Saturday, June 28, 2008

God's Name

Many Christians pronounce the Name of God as "Jehovah." However, though it is debatable, most scholars agree that the proper pronunciation is "Yahweh." Now, what I am referring to is not the full Name of God, because the full name of God is not known. Because of the Commandment which says "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord God in vain," the Hebrews, afraid of accidentally breaking this commandment, took out the vowels, so that His proper Name could not be accidentally pronounced in an unholy manner. The result, 'YHWH,' is called a 'Tetragrammaton.'

"Various proposals exist for what the vowels of יהוה were. Current convention is יַהְוֶה, that is, "Yahweh" (IPA: [jahˈweh]). Evidence is:

* Some Biblical theophoric names end in -ia(h) or -yahu as shortened forms of YHWH: that points to the first vowel being "a".
* Various Early Christian Greek transcriptions of the Hebrew Divine Name seem to point to "Yahweh" or similar.
* Samaritan priests have preserved a liturgical pronunciation "Yahwe" or "Yahwa" to the present day.

Today many scholars accept this proposal, based on the pronunciation conserved both by the Church Fathers (as noted above) and by the Samaritans. (Here 'accept' does not necessarily mean that they actually believe that it describes the truth, but rather that among the many vocalizations that have been proposed, none is clearly superior. That is, 'Yahweh' is the scholarly convention, rather than the scholarly consensus.) In some editions of the sidur, Jewish prayer book, there are no vowels under God's name, to signify that we do not know God's name and that there is absolutely no pronunciation."

"Hebrew Scholars generally favor "Yahweh" as the most likely pronunciation. They point out that the abbreviated form of the name is Yah (Jah in the Latinized form), as at Psalm 89:8 and in the expression Hallelu-Yah (meaning "Praise Yah, you people!") (Ps 104:35; 150:1,6). Also, the forms Yehoh', Yoh, Yah, and Ya'hu, found in the Hebrew spelling of the names of Jehoshaphat, Joshaphat, Shephatiah, and others, can all be derived from Yahweh. ... Still, there is by no means unanimity among scholars on the subject, some favoring yet other pronunciations, such as "Yahuwa", "Yahuah", or "Yehuah"."

"Traditionally, observant Jews do not say this name aloud. It is believed to be too sacred to be uttered and is often referred to as the Ineffable Name, the Unutterable Name or the Distinctive Name. They often use circumlocutions when referring to the name of the Deity, e.g., HaShem ("The Name") or Shem HaMeforash (“the ineffable Name”) when reading the Tanakh aloud because the Name of God must not be spoken. They show such reverence because of how holy God's Name is and they do not want to ever give off the impression that they are misusing or taking the Lord's Name in vain. "Adonai" is spoken only in prayer, and YHVH is only written on paper that will not be thrown away or discarded. Adding vowels to the Name of the Lord is an insult to some Jews because the point is that it cannot be spoken because it is God's Name (to be). Even in English the vowel in God (G-d) is taken out in some cases to show extreme reverence. Even some Christians follow these traditions in order to stray from seeming irreverent to God."

"Using consonants as semi-vowels (v/w)

In ancient Hebrew, the letter ו, known to modern Hebrew speakers as vav, was a semivowel /w/ (as in English, not as in German) rather than a letter v. The letter is referred to as waw in the academic world. Because the ancient pronunciation differs from the modern pronunciation, it is common today to represent יהוה as YHWH rather than YHVH.

In Biblical Hebrew, most vowels are not written and the rest are written only ambiguously, as the vowel letters double as consonants (similar to the Latin use of V to indicate both U and V)."

"For similar reasons, an appearance of the Tetragrammaton in ancient Egyptian records of the 13th century BC sheds no light on the original pronunciation. Therefore it is, in general, difficult to deduce how a word is pronounced from its spelling only, and the Tetragrammaton is a particular example: two of its letters can serve as vowels, and two are vocalic place-holders, which are not pronounced.

This difficulty occurs somewhat also in Greek when transcribing Hebrew words, because of Greek's lack of a letter for consonant 'y' and (since loss of the digamma) of a letter for "w", forcing the Hebrew consonants yod and waw to be transcribed into Greek as vowels. Also, non-initial 'h' caused difficulty for Greeks and was liable to be omitted; х (chi) was pronounced as 'k' + 'h' (as in modern Hindi "lakh") and could not be used to spell 'h' as in e.g. Modern Greek Χάρρι = "Harry"."

"Kethib and Qere and Qere perpetuum

The original consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible was provided with vowel marks by the Masoretes to assist reading. In places where the consonants of the text to be read (the Qere) differed from the consonants of the written text (the Kethib), they wrote the Qere in the margin as a note showing what was to be read. In such a case the vowels of the Qere were written on the Kethib. For a few very frequent words the marginal note was omitted: this is called Q're perpetuum.

One of these frequent cases was God's name, that should not be pronounced, but read as "Adonai" ("My Lord [plural of majesty]"), or, if the previous or next word already was "Adonai", or "Adoni" ("My Lord"), as "Elohim" ("God"). This combination produces יְהֹוָה and יֱהֹוִה respectively, non-words that would spell "yehovah" and "yehovih" respectively.

The oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, such as the Aleppo Codex and the Codex Leningradensis mostly write יְהוָה (yehvah), with no pointing on the first H; this points to its Qere being 'Shema', which is Aramaic for "the Name".

Gerard Gertoux wrote that in the Leningrad Codex of 1008-1010, the Masoretes used 7 different vowel pointings [i.e. 7 different Q're's] for YHWH.

Later, Christian Europeans who did not know about the Q're perpetuum custom took these spellings at face value, producing the form "Jehovah" and spelling variants of it. The Catholic Encyclopedia [1913, Vol. VIII, p. 329] states: “Jehovah, the proper name of God in the Old Testament."



satire and theology said...

Good research, Jeff.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Russ.

I think this has significance for those who fallaciously believe that God in the Bible is the same as Allah in the Qur'an, since Allah is the standard Arabic word for "God".

"Arab Christians today, having no other word for 'God' than Allah, use terms such as Allāh al-Āb (الله الآب) "God the Father", Allāh al-ibn (الله الابن) meaning God the Son, and Allāh al-rūḥ al qudus (الله الروح القدس) meaning God the Holy Spirit. Arab Christians have used two forms of invocations that were affixed to the beginning of their written works. They adopted the Muslim basm-allah, and also created their own Trinitized basm-allah as early as the eight century CE. The Muslim basm-allah reads: "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful." The Trinitized basm-allah reads: "In the name of Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God." The Syriac, Latin and Greek invocations do not have the words "One God" at the end. This addition was made to emphasize the monotheistic aspect of Trinitarian belief and also to make it more palatable to Muslims."

"According to the Encyclopædia Britannica:

God, says the Qur'an, “loves those who do good,” and two passages in the Qur'an express a mutual love between God and man, but the Judeo-Christian precept to “love God with all thy heart” is nowhere formulated in Islam. The emphasis is rather on God's inscrutable sovereignty, to which one must abandon oneself. In essence, the “surrender to Allah” (Islam) is the religion itself."

"There are many differences between the attributes of God and of Allah. First, there is the attribute of knowability, the idea that human beings may know God and enjoy a personal relationship with the Creator. God, as He is revealed in the Bible, allows Himself to be known and fellowshipped with on a personal basis by those who have trusted in Him through His Son Jesus Christ. John 17:3 says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." The Bible presents God as a being who reveals Himself to man, and who encourages us to learn of Him and enter into ever closer fellowship with Him. The Bible presents God who had a personal relationship with Abraham such that Abraham was called "The friend of God." The God of the Bible wants for mankind to come to Him, be cleansed of their sins, and enjoy this close personal fellowship. "Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." (James 4:8)

Contrast this with the Quranic description of Allah as unknowable. Indeed, in Islam, it is considered blasphemous to "presume" that one can know God or claim any sort of close, personal fellowship with Allah."

"This view is also understood among modern Islamic scholarship, where the statement of al-Faruqi is representative,

"He [God] does not reveal Himself to anyone in any way. God reveals only His will. Remember one of the prophets asked God to reveal Himself and God told him, "No, it is not possible for Me to reveal Myself to anyone. "...This is God's will and that is all we have, and we have it in perfection in the Qur'an. But Islam does not equate the Qur'an with the nature or essence of God. It is the Word of God, the Commandment of God, the Will of God. But God does not reveal Himself to anyone. Christians talk about the revelation of God Himself - by God of God - but that is the great difference between Christianity and Islam. God is transcendent, and once you talk about self-revelation you have hierophancy and immanence, and then the transcendence of God is compromised. You may not have complete transcendence and self-revelation at the same time." 2

Allah is considered unknowable, transcendent, so exalted that he would never lower himself to treat with man on a personal level of friendship and fellowship. Allah is thus presented in the abstract, and ends up becoming little more than a mental exercise in theology."

"Allah in the Qur'an is a non-personal deity. He is a deity to which Islam considers it blasphemous to attribute personhood."

"Allah is presented in the Qur'an as being far-off and aloof, transcendent and impersonal, to be worshipped and feared, but never fellowshipped with or approached in a personal, familiar manner. Even when Allah is described as being "nearer to him than (his) jugular vein" (Surah 50:16), this is more a reference to Allah's omnipresence than it is to his personal care or concern. These differences can be shown in the disparity between the prayers of Christians and those of Muslims. Christians are told to "pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17) and can approach God at any time as His children, crying out to Him as a child would to a parent. Christians may cry "Abba [daddy], Father!" (cf. Romans 8:15) and know that their heavenly Father hears and cares about their needs and concerns. Muslims, on the other hand, are required to make ritual prayers five times in a day, prayers which are repetitious and memorised, perfectly designed for addressing and appeasing a transcendent force with no personal interest in its creatures. Additional prayers from a Muslim must still be addressed to an unknowable, impersonal being of whom there is no certain knowledge that he cares or takes notice.

God, as revealed in the Bible, is a God of love who cares for and desires the best for His creations. He is merciful, full of grace and compassion, and seeks to restore a humanity alienated from him by sin. "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)"

"This contrasts with the Quranic Allah, who hates sinners and has made no provision for their reconciliation to him."

"Lastly, but yet very importantly, we note that the God of the Bible is a holy God. By this term is meant that God is completely and unalterably separated from sin. In fact, it is this complete holiness which lies at the very foundation of the necessity of the Christian Gospel. As the Bible tells us, "there is none as holy as the LORD..." (I Samuel 2:2) When the Bible says "none", it really does mean "none":

"For there is NONE righteous, no, not one: There is NONE that understandeth, there is NONE that seeketh after God." (Romans 3:10-11)

"For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

These statements are directed to each of us, individually. ALL of us are sinners, by nature and by practice, and hence fall short of this glory of God, which is embodied by His holiness, His complete separation from sin. It is this holiness that keeps all of us, sinners that we are, from being able to naturally enter into God's presence, and which keeps us from being able to enter into heaven when we pass from this earth.

However, the Bible also tells us that God provided a way for us to be saved, for us to receive the gift of eternal life and eternal fellowship with Him, in a way that both upholds His holiness while simultaneously exercising His love for mankind, His creation. This is through Jesus Christ, very God yet very man, God incarnated in the likeness of sinful flesh, yet without sin, so that He could take OUR place under God's wrath against sin.

"But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ DIED FOR US." (Romans 5:8)

Jesus Christ, who is God, was completely sinless, and He came to earth to take our place, to provide the sacrifice in our place which was needed to propitiate (satisfy) God's wrath against sin. Whereas man cannot ever satisfy God because of our sinfulness, Jesus who is sinless, was able to do so, and faith in His sacrifice and in His resurrection (whereby He also defeated death and hell, and provides eternal life to sinners) is the requirement for the extension of God's grace of salvation to the lost sinner. Further, true repentance is necessary for a sinner to receive grace. It is not enough for a person to merely come to Jesus and say "I'm sorry". There must be a true, heart-felt attitude of repentance, of a desire to not only be cleansed of sin, but also to turn away from it and put it away from your life. Hence, we see the resolution of the seeming paradox between God's love for man and desire for man's fellowship and the fact that man is separated from God because of our sin and is under God's wrath against sin."

"In Islam, this is a paradox that never occurs, because sin is not something which Allah is especially concerned about. In Islam, Allah is not presented as "holy", in the sense in which Christianity conceives of the idea. The term is used, certainly, but not in the same way as was traditionally understood by the Hebrews..."

"According to Muslim theology, Allah has never provided a way for the sin problem of mankind to be dealt with so that man can be made clean in God's eyes. In fact, Islam does not even recognize that man is a sinner by nature (as odd as this conclusion may appear to anyone who reads the news). Instead, sin is considered to be a "mistake" which people make, and which Allah will forgive when asked (if one is already a Muslim). So yes, Islam does engender an element of seeking God's forgiveness for wrongdoing, just as Christianity does, BUT the differences are much more important than this superficial similarity. The Islamic teaching on getting right with Allah completely ignores true repentance. There is nothing said about making a complete change of life when a person gets right with God. There is nothing about making a conscious choice to avoid sin because that is what God wants and because we are to be holy as God is holy (cf. I Peter 1:15-16). According to Biblical teaching, repentance is summed up as such,

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)

However, in Islam the primary sins which a person can commit and not receive easy forgiveness from Allah seem to be apostasy from Islam and the refusal to convert to Islam... For these there is little remedy, and much attribution of moral reprobation and "obvious" inferiority. Indeed, it seems that the teaching of Islam on sin is more designed to assure that people do not reject Islam as a politico-religious system than to encourage them to keep themselves from sin. The Islamic teachings on apostasy/disbelief versus other sins appears to be more concerned with advancing Islam as a human system than on turning people towards Allah in any meaningful way."

"...the difference is that when a person has trusted Christ, the Spirit of God will work in them to make them more Christ-like, which includes sinning less, and certainly not having a life which is characterized by sin.

"Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." (I John 3:6)

In this verse, the word "sinneth" is translated from a Greek construction which indicates an on-going state of affairs, as opposed to single instances. What this verse says is that a person who is truly saved, who truly abides with Christ, will not have a life characterized by on-going sin and a corresponding lack of repentance. This is, in fact, a way which is provided for Christians to be able to distinguish between true brethren and false brethren who are only saying that they are Christians.

The Islamic view does not take this into account. Saying "I'm sorry" is enough for Allah. There is no provision in Islam made for the removal of that person's sin, the washing away of the sin stain from the heart, as God has made through the blood of the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus. In fact, Allah is unholy because he does not NEED, according to Islam, such a provision. Allah is not separated from sin, and will allow unwashed sinners into his presence for all eternity, indicating that Allah really has no separation from sin which comes from pure holiness. Instead of a God-given provision for the removal of sin, Allah is satisfied merely with man's works and man's own "goodness".

"O Prophet! say to those who are captives in your hands: "If Allah findeth any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah 8:70)

In this passage above, it is taught that Allah will forgive captive prisoners of war who fall into Muslim hands, IF these prisoners have good in their hearts, usually understood to be a willingness to accept Islam. Thus, it is taught that inherent goodness in men (or at least some men) will be enough to provoke Allah's forgiveness. This teaching basically affirms the Muslim contention that man is inherently good, and that sin is not truly a barrier which separates man from God. The Islamic teaching is essentially MAN-CENTERED, not God-centered.

This Islamic teaching that man can be good at heart contradicts what God says in Jeremiah 17:9,

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"


satire and theology said...

Hey ladies, I am 111 years old, happy?...but you have to go through my blog links to find this, haaahahahahahahaah.:) My pics are redone from the 30s.
I can do the Charleston and remember my first talkie..

thekingpin68 said...

Oh yea, I am 112, and I dated Mae West.:)

Jeff said...

You look good for such an old man. And because you are so incredibly wealthy, I'm sure that any available women reading these comments would jump at the chance of being signed into your will.

Jeff said...

It is recorded that the pronunciation of the Name Yahweh began to be suppressed in earnest upon the death of a man named Simeon the Just, a High Priest who served in this office in the time span of 310-199 B.C.E., or about 200 years before the nation of Israyl came under the rulership of the Roman Empire. The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901, Volume 11, page 353, points out that this was the turning point, namely the exact time when it became a practice in Israyl to no longer pronounce the Name Yahweh.

SIMEON THE JUST (qydxh /wumv): High priest. He is identical either with Simeon I. (310-291 or 300-271 b.c.), son of Onias I., and grandson of Jaddua, or with Simeon II. (219-199 b.c.), son of Onias II... After Simeon's death men ceased to utter the tetragrammaton aloud (Yoma 30b; Tosef Sotah. xiii.).

The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yoma, page 39b, also verifies that it was upon the death of Simeon the Righteous, that all Israyl began to no longer pronounce the Name Yahweh.

...When Simeon the Righteous died, with many indications that such glory was no more enjoyed, his brethren no more dared utter the Ineffable Name...

The Jewish Encyclopedia Volume 9, pages 162-163, not only confirms this fact, but it shows the strict prohibition and warning to all those who do not adhere to it.
The restriction upon communicating the Name proper probably originated in Oriental etiquette; in the East even a teacher was not called by name. For naming his master Elisha, Gehazi was punished with leprosy (II Kings viii. 5; Sanh. 100a). After the death of the high priest Simeon the Righteous, forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple, the priests ceased to pronounce the Name (Yoma 39b). From that time the pronunciation of the Name was prohibited. "Whoever pronounces the Name forfeits his portion in the future world" (Sanh. xi. 1). Hananiah ben Teradion was punished for teaching his disciples the pronunciation of the Name (`Ab. Zarah 17b).

The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Kiddushin, page 71a, openly admits, however, that the Name yahweh was pronounced by all the children of Israyl, both small and great, before the death of Simeon the Just.

Our Rabbis taught: At first [Yahweh's] Name used to be entrusted to all people. When unruly men increased, it was confided to the pious of the priesthood.


Jeff said...

Only The High Priest Spoke The Name Of Yahweh

Many teachers in Israyl came to believe that the Name Yahweh was too holy to be pronounced, so they began teaching the nation that only the High Priest should utter this Name, once a year on the Day of Atonement. The Century Bible, by Adeney and Bennett, Volume 1, pages 90-91, shows us this information.

Some time after the return from the Captivity, and before the beginning of the Christian era, the Jews came to believe that the Name YHWH was too sacred to be uttered on ordinary occasions. It was said to be pronounced by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.