The Tetragrammaton in the Septuagint
THE divine name, Jehovah, is represented by the Tetragrammaton, that is, the four Hebrew letters יהוה (YHWH). It was long believed that the Tetragrammaton did not appear in copies of the Septuagint. Thus, it was argued that when the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures, they would not have used the divine name in their writing.
A series of discoveries made over the last hundred years or so revealed that God’s name did appear in the Septuagint. Says one source: “So great was the desire to preserve intact the sacred name of God that Hellenistic Jews, when translating the Hebrew Bible into Greek, copied the actual letters of the Tetragrammaton in the midst of the Greek text.”
The papyrus fragment shown at left is just one of several examples that have survived. Found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, and assigned the number 3522, this scrap dates back to the first century C.E.* It measures about 2.5 by 4 inches [7 by 10.5 cm] and contains a passage from Job 42:11, 12. The Tetragrammaton, circled, appears in ancient Hebrew characters.*
So, then, did the divine name appear in early copies of the Christian Greek Scriptures? Says scholar George Howard: “Since the Tetragram was still written in the copies of the Greek Bible [the Septuagint] which made up the Scriptures of the early church, it is reasonable to believe that the N[ew] T[estament] writers, when quoting from Scripture, preserved the Tetragram within the biblical text.” It appears that shortly thereafter copyists replaced the divine name with surrogates, such as Kyʹri·os (Lord) and The·osʹ (God).
For more information on the papyri found at Oxyrhynchus, see The Watchtower, February 15, 1992, pages 26-8.
For other examples of the divine name in ancient Greek versions, see the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures−With References, appendix 1C.
[Picture Credit Line on page 30]
Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society