Friday, October 9, 2015

The Septuagint and New Testament Rendering of JEHOVAH

The Septuagint and New Testament Rendering of JEHOVAH
Reasons why the New Testament Seems to Sanction the Septuagint in Rendering YHWH by Kurios, article in The Biblical Review 1847

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This question is unnecessarily mixed up with another, at once similar and dissimilar; similar as it concerns the word Jehovah, and dissimilar as it refers to the Old Testament only.

The question on which we first enter was once fiercely agitated by the most distinguished biblical scholars; though Galatin, and our Nicholas Fuller, and Gataker, with vulgar practice, were on
one side, and almost all the learned on the other.

When we ask, Why the New Testament seems to sanction the Septuagint in translating Jehovah by Kurios? it is assumed, that, apparently, this was their practice, and that they had for this a
peculiar reason, which seems to be sanctioned by the writers of the New Testament.

I. The fact, and the reasons, as far as the Septuagint is concerned, require our first attention.

The fact, that Jehovah is usually translated, to all appearance, by Kurios is so generally admitted, that it is unnecessary to enlarge on the proof. Take, as an early instance, Genesis ii. 4; there, where we might have expected the proper name Jehovah, we find Kurios, 'Lord God,' instead of 'Jehovah God.'

It might he enough to say, that no Jehovah appears in the Septuagint; though proper names and Hebrew words, in great numbers, are found there. But in an immense majority of cases Kurios is the rendering of Jehovah. Yet it sometimes is translated Theos. (See Isaiah xxv. 8; where, for 'the Lord Jehovah,' we have 'the Lord God.')

The question, then, whether Kurios is the Septuagint translation of Jehovah, as in their view signifying, Lord, is anticipated; for, by sometimes rendering it God, we conclude, that it was only some name for Deity which the LXX. gave.

It is well known that Kurios is the proper translation of Adonai; and that, to distinguish between earthly lords and the Supreme, the Hebrews express the former by Pathach, (see Genesis xix. 2,
xlii. 10; and the latter by Kamets. (See Psalms ii. 4 and Genesis xviii. 3.)

Did the Hebrews, then, make no difference between Adonai and Jehovah? It is notorious, that they put the widest difference, and did not intend to intimate, that Kurios was the proper translation
for Jehovah, as well as Adonai. But in giving Kurios where Jehovah occurs, the LXX. were not translating at all the word Jehovah, which did not appear to their mind's eye in the Hebrew text. For, only the consonants of that word are there, to the eye of a Jew, and the vowels, which determine the sound, are those of the word which they substitute for Jehovah. It was this substituted word which they translated Kurios, and not Jehovah itself. And because they usually substituted Adonai, but not always, so they usually translate Kurios, but not always.

That the vowels are not intended for Jehovah, but for some substituted word, we, therefore, learn by their being varied according as one word or another is the substitute intended. Where Adonai
is the word which the Jews pronounced, Jehovah apparently ends in Kamets; because they always give that vowel to Adonai when it is applied to 'the Lord of all' though when it signifies (as our
words sir, or my lord,) a human lord, or master, they pronounced it with the Pathach, or short 'a,' instead of Kamets, or long 'a,' as in the word all. Of this, numerous instances might be
adduced; but those already given may, perhaps, suffice.

But when Adonai itself is in the Hebrew text, along with Jehovah, then, to avoid the odiousness of creating a mere repetition, Elohim is substituted, and, therefore, the word Jehovah ends with long Chirek, or 'I,' because the vowels given are those of Elohim; as in the passage already cited from Isaiah xxv. 8. In this case two out of the three vowels in the word differ from those intended for Adonai.

Did the Hebrews, then, intend to alter the proper name of their God thus, and to pronounce it, now this way, now that? No; they did not intend to give the sound of this name at all, but of other
names, of which they gave the proper sound by vowels.

That they considered this word which we call Jehovah the proper name of their God we cannot wonder, when we read Isaiah xlii. 8. 'I am Jehovah, that is my name.' Other texts in great numbers
might be adduced in support of this view.

The Jews were not superstitious, but pious in avoiding the common use of the word which they considered the proper name of God. Thus, where the numeral letters for 15 would, in the
ordinary course, have been HE, to avoid using 'Jah,' the name of God for such purposes, they substituted, for 10 and 5, 9 and 6.

If any deride them for this, 'non ego,' must every Christian say. The 'Tetragrammaton' as they call Jehovah, they considered so sacred, at last, as to be used only in the temple; though there
are signs of a more familiar use, to the eye of many, who presume to know more of Jehovah than they do. At the temple the disputed word was to be used, in the prescribed benediction where it occurs thrice. It began, however, to be so much disused as to be little known, about the time of Simeon the Just, in the dynasty of Alexander. After the final destruction of their temple, the Jews lost all knowledge of the true pronunciation. They own their ignorance, which they would not do but by necessity. They always read, not Jehovah, but the substituted word indicated by the vowels, usually Adonai, but sometimes Elohim.

The LXX. translators, therefore, intended to give those words, as in numerous passages may be seen.

II. Why the New Testament seems to sanction this practice, we have now to show.

The word seems is employed here emphatically, for it has been observed, that the Septuagint only seems to translate Jehovah by kurios, when, in reality, they do not pretend to translate that which they considered the proper name of God, not supposing they really had it in their Hebrew text, any more than other words of which the consonants only are given in the text, and the vowels of the other substituted words which stand in the margin. The LXX. translated the word they pronounced, which was usually 'Adonai,' and the question is, why the New Testament seems to sanction

That the New Testament seems to resemble the LXX. in translating Jehovah, Kurios, is owned, for, as in the former case we observed, there is no Jehovah in the LXX., though there are many Hebrew words, such as Amen, Baal, so we may observe, there is manifestly no Jehovah in the New Testament, though there are passages there quoted from the Old Testament, where it gives Jehovah in a way that might have led us to expect it in the New; for example, Deut. vi. 4, 'Jehovah thy God is one Jehovah;' where Mark has (xii. 29) ' The Lord our God is one Lord.'

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Nor can it be said, that we have no Hebrew words in the New Testament: for, there are many, which have become familiar to unlearned Christians, by means of the New Testament.

We may trace up the reason for Kurios occurring, instead of Jehovah, to the Syriac: for, the Jewish nation had slipped into the use of this, as their proper tongue, instead of the Hebrew. The
Syriac, therefore, would substitute Morjoh, for Adonai, and the writers of the New Testament would render this, Kurios.

Our Lord spoke the common language of the country, and 'the common people heard him gladly.' He, therefore, spoke as they could understand, which was in a language that had no Jehovah. In our Lord's day, the Jews in general knew not the true sound of Jehovah, though he did; and, therefore, they would have thought it strange if he had used the word when quoting the Old Testament, and they could not have judged whether it was pronounced right or wrong. It would, however, have created great alarm and dispute about a sound, and the propriety of uttering it, even if known. This would have been contrary to the genius and design of Christ's ministry, which imparted great thoughts, not disputed words. Our Lord, therefore, led the way to the apostolic practice; for he was in all things 'the way, the truth, and the life.'

The writers of the New Testament began by recording our Lord's history, which was necessary, as the basis of all the rest of their ministry. This history, we have seen, gave no occasion for the use of Jehovah; but, on the contrary, followed the Syriac usage, which followed the LXX., who followed the practice of the Jews, in substituting other names of Deity, chiefly 'Lord' for Jehovah.

The influence of our Lord's life and ministry demands the more attention here, because it was operative for years on the apostolic ministry, ere ever the New Testament existed. That Peter, for instance, preached at Pentecost in that language in which he had for years heard his Lord and Master discourse, will not be denied. But this was Syriac, the influence of which on the substitution of Lord, for Jehovah, we have seen. In Peter's first recorded sermon there is a quotation from the prophet Joel, where a most emphatic display of Jehovah occurs, thus: 'And ye shall know, that in the midst of Israel am I, even I, Jehovah, your God; and there is none beside; and it shall come to pass, afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.' Now, Peter says, not only, that this prophetic promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, but, that Jesus shed forth that Spirit which Jehovah, who was so emphatically announced, declared he would shed forth. This is chosen as a specimen: 'Ex uno disce omnes.' For, there are many other instances in which the apostolic ministry followed that of our Lord, in quoting 'Syriace' prophecies which contained Jehovah in the Hebrew, but which quotations the record hands down to us with no other word than Kurios.

Now, it should be recollected, that this Syriac ministry of the apostles precedes by many years, at least seven, the written testimony of the apostles, which forms the Greek Testament. All Judea and Galilee were filled with the Syriac ministry of Christ and the apostles; and those who were praised for being 'followers of the churches which in Judea were in Christ Jesus' were imitatory
of Christians who had received the Christian religion from men who preached just as our Lord did, in the Syriac. This remark applies, also, to Antioch, where the disciples were first called 'Christians;' for the mother church of the Gentiles was Syrian, by emphasis ; and Antioch, the queen of the east, was the Athens of Syria!

That the verbal ministry of the apostles was under the special influence of the Holy Spirit, we are assured. Peter 'was filled with the Holy Ghost' in his preaching; and he writes to the strangers, concerning those who had ' preached the Gospel to them with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.'

Turn we, now, to the writers of the New Testament.

The writers of the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation, give Hebrew words, as Hosanna, Beelzebub, Melchizedec, Bar-Jesus, Amen, etc.

But Jehovah never occurs in the Christian Scriptures, any more than in the Septuagint. It may be said, indeed, that this is because the apostles quote the Septuagint, which never gives Jehovah.
They could, however, have quoted the LXX. with this exception, as we often introduce Jehovah into our quotations; but it is not true, that the apostles merely quoted the LXX.; for, there is great variety in their quotations from the Old Testament. Deut. viii. 3, is as near as any, but not exactly according to the Vatican copy of the LXX. in Matt. iv. 4. Matthew iv. 6, differs still more.
Matthew sometimes quotes, not the Septuagint, but the Hebrew. But does this practice of the New Testament, which seems to sanction the translation of Jehovah by Kurios, really do so?

All that the first Christians, who were converted Jews, would hear in the apostles' preaching, or see in the New Testament practice on this point—would be, a sanction of the Jewish custom of substituting other names of God, in order to avoid pronouncing what was considered his proper name. The apostles could not but know that this would be the natural conclusion. If they did not
mean to sanction that practice, how can we account for their practice?

May we not conclude, that, with their plenary inspiration, they, like their Lord, knew the true sound, but, like him, did not intend to give the word?

The most intelligent readers of the New Testament must have been converted Jews, who had, like Timothy, 'from a child known the Holy Scriptures,' and these must have been aware, that when ever Jehovah occurs, they read according to the vowels Adonai, or Elohim. The most ancient versions follow in this track; as Targum Onkelos, Joseph, &c, gave the vowel points to these Jods indicate Adonai. The Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch gives the consonants of Jehovah, but has no vowel points. The Syriac gives Lord, even where we might have expected Jehovah; as in Mark xii. 29. The Latin gives Dominus, though Jerome comments on Jehovah, and says it means ineffable; which, how ever, I give on hearsay, for I have not seen it. Galatin is said to have been the first to plead for the use of Jehovah; but he is no authority. Gataker, and Nicholas Fuller, take his side: Junius and Fremellius alone give Jehova, but without the final HE; so that you might suppose the word ended in Alef. Drusius and Sixtus Amama, Dutch professors of Hebrew at Oxford, opposed, and the learned blamed, the English for the use of Jehovah. Those who contend for Jehovah because of the points, ought sometimes to read Jehovih, which, however, I suppose they never do. But those who, defending the English use of Jehovah, accused their opponents of altering the Scriptures, in compliance with the superstition of the Jews, were told that they altered Jehovih into Jehovah, and opposed the practice of our Lord and his apostles, who never used Jehovah.

As a question of practice, with regard to the Hebrew Scriptures, the course adopted bv our translators, to give LORD in capitals, as the Germans give HERR, and the French L'ETERNEL, is decidedly the best way of pointing out Jehovah. But if any choose to say Jehovah, in order to express the proper name of Jehovah, as the consonants stand in the original, there may be no objection. But if this word is used as the true sound, it can only be defended by the authority of those who say it is not the true sound; but the vowel sounds are those of another word; and the same persons should, in certain texts, give another sound, where two out of the three vowels are different in the Hebrew, being intended for Elohim. No competent scholar pretends to know the sound. The probability is, that, as Jehovah told Moses to say to Israel, 'I will be' (not I am) 'hath sent me,' so Jehovah, as we call it, is the third person of a kindred word, and should be YHWH for 'He
will be.' The points or sounds must, then, be according to the Paradigm of the verb. Perhaps the name was taken from the less common root HWH, to avoid the frequent recurrence of the same word, by the frequency with which HYH is used. In Ecclesiastes xi. 3, we have (the free) shall be, YHVA, a strangely anomalous form of the verb.

It may be thought by some, that the view we have taken must, by denying that kurios is intended for the translation of Jehovah, weaken the evidence for Christ's divinity; but it really strengthens that evidence. The passages which contained Jehovah, and are applied to Christ in the New Testament, remain the same; while the name of God is marked out, as so sacred that the ancient church feared to make common use of it, and that it is now lost, except as it is involved in that name, 'above every name,' the name of Jesus, at which every knee must bow. To a Jew, the 'name above every name' would recall Jehovah, as far as the consonants are concerned with the 'prestige' that 'omne ignotum pro magnifico.' The application of Kvpios, by emphasis, to our Lord, must have reminded the first Christian converts from the Jewish nation of the use they made of it for Jehovah. The text in 1 Cor. viii. 6, which has been employed by Socinians against the Divinity of Christ,—'there is one God, even the Father,' is immediately followed by another, 'and our Lord Jesus Christ' which must have reminded Jewish converts of Deut. vi. 4, and of the important sentence 'the Jehovah our God is one Jehovah' as in the Septuagint it stands, 'the Lord our God is one Lord.' If there is to us but one Lord Jesus Christ, this is he; and if Christ is denied to be God by the former words, then the Father is equally denied to be Lord by the latter, though 'Lord' is the substitute for Jehovah.

To those who admit the authority of the New Testament, and believe the writers to be well-informed, honest persons, the numerous passages in which Jehovah is applied to Jesus, should be proofs of his supreme Deity in the estimation of the apostles. But to those who believe the inspiration of the Old Testament and the New, the texts which contain Jehovah must have great importance. As the proper name of God, the word must be glorious and sacred; and it is undeniable, that it is given to none but the Supreme Being, which cannot be said of other names of Deity.

But this name is really, if not apparently, applied to Christ. Some instances have been adduced, and others will easily occur to the learned. When it is said in Isaiah, 'Surely in Jehovah shall
one say, I have righteousness and strength; in Jehovah shall all the seed of Israel be justified and glory;' and in Jeremiah, 'the righteous Branch' to be raised to David shall be called 'Jehovah
our righteousness,' who can help seeing the same Being that in the New Testament appears as the Son of David, whose righteousness is that in which Christians are justified and glory?

The following results of this discussion should be marked :—
The name which we usually call Jehovah was considered by the ancient church as the proper name of Deity, revealed by himself.

To avoid an irreverent frequency in its use, other names were substituted for it, except on grand occasions.

The vowels of the substituted words were affixed to the consonants of Jehovah, to direct the reader to pronounce, not Jehovah, but Adonai or Elohim.

The Septuagint, therefore, translated the substituted words, and never pretended to translate the venerated word. In course of time, the sound of the word became a secret, and after the fall of the nation, was lost : no one now knows its sound.

The Syriac tongue, which was substituted for Hebrew, has no Jehovah, though it has the verb of the same root; and, therefore, the people of the Jews substituted Morjoh, their word for Lord, as the LXX. translators employed Kurios, the Greek for Lord. Our Lord, who preached in Syriac, and quoted Scripture according to it, and therefore who knew the word thoroughly, did not make others acquainted with it, for he never used it iu his ministry. The apostles followed in his footsteps, and preached in Syriac, quoting texts from the Old Testament which contain Jehovah, but in the Syriac way. Their ministry for years spread the Gospel through Palestine and into Antioch the capital of Syria, in the manner of their Lord, who did not employ Jehovah, but Lord.

Thus the thing was determined before the New Testament was written; and we are not surprised that it contains many Hebrew words, indeed, but no Jehovah. The earliest versions, therefore, follow in that train; and as the Targums follow the Septuagint, perhaps we may say the other versions of the New Testament follow the venerable Peshito-Syriac, which has no Jehovah.

Thus we are reminded that the Lord whom every tongue must confess Jesus Christ to be, has an ineffable name, as he himself taught,—'No man knoweth the Son but the Father.'

See also 200 Books on the Divine Name Jehovah on DVDrom or Over 110 Septuagint and Hexapla Bibles and Books on DVDrom

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