The Web Master of Jehovah's Witnesses United (www.jehovah.to and also http://hector3000.future.easyspace.com) has given a lengthy review of our book The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures. Please log on to that web site and read his review. (We have reproduced his initial review in the accompanying HTML document.) Though they are the comments of an individual, they likely represent the viewpoint of most Jehovah's Witness readers.
We want to generously acknowledge the research and effort made by the reviewer. We must all recognize the importance of open debate on this critical subject. To Witnesses and non-Witnesses alike, the debate concerning the presence of the Tetragrammaton in the first-century Christian Scripture Greek manuscripts has momentous relevance. Thus, we welcome this reviewer's comments as information that must be considered when discussing the Tetragrammaton's presumed presence in the autographs. (Note: Autograph is the technical term for the original papyrus manuscript as written by the inspired writer. Obviously, no autographs exist today. Textual critics work from copies which are a number of generations removed from the autographs.) Read and carefully consider the reviewer's viewpoint.
Our complete book The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures is available for free downloading in either Acrobat or Word Document format from our web site www.tetragrammaton.org.
In an initial e-mail exchange, one writer noted, "You obviously are impassioned on the issue of the name "Jehovah" in the New Testament. Your books that question the validity of the New World Translation's use of the name "Jehovah" in the New Testament have found their way to a number of countries. And, I understand you have sent out copies of your books to elders of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the United States… If your view is wrong on this issue, I suspect you recognize that the consequences can be monumental."
He is absolutely correct. If I am wrong, the error is monumental. Over 77,000 copies of our five books have already been distributed around the English-speaking world in our first five years of publication. In addition, translations of key books have either been completed or are in progress in important languages in which the New World Translation has been published. (See our Books In Other Languages link on this website for some of our books published in other languages.) Of course, our web site is freely accessible worldwide to Witnesses pursuing this topic.
On the other hand, if the Tetragrammaton was not used in the autographs, the consequences are also monumental.
This entire debate hinges on one primary issue alone. After a careful review of manuscript and historic evidence, our books maintain that the Tetragrammaton was not used in the Christian Scripture autographs. Everything our books purport could be refuted by merely showing manuscript evidence that the inspired writers used the Tetragrammaton. The defense against our books is simple indeed—all that is needed is ancient Greek manuscripts of the Christian Scriptures using the Tetragrammaton.
None are available. (Note: Read the chapter entitled An Altered Photograph in our downloadable book Jehovah in the New Testament for an interesting commentary on the problem of locating manuscript evidence.)
Secondly, we have also maintained that the use of the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew versions does not tell us that the autographs used the Tetragrammaton. This we know because we can examine the Greek texts from which these Hebrew versions were translated without finding evidence of the Tetragrammaton. If this assertion is in error, it too could be easily refuted. It would merely require the display of older reliable Greek texts used for Hebrew version translation containing the Tetragrammaton.
Again, none are available.
Finally, we have evaluated the history of the early congregations for evidence of a heresy that altered their copies of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Though secondary in importance to the Scripture manuscripts themselves, all that would be needed to explain the removal of the Tetragrammaton from the second or third century Christian Scriptures would be descriptions of the heresy and the furor that would have ensued in the writings of the patristics (church fathers). The thesis of our books could be severely weakened with a clear historical record of such an alteration of Scripture.
In spite of the voluminous writings of the patristics, there are no descriptions of such a heresy.
The Reviewer would merely need to cite manuscript evidence for the Tetragrammaton in the earliest extant Christian Scripture Greek manuscripts to disprove our thesis. As supporting evidence against our thesis, conclusive references from the writings of the patristics could be cited that mentions the heretical change by scribes and copyists. However, no such evidence exists and is therefore unavailable to the Reviewer. Consequently, the Reviewer must take exception to our book by using other issues that do not have a direct link to the earliest Greek manuscript evidence.
This in no way disparages the Reviewer's comments. He calls attention to a number of important topics that merit consideration. Some we strongly agree with. Others we find somewhat questionable. Yet at best, his comments are not proofs that the original manuscripts contained the Tetragrammaton. They are merely parallel issues.
In the absence of manuscript and historical evidence, a number of parallel topics that are fully verifiable have become functional substitutes for manuscript evidence in Watch Tower Society literature. These topics include the use of the Tetragrammaton in the Septuagint, opposition to the use of the divine name by certain patristics, a time in which anti-Semitic feeling had an influence on preservation of biblical manuscripts, and others. Yet, whereas these are valid topics of study in their own right, they do not "prove" that the Tetragrammaton was used in the autographs. These arguments and historic events are corroborative (that is, they would be consistent with the presumed change from the Tetragrammaton to Kyrios), but they are not conclusive (that is, their mere reality does not compel the veracity of the change). For example, the anti-Semitism of the period would support the presumption that the Tetragrammaton was removed from the autographs, but it does not prove that the Tetragrammaton was used in the autographs. The proof of change must come from manuscript evidence.
You have raised interesting secondary topics of discussion. However, you have not countered with the single most important defense necessary to support your assertion that the Tetragrammaton was used in the autographs. You have given no manuscript evidence that the Tetragrammaton was used in the Christian Scripture autographs, notwithstanding over 5,000 extant ancient manuscript portions available for examination today. Furthermore, you have failed to show any historical evidence that there was a debate or disruption in the early congregations resulting from this manuscript alteration.
The evidence you give would be consistent with this presumed scribal alteration in the Christian Scriptures if the alteration could be verified with manuscript evidence. Certainly the anti-Semitism of the period would coincide with this presumed scribal alteration. The Christian's use of the Septuagint (namely that the Tetragrammaton was recopied as Kyrios) would be consistent with this presumed scribal alteration. The pattern of this presumed change from the Tetragrammaton to Kyrios would be identifiable in the dynamics of textual variants in Christian Scripture manuscripts. But none of these verifiable issues and trends of the second and third centuries "prove" that the alteration from the Tetragrammaton to Kyrios actually took place in the Christian Scriptures. Each of these issues occurred, but they were considerably broader than a debate over removal of a single word from the Christian Scripture manuscripts. Though the removal of the Tetragrammaton would be consistent with each of these issues, in the absence of manuscript evidence, mere speculation cannot be used to change the wording of Scripture by using these issues and trends as "proof."
However, you must also realize that many of these same arguments can be used against the position that the Tetragrammaton was removed from the Greek text. For example, the argument can also be made that the anti-semetic conflict actually produced the change in the Septuagint. Based on the dates of the extant Septuagint translations such as those of Aquila and others which were done in the second century C.E., it is more than likely that the Jews' reaction to the Christian's use of the Hebrew Scriptures actually prompted them to produce a second century revision of the Septuagint using the Tetragrammaton rather than Kyrios. A careful evaluation of both the Septuagint texts and the history of the period suggest that there were Septuagint copies prior to the time of Jesus which used the Tetragrammaton for strictly Jewish communities. Yet, after the increasing conflict between Christian and non-Christian Jews in the second century, the Jews produced additional Septuagint texts which used the Tetragrammaton in order to distance themselves from Christian Jews who identified Jesus with Kyrios. It would be the Jews adding the Tetragrammaton rather than the Christians removing it. It would be precisely for this reason that the preponderance of extant Septuagint manuscripts using the Tetragrammaton were produced after the second and third century.
You fail to present any verifiable textual evidence that the Christian Scripture autographs used the Tetragrammaton.
That the Reviewer's comments fail to address the central issue of verifiable textual evidence does not imply that his comments should be disregarded. We will attempt to address those comments in the following section.
Before this information was placed on the Reviewer's web site, it was discussed by email between the Author and the Reviewer. The discussion also included several other individuals. Edited excerpts from that correspondence are given below. We will use the editorial notations [the Reviewer] and [the Author] rather than their names.
The remaining comments are those of the book's author compiled from several email exchanges with the Reviewer and others.
You must understand that I have a deep commitment to the Bible as God's inspired Word. We no longer have the autographs (the original 66 inspired scrolls), we have only copies. From these ancient copies, it is the job of the textual critic to reconstruct the most accurate probable wording of the autographs. Then, from that reconstructed Hebrew or Greek text, it is the responsibility of the translator to represent the exact words chosen by the original authors in the most understandable language possible today.
With that introduction, I will respond to [the Reviewer's] paper under four headings:
In his first paragraph, [the Reviewer] states, "Also, we will see, that by [the Author's] criteria of accuracy, few Bibles would pass his test of accuracy in regard to Divine Names and titles." Of course, we understand among ourselves that the issue of the Divine Name is not the sole criteria any of us would use to evaluate an entire version. Focusing on the issue of the Divine Name, however, [the Reviewer's] statement is certainly correct. In my opinion, there are very few English versions that properly translate the Tetragrammaton in their "Old Testaments." The exceptions would be Bibles like the New World Translation, RSV 1901, Byington, and a very few others.
In the Addendum of our book Jehovah in the New Testament I make this statement (the book is available on our web site Jehovah in the New Testament),
The biblical text must be the sole standard. The English Bible tradition is in error when printing "Old Testaments" with a capitalized LORD replacing God's name. This judgment is not based on our understanding of Moses' intentions when writing, or what other inspired Hebrew Scripture writers saw when they read the Law, or any other argument based on circumstantial evidence. The reason we can say that the English Bible tradition is in error is that the most accurately reproduced Hebrew Scripture texts clearly use God's name. Witnesses are absolutely correct in insisting that their Bible use the name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. They need to appeal to nothing beyond the irrefutable textual evidence of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is true irrespective of the cultural-historical arguments "Old Testament" publishers use to justify Lord in their Bibles.
In the book [the Reviewer] is evaluating (The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures), we have given even more emphasis on the error of "LORD" in currently published "Old Testaments." In Chapter 12 we extensively evaluate and criticize the practice of substituting LORD for the Tetragrammaton. The reader needs to understand how strongly I feel regarding this error in my own Bible tradition. Comments concerning the error of "LORD" in the "Old Testament" appear frequently in my writing, including a small book that is being translated in various parts of the world. I am making a concerted effort in my own Protestant circles to draw attention to this mistranslation. I am as concerned with our own "Old Testament" problem as I am with "Jehovah" in the New World Translation Christian Scriptures. (Please read the Open Letter section on our web site to gain a better perspective of both my appreciation to Witnesses for their reminder to us of our error, and the warning to evangelical Protestants of their need to change.)
However, my concern is not a response to the tradition I was raised in, nor a theological viewpoint, nor even my reaction to the long-standing use of LORD coming from Tyndale's first translation. All of these arguments which favor the capitalized LORD must be subservient to one criterion. That criterion is answered by the question, "What words do the best Hebrew Scripture manuscripts use? Clearly, the "Old Testament" manuscript evidence shows that the Tetragrammaton was used 6,828 times and it should therefore be translated with an English-equivalent term.
[The Reviewer] is completely correct in saying, "Few Bibles would pass his test of accuracy in regard to Divine Names and titles." The New World Translation is a Bible that does "pass my test" in regard to the use of the Divine Name in the Hebrew Scriptures.
I want the reader to carefully consider what [the Reviewer] has said throughout his paper regarding the reliability of the biblical text. He has inadvertently presented an argument that is equal to any of the 19th and early 20th century literary critics who refuted the inerrancy of Scripture. He has used exactly their same methodology that degrades the reliability of the transmission of the text.
I assume you have carefully read his paper. Review his entire document again if you need to. He would lead you to believe that the Greek Christian Scriptures are rife with copying errors and textual uncertainty. He would attempt to persuade you that almost no part of your Christian Scripture text reflects the verifiable writing of the apostolic authors. The great difficulty with his hypothesis is that Christianity is not a mere philosophy independent of factual content. Christianity by its nature is a faith that is built on the acceptance of specific information: the miraculous birth of Jesus; the teachings of Jesus to people in a precise culture with a historical setting; the details of his trial, death and resurrection; the events in the life of the early congregation; and finally, the details recorded regarding the Kingdom age in Revelation. The recording of these details in written Scripture cannot be dismissed as inconsequential. For true Christianity to exist, the details must be correct. If your Bible was not translated from a reliable reproduction of the original writings of the apostolic authors, you have no foundation for your Christian faith. Your Bible becomes nothing more than religious literature. This was exactly the threat to true Christianity presented by the literary critics mentioned earlier. By challenging the accuracy of the Bible text, they undermined the faith of all true Christians.
Frankly, I would be very surprised if [the Reviewer] would portray the text of his Christian Scriptures with the degree of uncertainty I stated in the above paragraph. I would expect that he would place high importance on the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture and would teach that the Bible we have today is verifiably a true reproduction of the autographs.
However, I believe he would need to make one exception; he would say that the entire text is highly reliable except for the single issue of the Tetragrammaton. On that one issue, he would rely on a hypothesis stating that the Tetragrammaton was used in the autographs even when there is no manuscript evidence of any kind to verify its existence, nor any historical record of debate resulting from its removal. In order to dismiss the Greek word used (Kyrios) in all extant Greek manuscripts, he must introduce a dangerously lax view of textual transmission even though he would attempt to confine the change to the use of a single word in the entire Christian Scriptures.
We simply cannot have both a highly reliable Christian Scripture on which we can build our faith, while at the same time have a Christian Scripture that has lost all evidence of a feature as important as the Divine Name.
You as a reader must realize the impossibility of claiming reliability of your Christian Scripture while at the same time assenting to a hypothesis that the Tetragrammaton was removed from copies of the autographs leaving no remaining trace. You need to carefully consider how you can justify using the exacting textual tools that establish the reliability of the Christian Scriptures that are the foundation of your faith, while denying these same textual tools as evidence when they contradict the presence of the Tetragrammaton in the autographs.
I feel guilty in dismissing the number of pages [the Reviewer] has so carefully prepared. Yet, the great divide between us has little to do with the scope of the information he presented. Very simply, we differ on the fundamental issue of using only the most accurate Greek text of the Christian Scriptures. As the basis of my faith, I must insist that the wording of my English Bible faithfully conveys the meaning of the best reproduction of the Hebrew and Greek autographs. This wording must be based on verifiable manuscript evidence. (This is why I agree so heartily with Witnesses regarding the use of the Divine Name in the "Old Testament.") Notwithstanding the content of his present paper, I expect that [the Reviewer] would demand the same verifiable manuscript evidence for almost all of the text of his Bible as well. However, in respect to the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Scriptures, [the Reviewer] must depend on presumed manuscript evidence that has never been seen or reported, and on a hypothesized heresy which has no reference in any of the voluminous writings of the patristics. Thus, [the Reviewer] will elevate this one area of speculation (supported with Hebrew versions) to a higher level of inspiration than the best available biblical manuscript evidence.
[The Reviewer] gives a number of quotations from early patristics (in this case, Ante-Nicene Fathers) that indicate their strong resistance to using—or even acknowledging—the Divine Name. Justin Martyr is quoted four times, with one statement as strong as "…if anyone dares to say that there is a name, he raves with hopeless madness. (c. 160, E) 1.183" There is no need to debate this representation of bias against the divine name among at least a select group of writers as early as the second century. It is also interesting to note that Origen is quoted as saying, "We say the name Sabaoth, Adonai, and the other names treated with so much reverence among the Hebrews, do not apply to any ordinary created things. Rather, they belong to a secret theology concerning the Framer of all things. Origen (c. 248, E), 4.407," and "Christians in prayer do not even use the precise names that divine scriptures applies to God. Origen, 4.653" On the other hand, Origen's Hexapla is one of the best examples of the use of the Tetragrammaton in the collected Christian Septuagint texts. See Appendix J: Origen's Hexapla, or The Hexapla's seven columns in the book The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures.
Some reading this discussion on our web site my not fully understand how the writings of the patristics may be used to verify the Greek Scripture text. Say for instance—and please understand that this is a complete fabrication for illustration's sake only—that a contemporary of Justin Martyr was aware of the use of the Tetragrammaton in Matthew's autograph. When reading a commentary of Matthew 22:44 by Justin Martyr, he might make a comment (which would not use modern punctuation) as follows,
The most admirable Justin reports Matthew as saying the Lord [Kyrios] said to my Lord sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet whereas others say Jehovah [using the Tetragrammaton] said to my Lord sit at my right hand…
From this fictitious example of a quotation in the works of a contemporary of Justin Martyr, a patristic writing would inform scholars that there was at least a difference of practice among writers of that period concerning the use of the Tetragrammaton in Matthew's Gospel. As references by other patristic writers came to light, the time and the extent of the change could be identified.
These types of references in the patristics could not in-and-of-themselves justify altering the Greek text. However, if there was early manuscript evidence that the Tetragrammaton was used, and only later evidence that Kyrios was predominantly used, then a statement such as the above would have significance. If manuscript evidence showed both a Tetragrammaton form and a Kyrios form, and early writings of the patristics gave indication that there was both a difference of practice and a sharp debate regarding the alteration, then textual critics would be entirely justified in reinstating the Tetragrammaton to the Greek text. Justin Martyr would certainly represent an early patristic writer living when autographs would still be remembered. He was born sometime around 114 C.E. That in itself gives his comments credence when considering whether or not the Tetragrammaton was used in the autographs. It does not imply, however, that the Divine Name should not be used inasmuch as Justin Martyr's comments merely represent the opinion of one man.
However, to this writer's knowledge, there is no indication in the patristics' writings that reference was ever made to the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Scriptures or to an ensuing debate among early congregations' because of its removal.
[The Reviewer] also notes that there was strong anti-Semitism during this same period of time. (Historically, this came after the initial fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. After the final conquest by Rome in 132 C.E., the animosity against Jews became intense.) Again, this anti-Semitic sentiment would certainly have had a bearing on Christians' use of the Tetragrammaton. From documents surviving from that time, it is clear—for whatever reason—that Christian copyists did not use the Tetragrammaton in the Septuagint.
It is important that the reader not misunderstand the intent of our comments. [The Reviewer] is arguing that two important sociological factors in the second and third centuries C.E., could have influenced the removal of the Tetragrammaton. In no way are we disparaging that observation. The dynamic of the anti-Semitic climate of the time coupled with at least certain patristics' biases would certainly be hostile to the use of the Tetragrammaton in Greek manuscripts.
However, when considering both patristic writers' biases and anti-Semitic feelings among Gentiles during the second century C.E., there is insufficient evidence to justify altering Scripture on this information alone. We still maintain that only manuscript evidence can be used as the basis for establishing the Greek text.
Textual variations. As [the Reviewer] mentions, certainly not all early Christian Scriptures were carefully copied, nor was the pattern of change always identical. In some cases, change was gradual and in others (for example, the Western text) it may have occurred suddenly. However, [the Reviewer] leads the reader to believe that textual variants are undecipherable. In fact, the very reason they are identified as variants is because they do not correspond with the majority (or most reliable) manuscript evidence. Among the 5,000 extant Greek manuscripts making up the body of textual evidence for the Greek text, there are probably tens of thousands of variants. Yet, in all but a small percentage of instances, the variants can be identified as textual anomalies because they vary from a well-established norm. (However, neither age nor frequency is the sole criterion for that norm.)
Reasoned eclecticism. [The Reviewer] presents two arguments with a similar foundation. The first argument is that "the Divine Name falls within the semantic, lexical and dictionary range of Kyrios." However, if that argument can be used to justify Jehovah in the Christian Scriptures, it can at least be turned inside-out to argue that the Septuagint versions of Jesus' day that used Kyrios were equally within the semantic, lexical and dictionary range of the same word. This is certainly a true statement when used judiciously by the translator, but it seems to have more peril for [the Reviewer] than it does for us.
The second argument states the reality that Bible translators often work from multiple Greek texts and must choose between alternate readings in a process called reasoned eclecticism. This is appropriate when choosing between equally meritorious though different Greek texts. But that is not the case in the New World Translation's use of Hebrew versions. The Hebrew versions are, in all but a very few instances, translated from known Greek texts that verifiably do not use the Tetragrammaton. Reasoned eclecticism in this case would mean that the translator is given liberty to use the Hebrew version to translate the English as Jehovah, but can use the Greek text to translate a similar passage as Lord.
Tabulating names between versions. Comparing the frequency of names such as "Jesus" or "Christ" in different versions (translations) is meaningless. The Greek language often embeds the subject within the verb, noun and other parts of speech. The Greek sentence does not require frequent repetition of a name but only a "he" or "him" suffix which is grammatically linked with the subject of the sentence. Languages such as English do not use a suffix identifying person. Therefore, an English translation may use either the pronoun "he" or "him" as a third person, singular, masculine construction identifying Jesus, or it may use the proper noun "Jesus." It is often the English sentence that determines the frequency of a name like "Jesus" or "Christ" in a translation. The only comparison of frequency that has meaning would be between two Greek manuscripts, such as between the Textus Receptus and the Western text. Of course, there would be a difference in frequency between words such as "God" and "Lord" because some Greek manuscripts interchange these words. Though again, the most reliable manuscript evidence will generally support a precise word or sentence order. In most word or frequency comparisons between Greek texts, the differences would be few.
The LXX. For argument's sake, let's assume that all of the Septuagint copies used by Jesus and the inspired writers used the Tetragrammaton. Let's also assume that Jesus freely used the divine name. This does not alter the need for using the best manuscript evidence available to determine the actual word written in the Greek Scripture autographs. We are not so much interested in what the inspired writers read or spoke as we are in what they wrote under inspiration. There is no Christian Greek Scripture manuscript evidence indicating that the Tetragrammaton was used in the autographs. Finally, in using the Septuagint evidence to suggest what Christian copyists did in the Christian Scriptures, it is often overlooked that the example manuscripts from the Septuagint did survive. It then needs to be explained why Septuagint manuscripts from the same era using the Tetragrammaton survived while Christian Scripture manuscripts supposedly using the Tetragrammaton did not.
Harmony of Scripture. One principle of textual criticism recognizes that there must be agreement between various portions of Scripture. A variant that is discordant with other Scripture would not be favored over an alternate reading that is in agreement. It is appropriate to correctly apply that principle to objective textual information. It is quite another thing to attempt using that principle to justify manuscript alteration based on a particular interpretation of Scripture. Using this argument, it is often assumed that the Christian Scripture autographs of necessity used the Tetragrammaton because that preserves a certain theological position. The reader must be aware, however, that the absence of manuscript evidence for the Tetragrammaton in the autographs equally supports an opposite theological position. Therefore, neither side of this debate is justified in using a distorted "harmony of the Scriptures" argument to substantiate manuscript wording based on their unique theological perspective. The final judgment for the words used in the autographs must be manuscript information itself.
Intentional and unintentional omissions. I have generally portrayed [the Reviewer's] response as being one that supports an alternate reading of the Greek text from that of the most ancient Greek manuscripts. I have done this because I think emphasizing that portion of his response better defines the debate between us. However, in doing so, I have omitted answering some of the specific questions he raised. If you want to query any of these omissions further, please do so and I will try (time permitting) to give an adequate answer. By all means, send your questions or response to each of us on this email list. Please comment on what you will accept as the required standard for the wording of your English Bible. Will you insist that what you accept must have verifiable manuscript evidence, or is speculation without manuscript evidence sufficient for you?
Are there Scriptures used of Jehovah that apply to Jesus, and does that make them the same or equal?…Yes, there [are] certainly circumstances in the Bible where Jesus and Jehovah have scriptures applied to each other. This kind of adaptation is not uncommon, and dangerous if exegeted consistently by your average "evangelical Protestant."
Let us compare 2 Samuel 24:1 with 1 Chron 21:1
2 Sam reads, "And again the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah." ASV
1 Chron reads, "And Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel." ASV
Are we here to conclude, by the argument mentioned in [the author's] book, that Jehovah and Satan are the same person or equal?
In the book of Job we have the same situation ("and comforted him concerning all the evil that Jehovah had brought upon him" Job 42:11 ASV, when we know it was Satan).
There are many examples throughout Scripture where the pattern described by [the reviewer] is evident. Both Jehovah and Satan had identifiable roles in David's and Job's responses, and so on. Equally, there are examples of Hebrew Scripture verses that are applied to both Jehovah and men. None of these instances make Jehovah and Satan "the same person or equal" or mean that Jehovah and man are "the same…or equal." In each case we must consider the context of the passage in question and how the quotation is used in the Christian Scriptures. Simply citing random biblical examples as [the reviewer] has done above, does not establish the meaning for all quotations of Hebrew Scripture by the Christian Scripture writers. The passage from Isaiah 45:21-24 clearly limits these verses to a worship belonging only to Jehovah.
Is it not I, Jehovah, besides whom there is no other God…By my own self I have sworn…that to me every knee will bend down, every tongue will swear, saying, 'Surely in Jehovah there are full righteousness and strength.'
When these verses having exclusive application to Jehovah are applied to Kyrios in Romans 14:11 and specifically to Jesus in Philippians 2:10-11, we must deal with them accordingly. I must remind the reader that I was not talking about passages describing David or Job in Chapter 11 of the book The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures. I was talking about a specialized type of verse from a Hebrew Scripture context which identifies attributes and prerogatives of Jehovah God himself.
In concluding, I need to repeat myself for [the Reviewer's] sake. I regret not answering each comment in [the Reviewer's] second reply. However, we must return to the single and central priority of using textual evidence in choosing between the Tetragrammaton and the Greek word Kyrios. Does manuscript evidence exist for the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Scriptures? What evidence can you cite?
Comments from a highly respected Witness on our email copy list. "Your [theme] is difficult to ignore since, to us, it amounts to a kind of an attack on the Divine Name, never mind your kind and sympathetic comments about its proper place in the Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures."
In response, I believe a quotation from page 18 of our book The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures best answers his comment.
Using God's Name Today
In order to avoid misunderstanding, we need to clarify our position concerning the use of God's name today. On the one hand, we are examining the historical and textual occurrences of the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Greek Scriptures. We could never advocate either adding or removing words from Scripture because of personal or theological preferences. Therefore, our viewpoint must be that the occurrence of the Tetragrammaton within the Christian Scriptures today must reflect the exact usage by the original writers. If the Tetragrammaton was used by the original writers, it must not be removed. If it was not used by the original writers, it must not be added.
Notwithstanding the above statement, we most certainly feel that it is appropriate to use God's personal name today. It is the author's personal practice to do so.
We ask that the reader keep in mind that the subject of this book is limited to the historical and textual evidence for the Tetragrammaton within the Christian Greek Scriptures. Nonetheless, regarding the use of God's personal name in either public or private worship, we feel that it is entirely appropriate and pleasing to God to use it freely with the highest sense of his holiness.
Again, he comments, "And, I must say that in reviewing my few comments with you and the few comments that I have seen from [the Reviewer], I have been left speechless that for all your representations of being fair, kind, non-judgmental, you consistently dodge the academic and theological counter-arguments and draw the circle around one argument and exclude others. I mentioned that to you in the past as now that I find that thinking unfair and unscientific. I would feel that way even if I were not a Witness, in view of the other evidence. Your error is that you have defined the problem and have determined which evidence can be used to draw conclusions and which you will exclude never mind its efficacy. That makes it work for a predetermined view but it is patently not objective."
My answer is simply to remind this correspondent of the quotation from our book which says, "We ask that the reader keep in mind that the subject of this book is limited to the historical and textual evidence for the Tetragrammaton within the Christian Greek Scriptures."
In this response, I have attempted to briefly comment on the majority of these counter-arguments. At the risk of excessive redundancy, however, I must restate the premise of my book, and my personal understanding of that which constitutes the best guide for biblical content. For myself, I must limit what I accept as authoritative Scripture to the best available Greek textual representation of the autographs. I cannot accept an alteration of Scripture that is based on speculation and corroborative (though not conclusive) background evidence with no manuscript or historical verification. In the final analysis, both my view and the correspondent's view of that which either one of use will accept as authoritative is not objective. Subjectively, each of us has defined what we will personally accept as the final authority for the wording of Scripture. In my case, I have subjectively chosen the best verifiable Greek manuscripts. In the correspondent's case, he apparently has subjectively chosen a speculative explanation that the Tetragrammaton was used in the autographs.
Another brief exchange with the reviewer. [Quoting the Author]: However, to my knowledge, there is no indication in the patristics' writings that reference was ever made to the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Scriptures or to an ensuing debate among early congregations' because of its removal.
[Reviewer's] reply: And again, there was no debate among these concerning the removal of the Divine Name in the LXX either, even though the early LXX was considered "divinely inspired" (Letter of Aristeas; Philo, etc). The historical evidence conveys that the Church was more interested in blurring the distinction between the Father and the Son (When Jesus Became God, p. 67, Rubenstein). You have again ignored the quotes where "wholesale" changes were made "almost at a stroke." You have ignored the "intentional" changes, and that the scribes were more prone to omit than add. You have ignored that there were disputes, and this is evidence that the autographs no longer existed, in fact, according to Gregory J. Riley's River Of God, "a New Testament text does not begin to appear until late in the second century." P. 67
It is indeed interesting that there was no comment from the patristics regarding the "removal" of the divine name from the Septuagint. Frankly, the evidence is that they did not view it as removing the name but merely as a choice of expressing it in either Hebrew or Greek depending on the reader's need. Origin's Hexapla gives an outstanding example of the Tetragrammaton and Kyrios (as well as PIPI and KY) being used in the same document without ranking one or the other as being more appropriate. (See Appendix J in The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures.)
We have briefly commented on the "wholesale" and "intentional" changes with the statement that they certainly existed. However, to reiterate, the changes in this case are always known because there is also a base to compare them with. For example, it can be shown that the Western text added full quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures that were not in other manuscripts. This was certainly both wholesale and intentional. But we can identify these changes because we can compare them with more reliable manuscript evidence that did not contain the Hebrew Scripture quotations. Had these wholesale and intentional changes been made without a base for comparison, there would be no possibility of knowing what God communicated to men though his word. However, textual critics can show examples of both the changed manuscripts and those from which the change occurred. On the other hand, the argument defending the corruption from the Tetragrammaton to Kyrios is asking us to believe that the change was made with no traceable evidence of any kind that there was an earlier manuscript form other than Kyrios.
However, you cannot have selective corruption. Either the text we have today is generally free of error based on the work of textual criticism, or it is hopelessly garbled. But we do not have a text that is highly accurate for faith and life, but in the one instance of the removal of the Tetragrammaton is absolutely corrupted.
[Quoting the Author]: However, when considering both patristic writers' biases and anti-Semitic feelings among Gentiles during the second century C.E., there is insufficient evidence to justify altering Scripture on this information alone. We still maintain that only manuscript evidence can be used as the basis for establishing the Greek text.
[Reviewer's] reply: And your position HAS to ignore history. AS I have pointed out, via the quotes of others that the early scribes made numerous "corrections," and they were indeed careless. In fact, Pickering, whom you quoted, described the oldest Alexandrian texts as "polluted" and a "sewer." We have simply used reasoned eclecticism and the entire corpus of scripture to provide our target audience a better understanding of the text within the bounds of the lexical and semantic range of Kyrios, to better aid the student to distinguish between the ambiguous and tautological "Lord," while at the same time providing him with the Greek text in use.
([Author's] note: See the comments above in response to the corruption of the text.)
There is a dictum in textual criticism used by Kurt Aland, that the evidence must be weighed, not counted. You are counting them, we are weighing them.
Very possibly we need to give potential readers a brief explanation of the intent of Aland's dictum. For example, the Western text was an early textual family, yet it was not a highly reliable one. These manuscripts characteristically contained many additions and omissions as well as paraphrases rather than correct word-for-word copies. When evaluating a particular word in question, a textual critic may choose a word from a more reliable text family even though there are more numerous extant copies of the older Western text having an alternate wording. Thus, the textual critic has determined the merit (weight) of the text, rather than merely counting the number of texts using a given variant.
In truth, neither of us are either "counting" or "weighing." Rather, we have a philosophical difference in how we determine the wording of our English Bible. I insist that the English words in my Bible reflect the words of the best Greek manuscripts. You allow the words of your English Bible to come from some other source. (Though interestingly, I assume, we are in complete agreement that the English words must reflect the words of the best Greek manuscripts in all but the issue of the presumed Tetragrammaton.)
I am including the last interchange of messages between myself (the Author of The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures) and the Web Master [Reviewer] concerning my book. At very best, I have failed to adequately convey the depth of the Reviewer's comments and concerns. The above material primarily reflects my answers rather than his questions even though it is my response to his web site review. The exchange in the emails below will give the Reviewer the opportunity to "be heard," particularly as it relates to my use of the Western text as an illustration, and several other important issues.
I will not attempt to add a great deal of new material in the body of what has already been written. (My comments throughout the following emails are included because they were the messages to which he was replying.) The only new material I am adding is the link section verifying dates to the manuscripts mentioned. I will close by making these two comments:
First, the Reviewer does not realize how much my criticism of LORD in the English Tradition's "Old Testament" has already been circulated among Evangelical Protestants. In 1999, a mailing to 2,565 Protestant theologians included this issue in a format that would attract their attention. We recently corresponded with each of the major Bible publishers in the United States regarding this issue. I am also using other avenues to achieve this end which I understand to be highly effective within the Protestant Evangelical group. In 2003 a copy of a book DOWNLOADABLE RESEARCH LIBRARY was given to over 300 Bible school and theological seminary libraries. This publication (which included a CD with all our published books) included a strong appeal to discontinue the use of LORD in our Old Testaments. (See a copy of LORD and Jehovah in the OPEN LETTER TO NON-JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES on this site.) In addition, the books being translated around the world make a point of this issue to more than just ones of Jehovah's Witnesses. (One of the sad results of the error of LORD in the English Old Testament is the influence it had on Bible translation worldwide.) (Note: the statistics in this paragraph have been updated as of 11/03.)
Second, I would encourage you, as ones of Jehovah's Witnesses, to continue to remind us within Christendom of the importance of the Divine Name and its rightful place in our Old Testament. It is a message that we must continue to hear. May I suggest, however, that it be a message that springs from a deep reverential love and awe of Jehovah God expressed with a loving concern for those in need of change? It will produce less than just no result if it is perceived as a strident message.
Both email messages below are reproduced in their entirety without editing. The only exception is the removal of personal names. A different font is used to distinguish the Reviewer's comments from his quotation of my comments.
[Reviewer], [Author] and the others who have been reading with us,
I have finally finished with my side of the response. This has been a good exercise for me in understanding your viewpoint. Some things have been clarified for me by your insistence that I respond to certain challenges. I am certain that I have a greater understanding for your viewpoint than when I was writing the book. I think I am beginning to understand why these questions are important to you and why you want them answered. On the other hand, there is also a reason why I did not initially feel the urgency to tackle them.
Very simply, we are coming at this Tetragrammaton issue from entirely different perspectives. I will always feel that the only legitimate basis for wording in Scripture is found in the best reconstruction of the Greek (or Hebrew) text. That is the viewpoint that leads me to so strongly object to my own tradition's use of LORD in the Old Testament. The text—for me—must be significantly more important that either an English Bible tradition or a current Protestant theology.
As it relates to the translated biblical text, a Jehovah's Witness would probably hold that same view for most of his biblical literature. However, regarding the issue of the Tetragrammaton, that same Witness must place other information on a higher level than textual evidence. I can only surmise at this point, but it would seem to me that the topic of the Tetragrammaton is never approached among Witnesses as primarily a textual or manuscript issue. It is probably always introduced with the topics reflected in the questions [the Reviewer] asked of me. Consequently, your challenge of my position will be from your viewpoint of the construct of the Tetragrammaton issue. (And of course, my books were written from the point of view of my construct of the preeminence of the best manuscript evidence.) Your construct is simply that all of these corroborative events and issues are the necessary building blocks on which the entire Tetragrammaton "fact" is built. This is undoubtedly the reason that [the Author of an Italian] book (and other similar books) use the logic pattern that they do. They begin and end with the corroborative events; they do not deal with manuscript information. (By the way, [the Italian Author] has produced a very attractive and apparently well documented book. I am greatly impressed by the job he did in especially the Appendix information.)
I have enjoyed this interaction with you. It has been informative and enlightening for me. I have come to appreciate each of you as individuals. I would like to know each of you better.
Keep in touch. I pray for each of you often.
(Signed) The Author of The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures
It seems we are going around in circles, but there are a few issues I would like to address:[Quoting the Author]: Reasoned eclecticism. [The Reviewer] presents two arguments with a similar foundation. The first argument is that "the Divine Name falls within the semantic, lexical and dictionary range of Kyrios." However, if that argument can be used to justify Jehovah in the Christian Scriptures, it can at least be turned inside out to argue that the Septuagint versions of Jesus' day that used Kyrios were equally within the semantic, lexical and dictionary range of the same word. This is certainly a true statement when used judiciously by the translator, but it seems to have more peril for [the Reviewer] than it does for us.
Reply: Can you name a LXX manuscript in Jesus day that did NOT use the Divine Name? I can give you ones that did:
and there are 4 others Aquila's (2), Symmachus, Ambrosian (of a later date).
Look at the New World Translation Appendix 1c for confirmation of the dates listed in the manuscripts above.
You can then see a first century B.C.E. manuscript which uses Kyrios.
Look through the Manuscript Photo Album for other Septuagint copies using the Tetragrammaton.
Finally, examine the Ambrosiana O 39 Sup. manuscript for a display of both the Tetragrammaton and the Greek letters PIPI in Origin's Hexapla. And, as we know, Aquila's translation was done in the second century C.E. so it was not used by the early Christians. Aquila was antagonistic to Christianity when he completed his translation.
|LXXP.Fouad Inv.266||first century B.C.E.||Square Hebrew characters|
|LXXVTS 10a||end of the first century C.E.||Ancient Hebrew characters|
|LXXIEJ 12||end of the first century C.E.||Ancient Hebrew characters|
|LXXVTS 10b||middle of the first century C.E.||Ancient Hebrew characters|
|4Q LXXLevb||first century B.C.E||Greek letters IAO|
|LXXP.Oxy.VII.1007||third century C.E.||Abbreviated double Yohdh|
|SymP.Vindob.G.39777(Symmachus)||third or fourth century C.E.||Archaic Hebrew characters|
|Ambrosian 0 39||ninth century C.E.||From Origin's Hexapla|
The reason that the Hebrew versions used the Name is that they did not display the inhibitions regarding the Name that others would, and that in the Hebrew, YHWH is an equivalent to Lord. For instance, missionary translations have often used the Divine Name in the NT to aid the reader in determining which "Lord" was meant.* You cannot argue that it is an ambiguous term. It is not a name or an exclusive title. The NWT has helped its target audience by supplying them with a determining factor enabling the student thru this ambiguity, at the same time, supplying said student with the Westcott and Hort Greek text, and if he wishes, the Griesbach text. The student is also helped by the many footnotes reminding the student that KYRIOS is in the Greek text, not YHWH. The student is also helped to learn that YHWH falls within the lexical range of "Lord" as supplied by the quotes I have given you already.
Previous exchange: There is a dictum in textual criticism used by Kurt Aland, that the evidence must be weighed, not counted.
You are counting them, we are weighing them.
[Author]: Very possibly we need to give potential readers a brief explanation of the intent of Aland's dictum. For example, the Western text was an early textual family, yet it was not a highly reliable one. These manuscripts characteristically contained many additions and omissions as well as paraphrases rather than correct word-for-word copies. When evaluating a particular word in question, a textual critic may choose a word from a more reliable text family even though there are more numerous extant copies of the older Western text having an alternate wording. Thus, the textual critic has determined the merit (weight) of the text, rather than merely counting the number of texts using a given variant.
Reply: I am non-plussed as to why you keep bringing up the Western text, when the issue seems to me to be the older Alexandrian texts. The Western text-type is highly represented by the Old Latin versions, and few Greek. There is no need to discuss this text until we have exhausted the Alexandrian text regarding the issues. The main thrust of the original dictum actually concerned itself with the fragmentary evidence considering the oldest texts, as opposed to the majority of late ones. I am within my rights to use it for my own purposes.
Weighing the evidence can also have a theological bend, which is exactly the reason for your insistence in this matter. Let us look at your persistence:
[Author]: Over 50,000 copies of our four books have already been distributed around the English-speaking world in our first three years of publication. We expect as many more to be distributed in the following two years. In addition, translations of key books have either been completed or are in progress in important languages in which the New World Translation has been published. Of course, our web site is freely accessible worldwide to Witnesses pursuing this topic.
Also, I have freely stated my objection to the English Bible tradition's use of LORD in their "Old Testament" to replace the Divine Name. However, establishing ratios of 2,828 / 237 does not determine translation accuracy. Most English Bibles are undeniably in error in this regard. They must change and accurately represent the Hebrew and Greek texts from which they are translated. That accurate representation must include the divine name 2,828 times in the "Old Testament." I hold Protestant Bible publishers to that standard in my writing. However, accurate representation of the inspired text must also faithfully translate the word used in the best manuscript evidence in each of the 237 Christian Scripture references in question.
Reply: Establishing ratios of "6828/237" actually speaks volumes, whether you want to disregard the facts in this matter or not. Did you send out 50,000 letters to churches across the country who use the KJV, NKJV, NRSV, NAB, NASB etc? The answer is a resounding NO!!! Oh sure, you make noise about how wrong your own brethren are in this matter, but actions speak louder than words, and simply posting an open letter on a website is a far cry from going to the extreme of mailing out 50,000 copies of your book. This demand to be heard underlies a misguided arrogance that I think is truer to the heart of the issue.
The truth of the matter is entirely theological, and can be summed up in three words that sum up the belief of the Protestant Evangelical: "Jesus is Jehovah!"
The issue was always theological, and as we are simply repeating each other anyways, I will repeat Carsten Thiede with another example of a "wholesale" change:
"Suddenly, however, all of this changed. Almost at a stroke, at the beginning of the second phase of transmission, the phase of the codex. 'holy names' were being abbreviated in Christian papyri....this was also the period when Jews and Christians were becoming estranged, beginning with the killing of St. James...This was the moment for the scribes to make a statement - a statement of faith. It was no longer necessary to show diplomatic or missionary consideration for Jewish sensitivities. Christian documents could begin to assert unequivocally the divinity of Jesus. It was a final step, from oral preaching via the more cautious scroll documents to the boldly unambiguous handwritten signs in the oldest codex and its successors: Jesus Christ is Lord and God." p. 143, The Jesus Papyrus.
You again, seem to come back to: "In spite of the voluminous writings of the patristics, there are no descriptions of such a heresy."
Reply: Again, if the ancient Latin versions of the OT can remove the name without dispute or mention, as is also the case with the LXX, then why should an apostasized Church, deeply entrenched in the Platonic philosophy of the day (Plato's God was the "Nameless *One*"), with a leadership, as we have seen, hostile to the name, why would they really care. We have an illiterate hoi polloi without an NT text until the end of the 2nd century, and, as we have seen above in Thiede's statement, a scribe with a theological statement to make. "The earlier they [accretions] were inserted, the more difficult it is to detect them. And of course, beyond a certain point, which occurs early in the second century, there is no longer any possibility of cleaning up the text." A History of Christianity by Paul Johnson, p. 27 He further points out, "even if substantial first-century fragments were discovered, it is feared they would enlarge, rather than reduce, the areas of uncertainty." P. 26
But in conclusion, all of this is besides the point. We know that, taken the Bible as a whole, YHWH is more than an acceptable form of Kyrios or Theos where it applies to the Father, it is the only name attached to O PATHR (Is 64:8), a name to last forever (Ex 3:14, 15).
Micah 4:1,5, "But in the latter days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow unto it.... For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god; and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever." ASV
I do believe that Jehovah's name is finally being elevated in these latter days, and I do not believe it is being done by any Protestant Evangelicals. I see no reason for you to reply, unless you have something new to add, and I do not see that being the case, as it has not been, thus far.