Re: IAW Kurios Pantokrator = Jehovah/YHWH?

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Tue Aug 12 1997 - 06:50:51 EDT

David L. Moore wrote:

>>(3) Why should Jesus who was against teachings of men accept a custom
>>contrary to the Holy Scriptures which he called truth? Or had Jesus other
>>reasons for not using T?

>I think this question has to do with religious presuppositions which
>you hold and which I will not try to address on this forum.

Dear David,

Thank you for your answers. Both you and I have particular presupposition
pools including our religious beliefs. If someone does not distort the data
due to religious bias I think "religious presuppositions" regarding that
particular person should be a non-subject in scholarly discussions.
Different is it of course when religious bias is the fundament on which his
or her whole model builds.

I do not know whether or not Jesus used T or whether T was written in the
NT autographs. My point was that much of the conventional thinking about
the subject is based on arguments derived from the time when it was
believed that the LXX substituted T with KURIOS from the beginning, and
from fourth-century christological thinking which is projected back into
the first century.

Philological methods used to try to establish the original readings of
certain passages legitimately takes into account all the kinds of
information available, from mean temperature and geology to the religious
beliefs of particular groups. We could hardly study the DSS without taking
the religious viewpoints of the Qumran community into account. Regarding
our subject, it is often uncritically assumed that the Jews had respectable
reasons for stopping using T, and that Jesus and the NT writers followed
this custom. But let me quote A Marmorstein (1927: 17, 13) "The Old
Rabbinic Doctrine of God":

"Greek philosophy, Jewish Alexandrian theology, christian apology and
Gnostic lore concur in the idea of God`s namelessness. That God has no name
was taught by Aristotele, Seneca, Maxim of Tyre, Celsus and Hermes
"We notice a very far-reaching difference between Palestinian and
Alexandrian theology concerning the Tetragrammaton. A bitter struggle
between Hellenists and Hasidim /forerunners of the pharisees, my
note/centered around the pronunciation of the Divine Name. A similar
controversy arose afterwards around the use of the Name Elohim and even as
to the substitution of the Tetragrammaton."

< My opinion is that the name began not to be pronounced mainly because of
<concern for taking it in vain.

This may of course also be one reason, but are there any sources? If there
are good reasons to say that lack of pronunciation primarily was due to
influence from other nations, including an whish to protect it from being
used in magical spells, I think is is legitimate, in an attempt to gather
data illuminating T and the NT, to ask whether Jesus and his followers
would follow the influence from other nations rather than the text and
tradition of the OT.

<A question I have which may move this discussion back more squarely
<into the realm of New Testament studies has to do with the many
<circumlocutions for the mention of God in the NT documents. Doesn't it seem
<significant that these circumlocutions are most prominent in those documents
<that are most Jewish in emphasis or in nature?

I welcome your question. There are several "circumlocutions" in the NT, and
some of these (Jesus using the word "heaven" and "the power" referring to
God) represent evidence for a non-pronunciation. However, for this evidence
to become strong, we should demonstrate (1) that such "circumlocutions" are
different from similar words used for God in the OT, (2) That they are
really circumlocutions should be demonstrated from contexts other than when
Jesus addresses his enemies (he could deliberately have used particular
words because of the religious situation), and (3) they should be compared
with the uses of KURIOS in the NT which may represent emendations for YHWH.
This would be an interesting study.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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