Drinking Deeply

Friday, July 02, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Yahweh or Lord?

An interesting discussion occurred a number of weeks ago between our Hebrew professor and another faculty at church. Our professor had been pronouncing the word "Yahweh" instead of "Lord" whenever the LORD (with all caps) occurs in the English text.

The reason he does this is because LORD actually a different word in the Hebrew (yhwh) from Lord (adonai). Apparently Yahweh is a unique name which (I don't quite understand this) means, "the one who causes all things to be." So our professor wants to stress that aspect and emphasize it's not merely, "Lord" as if it were the same word.

That was an interesting discussion, mostly because I hadn't thought about it at all. But having thought about it, I wanted to put down in writing why I'm not a huge fan of pronouncing LORD as Yahweh even though it is very possible that is how Israel may have pronounced it.

2 reasons:

1) I think that's clear from the fact that Jesus quotes (without correction) from the Septuagint, which is where we get the translation "YHWH" = Lord. He seems to accept this as an appropriate translation and applies it to himself at times.

2) The fact that Jesus is called Lord by the NT writers seems to be an emphasis on the divinity of Christ and his identity with God of the OT. If we start translating Lord in the OT as Yahweh, we miss out on that NT emphasis. Everyone who says, "Jesus is Lord" will be saved (Romans 10:9) contrasted with "call upon the name of the Lord, and be saved." (Joel 2:32) .

3) It makes it harder for people to come into church and understand what is going on. They're reading along in the pew Bibles and seeing "Lord," which has a clear meaning to them, but when the pastor says, "Yahweh," they're lost. What's that mean?

All in all, we ought to educate people. The names of God have a huge significance, especially LORD, which is remarked upon in Exodus 6:3 - 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them.

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