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The complete book: The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures
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Apparatus, critical: See Textual Apparatus.
B.C.E.: Before common era. See C.E.
Blasphemy: To speak lightly or carelessly of God. An offense punishable in the time of the Hebrew Scriptures by stoning (Lev. 24:10-16). Pronunciation of the divine name (יהוה) was, during certain periods of Jewish history, considered blasphemy.
C.E: Common Era. The dating system based on the Gregorian calendar wherein year 1 follows the traditional birth of Christ.
Canon: The writings which are accepted as being inspired of God. In reality, the accepted canon of Scripture is the acknowledgment by men of the process of inspiration which has already been acted out by God. Jehovah's Witnesses (and many in Christendom) recognize the 66 books of the Bible as the canon.
Christendom: As used in this book, all organized religions outside the auspices of the Jehovah's Witness organization which claim allegiance to Jesus Christ.
Church fathers: See Patristics.
Circumlocution: Evasion in speech of a word which should not be pronounced; the pronounceable word itself. In Hebrew culture, the ineffable (unpronounceable) name of God was often replaced with the circumlocution Adonai.
Codex: A book form of ancient manuscripts. By the second or third century of the Christian era, documents were bound with thongs forming volumes, rather than being rolled in the form of scrolls. The Greek Scriptures were originally written and circulated as scrolls. Soon after, however, they were re-copied and bound in codex form. The codex could contain more written material than the scroll. The majority of the early manuscript copies available today are codices.
Cognate: The stem or root from which descendant words with a common meaning are derived. As illustrated earlier in this book, sit, sat, and, to be seated, are cognates of the infinitive verb to sit.
Consonant: A speech sound characterized by constriction or closure at one or more points in the breath channel. In contrast, a vowel is an unrestricted sound. In some ancient languages (Hebrew, for example) only the consonant sounds had corresponding written characters (letters). Thus, the alphabet used by the Hebrew Scripture writers consisted only of consonant sound symbols and did not record vowel sounds.
Divine name: The personal name of God as represented by the Tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew letters יהוה). The divine name is transliterated as YHWH, and is often written as Jehovah or Yahweh.
Embed: As used in this book, the placement without alteration of a foreign language word into the body of a text of another language. Specifically, it describes the placement of the Tetragrammaton written in Hebrew characters within a Greek manuscript.
Extant: As used of ancient manuscripts, a preserved or existing manuscript.
Gloss: A brief explanation of a difficult word or phrase in the margin of an ancient manuscript. The gloss may be the work of either the original copyist or a later scribe, but it was not the work of the inspired author himself.
Gnostic Gospels: Writings of the Gnostics. (See Gnosticism.)
Gnosticism: A widely held philosophy during the time of the early church. The name is derived from the Greek word gnosis meaning knowledge. Though religiously independent of Judeo-Christian thought, it often incorporated certain biblical teachings and raised its influence among early Christians. It is classified as a mystery religion because it laid emphasis on secret or esoteric revelations.
Greek Christian Scriptures: The 27 books of the Bible from Matthew through Revelation. Also known as the New Testament.
Hebrew Scriptures: The 39 books of the Bible from Genesis through Malachi. The Septuagint (which see) is properly called the Hebrew Scriptures. Also known as the Old Testament.
Inerrant (Inerrancy): In reference to the Scriptures, the quality of the original written documents which were free from error.
Inspiration: A prerogative of God whereby he caused human writers to express his will and his intended words through their writings. Specifically, the Bible is held by Jehovah's Witnesses and many in Christendom to be the inspired revelation of God to man.
Inspired: In reference to the Scriptures, their possession of the quality of inspiration. (See Inspiration.)
Interlinear text: A text wherein an exact word-by-word translation is juxtaposed below the original foreign language text. For our consideration in this book, a Greek Scripture interlinear text has the Greek text as written by the inspired authors with a literal English translation for each word.
Jehovah: An English pronunciation of the divine name. Historically, the name Jehovah is derived from the consonants of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) in combination with the vowels of Adonai. (See Divine name.)
Kyrios (Kurios): The English transliteration of the Greek word Κύριος. The word is generally translated as Lord in reference to Jesus Christ. It conveys the meaning of Master when used as a proper noun.
Lectionary: An ancient Scripture manuscript which was arranged according to calendar order for public or private reading. Entire Scripture portions are included in lectionaries, though they consist of selected biblical passages for reading on given days rather than in their traditional biblical form. Lectionaries are valuable in the work of textual criticism (which see) because they reproduce Scripture portions verbatim.
Manuscript: An ancient handwritten literary document. Biblical scholars study Greek manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures in order to determine the actual words used by the inspired authors. The oldest extant Christian Scripture manuscripts are from the second century. Some manuscripts as late as the seventeen century may also be useful. An early version (which see) is also identified as a manuscript.
Masoretes (Masorah): The Jewish tradition (Masorah) which defined and preserved the pronunciation of the Hebrew Scriptures during public reading. The original Hebrew Scriptures were written without indicating vowel sounds; accepted vowel pronunciation was taught to a young Jewish boy through rote memory and practice in the formal schools. (See Consonants.) The Masoretes (a Jewish sect which advocated traditional pronunciation of the Hebrew Scriptures), worked in the period of time between the sixth and eleventh centuries C.E. Our interest in the Masoretes concerns their work in adding vowel points to the Hebrew Scriptures. (See Vowel points.)
Minuscule: A Greek script of smaller letters developed about the beginning of the ninth century especially for the production of books. Minuscule consisted of joined letters in a cursive or running hand. Most extant Greek Scripture manuscripts available today are Minuscules. (See Uncial.)
New Testament: The 27 books of the Bible from Matthew through Revelation. (See Christian Greek Scriptures.)
Nomina Sacra: From the Latin for Sacred Name, used for a certain class of surrogates (which see) indicating sacral importance. Some scholars have argued that the entries k-"- (for Lord) and q-"- (for God) do not represent mere contractions or abbreviations, but rather that they were used to identify specific names of great importance in Scripture. The term Nomina Sacra is not used by these scholars as a synonym for divine name.
Old Testament: The 39 books of the Bible from Genesis through Malachi. The Septuagint (which see) is properly called the Hebrew Scriptures. (See Hebrew Scriptures.)
Palimpsest: A velum (animal skin) document which was scrapped to remove the original writing and re-used for a later document. Due to the scarcity and cost of writing materials, quality vellums were often erased so that the skins could be used again. In most palimpsests, it is the original document which is of greatest importance. The first writing can often be seen with ultra-violet light or special photography techniques.
Patristics: In a general sense, the leaders of the Christian congregations (church) in the first five centuries. The term more specifically identifies the leaders who left written material, irrespective of their theological persuasion. The significance today of the patristics is their written documents which give insight into the activities of the early Christian congregation period. Scripture was often quoted in their writings. Therefore, they become a source of verification for the wording of the Christian Greek- and Hebrew Scriptures. These writers are usually identified as the church fathers in general religious writing.
Papyrus (Papyri): A reed paper produced in Egypt and exported to much of the known world during the period of the inspired Christian writers. Undoubtedly, the Greek Scriptures were originally written on this material. The manuscripts written on this material are called Papyri.
Recension: A critical revision of a text. A biblical manuscript recension is the result of deliberate critical work by an early (and generally unknown) editor to correct presumed errors in the text. In regard to biblical manuscripts, the term recension is often used to mean a particular family of manuscripts; one may refer to the Alexandrian recension.
Recto: From the Latin rectus meaning "right." The right, or front, side of a leaf in reference to an ancient manuscript. The side on which the papyrus run horizontally. Because of the folding system in codices, the text on the back (recto) sometimes preceded that on the front (verso).
Scribe: A copyist who reproduced the Scriptures by hand. In the early Christian congregation era, many copies were probably done privately. In later centuries (beginning with Constantine), copies were often made in scriptoriums, where the text was read phrase-by-phrase while a group of scribes (often educated slaves) copied as they listened.
Septuagint: A Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. It was completed approximately 280 B.C.E., and was the Scripture predominantly used in the early Christian congregation. It is often identified by the Roman numeral "LXX" (70). The term Septuagint is often-though imprecisely-used to identify any of a number of unique Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Surrogate: Common words often abbreviated in ancient (hand written) documents in order to save writing effort and manuscript material. These abbreviations are known as surrogates. A line was usually drawn over the surrogate to mark it as such. Examples of surrogates are k-"- (from Κύριος for Lord) and q-"- from (θεός for God). (See Nomina Sacra.)
Tetragrammaton (or Tetragram): The divine name written in four Hebrew letters as יהוה. The word Tetragram comes from the Greek words tetra, (tetrav ) meaning four, and gramma, (gravmma) meaning letters. Thus, Tetragram means four letters. (See Divine name.)
Textual Apparatus: Citations for the Greek Scripture text which establish probability. In certain instances, a given passage will have alternate wording possibilities from assorted ancient manuscripts. The Textual Apparatus will cite alternate wordings as an aid to the translator in selecting the most probable word(s) used by the original writer.
Textual criticism: The study of copies of any written work of which the original is unknown, with the purpose of ascertaining the original text. For our purposes, textual criticism is the art which brings us the actual wording of the inspired writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
Theos: The Greek word θεός translated into English as God.
Translate: The process of reducing (written) communication in the language of origin to (written) communication which conveys the same message to a receiving language. Notice that by definition, translation does not preserve word order, but rather communication sense.
Transliterate: The process of transcribing the phonetic sounds of one language into a written (or pronounceable) word in the receiving language. The word Christ is a frequently encountered example. The Greek word cristo;" (christos) is transliterated into the English word Christ.
Uncial: The formal Greek penmanship style used during the time of the early Christian congregation. As against the cursive (or running hand) used for non-literary documents, uncial orthography was used for literary compositions. It consisted of individually formed upper-case letters. The written document had no spacing between words. Most Greek Scripture manuscripts written before the tenth century use uncial letters. (See Minuscule.)
Variant: An alternate reading which differs from the common wording within a majority of Greek manuscripts for a given passage. Generally, the majority of extant Greek manuscripts will favor one reading (or word) whereas a smaller number will favor a second. In this case, the second reading is called a variant.
Version: A synonym for a translation when referring to a Scripture portion.
Verso: From the Latin vertere meaning "to turn." The back side of a manuscript leaf where the fibers run vertically. (See Recto.)
Vowel point: A vowel marker added to written Hebrew consonants by the Masoretes. (See Masoretes and Consonants.)
Vowel: (See Consonant.)
Yahweh: A representation of the personal name of God derived from the four Hebrew letters יהוה (YHWH). When incorporating the vowels from Adonai, this form of the divine name is written in English as JEHOVAH.
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