RE: IAW Kurios Pantokrator = Jehovah/YHWH?

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Sat Aug 09 1997 - 03:50:51 EDT

Wes Williams wrote:

<There is another reference to add to the list of references to IAO, that
<of the LXX fragment of Leviticus, 4QLXXLevb. It translates YHWH as IAO
<(as opposed to KURIOS in the later LXX fragments) in Le 3:12 and 4:27.
<4QLXXLevb was found in Qumran Cave 4 and is dated to the first century
<B.C.E. A preliminary report of this manuscript was presented in
<Supplements to Vetus Testamentum, Vol. IV, 1957, p. 157.

<I have a more recent reference for 4QLXXLevb in "Discoveries in the
<<Judean Desert IX, Qumran cave 4 IV, 1992" but have not yet looked it

<What is interesting here to me is the question of whether or not the
<nomina sacra was pronounced during this period (1BC - ?). If the Jews
<merely wrote the Tetragrammaton but did not pronounce it, why translate
<it as IAO, a pronounceable form? My present view is that the translation
<of YHWH into a Greek form is a line of evidence that they did indeed
<pronounce the written name in this period. I would be interested in the
<results of your research.

Dear Wes,

There is no example of KURIOS as a substitute of the tetragrammaton in any
fragment of a Greek translation of the OT before the second century CE (If
not Kim/Thiedes redating of some MSS is correct, which I doubt.) In the
Greek manuscripts we find the tetragrammaton written with old Hebrew and
Aramaic characters and as IAW. The mere fact that the tetragrammaton occurs
in the Greek text does not prove that it was pronounced, but as you
correctly points out, IAW is a phonetic transcription, which hardly can
represent anything else but pronunciation.

George Howard (1977, The Tetragram in the New Testament, JBL 63-84) has
argued convincingly that the tetragrammaton even occurred in the NT. Albert
Pietersm (, 1984, Kyrios or Tetragram. A Renewed Quest for the Original
Septuagint, in De Septuaginta Studies in Honour of John William Wevers on
his sixty-fifth birthday, eds A Pietersma and C Cox.) also argued
convincingly that the tetragrammaton was sunbstituted by KURIOS in the
ORIGINAL LXX manuscripts. He took as his point of departure late
manuscripts of the LXX with KURIOS and pointed out that hundreds of times
in the Hebrew text we find LYHWH (preposition le (=to)+ tetragrammaton). In
the late LXX manuscripts we find KURIWi (dative) in these instances. If
KURIOS was a later substitution how would those writing it know when the
Hebrew text had le, to the effect that it should be written in the dative

In 4QLXXLevb we find IAW with the dative TWi preceding in LEV 3:11,14;
4:3; and in 8HevXIIgr we find TWi before the tetragrammaton in Zech
9:1. The publication of these manuscripts have shown Pietersma's argument
to be wrong because KURIWi could be a substitution for either IAW or the
tetragrammaton with TWi.

4QLXXLevb has been dated, as you say to the 1 century BC, or possibly even
to the 1 Christian century. The occurrence of IAW strongly suggests that it
was pronounced 200 years after the translation of the LXX started. This
also lend credence to the view that the tetragrammaton in the other Greek
manuscripts signalled pronunciation and not the opposite. It would be
strange if IAW in some manuscripts would represent pronunciation and the
tetragrammaton in other would signal KURIOS (or something else). In the
fourth century BC Aramaic-speaking Jews lived in the Nile delta. There is
manuscript evidence that they pronounced the tetragrammaton as IAHU or IAHO
(See Elephantine Papyrii in The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible). So
one century before the translation of the LXX started, in the same area we
find something similar to IAW.

BTW, there is absolutely no evidence proving that the tetragrammaton was
not pronounced by some or many in the days of Jesus. The Essenes at Qumran
did not pronounce it in the first century BC, but they did not use `adonai
(equivalent to KURIOS) in its stead but `el (equivalent to theos).The
Pharesees and other groups at the same time pronounced it.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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