The following posting appeared on the Christianity Board of AOL (Topic Suggestions folder) in response to a *cut and paste* from the CDRom by a regular Jehovah's Witness poster to that board.
'Much has been written about the name of God in the Bible and there are 'sacred name' groups which are at pains to discover the correct pronunciation of a name which stopped being pronounced more than 2,000 years ago by the Jewish people for fear of breaking the 3rd commandment.
Biblical Hebrew being consonantal supported by an oral tradition, it relied on that oral tradition in order to preserve the name of God. Without the continued oral expression of the 'name', despite the efforts of many to establish its correct pronunciation, reliance on 4 letters alone (tetragrammaton) has caused problems, despite 'clues' from other words which include part of that name, and other linguistic indications.
If we think of a name which has 4 consonants, the second and fourth being the same, such as MaRJoRie, then remove the vowels, we can see how the problem developed.
MRJR is certainly not Marjorie's name, and without consistent pronunciation of the name 'Marjorie', in the absence of any other record of the whole name, the original pronunciation could quite possibly be lost. Then take a couple of words which you are allowed to use in place of the name 'Marjorie' - say daughter and grandmother - then put the vowels of those names above or below the 4 consonants:
a u e
M R J R
a o e
so that whenever you come to read MRJR, you actually say daughter or grandmother. And then 12 centuries or so later (maybe earlier?), someone believes that the vowels that appear from the name daughter, are actually the vowels which make up the whole name, thus producing the name MaRuJeR. But then the letter M is represented by the letter N in the language of translation and the letter J is represented by the letter Y, and so the name NaRuYeR becomes Marjorie's name and it is then transferred as nearly as possible to this deduced name, into other languages. The name Marjorie represented graphically as MRJR has disappeared and the hybrid name Naruyer replaces it.
In this way, we have moved from YHVH in Hebrew via medieval Latin Iehouah, Iehoua to Jehovah. However, when Jehovah was first used, the letter J was probably pronounced as a Y and the letter V as a W - so the pronunciation of what was written as Jehovah would have actually been Yehowah.
After the exile in 6th century BC, and more generally from the 3rd century BC, YHVH stopped being vocalised except on the Day of Atonement in the High Priest's blessing.
It has been stated on here that (cut and paste from CDRom): >whether Jesus and his disciples read the Scriptures in either Hebrew or Greek, they would come across the divine name. In the synagogue at Nazareth, when Jesus rose and accepted the book of Isaiah and read Isaiah 61:1, 2 where the Tetragrammaton occurs twice, he would have pronounced the divine name. This can be seen from his prayer to his Father: "I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. . . . I have made your name known to them and will make it known."-John 17:6, 26. >
I would suggest that the fact that Jesus was not immediately thrown out of the Synagogue after reading from Isaiah would provide strong evidence that Jesus did not, in fact, pronounce the 'name' at that time. (Sotah 7, 6) Sanhedrin 7, 5, records that a blasphemer was not guilty unless he pronounced the 'Name' - but Luke tells us 4 v 22 'And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.' At that point, not the reaction of a crowd who had just witnessed blasphemy I would have thought. They were later enraged, however, when Jesus made claims that caused them offence - but not at the point when Jesus had just finished reading from the Scriptures.
Was Jesus reading in Hebrew, Greek or even Aramaic? Did Jesus keep faithfully to the text? If we look at what He said, although septuagintal in character, it does not match it exactly and it has elements of the Masoretic Text. Also the majority of the Septuagint texts which we have do not in fact contain the Tetragrammaton, so we do not know whether the 'name' appeared in the scroll from which Jesus was reading.
To pass from the statement that Jesus would have pronounced God's name without any evidence for this, but rather, I would suggest, with evidence to the contrary, to:
"he would have pronounced the divine name. This can be seen from his prayer to his Father: "I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. . . . I have made your name known to them and will make it known."-Joh 17:6, 26."
is therefore problematical. A conclusion is being based on an unsupported premise.
If Jesus had 'pronounced' God's name, why is the pronunciation of that name so difficult to recover? Even if the Jewish converts were loathe to pronounce the name, would this have stopped the Gentile converts? We know that Christianity started with an oral tradition, so surely this would have preserved that name?
In considering the beginning of the Lord's prayer, 'Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name', why is the actual name of God omitted? If Jesus had used that name, wouldn't it have been preserved in the oral tradition of the Lord's prayer if not in the texts? Wasn't this an ideal opportunity for the name of God to be 'called upon'? But instead, Jesus begins with 'Our Father in Heaven' as opposed to beginning with YHVH - and then states 'hallowed be thy name'. Would this indicate the possibility that Jesus, in accordance with the customs of the day, acknowledges the sanctity of the name of God, attributes holiness to it, but fails to vocalise it?
And at John 17 vv 6 and 26, (cut and pastefrom the CDRom): 'I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world' and 'I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them'.
How did Jesus make known/manifest God's name? Did He pronounce the name of God, or did He come to make known God's love as that of a Father? Have we moved from a more 'remote' deity in the Old Testament whose 'personal' name had ceased to be pronounced by the Jews, to a deeper understanding of God in the New Testament based on Jesus' promotion of God as 'Father', enabling a more 'personal' relationship? This is just one aspect - there are other points here - but this is already getting lengthy!
The name of Yehoshua (Jesus) is YHVH's salvation. He 'personified' YHVH's salvation' and He has made 'known' YHVH's relationship to man, and by His sacrifice on the cross, will (v 26) further make known YHVH's name - i.e. His provision for salvation through Yehoshua. When Jesus leaves the disciples to ascend to Heaven, the second 'witness' will be sent - the Holy Spirit - the spirit of truth.
I don't see v 26 speaking about YHVH's literal name, for if it did, the future 'making known' does not make sense imo.
And moving on to the preaching of the Gospel, if we look at the Acts
of the Apostles, whose is the name:
which is called upon (Acts 9 vv 14, 21);
healed by (Acts 3 vv 6, 16; 4 vv 10, 30);
saved by (Acts 4 v 12; 10 v 43; 22 v 16);
baptised in (Acts 2 v 38; 8 v 16);
taught and preached in (Acts 4 v 18; 5 v 28; 8 v 12);
spoken in (Acts 4 v 17; 9 vv 27, 29);
suffered for (Acts 5 v 41; 9 v 16; 15 v 26);
forgiven through (Acts 10 v 43);
borne before the nations (Acts 9 v 15);
called or designated by (Acts 11 v 26)?
It is the name of Yehoshua - YHVH's salvation. The 2 names are bound together and embedded in each other. (But it is this recurrence of 'in Jesus' name' which has resulted in the formation of the 'Jesus Only' Pentecostal group (which numbers about 6 million I think I read somewhere....) - have been having a long discussion with a member of this group).
So where does that leave us in relation to 'knowing' or using the 'name'? As Christians -
Should we adopt the name 'Yahweh' which, as a name can be used by speakers of any language, and which seems to be the name favoured by the majority of scholars, but which may not be 100% accurate in its pronunciation (Yahowah being another possibility)?
Do we reject the pronunciation 'Yahweh' on the grounds that it also sounds very like the ablative form of the noun Jupiter?
Should we use the name 'Jehovah', a name 'accidentally' applied by a 13th century Spanish monk through an error in understanding of the vowel pointings added to the Tetragrammaton, but which is a name that english speakers are familiar with and recognise as applying to God, though it is not His name?
Do we reject that name because of the unpleasant connotations of the word 'hovah' in Hebrew?
Should we use our own language versions of the words 'God' or 'Lord' as did the Jews as we are no longer certain of the pronunciation of 'YHVH' and God would understand anyway?
Should we call on 'Our Father' as Jesus suggested in the Lord's Prayer?
For me, if we knew exactly the pronunciation of God's name, I would favour its inclusion in the Old Testament, in its original form with footnotes/explanations. Without that knowledge we are left with the decision either to include a hybrid name or to translate with a 'title'. Most translators opt for the latter course using the Septuagint as a precedent and also following the practice of the Jewish people.
With the New Testament, we encounter difficulties where many passages quoted from the Old Testament are septuagintal in character. This has implications from a translation view point - do you include in the translation, YHVH, which does not appear in the manuscripts from which you are translating on the basis that 'it should have done' or might have done? Clearly the WBTS would say 'yes'; orthodox translators generally maintain not.
Most orthodox translations do not include 'YHVH'. The WBTS includes, however, the hybrid name 'Jehovah'. This name is included due to 'familiarity' with this name in the English language, despite knowledge that it is not in fact God's name. There are a few occasions where 'Jehovah' is not added, however, in the NWT New Testament where the Old Testament passage would suggest that it should be (scholars have suggested examples such as Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philemon 2:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; and Revelation 22:21), and these are instances where an inclusion might compromise the Christology of the WBTS.
Orthodox Christianity and the WBTS suggest 'theological' bias in the translation of the Bible on the part of the other. As the 2 groups hold to different Christological views and are responsible for their own translations, inevitably this leads to conflict between the two groups in areas where translation from the Greek leads to 'interpretation'.
Orthodox Christianity which calls on great scholarship from Greek experts in their Biblical translation looks askance at the NWT which was produced by an 'anonymous' group of 6 men from the WBTS, whose identities once made known by a former member of the organisation, indicated that only one member had any knowledge of Greek (2 years) and was self taught in Hebrew. Some scholars are highly critical of the translation which it claims fails to recognise the 'nuances' of the languages translated and which is also inconsistent in applying some of the self set translation rules which it originally claimed.
Meanwhile the WBTS considers that there is theological bias in orthodox translation due to exposure to accepted ideas about doctrinal issues - the Christological view being one of the main areas where they see a problem. They consider that the traditional Churches are in error and that there has been 'apostasy' from the original message, and that they alone have the 'truth'.'
I have heard Jehovah's Witnesses state that the omission of the divine name from the Bible is blasphemy.
I have also read the opinions of orthodox Jews who consider that the *distortion* and acknowledged inaccuracy of G*d's name as represented by the WTBTS is blasphemy.
Agreeing with Metatron's last point :o) and adding - even had the Tetragrammaton been replicated graphically in the written *books* of the New Testament, there is absolutely no evidence from the oral tradition that the divine name was vocalised by Jesus, Paul, the disciples or anyone else as far as I am aware. Had it been vocalised, surely there would not be the lengthy and scholarly and not so scholarly debates which continue to this day, for the pronunciation of the name, being so important - the name of God, would have been preserved for us.
Hope that this helps you bchapp :o)