The most successful teaching of Jehovah's Witnesses and an amazing new book on the divine name
Here is Bart Ehrman's take on the question:
A wee bitty confusing trying to decipher a flat earth from a worms viewpoint me thinks...unless you're a worm which slim is not. That example of many is only proffered to obfuscate imo
Laika you are quite correct, and this is an issue I have given some consideration. As far as I am aware the WT has never directly addressed the tension between the competing claims of accuracy and corruption in the NT text that you mention (and I have looked for it). I can only say my own thoughts along these lines.
I find it interesting that a major supporter of the Tetragram in the original NT, David Trobisch, has a very liberal view of the textual history of the NT. He argues that the current NT is the result of heavy revision in the second century, including the suggestion that whole sections, or even entire books, of the NT were added at a late stage by editors to provide unity to the collection. Interestingly, while he believes the divine name stood in the original NT documents, he argues that the second century edition of the NT is what scholarly translation should aspire to reproduce. Thus he suggests introducing a form of notation in English to imitate the nomina sacra rather than restoring the divine name to the text. A very interesting set of propositions when you think about it. His book is fascinating and deserves to be read in full. His argument for the divine name in the NT is only a small part of much broader argument for the production of the NT as a unified collection in the second century. But in order to accept his argument, as you point out, you need to accept that the text of the NT was altered in significant ways during the first century of its transmission. Personally I find his argument persuasive on historical, empirical and logical grounds. But it does pose problems for those who take a conservative position on the faithful transmission of the NT text.
From a faith point of view, I can only say that I don't think it's impossible to hold a liberal view of the text, while also regarding it as inspired, and that God's name is very important. How can all those hang together? Well the fact is that the Bible has been corrupted in significant ways at various times. Those who argue that the Alexandrian text is close to the original need to admit that the Byzantine text, which dominated the Christian textual tradition in many places for many centuries, was regarded as the word of God even though it involved significant corruption.
This is a fact of history you need to contend with as a believer whether you are liberal, conservative or in between. Why did God allow an inferior form of the text to dominate for so long, before allowing the purer original to surface and reassert itself in the last two centuries?
You could pose similar questions with regard to the divine name. And if you are a believer it is not difficult to discern Jehovah's hand in the surfacing of crucial evidence for the divine name in the last days and it's restoration to the NT text. To be clear this is not an argument I have heard JWs make, but I find it easy to imagine it's the sort of argument a believer could make in these circumstances. And with some force since the discovery of key evidence and the unfolding of God's name in the last days does appear providential.
There was likely much revision in the second century. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 14, it seems the "women be silent" was an interpolation. And Paul never actually wrote 1 Timothy which says the same thing.
Of course, the New Testament is a compilation of books from different Christian groups from the first and second century, each with different theological viewpoints.
But from what Paul and the Christian group he was writing to at Philippi, I think their answer would be found at Philippians 2:9, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”
Therefore the name above every name is given to Jesus...the one who in verse 6, who had “God’s form” or nature.
No matter whether the LXX with the divine name was used by the New Testament writers or indeed placed the name in their original writings, often passages in the Old Testament that were about YHWH got applied to Jesus. For these writers Jesus was by nature or kind YHWH, while a distinct person from his Father.
The writer of the epistle of John would have agreed. Of course, the writer of Mark would’ve bitterly disagreed. And likely the writer of Matthew and Luke.
Whatever the original form of the writings that became the New Testament and whether the Divine Name was included, or passages like in Philippians were ramped up and altered to reflect high Christology is still speculation and guesswork.
Until someone finds an early NT manuscript with the divine name in it, there is no real proof.
Well said galaxie.
This is what happens when you buy into post-modern relativism. Even an evil cult cannot be judged as right or wrong. Instead you end up waffling about whether or not their "truths" are useful.
Before you know it you are back into cult-speak about "crucial times" and "last days".
But in order to accept his argument, as you point out, you need to accept that the text of the NT was altered in significant ways during the first century of its transmission. Personally I find his argument persuasive on historical, empirical and logical grounds. But it does pose problems for those who take a conservative position on the faithful transmission of the NT text.
It doesn't add up that somebody is always deleting God's name from the holy scriptures.
First the Jews use a Tetragrammaton in a few places because of superstition and substitute Gods name with a title in over 7000 places. Well in a time period of 1500 years it is a remote possibility.
Then when it is reinstated - reconfirmed - given impetus or whatever by the Messiah its again made to disappear all over again by the same custodians of the new writings.
And yet what is remarkable is that everything else remains holy, accurate and intact. The holiest part of the scriptures God's name always keeps on disappearing. And God keeps on letting this happen.
Common sense dictates the smell of a rat.
lemonjuice the evidence strongly indicates that the LXX in the first century contained various forms of the divine name. Yet by the third century (and subsequently) all Christian copies that survive use substitutes.
So the divine name did totally disappear from the LXX over a relatively short period of time. The question is not whether such a transition from use of the name to a substitute is possible. It happened. The question is whether the same happened with the NT text, which was transmitted by the same people who replaced the divine name with substitutes in the LXX in the same period
jwfacfs I found it interesting when you said you wouldn't like me on a jury. Then you later complained that I had relied on "argument from authority". Since you invoke legal context I'd like to point out that in a courtroom they have place for "argument from authority". They call it expert witness testimony. And I think it's perfectly legitimate to point out that a number of scholars support JWs on the divine name in the NT, in addition to describing the sorts of evidence they adduce in favour of the proposition. And can I ask: what do think stood in the original NT autographs in place of the divine name?
I find it amusing that your strong argument in favour of the JW religion is one you admit they don't seem to have ever used, perhaps the GB should hire you?
More seriously I appreciate the response and the work you have put into researching this, I am bothered that some posters want to snipe about 'postmodernism' rather than engage on the actual arguments.
I am not opposed to the idea that there may be evidence that early Christians used some form of the divine name, though I find the idea that they could find evidence to support all 237 translations in their NT quite unbelievable, Romans 10:13 being the most obviously incorrect usage. (I can expand on this if you like, but suspect you are already aware of it) This is another reason why I don't think I could ever find JW doctrine 'strong' on this point. If evidence does emerge to support all 237 renderings I will be running back to the meetings!
I am bothered that some posters want to snipe about 'postmodernism' rather than engage on the actual arguments - Laika
I'm not bothered in the slightest about whether or not some form of the divine name appeared in the LXX or the NT. I think it's trivial and uninteresting.
I am bothered that SBF is waffling about these "crucial times" and "the last days".
SBF's inability to judge the WT as a dangerous, lying, child-abusing, family-destroying, dehumanising cult is directly connected to his relativistic postmodern worldview.
Edited to add- If you bother to read the thread you will see I did engage with the actual argument.
Less than half of the 237 instances where the WT substitutes "Jehovah" for Kyrios into the NWT are based on quotations from the Hebrew scriptures.