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The Latest Work on the Divine Name

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I thought about posting this on the recent thread "Early Christians, the New Testament and the Divine Name," partly because of a question someone posed there on the earliest evidence for Jewish disuse of the name. However, the issue merits its own thread. There is a book published a few years ago on the Greek form of the tetragrammaton, iota-alpha-omega (Ιαω), that is on-topic, yet that seems to have escaped the attention of non-scholars, and for that matter, many scholars as well. It's dense reading to be sure, but worth the effort. It's written by one of the scholars who has penned reviews of Robert Wilkinson's monograph on the tetragrammaton, Frank Shaw. Its title is The Earliest Non-mystical Jewish Use of the Iao (the last word in Greek script Ιαω), volume 70 of Peeters Press's series Biblical Exegesis and Theology (Leuven 2014). In fact, Shaw's expertise on the name is no doubt why the editors of Oxford's Journal of Theological Studies asked him to review Wilkinson's book.

Shaw's point of departure is the finding among the Qumran documents of a LXX manuscript of Leviticus that has Iao for the Hebrew text's Yhwh. What he attempts to do is gather together all known evidence for this Greek form of the name not used in magic or among Gnostics. His findings are surprising to most people who know something about the issue, whether a layperson or a scholar. It seems that this form of the divine name, vocalized as "Ya-ho," was the active pronunciation of the divine name when Jesus and the apostles lived. There is considerable evidence for this, a point that had been briefly made some years earlier in Sean McDonough's book, YHWH at Patmos: Rev. 1:4 in its Hellenistic and Early Jewish Setting (Mohr Siebeck 1999). Indeed, Shaw corrects some of McDonough's errors. Among other things addressed is the question of when the name began to be disused by Jews in the BCE period, and how use and non-use coexisted for many centuries until some time into the Christian era when disuse totally won out. Shaw offers a strong rebuttal of some Evangelical scholars, notably Albert Pietersma and Martin Rösel, who continue to contend against the mounting evidence that kyrios was originally used by the LXX's translators instead of a real form of the name. He also brings up a point made at this forum by JW Insider that "a problem with the JW position is that the use of a Hebrew YHWH in the middle of a Greek manuscript is an indication that it was not to be pronou[n]ced." What Shaw proposes is that within the Judaism into which Jesus and the apostles were born, there was diversity among the people regarding using the name. The upper class who provide most of our existing documentation of that society, and who are responsible for the LXX manuscripts that have come down to us that have the Hebrew tetragrammaton amid the Greek text, did not want to vocalize the name for multiple reasons, but the masses, among whom Jesus worked and from whom came the apostles and other disciples of him, freely used the name as Yaho in Aramaic. This then shows up as Iao in the written Greek sources.

Shaw also calls out NT textual critics for largely ignoring the findings of, and theory of, George Howard regarding the many textual problems of dozens of NT passages where the Father is referred to. This is also one place where he criticizes McDonough who seems again, like Pietersma and Rösel for the LXX, to have represented Evangelicals who want to downplay these NT textual variants. Shaw modifies Howard's notion that the original NT documents likely did not have mainly Yhwh/יהוה in them, but instances of Iao/Ιαω instead. Another noteworthy thing he does is date just when this Greek form of the name began to appear in mystical sources. Scholarship had never before done this, and there have been very sloppy and erroneous assumptions made regarding this matter, including again McDonough. As it turns out, the evidence points to the use of Iao/Ιαω among magicians and mystics dating to the beginning of the second century CE. Shaw even proposes that these types picked up on this form of the name due to the earliest Christians using it in their preaching work. Later Christians then had reason to remove the name from their documents (LXX and NT) because the "pernicious heretics" and magicians were using it with more and more frequency.

There are many other interesting points in the book, but this post has already gotten longer than I'd planned on. For those who have the stamina to work through it, the book is well worth what you will learn from it.


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This topic has been touched upon before, but I didn't take it as far as I had hoped. For me, this was largely because this was a new area of study for me which I undertook briefly, mostly for about 10 days in May 2017 and only touched on it afterwards when related topics came up on this forum. For myself, that might have been mostly my fault because I was very unsure of the strength of evidence for basing anything on Ιαω. @bruceq, a member or former member of this forum collects reference materials on the Divine Name and pointed out some related links by Pavlos Vasileiadis, which I read at that time.



I'm sure you know of these resources.

Most of the related topics already discussed on this forum were sidetracked or abandoned. But there have been a couple strong attempts to get somewhere on this and we have even started discussing George Howard, Nehemiah Gordon, and the Gertoux/Furuli collaboration with Fritz Poppenberg. 

I have access to a large library of scholarly journals through a university account, but I'm out of the country for most of July (Paris) and will still be here another week. I don't want to try logging in from here because of a potential security flag that might require a complete reset.

I had hoped to discuss George Howard, of course, but that discussion never really started: (HOWARD, Biblical Archaeology Review Vol IV, No. 1). http://www.jstor.org/stable/3265328?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

The posts at  https://www.theworldnewsmedia.org/topic/47810-the-name-of-god-documentary-by-fritz-poppenberg/?page=7 took too many twists and turns to be of much use to review for reference material.

The topic/thread that came closest to discussing the value of IAO in the LXX is here, https://www.theworldnewsmedia.org/topic/35287-what-gives-them-the-right-to-insert-yhwh-so-that-the-the-scriptures-are-manipulated-to-suit-the-their-doctrine/?page=2and might be worth a quick look. I know that my own research on the topic was just beginning at that point, and I had quickly come to the conclusion that IAO was a problematic route that didn't require much more attention due to a supposed permanent relationship with paganism, an Egyptian god, magic, etc. But I realize a couple of points now that I hadn't really seen clearly. One is that IAO was NOT really a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew YHWH (as the NWT Appendix states). And the other is that IAO was the only LXX Divine Name that was meant to be pronounceable.

The work by Shaw appears to be important, and I would have looked up his ideas anyway, just based on his excellent critique of Wilkinson. [And, or course, Furuli had mentioned his book in "Bias in Translation."]  Although as I mentioned above, I have limited access to my "armchair" resources at the moment. When I get back home, I'll see if Shaw is affordable, or get the NYPL to find me a copy.

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JWI, yes, the notion that Iao is tied to mysticism is basically an anachronism. In his preface Shaw asks whether the divine name Ιαω fell down magically from the sky onto its most known appearance, the magical papyrus leaves, or whether it had a prior non-mystical Jewish history. 4Q120 shows that the latter is the case.

Are you familiar with the work of Didier Fontaine? He reviews Shaw's book here:


Enjoy Paris!

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7 hours ago, tromboneck said:

I daresay, Gordon Lightfoot and Buffy St. Marie also had a lot to say about it in their famous treatise, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

I always loved that song. Haunting and apparently based on a true story. It's on one of only three albums I ever bought for myself.

What's interesting about the song, is that even after it was canonized in the album, Lightfoot looked into new evidence that had come to light, and which made Lightfoot's foot path grow brighter and brighter. He realized it was not necessarily human error that caused the sinking, so he humbly changed the words of the song for all future performances. Here's how it was stated at: https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/music/2010/03/25/gordon_lightfoot_changes_edmund_fitzgerald_lyrics.html

  • “He’s not re-recording the song, but he has already changed a line for live performances,” a spokesperson for Lightfoot said Thursday. “He was pretty impressed by what he saw in the film, new evidence that unsecured hatch covers didn’t cause the ship to sink.”
  • The traditional verse goes: “When supper time came the old cook came on deck /Saying ‘Fellows it’s too rough to feed ya’ /At 7 p.m. a main hatchway caved in /He said, ‘Fellas it's been good to know ya.”
  • Lightfoot’s lyrics have now been changed to: “When supper time came the old cook came on deck /Saying ‘Fellows it’s too rough to feed ya’ /At 7 p.m. it grew dark, it was then/He said, ‘Fellas it's been good to know ya’,” Lightfoot’s spokesperson said.

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OK, so JWI will hopefully return from Paris this coming week. He mentioned the BA article by Howard in his post above. That was a watered down version of his 1977 classic article in the JBL, the article that began the controversy in academic circles. I have attached it here for the reading pleasure of those who wish to imbibe. The "Christian Usage" portion begins on p. 74 with some background on the nomina sacra, and then in earnest on p. 76 with the NT.



Howard JBL 96, 1977.pdf

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@indagator  Thanks again. I have not read that much of Shaw directly yet, but I have read all the reviews I could get and sizable portions of other books that quote him, and his own reviews of others (Wilkinson).  (I have access to the complete "Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography" book, by the way, Hurtado's "Early Christian Artifacts," articles by Tov, etc.)

But right now I'm in the middle of reading

    Hello guest!

It's not even a year old yet (in this final submission).

As I just mentioned under a similar topic, I find it to be a comprehensive review of all the relevant evidence. (Shaw finds relevance in ALL the references to the Greek IAO, of course, meaning that Shaw treats even apparently non-relevant esoteric evidence as relevant.) Meyer only references Shaw's more esoteric evidence, but barely needs it.

I like the way Meyer avoids jumping to any conclusions about the evidence, but as good scholars do, very even-handedly presents it, and presents what others have said about it, and pushes no particular agenda that I can see so far. In fact, he allows the evidence itself to weaken the more direct assumptions that others have made, especially about the timeline from Tetragrammaton to Kyrios. Both of the authors seem to agree that the evidence favors the Greek "IAO" in the earliest LXX examples, before any Hebrew-styled Tetragrammatons were used in the [Greek] LXX.

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On 7/21/2018 at 3:05 PM, indagator said:

He mentioned the BA article by Howard in his post above. That was a watered down version of his 1977 classic article in the JBL, the article that began the controversy in academic circles.

Thanks. For those with JSTOR access through a university or library, it's also here:

    Hello guest!

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I've read Meyer's diss as well. There are several problems with it, but they aren't major ones. He seems to be, in effect, backing off one point in his review where he disagrees with Shaw, namely that the use of Iao among Jews in the Second Temple Period was more a socio-economic class thing. In his diss. he seems more amenable to the idea, though he never comes out and states that. Again, it is what the evidence suggests. Interestingly, he never discusses in either work the implications for all this in the NT (Shaw's chapters 7 and 10). It's probably too much of a hot potato for him. He comes from an Evangelical background and plenty of those folks feel threatened by the implications of the use of the divine name by NT Christians because it would endanger their unscriptural high Christology. It sort of puts people like Meyer in a quandary: embrace the evidence or stick with his tradition.

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Well, I now have Shaw's book, the whole thing. It is densely packed. It will take a while to wade through completely, and I'd like to complete it by next week, but I'm not sure I'll even start before then. I would like to complete Meyer's work first, now that I read about a third of it. And I'm constantly find intriguing little side-routes along the way, or things that just come to mind:

  1. The most recent sidetrack was a dissertation I just read about the "acrostic" divine name, YHWH, in the book of Esther. I have always wondered what the most complete surveys of the evidence would say about it, and I think my suspicions are now confirmed after reading a good scholarly treatment of that subject last night.
  2. The night before it was trying to figure out how early that Christian writers were treating the name Jesus as a divine name. Some of Chester Beatty's mss that could potentially be dated to the second century CE (although this is likely too early) even have the name JOSHUA in the OT turned into a "divine name" based, it is assumed, on the proximity to the name JESUS.
  3. The night before that it was reading some things Philo said that I had never read before.
  4. The night before that it was reading some things I probably read before in Josephus, but didn't remember.
  5. etc.

As an amateur, so many of these points are new to me, and I therefore get sidetracked more than most, I'd guess. I'm not a steady reader who can stay on topic. But one of the advantages of being an amateur is the special joy you get when you are about to read someone's treatise on a topic that you know very little about, and you guess the outcome in advance. I'm constantly second-guessing authors with the idea that "I bet I'm going to find . . .  this or that." When you guess them right, it's probably the same kind of joy my grandmother would get when she completed a difficult crossword or jig-saw puzzle.

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JWI, yes, Shaw's book is, as you say, "densely packed." It requires concentration, and likely a rereading of portions as you plow through certain sections the first time. It is all worth it.

I think many of us can relate to getting distracted with our various interests in diverse things having to do with Jehovah's word. On the topic of an acrostic divine name in Esther, have you read this?

    Hello guest!

If not, it's the best thing I've found on the subject.

Looking forward to hearing your impressions of Shaw's book.

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32 minutes ago, indagator said:

On the topic of an acrostic divine name in Esther, have you read this?

Yes. I read it soon after GA once asked a question here about that view of Esther and YHWH. I also have the following saved to my drive that I hadn't completed yet, but I have skimmed most of it and read the conclusions. It covers much of the same material as Turner, about the same length, but in slightly more depth, I think. So far, it seemed to answer the question in the same way, not definitively, but as definitive as necessary in a scholarly paper. 

  • Accident or Acronymy: The Tetragrammaton in the Masoretic Text of Esther
  • John M. Manguno Jr.
  • From Bibliotheca Sacra 171 (October - December 2014): 440-451

    Hello guest!


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8 hours ago, JW Insider said:

John M. Manguno Jr

Interesting discussion. Two statements stood out to me:

The first "there is no reason to “encode” the divine name." Obvious response to this one is "From whose standpoint?"

The second, (presumably from the author's standpoint):   "it is hoped that the evidence presented here will allow the reader to make an informed decision that results in dismissing belief that the author intentionally hid God’s name within the Hebrew text of Esther."  Now this is an obvious conclusion. if it is  believed that the author was solely human and, at most, whose inspiration was arising from some external creative impulse related to the subject matter and not in the sense conveyed by  the apostles Paul and Peter at 2 Tim3:16 and 2 Pet.1:21.

If we are to accept, however, the principle of divine inspiration in the sense (for example) of Paul's words at 2 Tim 3:16, then it is quite possible that the hiding of God's name within the Hebrew text of Esther took place without the awareness of the human author. One of those matters in which the reader is at liberty to use their own discernment it would seem.

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5 hours ago, Gone Away said:

The first "there is no reason to “encode” the divine name." Obvious response to this one is "From whose standpoint?"

So you are saying that God wanted to hide his name? For what reason would God want his name hidden?

Of course, in context, the author is saying that for code believers, there is a reason given for God to encode the divine name in Esther. Otherwise the book wouldn't contain any reference at all to YHWH. But for other books that already have YHWH in it the author says there is no reason [ever given, or even considered] to encode the divine name. No one thinks of explaining why 15 OTHER Bible books contain the YHWH acrostic, not just Esther.

For example, Esther has 10 chapters, and you could claim there are four of these are acrostics in 10 chapters, assuming you look in both directions using both initial letters and final letters. Yet, 1 Chronicles apparently has nine of these, more than twice as many. And 1 Chronicles also has a string of 10 chapters, like Esther, with 6 of these in those ten chapters alone. No one makes a big deal about these ones in 1 Chronicles, because there is no reason to.

To me this is like trying to find pictures of demons in Watchtower illustrations. The people who see them are sometimes people who desparately need to see them (apparently). Which also reminds me of a discussion I had with someone who truly believed in the "Bible Code." This is where people were running computer programs on the Bible text to show especially that if you lined up all the letters of the OT in a kind of 2D matrix of different line lengths, you could play a word search game like these ( 

    Hello guest!
). The biggest thing for fundamentalists to find of course were the Hebrew letters for "Yeshua is God, Yehoshua is the Messiah, etc., to prove that Christ Jesus had been prophesied. Some people were also 'going nuts' finding "Rabin Assassination," and dozens of other things.

It was easy to prove mathematically (statistically) by letter frequency and distribution that one should also be able to find a certain number of times where the letters would also align to say "Satan is God" or "Paul is Dead" (backwards of course). Proving all these things meant nothing to the person I was talking to, until her pastor told her it was wrong. Similarly, the article on Esther shows that "SATAN" is also found in Esther's acrostics, not just YHWH.

Of course, I'm not claiming the "acrostics" aren't there, but I'm in the camp that believes they don't mean anything. They are just as coincidental in Esther as they are in 1 Chronicles. If they are not coincidental, I also would not have put it past the Masoretes to play with the word order to get a few extra acrostics in Esther that weren't there in the natural text. After all, the Masoretes were willing to change God's curses to God's blessings. Even a much earlier translator/reviser who worked on replacements for the LXX changed wording to make God's "human-sounding" traits disappear. 

There are a few other problems, the most important to me is that it would make the wisdom of God more accessible to the wise and clever. A class of scribes who were more privileged and literate would have a distinct advantage over the masses of people who came to listen to the Bible being read to them. If a scribe or priest made a claim to the unlettered classes about this wonderful, surprising, happifying find (as FWFwould  refer to a numerical coincidence) they would just have to take their word for it.

And of course, the apparent randomness and mundane nature of the places where these acrostics are found creates another level of cleverness to try to explain them. "Esther asked a couple of bad people to come here." Why would that be a place on which to place God's name?

Here are the places in Esther, as described in the NWT footnotes. I will highlight the words from the text where YHWH is supposedly applicable:

*** Rbi8 Esther 1:20 ***

  • "It . . . and all the wives themselves will give.” Hiʼ Wekhol-Han·na·shimʹ Yit·tenuʹ (Heb.) appears to be a reverse acrostic of the Tetragrammaton, יהוה (YHWH). Three ancient Heb. mss are known that give the letters of the divine name here in acrostic in majuscule letters, as follows: היא וכל־הנשים יתנו. This is the first of four such acrostics of the name “Jehovah,” and the Masorah in a rubric, or in red letters, calls attention to this.

*** Rbi8 Esther 5:4 ***

  • “Let the king with Haman come today.” This appears to be the second acrostic of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, in Esther. Ya·vohʼʹ Ham·meʹlekh Weha·manʹ Hai·yohmʹ, in Heb. Three ancient Heb. mss are known that give the Heb. letters of the divine name, יהוה (YHWH), in acrostic in majuscule letters, as follows: יבוא המלך והמן היום. The Masorah in a rubric, or in red letters, calls attention to this. See 1:20 ftn.

*** Rbi8 Esther 5:13 ***

  • “But all this—none of it suits me.” Heb., wekhol-zeHʹ ʼeh·nenʹnU sho·weHʹ lI. Here U corresponds to W and I corresponds to Y. This appears to be the third acrostic of the Tetragrammaton, יהוה (YHWH), in Esther. Three ancient Heb. mss are known that give the Heb. letters of the divine name, יהוה, here spelled backward, in acrostic in majuscule letters, as follows: וכל־זה איננו שוה לי. The Masorah in a rubric, or in red letters, calls attention to this. See vs 4 and 1:20 ftns.

*** Rbi8 Esther 7:7 ***

  • “That bad had been determined against him.” In this acrostic kI-khol·thaHʹ ʼe·laVʹ ha·ra·ʽaHʹ (Heb.), the I corresponds to Y and the V corresponds to W. This appears to be the fourth acrostic of the divine name, יהוה (YHWH), in Esther. It is formed by the final letters of the four words, read from right to left in Heb., as follows: כי־כלתה אליו הרעה.

None of these phrases are especially upbuilding or "godly" in any way.

Not only that, but it gives what seems to be undue importance to the Hebrew language. If it were so important, why does the Bible itself seem to transition over to Aramaic in those books written closer to the time when Aramaic was becoming more ubiquitous. And evidently some additions to older books, too: Genesis, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra.

It's also just playing with Hebrew usage that had changed over time with the utilization of some of these letters as vowels in certain places, as consonants in other places, and prefixes in others. Note that "VAV" can be the U sound, or the O sound, or the V/W sound. When a "VAV" is placed in front of the word "all" in one place, it's attached as a kind of prefix to mean "and." So it's not even the more important word "all" but a Hebrew construct that is written as AND-ALL where the word "all" doesn't even count as a word in these acrostics. Similar things could be said for the "H" when used as a "prefix" it just means "THE" ["Ha"].

So a sentence that says "Let the King with Haman come today" is literally really just "LET-COME THE-KING AND-HAMAN THE-DAY. In the acrostic, the only words that count are LET[come], THE, AND, THE. Yet the most significant words are effectively skipped and worthless. The words KING, HAMAN and DAY are insignificant and not part of the acrostic due to the common way "AND" and "THE" are prefixed to a word. [HA can also mean "THIS" as the 'definite article' so that "this day" is TO-DAY.]  "YOD" is a common verb modifier prefix, too. In large part, it's because the word "THE" and "AND" are so common that there are so many of these acrostics.

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Ivan Panin)

16 hours ago, JW Insider said:

So you are saying that God wanted to hide his name?

Obviously not, because it isn't. The suggestion regarding these "acrostics" found in the book of Esther has been around a lot longer than any of us, and any associated with modern day Bible Students and the like as is thoroughly documented in the linked .pdfs.

Previous discussion on the extremes gone to by some on Bible "coding" (Ivan Panin), or God's name searching (the notion that the Tetragrammaton appears in the DNA code), has shown that the basic "crankiness" exemplified in beliefs such as "pyramidology" is alive and well. Meeting these ideas whilst engaging in field ministry recently underscores this.

My suggestion is based on an objection to what I consider to be an academic smugness I find in many similarly detailed discussions. Whilst the research is admirable, as is the painstaking reasoning demonstrated in these documents, there is a tendency to draw conclusions that  are really a reflection of opinion.

The latter statement I quoted regarding the intention of the human author of the book of Esther is an example of this.

We can only guess at the author's  intention, (a very well educated guess perhaps, but nevertheless, a guess). The author of Esther may well have had no idea at all that the acrostics in question appeared in the writings. This idea is lost in the discussion on (limited despite detailed) use of language at the time of writing. And there is no mention at all of any suggestion that Jehovah Himself (the real author of the work) is quite capable of using acrostics of His own name wherever He chooses to do in His word, an observation I am afraid not subject to contradiction as it rests in the mind of the beholder. As stated, it remains that this matter is one of those  in which the reader is at liberty to use their own discernment.

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Is it really so important that God's name be or not be a certain biblical book so that one must go ahunting for its supposed presence in acrostics? It's nowhere in Ecclesiastes. Or Philippians, 1 Timothy, or the epistles of John. In the end isn't its presence or absence in any book all part of Jehovah's will?

All sorts of unexpected things occur when it comes to the divine name. For example, its only supposed appearance in the Song of Sol. is Jah (8:6), and that is textually problematic. It's common in the prologue or introductory material of Job and then relatively common at the end, but extremely skimpy in the bulk of the book, the middle section, the poetic dialogue among the book's major players. In Daniel it's limited to chapter 9, save one place in the book's beginning, which again is textually problematic. On the other hand, many OT books contain the name quite commonly throughout.

When Fred Franz had to decide which passages in the NT likely had the name originally in them, he wound up being quite conservative, with only 237 places, far less than any "average number" in a comparable size of material that one could obtain by looking at its occurrence in the Hebrew Bible. We find NT writers like Luke using one of several established surrogates for the name, "Heaven," at Luke 15:18 and 21. Most likely the written source he employed for the prodigal son parable had that use of the surrogate, and Luke had no qualms about reproducing what he found in his source. Elsewhere in his gospel Luke uses heaven as a place, not as a divine name surrogate like the writers of 1 and 2 Maccabees, for example, did, and as we see in the prodigal son parable.

I am reminded of a video that has appeared several times in organizational "history segments" since the Society has switched over so heavily to the video format. I'm not sure, but I think it is Bro. George Couch. In it he continually speaks of "the Lord" doing this and wanting that. Obviously he is referring to Jehovah, yet he does not use his name often, preferring "the Lord," not all that dissimilar to Christendom’s usage. Just as obvious is the fact that Bro. Couch (if my ID is correct) was a faithful servant of the almighty Jehovah in modern times. He simply had a preference for one particular title when referring to him. Since that can be the case in modern times, why not in antiquity?

If we take the, again, relatively conservative usage of Jehovah in the NT books as represented by the NWT, we would have to admit that use of the name had gone down in frequency when compared to how, for example, David, Ezekiel, or Isaiah used it.

Given all this, I ask again, is it really necessary to enter into acrostics or "encoding" or "decoding" supposed instances of the name? Wouldn't it be wiser to gain a full knowledge of the sources that are definite and available, like Shaw's book relates? I realize that mastery of that volume requires real effort, but the reward is far greater than—no offense to anyone—dabbling in the dubious question of divine name acrostics.

If you want something substantial to think about, try this:


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8 hours ago, indagator said:

If you want something substantial to think about, try this:

It's all Greek onomastica to me.

The discussion about Esther should have been done in a different thread so as not to divert from the Shaw topic. There is a relationship to the questions about the Divine Name, of course. Esther was one of the later books to be added to the canon, and it should be looked at as a potential book that's on the cusp of those that might include/withhold the Divine Name.

I once heard that the Qumram texts might have been a depository for old scrolls that needed either safekeeping or even replacing after being overused or worn out. We have evidence from a nearby time period that there was a question about destroying scrolls by fire, and some Jewish thought at the time was that, even if the scrolls were from "apostates" that the divine name should be cut out first. All the books of the Hebrew Bible were partially represented at Qumram except Esther.

So there! Definitive proof that Esther did not contain the Divine Name. [Just kidding.]

What is true, of course, is that the importance and care taken with respect to the Divine Name would mean that any Jewish scribe or Jewish reader would quickly notice its presence and absence. Those looking to decide about canonicity would notice. Should note, too, that the rabbis and scribes of old (pre-Masorete) played several other word and letter games with the text. Not all of them caught on. There are people today who still waste their time counting the letters of the English Bibles to find the middle verse of the NT or OT, or OT+NT, or the middle letter, or the 666th verse. If you read through old rabbinical commentaries, you see it's NOT just numerologists and cabalistic gematriasts, but well-known and well-respected rabbis doing things like this. I just looked up "cabalistic" in Google and this [below] came up next to the top. But even without gematria, you will still see discussions of the meaning of each letter, and attempts to find significance in alternate spellings of names, etc:

    Hello guest!

    Hello guest!
    Hello guest!
    Hello guest!
 - 1994 - ?
    Hello guest!
 - ?
    Hello guest!
the cabalistic method of explaining the Hebrew Scriptures by means of the cryptographic significance of the words. Thus, the first word of Genesis in Hebrew, meaning "in the beginning," has the numerical value 913, which is the same as that ...

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5 hours ago, indagator said:

Is it really so important that God's name be or not be a certain biblical book so that one must go ahunting for its supposed presence in acrostics?

For some, maybe, but as pointed out, the suggestions made by Masoretes are ancient. Others today may want to dispute and search further, but for me it is not a reasonable quest. In fact is has a resemblance to Holy Grailism to my mind.

The Shaw book sounds interesting but I can't access it anywhere so will observe from the sidelines. ?


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JWI, such tangents are common and expected in forums like this one. It's all part of the forum experience. Your humor is appreciated. Yes, plenty of people have historically been sidetracked by numbers, gematria, etc.

GA, "The Shaw book sounds interesting but I can't access it anywhere." It's available from the publisher for $81 US:

    Hello guest!

or cheaper from Amazon, $57.55:

    Hello guest!

It's money well spent. Happy reading.

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On 8/6/2018 at 12:18 PM, indagator said:

Happy reading.

It's exciting to see so much detail that turns out to be important. I had skimmed some of this before, but missed its relevance, because I had purposely dismissed it as unimportant. To me this info on

    Hello guest!
was like those books on the DSS (Qumram texts) that pushed so hard to make them relevant to early Christianity, John the Baptist, etc. I took the lot with a grain of salt. (Yes, pun intended, sorry!) But I realize that there really is a lot to learn even from those books if we can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Also, I was on a trek last year to get some well-respected references on early Christian physical artifacts and had a museum contact give me some good leads. Turns out Shaw's book was among the recommendations, although I was looking into several other points too. While just last week getting a copy of Shaw's book I ended up picking up some other books that I had delayed looking at due to price. But some of these are available only at libraries, and I am trying to work through a few things at once here, as I only visit the library once a week for two hours max.

So I hope you will stick around and be patient with me. I'm only about 25% through Shaw, but I'll definitely keep at it. I'm guessing you've also taken an interest in some of the other issues I'm looking into. So I hope you'll stick around for some other topics too.

I have just read pages 105 - 130 of this paper linked below and found its organized approach valuable. The main point in earlier pages and in the conclusion deal with the skepticism over the traditional/Biblical etymology, but the study leads to some good evidence about various possibilities of pronunciation and spelling. I know that Shaw already covers some of this, too. But I like the organized tables and charts. I found it by reading some more of Didier Fontaine's blog. I had seen areopage links in many places before but hadn't realized it was all him.

    Hello guest!

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That dissertation has been revised as a book now with improvements made and more refs. to Shaw's work:

    Hello guest!

Probably best to stick with the updated edition. I've read it. It's good on certain points but does not have the scope or time frame of Shaw's book. The latter is far more on-topic for Jehovah's servants today.


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