RE: IAW Kurios Pantokrator = Jehovah/YHWH?

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Sat Aug 09 1997 - 14:05:05 EDT

David Moore wrote:

<According to Su:rer's _The History of the Jewish People In the Age
<of Jesus Christ_, the Tetragrammaton was only pronounced by the Jews in the
<priests' activities in the temple worship (Shu:rer, _HJPIAJC_, [1979],
<II:306). He notes, "Outside the Temple, according to the passages cited,
<not even the priests were allowed to pronounce the sacred Name. This fact
<is obviously already presupposed by Ecclus. 50:20. Philo too observes that
<the Name of God may be heard and uttered only in the Sanctuary..." (_Ibid._,
<n. 54).

Dear David,

Shurer has two quotes from the Mishna (written in the third century CE)
saying: "in the Temple they pronounced the Name as it was written, but in
the provinces by a substituted word". However, the evidence of the Mishnah
is conflicting. Berakoth 9 5 says "And it was ordained that a man should
salute his fellow with /the use of/ the Name /of God/. For it is written."
Then follows a reference to Boaz saluting the reapers with saying the name
of God. (Danby«s translation, his brackets).

Let me also bring two quotes from Tosefta (a collection similar to Mishnah
with a lower religious status, a little younger than Mishna).
 Barakot 6:7 says: "One who begins a prayer with yod he /the
tetragrammaton/ and ends with yod he is a sage, one who begins with aleph
lamed /`elohim/ and ends with yod he is an average person. One who begins
with aleph lamed and ends with aleph lamed follows another way."
Yeadim 2:20 says: "The Morning-bathers say, "We complain to you O pharisees
because you pronounce the Name before you bathe". The Pharisees reply, "We
complain of you, O Morning-bathers because you mention the Name with a body
which contains defilement."

The important question with this conflicting evidence is the TIME it refers to.
The only "fixed point" in the above quotes is the reference to the
Pharisees, which existed as a group from ca 130 BC, and it shows that both
groups pronounced the name after the Essenes ceased to do so.
Ecclesiasticus 50:20 (written ca 180 BC) reads according to P W Skehan A A
Di Lella "The Wisdom of ben Sira (1987:554): "Then coming down he would
raise his hands over all the congregation of Israel. The blessing of the
LORD would be upon his lips and the name of the LORD would be his glory."
Because the tetragrammaton is substituted in a Hebrew copy from ca 100 BC
the conclusion is drawn that it was not pronounced. However, ibid 554 says
that "the evidence is conflicting as to when "Yahweh" was no longer
pronounced in the dayly blsssing; in Ben Sira`s time, however, there is
solid evidence that the name was still pronounced daily." So Shurer' s
argument is weak. Filo and Josephus wrote in the second part of the 1
century CE when many or most no longer pronounced the name.

Among the sources referred to by Schurer is A Marmorstein, 1927, The Old
Rabbinic Doctrine of God" (I recommend this book). He shows that a
principal reason why different groups gradually stopped pronouncing it was
influence from the namless God of Hellenism and not genuine reverence for
God. Interesting is also that the principal passage the rabbis used to
justify that the name should not be pronounced was Ex 3:15, the very
passage which most strongly testify that it should be used for ever. This
indicate retrospective argumentation.

Conclusion: The Jewish nation in the first century consisted of different
groups in Palestine, Egypt, Babylon and elsewhere. The error often done is
to look at one sect or group, and then extrapolate their view to encompass
all Jews. As a matter of fact, there is no hard evidence showing that most
Jews in the time of Jesus did not pronounce the name, although it is likely
that the superstition against pronouncing it was very widespread.

David, what do you think of the fact that the name occurs in all LXX
fragments until the middle of the first century CE even as a phonetic


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo


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