Thursday, July 08, 2010

Writers of NT Hide God's Name?

It seems every cult has something unique about them that sets them apart in order to show they are the true religion. For Jehovah's Witnesses, one of those distinguishing marks is right in their name. They know the true Name of God, therefore they are right.

My JW friend, Russell, has deposited another Watchtower at my door with articles attempting to demonstrate the Necessity of using the proper name of God in order to be the true religion. Now there is a sense in which this is true. If God tells us His Name and we prefer to use an entirely different name, then we would be doing the things the WT charges. However, is it really the case that Protestant churches in general attempt to hide God's Name from mankind?

For instance, in one article, The Challenge of Knowing God by Name, Bible translators are constantly accused of hiding God's Name.

Protestants have been no less disrespectful in their treatment of Jehovah's Name. A spokesman for the Protestant-sponsored New International Version, published in English in 1978, wrote: "Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. But we put 2-1/4 million dollars into this translation and a sure way of throwing that down the drain is to translate, for example, Psalm 23 as, 'Yahweh is my Shepherd.'"
Now of course is it really the case that translators are hiding God's Name? Are we really to suppose that this quote is meant to be a full explanation of why the Translators did what they did? Is there really no historical of linguistic reasons for choosing the methods of translating the Bible properly? Is this really the result of "Satan [using] false religion to hinder people from coming to know God's Name"?

The article even asserts that not only do the old manuscripts of the Septuagint use the proper Name for God, "the New Testament writers no doubt included the Tetragrammaton in their quotations." The odd thing about this claim is that not one shred of evidence is provided that the New Testament writers did any such thing. So for the purposes of this post, I just want to demonstrate that the Apostles, in fact used the Greek term Kurios instead of the proper Name or the Tetragrammaton, Yahweh/Jehovah.

Another example in the WT article states in one paragraph,

Deleting God's Name from His written Word and replacing it with "Lord" hinders readers from truly knowing who God is. Such a substitution creates confusion. For example, a reader may not be able to discern whether the term "Lord" refers to Jehovah or to His Son, Jesus. Thus, in the Scripture in which the Apostle Peter quotes David as saying: "Jehovah said to my Lord [the resurrected Jesus]: 'Sit at my right hand,'" many Bible translations read: "The Lord said to my Lord."
To which the paragraph concludes that this has caused Christians to focus upon Christ instead of the God to whom Jesus directed His prayers. Keep in mind, even though Jesus tells us that all of Scripture is about Him and how He will save men, somehow Jesus and the Apostles never meant to demonstrate the perfect unity between Father and Son.

Now what is the evidence that the writers of the New Testament used Jehovah instead of Kurios [Lord]? None. The article provides nothing at all. They simply assume that since the Septuagint has some manuscripts that possess the "divine name", then the New Testament writers must have done so as well. Yet there are no New Testament manuscripts that possess the Tetragrammaton. Wikipedia (I know I know. Its Wikipedia.) states,

Archaeologists have discovered papyrus fragments of works which were later included in the canon of the New Testament dating as far back as the middle of the second century. While some believe that the Tetragrammaton was used in original New Testament autographs, none have survived until today, while none of the 5,000
extant New Testament manuscripts contain any form of the Hebrew יהוה (Tetragrammaton).
At, the website admits of the same problem by the Watchtower,

Watchtower Society publications frequently refer to the presumed presence of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) in the autographs. However, these discussions almost never refer to manuscript evidence. Rather, they refer to external supporting evidence such as Septuagint editions which used the Tetragrammaton, an assumed heresy involving the second and third century scribes, Hebrew versions which use the Tetragrammaton, and the like.
In other words, it is simply assumed that the original New Testament autographs contained the Tetragrammaton, and Christian copyists purposefully did not copy the "divine name". Why? To hide God's Name, of course.

However, believing this kind of thing leads to a major problem. It undermines the authority of Scripture and the ability of God to preserve His Word. If it can be argued that copyists left out the Tetragrammaton, then the arguments of a Bart Erhman stand correct. The idea of Tenacity in the manuscript tradition is lost and we simply have no idea if any part of the Bible is original. As even the website concurs,

From the Watch Tower Society's perspective, it is forced to defend its position that the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) was included 237 times in the Christian Scripture autographs. This is true because the unique quality of the New World Translation is entirely dependent on it. Thus, the debate will continue because others who are not ones of Jehovah's Witnesses have high regard for Scripture as being the inerrant (error-free) Word of God. It is inconceivable to this latter group that the Watch Tower Society can claim that they follow a Christian Scripture which is reliable while at the same time they claim to "restore" the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) to the Christian Scriptures while admitting that there is no manuscript evidence for its use in the autographs.
In other words, the false premises and false presuppositions that go into trying to rescue God's proper name, destroys the foundation for the authority of the Bible. The facts are that all of the manuscripts in the manuscript tradition do not have the Tetragrammaton. The tenacity of the NT manuscript tradition is overwhelming. The term Kurios is used at every place the Watchtower claims should be Jehovah. There is not a shred of evidence that the early church even had the ability, much less the desire or power, to destroy such evidence for the Tetragrammaton supposed originals.

Therefore, the Apostles had no problem with using a translation of the Hebrew that every Greek would have understood. It is the exact same reason the NIV translators chose to use "Lord" instead of "Jehovah". 21st century Americans have no idea what a Yahweh/Jehovah is. We would no more say Yahweh anymore than we would say Yeshua, which is the proper name for Jesus.


meyerprints said...

meyerprints said...

spiritualbrother said...

The Watchtower admits that there no known manuscripts of the NT currently that contain the Divine name.

Howard Fisher said...

Thanks for the comment spiritualbrother. I am aware that the WT admits as much, even the source I quoted from says as much. I hope I was not unclear about that.

The main thrust of the WT article is that Protestants in particular and Christians in general are hiding God's Name. Yet the entire basis of their argument is on a manuscript tradition that would overthrow biblical inerrancy.

So my point was that they can't have it both ways. They can't say the Bible is God's Word while holding to a Bart Ehrman position on biblical transmission.

God Bless