The Tetragram (YHWH)

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Tue Aug 12 1997 - 16:56:37 EDT

Otto Nordgreen wrote:

<I see that you do not accept the early date of P46 as advocated by e. g.
<Kim and Thiede. But surely, the abbreviated forms _as such_ do not support
<an original version with the tetragram. If the tetragram originally was in
<the NT, I find it somewhat amazing that it is not to be found in any single
<NT manuscript (...and there are about 5000 [!] of them...)!

<Do you mean that the tetragram version in the LXX version in question was
<directly changed into KS or that it was indirectly changed into KS, viz.
<first changed into kyrios (by the NT writer) and later, by the copyist/s,
<into KS?

<My questions are: (1) Who made the OT versions with the tetragram and (2)
<for whom were they made. To my knowledge these versions were made by Jews
<and for Jews. (BTW, are you sure that the _IAW_ was to be pronounced? If
<so, do we know the pronounciation?) Furthermore, who dod actually pronounce
<the name; Christians or Jews. If Christians, which group?

Dear Otto,

Will and Wes have given nice comments to several of your points, and I
don`t think we should pursue this thread much further because it may not be
so central to b-greek. I would just like to give a sketch of pros and cons,
strong and week (Pronunciation of T by Jesus/followers indicate its place
in the NT or not, vice versa).

(important: (1))

(1) No example of T in any NT manuscript
(2) Substituted by `el (= God) by the Qumran community
(3) Substituted by `alaha (= God) in Job targum from c 100 BC
(4) Substituted by different words in a MSS of Ecclesiasticus from c 100BC
(5) Mischna says T was substituted by another word in the provinces
(6) Josephus wrote in second part of 1 cent CE, not pronounced
(7) Filo indicate the same as Josephus about the same time
(8) Lev 24:16 LXX (manuscripts after 150 CE), prohibited "to mention T"
(9) Possible circumlocutions for T in the NT

(important (1),(2),(3),(7),(8),(9),(10)

(1) T in all manuscripts of LXX until 50 CE
(2) T changed into KS in LXX manuscripts younger than 150 CE
(3) NT manuscripts younger than 150 CE have KS where Hebrew text quoted has T
(4) T found in 30 manuscripts from Qumran, some imported
(5) Mischna says people should greet one another by saying T
(6) Tosefta gives evidence that Pharisees and others pronounced T
(7) The unanimous witness of the OT is that T should continually be used.
(8) Lack of use based on superstition due to Hellenistic and other influence.
(9) Jesus refused to follow traditions of men.
(10)Both when Jesus/followers read from the H text and from the LXX the
tetragrammaton was found in the text

There is no doubt that the lack of manuscript witness to T strongly speaks
against its pronunciation by Jesus and its legitimate place in the NT, but
there is a period between the time when the autographs were made where
there is no manuscript evidence. The realization that Jesus and his
followers simply had no godly reason not to pronounce the name but several
such reasons to do it, and we can prove a change in LXX manuscripts from T
to KS in the period where we lack manuscript evidence, and we also can
prove a change from ? to KS in the NT manuscripts from the same period,
strongly suggests that "?" = T.

BTW, IAW is a phonetic transcription and I have never heard that such a
thing is not pronounced by the phonemes it represents, so IAW is pronounced
Allow me a final quote from G.D. Kilpatrick in the volume where the Fouad
Papyrii were published (The Cairo Papyrus of Genesis and Deuteronomy

"Well before Origen`s Hexapla there took place two processes both of which
had their effect on the LXX. One was the acclimatisation of the Greek Old
Testament in the Christian Church. The important period for this was A.D.
70-135. In it we can detect three changes. First, the codex took the place
of the roll. Secondly, the tetragrammaton, the divine name in Hebrew
character was replaced by KURIOS. Thirdly, abbreviations were introduced
for the divine names QEOS KURIOS hUIOS ..."


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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