Sacred name Bibles

Sacred name Bibles

Sacred name BiblesA number of sacred name Bible translations have been done in English with the specific aim of carrying into English the actual names of God as they were in the originals. Some have been done by people from the Sacred Name Movement. Others have been done by people who do not identify with this movement, but are concerned to convey the name of God in a form that is phonetically similar to the form of the Hebrew language.

Some of these translations limit their interest to giving Hebrew forms for a very few words, others apply their principles to a wider variety of terms. The one word that all focus on is the name spelled with four Hebrew letters YHWH, often called the Tetragrammaton. However, these translations do not agree on how to spell it, their renditions of it including: “YHVH”, “Yahweh”, “YAHVAH”. Some prefer to mix into the English text the comparable word written in Hebrew letters or Paleo-Hebrew script. Words that frequently are spelled in forms that try to mimic Hebrew pronunciations include: Elohim, Adonai, Jesus, Messiah. Again, there is not unanimity in spelling, e.g. “Yeshua”, “Yahshua”, “Yahushua”, as well as the use of Hebrew and Paleo-Hebrew scripts by various translations.

The translators of these versions generally believe that the New Testament, or at least significant portions of it, was originally written not in Koine Greek, but in a Semitic language, Hebrew or Aramaic. The present Greek text is then a translation and is seen as deficient in not having preserved the Hebraic forms of names, particularly sacred names. Therefore, they believe it appropriate to use Semitic-based names in their translations of the New Testament. They believe that use of Hebrew-based names for God are for all people, not just Jews, and for all time ("The Sacred Name" 2002: 89ff).

These sacred name Bibles generally trace their inspiration back to Emphasized Bible (1902), but they did not appear until forty years later, beginning with Angelo Traina’s "Holy Name Bible" in 1963. Some of these translations are directly derived from the King James Version, simply altering the names of God. Others have been done by consulting Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts, often treating the Aramaic manuscripts more seriously (as opposed to Greek manuscripts) than traditional translators.

Traditional practice in dealing with the tetragrammaton has been to not pronounce it. Among Jews, since the Babylonian exile, it has been the custom not to pronounce it as it is written ("Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin"), but rather to pronounce Adonai or “Ha Shem” (The Name). Christian Bible translators into English initiated the custom of writing “LORD”, all capital letters, to represent this, e.g. King James Version. This pattern has been continued by Jewish translators, e.g. old JPS Version (1917) and new JPS Tanach (1985). In contrast, these sacred name translations place a value on pronouncing the revealed name of God, directly contradicting the traditional Jewish practice of not pronouncing directly what is sometimes called the "ineffable name".

Three other English Bible translations are particularly noteworthy in their diversion from the traditional practice in translating the tetragrammaton. The American Standard Version (1901), New World Translation (1961) of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Jerusalem Bible (1966) use Jehovah throughout the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament). An important distinctive of the sacred name Bibles is that, unlike the translations just listed, they use a Hebrew-based spelling of the tetragrammaton in the New Testament, not just the Old Testament.

In addition, there is another sacred name translation in English well underway, the "Transparent English Bible’’.

Sacred name Bibles have done a better job than most English translations when translating the quotation from Psalm 110:1 found in Mark 12:36. Most English translations have worded it in such as way that it is not clear that two separate referents are indicated in the Hebrew original, translating it as ““The Lord said to my Lord” (American Standard Version, Revised Standard Version, New International Version, and Revised English Bible.) However, since sacred name translations automatically use a different form for the tetragrammaton (which is the first of the two nouns in this quotation), they produce clearer results, e.g. “Yahweh said to my sovereign” (Word of Yahweh) or “YAHVAH hath said unto my Master” (Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible).

Various of these translations have been accepted by a variety of groups, including Messianic congregations, Assemblies of Yahweh, a variety of Sabbath-keeping Christians, etc., but they are still rejected by most Christian groups. They are not accepted by any Jewish groups that are not Messianic.


*Bivin, David. 1991. “Jehovah”—A Christian Misunderstanding. "Jerusalem Perspective" Vol. 4.6: 5,6.
*Bivin, David. 1991. The Fallacy of Sacred Name Bibles. "Jerusalem Perspective" Vol. 4.6: 7,12.
*Moomo, David. 2005. Translating YHWH into African languages. "Scriptura" 88:151-160.
*Neufeld, Don. 1962. An examination of the claims of the Sacred Name Movement (concluded). "The Ministry" 35.11: 13-16, 36.
*Pritz, Ray. 1991. The Divine Name in the Hebrew New Testament. "Jerusalem Perspective", Vol. 4:2 10-12.
* Rösel, Martin. 2007. The Reading and Translation of the Divine Name in the Masoretic Tradition and the Greek Pentateuch. "Journal for the Study of the Old Testament" 31.4: 411-428.
* Seitz, C. R. 2000. Handing over the name: Christian reflection on the divine name YHWH. In "Trinity, Time, and Church" ed. by Collin Gunton, pp. 23-41. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
*"The Sacred Name YHWH: A Scriptural Study", (3rd ed). 2002. Garden Grove, CA: Qadesh La Yahweh Press.
* "The Scriptures" 1998. Northriding, South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research.

External links

* ['s-Bible-Names-Dictionary/ Bible Names] The Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary is originally part of "Hitchcock's New and Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible"

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