The Central Issue

    Behind all of the information on this web site, there is one central issue:

    We are told that the Tetragrammaton (יהוה—the Hebrew name of God) was used 237 times by the original Christian Scripture (New Testament) authors. And, then, because of a great heresy in the second and third centuries, יהוה was removed leaving no evidence today that it was in the original manuscripts.

    This site evaluates ancient Greek manuscript evidence, the religious writings during the first three centuries of the Christian era, and historic background in order to determine whether or not the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) was used in the original Christian Scripture (New Testament) manuscripts. Unless noted otherwise, this site is dealing only with the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

    This web site does not discuss theology. It is dedicated to the study of biblical manuscript evidence.

Why is this an important issue?

    The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was published by the Watch Tower Bible Society in 1950. The word "Lord" was changed to "Jehovah" 237 times in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). In some verses, the meaning did not change because the verse was talking about the God of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). (For example, Hosea 11:1 is quoted in Matthew 2:15 when Matthew says, "And [Joseph] stayed [in Egypt] until the decease of Herod, for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah (rather than "Lord") through his prophet, saying: 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'")

    In other verses, the meaning of the Bible is greatly altered when the word "Lord" is changed to "Jehovah." For example, in the New World Translation Revelation 11:17 says, "We thank you, Jehovah (rather than "Lord") God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king." There is a great difference in meaning when the verse identifies "Jehovah" as "God, the Almighty" rather than the "Lord" (Jesus) as "God, the Almighty."

This change represents the "Foremost Feature" of the New World Translation.

    The publishers of the New World Translation say,

    "The foremost feature of this translation is the restoration of the divine name to its rightful place in the English text. It has been done, using the commonly accepted English form "Jehovah" 6,973 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and 237 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures." (New World Translation Reference Edition, 1984, page 6.)

Reader's Note: Our web site is not dealing with the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Nonetheless, we frequently commend the Watch Tower Society for its faithful restoration of the Divine Name (Jehovah) to the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

Is יהוה used in ancient Greek manuscripts?

    The Tetragrammaton (the word necessary for inserting "Jehovah" into the English translation) is never found in any of more than 5,000 ancient Greek manuscript copies of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). The Greek text from which the New World Translation was translated is published by the Watch Tower Society in their Kingdom Interlinear Translation. The Tetragrammaton never occurs in the Greek text of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation.

On what basis, then, was this change made in the New World Translation?

    The New World Bible Translation Committee felt strongly that the original writers of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) used the Tetragrammaton 237 times. However, there are no surviving manuscript copies which contain the Hebrew word יהוה. The Translation Committee suggested that there was a great heresy in the second and third centuries. They believe that as a result of this heresy the word יהוה was changed to the Greek word for "Lord" (Kyrios) in all manuscript copies of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

    Because they felt that the original writings had been changed, they felt obligated to make the necessary correction in The New World Translation. They said,

    To know where the divine name was replaced by the Greek words Kyrios and Theos, we have determined where the inspired Christian writers have quoted verses, passages and expressions from the Hebrew Scriptures and then we have referred back to the Hebrew text to ascertain whether the divine name appears there. In this way we determined the identity to give Kyrios and Theos and the personality with which to clothe them.

    To avoid overstepping the bounds of a translator into the field of exegesis, we have been most cautious about rendering the divine name in the Christian Greek Scriptures, always carefully considering the Hebrew Scriptures as a background. We have looked for agreement from the Hebrew versions to confirm our rendering. Thus, out of the 237 times that we have rendered the divine name in the body of our translation, there is only one instance where we have no agreement from the Hebrew versions. (Appendix 1D of the New World Translation, reference Edition, 1984, pages 1564 and 1563.)

    Therefore, the Translation Committee changed the word "Lord" (Kyrios) to "Jehovah" in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament),

  1. Whenever the Christian Scripture (New Testament) writers quoted a verse, a passage or an expression from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in which the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) was used.

  2. Whenever the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) is used in a Hebrew version.

The reader's decision.

    The Watch Tower Society is forthright in telling us that there is no Greek manuscript evidence for the Tetragrammaton in more than 5,000 currently known Christian Greek Scripture manuscripts.* On this web site, we have explored other information which, if it existed, would indicate that the Tetragrammaton had been used but later expunged. It is assumed that the reader will independently verify information from both this web site and from Watch Tower Society publications. Finally, with the resulting body of information from these studies, the reader must evaluate his or her options.

*For reference see Aid to Bible Understanding, pages 886-888.

    Said very simply, after studying the information regarding the word "Lord" and יהוה in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), the modern English Bible reader must choose between one of two options:

  1. The reader may insist that the words the translators use in his or her Bible be a faithful translation of the words actually found in the best available Bible manuscripts.

  2. Or, the reader may allow the translators of in his or her Bible to change the meaning of the best available Bible manuscripts by adding different words from sources outside of these ancient Bible manuscripts.