In certain old fragments of the Greek Septuagint the name of YHWH alone is written in paleo-Hebrew letters.

I’m a novice at Greek, but isn’t it necessary for all proper nouns and names to be written with the proper case ending attached to it?

How would that work if a name in Hebrew is placed in a sentence? Would the sentence still make sense?

1 Answer 1


The Greek language declines nouns by case. However,

  • This doesn't mean that words have to be written with the declension, any more than abbreviations are pronounced as written. Compare the Sumerian word for god, DINGIR, which was read in Akkadian texts as the Akkadian word for god, ilu.

  • Not all words in Greek are declined, and often specifically loan words from Hebrew are indeclinable. For example, Ἰσραήλ (Israel) is never declined in Greek because it's borrowed from Hebrew. So YHWH could have been pronounced as in Hebrew without declension.

What is more likely in this case is that the name written YHWH in Hebrew was pronounced as the Greek word κύριος (and declined appropriately), since eventually in the transmission of the manuscripts, the tetragrammaton was replaced with that word.

  • Thank you. But even with abbreviations like the nomina sacra names they are still placed in their proper case. If a name is not put in the nominative case or genetive case for example, the sentence would still be understood?
    – diego b
    Aug 14, 2019 at 23:17
  • How about speaking not writing. Would you be able to speak Greek while speaking the Hebrew name Yeshua or YHWH?
    – diego b
    Aug 14, 2019 at 23:18
  • 1
    @diegob Yes, it's possible, and does happen, as with Ἰσραήλ (read e.g. Exodus 1:1). But in this case, I do think the word would have been declined, as κύριος
    – b a
    Aug 14, 2019 at 23:19

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