RE: Divine name in NT

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Tue Sep 29 1998 - 18:25:16 EDT

Wes Williams wrote:

>Now, why did I write Brown here instead of Howard? It was because I was
>thinking of fifteen other things when I wrote this. One of which is a thread
>on the IOUDAIOS List that began with Howard's book _The Gospel of Matthew
>according to a Primitive Hebrew Text_ and ended with Howard discussing the
>Tetragrammaton. This interesting thread begins at:
> by a questioner
>at Brown University. So, Brown - Howard. Go figure. I apologize for the
>mistype of Brown for Howard.
>The layout of the IOUDAIOS archives makes it difficult to follow a thread.
>After reading the thread at the above link, you will need to go to
> and select
>9408b, and then 9408c, and next 9410c, etc. To save everyone the trouble,
>here is Howard's post with respect to Pietersma's thesis on the
>Tetragrammaton in the LXX:
>Subject: Re: tetragram/kyrios
>To: ioudaios-l@LEHIGH.EDU
>In-Reply-To: Message of Thu, 20 Oct 1994 16:17:02 EDT from
><begin Howard post>
>If I understand it correctly, Al Pietersma's argument regarding theTetragram
>in the Septuagint is that it was not an invention of the original
>translators. Al believes that the Tetragram was inserted by later scribes.
>I'm not as convinced of Al's thesis as Larry is (Al and I have discussed
>this on several occasions), but if he is right, this is not to suggest that
>early Christians were not influenced by copies of the Greek Scriptures which
>contained the Tetragram. Several examples of the pre-Christian Greek Bible
>contain the Tetragram. And, as I recall, there is no pre-Christian copy of
>the LXX which reads Kyrios where the Tetragram appears in the Hebrew. At
>least when I did my original research on this in 1977 this was the case.
><end post>

Dear Wes,

There is an exchange relating to this subject between Larry Hurtado and
myself on the tc-list from last week (tc-list Syriac pipi and hehe).
Regarding Pietersma`s thesis, I would like to mention that in july 1998, at
the Congress of the International Organization for the Study of the
Septuagint and Cognate studies, in Oslo, I heard Emanuel Tov give a lecture
about the DSS fragments of the "LXX", where he concluded that Pietersma`s
thesis was wrong. Pietersma was present. The evidence that the
tetragrammaton was not present in the original LXX as Pietersma claims, is
that the tetragrammaton in old Hebrew characters occurs in 8HevXIIgr with
TWi in the dative case (See E. Tov, 1990, The Greek Minor Prophets Scroll
from Nahal Hever, 1990 pp 59,77). This should not be possible if
Pietersma«s hypothesis was correct.

No new "LXX" fragment with the tetragrammaton has been discovered since
Howard«s research. This means that all "LXX" manuscripts from the second
and first centuries BCE and from the first century CE either have the
tetragrammaton in old Hebrew or in Aramaic characters or as the phonetic
transcription IAW. The word KURIOS as a substitute for the tetragrammaton
is nonexistent before the second century CE.

Because of his scholarly background and experience we should always listen
when Larry Hurtado speaks, and he disagrees with Howard`s view that the
divine name occurred in the NT autographs. Let me however submit some food
for thought by pointing out two lines of evidence supporting Howard:

(1) Howard`s argument is simple: We find the tetragrammaton in some form in
all "LXX" fragments before the second century CE. In the manuscripts from
the second century we find KS with a horizontal stroke above (nomina
sacra). Thus the text has been changed. In the NT manuscripts from the
second century we also find KS with a horizontal stroke. Such an
abbreviation could not have been in the autographs, so the text of the NT
has also been changed. Ana analogous with the case of the "LXX", the change
in the NT was from the tetragrammaton to KS.

The corroborating evidence comes from Syriac manuscripts. In Codex
Syriaco-Hexaplaris, published by Henricus Middeldorph in 1835, we find
MARYA ("the Lord", technical word for God) in 4 kings 18: 6 (and other
places) in the text and PIPI in the marigin. In Isaiah 1:2 we find MARYA
in the text and YHYH in the marigin. Paul of Tella made this strictly
literal Syriac translation around 600 CE on the basis of Origen`s Hexapla,
which had the tetragrammaton in the main text.

In the Syriac manuscripts Codex Ambrosianus we find HEHE in the marigin
and in the London Codex
British Museum Add. 14.442. we find PIPI in the marigin. Because we find
PIPI and YHYH in the marigin of Codex Syriaco-Hexaplaris which is based on
the Hexapla with the tetragrammaton in the main text, the occurrence of
PIPI and HEHE in the other two important Syriac manuscripts suggest that
they also are based on Greek manuscripts with the tetragrammaton in the
main text. The abbreviations PIPI and HEHE naturally goes back to the
tetragrammatons in Aramaic and old Hebrew script respectively. If this
argument holds, the consequence is that other Greek manuscripts with the
tetragrams than the DSS fragments circulated from the first or second
centuries CE onward.

(2) The word KURIOS in the NT MUST translate two different Hebrew (or
Aramaic) words.
Take a look at Matt 4:7 and John 21:7, both reading (hO) KURIOS.
If the beloved disciple in John 21:7 had said "It is ADONAY" (Hebrew) or
"It is MARE" (Aramaic), he could have been construed to mean: "It is God
Almighty". It is obvious that the same original word was not used both in
Matt 4:7 and John 21:7. To substantiate this I quote three versions. In
Syriac the technical reference to God is MARYA ("the Lord"), and this is
the word we find in the Peshitta of Matt 4;7. In John 21:4, however, we
find MARAN ("our Lord"). In Ethiopic (Ge«ez) the technical reference to
God is «EGZI«ABHER ("the Lord of the land"), and we find this word in
Matt 4:7. In John 21:4 we find «EGZI« ENA("our lord") In the
Arabic manuscript Sinai 69 from the 11th century CE we find RABBAKA
WA-ILAKAKA ("your Lord and your God") in Matt 4:7 but RABBUNA ("our Lord")
the in John 21:7 (In the second instance of hO KURIOS in the verse we find
AL-RABB ("the Lord").

What is the basis of the same kind of differentiation of the Versions
between (hO) KURIOS in Matt 4:7 and John 21:7? Is it manuscript evidence or
just common sense? Any author writes to be understood, and it is very
confusing to use hO KURIOS in both verses (There are scores of similar
cases). This also argues for Howard`s view that KS in the earliest NT
manuscripts does not go back to an original KURIOS (where God is denoted)
but rather to the tetragrammaton in some form.


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitic languages
University of Oslo

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