[b-greek] Re: New Testament Jehovah Quotes

From: Rolf Furuli (furuli@online.no)
Date: Sat Sep 16 2000 - 06:48:29 EDT

Jan Groenweld concluded this way:

>The conclusion that must be arrived at with our state of knowledge is that:
>"We now know that the Greek Bible (or the LXX, the OT) text, as far as it was
>translated by JEWS FOR JEWS did not translate the Divine name KYRIOS, but the
>Tetragrammaton written with Hebrew or Greek letters was retained. ... It
>was the
>Christians who replaced the Tetragrammaton by KYRIOS, when the divine name
>written in Hebrew letters was not understood any more". [8]
>It is the action of the CHRISTIANS that is of vital significance, not the
>actions of the Jews, for it was the Christians who wrote and produced the
>writings now called the New Testament.
>The evidence is that the Christians replaced the Tetragram in the LXX (the
>OT) with surrogates, and that in the writings they produced (the NT) the
>Christians did not follow the Hebrew practice regarding the writing of Sacred
>Names, but they developed their own forms in their very earliest years with a
>technique now termed NOMINA SACRA.

Dear Jan,

The main point of your conclusion needs some elucidation. The word "Jews"
is associated with the OT and the word "Christians" with the NT. It may not
have been your intention, but the contrast you make between the two groups
could lead the reader to conclude there is evidence that, at the time the
NT was written the Hebrew letters of the tetragrammaton was no longer
understood, and therefore the Christian NT writers used the substitute
KURIOS. But such evidence is lacking!

For the designations Jews/Christians to be meaningful to the reader, it is
necessary to supply dates. As Greg has pointed out, all LXX manuscripts
until 50 CE contained the tetragrammaton in some form; the form IAW which
is found, even shows that it was pronunciated, because it is a phonetic
transcription. The Christian manuscripts that have the Nomina sacra (KS
with a bar above for KURIOS) instead of the tetragrammaton, were written
about 150 CE. So there is no manuscript evidence before 150 CE that YHWH
were substituted by KURIOS.

When Jews and Christians are contrasted, we should keep in mind that all
the NT writers were Jews who were followers of Jesus, and three points
should be noted:

1) It cannot be demonstrated by manuscript finds or other finds that the
pronunciation of YHWH had ceased in the days of Jesus, although some people
at Qumran used a substitute. (The evidence for a substitution at Qumran is
not unambiguous. For instance, 4Q408, which is dated to Hasmonean times
(from the middle of the second century BCE), has the tetragrammaton in
Aramaic script several times. Discoveries in the Judean Desert XXXVI,
Comran Cave IV XXVI,2000, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Other older manuscripts
use EL as a substitute for YHWH)

2) The NT writers spoke Hebrew or Aramaic where ADONAI and MARE/MARI (I do
not use standard transcription which can be misunderstood on a Greek list)
are the words that naturally would be translated by the Greek KURIOS. But
neither ADONAI nor MARE/MARI are used as substitutes for YHWH at Qumran,
but the substitute is EL.
If the NT writers used KURIOS as a substitute for YHWH, they must have
invented this practice themselves, because there is no evidence for a
Hebrew or Aramaic antecedent, but why should they? NB, The Creator is
called both YHWH and ADONAI in the Hebrew Bible, but ADONAI is not a
*substitute* for YHWH. The word ADONAI is used only 83 times in
non-biblical manuscripts at Qumran while EL is used 677 times. In the
manuscript mentioned above, both ADONAI and YHWH are used for the Creator
without one being a substitute for the other.

3) There is quite a lot of circumstansial evidence suggesting that the
tetragrammaton occurred in the original NT. Elswhere I have argued for this
at length, but I will supply one piece of evidence that the KURIOS in NT
manuscripts after 150 CE, has different Hebrew antecedents. Compare John
21;7 "It is the Lord (KURIOS)." with Luke 1:46 "My soul magnifies the Lord
(KURIOS). Which words did John and Mary use? In no case could John have
used ADONAI, because that was a title (but not a substitute) for YHWH. But
he evidently used another word. If the custom not to pronounce YHWH already
was introduced, (which is completely without evidence), and Mary followed
it, she could have used EL (as at Qumran) or ADONAI (although evidence for
it being a substitute for YHWH is lacking). In any case John and Mary used
two different words which manuscripts from 150 CE and younger translate as
KURIOS. Because there are other Greek words in the semantic domain "Lord",
the use of just one (KURIOS) for two different Hebrew words, could lead us
to ask about the originality of KURIOS in the NT, because of all the
confusion this creates. There is in fact circumstansial evidence suggesting
the KURIOS in the NT in many instances is a *later* substitute for YHWH,
while a form of YHWH occurred in the original manuscripts.

As to the Christian origin of KURIOS as a substitute for YHWH, let me add
that evidence in Syrohexapla and other Syriac manuscrips suggest that the
tetragrammaton originally occurred in Syriac translations, and these
manuscripts were made by Christians.



Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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