Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is Jehovah a False God?

The following is my response to a video on youtube, entitled:
World will recognize JWS false God Jehovah

I am not with the Jehovah's Witnesses, and although the JWs claim Charles Taze Russell as one of their own, in reality, he was never a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization. He did not believe in such an organization.

The information presented in the video concerning "Jehovah" and Raymundus Martini, however, is incorrect. It is but someone's imagination that Martini is alleged to have taken the vowels from the words ELOHIM and ADONAI (which words are someone's transliterations from the Masoretic Hebrew text) and mixed them with the tetragrammaton of God's Holy Name.

As to there being no letter "J" in the time of Martini, this is irrelevant, for it does not mean that the sounds (phonemes) that we, in English, associate with the letter "J" did not exist. Indeed, there is evidence that such sounds did exist, and were sometimes associated with the letters I or Y, consonantal "I"/"Y".

However, the concern over the pronunciation of the Holy Name is only relevant if one believes that God has decreed that one has to pronounce His Holy Name in English or other languages as it was originally pronounced in Hebrew. We find no such decree in the Bible; all such ideas originate from man, not from the Bible. And, if one is consistent with such ideas, one would end up rejecting the English form "Jesus" as being the name of God's son, the only name given by which we may be saved. (Acts 4:12) But then, since no one on earth today knows for a certainty how either God's Holy Name, or His Son's name, was originally pronounced in Hebrew, we would be left with no name by which we must be saved, if the scriptures were speaking of some exact Hebrew pronunciation. Actually, the entire reasoning is based on assumptions beyond what the Bible says. No where did God say that His Holy Name, as presented in other languages, must be pronounced as it originally pronounced in Hebrew, nor does the Bible say such concerning His Son's name.

The reality is that Raymundus Martini presented a Latin form of the Holy Name as "Yohoua" around 1270 AD (not 1520 AD, as presented in the video). This, however, does not mean that it was, at the time, pronounced in the same manner as we today, in English, would give to "Yohoua". As best as I can determine, Martini never stated where he obtained the vowels to make the Latin form, "Yohoua". The real point is that Martini never used the later English form "Jehovah" at all.

The date 1520 appears to have been confused Martini with Peter Galatinus, who in 1520, also did not present the Holy Name with the English "Jehovah", but he presented it as "IEHOUA". Again, this is not to say that Galatinus pronounced this form as we, today, would pronounce it in English. Nevertheless, it appears that the spelling he used was simply based on transliteration from the Masoretic text. There is no evidence at all that he took the vowels from ELOHIM and/or ADONAI (both of which are somebody's transliterations from the Masoretic text.)

It is incorrect to state that the vowels were taken out of God's Holy Name. In the original Hebrew there were no written vowels at all for any word whatsoever, and this includes God's Holy Name. Not that the words did not have vowels, but that the vowels were not written. Of course, no one could speak the Hebrew language if vowel sounds were not inserted into the words as spoken, thus, vowels were used when the words were spoken, but no vowels were written in the original Hebrew. Some do like to make it appear that the lack of vowels only pertained to God's Holy Name, but this is not true. Every word, including every name, in the original Hebrew, had no written vowels.

It is a popular claim that the Masoretes themselves inserted vowels from Adonai and/or Elohim into the tetragrammaton to form Jehovah (or, Yehowah); this also, however, is an assumption that has been repeated so many times that it has become accepted as fact. Some scholars, however, have shown that this assumption is not true. The truth is that, since no Hebrew word had any written vowels, the Masoretes, in producing their vowel points, in fact, inserted such written vowels into every word in the Hebrew text, including the word representing God's Holy Name. Nevertheless, many seem to single out the Holy Name as though it was the only word that did not have written vowels. Often these will present the Holy Name in an unpronounceable English transliterated form such as YHWH or JHVH; others claim the Hebrew for his name should be pronounced using the English form Yahweh. Some translations have supplied these as English forms of the Holy Name.

Nevertheless, the original Hebrew has no written vowels at all for any name or any word whatsoever. The vowels were spoken, however, although they were not written.

Consequently, the English form "Jehovah", and the vowels in that English form, were not originally provided by any Catholic monk; the written vowels in Hebrew were provided by the Masoretes long before any Monk provided a Latin form of the Holy Name. While I am sure that the Masoretes endeavored to provide the original sounding of the Hebrew, we cannot be certain that vowel points they provided do actually represent the original Hebrew phonemes.

The Masoretes provided at least two different variations of the Holy Name, depending on contextual sounding. This indicates that the Holy Name may not have had just one original pronunciation, but at least two, depending on the sounds in the context.

However, if one should get all upset, or claim that one should not pronounce the Holy Name in English because we do not know for a certainty how it was originally pronounced, then, to be consistent, we should not pronounce the name of the Messiah, either. "Jesus" is an English pronunciation which certainly is not the same pronunciation as the original Hebrew, and no one knows for a certainty how the name of the Messiah was originally pronounced in the original Hebrew.

On the other hand, some claim that the Holy Name is ineffable, that it should not be pronounced. Those who claim that pronouncing the Holy Name is not appropriate, do not, in fact, refrain from pronouncing the name, but they often will indeed say the name as being Adonai (Lord), Elohim (God), HaShem (the name), or as something else. If they would not actually say the Holy Name at all, they would have to read Deuteronomy 6:4 as "Hear, Israel: -- is our God; -- is one," which, of course, ends up being nonsense. If a Jew reads aloud Deuteronomy 6:4 from the Jewish Publication Society translation, he will be saying, "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one." In effect, he will still be attributing the Holy Name to being "the LORD", and pronouncing the Holy Name, as being "the LORD". The Hebrew pronunciation of the Holy Name, however, is most definitely NOT "the LORD". Deuteronomy 6:4, in the World English, reads, "Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one." In the American Standard, it reads, "Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah." Either of these latter two translations are definitely much better than totally changing the Holy Name to "the LORD", which does not mean the same thing.

Another point is that many make much ado over "Jehovah" as being a different name from the Holy Name as given in Hebrew. In fact, it is the same "name" as given in Hebrew, but it is simply a different linguistic form of that name. The fact that it may not be pronounced as it was originally pronounced in Hebrew does not make it a different name. Similarly, "Jesus", "Joshua", "Yeshua", and even "Yahshua" are all the same name, being English forms based on linguistic variations of that name. The Hebrew has several different spellings and thus variations in pronunciation of the name we often speak of in English as "Jesus" or "Joshua".

Indeed, however, I do not know of any person, when reading the Bible aloud, who does not pronounce the Holy Name with some kind of oral expression. Most English translations present the Holy Name as "the LORD" or "GOD", and thus most English readers, when reading those translations, do pronounce (or, mispronounce) the Holy Name as "the LORD" or as "GOD", despite claims to the contrary. I do not know of anyone who simply skips the Holy Name so as not to pronounce the Holy Name, despite their claims of not pronouncing the Holy Name by pronouncing (mispronouncing) the Holy Name as "the LORD" or "GOD", or whatever else.

See my study:
Is God's Holy Name "The Lord"?

See also my resource page for "The Holy Name"

Restoration Light Home Site: