ON THE FORM OF THE DIVINE NAME

'JEHOVAH'

In the Lexical Aids To The New Testament as compiled and edited by Spiros Zodhiates in the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible New International Version(AMG Publishers 1996 AMG International, Inc) we read under the Greek word 'Kyrios':

"Kyrios; from kyros (n.f.) might, power. Lord, master, owner, God.....(2)a Of God as the supreme Lord and Sovereign of the universe, usually corresponding to Jehovah(Mt 1:22; 5:33; 27:10; Mk 5:19; 13:20....."-italics ours

Yes, the English form of the divine name(Hebrew YHWH), namely, "Jehovah," continues to be the form used by scholars and scholarly works right up to the present time. However, the New World Translation has come under criticism for using this form. We believe that such criticisms are ill-founded. The following will explain why.

Following is an incomplete list of Bible translations that use the form of the Divine Name JEHOVAH for the original four letters-the Tetragrammaton-that is, God's proper name in the original Hebrew Scriptures-the Old Testament. But before that list is given we would like to reproduce here part of a web page that criticises the use of this form of the name in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

Here is the said criticism:

"The Origin of the word 'Jehovah':The fact of the matter is that it is a man made name, a false translation.Here is what they won't tell you...In their very own publication called 'Aid to Bible Understanding', page 884-885 "By combining the vowel signs of 'Adho-nay' and 'Elo-him' with the four consonants of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) the pronunciations Yeho-wah' and Yeho-wih' were formed. The first of these provided the basis for the Latinized form "Jehova(h)." THE FIRST RECORDED USE OF THIS FORM DATES FROM THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY C.E.. RAYMUNDUS MARTINI, A SPANISH MONK OF THE DOMINICAN ORDER (in other words a Catholic) USED IT IN HIS BOOK PUEGO FIDEI OF THE YEAR 1270."I have shown that the name did not even exist before the year 1270 so it cannot be Biblical. The Tetragrammaton, (meaning four letters) the letters YHWH are found in ancient Hebrew Scripture, but nowhere is the word 'jehovah' to be found.Now let us return to 'their' bible and read under 'appendix 1' page 1640. "The name 'Jehovah' occurs 6973 times in the text of the Hebrew Scriptures of the New World Translation. Actually the Tetragrammaton occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew text...... WE 'RENDERED' THE TETRAGRAMMATON AS 'JEHOVAH' IN ALL 6828 OCCURRENCES..."To sum it all up, and from their own publications, they used a man made, manufactured name, and changed the word 'Lord' to read 'Jehovah' 6828 times in their New World Translation."

First of all he charges Jehovah's Witnesses of withholding the fact that the form Jehovah is of 13 century origin. But then he contradicts himself in the next breath by quoting a JW publication that tells it's readers that very fact? Are you already puzzled? We are! That the WTB&TS, the legal and publishing agent of JW's, "told you" that 'Jehovah' is of this origin, can be found in the following.

" From the point of view of the Bible, there has never been any question as to the name of the true God. When God spoke to Moses, explaining that He would use him to lead the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, Moses asked a logical question: "When I come to the Israelites and say to them ,"The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, What is His name? what shall I say to them?"God answered: "Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: The LORD [Hebrew, = YHWH = Yahweh, or, since the 13th century C.E., Jehovah], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: This shall be My name forever, this My appellation [memorial, JP ] for all eternity."- Exodus 3:13, 15, italics ours."-Will There Ever Be A World Without War, WTB&TS.

And:

" In time, God's name came back into use. In 1278 it appeared in Latin in the work Pugio fidei(Dagger of Faith), by Raymundus Martini, a Spanish monk. Raymundus Martini used the spelling Yohoua.Soon after, in 1303, Porchetus de Salvaticis completed a work entitled Victoria Porcheti adversusi impios Hebraeos (Porchetus' Victory Against the Ungodly Hebrews). In this he, too, mentioned God's name, spelling it variously i Iohouah, Iohoua and Ihouah. Then, in 1518, Petrus Galatinus published a work entitled De arcanis catholicae veritatis (Concerning Secrets of the Universal Truth) in which he spells God's name Iehoua. The name first appeared in an English Bible in 1530, when William Tyndale published a translation of the first five books of the Bible. In this he included the name of God, usually spelled Iehouah, in several verses, and in a note in this edition he wrote: "Iehovah is God's name . . . Moreover as oft as thou seist LORD in great letters (except there be any error in the printing) it is in Hebrew Iehovah." From this the practice arose of using Jehovah's name in just a few verses and writing "LORD" or "GOD" in most other places where the Tetragrammaton ." The Divine name That Endures Forever, WTB&TS.

So what can we say about his charge: "Here is what they won't tell you.."

It is an untruth!

If he thinks that "Jehovah" is not a "Biblical name" and therefore should not be used that would mean that a host of other names in the Old Testament as we find in all Bible translations, including the Cathlolic Jerusalem Bible, should also not be used. This would include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jehu, Jehoash, and many more. If he believes that these names are the original "Biblical names," then he is grossly mistaken.

To remind you again what this Cathlolic critic said:

"to sum it all up, and from their own publications, they used a man made, manufactured name, and changed the word 'Lord' to read 'Jehovah' 6828 times in their New World Translation."

He seems unaware of the fact that The Catholic Encyclopedia,Volume 8, 1910 edition, page 329, notes: "Jehovah, the proper name of God in the Old Testament."

And the Catholic Encyclopedia 1913, Vol. VIII, p. 329 states: ""Jehovah", the proper name of God in the Old Testament; hence the Jews called it 'the name' by excellence, the great name, the only name."

What have some said about the form of the name "Jehovah"?

R.H.Pfeiffer said, "Whatever may be said of it's dubious pedigree,"Jehovah" is and should remain the proper English rendering of Yahweh, the God of Israel who revealed his name to Moses in the burning bush."-Introduction to the Old Testament, 1952, p.94.

Also, J.B.Rotherham in his translation of the O.T. used the form "Yahweh", but later in his "Studies in the Psalms," he reverted back to the form "Jehovah" because of, in his words, "the desireabilty of keeping in touch with the public's eye and ear." He said:

"Jehovah- The employment of this English form of the Memorial name in the present version of the Psalter does not arise from any misgiving as to the more correct pronunciation, as being Yahweh; but solely from practical evidence personally selected of the desirability of keeping in touch with the public ear and eye in a matter of this kind, in which the principal thing is the easy recognition of the Divine name intended. . . . As the chief evidence of the significance of the name consists not nearly so much in its pronunciation as in the completeness with which it meets all requirements-especially as explaining how the Memorial name was fitted to become such, and to be the preeminent covenant name that it confessedly is, it has been thought desirable to fall back on the form of the name more familiar (while perfectly acceptable) to the general Bible-reading public."

Also, in his translation S.T.Byinginton said about why he used "Jehovah":

"The spelling and the pronunciation are not highly important. What is highly important is to keep it clear that this is a personal name. There are several texts that cannot be properly understood if we translate this name by a common noun like "Lord."

The French Dictionnaire de la Bible( Dictionary of the Bible) edited by the Catholic priest F. Vigouroux, says: "Jehovah, the personal name of God in the Old Testament. No divine name is so frequently used in the Hebrew Bible. It is repeated about 6000 times, either alone or with another divine name."

Johann David Michaelis in his German translation of the Old Testament of the eighteenth century. When commenting on Genesis, he said in part:

"On the other hand, the name Jehovah [ Jehova in German] is used in equally long sections [of the Bible] and the Supreme Being continually called Jehovah God, likely with the intent of conveying to the reader that the God of whom Moses is speaking is that one God who had made himself known to him by the name Jehovah and who distinguished himself from all other gods by means of this peculiar name. . . . so I considered it to be a matter of integrity in translation to identify it, even though it might not always be pleasing to the German ear. In Michaelis' comments on the book of Job, he said: "Nothing has more often aroused doubts on my part in translation than the name of God, Jehovah, occurring so frequently in the Hebrew [Scriptures]. Several of my friends insisted that I not at all insert this foreign word. . . . Jehovah is a Nomen Proprium, and, just as properly as I retain other nomina propria[such as] Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or, taking names of other gods as examples, Baal, Ashtaroth, Dagon- they may be as foreign-sounding as they like- it can well occur in the case of Jehovah. In the translation of a classical author one would not have the slightest hesitance toward the use of the names Jupiter, Apollo [and] Diana; and why then should the name of the Only True God sound more offensive? I do not therefore see why I should not use the name Jehovah in the German Bible."

A major translation that uses "Jehovah," is the American Standard Version. It would be beneficial to quote that part of it's preface that tells why they did so.

"The change first proposed in the Appendix-that which substitutes "Jehovah" for "LORD" and "GOD".....-is one which will be unwelcome to many,because of the freqeuncy and the familiarity of the terms displaced.But the American Revisors,after a careful consideration,were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition,which regarded the Divine name as too sacred to be uttered,ought no longer to dominate in the English or in any other version of the Old Testament,as it fortunately does not in the numerous versions made by modern missionaries.This Memorial Name,......and emphasised as such over and over again in the original text of the Old Testament,designates God as the personal God,as the covenant God,the God of revelation,the Deliverer,the Friend of his people;- not merely the abstract "Eternal One" of many French translations,but the ever living Helper of those who are in trouble.This personal name,with it's wealth of sacred associations,is now restored to the place in the sacred text to which it has an unquestionable claim."-Preface.p.iv.

Following the American Standard Version in this are the translations by(some using the name less than the actual occurrences in the original):

Rotherham's The Emphasised Bible, the Jerusalem Bible and The Bible-An American Translation(Smith and Goodspeed) uses the form "Yahweh."

On this form of the divine name the producers of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures said, back in 1969, "While inclining to view the pronunciation "Yah-weh" as the more correct way, we have retained the form "Jehovah" because of people's familiarity with it since the 14th century. Moreover, it preserves, equally with other forms, the four letters of the Tetragrammaton JHVH." -WTB&TS, Foreword, p.23

More translations could be cited.

Of course, we know that the Revised Standard Version departed from the practice of the ASV by not using "Jehovah,"or any proper name for God, instead substituting "Lord" in those places where the proper name occurs in the original Hebrew. Back in 1952 we can read what one who published his thoughts in the New York newspaper the Daily Compass, of October 28th said:

" The 32 Protestant scholars may have attempted to revise the Scriptures in the "clearest, most accurate English of our time," but in so doing, they actually obscured the original meanings. Moreover, by rendering some original Hebrew names, such as "Jehovah" into English words that never convey the original meaning (" Jehovah" is a compound of three tenses "I Was, I Am, I Will Be"), the translators have greatly transgressed and committed grievous sin. For by using the word "Lord" for "Jehovah" they only add confusion to the readers who will now not know when [the reference is to] Jehovah, the Creator of all, or to the accepted Christian Son who is so referred to throughout the evangelical works. "Lord," moreover, has several common meanings."

The above critic said, you may recall:

"they used a man made, manufactured name, and changed the word 'Lord' to read 'Jehovah' 6828 times in their New World Translation."

If this critic thinks that the NWT rendered the Hebrew word for "Lord" as "Jehovah," then he is grossly mistaken. That is a different word altogether. The NWT rendered "adonai" as "Lord" as has almost all other Bible translations! If he thinks that to render the four letters which represents the Divine Name, a proper name, in the original Hebrew by the English "Lord" is not changing it, then again he is grossly mistaken. Either this critic is not aware of the facts or, even worse, he is lying. Either way his accusations are in excusable. It might be pointed out that this Catholic critic of the NWT has also, perhaps without being aware of it, also maligned the Catholic Jerusalem Bible! Would he now charge it with changing "Lord" to read "Yahweh"? Of course, when you read this attack on the NWT you are not told that other Bible Translation Committees have done the same thing. Is his intent to inform or mislead?

Back in 1953 the New World translation was attacked from a Catholic source for using the form "Jehovah". A Watchtower article replied in part:

"We do not say that "Jehovah" is the correct pronunciation of God's name. For that matter, neither is "Jesus" the correct pronunciation of Christ's name. But according to the Aramaic language which Christ and his apostles spoke, his name was pronounced "Yeshu'a"....... But "Jesus" is only our colloquial way of pronouncing his name, and we do not find fault with you for using it instead of Yeshu'a. However, if you call it shallow scholarship for the[New World Translation]Committee to use the word Jehovah in the New World Translation, then you will have to admit that it is due to the shallow scholarship of the Roman Catholic clergy of the thirteenth century, for in that century the word historically appears among them."

It might be added here what the meaning of the Son of God's name "Jesus" is, whilst he dwelt on earth as a man, as used by all translations. According to Weymouth this name means "Jehovah is Salvation."(The New Testament in Modern Speech, ftnote 21 under Matthew 1:21.)He is entirely right. So everytime anyone uses this name, Jesus, (which is not the original pronounciation of it in the 1st century)he is using and supporting the form of The Divine Name JEHOVAH

A Watchtower issue of of 1964 toward those who do use a proper name in their translation or writings but think using the form "Jehovah" is some how wrong said:

"Those who reject the English "Jehovah" and insist on using the Hebrew pronunciation[Yahweh] would do well to ask themselves why they say "Jesus Christ," when that was not the way his name was pronounced in Hebrew. That is the English way, derived from the Greek language. In Hebrew, Jesus would be closer to "Yehshua" and Christ would be "Mash'edahh." So, as we say "Jesus Christ" in the English language, we also say "Jehovah," both being correct when speaking English."-The Watchtower, 1964, p.423.

It is a great shame then that the likes of James White in his book 'The Forgotten Trinity'(1998) says in a note; "Throughout this work the New American Standard Bible is cited(1995 edition). The NASB follows the standard English custom of rendering the divine name of God as LORD, using small capitals. This is meant to indicate to the English reader that the Hebrew term is ...YHWH, or Yahweh(oftentimes badly mispronounced as Jehovah.)"-italics ours.

However, in the book Jehovah's Witnesses Defended-An Answer to Scholars and Critics(1st edition), in which White would have been very familiar with as he reviewed it in the Christian Research Journal (volume 21.2, published by the Christian Research Institute (CRI), an organization founded by Walter Martin that is known for combating groups it considers "cultic."), Greg Stafford devotes some 21 pages to the Name of God including 8 on the pronounciation of it in English. He showed that " "Yahweh" is not the correct pronunciation at all, but that the Anglicized form "Jehovah" is quite in line with the accepted practice of pronouncing biblical names whose pronunciation is unknown, in English, and that the original form of the divine name was in fact three syllables (as in "Jehovah"), not two (as in "Yahweh")." In his 2nd edition Stafford's book "contains a substantial amount of new material on the divine name, being approximately 50 pages long instead of 21." He also "presents a more detailed discussion of the NWT's use of "J" documents and the appearance of the divine name in the New Testament, and other matters involving the divine name." Sadly, it is apparent that White does not understand the issues involved in using the Anglicized, trisyllable form "Jehovah," instead of the far less accurate, bisyllable Hebrew approximation "Yahweh." Insofar as White's brief note is concerned it is unfortunate that such inaccurate information continues to be spread in such partisan publications.
Also, on the basis for incorporating the Name in the translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures and the arguements given by the New World Translation as being 'scientifically sound', please see 'Does NWT Follow Its Own Translation Principles', Chapter 5, pp. 149-198 in Rolf Furuli's book '
The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation'.)

Francis Denio wrote an article that was published in the Journal of Biblical Literature, 1927, pp146-149. Take note that this was based on 40yrs of experience in his field.

On the Use of the Word Jehovah in Translating the Old Testament

Conclusions based on forty years experience in the Hebrew classroom

In the Authorized version of the Old Testament the English word Lord is used to represent two quite different words in the Hebrew. For the one word it is printed Lord, and for the other LORD or GOD. The explanation is given that the latter printing indicates that it stands for the Hebrew word designating the covenant God of Israel, and is a proper name. The proper assimilation of this fact rarely occurs. In all cases the words carry the idea, Master, Ruler. Neither of them after four centuries of use has acquired the connotations that are desired.
In order to secure the proper idea in the mind of the ' student the custom was adopted in the early years of teaching to require him to give the rendering Yahweh when the Hebrew IHWH occurred. Gradually it came to be felt that this method savored of pedantry rather than scholarship. And plainly the desired result was not secured. Not only was it a literary barbarism, but it was a word empty of meaning which needed generations of use before it could be filled with the proper meaning. 'Its use was abandoned.
Classroom needs demanded some word. The only hopeful candidate was the word Jehovah. The following considerations led to its adoption.
Unquestionably it is an erroneous form. Other forms equally erroneous are unchallenged. Isaiah and Jeremiah, to name no others,'would, if correctly printed, be as much barbarisms as Yahweh. The difference between them and Jehovah is that there was once a famous controversy and the facts about the word Jehovah were made public knowledge. Isaiah and Jeremiah received no such publicity.
Jehovah misrepresents Yahweh no more than Jeremiah misrepresents Yirmeyahu. The settled connotations of Isaiah and Jeremiah forbid questioning their right. Usage has given them the connotations proper for designating the personalities which these words represent.
Much the same thing is true of Jehovah. It is not a barbarism. It has already many of the connotations needed for the proper name, of the covenant God of Israel. There is no other word which can faintly compare with it. For four centuries it has been gathering these connotations.
In the sixteenth century Protestant and Roman Catholic scholars alike began to use this word freely. At the outset they believed that the Hebrew points were correctly used. The word thus launched into literature was not wholly relinquished when the facts became known. For one reason, it filled a felt need. The literature of devotion appropriated it more and more as time went on. Few collections of hymns are without the one beginning:
Guide me, 0 thou great Jehovah
.
Almost as many have that beginning:
Before Jehovah's awful throne.
In half a dozen hymn books used by three different denominations the following first lines are found:

Call Jehovah thy salvation.
Jehovah God the Father.
Jehovah! gracious power.
Jehovah reigns, he dwells in light.
Jehovah reigns, his throne is high.
Jehovah reigns, let all the earth rejoice,
Jehovah speaks, let Israel.
Praise ye Jehovah!
Praise ye Jehovah's name!
Sing to the great Jehovah's praise.
Sing to the Lord Jehovah's name.
Thank and praise Jehovah's name.
The Lord Jehovah reigns. And royal.
The Lord Jehovah reigns.

These occurrences give only first lines, but the use is not confined to first lines. These suffice to show the fact of usage and the meaning which usage gives. They show it to be a personal name with associations of reverence and trust and affection such as befit the name of the covenant God of Israel. These are the qualities upon which the Psalmists of Israel love to dwell. In fact the use of this word in our devotional literature especially adapts it for use in the Psalter, and also in the prophets.
No other word approaches this name in the fulness of associations required. The use of any other word falls so far short of the proper ideas that it is a serious blemish in a translation.
The result of the use in the classroom was satisfactory. The habit received strong support from the publication of the American Revision. During the twenty-five years since the publication of this revision its use in family worship has steadily increased the conviction that this is the one word to secure to the general reader of the Old Testament the conception which its adoption was designed to secure. In Psalms and Prophets alike it is helpful beyond expression. The words of the Revisers in their preface are fully justified:

"The change first recommended in the Appendix (of the English Revision of 1885)-that which substitutes 'Jehovah' for 'LORD' and 'GOD'-is one which will be unwelcome to many, because of the frequency and familiarity of the terms displaced. But the American Revisers, after a careful consideration, were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine name as too sacred to be uttered, ought Do longer to dominate the English or any other version of the Old Testament, as it fortunately does not in the numerous versions made by modem missionaries. This Memorial Name, explained in Ex. 3 14, 15 and emphasized as such over and over in the original text of the Old Testament, designates God as the personal God, as the covenant God, the God of revelation, the Deliverer, the Friend of his people;-not merely the abstract 'Eternal' One of many French translations, but the ever living Helper of those who are in trouble. This personal name, with its wealth of sacred associations, it now restored to its place in the sacred text to which it has an unquestionable claim."

It is well to record the fact that the American Revisers were not pioneers in using the word. The earlier translators themselves apparently felt that in some instances its use was imperative. It is said to have appeared in the Pentateuch translated by Tyndale (1530). The Geneva Bible (1560) and Bishop's Bible (1568) used it in Ex. 6 3 and Psa. 83 18. A. V. (1611) followed these bibles and added it in Is. 12 2- 26 4. The 1885 Revision added to these four Ex. 6 6, 7, 8; Psa.68 20; Isa. 49 14; Jer: 16 21 and Hab. 3 19. The compounds Jehovah Jireh,Gen. 2 2 14; Jehovah Nissi, Ex. 17 15, and Jehovah Shalom, Jud.6 24 are given in the Geneva Bible and in the versions of 1611 and 1885, though not in the Bishop's Bible.
In some of these passages, as Jer. 16 21, a personal name is fairly demanded: 11 And they shall know that my name is Jehovah." Others where no change was made call as loudly as Isa. 42 8: -'I am the LORD: that is my name." The virtue of the American Revisers was that they missed no passage of this sort nor any other where the Hebrew IHWH occurred."

The following incorporate the name "Jehovah" into their respective New Testament translations:

A reproduction of a page from "Five Pauline Epistles, A New Translation" by William Gunion Rutherford, 1900. The excert is from Gunion's translation of Romans 9: 20-29. Notice the occurrence of the name "Jehovah" 5 lines from the bottom. Gunion used the Name several times in Romans.

A reproduction of J.C.Wands translation of Hebrew chapter 7 from his "The New Testament Letters" originally published in Australia 1944 and later a corrected edition in England in 1946. Wand was the Bishop of London. Again, notice the occurrence of the Name "Jehovah" 4 lines from the bottom.

Reproduction of J.N.Darby's opening page of the book of "Matthew." from his "The Holy Scriptures, A New Translation from the Original Languanges" Note the (barely) visible "Jehovah" in the last line in the footnotes. It reads: "'Lord' without the article, signifying, as often, 'Jehovah.'

For an in depth study of The Divine name why not visit the official Jehovah's Witness webpage located at http://www.watchtower.org/library/na/index.htm where you will be able to read the brochure "The Divine Name That Will Endure For Ever", WTBTS, 1984. Below are the chapter headings you will find.

The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever

"Hallowed be Your Name"-What Name?
God's Name-It's Meaning and Pronunciation
The Divine Name Through the Ages
Christians and the Name
God's Name and Bible Translators
God's Name and the "New Testament"
Why We Must Know God's Name

 

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