The Tetragrammaton

    Strictly speaking, the word Tetragrammaton means "four letters" and identifies יהוה the divine name when written in Hebrew. However, in the literature of the Watch Tower Society, the word Tetragrammaton is often used as a synonym for the divine name. We will use both definitions interchangeably in the following material.

    A study of the Tetragrammaton will include its definition and background, its pronunciation, and its respective use in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

About this Page

    Much of the material on this page is taken from our published books listed in the Downloadable Books section on this site. However, supplementary material has been added where it is useful. We have provided linkes to a number of sites discussing the Tetragrammaton. These links were chosen for the sake of the information they provide, but they reflect a broad range of opinions which may differ from that of our own site or you as the reader.

I. Background and Definition of the Tetragrammaton

What is the Tetragrammaton? from The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures.

Tetragrammaton From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Tetragrammaton The Jewish Historical Society.

The Meaning of the Tetragrammaton EliYah's Home Page.

The Tetragrammaton The Jewish Encyclopedia.

II. Pronunciation of the Divine Name

    Almost universally, languages do not duplicate the pronunciation of a name which is common to two or more languages. We are familiar with examples such as Charles in English and Carlos in Spanish, or Peter and Pierre in English and French. Almost no one insists that a name be identically pronounced in all languages in order to validate the individual bearing that name. The Bible itself has many examples of names being pronounced differently between the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Jesus' name is an outstanding example. His Hebrew name was Yashua (or Yaheshua), the same name as Moses' successor Joshua. However, when the Christian Scriptures were written in Greek, Jesus' name was not transliterated. It was written as the Greek equivalent Iesous. Considering the biblical use of names in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, we have not taken a rigid stance on the pronunciation of the divine name. It would be fair to say that we stand somewhere between two extremes; we do not insist on a strict re-duplication of the pronunciation as used by Moses, nor are we so lax that we have no interest in its original pronunciation. However, we find no biblical precedent that demands a perfect Hebrew pronunciation of the divine name.

    Nonetheless, we do insist that the English representation of the divine name used in the Hebrew Scriptures must convey the sense of a personal name. The use of the capitalized "LORD" in the traditional English Old Testament is quite unsatisfactory in that it fails to communicate the original Hebrew Scripture writers' use of a personal name. In contrast, Jehovah as used in the New World Translation's Hebrew Scriptures is entirely satisfactory in conveying the sense of a unique and personal name for God.

    For more information regarding the pronunciation of the divine name, see the following links to both our own books and the work of others. We do not consider our own books to be a final statement regarding the proper pronunciation of God's name. Others have more expertise in this area than we do.

The Pronunciation of God's Name from The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures.

Transliteration, translation, or duplication? from The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures.

An interesting perspective from The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures.

For another entirely different view regarding pronouncing the divine name aloud, see The Divine Names and the New Testament

See the book by Greg Stafford, JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES DEFENDED, an answer to scholars and critics, second edition, pages 1-12, Elihu Books, 2000.

Also see the book by Firpo W. Carr, The Divine Name Controversy, 1991, which was published by Stoops Publishing.

III. Use of the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Scriptures

    The use of the divine name in the Hebrew Scriptures stands completely apart from any discussion of its pronunciation. We commend the publishers of the New World Translation for their use of the divine name in the Hebrew Scriptures. In addition, we have repeatedly stated our opinion that "LORD" in the traditional English Old Testament is in error. See the following link.

Chapter 12: LORD, Jehovah and Inspiration from our book The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures.

IV. Use of the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Scriptures

    The restoration of "Jehovah" into the New World Translation Christian Scriptures is the primary focus of our publications. This restoration of the divine name is based on the claim that the Tetragrammaton was used by the original inspired authors. However, after examining the extant manuscripts of the Christian Scriptures and evaluating the history of the period, there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that the Tetragrammaton was removed from the circulating Christian Scriptures in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures includes this summary in Chapter 10:

  1. An introduction to יהוה in the Christian Scriptures.
  2. The majority of the earliest extant Christian Scripture manuscripts should show the Tetragrammaton or a reasonable derivative embedded in the Greek text.
  3. Early and abundant extant manuscripts of the Christian Scriptures should show evidence of the Tetragrammaton's removal.
  4. The writings of the early patristics (church fathers) should record a debate ensuing from the Tetragrammaton's removal.
  5. Early non-canonical writings should include reference to the Tetragrammaton.
  6. The Tetragrammaton should be identifiable in Christian Scriptures written in the Hebrew language during the early congregation era.
  7. The geography of the area establishes the setting to be considered in the Tetragrammaton's removal.

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