So I was thinking about a conversation I was having with an old Jehovah’s Witness friend of mine and I was thinking about the divine name. His position was that the name of God was used nearly 6000 times in the old testaments, even said by prophets such as Daniel in Psalms 83:18 why would Christians not say it today. He said that the reason it stopped being used was because Jews developed a superstition that it should not be used. I don’t understand why the Jews would ever stop using it because it was obvious that the prophets used it all throughout the OT. I don’t know why one day the decided to stop using it. I suppose that there would be nothing wrong with it, otherwise Jesus would have mentioned the “superstition” being invalid somewhere in the New Testement. The names meaning has been preserved though. What are you thoughts? Thanks!
From what I understand, Jews consider the name of God as so immensely holy that they do not call him by name directly. Maybe meltzerboy or kaninchen could clarify this.
The Jehova’s Witness insist on using “Jehovah” as the name of God even though it is a fact that the word “Jehovah” is an incorrect re-construction of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH). The favored transliteration of YHWH by scholars is “Yahweh.”
As to why the Jewish people chose not to say the name, it is because God is holy and this name was an important name. Ever heard the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt”? I think the same principle is at work.
Alright, let’s forget about the recreation of the name, being Jehovah. Why is Yahweh not used anymore. God gave the name to his people and they used it for years up until they decided to stop. Why do we continue to not use the divine name? I know it’s probably not an issue that we don’t, because Jesus never used it but is there really a problem with using it.
O those JW. I used to be one (sadly). In using the Holy Name, they believe that they will better address God. That is my understanding when my family was in that “religion.” Some also believed in something along the lines that you must mention the Holy Name in every prayer. I think that Jews stopped using the Name of God because of respect and reverence. They believed that God’s Name was so holy that you shouldn’t be using it in vain. Also, God’s Name is so holy that that’s the reason why they began to only spell it YHWH and not completely spell it out. Even Jesus Himself, the Almighty Son did not state the Most Holy Name. The prophets would use the Most Holy Name frequently in order to show that their authority and words come from God. Other people, if I am not mistaken, used The Most Holy Name to make oaths and the such in order to show how sure they are about their oaths and vows.
Jesus did use it. Remember when he said “I AM” and all the leaders fell to the ground, hid their faces, and accused him of blasphemy? That was clearly Jesus uttering the Tetragrammaton, yet Jehovah’s Witnesses will deny it up and down.
We do not use it liturgically out of respect for God’s holiness. It is the tradition of the Church as the tradition of the Jews before us. It is an unbroken line. It is permitted to use the name respectfully in certain contexts such as Bible study and the like.
I also use to be a Jehovah’s Witness until I found home. This is one of the things that the person I was studying with before a finally left was talking about. I think I’m beginning to understand this better. Thank you!
It is still used. There is no prohibition against it. :shrug:
There is a strict liturgical prohibition that was reiterated in 2008.
Though Catholic, I am of Jewish ethnicity. What the Jehovah’s Witnesses say about the use of the Divine Name is incorrect.
First of all, Jews have never stopped using the Divine Name of God. It is our God, and we are in a covenant relationship with him. The Name gets used all the time–but it is rarely pronounced.
You see in Jewish culture, that which is holy is rarely used. Take the Temple for example. The deepest room within, the Holy of Holies, was rarely entered but once a year. This is an example of what “holy” means to Jewish culture and liturgical worship. That which is holy is used only on special occasions and for rare situations.
Your name and my name are mundane, of this earth, the names of mortals. They can be said all the time and be given to other persons. The Name of God is not mundane but holy. Therefore the Jews treat the Name in the opposite way, namely it gets rarely pronounced and is not allowed to be given to anyone else.
In liturgical settings, the Jews do not say the Name but substitute “Lord” or “God” in Hebrew (or even say “HaShem” which means “the Name”) to show they are honoring God’s Name by not using it like a mundane name. Jews can and do pronounce it, but never in a liturgical setting. In fact it used to get used only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the same day each year the Holy of Holies was entered.
The American Standard Version unfortunately used an incorrect term for the reason why Jews stopped pronouncing the name. The introduction to this translation stated that Jews stopped pronouncing it due to a “superstition.” This is incorrect. This is due to reverence according to what using a name means in our culture. Because the Jehovah’s Witnesses began to use the American Standard as their main translation up until the 1950s, they adopted what the introduction said in their explanation regarding the way Jews use HaShem. When the American Standard was revised, the translators corrected their mistake, but by this time the Witnesses were using their New World Translation and never bothered to check with Jews as to how the custom really came about.
While the Name was written in most of the Old Testament books, the Jews stopped regularly pronunciation of it centuries before. The pronunciation of many ancient Hebrew names and words are no longer certain, and modern Hebrew isn’t the same. So today translators have to make their best guess on how to pronounce the name of many places, people, and things, including but not limited to the Name of God. The majority of scholars, Jewish and Christian, believe the Divine Name was pronounced as “Yahweh.”
At John 17:26 Jesus stated that he not only made God’s name known but will continue to make it known. This cannot be a reference to pronouncing the Name, otherwise this would mean Jesus is a failure. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses admit we can’t be 100% sure of the most ancient Hebrew pronunciation of HaShem. So what could Jesus have meant if it was not preservation of the Name in actual pronunciation or spelling and use?
For a Jew “making a name known” is an idiom for “spreading a reputation.” The Hebrew word for “name,” in this case “shem,” actually means “reputation” in Hebrew culture unlike Western culture where it mainly has reference to the pronunciation of a word used to label or identify someone. Since the Name is not known by exact pronunciation, the Hebrew expression means making God’s reputation known or revealing who God was and is is what Jesus meant at John 17:26. Regardless of the sounds one makes to say “God” or his Name in their language, it is this revelation and reputation of the Almighty that Jesus has and is making known, not any particular spelling or way to say the Name.
Christians have followed the way the Jews worship by also using the Name rarely. Catholics for example do not use the Name in liturgy. When the Jerusalem Bible is used as the text for Mass, the words “Lord” or “God” are substituted each time “Yahweh” appears in the original text. The reason? Because Christians believe that the way God revealed to the Jews to honor His Name as holy is still valid. Catholics may pronounce the Name as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” when they come across it in print, but like the Jews, they do not use it in worship. They honor it by doing as the Jews did, using it differently than other mundane names get used. Otherwise it’s just another Name–and that would be wrong.
Thank you! I was totally unaware of this.
This a very interesting link regarding the name of God
To this, I would like to add a quick note that the when the substitution is made, it often set apart stylistically.
Where the text says “Y–H”, you will see the stylized “LORD” - (All caps, with the “ORD” slightly smaller). Where the text uses the Greek or Aramaic term for “Lord”, it will be render ordinarily.
Thank you, Delson, for the informative post.
The divine name is obviously very important. It occurs over 6000 times in the original Hebrew scriptures!
Jesus put “Hallowed be thy name” as the first point in the model prayer.
Yet most translations of the Bible have removed it and replaced it with a title. (Lord or God)
Apart from JW’s I know of no religion that use it much. (Many religious people I ask think God’s name is Jesus.) :o
There seem to be two reasons people give for not using God’s name.
Firstly, many point out we can’t be sure of it’s pronunciation. In ancient Hebrew it would not have been “Jehovah” – perhaps Yahweh? We can’t be sure.
However we could use the same logic with Jesus name. His name in ancient Hebrew was more likely “Yeshua.” (certainly not “Jesus” as we say in English) Yet no one would do Jesus the discredit of removing all mentions of his name from the Bible. Imagine if someone replaced “Jesus” with a title like “Teacher”. That would be changing the Bible!
The second reason often given is Jewish tradition, evidently based on a Bible law that states: “You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way” - Exodus 20:7.
This law forbids the misuse of God’s name, but it does not forbid the respectful use of it. The writers of the “Old Testament” were all faithful men who made frequent use of God’s name. Even including it in many psalms that were sung out loud by crowds of worshipers. Jehovah God even instructed his worshipers to call upon his name. (Joel 2:32) Obviously God approved of it’s use.
There were many other traditions the Jewish religious leaders were holding to in Jesus day, and he was moved to chastise them of “Making the word of God invalid because of your tradition!” Matthew 15:3-7.
Although the Vatican has instructed God’s name should not be used, (and most Bible translations have actually removed the name from the Bible) - Jehovah’s Witnesses conclude the God’s word the Bible instructs us to use it.
That’s our basic opinion anyway.
Logically I think you are misunderstanding something. No one has ever disagreed with the interpretation of Yahweh being correctly translated “Jehovah”. It is a very good translation from the Hebrew.
The point is you, or no one, can be sure “Yahweh” has the correct vowels added to the Tetragrammaton “YHWH” which is what actually is found over 6000 times in the OT. Sure, “Yahweh” COULD be the correct spelling but you of all people should understand the implications of how something this Holy, God’s name, should not be relied upon from a possibility, right? You simply have no way to prove “Yahweh” is the original intended spelling of the “YHWH” other than what early bible translators adlibbed thinking they were doing the name justice.
We do not have this problem with the name of Jesus or Yeshua. The vowels in “Yeshua” have never been lost or hidden in the way they were with “Yahweh”.
God’s name is Jesus. That is, one of his names is Jesus because that is the name of God the Son. Jesus is God, not St. Michael the Archangel.
Again, as I stated in my previous post, in Jewish terms one handles something that is holy rarely or differently than common, mundane things. Human names and the names of pagan gods can be said constantly and given to others, so to hallow or hold God’s name as holy meant it had to be treated differently than this.
Pagans believed in gods that would not answer or even hear your prayer unless you said their name. Some also believed you had to say it more than once and included all their proper titles in fear that their god would not reply otherwise.
Thus Jesus said this was not the way for his followers by stating Matthew 6:7, 8:
In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This is how you are to pray
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name…
Did you notice, “do not babble like the pagans.” They believed their use of “many words,” employing the names and titles of their gods was the only way to get their prayers before the deities they worshiped.
According to the footnote on this verse in the New American Bible, the babbling of the pagans likely included “their reciting a long list of divine names, hoping that one of them will force a response from the deity.” Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that unless they use God’s name in prayer (which they often are careful to repeat more than once when they do so publicly), their prayer will not be heard.
But Jesus said that one did not need to do that, as if God would only respond at the sound of his Name. In fact, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” let alone limiting Himself to listening only to those who use and pronounce “Jehovah.”
In fact there is not one prayer of Jesus recorded in all of Scripture where Jesus prays to God using the name, “Jehovah.” If Jesus wanted us to do so wouldn’t he have done so himself since the Bible also says that what Christ did was “a model for you to follow his steps closely.”–1 Peter 2:21.
The most read Bible in the Catholic English-speaking world (outside of the United States) is the New Jerusalem Bible. It uses the Divine Name as “Yahweh” each and every time it appears in the original text. And most American Catholics own a copy of the NJB as well.
There are 327 million Catholics in Europe and the United States, most of which have read or own the Jerusalem Bible in their own language, each copy bearing the name “Yahweh.” Millions of Protestants own a copy as the NJB is considered to be one of the most accurate translations ever published. The readership of this BIble is estimated to be almost 1 billion.
In contrast from 1950 until February 2014 there have been 208 million copies of the New World Translation published, most of which (but not all) were owned and read only by Jehovah’s Witnesses between those years. With its 122 languages, its readership over the past 50 years has been estimated to have been only 19.2 million people–nothing close to the Catholic NJB.
As you know, Logically–and I should sound like a broken record now–though a Catholic I am of Jewish ancestry. My people, the Jews may not pronounce the Name in worship ceremonies (liturgy), but we do say it occasionally. We were the first to say the Name, the first to write the Name, and we produced the Book that made the Name famous. And us Jews have been doing this for thousands of years! I think we got your 100-year-old religion beat, don’t you think? After all we Jews wrote the Bible!
No extant copy of the Christian Greek Scriptures uses the Divine Name, yet your people insert it many times where it doesn’t exist.
You claim you can do so because the Greek Septuagint (LXX) originally used the Divine Name, that it appears in the oldest copies of it? “This shows that Christians must have used the Divine Name when quoting from the LXX” is your claim.
Not true. The oldest copy of the LXX is the Papyrus Rylands 458. It does NOT use the Divine Name at all. A few redaction fragments have it, but this was a later invention that was eventually abandoned.
Use of the Divine Name in the Christian Greek texts (New Testament) is “changing the Bible,” because you are putting something into the text that no one would ever find who reads the original language. JWs are not above “changing the Bible” when it suits their purpose.
And besides, as I pointed out we do use the Name in our Bibles, in our study materials, in daily speech and conversation. The New American Bible uses it in several places, and some popular Catholic songs use “Yahweh” in them. Regardless of how we pronounce it, we are using it. What do these points of yours even mean in the face of this?
The name IS used and pronounced by Jews, just not on a regular basis. We say it in study and in discussions. It even appears in the book “Judaism For Dummies” which was written by two Jews (one who is even a rabbi).
The only time we are extra careful not to pronounce the Name is liturgically (in public worship). Also it is Jewish culture (not human tradition) that is confusing you. In Western and Gentile pagan cultures names are used as labels, and the more they are said the more famous one becomes. Jewish/Semitic culture is the opposite. Names are not labels or the mere pronouncing of letters, and the more sacred or holy the name is, the more rarely it is used. So Jews pronounce the Name of God rarely. We are not like pagans who say the names of their god all the time. Our God is real and his Name far more sacred than to be treated like the names of pagan gods!
In fact, because our customs are so different from pagan uses of names and title, we often don’t even write “God” out completely. You often see “G-d” instead. Instead of pronouncing “Yahweh” I myself often say “HaShem” which is Hebrew for “the Name.” But I do say it on occasion.
Your '“facts” about Jewish tradition are so inaccurate that they sound made up. Even the book “Judaism for Dummies” tells a completely different story–and they are sharing the FACTS about why Jews do what they do when it comes to using the Name!
This is also incorrect. The Vatican has recently reminded those in charge of public worship that Catholics honor the Jewish cultural way of holding God’s name as sacred, and therefore reiterated that we do not pronounce the Name in liturgical services. Catholics may and do pronounce the Name outside of liturgical use (i.e., the New Jerusalem Bible).
The instruction regarding liturgical use has nothing to do with use of the Name outside of Mass, in Bibles, in private and public study, or personal prayer. The use of the Divine Name was never “banned” though you wouldn’t know it if you Googled this. The reason why so many claim this is so is because most people are so uneducated about Catholicism that they don’t know what use in “liturgy” is and how this is different from daily use.