Category Archives: Languages

LORD, Language, & Liturgy

Pastor Jeff Meyers, over at Corrigenda Denuo, has posted three very helpful articles (12 points in all) on the topic of the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh. This is a very interesting subject to me and I encourage you all to read it and consider what he has to say about it. I would tend to agree that there is no reason we should keep translating the word “LORD” or “Lord” when that is not specifically what the name means. Yahweh is not simply a title, as “Lord” or “LORD” is. It is God’s covenant name and we need to recognize that when we study, teach, and worship the Triune God with that name.

Here are the articles:

Lord, Language, & Liturgy – Part I
Lord, Language, & Liturgy – Part II
Lord, Language, & Liturgy – Part III

Here is a good excerpt regarding what I mentioned above:

1. Yahweh was given to Israel as God’s “memorial name” (Exod. 3:15). This personal name of God was revealed to Israel so that they might use it in prayer and thus remind God of his covenant so he would act for them. God’s personal name for Israel was not “Lord” but “Yahweh.” As Psalm 20 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we will memorialize the name of Yahweh our God.” The name of the God of Israel was not “Lord” or “LORD” but Yahweh. They were to call on God to remember (that’s what “memorialize” means) his covenant by using the name he gave them for that purpose. I should say here also that all the gnostic theologizing about what this name really “means” is a distraction. Yahweh is not a “term” that refers to something else, like God’s infinite majesty or whatever. Yahweh is a concrete name given to the Israelites to use, to call out in prayer and praise in their worship.

2. “Lord” is a title not a name. You can make the word “Lord” into all caps, italicize it, bold it, or whatever, but that doesn’t change the fact that it means “Master” or “Sir” and is not a name, certainly not God’s revealed personal name. So when one translates passages like “Let them praise the name of Yahweh” as “Let them praise the name of the LORD” you muck up the meaning badly. In fact, this is not really a translation at all but an altering of the text for some external purpose. God’s revealed name in the Hebrew Scriptures is not “Lord” or “LORD” but Yahweh.

3. The abbreviation YAH is not replaced with LORD in our English translations. We still say and sing “hallelujah,” which means “praise Yah[weh].” Why don’t we sing “hallelu-LORD”? Silly, you say? Just as silly as replacing YHWH with Lord. If saying the whole name is so spiritually hazardous, why isn’t saying part of the name just as dangerous? But YAH was not even replaced by superstitious Jews who refused to say the whole name for fear of judgment. In addition to Hallelujah we still have all the proper names that include Yahweh in them, like Joshua (Heb: Yah-shua – “Yahweh saves”). The best we can say is this is inconsistent; the worst is that it’s evidence of how stupid this superstitious avoidance of the name Yahweh really was and is.

4. Later Jews superstitiously refused to vocalize the name. I’ll get to when this happened in a moment. But the practice of replacing Yahweh with Lord was an act of rebellion, pure and simple. God gave this name for the Jews to use in memorial prayers, Psalms, and worship. Not using it means that they thought they were wiser than God. This is part and parcel with the Pharisaical “fencing of the law.” In order to avoid transgressing the 3rd Word (“taking the name of Yahweh in vain”) the wily Pharisaical Jews decided to just avoid the word altogether. And we want to follow that tradition?

A Reader’s Hebrew Bible

This is really good news! Zondervan has published A Reader’s Hebrew Bible, similar to their Reader’s Greek Bible. I just finished my three semesters of Hebrew at Reformed Theological Seminary and I’m so happy that they have come out with this so that I can bring it with me to Church and keep up my Hebrew skills as the years go by. Here is the information about it:

Ideal for Hebrew students and pastors, A Reader’s Hebrew Bible saves time and effort in studying the Hebrew Old Testament. By eliminating the need to look up definitions, the footnotes allow the user to read the Hebrew and Aramaic text more quickly, focusing on parsing and grammatical issues. A Reader’s Hebrew Bible offers the following features:

  • Complete text of the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible using the Leningrad Codex (minus critical apparatus)
  • Shaded Hebrew names that occur less than 100 times
  • Footnoted definitions of all Hebrew words occurring 100 times or less (twenty-five or less for Aramaic words)
  • Context-specific glosses
  • Stem-specific glossed definitions for verb forms (Qal, Piel, Hiphil, and so forth)
  • Ketib/Qere readings both noted in the text and differentiated appropriately
  • Marker ribbon

Featuring a handsome Italian Duo-Tone™ binding, A Reader’s Hebrew Bible is a practical, attractive, and surprisingly affordable resource.

Page Count: 1680

Size: 7.2 wide x 9.9 high x 2.1 deep in. | 183 wide x 251 high x deep 53 mm
Weight: 3.26 lb | 1477 gms

Available: March, 2008
Publisher: Zondervan

I hope to get one soon and I encourage anyone who is learning Hebrew to purchase one of these and bring it with them to Church on a regular basis when your pastor is preaching out of the Old Testament.

In Christ and In Defense of the Faith,

Interview: HCSB General Editor

Here is a very helpful and interesting interview with Dr. Ed Blum, who edited the Holman Christian Standard Bible. I encourage everyone to read at least some part of it. The information is extremely fascinating.

Below I have re-posted the portion of the interview that dealt with the HCSB’s distinctions from other translations, in particular the ESV.

Please let me know what you think.

Will: In your mind, what makes this translation distinct from other translations? I’m particularly interested in its distinction from the ESV, which seems to be one of its biggest competitors, if I can use that term.

Ed: The ESV comes from the King James tradition. The King James was revised continuously until about 1750. In 1870 they did a major revision of the King James which never became really popular which was called the English Revised Version, and I think popularly known as the Revised Version. It actually came out in 1881. The Americans who worked on it weren’t happy with it, but they had signed an agreement not to publish for 20 years, so they came out in 1901 with the American Standard Version, their revision of the King James tradition. And that stayed in print until the mid 1930s and the National Council of Churches who owned the copyright started on the RSV. And the RSV NT was done in 1946, and the OT was finished in the early 1950s. Everybody thought the NT was fairly decent, but the OT, they had a number of Jewish scholars and they felt that it wasn’t quite what they wanted. So a group of Americans from the Lockman foundation took the old American Standard Version and made the New American Standard Version. That one began as a revision of the King James tradition. And then there was the revision done by Thomas Nelson; they did the NKJV. Then the NASB was revised again in 1995. The English Standard Version took the old RSV and revised about 7% of it. So it’s not a new translation; it’s a revision of the King James tradition. Although they worked on a lot of things, if you really compare them you’ll see that it’s still the King James tradition. They’ve taken King James word order, much of the vocabulary is still the same. The HCSB is a new translation from the original text. For example, the standard Hebrew lexicon that we used is the most recent one. The ESV is a lot closer to the NASB95 and the King James tradition. For example, how often do you use the word “shall”?

Will: Not very often.

Ed: Right. Not very often. Usually in a stylized phrase like, you might say to your wife, “Shall we eat out tonight?” But that is sort of stylized. The ESV has the English word “shall” 6,389 times. The HCSB has it zero. So for example, “Thou shalt not,” is stylized. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is traditional. We would say in English today, “Do not commit adultery. “ So the ESV uses outmoded English expressions of language. How often do you use the word “behold”?

Will: I try not to.

Ed: Okay, “behold” is in ESV 1,102 times. HCSB has it once. ESV retains the old form “Oh” plus the vocative: “Oh, King, live forever.” “Oh, Lord.” The TNIV has taken almost all the “Oh” plus vocative out. ESV follows the King James and has “Oh” plus the vocative 1,129 times. We have it in the HCSB 10 times, and in the next edition that will come out in 2009 there will be zero. The use of “whom” is declining. When you answer the phone do you say, “Whom do you wish to speak to?” Or do you say, “Who do you want to talk to?” King James has “whom” 763 times. NKJ has it 760 times. NASB has it 755 times. ESV has it 740 times. NIV has cut it down to 394. HCSB second edition coming out has it only 142. So, it’s dropping. If you got engaged, how would you introduce your fiancé? Would you say, “She’s my betrothed”?

Will: Probably not.

Ed: ESV’s got it 15 times. We have it zero. Here’s an interesting one. You’ll find that very few translations have this correct. ESV, NIV, a lot of them use the expression “strong drink.” Most people think “strong drink” is whiskey or rum or gin or something like that, but distillation was not discovered until the 9th century ad. So our translation correctly translates it “beer.” ESV continues to use the old terms like “leper.” But then they add a footnote every time they use it, and they have the same footnote 20 times. There’s a confusion in popular thinking about Hansen’s disease. Whatever it was in the Bible period—it grew on the walls and grew on clothing and so on—was not Hansen’s disease. ESV uses old terms like “tithe.” What is a tithe in your mind?

Will: Ten percent.

Ed: Ten percent. And “tithe” is just an old English word meaning “tenth.” So why not use “a tenth”? We have several special features that help the average Bible reader. We have these bullet notes. For example, ESV has the same footnote in the book of Revelation 15 times. We would just have a bullet note that takes you to that section in the reverse.

Thy Kingdom Come

Here is a helpful definition of the Kingdom of God from a Reformed perspective by S. M. Baugh. I hope that you will consider this definition in your study of the Bible.

Thy Kingdom Come: A Reformed Definition of the Kingdom of God

Here is a good excerpt from the PDF about what the Kingdom of God is NOT properly:

1. The Church militant in this age
2. The rule of God in the hearts of believers
3. An spiritual rule to be consummated in an earthly millennial reign
4. A geo-political or social program in this age or a program of Christianizing all spheres of life
5. However: the power and influence of the kingdom is currently felt in these areas. Continue reading Thy Kingdom Come

Theology and the Languages

Here are a couple of great sites dealing with the Bible, theology, and languages:

Here is a book that I bought a while back for the future, when I finally get some time to study back up on my German that I learned from high school. This should be especially helpful given the rich history of German theologians and all their writings.

modern theological german

Modern Theological German: A Reader and Dictionary
by Helmut W. Ziefle