Re: YHWH in LXX Papyrii

Gary S. Shogren (
Wed, 13 Mar 1996 08:40:20 -0500

Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 08:31:46
To: Jan S Haugland <>
From: "Gary S. Shogren" <>
Subject: Re: YHWH in LXX Papyrii
At 02:54 AM 3/13/96 +0100, you wrote:
>Wes C. Williams said:
>>Summary: The LXX copies in pre-Christian times retained the divine
>>name. The evidence is that the substitution of YHWH for Kyrios in LXX
>>copies began after the first century C.E. (or perhaps late first
>Please note that the objective of the comprehensive set of arguments
>forwarded by Wes is to build a basis for the argument that the *New
>Testament* originally contained the tetragrammon as well. This is a key
>theological argument of the Jehovah's Witnesses which as far as I know
>is not shared by any NT scholars. While Wes' research may certainly be
>valuable and interesting as a counter-point to the majority scholarly
>opinion, you should be aware that there is an agenda behind which may
>(note "may") have biased the selection of evidence.
>- Jan

Hi Jan -

It's interesting that you mention the Jehovah's Witnesses, as my class on NT
Backgrounds just went over this "Tetragrammaton in the LXX" issue. This was
a direct fruit of B-Greek, by the way, so thanks everyone and feel free to
borrow what follows! I had them think through the implications of this
thought problem:

Assume that Paul is familiar both with the Hebrew and the LXX of Joel 2:32.
Work through the possible implications...
(1) if YHWH appeared in Paul's version of Joel 2:32LXX, but he
dictates "KYRIOS" when he quotes the verse in Rom. 10:13, a passage where
KYRIOS has Jesus as a referent due to 10:9-10, 14.
(2) if YHWH appeared in Paul's version of the LXX, and he also wrote
YHWH in Rom. 10:13 in reference to Jesus. Later copyists change YHWH to
KYRIOS throughout the NT.

In the course of discussion, I threw in: Does each scenario help or hinder
those like the Jehovah's Witnesses who say that Jesus is not Jehovah? The
consensus seemed to be that either development should be a frustration to
them. In scenario (1), Paul and the Roman Christians are familiar with what
underlies the LXX in Joel 2:32, a fairly standard Christian text, and both
parties are thus completely aware that he is calling Jesus YHWH even though
he uses KYRIOS; in (2) not only are they aware of this because of their
knowledge of the LXX - it is also put right in front of them in the
autograph of the epistle to the Romans.

There are several other NT passages in which an OT verse that has KYRIOS in
the LXX is applied to Jesus. That has always been a good argument against
the JW's, and I sense this new view of the Tetragrammaton can only
strengthen it.

I'd be curious to hear how Jehovah's Witnesses put a different spin on the
data. I would guess they'd have to say that originally YHWH appeared in the
Jehovah verses in the NT, and KYRIOS in the Jesus verses (?).

In Christ,


Gary S. Shogren
Biblical Theological Seminary
Hatfield, PA