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Author Topic: YHWH and Adonai in the Septuagint  (Read 4100 times) Average Rating: 0
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SamB
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« on: March 07, 2005, 04:11:37 PM »

I was reading an interesting essay on emendations to the Hebrew Bible by Hebrew scribes. It went to speak of how the words 'God' and 'Lord' were rendered in the Hebrew script (and pronounced) and how this is reflected in some English translations.

Briefly, according to what I have read, in Hebrew text, the Hebrew Adonai (Lord) and the Tetragrammaton (YHWH), are of course distinguishable from each other, but with time, the taboo against uttering God's proper name led to the Tetragrammaton being read out as Adonai or ha-Shem (the Name). The essay goes on to say that in many English Bibles the Tetragrammaton is rendered as 'LORD' (rather than 'God'), in all capital letters, to distinguish it from the word 'Lord', which may not necessarily refer to God Himself.

I ask how this distinction is made in the Greek Septuagint. Is the Tetragrammaton written as +ÿ+¦-î-é or +Ü-ì-ü+¦++-é?

One more question. The article goes on to say that in some cases the Hebrew YHWH was actually changed to Adonai by the scribes. This is in writing and the case in the Masoretic Hebrew text. So Psalm 109's 'The Lord [i.e. Christ] is at Your right hand' was actually 'God [or YHWH] is at Your right hand' (which emphasises Christ's divinity). My question to whoever may know is when were those changes made. After Christ's time or before, and if before, before or after the Septuagint was written? The point of my question is to ascertain whether these emendations are present in the Greek Bible or whether they only appear in the Tanakh as a result of their being made at a later period of time.

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« Last Edit: March 07, 2005, 04:12:36 PM by SamB » Logged
Keble
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2005, 04:46:01 PM »

This seems a bit confused.

In the Masoretic Text, The Name appears as the tetragrammaton with the vowel markings for "Adonai" over it. That's where "Jehovah" comes from: it's a mispronunciation of The Name with the wrong vowels. When a Jew is doing liturgy they say "Adonai" instead of The Name. "Adonai" has become so tied to this that in ordinary speech, to talk about it one does not say "Adonai", but instead says "hashem".

If you look at the KJV/RSV/NRSV tradition, they have specific typographical conventions for indicating this substitution using small caps. There are several different combinations and you need to look at (for instance) the RSV intro to understand exactly what is going on.

The only way one can be certain that Adonai was substituted in the text for The Name is to compare against an ancient Hebrew version-- basically, in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Looking at the Unbound Bible, the LXX translation isn't consistent. I looked at Genesis 2 and saw "+Ü-ì-ü+¦++-é ++ +ÿ+¦-î-é" in most instances, but sometimes only "+ÿ+¦-î-é".
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2005, 05:05:08 PM »

In the Masoretic Text, The Name appears as the tetragrammaton with the vowel markings for "Adonai" over it. That's where "Jehovah" comes from: it's a mispronunciation of The Name with the wrong vowels.

Yes, I know this, which is why I stated that in writing, 'God' and 'Lord' are distinguishable from each other in Hebrew script (the essay did also mention the vowel markings of 'Lord' placed on the Tetragrammaton), and that in English, some Bibles use capital letters to make the distinction, but nontheless use the same word: 'Lord'.

The essay however is claiming that within the Hebrew script itself, changes were made in time by the scribes, who replaced YHWH with Adonai.

Quote
The only way one can be certain that Adonai was substituted in the text for The Name is to compare against an ancient Hebrew version-- basically, in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Or perhaps the Septuagint itself, if these changes postdate it, and the L.X.X. is consistent in its making the distinction between the two words?

Quote
Looking at the Unbound Bible, the LXX translation isn't consistent. I looked at Genesis 2 and saw "+Ü-ì-ü+¦++-é ++ +ÿ+¦-î-é" in most instances, but sometimes only "+ÿ+¦-î-é".

I wonder if Anastasios may have an idea.

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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2005, 05:58:19 PM »

Or perhaps the Septuagint itself, if these changes postdate it, and the L.X.X. is consistent in its making the distinction between the two words?

The problem is that you can't tell whether the LXX translators were making a mistake or whether the Hebrew text has since changed. I would note, however, that in the passage I examined, the difference in every case was that the LXX omitted the "+Ü-ì-ü+¦++-é" -- the part that would correspond to The Name/"Adonai". So I have to wonder how you could tell.

Do these people give an example of a passage that they think was changed?
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Jakub
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2005, 08:28:03 PM »

My original Jerusalem Bible uses a combination of Yahweh or Yahweh Sabaoth within the Old Testament and usally states following the Greek/Septuagint.

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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2005, 12:48:55 AM »

http://www.geocities.com/hebrew_roots/html/hr-2-1-02.html

http://www.geocities.com/hebrew_roots/html/hr-2-3-02.html
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2005, 01:11:25 AM »

An excerpt:

~ The Emendations ~

      An emendation is an "alteration intended to improve." The Sopherim, in a misguided zeal for God and the Scriptures, took it upon themselves to make some changes to the manuscripts which were handed down to them. This might seem like a terrible thing to do, to make changes to the very Word of God. However, the Sopherim believed they were either: 1.) making necessary corrections to errors that had crept into their copies, 2.) were clarifying the actual intent of the Scriptures, or 3.) (in the case of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH) were showing extreme reverence for the scared name of God. In any case, they felt they were handling the Scriptures in a way that would be approved by God.

      While one may condemn what the Sopherim did, in making alterations to the Scriptures, one must also praise them for keeping accurate records of their changes. This enables us to ‘look over their shoulder’ as it were, and see exactly what changes they made. The record of these emendations are found in what is know as the Massorah (Mahs-sohr’ah). The following details about the Massorah are taken from Appendix 30 of The Companion Bible. This is the Authorized Version of 1611 (KJV), with copious notes and 170 appendices written by E.W. Bullinger. It is published by Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. This Bible contains a wealth of information and is highly recommended by Hebrew Roots. Bullinger writes:

      "Readers of The Companion Bible are put in possession of information denied to former generations of translators, commentators, critics, and general Bible students.
...
      "All the oldest and best manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible contain on every page, beside the Text (which is arranged in two or more columns), a varying number of lines of smaller writing, distributed between the upper and lower margins. This smaller writing is called the Massorah Magna or Great Massorah, while that in the side margins and between the columns is called the Massorah Parva or Small Massorah.

      "The word Massorah is from the root masar, to deliver something into the hand of another, so as to commit it to his trust. Hence the name is given to the small writing referred to, because it contains information necessary to the Massorites (those into whose trust the Sacred Text was committed), so that they might transcribe it, and hand it down correctly.

      "When the Hebrew Text was printed, only the large type in the columns was regarded, and the small type of the Massorah was left, unheeded, in the MSS from which the Text was taken.

      "When translators came to the printed Hebrew Text, they were necessarily destitute of the information contained in the Massorah; so that the Revisers as well as the Translators of the Authorized Version carried out their work without any idea of the treasures contained in the Massorah; and therefore, without giving a hint of it to their readers."

      Some of the important lists of emended words, which are contained in the Massorah, are given in Bullinger’s Companion Bible in separate appendices as follows:

Appendix 31: The Fifteen Extraordinary Points of the Sopherim.
Appendix 32: The 134 Passages Where The Sopherim altered "Jehovah" to "Adonai".
Appendix 33: The "Eighteen Emendations" Of The Sopherim.
Appendix 34: The Readings Called Severin.

      The men called ‘Massorites,’ mentioned in the previous quote, The Fifteen Points of the were keepers of the Scriptures. They followed in the period of time after that of the Sopherim, and were the ones who correctly copied the Hebrew Scriptures as handed down from the Sopherim. Even the smallest error rendered an entire scroll invalid. It is from their title, ‘Massorites’ that we receive the term ‘Masoretic Text, which is the chief source text for modem Old Testament translations.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2005, 01:24:45 AM »

Apparently, an answer to one of my questions appears in the essay:

      Sometime during the days of the Prophets the use of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in common speech became forbidden. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia this decision was based on; "... a somewhat extreme interpretation of Ex. xx. 7 and Lev. xxiv. 11. Written only in consonants, the true pronunciation was forgotten by them. The Septuagint, and after it the New Testament, invariably render (it) ‘the Lord.’" (vol. IX, page 161)
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2005, 03:16:28 AM »

I managed to take the authors' examples and study samples from the L.X.X. in the original Greek. It appears that no distinction is made between 'Lord' and 'the Name'; +Ü-ì-ü+¦++-é and its grammatical variants are always used. So, as you said, Keble, you can't tell whether the alleged changes are incorporated. However, as for other changes that do not pertain to God's name - phrasing, sentence structure, words and so on - the Greek contains all the Hebrew modifications, meaning the purported originals in text and phrasing do not exist in the Septuagint. The Sopherim's changes therefore preceded the writing of the Septuagint, and one may therefore assume this includes the instances of change from 'the Name' to 'Lord' as well.

By strict Islamic standards then, we appear to have authoritative versions of the Bible that are mu(h)ar'raf (this includes the New Testament also, if the varying Greek manuscripts and fragments say anything). Luckily for us, our religion and the Church do not make the claim that the Scriptures are impeccably preserved, but that their doctrinal integrity remains and that the preservation of text is sufficient enough that the Bible remains God's Word.

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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2005, 09:43:56 AM »

In the Septuagint, all references to "YHWH" and "Adonai" are translated the same.  This has the result of creating an equivelence between the two - thus passages like Psalm 109/110 do not become controversial (from a Christian p.o.v.).

However, there is some grounds for controversy (indicated by Jewish anti-Christian polemics) in the Hebrew, because the versions we now have available can be interpreted in such a way as to make a sharp distinction between the "YHWH" mentioned and the "Adonai" (Lord/Master) spoken of therein.

What you failed to mention (and this was the guiding thrust of the article), and I think this has created some confusion, is that Judaism itself acknowledges that some changes were made by their scribes in the Hebrew text; those which they acknowledge (which are quite a few in fact) are indicated in the Massorah, a type of "liner note" which indicates where certain changes and substitutions have occured.  Among those, are many instances where "YHWH" (which unambiguously refers to God) was replaced by "Adonai" (which can and most often does refer to God, but which can also legitimatly refer to humans as well; just like members of nobility, or religious leaders, who are often known as "Lord" or "Master").

In Psalm 109/110 this is a significant issue, because most Jews will insist that the interpretation accepted by the Church (which was taught by the Saviour Himself) is false.  They would argue that the "Lord" mentioned, who is portrayed as being on YHWH's "right hand", is simply a human being (King David).  Though this seems strange (since this is recognized as a Psalm composed by King David - which would make it weird for David to be talking to and of himself in this fashion), the way they get around this is by saying that though the Psalm was written by David, it was for the Levitical ministers of the court to sign to the King.

The problem with this view however, is that the Massorah indicates that the instance of "Adonai" which occurs in verse 5, was actually a scribal substitution which originally read "YHWH".  While the first instance of "Adonai" (in verse 1) is correct (at least the Massorah doesn't acknowledge that this may have been a substitution as well), that which occurs in verse 5 is not.  Thus the "Master" at the right hand of "YHWH" is Himself "YHWH".

The scribes made many alterations like this, many of which (though I'm not sure if we can really say all of them) are acknowledged by normative Judaism (though it's something most of us were probably not aware of.)  Sometimes these alterations/substitutions were made when something in older transmissions of the text sounded "offensive to pious ears"; for example, anything which was felt to anthropomorophize God "too much" was a candidate to be meddeled with - the same with instances where human beings were portrayed as "cursing God" (this was typically replaced with the euphemism of people "blessing God"; this occurs alot in the Masoretic version of Job, for example.)

The same also occured, when the older texts said things (like in the Psalm mentioned) which sounded "strange" to the ears of the scribes; in some cases, they may have assumed they were correcting an old copyist error - in other cases, they may have been under the belief they were "clarifying" the text.  Who can say - but the end result were changes which in some cases have consequence upon the Church's ability to demonstrate the continuity of the New Covenant with the Old, and help bring the wayward Jews back into the fold.

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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2005, 03:27:01 PM »

Thanks, Augustine, for the clarifications.

But the question presents itself: how much tampering is permitted in sacred texts throughout the course of history until it invalidates them to the point where they are rendered as a work of which it can no longer be said that God remains its author?

It is a question that requires an answer for those who would use these alterations as an argument against the veracity of Christianity's claims concerning the Bible, especially when many Christians remain under the impression (as I once was before I delved into the subject) that the Bible has been preserved fully intact in the original languages.

Once the historical concessions are made, the next question arises: what is the Church's understanding, and ours as apostolic Christians, of Scripture as written Tradition and the qualities and distinctions it enjoys that qualify it as God's Word (or rather, when said Word is committed to paper as such, due to the miracle of divine inspiration upon the authors, what continues to maintain it as such as changes are introduced with time), despite alterations that have been carried over to all present versions of the Bible and that in some cases manage to obscure theological meanings that were originally intended to be present by the original authors. A reason why the questions are pertinent is because exegesis requires and involves precision and probing analysis, looking for the nuances of Biblical text. How is that study helped when the veracity of phrases and important wording, along with their underlying meanings, are compromised by the alterations mentioned?

A thread on that subject, also exploring how our view of Scripture differs from that of some Protestant sects, or even religions such as Islam (where their definitions of inspiration and inspired text are not identical to ours), seems worth starting.

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