A Word of Caution

    As the author of The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures, I have spent a number of years grappling with the parallel translation issues of "Jehovah" in the New Testament and "LORD" in the Old Testament. I cannot criticize the Watch Tower Society for their insertion of a word in the New Testament which is outside the translation range of manuscript evidence without also calling for the same fidelity to the Hebrew manuscripts in my own Old Testament.

    However, the manner in which I approach this topic with either the Watch Tower Society or contemporary Bible publishers is important.

  1. Courtesy and respect is mandatory. I must appeal to the Watch Tower Society with courtesy and tact. I must also appeal to contemporary Bible publishers with an equal courtesy.

  2. In regard to the issue of "LORD" in the Old Testament, there are complications which must be considered. The majority of the extant copies of the Septuagint use Kurios (Lord) in place of the Divine Name. (However, the books published by Word Resources, Inc. have generally reflected the Watch Tower Society's position that the Tetragrammaton was used. The use of Kurios (Lord) and the Tetragrammaton are verifiable in extant copies of the Septuagint.) Nonetheless, the understanding of the reader of the Septuagint in Jesus' day and that of the reader of today's English Old Testament translation is significantly different. The Jewish reader understood that Kurios (Lord) was a circumlocution for the Divine Name. The name was so holy that it could not be spoken. Thus, the very word Kurios (Lord) was a reminder to the Jewish reader that the subject of the verse was Almighty, Holy God. Today, though many English readers still understand that "LORD" in the Old Testament refers to YHWH, many undoubtedly read "LORD" with insufficient understanding. (See the accompanying article LORD and Jehovah.)

  3. Restraint is also mandatory. It is certainly appropriate to ask for an English word which properly conveys the meaning of YHWH in the Old Testament. However, the argument must never become a demand for a prescribed name—particularly for a precise pronunciation of that name—as a mark of orthodoxy. (See the accompanying article This is not a "Sacred Name" argument.)

Lynn Lundquist