(With Twelve Supporting Fragments)
One of the remarkable facts not only about the extant manuscripts of the original Greek text but of many versions, ancient and modern, is the absence of the divine name. In the ancient Hebrew Scriptures that name was represented thousands of times by four letters, יהוה, generally called the Tetragrammaton and represented by the English letters JHVH (or, YHWH). The exact pronunciation of the name is not known today, but the most popular way of rendering it is “Jehovah.” The shorter form of this name is “Jah” (or, “Yah”), and it occurs in many of the names found in the Christian Greek Scriptures, as well as in the exclamation “Alleluia!” or, “Hallelujah!” meaning “Praise Jah, you people!”—Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6.
Since the Christian Greek Scriptures were an inspired addition and supplement to the sacred Hebrew Scriptures, this sudden disappearance of the divine name from the Greek text seems inconsistent, especially since James said to the apostles and older disciples at Jerusalem about the middle of the first century C.E.: “Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) Then in support, James made a quotation from Amos 9:11, 12 where the divine name is used. If Christians are to be a people for God’s name, why should his name, represented by the Tetragrammaton, be abolished from the Christian Greek Scriptures? The usual explanation for this no longer holds. It was long thought that the basis for the absence of the divine name in our extant manuscripts was that the name was missing in the Greek Septuagint (LXX), the first translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was begun in the third century B.C.E. This thought was based upon the copies of LXX as found in the great manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries C.E.: Vatican ms 1209, Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Alexandrinus. In these the distinctive name of God was rendered by the Greek words Κύριος (Kyʹri·os) and θεός (The·osʹ). This namelessness was viewed as an aid to teaching monotheism.
This theory has been completely disproved by the discovery of a papyrus roll of LXX that contains the second half of the book of Deuteronomy. Not one of these fragments shows an example of Κύριος or θεός being used instead of the divine name, but in each instance the Tetragrammaton is written in square Hebrew characters.
In 1944 a fragment of this papyrus was published by W. G. Waddell in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 45, pp. 158-161. In 1948, in Cairo, Egypt, two Gilead-trained missionaries of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society obtained photographs of 18 fragments of this papyrus and permission from the Société Royale de Papyrologie to publish them. Subsequently, 12 of these fragments appeared in the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, 1950, pp. 13, 14. Based on the photographs in this publication, the following three studies were produced: (1) A. Vaccari, “Papiro Fuad, Inv. 266. Analisi critica dei Frammenti pubblicati in: ‘New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures.’ Brooklyn (N.Y.) 1950 page 13s.,” published in Studia Patristica, Vol. I, Part I, edited by Kurt Aland and F. L. Cross, Berlin, 1957, pp. 339-342; (2) W. Baars, “Papyrus Fouad Inv. No. 266,” published in the Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift, Vol. XIII, Wageningen, 1959, pp. 442-446; (3) George Howard, “The Oldest Greek Text of Deuteronomy,” published in the Hebrew Union College Annual, Vol. XLII, Cincinnati, 1971, pp. 125-131.*
Commenting on this papyrus, Paul Kahle wrote in Studia Evangelica, edited by Kurt Aland, F. L. Cross, Jean Danielou, Harald Riesenfeld, and W. C. van Unnik, Berlin, 1959, p. 614: “Further pieces of the same papyrus were reproduced from a photo of the papyrus by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in the introduction to an English translation of the New Testament, Brooklyn, New York, 1950. A characteristic of the papyrus is the fact that the name of God is rendered by the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew square letters. An examination of the published fragments of the papyrus undertaken at my request by Pater Vaccari resulted in his concluding that the papyrus, which must have been written about 400 years earlier than Codex B, contains perhaps the most perfect Septuagint text of Deuteronomy that has come down to us.”
A total of 117 fragments of the LXXP. Fouad Inv. 266 were published in Études de Papyrologie, Vol. 9, Cairo, 1971, pp. 81-150, 227, 228. A photographic edition of all the fragments of this papyrus was published by Zaki Aly and Ludwig Koenen under the title Three Rolls of the Early Septuagint: Genesis and Deuteronomy, in the series “Papyrologische Texte und Abhandlungen,” Vol. 27, Bonn, 1980.
From the photographs of 12 fragments of this papyrus roll our readers may examine these occurrences of the Tetragrammaton in such an early copy of LXX. Authorities fix the date for this papyrus as the first century B.C.E., that is, about two centuries after the LXX was begun. This proves that the original LXX did contain the divine name wherever it occurred in the Hebrew original. Nine other Greek manuscripts also contain the divine name.—See NW Ref. Bi., pp. 1562-1564.
Did Jesus Christ, and those of his disciples who wrote the Christian Greek Scriptures, have at hand copies of the Greek Septuagint with the divine name appearing therein in the form of the Tetragrammaton? Yes! The Tetragrammaton persisted in copies of LXX for centuries after Christ and his apostles. Sometime during the first half of the second century C.E., when Aquila’s own Greek version was produced, it also showed the Tetragrammaton in archaic Hebrew letters.
Jerome, of the fourth and fifth centuries C.E., in his prologue to the books of Samuel and Kings, said: “And we find the name of God, the Tetragrammaton [יהוה], in certain Greek volumes even to this day expressed in ancient letters.” Thus down to the time of Jerome, the chief translator who produced the Latin Vulgate, there were Greek manuscripts of translations of the Hebrew Scriptures that still contained the divine name in its four Hebrew characters.
If Jesus and his disciples read the Scriptures in their Hebrew original or in the Greek Septuagint, they would come across the divine name in its Tetragrammaton form. Did Jesus follow the traditional Jewish custom of the day and read ʼAdhonaiʹ at such places out of fear of profaning the name and violating the Third Commandment? (Exodus 20:7) In the synagogue at Nazareth, when he rose and accepted the book of Isaiah and read those verses of Isaiah (61:1, 2) where the Tetragrammaton is used, did he refuse to pronounce the divine name? Not if Jesus followed his usual disregard for the unscriptural traditions of Jewish scribes. Matthew 7:29 tells us: “He was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.” In the hearing of his faithful apostles, Jesus prayed to Jehovah God, saying: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. . . . I have made your name known to them and will make it known.”—John 17:6, 26.
The question now before us is: Did Jesus’ disciples use the divine name in their inspired writings? That is, Did God’s name appear in the original writings of the Christian Greek Scriptures? We have basis for answering yes! Matthew’s Gospel account was first written in Hebrew rather than in Greek, as is indicated by Jerome, of the fourth and fifth centuries C.E., who had this to say:
“Matthew, who is also Levi, and who from a publican came to be an apostle, first of all composed a Gospel of Christ in Judaea in the Hebrew language and characters for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed. Who translated it after that in Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Moreover, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Beroea to copy it.”—De viris inlustribus (Concerning Illustrious Men), chapter III. (Translation from the Latin text edited by E. C. Richardson and published in the series “Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur,” Vol. 14, Leipzig, 1896, pp. 8, 9.)
Matthew made more than a hundred quotations from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. So where these quotations included the divine name, he would have been obliged faithfully to include the Tetragrammaton in his Hebrew Gospel account. His Hebrew account would correspond closely with the Hebrew version of the 19th century by F. Delitzsch, in which Matthew contains the name Jehovah 18 times. Though Matthew preferred to quote directly from the Hebrew Scriptures rather than from the LXX, he could have followed the LXX practice and incorporated the divine name at its proper place in the Greek text. All the other writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures also quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures or from the LXX at verses where the divine name appears.
Concerning the use of the Tetragrammaton in the Christian Greek Scriptures, George Howard of the University of Georgia, U.S.A., wrote in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 96, 1977, p. 63: “Recent discoveries in Egypt and the Judean Desert allow us to see first hand the use of God’s name in pre-Christian times. These discoveries are significant for N[ew] T[estament] studies in that they form a literary analogy with the earliest Christian documents and may explain how NT authors used the divine name. In the following pages we will set forth a theory that the divine name, יהוה (and possibly abbreviations of it), was originally written in the NT quotations of and allusions to the O[ld] T[estament] and that in the course of time it was replaced mainly with the surrogate κς [abbreviation for Kyʹri·os, “Lord”]. This removal of the Tetragram[maton], in our view, created a confusion in the minds of early Gentile Christians about the relationship between the ‘Lord God’ and the ‘Lord Christ’ which is reflected in the MS tradition of the NT text itself.”
We concur with the above, with this exception: We do not consider this view a “theory,” but, rather, a presentation of the facts of history as to the transmission of Bible manuscripts.
See pp. 1135, 1136, for photographs of fragments of P. Fouad Inv. No. 266 of Deuteronomy LXX. We have numbered these 12 fragments, some of which contain more than one occurrence of the Tetragrammaton encircled. No. 1, on Deuteronomy 31:28 to 32:7, shows the Tetragrammaton on lines 7 and 15; No. 2 (De 31:29, 30) shows it on line 6; No. 3 (De 20:12-14, 17-19) on lines 3 and 7; No. 4 (De 31:26) on line 1; No. 5 (De 31:27, 28) on line 5; No. 6 (De 27:1-3) on line 5; No. 7 (De 25:15-17) on line 3; No. 8 (De 24:4) on line 5; No. 9 (De 24:8-10) on line 3; No. 10 (De 26:2, 3) on line 1; No. 11 in two parts (De 18:4-6) on lines 5 and 6; and No. 12 (De 18:15, 16) on line 3.
[Pictures on page 1135, 1136]
[See publication for photographs of fragments of P. Fouad Inv. No. 266 of Deuteronomy LXX]