Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Body" or "Ears"? The Readings of Psalm 39:7(LXX), Psalm 40:6 (Hebrew), and Hebrews 10:5

Here is a new Q&A I put "upon the lampstand" today, on Elihu Books, which I hope will help clarify some of the textual issues and understanding surrounding the most likely reading in the source text quoted by the author of the letter to Hebrews, Chapter 10, Verse 5.

In my new Q&A I try to give a helpful, descriptive summary of the best available evidence, and then also indicate how Christians today understand this early Jewish, Christian reference in Hebrews 10:5, by answering this question:

Why does the Greek text of the New Testament book of Hebrews 10:5 use “body” in its quotation of Psalm 39:7/40:6, when the Hebrew Masoretic Text of the quoted Psalm uses “ears,” not “body”?(June 17, 2012)

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to get the most recent Q&A, in this case, the one cited above for 2012.

You can comment on the article or on any directly related issue in this thread on the Christian Witnesses of Jah Forum.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why No "Y" in Forms of the Divine Name in English?

According to Webster’s II, New Riverside University Dictionary, page 1227, a word is "transliterated" if its letters in one language are represented "in the corresponding characters of another alphabet" (page 1227). For example, the Greek name represented by the characters Ιησους is "transliterated" into English as either Iesous or Iēsous, with ē representing a long "e" sound. This is not, however, the English form of the name, but the Greek form represented in the English “corresponding characters.” 

A word or name can then be further made into English, for example, Iēsous as “Jesus,” the Modern, Anglicized form of the Greek name, which is based on the earlier Hebrew name Yehōshua' ("Joshua"), which combines the divine name Yehō and a form of the Hebrew noun yeshuah, meaning "salvation" (notice the final heh [h] in the transliteration, making it different from the name of similar sound discussed below).

The verb "is" is understood in relation to these two elements, with the resulting meaning in English, "Jaho(h)-ah/Yaho(h)-ah is salvation." In later biblical and other usage, the name Yehoshua' was shortened to Yeshua'. See the explanation by Werner Foerster (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [TDNT] 3 [1965], page 284), cited with further discussion of these and related issues in my article, "'Christian' Witnesses of Jah, Jaho(h)-ah God," Watching the Ministry (April 2, 2011).

As for why there is no "Y" in most English forms of either the original names for "Jesus" or for "Jah," but instead the Anglicized "J" (even though in English we do have a "y" character), the answer is simple: English does not regularly, in writing or verbally, communicate ancient names by means of transliterations. That is why we say "Jeremiah," "Joshua," "Jehu," and many other ancient Hebrew names without using the transliteration Y for the initial Hebrew yod ( י ) character.

Sometimes this is done, as in this very article, but that is because I am discussing transliterations in relation to Anglicized forms of ancient names. While in English the Hebrew yod or "y" sound can be represented, the practice of making foreign words English predominates our usage and they become the best, ongoing means of accurate representation and communication with other English persons. Anglicized forms of names such as "Jesus" and "Jehovah" are far more familiar to us (and within the range of accurate representation) than either Yehoshua' / Yeshua' or Yehowah, and that is true for most other Anglicized forms of ancient biblical names in comparison to their transliterated forms.

By contrast, the “-weh” in Yahweh has nothing to do with accurately transliterating or with Anglicizing the divine name, in any of its best and most ancient Hebrew and Aramaic forms, and even its best Greek Jewish forms, as shown in the chart in Chapter 1 of my Third Edition of Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, beginning on page 40.

For these reasons, I choose to continue to use accurate, Anglicized forms of ancient names unless I am writing an article or giving a comment having to do with using transliterated forms, or how these forms should simply lead us to the best Anglicized or other-language forms of the original words for most of our native-language communications. This is in large part because we should not allow the process of coming up with better/the best English, transliterated form(s) further remove us from consistent, accurate language usage and communication using Anglicized forms of the same ancient names.

Better it is, I think (in English), to continue to use primarily those forms of ancient names provided by the process of accurately making accurate forms of ancient names a part of our own language through Anglicization. This way, too, more people who may not yet know much or anything about transliterations or about the pronunciation of transliterated characters can still be comfortable in their own language when regularly speaking ancient words to others. 

At this point, I do not see that using a transliterated "Y" instead of an Anglicized "J" is the best way to make further use of the divine name popular or more welcome in English. But I am convinced that while this discussion may continue the question about whether to use a form like "Yahweh" has been sufficiently answered, so that we should start to see and hear "Yahweh" less and less as a credible transliteration of the divine name, and "Jah"/"Yah" and "J/Yaho(h)-ah" more and more, even in spite of many academics and others who continue to fail to reconsider the best available evidence.