I see. My Jehovah's Witness friend kept trying to push on me that Jehovah is God's real name, and that we ought to call him by it.
Until the Masoretic scribes added vowel pointing to the Hebrew Bible to standardize pronunciation (circa 1000 AD), the Hebrew text was composed of consonants only, as was the case when the original text was written. The Divine Name in the original Hebrew text contained only four consonants, written from right to left (יהוה
). To stress the point, no vowels were used in the days the original text was produced. For clarity, the four consonants can be transliterated as YHWH (in reverse order, writing from left to right).
My Hebrew professor in seminary argued that "Jehovah" was actually an technically impossible translation of the Divine Name for the following reason.
The W (representing the Hebrew letter vav, ו
), can be pronounced either as an "o" OR as a "v"
(or "w"), but not as both at the same time(!), as the word JehOVah requires. Because the pronunciation "JehOVah" requires a single letter, vav, to be pronounced two different ways at one time in the same word, it is impossible that this was the original pronunciation
. There are many possible pronunciations of the Divine Name. The correct one is unknown, but the pronunciation "Jehovah" was certainly not it."YahV
eh" is a possible pronunciation.
I'm not personally certain my former professor's argument is inescapable (some argue otherwise) but even if it is not, the above details at a minimum serve to illustrate that one cannot easily attain the degree of certainty the Jehovah's Witnesses claim to have about the "only true pronunciation" of the Divine Name.
The New World Translation also errs constantly by inserting "Jehovah" for Gk. κύριος (Lord) and θεὸς (God) in the New Testament although it is not in the original text. Obviously this is interpolation rather than translation. When I was in college (alas, a while ago ;-) I visited a local Kingdom Hall (no I wasn't tempted to join!!) to special order a Kingdom Interlinear Greek NT/New World Translation
which I still have which has some of the most amazing distortions one can imagine of the Greek text right smack under it. Incredibly bad is an understatement BY LIGHT YEARS. Anyone who reads Greek and is interested in talking to Jehovah's Witnesses should pick one up; they produce them for a very low cost and don't mark up the price. Really interesting stuff. Sad.