greek translators of O T stop using The Divine Name?

... evidently in the centuries following the death of Jesus and his apostles.  In Aquila's Greek Version, dating from the second century C.E., the Tetragrammaton still appeared in Hebrew characters.  Also, around 245 C.E., the noted scholar Origen produced his Hexapla, a six-column reproduction of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures:  (1) in their original Hebrew and Aramaic, accompanied by (2) a transliteration into Greek, and by the Greek versions of (3) Aquila, (4) Symmachus, (5) the Septuagint, and (6) Theodotion.  On the evidence of the fragmentary copies now known, Professor W. G. Waddell says:

"In Origen's Hexapla . . . the Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and LXX [Septuagint], all represented JHWH by PIPI, in the second column of the Hexapla the Tetragrammaton was written in Hebrew characters." (The Journal of Theological Studies, Oxford, Vol. XLV, 1944, pp. 158, 159)

Some believe the original text of Origen's Hexapla used Hebrew characters for the Tetragrammaton in all its columns.  Origen himself stated:

"in the most accurate manuscripts THE NAME occurs in Hebrew characters, yet not in today's Hebrew [characters], but in the most ancient ones."

As late as the fourth century C.E., Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate, says in his prologue to the books of Samuel and Kings:

"And we find the name of God, the Tetragrammaton [i.e.,YHWH], in certain Greek volumes even to this day expressed in ancient letters."

In a letter written at Rome, 384 C.E., Jerome states:

"The ninth [name of God] is the Tetragrammaton, which they considered [a·nek·pho'ne·ton], that is, unspeakable, and it is written with these letters, Iod, He, Vau, He.  Certain ignorant ones, because of the similarity of the characters, when they would find it in Greek books, were accustomed to read PIPI [Greek letters corresponding to the Roman letters PIPI]."--Papyrus Grecs Bibliques, by F. Dunand, Cairo, 1966, p. 47, ftn. 4.

Evidence indicates that the "New Testament" writers did NOT substitute The Divine Name with "kyrios," (Lord) or "theos," (God).

According to Professor George Howard, Associate Professor of Religion and Hebrew at the University of Georgia:

"In 1944, W. G. Waddell discovered the remains of an Egyptian papyrus scroll, (Papyrus Fuad 266), dating to thefirst or second century B.C., which included part of the Septuagint.  In no instance, however, was YHWH translated kyrios Instead the Tetragrammaton itself-- in square Aramaic letters -- was written into the Greek text.  This parallels the Qumran Covenanters' use of the paleo-Hebrew script for the Divine Name in a document which was otherwise written in square Aramaic script. . . "

"We have three separate pre-Christian copiesof the Greek Septuagint Bible and in not a single instance is the Tetragrammaton translated kyrios or, for that matter, translated at all.  We can now say with near certainty that it was a Jewish practice, before, during and after the New Testament period to write the divine name in paleo-Hebrew or square Aramaic script or in transliteration right into the Greek text of Scripture. . . . "

"The divine name,  YHWH, was and is the most sacred word in the Hebrew language.  So it is hardly likely that Jews of any sort would have removed it from their Bibles.  Furthermore, we know now from discoveries in Egypt and the Judean desert the Jews wrote the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew even in their Greek texts.  In all likelihood Jewish Christians felt the same way about the divine name and continued to preserve it in Hebrew in their Bibles.  A famous rabbinic passage (Talmud Shabbat 13.5) discusses the problem of destroying heretical texts (very probably including books of Jewish-Christians).  The problem arises for the rabbinic writer, because the heretical texts contain the divine name, and their wholesale destruction would include the destruction of the divine name.  This further suggests that Jewish Christians did not translate the divine name into Greek."

"But Gentile Christians, unlike Jewish Christians, had no traditional attachment to the Hebrew Tetragrammaton and no doubt often failed to even recognize it.  Gentile scribes, who had never before seen Hebrew writing (especially in its archaic form), could hardly be expected to preserve the divine name.  Perhaps this contributed to the use of kyrios and theos for the Tetragrammaton. . . . "

"Thus, toward the end of the first Christian century, the use of surrogates (kyrios and theos) must have crowded out the Hebrew Tetragrammaton in both Testaments."

Recognizing that this must have been the case, some translators have included The Divine Name in their renderings of the Christian Greek Scriptures.  The Emphatic Diaglott, a 19th-century translation by Benjamin Wilson, contains the name Jehovah a number of times, particularly where the Christian writers quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures; but, as far back as the 14th century, the Tetragrammaton had already begun to be used in translations of the Christian Scriptures into Hebrew, beginning with the translation of Matthew into Hebrew that was incorporated in the work ´E'ven bo'chan by Shem-Tob ben Isaac Ibn Shaprut.  Wherever Matthew quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures, this translation used the Tetragrammaton in each case of its occurrence.  Many other Hebrew translations have since followed the same practice.

As to the basis of this course, note the following acknowledgment by R. B. Girdlestone, late principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.  This statement was made before manuscript evidence came to light showing that the Greek Septuagint originally contained the name, YHWH.  He said:

"If that [Septuagint] version had retained the word [Jehovah], or had even used one Greek word for Jehovah and another for Adonai, such usage would doubtless have been retained in the discourses and arguments of the N. T.  Thus our Lord, in quoting the 110th Psalm 110:1, instead of saying, 'The Lord said unto my Lord,' might have said, 'Jehovah said unto Adoni.'"  [Matthew 22:44]

Proceeding on this basis (which evidence now shows to have been actual fact) he adds:

"Supposing a Christian scholar were engaged in translating the Greek Testament into Hebrew, he would have to consider, each time the word K¨l;rioV occurred, whether there was anything in the context to indicate its true Hebrew representative; and this is the difficulty which would arise in translating the N. T. into all languages, if the title Jehovah had been allowed to stand in the [Septuagint translation of the] O. T.  The Hebrew Scriptures would be a guide in many passages:  thus, wherever the expression 'the angel of the Lord' occurs, we know that the word Lord represents Jehovah; a similar conclusion as to the expression 'the word of the Lord' would be arrived at, if the precedent set by the O. T. were followed; so also in the case of the title 'the Lord of Hosts.'" (Synonyms of the Old Testament, 1897, p. 43)

The following scriptures show that Jesus must have used The Divine Name:

  1. Matthew 6:9 (ASV) "After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."

  2. John 5:43 (ASV) "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."

  3. John 10:25 (ASV) "Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not:  the works that I do in my Father's name, these bear witness of me."

  4. John 12:28 (ASV) "Father, glorify thy name.  There came therefore a voice out of heaven, [saying], I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."

  5. John 17:3 (ASV) "And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, [even] Jesus Christ."

  6. John 17:6 (ASV) "I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world:  thine they were, and thou gavest them to me; and they have kept thy word."

  7. John 17:11, 12 (ASV) " ... And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee.  Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we [are]. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name which thou hast given me: and I guarded them, and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."

  8. John 17:26 (ASV) " ... and I made known unto them thy name, and will make it known; that the lovewherewith thou lovedst me may be in them, and I in them."

  9. Acts 15:14 (ASV) "Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name."

  10. Acts 15:17 (ASV) "... That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, ..."

  11. Hebrews 2:12 (ASV) " ... saying,I will declare thy name unto my brethren, In the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise."

  12. 3 John 1:7 (ASV) " ... because that for the sake of the Name they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles."

  13. Revelation 3:12 (ASV) "He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name."

  14. Revelation 14:1 (ASV) "And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads."

  15. Revelation 15:4 (ASV) "Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all the nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy righteous acts have been made manifest."

  16. Revelation 22:4 (ASV) " ... and they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] on their foreheads."

These references from Holy Scripture, clearly document the sacred importance and emphasis associated with the use of The Divine Name by Jesus (and the apostles).

Based on the preceeding references, when Jesus quoted or read from the Hebrew Scriptures he most assuredly used The Divine Name!  Note the following references:

The Divine Name in Jesus' Reference to OT

 OT Reference

JESUS' quote in NT

Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; 6:13

Matthew 4:4, 7, 10

Deuteronomy 6:5

Matthew 22:37

Psalm 110:1

Matthew 22:44

Isaiah 61:1, 2

Luke 4:16-21

 
No doubt Jesus' disciples, including the inspired writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures, would follow his example, using The Divine Name in their writings.
 

Why would the early copiests substitute kyrios (Lord) or theos (God) for The Divine Name?

From 66 CE to 135 CE there were:

  1. Several Jewish revolts fostered much persecution by Roman authorities upon any who appeared Jewish;

  2. After the apostle's deaths,  there was a great falling away from the true faith. (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Peter 2:3);

  3. Most Jewish Christians were killed by the Roman authorities, leaving mostly "Gentile" Christians.  These Gentile Christians wanted to appease the Roman authorities and gain approval amongst Romans, in general, and therefore may have developed a propensity to discard almost anything that made them look Jewish, including The Divine Name.

  4. Greek philosophies were put on par with the Holy Scriptures.  (2 Timothy 6:20, 21)

Under these circumstances, we can see how most scriptures containing The Divine Name could  have been destroyed, leaving only copies that contained the substitutes, kyrios or theos.  Therefore, those who replaced the Tetragrammaton with "kyrios "in the both the OT and NT copies, were NOT the early disciples of Jesus; they were persons of later centuries, when the foretold apostasy was well developed and had corrupted the purity of Christian teachings.--2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1.

Therefore, in the days of Jesus and his disciples The Divine Name very definitely must have appeared in copies of the Holy Scriptures, both in Hebrew manuscripts and in Greek manuscripts.

The Sovereign Lord of the universe does not want to be anonymous.

The proliferant use of The Divine Name in the Hebrew Scriptures alone certainly says something about the value attributted to it by God.  Almighty God inspired  the Bible writers of the Hebrew Scriptures or OT to record the Tetragrammaton, %&%* (YHWH in English), about 6,972 times, and stated emphatically:

"And God said moreover unto Moses, 'Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.'"--Exodus 3:15, ASV.

The third of the Ten Commandments states:

Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."--Exodus 20:7, ASV.

Near the closing verses of the OT Almighty God, himself, spoke of the importanceof His Name:

"Then they that feared Jehovah spake one with another; and Jehovah hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for themthat feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name.--Malachi 3:16, ASV.

Jesus emphasised the importance of adhearing to the Divine Will:

"Then there come to Jesus from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given [to God]; 6 he shall not honor his father. And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain do they worship me, Teaching [as their] doctrines the precepts of men.--Matthew 15:1-9, ASV.

It is on such a basis that translations of the Greek Scriptures containing The Divine Name in the form Yahweh or Jehovah have proceeded.  The next topic for analysis hopes to be focused on the manner Christians today should refer to The Divine Name.

A relevant question is:  "Do I want to be written in Yahweh's 'book of remembrance'?"

God is looking for people to worship him in "spirit and truth" (John 4:23), I am striving to meet that expectation and hope you are, too.  Please advise me of any input you may have in this regard.