Re: Divine name in NT

From: Ron Rhoades (
Date: Mon Sep 28 1998 - 19:42:40 EDT

Hello Kevin,

The quote by George Howard (a Baptist scholar) comes from the article
"The Tetragram and the New Testament" in the Journal of Biblical
Literature 96 (1977) pgs. 63-83. It is a very well written and
documented article, IMO. If it is not readily available to you let me
know. I might be able to send you a copy or e-mail the most pertinent

You should also look at Professor Howard's 1995 book "Hebrew Gospel of

(I've been told that Dr. Howard does not personally advocate modern
translations entering the Divine name in the NT because of the lack of
manuscript evidence.)

But here is some of what he covers in the JBL:

He refers to several evidences that the Divine Name appeared in the
earliest LXX MSS. For instance Papyrus Fuad 266 dating to the first or
second century B.C. which included part of the Septuagint. YHWH was not
translated kyrios. Instead the Tetragrammaton itselfųin square Aramaic
lettersųwas written into the Greek text.

Greek fragments of Aquila from the Cairo Geniza show the Hebrew
Tetragrammaton in paleo-Hebrew script written into the otherwise Greek

The Ambrosian Library of Milan has a MS containing parts of the Psalter
to Origen's Hexapla (lacking the Hebrew column). All the columns show
the Tetragrammaton written in square Aramaic script, although the texts
are otherwise written in Greek.

Fragments of Psalm 22 from Origen's Hexapla, found in the Cairo Geniza
show the Tetragrammaton written into the Greek columns of Aquila,
Symmachus, and the Septuagint in the strange form of, PIPI used to
represent with Greek letters what the Tetragrammaton looked like in

Fragments from early in the first century C.E. of a scroll of the Twelve
Prophets in Greek writes the Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew in an
otherwise Greek text.

At Qumran cave 4, a fragment (1 B.C.) of the Greek translation of
Leviticus confirms that the divine name was preserved in the
pre-Christian Septuagint. The Tetragrammaton is transliterated with the
Greek letters "IAO."

He then gives evidence that when later Christians translated the
Tetragrammaton as either KYRIOS or THEOS, they abbreviated these
surrogates by writing only their first and last letters and by placing a
line over them to denote a sacred name.

Howard says: "Since the Tetragram was still written in the copies of the
Greek Bible which made up the Scriptures of the Early church, it is
reasonable to believe that the NT writers, when quoting from Scripture,
preserved the Tetragram within the biblical text... Somehow around
beginning of the second century the use of surrogates must have crowded
out the Tetragram in both Testaments... In many passages where the
persons of God and Christ were clearly distinguishable, the removal of
the Tetragram must have created considerable ambiguity."

He argues that surrogates emerged shortly after the Apostolic age. And,
since all extant manuscripts evidence is Post Apostolic. we should not
expect to find the Divine name.

Says George Howard, "This removal of the Tetragram, in our view, created
a confusion in the minds of early Gentile Christians about the
relationship between the 'Lord God' and the 'Lord Christ.'"

I feel the Hebrew Scriptures could be a guide in many passages where the
Greek Scriptures quote the O.T. In addition to quotes where phrases such
as the tautological "Lord God" (KURIOS THEOS) or "the angel of the Lord"
and similar indications occur we would understand the reference would be
to YHWH and not KURIOS.

My personal view is that we should restore the Divine Name where ever
contextual evidence allows. This avoids the confusion that later
syncretism caused concerning "the 'Lord God' and the 'Lord Christ.'" But
now we're outside of B-Greek.


Ron Rhoades
Nevada City, CA wrote:
> > Matthew's Gospel was eventually translated into Greek. Would God's
> > name have appeared in these Greek writings?
> > Well, some very old fragments of the Septuagint Version that actually
> > existed in Jesus' day have survived down to our day, and it is
> > noteworthy that the personal name of God appeared in them. The New
> > International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Volume 2, page
> > 512) says: "Recent textual discoveries cast doubt on the idea that the
> > compilers of the LXX [Septuagint] translated the tetragrammaton YHWH
> > by kyrios. The oldest LXX MSS (fragments) now available to us have the
> > tetragrammaton written in Heb[rew] characters in the G[ree]k text.
> > This custom was retained by later Jewish translators of the O[ld]
> > T[estament] in the first centuries A.D." Therefore, whether Jesus and
> > his disciples read the Scriptures in Hebrew or Greek, they would come
> > across the divine name.
> ...
> > In later copies of the Septuagint, God's name was removed and words
> > like "God" (The> Šos') and "Lord" (Ky'riŠos) were substituted. We know
> > that this happened because we have early fragments of the Septuagint
> > where God's name was included and later copies of those same parts of
> > the Septuagint where God's name has been removed.
> > The same thing occurred in the "New Testament," or Christian Greek
> > Scriptures. Professor George Howard goes on to say: "When the Hebrew
> > form for the divine name was eliminated in favor of Greek substitutes
> > in the Septuagint, it was eliminated also from the New Testament
> > quotations of the Septuagint. . . . Before long the divine name was
> > lost to the Gentile church except insofar as it was reflected in the
> > contracted surrogates or remembered by scholars."
> Can someone confirm or deny this?

> Kevin Messerschmidt

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