Sacred Name Bible
Sacred Name Bibles are Bible translations that consistently use Hebraic forms of God's personal name, instead of its English language translation, in both the Old and New Testaments. Some Bible versions, such as the Jerusalem Bible, employ the name Yahweh, a transliteration of Hebrew YHWH, in the English text of the Old Testament, where traditional English versions have LORD.
None of the Sacred Name Bibles are published by mainstream publishers. Instead, most are published by the same group that produced the translation. Some are available for download on the Web. Very few of these Bibles have been noted or reviewed by scholars outside the Sacred Name Movement.
YHWH occurs in the Hebrew Bible, and also within the Greek text in a few manuscripts of the Greek translation found at Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It does not occur in early manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Although the Greek forms Iao and Iave do occur in magical inscriptions in the Hellenistic Jewish texts of Philo, Josephus and the New Testament use the word Kyrios ("Lord") when citing verses where YHWH occurs in the Hebrew.
For centuries, Bible translators around the world did not transliterate or copy the tetragrammaton in their translations. For example, English Bible translators (Christian and Jewish) used LORD to represent it. Modern authorities on Bible translation have called for translating it with a vernacular word or phrase that would be locally meaningful. The Catholic Church has called for maintaining in the liturgy the tradition of using "the Lord" to represent the tetragrammaton, but does not forbid its use outside the liturgy, as is shown by the existence of Catholic Bibles such as the Jerusalem Bible (1966) and the New Jerusalem Bible' (1985), where it appears as "Yahweh", and place names that incorporate the tetragrammaton are not affected.
A few Bible translators, with varying theological motivations, have taken a different approach to translating the tetragrammaton. In the 1800s–1900s at least three English translations contained a variation of YHWH. Two of these translations comprised only a portion of the New Testament. They did not restore YHWH throughout the body of the New Testament.
In the twentieth century, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible was the first to employ full transliteration of the tetragrammaton where it appears in the Bible (i.e., in the Old Testament). Angelo Traina's translation, The New Testament of our Messiah and Saviour Yahshua in 1950 also used it throughout to translate Κύριος, and The Holy Name Bible containing the Holy Name Version of the Old and New Testaments in 1963 was the first to systematically use a Hebrew form for sacred names throughout the Old and New Testament, becoming the first complete Sacred Name Bible.
Some translators of Sacred Name Bibles hold to the view that the New Testament, or significant portions of it, were originally written in a Semitic language, Hebrew or Aramaic, from which the Greek text is a translation. This view is colloquially known as "Aramaic primacy", and is also taken by some academics, such as Matthew Black. Therefore, translators of Sacred Name Bibles consider it appropriate to use Semitic names in their translations of the New Testament, which they regard as intended for use by all people, not just Jews.
Although no early manuscripts of the New Testament contain these names, some rabbinical translations of Matthew did use the tetragrammaton in part of the Hebrew New Testament. Sidney Jellicoe in The Septuagint and Modern Study (Oxford, 1968) states that the name YHWH appeared in Greek Old Testament texts written for Jews by Jews, often in the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet to indicate that it was not to be pronounced, or in Aramaic, or using the four Greek letters PIPI (Π Ι Π Ι) that physically imitate the appearance of Hebrew יהוה, YHWH), and that Kyrios was a Christian introduction. Bible scholars and translators such as Eusebius and Jerome (translator of the Latin Vulgate) consulted the Hexapla, but did not attempt to preserve sacred names in Semitic forms. Justin Martyr (second century) argued that YHWH is not a personal name, writing of the "namelessness of God".
George Lamsa, the translator of The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts: Containing the Old and New Testaments (1957) believed the New Testament was originally written in a Semitic language, not clearly differentiating between Syriac and Aramaic. However, despite his adherence to a Semitic original of the New Testament, Lamsa translated using the English word "Lord" instead of a Hebraic form of the divine name.
Accuracy or popularity
Sacred Name Bibles are not used frequently within Christianity, or Judaism. Only a few translations replace Jesus with Semitic forms such as Yeshua or Yahshua. Most English Bible translations translate the tetragrammaton with LORD where it occurs in the Old Testament rather than use a transliteration into English. This pattern is followed in languages around the world, as translators have translated sacred names without preserving the Hebraic forms, often preferring local names for the creator or highest deity, conceptualizing accuracy as semantic rather than phonetic.
The limited number and popularity of Sacred Name Bible translations suggests that phonetic accuracy is not considered to be of major importance by Bible translators or the public. The translator Joseph Bryant Rotherham lamented not making his work into a Sacred Name Bible by using the more accurate name Yahweh in his translation (pp. 20 – 26), though he also said, "I trust that in a popular version like the present my choice will be understood even by those who may be slow to pardon it." (p. xxi).
Transliterated Sacred Name Bibles
These Bibles systematically transliterate the tetragrammaton (usually as Yahweh) in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as a Semitic form of the name of Jesus such as Yahshua or Yeshua. They consider the names of both God the Father, and God the Son, to be sacred.
- The New Testament of our Messiah and Saviour Yahshua (1950)
- Holy Name Bible (1963)
- Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible (1970)
- The Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition (1981)
- The Book of Yahweh: The Holy Scriptures (1987)
- Sacred Scriptures, Family of Yah Edition (2000)
- The Holy Bible – Urim-Thummim Version (2001)
- The Word of Yahweh (2003)
- Mickelson Clarified Translation (2008, 2013, 2015, 2019)
- Hebraic Roots Bible (2009, 2012)
- The Restoration Study Bible (2011)
- Names of God Bible (2011, 2014)
Tetragrammaton Sacred Name Bibles
These Sacred Name Bibles use the tetragrammaton without vowels. They follow this practice in both the Old and New Testaments (though some translations are not complete).
- The Scriptures (ISR) Version (1993, 1998, 2009)
- Hebraic-Roots Version (2001, 2004)
- Restoration Scriptures: True Name Edition (2004)
- Zikarown Say'fer Memorial Scroll (2004)
- Sacred Name King James Bible (2005)
- The Seventh Millennium Version (2007)
- The Aramaic English New Testament (2008)
- HalleluYah Scriptures (2009, 2015)
- Abrahamic Faith Nazarene Hebraic Study Scriptures (2010)
- The Restored Name King James Version (2012?)
- Shem Qadosh Version (2014)
- His Name Tanakh (In Progress)
- Neno La Yahweh Swahili version (2014)
- NJV Bible - New Jerusalem Version (2019)
Limited Sacred Name Bibles
Some translations use a form of "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" only sporadically:
- The Complete Bible: An American Translation by John Merlin Powis Smith (1939), e.g. Exodus 3:15, 6:3, 17:15
- Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004, 2010), the tetragrammaton is transliterated "Yahweh" in 495 places in its 2010 revision [654 times in the 2009 edition]. In Psalm 29:1, 2 Chron. 30:8, Isaiah 24:5, and Jeremiah 26:9 it translates the tetragrammaton once as "Yahweh" and once as LORD. In 2 Chronicles 14:11, it translates the tetragrammaton three times as LORD and once as "Yahweh". In Job 1:21, it translates the tetragrammaton twice as LORD and one as "Yahweh". In Psalm 135, it translates the tetragrammaton 14 times as Yahweh and twice as LORD.
- The Emphatic Diaglott (1864), a translation of the New Testament by Benjamin Wilson, the name Jehovah appears eighteen times.
- King James Version (1611), renders Jehovah in Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4, and three times in compound place names at Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15 and Judges 6:24.
- Webster's Bible Translation (1833), by Noah Webster, a revision of the King James Bible, contains the form Jehovah in all cases where it appears in the original King James Version, as well as another seven times in Isaiah 51:21, Jeremiah 16:21; 23:6; 32:18; 33:16, Amos 5:8, and Micah 4:13.
- The English Revised Version (1885), renders the tetragrammaton as Jehovah where it appears in the King James Version, and another eight times in Exodus 6:2,6–8, Psalm 68:20, Isaiah 49:14, Jeremiah 16:21, and Habakkuk 3:19.
- The Ferrar Fenton Bible innovatively uses the phrase "Ever-living" for the tetragrammaton, as well as "Jehovah", even in the same paragraph, such as in Numbers 14:41-43.
- Amplified Bible (1954, 1987), generally uses LORD, but translates Exodus 6:3 as: "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty [El- Shaddai], but by My name the LORD [Yahweh—the redemptive name of God] I did not make Myself known to them [in acts and great miracles]."
- New English Bible (NT 1961, OT 1970), published by Oxford University Press uses Jehovah in Exodus 3:15 and 6:3, and in four place names at Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15, Judges 6:24 and Ezekiel 48:35.
- New Living Translation (1996, 2004), produced by Tyndale House Publishers as a successor to the Living Bible, generally uses LORD, but uses literal names whenever the text compares it to another divine name, such as its use of Yahweh in Exodus 3:15 and 6:3.
- Bible in Basic English (1949, 1964), uses "Yahweh" eight times, including Exodus 6:2–3.
- The American King James Version (1999) by Michael Engelbrite renders Jehovah in all the places where it appears in the original King James Version.
A few translations use either "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" in the Old and New Testaments, but are not generally considered Sacred Name Bibles:
- New World Translation (1961, 1984, 2013), uses ”Jehovah” or variations thereof 7216 times.
- The Original Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010) by David Bauscher, a self-published English translation of the New Testament, from the Aramaic of the Peshitta New Testament with a translation of the ancient Aramaic Peshitta version of Psalms & Proverbs, contains the word "JEHOVAH" over 200 times in the New Testament, where the Peshitta itself does not.
- Divine Name King James Bible (2011) - Uses JEHOVAH 6,973 times throughout the OT, and LORD with Jehovah in parentheses 128 times in the NT.
These versions use either "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" only in the Old Testament:
- Young's Literal Translation (1862) - Uses Jehovah.
- The Darby Bible (1890) - Uses Jehovah. Plus Jehovah appears in many NT footnotes.
- American Standard Version (1901) - Uses Jehovah.
- Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (1902) - Uses Yahweh.
- Jerusalem Bible (1966) - Uses Yahweh.
- Living Bible (1971) - Uses Jehovah 500 times.
- The Bible in Living English (1972) - Uses Jehovah.
- Green's Literal Translation (1985) - Uses Jehovah.
- New Jerusalem Bible (1985) - Uses Yahweh.
- The Recovery Version (1999) - Uses Jehovah. - Plus Jehovah appears in many NT footnotes.
- World English Bible (2000) - Uses Yahweh.
- A Voice in the Wilderness (VW Edition) (2003, 2006, 2008) - Uses Jehovah.
- Lexham English Bible (2011) - Uses Yahweh.
- Julia E. Smith Bible (1876) Uses Jehovah
The Literal Standard Version uses the unpointed tetragrammaton "YHWH" only where it occurs in the Hebrew text.
- An Indonesian translation produced by the Sacred Name Movement, Kitab Suci, uses Hebraic forms of sacred names in the Old and New Testaments (Soesilo 2001:416), based on Shellabear's translation.
- A French translation, by André Chouraqui, uses Hebraic forms in the Old and New Testaments.
- The Spanish language Reina-Valera Bible and most of its subsequent revisions uses the Sacred Name in the Old Testament as "Jehová" starting in Genesis 2:4, with the notable exception of the Reina Valera Contemporánea, a 2011 revision which replaces "Jehová" (Spanish for Jehovah) with "El Señor" (Spanish for The Lord).
- In the Philippines, the Magandang Balita Biblia–Tagalog Popular Version uses Yahweh.
- Peter Unseth Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 185.
- Rhodes R. The Complete Guide to Bible Translations: How They Were Developed 2009 p206 "Unlike most other translations today, the New Jerusalem Bible renders the Old Testament name for God, YHWH, as "Yahweh," just as the Jerusalem Bible did. In place of "Lord of hosts" is "Yahweh Sabaoth"
- Unseth, Peter. 2011. Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 190.
- Review of The Scriptures
- Aland, K. Text of the New Testament
- David Moomo. 2005. Translating YHWH into African languages. Scriptura 88: 151–60.
- Ernst R. Wendland. 1992. yhwh- The Case For Chauta 'Great-[God]-of-the-Bow'. The Bible Translator. 43.4: 430–438.
- Helmut Rosin. 1956. The Lord Is God: The Translation of the Divine Names and the Missionary Calling of the Church. Amsterdam: Netherlands Bible Society.
- "In accordance with immemorial tradition which indeed is already evident in the above-mentioned 'Septuagint' version, the name of almighty God, expressed by the sacred Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH) and rendered in Latin by the word Dominus, is to be rendered in any vernacular by a word of equivalent meaning." Liturgiam authenticam, fifth instruction on vernacular translation of the Roman liturgy, Issue 5, section 41c. Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum. 2001. ISBN 1-57455-428-X.
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: "The Name of God in the Liturgy"
- Black, Matthew. "An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts". Oxford Clarendon 1967.
- Cross F.L "Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church". London: Oxford University Press, 1961
- The Sacred Name 2002: 89ff
- Peter M. Head Christology and the Synoptic problem: an argument for Markan priority p161 "Jellicoe summarises: LXX texts, written by Jews for Jews, retained the Divine Name in Hebrew Letters (palaeo-Hebrew or "
- Justin Martyr, Hortatory Address, ch. 21
- David Moomo. 2005. Translating YHWH into African languages. Scriptura 88:151–160.
- Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition Bible. Preface, V. "No translation has accurately restored the Name Yahweh to the New Testament text where it undoubtedly appeared when the apostolic authors produced their works, nor is there a translation that has faithfully restored the Saviour's true Name, Yahshua the Messiah, to the text of the Bible", Jacob O. Meyer
- Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible.
- BibleCollectors.org review
- MCT Bible, a precise and unabridged translation (precisely and contextually denoting the Sacred Name as "Yahweh" in both the Old and New Testaments), with contextual dictionaries and concordances.
- Hebraic Roots Bible by Esposito.
- published by Yahweh's Restoration Ministry and using the King James Version. Available online at The Restoration Study Bible
- edited by Ann Spangler and published by Baker Publishing Group. Names of God, accessed 12 December 2015. The core text uses the God's Word translation. The print edition has divine names printed in brown and includes a commentary. The text is available at BibleGateway.com.
- Blog review by Richard Shields, The Names of God Bible (GW), accessed 12 December 2015, reports that this version has been praised for its "attention to detail", but the translation only presents "the most significant names and titles of God" in their original forms and therefore some 'names of God' are not treated in the same way: for example, Mighty One (Avir) which appears in Psalms 132:2 and 132:5 and a total of 23 times (most referring to God) in the Old Testament is not highlighted.
- "New Living Translation Foreword" (PDF). 2009.
- e.g. Robert M. Bowman, Jr., J. Ed Komoszewski, Darrell L. Bock Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ c2007 p158 "best known for advocating this is theory, of course, the Jehovah's Witnesses, whose New World Translation "restores" ... New Testament 237 times.9 Other "sacred name" groups (such as the Assemblies of Yahweh) make a similar claim "
- New World Translation
- Chouraqui's French translation online
- Magandang Balita Biblia, copyright Philippine Bible Society 1980. ISBN 971-29-0102-5
- Bivin, David. 1991a. "Jehovah"—A Christian Misunderstanding. Jerusalem Perspective Vol. 4.6: 5,6.
- Bivin, David. 1991b. The Fallacy of Sacred Name Bibles. Jerusalem Perspective Vol. 4.6: 7,12.
- Daams, Nico. 2011. Translating YHWH 'Elohim. The Bible Translator 62.4: 226–235.
- King, Phil. 2014. Perspectives on translating YHWH in Papua New Guinea. The Bible Translator 65.2:185–204.
- Neufeld, Don. 1962. An examination of the claims of the Sacred Name Movement (concluded). The Ministry 35.11: 13–16, 36.
- Moomo, David. 2005. Translating יהוה (YHWH) into African languages. Scriptura 88 pp. 151–160.
- 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.
- Smith, Mark S. 2010. God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing.
- Soesilo, Daud. 2001. Translating the Names of God: recent experience from Indonesia and Malaysia. The Bible Translator 52.4:414–423.
- The Sacred Name YHWH: A Scriptural Study, (3rd ed). 2002. Garden Grove, CA: Qadesh La Yahweh Press.
- The Scriptures 1993, 1998, 2009. Northriding, South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research.
- Trimm, James (translator) 2005. The Hebraic-Roots Version Scriptures. Institute for Scripture Research (publisher).
- Unseth, Peter. 2011. Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 185–194.