Yahweh: The Divine Name in the Bible

Yahweh: The Divine Name in the Bible

Yahweh: The Divine Name in the Bible

Yahweh: The Divine Name in the Bible

Excerpt

For many years I have been fascinated by the Tetragrammaton, while at the same time I have shared with many others a sense of being overwhelmed by the diverse views put forward as to the origin, pronunciation and theological meaning of the divine name in the Old Testament. The literature on the subject, mainly in the form of articles in the journals, is immense, and shows no signs of diminishing, perhaps because no single view has yet found the full support of scholars. The nature of the evidence, biblical and extra-biblical, leads inevitably to speculation and hypothesis.

In spite of the vast literature that has been produced, very few book length monographs have been written. In Helsinki, 1952, the Finnish Oriental Society published A. Murtonen, A Philological and Literary Treatise on the Old Testament Divine Names. In this study, Murtonen has drawn together much of the material relating to the subject and has reached conclusions of interest regarding various terms for deity and names of God, 'ēl, ' lôah, ' lōhîm, and most importantly, the Tetragrammaton, consisting of the four letters YHWH (usually pronunced YAHWEH, although there is uncertainty regarding the precise vocalization). The bibliography (pp. 10-22) is comprehensive and particularly useful. In an earlier work, The Tegragrammaton (West Ewell, England, 1948), published privately by Norman Walker, the claim is made that the Tetragrammaton is a modified form of Egyptian Yah-we , Moon-One. a thesis which has not won many adherents. Dr. Max Reisel, Observations on 'ehyeh ' sher 'ehyeh (Ex. III.14), hw'h' (D.S.D. VIII.13) and shem hamm phôrāsh (Assen: Van Gorcum & Comp. N.V., 1957), sets forth views regarding the phrase 'ehyeh ' sher 'ehyeh (I AM WHO I AM) in Exod.3:14, together with an investigation of the five-lettered term used in the Manual of Discipline (which contains the rule of life of an ancient Jewish community, the Qumran covenanters, at a monastery located near the Dead Sea), and a discussion of the divine name in Rabbinic and mystical Kabbalistic literature.

As is well known, studies of major importance regarding various aspects of the significance of the Tetragrammaton have been made by W. F. Albright, H. H. Rowley, O. Eissfeldt, H. G. May, F. M. Cross, Jr., J. P. Hyatt, G. R. Driver, G. Quell and R. de Vaux, among many others. The bibliography included in this present study, although far from exhaustive, will serve as a guide to those who may wish to engage in a fresh examination of the relevant literature.

Unless otherwise indicated, biblical quotations are from the Revised Standard Version. The letter H is used whenever a verse reference in the Massoretic text differs from that of English versions of the Bible; the letter A indicates that a text is in Aramaic. YHWH has been employed generally for the Tetragrammaton and in Scriptural quotations (where RSV renders, "the LORD").

I wish to express my appreciation and thanks to the Principal, Dr. J. Morden, and to the Board of Huron College, for granting me a period of . . .

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