- SHOULD GOD’S NAME BE TRANSLATED JEHOVAH, YAHWEH OR LORD?
- WAS GOD’S NAME REMOVED FROM THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT?
- DOES PAUL’S USE OF THE WORD “LORD” IN HIS QUOTE OF JOEL 2:32 IN ROMANS 10:13 CONFUSE JESUS WITH JEHOVAH?
- DO THE HEBREW J MANUSCRIPTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CALL JESUS YHWH?
- 1 PETER 3:15: “sanctify YHWH, the Messiah”
- PHILIPPIANS 2:11: “Yeshua the Messiah is YHWH”
Throughout the years, Hebrew translations of the Christian Greek New Testament Scriptures have been made. Some of the earliest Hebrew translations that we possess today are DuTillet’s Matthew confiscated from the Jews in Rome in 1553 A.D. and Shem Tob’s Matthew transcribed in approximately 1380 A.D. Other Hebrew manuscripts include The Old Syriac Gospels, The Peshitta New Testament which may have come into existence at the time of Josephus, and The Crawford Aramaic version of Revelation purchased by Earl of Crawford around 1860. 1. The Watchtower refers to these Hebrew translations as “J” manuscripts and these documents provide most of the manuscript support for the Watchtower’s insertion of God’s name “Jehovah” into the New Testament portion of their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.2.
While there is evidence that at least the book of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and later translated into Greek,3. all of the Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament that we possess today were copied sometime between the thirteen and eighteenth century, while the Greek manuscripts of these books were copied as far back as the second century. So, from the standpoint that our copies of the Greek New Testament manuscripts predate the Hebrew copies by several centuries and greatly outnumber the Hebrew manuscripts by several thousand copies, it seems probable that most of the books of the New Testament were originally written in Greek.
SHOULD GOD’S NAME BE TRANSLATED JEHOVAH, YAHWEH OR LORD?
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is one of the only Bible translations that shows proper appreciation for God’s name by inserting the name “Jehovah” for the Hebrew Tetragrammaton or “YHWH” name of God. Most scholars prefer the pronunciation of “Yahweh” over “Jehovah” because they regard “Jehovah” as an inaccurate rendition for these Hebrew consonants which do not contain vowels in the original text. Yet, historically, “Jehovah” is the most common transliteration for the name of God. It was derived by inserting the vowels from “Adonai,” the Hebrew word for “Lord,” into the Hebrew consonants of “YHWH.” Thus, the name “Ya-Ho-Wa-H” or “Ja-Ho-Va-H” was created.4.
Why did early scholars choose the vowels from the Hebrew word for “Lord” instead of using the more common vowels associated with this type of configuration in the Hebrew consonants? They chose the vowels from “Adonai” because for many years, the Jews were careful to pronounce “Lord” in place of God’ss name when reading the Old Testament Scriptures because they wanted to honor the holiness of God’s name by not defaming His name when pronouncing it. So, in keeping with their custom, Bible scholars have traditionally translated God’s name as “Lord” or used the vowels from the Hebrew word for “Lord” to transliterate God’s name as “Jehovah.”
I find it ironic that Jehovah’s Witnesses will denounce modern Bible translations that render God’s name as “LORD” when their own translation uses an inaccurate pronunciation of God’s name derived from the vowels of the Hebrew word for “Lord.” Is there really that much difference between a translator choosing to use a name for God that is created from the Hebrew word for “Lord” or choosing the word “LORD” in all capital letters to denote His name? It seems clear to me that the important key in this issue is whether the translator does something to distinguish where the divine name appears in the Hebrew text as modern translators do when they translate YHWH as “LORD” in all capital letters. As long as the name is distinguished in the text, it should be clear to the reader when the Scripture reference is referring to LORD (YHWH) and when it is referring to someone who is simply a ruler or “Adonai” (Lord).
WAS GOD’S NAME REMOVED FROM THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT?
While a case may be made for the insertion of God’s name into the text of the New World Translation’s version of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, there is not a single Greek manuscript of the entire New Testament Scripture that renders God’s name in full. With over 5,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the Greek text of the New Testament, if the authors of the New Testament inserted YHWH into their original writings of the Christian Greek Scriptures, we would expect to find some kind of trace of it existing originally as is the case with the ancient copies of the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures called the LXX Septuagint. In their brochure, The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, the Watchtower provides the evidence for the divine name being in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament Scriptures by stating:
“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. …God’s name remained in Greek translations of the ‘Old Testament’ for a while longer. …Even in the fourth century, Jerome writes in his prologue to the books of Samuel and Kings: ‘and we find the name of God, the Tetragrammaton [ﬣ וּ ﬣיִ], in certain Greek volumes even to this day expressed in ancient letters.’ …Eventually, many readers did not even recognize what it was and Jerome reports that in his time ‘certain ignorant ones, because of the similarity of the characters, when they would find [the Tetragrammaton] in Greek books, were accustomed to read ΠΙΠΙ.’ ” —The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, pp. 24-25
Thus, we can tell that the divine name was removed in recent copies of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament by finding ancient copies that either contained the name written out in the ancient Hebrew characters or finding copies that contained an attempt at writing the Hebrew characters by transcribing them into the Greek characters, pi-iota-pi-iota (ΠΙΠΙ). Yet, this NEVER occurs in any of the 5,000 Greek manuscripts that we possess of the Greek New Testament. There is not even a trace of the name in the most ancient Greek fragments from the second century. Not only is the name missing from the Greek New Testament, but it is missing in the 86,000 quotations of the New Testament from the early Church Fathers. Although there are enough quotations of the New Testament from the Church Fathers to entirely reconstruct the entire New Testament with all but 11 verses,5. there is not a single incidence when they inserted the divine name into their quotes of the New Testament Scriptures.6. Why is the lack of evidence of God’s name being removed from the text of the Greek New Testament Scriptures significant?
At Matthew 24:35, Jesus promised: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away,” and at 1 Peter 1:25, Scripture reminds us of God’s promise to preserve His Word. So, if “something” happened “to the text of the Christian Greek Scriptures before the fourth century that resulted in the omission of God’s name” as the Watchtower Society claims7. what does this say about Jesus’ ability to preserve His Word from corruption? If something as important as God’s name was removed from the text of the New Testament without a trace of evidence, how can we trust the accuracy of God’s Word? No Jehovah’s Witness that I have confronted with these claims of Christ has been able to stand with the Watchtower’s assertions that the New Testament text was corrupted by the removal of God’s name, because they all believe in the miraculous preservation of the New Testament text.8.
DOES PAUL’S USE OF THE WORD “LORD” IN HIS QUOTE OF JOEL 2:32 IN ROMANS 10:13 CONFUSE JESUS WITH JEHOVAH?
Many years ago, I was sitting in the living room of my friend’s home, talking with a Jehovah’s Witness elder who had come to their door offering a “free home Bible study.” The topic of God’s name being removed from our modern translations of the Scriptures came up in our study, and I brought up the fact that there is no evidence in the Greek manuscripts of our New Testament that the Biblical writers of the New Testament ever inserted God’s name, even when they quoted passages from the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures that contained the name. I pointed out that if the Apostle Paul used the same Greek word “Kyrios” (Lord) in reference to Jehovah that he does when referring to Jesus, this showed a connection between the Persons of the Trinity that would ultimately cause people to think that Jesus is Jehovah God. To this statement, the Jehovah’s Witness elder strongly disagreed with me, saying: “No, there is no confusion. People can clearly tell by the context which verses are talking about Jehovah God and which verses refer to Jesus.” When he said this, I responded by showing him an example from Scripture where people would get the impression that Jesus and Jehovah by the use of “Lord”. Our conversations went something like this:
ME: So you think there is no confusion? Well, then let’s look at this Scripture here in Romans 10:9. Who is the “Lord” that the Apostle Paul is referring to here? [Note: We read the Scriptures from his New World Translation Bible.]
JW: “For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved.” That Lord is Jesus [he said].
ME: That’s right. Now let’s read verse 10.
JW: “For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”
ME: According to the context, who are we to “exercise faith” in for salvation?
ME: OK, so these verses are clearly talking about Jesus, right?
ME: OK, let’s look at the next verse, verse 11: “For the Scripture says: ‘None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed.’ ” Who is the “him” that this verse is talking about?
ME: Now, will you read verse 12 for us?
JW: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord over all, who is rich to all those calling upon him.”
ME: Who is this “same Lord over all” that this passage is talking about?
JW: Hum… Jesus. [At this point in the 1984 edition of the New World Translation, the page breaks between verses 12 and 13. So at first, with slight hesitation, he agreed that Jesus is “the same Lord over all” referred to at verse 12, but then when he turned the page and saw Jehovah in his translation at verse 13, he quickly back tracked and said:] No, that’s not Jesus, that Lord is Jehovah! “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ ”
ME: So, you can see my point. If there is only one Lord (“the same Lord over all”) and the New Testament writers use the word “Lord” to refer to both Jesus and Jehovah, one can easily get the impression that they thought Jesus was Jehovah God Himself!”
He saw my point. Incidentally, the Watchtower makes the same claim in their Divine Name brochure when they say:
“…Bible translators and students came to realize that without God’s name, some parts of the Christian Greek Scriptures are very difficult to understand properly. …For example, consider the words of Paul to the Romans, as they appear in the Authorized Version: ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:13) Whose name do we have to call on to be saved? Since Jesus is often spoken of as ‘Lord’ …should we conclude that Paul was here speaking about Jesus? …No, we should not. A marginal reference to Romans 10:13 in the Authorized Version points us to Joel 2:32 in the Hebrew Scriptures. If you check that reference, you will find that Paul was actually quoting the words of Joel in his letter to the Romans; and what Joel said in the original Hebrew was: ‘Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.’ (New World Translation) Yes, Paul meant there that we should call on the name of Jehovah.Hence, while we have to believe in Jesus, our salvation is closely linked with a proper appreciation of God’s name. This example demonstrates how the removal of the name of God from the Greek Scriptures contributed to confusing Jesus and Jehovah in the minds of many. Undoubtedly, it contributed greatly to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity!” —The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, p. 26
So, when we read the context of Romans 10 and see that Paul was applying the Joel 2:32 Scripture directly to Jesus, it is obvious that he considered Jesus to be Jehovah God. Yet, the Watchtower insists upon inserting God’s name “Jehovah” at Romans 10:13 because it is quoting Joel 2:32 where God’s name appears, and then they create an artificial distinction between the person of Jehovah and the person of Christ by claiming that Romans 10:13 proves that we must call upon the name “Jehovah” for salvation, rather than call upon the name “Jesus.” Yet, the testimony of Scripture proclaims at Philippians 2:9 that Jesus possess “the name which is above every name”9. and states at Acts 4:12:
“Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” —New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
It is significant to point out that Philippians 2:9 has been changed in the New Word Translation. Instead of saying that the name of Jesus is “above every name” as all other translations state, the translators of the 1984 edition inserted the word “other” into this phrase so that it reads, “above every [other] name,” even though the word “other” is not in the Greek text. This again demonstrates their absolute bias against Jesus possessing a name greater than Jehovah God. The deception of the translators of the New World Translation continued in the 2013 edition in which all brackets have been removed, leaving the reader clueless as to which words are in the original Greek text and which ones were added by the translators.
DO THE HEBREW J MANUSCRIPTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CALL JESUS YHWH?
We have seen how the translators of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures have chosen to insert God’s name “Jehovah” into their translation of the New Testament even through there is no evidence for it in the Greek manuscripts. Yet, they claim that it is proper to insert God’s name where the New Testament writers are quoting passages from the Hebrew Old Testament where the divine name appears.10. They also claim to insert God’s name wherever the Hebrew translations of the New Testament Greek manuscripts insert the name. Concerning these translations, the forward to the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Society states:
“Throughout the centuries many translations of parts or of all the Christian Greek Scriptures have been made into Hebrew. Such translations, designated in this work by ‘J’ with a superior number, have restored the divine name to the Christian Greek Scriptures in various places. …To avoid overstepping the bounds of a translator into the field of exegesis, we have tried to be most cautious about rendering the diving name, always carefully considering the Hebrew Scriptures as a background. We have looked for some agreement with us by the Hebrew versions we consulted to confirm our rendering.” —The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, pp. 11-12
So, the authors of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures claim that they carefully considered the quotations of the Hebrew Scriptures and consulted the Hebrew translations of the New Testament to “confirm” their insertion of the divine name into the text of their New Testament 237 times. Yet, there are two strikingly clear incidences where the translators of the New World Translation chose not to insert the divine name “Jehovah” into their text even through the passages being quoted from the Hebrew Old Testament contained the name.
Why did they chose not include the divine name even through both of these passages had support for God’s name in the Hebrew J manuscripts? I believe the reason is because in both cases, the Hebrew writer of the New Testament passage was calling Jesus Jehovah! Thus, in his book, Hebraic-Roots Version “New Testament,” James Scott Trimm translates both 1 Peter 3:15 and Philippians 2:11 from the Hebrew versions with YHWH in reference to Jesus Christ and correctly footnotes the Hebrew Old Testament passage where the divine name quotation occurs. See these charts below:
1 PETER 3:15: “sanctify YHWH, the Messiah”
1st KEFA (Peter) 3:14-15 “…And do not be afraid of those who frighten you and do not be troubled. But sanctify YHWH,* the Messiah, in your hearts….” —Hebraic-Roots Version “New Testament,” James Scott Trimm, pp. 339-340 (Footnote: *Isaiah 8:12-13)
OLD TESTAMENT – 1984 NWT
NEW TESTAMENT – 1984 NWT
|ISAIAH 8:12-13: “…the object of their fear YOU men must not fear, nor must YOU tremble at it.* Jehovah of armies—he is the One whom YOU should treat as holy….” (Footnote: * 1 Peter 3:14)||1 PETER 3:14-15: “…the object of their fear do not YOU fear,* neither become agitated. But sanctify the Christ as Lord** in YOUR hearts…” (Footnotes: *Isaiah 8:12, **The Christ as Lord,” אABC; TR, “the Lord God”; J7,8,11-14,16,17,24, “Jehovah God.”)|
Notice that the 1984 edition of the New World Translation correctly cross references 1 Peter 3:14 to Isaiah 8:12, but when the divine name appears in the quote of Isaiah 8:13 in 1 Peter 3:15, they deceptively leave off the cross-reference which gives support to the Hebrew version’s translation of “YHWH, the Messiah.” Likewise, in the newer 2013 edition of the New World Translation, the Watchtower continued their deception by completely removing all cross-references to Isaiah 8 in this passage of 1 Peter 3:14-15.
It is important to note that there is a textual variant in the manuscripts of 1 Peter 3:15 with some of the texts saying “sanctify the Lord God” instead of “sanctify Christ as Lord.” The Textus Receptus Greek manuscript used for the King James Bible is one of the manuscripts that reads “sanctify the Lord God” as it follows the more recent majority texts from the Middle Ages, rather than the most ancient Greek manuscripts of this passage, such as the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus from the fourth century and the Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus from the fifth century, which read “sanctify Christ as Lord.”
Since the most ancient manuscripts that we possess of this passage all agree with the “sanctify Christ as Lord” rendering over the “sanctify the Lord God” rendering of the King James Bible, it is clear that the Apostle Peter quoted Isaiah 8:12-13 and applied it directly to Jesus by saying that just as we are to set Jehovah apart as holy, we are to set the Messiah (Christ) apart as holy by sanctifying Him in our hearts. Thus, when the translators of the Hebrew version’s rendering of 1 Peter 3:15 encountered this quote of Isaiah 8:12-13, they translated 1 Peter 3:15 as “sanctify YHWH, the Messiah, in your hearts.”
PHILIPPIANS 2:11: “Yeshua the Messiah is YHWH”
PHILIPPIANS 2:11 “That at the name of Yeshua every knee will bow that is in heaven and on earth and that is under the earth, And every tongue will confess* that Yeshua the Messiah is YHWH, to the glory of Eloah his Father.” —Hebraic-Roots Version “New Testament,” James Scott Trimm, pp. 339-340 (Footnote: *Isaiah 45:23-24)
OLD TESTAMENT – 1984 NWT
NEW TESTAMENT – 1984 NWT
|ISAIAH 45:23-24: “…to me every knee will bend down, every tongue will swear, saying, ‘Surely in Jehovah there are full righteousness and strength….”||PHILIPPIANS 2:10-11: “so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend … and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”|
When Dr. Bruce Metzger, a well-respected Greek and Hebrew scholar and a professor at Princeton University, wrote publicly against the Watchtower’s New World Translation, noting its failure to insert “Jehovah” for kyrios at Philippians 2:11 even though it is quoting Isaiah 45:23, the Watchtower responded with the following Questions from Readers article published in the May 15, 1960 edition of The Watchtower:
“Dr. Bruce M. Metzger… writes: ‘In the New World Translation it is stated (page 9 of the New Testament volume), “To each major word we have assigned one meaning and have held to that meaning as far as the context permitted.” My question arises from the failure to abide by this self-imposed rule at Philippians 2:11, where the word kyrios, elsewhere rendered “Jehovah” 237 times, is not rendered “Jehovah” despite the clear allusion to Isaiah 45:23 and following where the word Jehovah appears. Could it be that the Arian theology of the translators overrode their expressed rule of translating?’
“…A number of Watchtower readers, evidently unacquainted with the New Testament Greek, have written us a similar question, apparently inspired by the publicity that Dr. Metzger has given to a discussion of this matter. The doctor quotes from …the Forward…
“…This Foreword shows that in the course of time nineteen translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures, or of parts of them, have been made from the Greek into the ancient Biblical Hebrew, and that these Hebrew translators …used the name Jehovah or the Hebrew tetragrammaton… in translating the writings of Christ’s apostles and disciples, generally known as the New Testament. Thus, before the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures came along, these Hebrew translators put the divine name in the Christian writings officially called the New Testament.
“…The theologian says that Philippians 2:11 clearly alludes to Isaiah 45:23 and following material. …This is not the same as the Isaiah quotation. Philippians 2:11 does not say that every tongue should swear to Jesus. It says that every tongue should confess something concerning Jesus to the glory of God the Father. So this is not an allusion to Isaiah 45:23 such as would require Jesus to be identified with Jehovah.
“…All the English versions of Christendom, even those in Hebrew, show that in Philippians 2:11 the ky’rios without article is used as a title, not as a personal name. …No Christian has to confess that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, because that is not the truth.
“…The word ky’rios without the definite article is thus used also in 1 Corinthians 12:3. There in the Greek text the same expression occurs as in Philippians 2:11, namely, KYRIOS YESOUS. In both texts the Greek word ky’rios is a title by which a person of a certain name is to be addressed. hence it would be wrong, in fact ridiculous, to render that expression, ‘Jehovah Jesus,’ None of the Hebrew translations render it ‘Jehovah Jesus,’ but recognize the Greek word ky’rios there as a title and hence use the Hebrew word Adón, meaning Lord, instead of the name Jehovah.” —The Watchtower, May 15, 1960pp. 318-320
Not only does the Watchtower Society deny the obvious connection of Philippians 2:10-11 with Isaiah 45:23-24, but they boldly state that: “None of the Hebrew translations render”KYRIOS YESUS (Lord Jesus) as “ ‘Jehovah Jesus.” This is completely untrue as we have already seen an example of where the Hebrew versions say, “Yeshua the Messiah is YHWH” at Philippians 2:11. Likewise, the Watchtower’s claim concerning the Hebrew versions is false when it comes to the second passage they reference in their article, 1 Corinthians 12:3 which reads in the Hebrew manuscripts: “YHWH is Yeshua”! See the chart below:
1 CORINTHIANS 12:3 – HEBREW Versions
1 CORINTHIANS 12:3 – 1984 NWT
|“And neither is a man able to say that YHWH is Yeshua except by the Ruach HaKodesh.”||“…nobody can say: ‘Jesus is Lord!’ except by holy spirit.”|
1. See James Scott Trimm, Hebraic-Roots Version “New Testament” (Hurst, TX: Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism, 2001), XXVIII – XXXI
2. See the “Forward” of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1985), 11-12 and The Watchtower, May 15, 1960, 319.
3. See The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1984), 24
4. See The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1984), 8
5. See Dan Story, Defending Your Faith —How to Answer the Tough Questions (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 38-39
6. For photocopied documentation on this subject including statements from the early Church Fathers who quoted the New Testament passages without the name Jehovah, see the “Should Christians Use the Divine Name ‘Jehovah’ In Prayer?” dialogue and documentation in Christian Conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses (Colorado Springs, CO: Witnesses for Jesus Inc, 2012)
7. The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible And Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1984), 24
8. See The Bible —God’s Word or Man’s (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible And Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1989), 59-60
9. Quoted from the New American Standard Bible.
10. The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1985), 11-12