[This article was contributed by Apollos]
Was the Divine Hebrew Name of God originally included in the Christian Greek Scriptures?
It is a subject that has been discussed extensively on this site. A few months back, Meleti expressed some personal feelings in his article Orphans.
For me it has been a long standing contradiction that God has clearly preserved this name in copies of Hebrew manuscripts so that it could be restored in the O.T. and yet was somehow unable or unwilling to do the same for the more recent Greek manuscripts of the N.T.
Through a close examination of the organization’s own justification for insertion of the Divine Name in the N.T. I came to see that it was necessary for the so-called “J References” to be misrepresented in order to claim support for doing so. The previous Appendix 1D in the Reference Bible was quite disingenuous on this matter. In the RNWT the “J References” have been dropped and replaced by a new set of arguments under Appendix A5.
Meleti’s superb examination of this new Appendix exposed it largely as a series of logical fallacies.
Before I drop the bomb on you with a totally new piece of information, let me provide a quick historical review of some key points.
1) From the inception of C.T. Russell’s movement, the English rendering of the Hebrew Divine Name – Jehovah – was used by the Bible Students. It is important to note that this was just simple fact at the time. You will still hear Christians of various denominations using the Name today in similar fashion. It was being used, but it was not being made into an issue in its own right that required special promotion.
2) It took five decades for the usage of the name Jehovah to really become a “hot topic” in its own right. The pivotal event was, not surprisingly, Rutherford’s move to name the organization “Jehovah’s witnesses” (although technically he was still denying that it was an organization at the time). As with just about everything Rutherford did, it was another move to create a chasm between the movement and other religions.
3) Having made this sudden unilateral move in 1931, the question would naturally have arisen as to how appropriate this choice of label was for a Christian movement. It would have been, and remains, a valid question, given that those worshiping in “spirit and truth” had already been given a name by divine providence – Christians (Acts 11:26). A further eight decades down the line and we find ourselves constantly questioning whether we even have a truly Christian message in comparison with what we read of the first century Christians. Did the rebranding in the 1930’s have something to do with that?
For now you may hold those thoughts, as I want to concentrate on the one very specific question raised at the outset. Did the Hebrew Divine Name of God originally feature in the writings of the first century Christians?
Clearly, if it did not, then the question as to why we choose to adopt it as a Christian organization becomes more difficult to answer. Hence those who took the reins of the organization after Rutherford’s death in 1942 had a bit of a problem on their hands. Evidently it wasn’t a show stopper. They’d already got by for more than 10 years, but on the other hand imagine if even today we were using a Bible that had the name Jehovah in the Old Testament, but it was entirely absent from the New. Don’t you think that more people in the organization would be focusing on Jesus just as they used to, and would be asking the question as to why Rutherford so named us as a Christian organization?
Obviously a perfect solution would be to have a credible Bible translation that somehow featured the name Jehovah in the Christian Greek Scriptures. How timely then that a few years later the New World Translation (of the Greek Scriptures only) was born. The key feature of this translation? A “restoration” of the Divine Name.
Of course we know that the “restoration” has no basis in any Greek manuscripts, entirely unlike the Hebrew manuscripts. We won’t dig over all the evidence again here as it has been covered before through articles and comments on this site. It is worth reiterating however that support for the insertions was sought in part from the translations made by a self-confessed spiritist – Johannes Greber. I covered some of that history in my article “Spirit Communication”.
What we also know is that Brother Fred Franz was actively involved in this venture, and probably led the translation committee.
When we look at the Appendix 1D in the Reference edition of the NWT we find that a theory by one George Howard from the University of Georgia is used as a primary basis for justifying the 237 insertions of the Hebrew name of God into the Greek text. Except the writer of the NWT appendix takes an extra step and states that the theory is actually fact.
What did the scholarly Fred Franz actually feel about the lack of evidence that the Divine Name was ever in the New Testament?
Here is the quite extraordinary piece of information I have been building up to. In the Golden Age October 3rd 1928, page 29, a piece was published by Franz entitled “By My Name Jehovah Was I Not Known”.
The gist of the article is that, just as Jehovah made Himself known to Moses in a new way compared to the patriarchs, the time had come to make Himself known to his modern day people by His “great and terrible name” Jehovah.
And yet note the following statements by Franz concerning the Divine Name in the New Testament:
“It no doubt causes wonderment that God’s name, viz., JEHOVAH, does not occur in the New Testament, and neither Jesus nor His apostles are recorded as taking the name in their lips. In writing the New Testament in Greek, the writers of the gospels and epistles evidently followed the Greek Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, which also does not use the name Jehovah but uses the word “Kurios”, Lord, in translating the name Jehovah from the Hebrew text. “
As if this was not enough he also writes:
“The Lord unquestionably arranged the omission of His name “Jehovah” from the New Testament, and has permitted the Christian churches throughout this era to overlook God’s outstanding name. “
The Lord unquestionably arranged the omission of His name “Jehovah” from the New Testament
I can assure you that this is an accurate reproduction of Franz’s writings, and nothing is taken out of context.
So in 1928, Franz believed exactly what many of us on this site believe today. God chose NOT to use his Hebrew name – YHWH – in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
In addition, many of us have come to believe that there is a reason for that. When we freely allow the scriptures to express to us the emphasis that he put on the name and position of His only-begotten Son, then the glorious good news of the Christ shines through. (2 Cor 4:4)
However three years after Franz wrote this, Rutherford chose to adopt the name Jehovah officially for the movement, and left Franz and Knorr holding that baby. When we consider this background what are we to conclude about the motives of Fred Franz and the translation committee? Furthermore, how persuasive are the current arguments that are still being used to maintain the position of the translation committee when we know that Franz himself said that the Name was unquestionably omitted from the N.T. by the Lord’s direction?
I believe that it merits some very serious thought indeed.