Use of the Name in the Christian Greek Scriptures

From Aid to Bible Understanding, pages 886-7, ©Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1971.

    In view of this evidence [of the use of the personal name of God], it seems most unusual to find that the extant manuscript copies of the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures do not contain the divine name in its full form.  The name therefore is also absent from most translation of the so-called "New Testament."  Yet the name does appear in these sources in its abbreviated form at Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6, in the expression "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah" (AV, Dy, JB, AS, RS).  The call there recorded as spoken by spirit sons of God to "Praise Jah, you people!" (NW) makes clear that the divine name was not obsolete; it was as vital and pertinent as it had been in the pre-Christian period.  Why, then, the absence of its full form from the Christian Greek Scriptures?

    The argument long presented was that the inspired writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures made their quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures on the basis of the Septuagint, and that, since this version substituted Kyrios or Theos for the Tetragrammaton, therefore these writers did not use the name Jehovah.  As has been shown, this argument is no longer valid.  Commenting on the fact that the oldest fragments of the Septuagint translation do contain the divine name in its Hebrew form, Dr. Kahle (previously quoted) says: "We now know that the Greek Bible text [the Septuagint] as far as it was written by Jews for Jews did not translate the Divine name by kyrios, but the Tetragrammaton written with Hebrew or Greek letters was retained in such MSS [manuscripts].  It was the Christians who replaced the Tetragrammaton by kyrios, when the divine name written in Hebrew letters was not understood any more."  (The Cairo Geniza, pp.222, 224)  When did this change in the Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures take place?

    It evidently took place in the centuries following the death of Jesus and his apostles.  In Aquila's Greek version, dating from about the year 128 C.E., the Tetragrammaton still appeared in Hebrew characters.  Around 245 C.E., the noted scholar Origen produced his Hexapla, a six-column reproduction of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures,  (1) in their original Hebrew and Aramaic, accompanied by (2) a transliteration into Greek, and by the Greek versions of (3) Aquila, (4) Symmachus, (5) the Septuagint, and (6) Theodotion.  On the evidence of the fragmentary copies now known, Professor W. G. Waddell says: "In Origen's Hexapla . . . the Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and LXX [Septuagint] all represented JHWH by ΠΙΠΙ in the second column of the Hexapla the Tetragrammaton was written in Hebrew characters (cf. the Ambrosian palimpsest, edited by G. Mercati, 1896)." (The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. XLV, July-October, 1944, pp. 158, 159)  Others believe the original text of Origen's Hexapla used Hebrew characters for the Tetragrammaton in all its columns.  Origen himself stated that "in the most faithful manuscripts THE NAME is written in Hebrew characters, that is, not in modern, but in archaic Hebrew."

    As late as the fourth century, Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate, says in the Prologus Galeatus prefacing the books of Samuel and Malachi: "We find the four-lettered name of God (i.e., יהוה) in certain Greek volumes even to this day expressed in the ancient letters."  In a letter written at Rome, 384 C.E., Jerome relates that, when coming upon these Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) in copies of the Septuagint, "certain ignorant ones, because of the similarity of the characters . . . were accustomed to pronounce PiPi [mistaking them for the Greek characters ΠΙΠΙ]."

    The so-called "Christians," then, who "replaced the Tetragrammaton by Kyrios" in the Septuagint copies, were not the early disciples of Jesus. They were persons of later centuries, when the foretold apostasy was well developed and had corrupted the purity of Christian teachings.—2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 4:1.