Tetragrammaton in the New Testament

Tetragrammaton in the New Testament

Archaeologists have discovered papyrus fragments of works which were later included in the canon of the New Testament dating as far back as the middle of the second century. Of all 5,000 extant manuscripts, none contains the Hebrew יהוה (the Tetragrammaton), the Paleo-Hebrew (), or Greek transliterations (for example: ιαω, ιαουε, ΠΙΠΙ) of the Hebrew name (יהוה). Fact|date=January 2008

One of the most ancient fragments, the papyrus codex designated Chester Beatty Papyrus No. 2 P46, is dated prior to AD 200 and contains nine of the Apostle Paul's letters. In the Chester Beatty Papyri, we find ΚC and sometimes ΘC with a horizontal bar above them in citations of the Hebrew Bible where the Tetragrammaton occurs in the Hebrew text. These are abbreviations for "kyrios" (κύριος "lord") and "theos" (θεός "God") normally known as "nomina sacra" ("sacred names"). The abbreviations may not have been part of the autographs but may have been substituted as a shorthand some time later. An alternative thesis has been advanced that YHWH would have been present in NT autographs only to be substituted by the "nomina sacra".

An article by George Howard in the March 1978 issue of "Biblical Archaeology Review" set forth this thesis that YHWH appeared in the New Testament and that "the removal of the Tetragrammaton from the New Testament and its replacement with the surrogates "kyrios" and "theos" blurred the original distinction between the Lord God and the Lord Christ." [Howard, George, "Biblical Archaeology Review", March 1978.] His position was included in his article in the "Anchor Bible Dictionary", where he stated: "There is some evidence that the Tetragrammaton, the Divine Name, Yahweh, appeared in some or all of the OT quotations in the NT when the NT documents were first penned." [Freedman, D. N. 1996, c1992. "Tetragrammaton in the New Testament". "The Anchor Bible Dictionary." Doubleday: New York. 6:392.]

This thesis has not found wide acceptance, and Howard has qualified it: "my theory about the Tetragrammaton is just that, a theory. Some of my colleagues disagree with me (for example Albert Pietersma). Theories like mine are important to be set forth so that others can investigate their probability and implications. Until they are proven (and mine has not been proven) they should not be used as a surety for belief." [ [http://www.forananswer.org/Top_JW/Scholars%20and%20NWT.htm#Howard Letter from Howard] , 9 January 1990]

Jehovah and the Greek Old Testament

Old Testament is a term (credited to Tertullian) used to describe the Hebrew Bible. The ancient translation of the Old Testament into Koine Greek is called the Septuagint, which continues to be the official version of the Old Testament for the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day. The Septuagint was translated prior to the birth of Jesus. He and the Apostles quoted extensively from it. [ [http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/splist1.htm Septuagint] ] This is no surprise, since the New Testament was itself most likely written in Greek (see Aramaic primacy for the counter-argument).

Some copies of the Septuagint from the latter centuries BCE, which are translated from lost Hebrew texts, leave a blank space where the Tetragrammaton would have been; other represent the divine name by ιαω; others use ( [script not available] , not יהזה); cf. Orig. in Ps. ii., καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀκριβεστάτοις δὲ τῶν ἀντιγράφων Ἐβραίοις χαρακτῆρσιν κεῖται τὸ ὄνομα, Ἐβραικοῖς δὲ οὐ τοῖς νῦν ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἀρχαιοτάτοις—where the 'most exact copies' are doubtless those of Aquila's version, for there is no reason to suppose that any copyists of the Alexandrian version hesitated to write ο κς or κε for יהזה‎"]

The Septuagint was the preferred Greek translation of the Jewish Bible among Christians (and Jews up until the school of Jamnia and the Masoretic recinsion) at the time of the writing of the New Testament, and continued to be until the Reformation (the Vulgate being primarily a translation of the Septuagint). At least some, but not necessarily all, of the copies available at that time still contained the Tetragrammaton. It is not possible to determine whether or not the writers of the New Testament made use of copies that included the Tetragrammaton. ("Revista Biblica"Fact|date=June 2008)

When Saint Jerome, a Roman Catholic Doctor of the Church made his translation of the Old Testament into Latin, he switched from the Septuagint of the Early Church to the Masoretic. [http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/spfathers.htm] He translated from a Masoretic Old Testament and brought YHWH into texts officially adapted by the Western Church. This use of the Masoretic did not affect the Eastern Churches and the bulk of the late Roman Empire's population who spoke Greek, not Latin.

It is stated that Origen of Alexandria included the Tetragrammaton in his Hexapla in the 3rd Century AD. Origen's Hexapla was a comparison in side-by-side columns of "separate" versions of the Old Testament: Hebrew, Aramaic, Samaritan, and Greek translations.

Jesus quoted numerous times from the Old Testament, including his replies to Satan during his temptation in the wilderness. "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Matthew 4.7). Here as elsewhere, the quotation is taken from the Septuagint. [http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/comparisons.html] [http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/splist1.htm]

Babylonian Talmud

A passage in the Tosefta Shabbat 13:5 quoting Tarfon is sometimes cited to suggest that early Christian scriptures contained the Divine Name. It reads: "The 'Gilyon [im] ' and the [Biblical] books of the Judæo-Christians ["Minim"] are not saved [on the Sabbath] from fire; but one lets them burn together with the names of God written upon them." The Jewish Encyclopedia defines the word Gilyonim in the Talmud as referring to the Gospels in the time of Tarfon. [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?letter=G&artid=234 JewishEncyclopedia.com - GILYONIM ] ] Another reading suggests this is a reference to Torah and not the Gospels. [Daniel Boyarin: "Border Lines - The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity", pg. 57]

Hebrew Versions of the New Testament

Over the centuries various translators have supported the inclusion of the Tetragrammaton in the New Testament when translating into Hebrew Versions of the New Testament. One of the earliest Hebrew versions is the Gospel of Matthew translated by Shem-Tob ben Isaac Ibn Shaprut in 1385, which bears the circumlocution 'hash-Shem' (meaning 'The Name') written out or abbreviated 19 times instead of the Tetragrammaton. [The Watchtower, 15 August 1997, page 13]


ee also

* Dead Sea Scrolls
* Hebrew Gospel of Matthew
* Iaoue, the ancient Greek rendering of YHWH.
* Jehovah, an English vocalization of Hebrew YHWH.
* Jehovah's Witnesses, a religion that believes that the Tetragrammaton was written in the original, non-extant, manuscripts of the New Testament.
* Koine Greek
* List of Hebrew versions of the New Testament that have the Tetragrammaton
* Names of God in Judaism
* Yaw, an article that discusses some linguistic theories involving YHWH.
* YHWH, a Hebrew name for God that appears in the Masoretic Old Testament.

External links

* [http://www.studylight.org/isb/ Greek text] - Complete Greek text of the Septuagint hyperlinked to Strong's concordance.
* [http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/ Brenton's] - The standard English translation of the Septuagint (hard copy has Greek in column)
* [http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/splist1.htm The New Testament and the Septuagint] - Instances where the New Testament quotes the LXX against the Masoretic Hebrew
* [http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/splistMT.htm The New Testament and the Hebrew OT] - Instances where the New Testament agrees with the Masoretic Hebrew meaning
* [http://www.exc.com/JoelHoffman/Excerpts/ITB-p95.pdf Names in the Septuagint and Masoretic] - A table of the older Greek names with the newer Masoretic renditions, in the Old Testament
* [http://www.kalvesmaki.com/LXX/ The Septuagint Online] - Comprehensive site with scholarly discussion and extensive links to texts and translations
* [http://www.jehovah.to/exe/greek/yhwh.htm Article for the thesis by Matteo Pierro in a Catholic Magazine: "Rivista Biblica", n. 2, April-June 1997, p. 183-186. Bologna, Italy]
* [http://digilander.libero.it/domingo7/Savasta.htm Article against the thesis by Carmelo Savasta in a Catholic Magazine: "Rivista Biblica", n. 1, 1998, p. 89-92. Bologna, Italy]
* [http://www.watchtower.org/e/na/article_06.htm God's Name and the "New Testament"] , an article by the official web-site of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
* [http://www.forananswer.org/Top_JW/tetra.pdf The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures] , a dowloadable book.

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