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The Chester Beatty Papyri
Number 3 - LXXIEJ12
Dated first century AD. Recorded in The Israel Exploration Journal Vol. 12, 1962, p. 201-07, by B. Lifshitz of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. This is part of his account:
Some ten years ago Père D. Barthélemy published a paper in which he made mention of, among other things, fragments of parchment scroll containing the Greek Translation of the Minor Prophets...Barthélemy concluded that the version of this scroll is neither a new translation nor an independent one, but rather a recession of the Septuagint; and that variations from the Septuagint are the result of an attempt to render Greek in a manner FAITHFUL TO THE HEBREW ORIGINAL (p. 201).
The NWT only mentions four verses in Zechariah where the tetragram is found. But B. Lifshitz, on p. 204 of the same article, shows an extract from Nahum 1:9 and comments:
This small fragment is too meagre to allow for an attempt at reconstructing the version of the scroll; however, it is CLEAR THAT 'THEOS' APPEARS instead of kyrios of the Septuagint.
The same is written about Zechariah 4:8a and clearly shows the inconsistency of this version in using the tetragram. In both the above places the NWT has 'Jehovah', but this particular version does not have the tetragram and therefore must disqualify itself from being reliable evidence on behalf of the WBTS stance of reconstituting the tetragram and hence "Jehovah."
Number 4 - LXXVTS10b
The Society have tried to make this a separate case. However you will notice its catalogue number is very close to Number 2 and indeed the fragments were revised in the same article so that all that was said about Number 2 applies here.
Number 5 - 4Q LXX Levb
Found in the Qumran caves and definitely of Jewish origin. Dated first century BC. However, its review in Supplements to Vetus Testamentum Vol. IV, 1957, pp. 148-58, puts a different light on this find than the one the WBTS presents. Two points need to be made. Firstly, this fragment does not have the tetragram but a Greek substitute (IAW). The article comments:
Its only special feature is that in the midst of the Greek text, familiar from the LXX codices, the divine name here appears NOT AS KYRIOS but as IAW.
What is apparent from this is that the majority of LXX codices contained kyrios, not the tetragram, and that this version does not contain the tetragram.
The second matter to note is that although Qumran was clearly a bastion of Jewish tradition they did not use the tetragram. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology informs us:
Members of the Qumran sect, in Heb[rew] biblical MSS [manuscripts], were writing adonay, Lord, instead of the tetragrammaton (Vol. 2, p. 512).
Number 6 - LXXP.Oxy.VII.1007
Dated third century AD and described by A. S. Hunt in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, 1910, Part VII. Here again the Society do not present all the evidence to its readers. Why is this representation of the tetragram there? A. S. Hunt explains:
....a most remarkable abbreviation of the so-called Tetragrammaton, WHICH IN THE SEPTUAGINT IS REGULARLY REPRESENTED BY kyrios. This abbreviation consists of a double Yod, the initial of the sacred name, written in the shape of a Z with a horizontal stroke through the middle....A DECIDED TENDENCY TO OMIT THE WORD kyrios was, however, observable in the early Oxyrhynchus papyrus (656), where in one passage blank space was originally left in which the missing word was supplied by a second hand (pp. 1-2).
From this information we understand three things about this version:
1. This is a remarkable, not a normal and often used, abbreviation. Therefore it would not be commonly found in the LXX.
2. It was a 'decided tendency' of the Jewish scribe to use the tetragram rather than kyrios.
3. A similar and older version 656, containing the end Genesis 2 and beginning of 3, left a blank space four times. Later, theos or kyrios were added by another scribe in three of these places.
Numbers 7 and 8 - AqBurkitt and AqTaylor
These are different versions of the same manuscript, translated by Aquila (about AD 100), dated around the fifth or six century. But who was Aquila? The WBTS themselves say:
Aquila was a Jewish proselyte of Pontus in Asia, AN APOSTATE FROM CHRISTIANITY (Equipped, p. 52).
We read from other sources:
What is certain is that he was a pupil of the new rabbinical school ... (his version) was an extraordinary production... No jot or tittle of the Heb[rewl might be neglected; uniformity in the translation of each Heb[rew] word must be preserved...a bold attempt to displace the LXX (International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, 1978, Vol. 4, p. 2725).
Moreover, he followed the ANTI-CHRISTIAN bias of his master by using, in some passages interpreted Messianically by the Church, another word in place of Christos ('anointed') and Isaiah 7:14 neanis ('young woman') instead of parthenos ('virgin') (Sir F. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, 1958, p. 103).
In the light of this evidence these manuscripts cannot be brought in to prove the way Christians translated the Scriptures. F. Crawford Burkitt, who published these Number 7 fragments, does not draw the same conclusions as the WBTS. For instance on p. 18 of his publication, Fragments of the Book of Kings According to the Translation of Aquila, he explains that one of the main tasks of scholars is to separate the pure from the mixture. He adds that this find is 'of very great importance for the textual study of the LXX' because it is a classic example of mixture!
He goes on to make it even clearer:
To the scribe of our MS [manuscript] the Tetragrammaton must have been a mere symbol, blindly copied from the model... The Tetragrammaton in our MS [manuscript] was UNDOUBTEDLY INTENDED TO BE pronounced kyrios ... Contractions are extremely infrequent in our MS [manuscript] and when they occur they are always at the end of lines. The scribe, in fact, used contractions only to avoid dividing words. Now at the end of 4 Kings 23 24 [2 Kings 23:24 in our Bibles] ... there was no room to write the Tetragrammaton in full, so instead ... we find... ku. The Greek Synagogue, therefore, READ THE NAME kyrios (pp. 15-16).
The Society are therefore being deceptive again - they cannot bring this version in as evidence because it clearly contains kyrios and also shows this to be the name pronounced in the Greek Synagogue.
Number 9 - SymP.Vindob.G.39777
This version by Symmachus was a revision of the Aquila text around AD 200, to meet the needs of a Jewish sect who were dissatisfied with the LXX. Again, a Jewish bias setting out to restore a name which we still have no means of pronouncing today - except by guesswork and NOT by accurate knowledge!
Number 10 - Ambrosian 0 39 sup.
This is simply a compilation of various other versions and therefore adds no new evidence to the case.
Before summarizing we need to underline the fact that the WBTS have not only twisted the evidence they've presented, but have also omitted evidence that disproves their point.
Several manuscripts found in Egypt containing parts of Old Testament in Greek, as well as parts of the New Testament, called 'The Chester Beatty Papyri', were published under that name by F. G. Kenyon in 1937. Details are listed below and all contain abbreviations of theos and kyrios, not the tetragram.
The obvious conclusion from this evidence is that a few uncommon LXX versions contain the tetragram but we cannot conclude from this that all or even most do. In fact we read:
The LXX is characterized by the Hellenizing of Israelite-Jewish monotheism and by the reduction of the designations God... The name Yahweh or Yah, which is mostly translated by kyrios, is replaced by theos only about 330 times (Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1971, Vol. 2, p. 70).
Most of the early versions of the LXX are of Jewish origin by scribes determined to keep old traditions. They have nothing to do with the work of the Christians in the New Testament.
Claim 2: Jesus and His followers pronounced the divine name, and therefore we should today
As already shown, only TWO BC copies of the LXX have been brought forward for evidence. Therefore it is a wild assumption to say that the manuscript Jesus read in the synagogue contained the tetragram. However, just for a minute let us accept that this was the case. Would the Scribes and the Pharisees allow Him to pronounce the name without a violent outburst? Luke 4:22 tells us they all began to give favourable witness. I don't believe that this calm, appreciative reaction followed the first time the tetragram had been pronounced in a synagogue for hundreds of years! The reaction only comes later when the Jewish leaders realize He is talking about God choosing Gentiles before Jews.
Apart from the evidence already shown concerning the way in which the name was pronounced, another factor to take into account is the recorded account in Luke's gospel? Are we reading the verbatim words of Jesus? Or do we have Luke's recording of the words of Jesus, written from different texts? The quotations in Luke sometimes agree with the LXX but at other times with the Masoretic Text. Whatever the case, you cannot say that because of these words in Luke, Jesus must have read the tetragram. There is no evidence of that here.
Also, if the purpose of Jesus' ministry was to make known the name of God by pronouncing it, He failed. The NWT takes pains to show that Jesus used the divine name. However, apart from a dozen or so quotes from the Old Testament (we will look at the validity of these later) they can only find evidence to try and put 'Jehovah' in the mouth of Jesus twice! Jesus clearly did not make the divine name known by pronouncing it.
Consider the comments of two biblical scholars about 'Jehovah' in connection with Jesus. It is worth noting that the first, Steve Byington, has translated a modern version of the Bible that the WBTS promote.
If we need to argue the point of translating 'the Lord' where the Greek says 'the Lord', my argument would be that when Jesus and the apostles and their friends spoke an Old Testament text aloud, they said 'the Lord' for 'Jehovah' even in so careful a quotation as Mark 12:29 (the newly found manuscript of Isaiah may be cited as fresh evidence that the custom of saying 'the Lord' began before the time of Christ ... ), and we cannot presume that the apostles wrote otherwise than they spoke (S. T. Byington, The Christian Century, 9 May 1951, p.589).
Referring initially to the tetragram in the Aquila documents, H. H. Rowley wrote in the Expository Times soon after Vol. 2 of the NWT Old Testament was released in 1955:
Actually this offers no evidence that it was pronounced by the reader, any more than it was pronounced by the Jew who read from the Hebrew, where also it was written ... if our Lord had rejected the unwillingness to pronounce the Name ... it might have been expected that His disciples would have noticed and followed Him in this. Such evidence as we have indicates that, when He quoted Psalm 110, He used words which mean 'The Lord said unto my Lord,' and not 'Yahweh said unto my Lord.' Similarly, there is no evidence that in Romans 9:29, 15:9, or 2 Corinthians 6:17 Paul ever wrote anything other than Kyrios to represent the [tetragram].
Claim 3: the tetragram appears in the original Testament manuscripts
In this claim the WBTS use reasoning that is akin to that applied by those attempting to prove the theory of evolution. There is no evidence - but it must be true. In fact all the evidence points in the other direction. There is not one New Testament manuscript known today in which the tetragram appears. There is no evidence of a conspiracy to get rid of the tetragram. The Watchtower place their 'burden of proof' on a purely speculative work of George Howard, published in the Journal of Biblical Literature, 1977. The KIT pp. 1137-38, quotes from his work:
In the following pages we will set forth A THEORY that the divine name... was originally written in the N[ew] T[estamentl quotations of and allusions to the O[ld] T[estament].
As we have emphasized, this is a theory, and Professor Howard maintains to this day that it should be treated as a theory until a New Testament manuscript is found with the tetragram. Howard starts his article, 'In order to support this theory', and ends:
Concluding observations... We have refrained from drawing too many conclusions due to the revolutionary nature of THIS THEORY. Rather than state conclusions now in a positive manner it seems better only to raise some questions that suggest a need for further examination a) IF the tetragram was used in the NEW TESTAMENT, how extensively was it used ...
Professor Howard clearly then saw the need for caution and further investigation. He still says that until a manuscript of the New Testament is found with the tetragram his theory remains a theory. Nevertheless, the WBTS are not content with that so they conclude the KIT article with a quantum leap:
We concur with the above, with one exception: We do not consider this view a 'theory', but, rather, a presentation of the FACTS of history as to the transmission of Bible manuscripts.
The question has to be asked - WHAT FACTS? Do the WBTS really know the difference between facts, hypotheses and theories? The truth is that the Society have a habit of missing out material that is against the point they are trying to prove when they claim to quote from articles and expert opinions - and they have done exactly this with much of Howard's article. One of the relevant parts omitted is:
We can imagine that the NEW TESTAMENT text incorporated the tetragram into its OT quotations and that the words KURIOS and THEOS were used when secondary references to God were made in the comments that were based upon the quotations.
Also the article dealt:
...primarily with the divine name AS IT WAS WRITTEN...NOT WITH WHAT WORD OR WORDS THE READER PRONOUNCED.
Even if the WBTS wish to consider this theory a fact, without proof to support it, the best that they can claim from it is that the divine name would be in New Testament Scriptures only where it quoted Old Testament Scripture. They have, however, gone far beyond this by even claiming the pronouncing of the name which Howard clearly stated he was not considering.
It must be emphasised again - Howard's work was only a theory. A cornerstone to this theory is the use of 'nomina sacra' in the NEW TESTAMENT manuscripts. These are abbreviations of certain words such as Christos, Kurios, Theos etc. Howard's theory is that these were directly influenced by the abbreviation of the divine name in the OT.
Anyone considering this subject should be aware of other work such as that of C. Roberts who, in his book Manuscript, Society and Belief in Christian Egypt, argues very positively that this was not the case. He concludes quite clearly that the way the early Christian manuscripts were written showed no influence from the way the Hebrew manuscripts had been produced.
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