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The complete book: The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures
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    There are numerous questions which remain unanswered because they are outside the historical and textual evidence we used for our study of the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Yet one question must be considered, if only briefly.

    If the Tetragrammaton is not in the Christian Greek Scriptures, has God's name been forgotten?

God's name is not esoteric

    God's name is not obscure in its meaning, nor limited to a select few. When God gave his name to Moses in Exodus 3:14 15, we read:

    In all probability, God used a common verb for his name.[1] The word is the first person singular form of the verb to be. God used the verb in the imperfect tense, implying that the action of the verb is continuous; I AM [BEING], or I SHALL PROVE TO BE.

[1] Not all scholars agree. The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, (p. 210) says, "Therefore we may well hold that YHWH does not come from the verb hawa [hw:h;] which is cited in the first person 'ehyeh "I will be," but is an old word of unknown origin which sounded something like what the verb hawa sounded in Moses' day. In this case we do not know what the pronunciation was; we can only speculate." However, our example is in agreement with the New World Translation Reference Edition (1984, p. 1561) which states, "The divine name is a verb, the causative form, the imperfect state, of the Hebrew verb hwh (ha-wah', "to become")."

A striking omission

    Why did God choose to convey his name through a language without vowel markings? The absence of vowel identification in written Hebrew almost certainly assured that the pronunciation (though not the accuracy of the written information) would be lost. God could have provided a written language vehicle in order to preserve pronunciation had it been his purpose!

    Does God's choice of a (presumably) common verb for his name, and his choice of a language vehicle with no written vowel markings tell us something? Is it possible that, to God himself, the importance of his name is not to be found in its exact spelling or pronunciation, but in the meaning and reverence which it commands?

God's name in the Christian Greek Scriptures

    After a careful evaluation of the best manuscript evidence, we must now conclude that, in fact, God did not introduce יהוה into the Christian Greek Scriptures. Rather, just as he had done in Moses' day, he again used a common word to convey his name and his identity. He chose the everyday Greek word Kyrios. For the Greek speakers of the day, this word could be used to describe a despised slave master. It could also serve as a polite form of address. To the devout Jews who knew the Septuagint, it was used to identify Jehovah himself!

    Is God's personal name found in the Christian Greek Scriptures? It most certainly is! The Messianic (Christian) Jews of the first century understood Kyrios in the early pages of the Gospel of Matthew and Luke to be referring to Jehovah God. These same Jews read Romans, Hebrews, or the other epistles wherein the writer quoted Hebrew Scriptures and also understood Kyrios to be a reference to Jehovah. But by God's own design, these Jews who acknowledged Jesus to be the promised Messiah, also understood the complete identification of Jesus in the word Kyrios. God's name in the Christian Greek Scriptures was no longer restricted to its previous form.

    Readers and hearers of the original inspired Christian writings understood the word Kyrios to be an ordinary term used in everyday language. It was a common form of address-and sometimes, of derision. As they heard the word read in the Greek Scriptures, they allowed the context to define its meaning.

    From their early familiarity with the Septuagint, Gentile and Messianic Jews alike understood that Kyrios could also identify Jehovah God. Thus, with the full reverence due their Sovereign God, Messianic Jews could understand Kyrios to mean יהוה of their Hebrew Scriptures. At the same time, the Gentile believers could understand Kyrios to be Theos (θεός), the Almighty God of the Septuagint.

    The early Christian Jews and Gentiles alike, however, understood that Kyrios was also a title of Jesus who was unmistakably identified with יהוה, the God of heaven.

    The Apostle Paul—the most prominent Messianic Jew in all of history—could identify both Jesus and יהוה with the inclusive title Kyrios when he wrote to the Hebrew Christians. Quoting Psalm 118:6, which used the divine name (יהוה), he said,

    So that we may be of good courage and say: Kyrios (Κύριος) [Jehovah-NWT] is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6).

    Yet, in the same chapter, Paul said of Jesus at Hebrews 13:20:

    Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Kyrios (kuvrion) [Lord-NWT] Jesus, equip YOU with every good thing to do his will.

    The Gospel writer Luke used the same word to identify both Jesus as Lord and the God of the Septuagint. Addressing the Gentile official Theophilus, he wrote at Luke 1:76-77 while quoting the Septuagint form of Malachi 3:1:

    But as for you, young child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go in advance before Kyrios (kuvriou) [Jehovah-NWT] to make his ways ready, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins.

    Yet, throughout his Gospel, Luke used the same Greek word to identify Jesus as Lord to this Greek-speaking nobleman. Immediately following the verses quoted from Malachi, Luke wrote at Luke 2:10-11:

    But the angel said to them: "Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to YOU good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to YOU today a Savior, who is Christ the Kyrios (Κύριος) [Lord-NWT] in David's city.

    So, also, each of the Christian Greek Scripture writers used Kyrios most frequently as a title for Jesus. Yet, they also identified Jesus with God the Almighty by using the same word.

    Does God have a name in the Christian Scriptures?

    The purpose of this brief epilogue is to suggest a tentative answer to the necessary question, "Does God have a name in the Christian Greek Scriptures if יהוה was not used in the original Greek manuscripts?"

    How did the early Gentile Christians address the Sovereign God? If the Tetragrammaton was not used by the inspired Christian writers—as we have seen that it surely was not—how was God known?

    The earliest Greek manuscripts indicate to us that the original writers, under inspiration, identified him as Kyrios to the Gentile world![2]

[2] This in no way mitigates against use of the divine name. It does, however, recognize the difference between the Hebrew language Tetragrammaton (יהוה) and a different Greek word used in the Christian Scriptures.

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