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Appendix J: Origen's Hexapla

This appendix uses a large number of Greek and Hebrew fonts which default to Latin text. Graphics were used where possible. A true reproduction of the Greek and Hebrew fonts is available on the PDF version. See Appendix J: Origen's Hexapla, beginning on page 180.

    Origen's Hexapla—which was his study of the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures—is not a part of the textual literature used per se in studying the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Nonetheless, because the Watch Tower Society uses the Hexapla as evidence for the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Greek Scriptures, we have included this evaluation in the appendix.

    Because of the comprehensive nature of the Hexapla, Origen's work gives us valuable information regarding the state of the Septuagint and related textual problems in the first two centuries C.E. From this study we can learn much about the use of the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Scriptures.

The man and the Hexapla

    Origen was among the most prominent of the early patristics. He was probably born in Alexandria about 182 C.E., and died in Caesarea not later than 251 C.E.

    As a young man, he was given the best scholarly education possible through the efforts of his father. In 202 C.E. his father was martyred for his Christian faith—an end Origen himself ideally wished to pursue by accompanying his father. He was spared, however, through his mother's intervention. He spent his early life in Alexandria as an impoverished but highly respected teacher of the Scriptures. He then moved to Palestine where he spent much of the remaining years of his life in teaching and producing voluminous writings. (He is credited with over 6,000 written editions, each consisting of a completed scroll.)

    Throughout his lifetime, Origen did extensive work on the Septuagint, producing several variations of a similar study. The most complete, however, was the Hexapla in which he compared the Septuagint with three parallel Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures. The work was organized in six columns.[1] (The name Hexapla is derived from hex- meaning six.) The columns were arranged as follows: In the first column (headed The Hebrew), Origen wrote the verse in Hebrew characters as it appeared in the Hebrew Scriptures. This column was written from right to left. In a second column (headed "ÔEbr," with the full heading translated as The Hebrew [in] Greek Letters), the Hebrew words were transliterated with Greek letters. The second column has no meaning as written Greek, but the letters could be read to reproduce the Hebrew pronunciation of the words. (Since written Hebrew during Origen's day had no vowel markings, only a fluent speaker of Hebrew could read the characters with proper pronunciation. Thus, the Greek transliteration column provided the vowel pronunciation for a Gentile reading the Hebrew characters.) This column read from left to right as Greek is normally written. In the remaining four columns, Origen reproduced four Greek versions of the Hebrew Scriptures. The first version was by Aquila in the column headed "ÔA." The second was a translation by Symmachus in the column headed "S." The third was the Septuagint in the column headed "OV." The fourth column contained a version by Theodotion in the column headed "Q." A final column was occasionally used for variants or notations concerning any one of the versions, though it is not counted as a true column. Figure 11 is a typeset reproduction of the actual arrangement of the original Hexapla. Note that each row represents a word-by-word transcription of the entire Hebrew Scripture text. The original Hexapla is thought to have consisted of nearly fifty volumes, with each volume in the form of a scroll equivalent in length to a Gospel or the book of Acts.

[1] See Aid to Bible Understanding, page 386.

    Each of the three supplementary versions represented a unique translation style. Aquila's translation, made in the first half of the second century C.E, was extremely literal. Symmachus' translation, made in the later second century C.E., was more free. Theodotion's work, also made in the second century C.E., was a free revision of the Septuagint.

    The Hexapla was the crowning work of Origen's life, yet nothing is known of its destruction. In all likelihood, the original was the only complete copy ever made. From the writings of Eusebius[2] and others, we know that the original was housed in a library at Caesarea for many years, where it was probably destroyed in 653 C.E. when Caesarea was burned by the Saracens (Arabs).

[2] Eusebius of Caesarea—generally referred to simply as Eusebius—made an immense contribution to our understanding of the early congregations, its personalities, its disputes, and its writings. He was born sometime between 275 and 280 C.E. and died circa 339. In his own right, he was not an original thinker, but he became a prodigious and exacting copier and recorder of others' works. Much of what is known of certain early writings has been preserved only through the copies of Eusebius. Eusebius was particularly interested in Origen and the textual problems of the Septuagint (as found in the Hexapla), and was thus responsible for much of the preservation of the work which exists today.

    Had the Hexapla survived, its value in the field of Hebrew Scripture textual criticism would have been enormous. Origen was an exacting student and had extensively researched the transmission of the Hebrew text. We must remember, however, that the focus of his attention was not the Hebrew text per se. His primary concern was an accurate reconstruction of the text of the Septuagint. His purpose was to give the Greek-speaking world of his day a Hebrew Scripture version of the greatest fidelity.

Figure 11. The column arrangement of Origen's Hexapla from Psalm 25:6 and 7.

The reconstructed Hexapla

    The original Hexapla has been entirely lost. Furthermore, because it was apparently never reproduced in its entirety while it was still housed in the library at Caesarea, copies of complete portions do not exist today. However, because the Hexapla was so widely quoted by others before its destruction, substantial—though fragmentary—portions can be found scattered throughout the writings of the early patristics. Fortunately, a copy of the corrected Septuagint column which was made by Eusebius and Pamphilus has survived.[3]

[3] For a complete (though dated) discussion of both Origen and the Hexapla, see these two headings in McClintock & Strong's Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.

    Because the Hexapla offers such important insights into the Septuagint and other Hebrew Scripture literature in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, attempts have been made to reconstruct the work by searching the writings of the early patristics for citations of the Hexapla.

    The most complete reconstruction of the Hexapla available today is contained in a volume entitled Origenis Hexaplorum published with Latin historical and textual comments by Fridericus Field. It was first published by Field in 1867-74. The edition available for our study was republished in 1964 by Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, from Hildesheim, Germany. The reconstructed material is so extensive that this particular edition is bound in two volumes with each 81/2 by 11 inch page divided into two columns. Just the text and critical apparatus (apart from the introductory commentary and historical notes by the editor), contains 806 pages in Volume I and 1,095 pages in Volume II.

    In contrast to the original six columns used by Origen, Field grouped all entries for a given word or phrase into a single paragraph with each entry identified by Origen's original column headings. The complete entry for Malachi 2:13 as shown in the Origenis Hexaplorum is reproduced in Figure 12. All the Hebrew and Greek entries are reproductions of the work of Origen himself. The Latin explanations in either the main entry or the notes are the work of the modern editor of this volume. The notes in Greek or Syrian are presumably the textual apparatus which identifies the editor's sources of textual information.

Figure 12. The complete entry for Malachi 2:13 reproduced from a reconstruction of Origen's Hexapla.
Origen's entries יהוה, Κύριος, and PIPI are circled. His headings are octagonally boxed.

    A comment should be made regarding the incomplete nature of the Hexapla and its effect on a study of the Tetragrammaton. By carefully examining Figure 12, the reader will notice that even though verse 13 is complete, there is no entry for verse 14. Verse 14 has been entirely lost, and the entry for verse 15 includes only a portion of the verse. The last two verses of Malachi 2 (verses 16 and 17) are also lost. Chapter 4 has only single Hebrew word entries for verses 1, 3, and 5. Two word entries have survived for verse 2. Verses 6 and 7 have been entirely lost, while verse 8 has a high degree of completeness. Notice, however, that even when there is some completeness for a verse, not all of the material is present. For example, the single word entry for chapter 3 verse 1 contains data for the Septuagint as well as the translations by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. However, the single word entry at verse 3 contains only the material from the Septuagint (though it includes a critical note by Origen himself).

Available Hexapla materials

    Initially, our study of the Hexapla text was done in Field's Origenis Hexaplorum (Origen's Hexapla). However, it has one critical shortcoming for any study of the divine name in the Hexapla. Field apparently had access to ancient manuscripts which used only the word Kyrios (Kuvrio~) in columns 2 through 6. (Entries copied from the Hexapla would likely have been subject to the same influence we discovered in Chapter 13.) The Origenis Hexaplorum does not use the Tetragrammaton in any column entries other than the Hebrew language column. Thus, in our initial study, we were left with the false impression that Origen did not use יהוה anywhere other than in his first column.[4]

[4] For obvious reasons, our search of Field was not comprehensive, even though over 1,000 pages were scanned for יהוה in the latter columns. Nonetheless, we can safely say that the Tetragrammaton was not noticeably used.

    Following more detailed research, however, we found recent reference to extant manuscripts containing the Tetragrammaton in Origen's original Hexapla.[5] The Ambrosiana palimpsest, a manuscript identified by Giovanni Mercati, was published in 1958 giving new insight into the original form of the Hexapla.[6]

[5] Reference is made to the Ambrosiana palimpsest in Paul E. Kahle, The Cairo Geneza, 1959, p. 163, Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, 1981, P.E. Kahle, "The Greek Bible Manuscripts used by Origen," Journal of Biblical Literature, Ixxiv (1960), pp. 111-18, and J.A. Emerton, "A Further Consideration of the Purpose of the Second Column of the Hexapla," Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. xxii (1971), pp. 15-29.

[6] Psalterii Hexapli Reliquiae…, Pars Prima; Codex Rescriptus Bybliothecae Ambrosianae O 39, Vatican City, 1958.

    In 1894, Mercati was studying a 13th or 14th century C.E. service-book of the Greek Orthodox Church which was housed in Milan's Ambrosian Library. It was a palimpsest, meaning that an older book had been erased, and a liturgical text had been written over the faint early manuscript. Mercati's discovery gave biblical scholarship the earliest example of Origen's Hexapla. Though the manuscript itself was from the ninth or tenth century, it was a faithful copy of a much earlier form. The manuscript contained approximately 150 verses from the Psalms, it was organized in Origen's original word-for-word arrangement, and, most notably, it used the Tetragrammaton in all six columns. (See Figure 11 for a partial reproduction of Psalm 27 (28):6-7.[7])

[7] The English Bible does not always divide the Psalms the same as the Septuagint. This Psalm is number 28 in the English Bible.

    This document firmly established that Origen used the Tetragrammaton in all columns of his Hexapla. Further, it verified his use of the square Hebrew characters יהוה rather than the paleo-Hebrew characters יהוה. The photo-reproductions of the pages in Mercati's text are often difficult to decipher because of the over-written text. However, because of the placement of margins (which contained no writing), five Hexapla columns are clearly discernible across two pages. (The five columns on a single page of the original book occupy the space of two opened pages of the latter text.) Verse 6 is at the top of a page and clearly displays יהוה at the head of several columns. In their appropriate spacing, one can again see יהוה heading verse 7. (Because verse 7 was inadvertently copied twice, a יהוה heading appears in both places.) This plate (from which Figure 11 is taken) shows careful formation of the Hebrew characters by the original scribe.[8] Clearly, the copyist transcribing the Hebrew characters was familiar with Hebrew script. The characters are properly formed and are not a crude representation as one would expect to find in poor transcriptions containing PIPI (PIPI).[9]

[8] A better photograph of this page appears on plate 30 of Bruce Metzger's Manuscripts of the Greek Bible.

[9] This graphic representation contains the two Greek letters pi (P) and iota (I) written in duplicate. (They may either be written in upper-case as PIPI or lower-case as pipiŸ.) This letter combination allowed the Greek writers to represent the four Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) with common Greek letters. PIPI was a known Scripture notation of the time and was not confined to Origen's writings.

    On page 108 of Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, Metzger says,

    [The photographic reproduction shows] palimpsest parchment leaves, originally measuring about 15 3/8 X 11 inches…containing in the under-writing about 150 verses of the Hexaplaric Psalter, written in a hand of the ninth or tenth century. In the thirteenth or fourteenth century the codex was dismantled and the parchment reused for another book. The leaves were (partially) erased and cut in half laterally, each half making two leaves and four pages of the new codex. The Plate [which is reproduced in the book] shows one such leaf (formerly the upper half of a page of the original codex), the under-writing, in five columns, giving for Psalm 27(28):6-7 the transliteration of the Hebrew text and the translations made by Aquila, Symmachus, the Seventy [Septuagint], and, instead of Theodotion as might have been expected, the Quinta…. The first column of the Hexapla, giving the Hebrew text…is lacking.

    By oversight ver. 7 is repeated. Iota adscript occurs [on two separate lines]; accent and breathing marks are provided even for the transliteration of the Hebrew. The Tetragrammaton is written in square Hebrew letters, followed, in the Septuagint column, by the contraction for Κύριος (in ver. 8 on the next page k-"- is followed by pipi…).

The Watch Tower's representation of the Hexapla

    With this background, we can turn to the Watch Tower Society's use of the Hexapla in its documentation of the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Greek Scriptures. On page 310, the writers of "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial" say:

    It is of interest that the divine name, in the form of the tetragrammaton, also appears in the Septuagint of Origen's six-column Hexapla, completed about 245 C.E. Commenting on Psalm 2:2, Origen wrote of the Septuagint: "In the most accurate manuscripts the name occurs in Hebrew Characters, yet not in today's Hebrew [characters], but in the most ancient ones." The evidence appears conclusive that the Septuagint was tampered with at an early date, Ky'ri.os (Lord) and The.os' (God) being substituted for the tetragrammaton.

    When we evaluate the most recent manuscript information for the Hexapla, the Watch Tower's claim that Origen used יהוה is fully vindicated. We can now carefully study the Ambrosiana manuscript and determine exactly how Origen treated passages in those Psalms which used the divine name.

    We were able to locate a copy of Mercati's Psalterii Hexapli Reliquiae in a well-stocked theological library. This large volume photographically reproduces all of the Ambrosiana manuscript. The original manuscript pages are grouped in sets of either two or four on the left-hand page. The complete Hexapla text as found in these ancient manuscript pages is typeset on the right-hand facing page. (There are over forty pages of photographs alone.) From the typeset text, we reproduced Origen's complete six-column entry in each instance in which יהוה occurred in the Hebrew language column. The result is the information given in Table 11. As far as can be determined today, this is an exact reproduction of Origen's original entries for these verses. This table represents only the יהוה entries from the other-wise Greek language text.

Table 11: Origen's entries for the divine name as found in the extant Psalms portion of the Ambrosiana, O 39 Sup. manuscript.
Note: This table contains only the יהוה entries; all Greek entries were omitted.[10]

[10] General notes to the material in Table 11:

a. The above entries represent a comprehensive citation of the Hexaplaric Tetragrammaton from Psalm 17:26-38:53. These entries are extracted from a complete text. However, as given here, each individual entry is complete as found in Giovanni Mercati (ed.), Psalterii Hexapli Reliquiae…, Pars Prima: Codex Rescriptus Bybliothecae Ambrosianae O 39 sup., Vatican City, 1958.

b. The figures <> enclosing a Hebrew character indicate that the character was omitted in the original transcription. Two asterisks (**) indicate an indecipherable entry in the original manuscript which could not be supplied with reasonable certainty by the editor. Letters included in parentheses (…) indicate an indecipherable entry in the original manuscript which were supplied with reasonable certainty by the editor.

    Now that we understand exactly how Origen made his entries in each column, we can make the following observations based on these verses from the Psalms:

  1. As we expect, at each occurrence of the divine name, the Tetragrammaton was written in square Hebrew characters in the Hebrew language column.

  2. Further, with only the exception of an incomplete text at Psalm 17:29, Origen used the Tetragrammaton in the Greek transliteration column. (Refer to Figure 11 where it is more obvious that the second column was in Greek letters. The Tetragrammaton in Hebrew characters was the exception to the Greek of the second column.)

  3. We then discover that Origen transcribed יהוה into the Greek text of columns 3 (Aquila's translation), 4 (Symmachus' translation), and 6 (Theodotion's [or the Quinta] translation). Though we find occasional Greek lettering which Origen included with the Tetragrammaton, we discover that these are merely articles meaning "the" (tou`, tw`i [a scribal error which should read tw`/], and toŸn), prepositions (ejpiŸ meaning "upon," and ejn meaning "in") or a further elaboration of the divine name in the Psalms 45 and 88 entries.

  4. When we look at the Septuagint column, however, we make an unexpected discovery. In all cases but Psalm 17:29, Origen recorded the divine name as יהוה. In addition, however, he also used the surrogate forms k-"-, k-e-, k-n-, k-w-i-[11] and k-u-. These are abbreviations for Kyrios (Kuvrio~). Thus, Origen also identified "Lord" as an alternate reading for the divine name in the Septuagint. (He made similar entries at 28:1 for Symmachus, at Psalm 29:13 for Aquila, and at Psalm 30:6 for Theodotion.)

    [11] The final letter iota should be written under the omega as k-w-/ rather than after the omega as k-w-i-. This error is attributed to the scribe making the copy.

  5. Even more surprising, however, is Origen's entry in the Septuagint column at Psalm 17:8. In this verse he recorded the Septuagint as using either יהוה or one of the Greek forms k-"- or pipiŸ.

  6. Finally, at Psalm 28:1, we notice another unexpected variation which Origen recorded for the Septuagint. He first recorded tw`i יהוה as we would expect. (He has included the article which means "The Jehovah.") He then recorded the alternate form uivoiŸ q-u- ejnevgkate which uses the surrogate q-u- (from Theos) meaning "God." It is his final alternate reading for this verse which surprises us. He used the abbreviation i-w-/ k-w-/. The initial letter combination i-w-/ is the Greek surrogate for יהוה. The second entry is k-w/- which is the Greek surrogate for Kyrios (Kuvrio~). Thus, Origen used the Greek surrogates for "Lord God" as his final alternate reading for the Septuagint in this verse.

    What is the meaning of the multiple entries יהוה/k-"-/pipiŸ at Psalm 17:8, or tw`i יהוה/uivoiŸ q-u- ejnevgkate/i-w-/ k-w-/ at Psalm 28:1? Origen was an exacting analyst. Consequently, he had access to numerous copies of the Septuagint and other Hebrew Scripture Greek translations. When there was agreement between the copies of any given translation he was using, he made a single entry. When there were variations between the copies of the same translation, he made multiple entries. Thus, at Psalm 17:8, we can presume that Origen was referring to copies of the Septuagint which used the Tetragrammaton written as יהוה in Hebrew characters. For the same verse, however, he also had at least one copy of the Septuagint which used k-"-, and another which used pipiŸ. Though less frequently, we encounter the same pattern for Aquila's translation at Psalm 29:13 or Theodotian's translation at Psalms 17:42 and 30:6.

    We will return to the importance of this discovery at the end of the appendix. It must be obvious, however, that Origen did not attempt to correct the variant "Kyrios." He did not recognize יהוה as the only appropriate form in which the divine name could be written in the Hebrew Scriptures. He may have had a preference for the Tetragrammaton (though his order of k-e-/יהוה for Aquila at Psalm 29:13 is interesting) but he does not avoid using Kyrios or its abbreviated forms, nor does he make any comment that such a use is inappropriate. (It must be remembered that Origen used critical notations where he found textual errors. He conspicuously used the symbol ì throughout the Hexapla for this purpose. Yet, he does not use it here.)

Origen's Commentary on Psalm 2

    The quotation found on page 310 of "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial" also says:

Commenting on Psalm 2:2, Origen wrote of the Septuagint: "In the most accurate manuscripts THE NAME occurs in Hebrew Characters, yet not in today's Hebrew [characters], but in the most ancient ones."

    Through personal correspondence, the Writing Department of the Watch Tower Society provided the author with further information concerning the recorded source of this quotation. It appears in a Latin work entitled Patrologiæ Cursus Completus (Complete Writings of the Church Fathers), edited by J.P. Migne, Volume 12 Origenis Opera Omnia (The Complete Works of Origen), arranged by Caroli and Caroli Vicentii Delarue, published in 1862. The quotation below comes from page section 1104. The complete surviving work of Origen is preserved in these volumes as he wrote them in Greek.

    In order to understand precisely what Origen was saying, both the sentence quoted by "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial" and its surrounding context are given below. (Each portion of the English translation[12] is followed by the Greek text from Origen's original commentary on Psalm 2. The Greek text is taken directly from Patrologiæ Cursus Completus; the breathing marks as given may differ from current usage. A vocabulary of the key words is given in the footnote for each Greek paragraph. Both the English quotation from page 310 of "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial" and the corresponding Greek text are enclosed in double bullets as oo … oo.)

[12] A published English translation of Origen's commentary on the Psalms could not be found. Therefore, this translation was done by a colleague of the author. Though we believe it to be carefully and accurately translated, the reader must be aware of this limitation.

Wherefore it is said that these things have been done "against the Lord [Kyrios] and against his Anointed [Christ]."[13] It is no secret that one pronounces the name in Greek as "Kyrios," but in Hebrew as "Adonai." God is called by ten names in Hebrew, one of them being "Adonai," which is pronounced[14] in Greek as "Kyrios."

[15]Dio; levgetai tau`ta aujtou;" pepoihkevnai <<kata; tou` Kurivou kai; kata; tou` Cristou` aujtou`.>> Oujk ajgnohtevon de; peri; tou` ejkfwnoumevnou para; me;n "Ellhsi th/` <<Κύριος>> proshgoriva/, para; de; ÔEbraivoi" th/` <<?Adwnai?.>> Devka ga;r ojnovmasi par? ÔEbraivoi" ojnomavzetai oJ Qeo;", w\n ejstin e}n to; <<?Adwnai?,>> kai; eJrmhneuvetai <<Κύριος.>>

[13] Psalm 2:2.

[14] Metzger (op cit. p. 35) says, "Likewise Origen, in commenting on Psalm 2:2, says expressly that among Greeks Adonai is pronounced Κύριος." His footnote cites this same Greek sentence in full, leaving no doubt that we are examining the same citation. With this authority, we know that the emphasis is on the pronunciation and not the mere written translation.

[15] The partial vocabulary for each Greek paragraph is given as follows: Each key Greek word is identified from the paragraph in which it first occurs. The vocabulary entry is identified by the form of the word in which it is first encountered, rather than by its normal root (lexical) form. Successive forms of either verbs or nouns found throughout the entire passage are placed within parentheses after the first occurrence. Verbs are identified only by their English infinitive form. In some instances, the primary definition of a word differs from that of the word used in the translation. The sense of the translation, however, is consistent with the Greek word's allowable range of meaning.

levgetai = to say; Kurivou (Kuvrio~, Kuvrionv) = Lord; Cristou` = Anointed [Christ]; [oujk] ajgnohtevon = [not] a secret; ejkfwnoumevnou (ejkfwnei`tai) = to pronounce; {Ellhsi= Greek; ojnovmasi = name; ÔEbraivoi" = Hebrew; ?Adwnai? = Adonai; oj Qeo;" = [the] God; ojnomavzetai = to be named; eJrmhneuvetai = to translate.

And where it says "Adonai" in Hebrew, or "Kyrios" in Greek, they both proclaim the wording which was written in Scripture. This wording is found in [the writings of] Iae,[16] where the name "Kyrios" is pronounced in Greek, and not in Hebrew, as in: "Praise the Lord [Kyrios-Kuvrion] with a good psalm."[17] So Kyrios is used in this Psalm earlier than the writer Iae where the psalm begins in Hebrew with "Alleluia."

[18]Kai; e]stin o}pou levgetai to; <<?Adwnai?>> parj ÔEbraivoi", kai; parj "Ellhsi <<Κύριος,>> th`" levzew" th`" gegrammevnh" ejn th/` Grafh` tou`to ajpaggellouvsh". 'Esti de; o{te to; ?Iah; kei`tai, ejkfwnei`tai de; th/` <<Κύριος>> proshgoriva/ parj "Ellhsi, ajll? ouj parj ÔEbraivoi", wJ" e;n tw`/: <<Aijnei]te to;n Kuvrion, o{ti ajgaqo;" yalmov".>> Kuvrion ga;r ejnqavde ajnti; tou` ?Iah; ei{rhken. Kai; e[stin hJ ajrch; tou` yalmou` parj ÔEbraivoi" <<?Allhlouvi>a:>>

[16] Presumably Iae was an earlier writer known to Origen and his readers.

[17] Psalm 146:1

[18] levzew" = wording gegrammevnh" (ajpaggellouvsh" ajnagevgraptai, gegrammevnou) = to write; Grafh` = [Hebrew] Scripture(s); Aijnei]te = praise; yalmov" (yalmou`) = psalm; ?Allhlouvi>a = hallelujah.

Though the unpronounceable name of the Tetragrammaton is not said, it was also written upon the high priest's gold diadem, and the name is pronounced as "Adonai." By no means is the Tetragrammaton pronounced, but, when said in Greek, it is pronounced "Kyrios." o o In the most accurate manuscripts, the name occurs in Hebrew characters-yet not in today's Hebrew [characters], but in the most ancient ones. o o

[19]e[sti dev ti tetragravmmaton ajnekfwvnhton parj aujtoi'", o{per kai; ejpi; tou' petavlou tou' crusou' tou' ajrcierevw" ajnagevgraptai, kai; levgetai me;n th/' <<?Adwnai?>> proshgoriva/, oujci; touvtou gegrammevnou e;n tw/' tetragrammavtw/: para; de; "Ellhsi th/' <<Κύριος>> ejkfwnei>tai. o o Kai; ejn toi'" ajkribestevroi" de; tw'n ajntigravfwn ÔEbraivoi" carakth'rsi kei`tai to; o[noma, ÔEbrai>koi`" de; ouj toi'" nu'n, ajlla; toi'" ajrcaiotavtoi". o o

[19] tetragravmmaton (tetragrammavtw/) = Tetragrammaton; ajnekfwvnhton = unpronounceable; petavlou tou' crusou' = [holy] golden diadem [see Exodus 29:6 note, NWT Reference Edition]; ajrcierevw" = high priest; ajkribestevroi" = most accurate; ajntigravfwn = manuscripts; carakth'rsi (carakth`ra") = characters; toj o[noma = the name (יהוה); nu'n = present [in time]; ajrcaiotavtoi" = ancient.

For Ezra says in the captivity that different characters besides the original ones had been transmitted. But these are the ones we will remember, since the Tetragrammaton as "Kyrios" is found in "But in the law of the Lord [Kyrios-Kurivou]…"[20] and in "For the Lord [Kyrios-Kuvrio~] knows the way of the righteous…"[21] and in the present text: "Against the Lord [Kyrios-Kurivou] and against his Anointed[22] [Christ]…"[23]

[24]Fasi; ga;r to;n "Esdran ejn th/' aijcmalwsiva/ eJtevrou" aujtoi`" carakth`ra" para; tou;" protevrou" paradedwkevnai. Touvtwn de; uJpemnhvsqhmen, ejpei; to; tetragravmmaton wJ" <<Κύριος>> kei`tai e;n tw`/: <<?All? h] ejn novmw/ Kurivou:>> kai; e;n tw`/>: <<"Oti ginwvskei Kuvrio~ oJdoŸn dikaivwn:>> kai; nu`n: <<Kata; tou` Kurivou kai; kata; tou` Cristou` aujtou`.>>

[20] Psalm 1:2

[21] Psalm 1:6

[22] The Greek word cristo~ (Kristos-Christ) is not a proper noun (name). It means [the] Anointed [one] when translated into English.

[23] Psalm 2:2

[24] "Esdran = Ezra; aijcmalwsiva/ = captivity; protevrou" = former; paradedwkevnai = to transmit;

This is observed in the Septuagint and Theodotion, both in the past age, Aquila [also] in the past, and Symmachus coming later, all arranged in chronological order.[25]

[26] Tou`to de; parathrhtevon, o{ti oiv me;n ?Ebdomhvkonta kai; oJ Qeodotivwn pavnta eij" to;n parelhluqovta crovnon, ?Akuvla" de; a{ me;n eij" to;n parelhluqovta, a{ de; eij" to;n mevllonta, Suvmmaco" de; pavnta eij" to;n ejnesthkovta e[taxan.

[25] At this point, Origen specifically identifies the Septuagint (?Ebdomhvkonta) and the three Hebrew Scripture Greek versions of Theodotion (Qeodotivwn), Aquila (?Akuvla"), and Symmachus (Suvmmaco"), all of which he used in his Hexapla. Note that Origen specifically says these four Hebrew Scripture Greek translations used Kyrios.

[26] parathrhtevon = to carefully watch; ?Ebdomhvkonta = Septuagint; Qeodotivwn = [the Hebrew version by] Theodotion; crovnon = time (era); ?Akuvla" = [the Hebrew version by] Aquila; mevllonta = to be about to; Suvmmaco" = [the Hebrew version by] Symmachus; ejnesthkovta = to stand close, to be present; e[taxan = to arrange.

From this extended quotation, it becomes evident that Origen acknowledged that Kyrios was fully acceptable as a (pronounceable) translation in the Greek text of the Hebrew Scriptures when he said,

It is no secret that one pronounces the name in Greek as "Kyrios," but in Hebrew as "Adonai." God is called by ten names in Hebrew, one of them being "Adonai," which is pronounced in Greek as "Kyrios."

and when he again said,

And where it says "Adonai" in Hebrew, or "Kyrios" in Greek, they both proclaim the wording which was written in Scripture.

and, finally, when he said,

By no means is the Tetragrammaton pronounced. Rather, when said in Greek, it is pronounced "Kyrios."

On the other hand, we do not wish to minimize the importance of Origen's comment when he said,

In the most accurate manuscripts, THE NAME occurs in Hebrew characters—yet not in today's Hebrew [characters], but in the most ancient ones.

Origen was clearly drawing the reader's attention to the fact that the divine name was held in the highest esteem—so much so, that it was written with paleo-Hebrew letters within what Origen identified as "the most accurate manuscripts." In these instances, Origen was telling us that the divine name appeared as יהוה (in paleo-Henbrew characters) rather than יהוה. (This is corroborated by seven Hebrew Scripture scrolls and two apocryphal scrolls from the Dead Sea which used יהוה (in paleo-Henbrew characters) rather than יהוהi. )[27]

[27] Metzger, op cite, p. 33 footnote. These scrolls are identified as 2Q 3, 3Q 3, 4Q 161, 1Q 14, 1QpHab, 1Q 15, 4Q 171, 1Q 11, and, 11QPsa.

This quotation must not be construed as saying that the most reliable translations must read יהוה (in paleo-Henbrew characters) . What is not clear (at least in our English translation) is whether Origen was identifying יהוה (in paleo-Henbrew characters) within early Hebrew language texts or later Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures. There are examples of both within Hebrew Scripture manuscripts.[28]

[28] On page 886 of Aid to Bible Understanding, a clear illustration (albeit typeset) is given of the paleo-Hebrew characters יהוה embedded in Aquila's Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

It is clear from Origen's statement that he recognized that the Tetragrammaton was embedded in certain Septuagint texts. However, we must be particularly careful that we do not make the mistake of identification-by-association. We cannot take this brief quotation from Origen's commentary on Psalm 2 out of its context and allow ourselves to believe that Origen was saying that the earliest copies of the Christian Scriptures used the Tetragrammaton in paleo-Hebrew characters.

In no way was Origen reporting that the Tetragrammaton was found in "the most accurate manuscripts" of the Christian Scriptures. We must only read the context of this quotation which was discussing a Hebrew Scripture passage to realize that this was not Origen's intent. Surprisingly, we also see that Origen fully accepted Kyrios as an appropriate translation of the Tetragrammaton when the Hebrew Scriptures themselves were translated into Greek.

An interesting contrast

In our first section dealing with Origen's Hexapla, we concluded that he wrote the Tetragrammaton in square Hebrew letters. In his commentary on Psalm 2, however, Origen clearly states:

For Ezra says in the captivity that different characters besides the original ones had been transmitted. But these are the ones we will remember, since the Tetragrammaton as "Kyrios" is found in "But in the law of the Lord [Kyrios-Kurivou]…" and in "For the Lord [Kyrios-Kuvrio~] knows the way of the righteous…" and in the present text: "Against the Lord [Kyrios-Kurivou] and against his Christ…" This is observed in the Septuagint and Theodotion, both in the past age, Aquila [also] in the past, and Symmachus coming later, all arranged in chronological order.

In spite of the paleo-Hebrew characters referred to by Ezra, in this passage, Origen identifies the Greek word Kyrios as replacing the Tetragrammaton in the Septuagint, Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus.

We can reconcile this apparent discrepancy in only one of two ways. First, we could argue that the Hebrew characters found in the Ambrosian manuscripts were not the work of Origen, but were inserted by later scribes. This would seem difficult to explain, however, in light of what we now know of textual history. It is unlikely that Gentiles would introduce יהוה into a Gentile text. We know, rather, that it was the Gentiles who changed יהוה to Kyrios in Hebrew Scripture manuscripts.

We could not attempt to reconcile this discrepancy by explaining that Origen's comments in the passages we have quoted were originally written with-and referring to-the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew characters. He was obviously giving a contrast between the Tetragrammaton and the Greek word Kyrios in the same Hebrew Scripture passages. There would be no logical reason for these comments if these passages contained only יהוה.

Consequently, we are left with the second-and the only logical reconciliation-of the Ambrosian manuscripts which contained Origen's use of יהוה in the Hexapla, and his reference to the Septuagint, Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus as all containing Kyrios. In all likelihood, Origen possessed multiple copies of these Hebrew Scriptures which had been translated into Greek. Some contained יהוה, while others contained Kyrios for the same passages. In light of his statement in the Psalm 2 commentary, this is the only way we could make allowance for Origen's use of יהוה in the original Hexapla.

Present knowledge of available manuscripts verifies this last conclusion. Though fewer in number, Hebrew Scripture translations containing the Tetragrammaton are now coming to light. We could certainly imagine that Origen possessed some copies with the Kyrios translation as well as other copies with יהוה embedded in the text.

Origen's view of the first two centuries

No individual is better placed than Origen to report on purported changes in the use of the Tetragrammaton in the first two Christian centuries.

First, Origen lived during this period of time and would have reported the controversy. Irrespective of his personal position, either a defense of the Tetragrammaton or an argument supporting the change to Kyrios would have been discernible in his writings. Though we have examined only a small amount of his work in the Hexapla and one of his Commentaries, we discover that he argued for neither. He freely used יהוה when he was transcribing the Hebrew text. On the other hand, he used Κύριος (Kyrios) and its two derivative forms k-~- and PIPI (PIPI) without encumbrance when he was working in the Greek language. In his commentary on Psalms, he openly acknowledged the propriety of translating the Tetragrammaton with Kyrios. (During the research for this book, many pages of Origen's preserved Greek writings were evaluated from J.P. Migne's Origenis Opera Omnia [The Complete Works of Origen]. From first-hand observation, it can be stated that Origen universally used Kyrios—and not יהוה—in his commentaries and homilies from the Hebrew Scriptures. His use of Kyrios in the Psalm 2 commentary is no exception.)

Yet, Origen was not a casual observer. He passionately defended the fidelity of the Septuagint. He devoted years of his life to the development of a textual tool which would aid in the transmittal of a faithful translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek language. Nonetheless, in spite of his intense concern, he was content that Κύριος (Kyrios) appropriately represented יהוה in the early part of the third century.

The statement from "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial" which says,

It is of interest that the divine name, in the form of the tetragrammaton, also appears in the Septuagint of Origen's six-column Hexapla,

is completely true. But this statement must not be used to imply that Origen used the Tetragrammaton to the exclusion of other Greek forms of the divine name. Origen's transcription of the Septuagint—as well as his representation of three other translations—unmistakably used surrogate forms of Κύριος (Kyrios) (and infrequently PIPI) to represent the divine name.

The further statement from "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial" which says,

Commenting on Psalm 2:2, Origen wrote of the Septuagint: "In the most accurate manuscripts the name occurs in Hebrew Characters, yet not in today's Hebrew [characters], but in the most ancient ones,"

is at best unclear. In the context of the quotation, Origen clearly identified the Septuagint (as well as Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus) as using Κύριος (Kyrios). Origen then commented that ancient manuscripts supported by Ezra did use paleo-Hebrew characters. However, he immediately reminded his readers that the Tetragrammaton would be remembered as Kyrios when he said,

…since the Tetragrammaton as "Kyrios" is found in "But in the law of the Lord [Kyrios]…" and in "For the Lord [Kyrios] knows the way of the righteous…" and in the present text: "Against the Lord [Kyrios] and against his Anointed [Christ]…"

Finally, the statement from "All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial" which says,

The evidence appears conclusive that the Septuagint was tampered with at an early date, Ky'ri.os (Lord) and The.os' (God) being substituted for the tetragrammaton,

is untraceable to either the Hexapla or Origen's Commentary on Psalm 2. Origen did not make any mention in this passage of a deliberate change of the Tetragrammaton to Kyrios. The only evidence which "appears conclusive" is that Origen recognized and used both the Tetragrammaton and Kyrios. He used יהוה when he wrote in Hebrew. He used Κύριος when he referred to (or translated) the same passages in Greek. Origen raised no objection to Kuvrio~ as an appropriate translation of יהוה for the Greek reader.

As we saw earlier, Origen lived between approximately 182 and 251 C.E. The Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation in 96 and the Gospel in 98 C.E. Origen would certainly have known of the original contents of John's writing. He would most certainly have known of an effort by Christian heretics to alter the wording of the Septuagint because the purpose of his Hexapla was to ensure the true wording of the original Septuagint.

On what basis can the Watch Tower Society say that "The evidence appears conclusive that the Septuagint was tampered with at an early date," wherein Kyrios and Theos were substituted for the Tetragrammaton? There is no evidence of any kind found in Origen's commentary on Psalm 2:2 to indicate that he felt that "the Septuagint was tampered with." To the contrary, Origen readily affirmed the use of Kyrios as the proper Greek translation for יהוה.

Is it possible that an accommodation to national and linguistic heritage was all that occurred in the second and third centuries C.E.?[29] For those with a Jewish heritage, a Septuagint version was produced which transcribed the Hebrew characters of the Tetragrammaton as יהוה, whereas for the Gentile readers, the Septuagint version translated the Tetragrammaton as Κύριος. Is it possible that this alteration was perceived by neither Jew nor Gentile as divisive or heretical, but as a mere choice between transcribing or translating, depending on the cultural background of the reader? As the Christian church grew, Septuagint copies which contained the Tetragrammaton became less available. In successive generations, the Gentile Christian church possessed a Septuagint which contained only Κύριος. After the Roman conquests of Palestine-when Messianic Jews were expelled from synagogue worship and consequently amalgamated with the Gentile church-Septuagint copies solely for Jews ceased to exist.[30]

[29] Chapter 13 fully develops this possibility.

[30] In an attempt to remove the offensive Christian Kyrios in the second and third centuries C.E., Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures for Jews characteristically embedded יהוה in the Greek text. After Christianity became state-sponsored in Constantine's reign in the fourth century C.E., Jews systematically destroyed their Greek translations and reinstated their Scriptures in the Hebrew language.

How else could we explain why Origen used both יהוה and Κύριος in his writing while giving neither explanation nor defense of his action?

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