Since the earliest copies of the Jewish LXX translation to Greek contains YHWH, what reasons do modern translations give for replacing it with LORD?

While there are other questions on this translation issue, none deal with it.

This is not a question as to the proper English rendering of YHWH like this and it is not a question about the NT like this one.

  • 1
    "Since the earliest copies of the Jewish LXX translation to Greek contains YHWH ..." I had never heard this before. Do you have a link to something discussing this?
    – user33515
    Apr 9, 2020 at 20:10
  • @user33515 Yes, it's in my answer with examples.
    – user33125
    Apr 9, 2020 at 22:04
  • 3
    You changed the question to ask "what reasons do modern translations give for replacing it with LORD?" but none of the existing answers addressed that at all, including your own, so you invalidated them all. I'd suggest you change it back so they don't all need to be deleted.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 10, 2020 at 23:56
  • 1
    @curiousdannii This has been the standard practice of this user, to change questions after answers are provided, then to request moderation. It is unhelpful, in my opinion, and does not assist the true purpose of the site.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 15, 2020 at 10:49
  • The proof (or answer) is in the pudding. Those early copies were most probably not Christian, whereas the translators you have in mind most likely are. As for Christian copies, whether old or new, they exist until this very day, and read simply Lord.
    – Lucian
    Apr 27, 2020 at 17:26

5 Answers 5


There are two reasons for this English practice for translating the tetragrammaton (YHWH) as "LORD":

  1. The Septuagint and the New Testament consistently translate OT passages containing the tetragrammaton as Κύριος (Kyrios) meaning "Lord". For example, Ps 45:6, 7 (Heb 1:8, 9); Ps 102:25-27 (Heb 1:10-12); Ps 22:22 (Heb 2:12); Isa 8:17 (Heb 2:13); etc.
  2. The OT Hebrew text was originally pure consonants without vowels. In the 8th century, fearing that the pronunciation of the words would be lost, the Masoretic scribes devised a scheme of vowel "pointings" to record the vowels. However, the pronunciation of the tetragrammaton had been lost. Therefore, they pointed it with vowels corresponding to what the scribes would pronounce when they came to the sacred name, namely "Adonai" = "Lord".

Most (not all) English versions have continued this ancient practice.

UPDATE on Background

Since the Tetragrammaton was regarded by the Jews as supremely sacred, they would not pronounce it. Therefore, a well-trained scribe would say, “Adonai” (= Lord), or “Elohim” (= “God”) if the next word was “Adonai”, whenever he saw the Tetragrammaton in the text. The word was so sacred that many early Hebrew and Aramaic MSS treat it differently: They would either write the name:

  • in very ancient Paleo-Hebrew letters,

  • or leave a simple space or gap,

  • or use square script letters of the tetragrammaton,

  • or use “tetrapuncta” (four dots);

    … all to warn the reader not to pronounce the holy name but to say “Adonai” or “Elohim” as required.

In the earliest Greek MSS of the LXX prepared by Jews in 1st and 2nd centuries BC, the practice was similarly varied: The oldest LXX MSS (P. Ryl. 458) has blank spaces, or others have ΙΑΩ (= “IAO”) in an attempt to transliterate the holy name. Some Greek MSS even have the Tetragrammaton in paleo-Hebrew letters.

However, all the LXX MSS prepared by Christians from earliest times uniformly replaced the Tetragrammaton with kyrios (= “Lord”). This was almost certainly due to the uniform practice of the NT inspired writers using “Kyrios” in the NT whenever they quoted the OT texts, eg, Ps 45:6, 7 (Heb 1:8, 9); Ps 102:25-27 (Heb 1:10-12); Ps 22:22 (Heb 2:12); Isa 8:17 (Heb 2:13), Ps 110:1, (Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34), Ps 110:1, (Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34), etc.

During the 8th and 9th centuries AD, when the Hebrew scribes started adding vowels to the Hebrew text, they used the vowels of “Adonai” for the Tetragrammaton.

Unaware of this, the King James translators transliterated the “combination” word, “Jehovah”. However, they also adopted another tradition of translating the word by “LORD” – to continue the Hebrew scribal tradition and the ancient Christian tradition.

For a more complete list of all known MSS in Hrew and Greek that have the Tetragrammaton and how they rendered it, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetragrammaton

  • References added
    – Dottard
    Apr 6, 2020 at 3:21
  • Provide evidence that the NT authors translated YHWH as κύριος. I don't believe it and you have not even tried to support it.
    – user33125
    Apr 6, 2020 at 4:43
  • 1
    @ThomasPearne Why wouldn't you believe it? Open to almost any page of the Septuagint and you'll see it.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 6, 2020 at 4:50
  • 3
    @ThomasPearne Yes there's an interesting history to the ways the tetragrammaton has been rendered in various translations, including a phase where they wrote Ἰαώ. But you didn't ask about that, you asked about why this is legitimate, and if there is any legitimacy it comes through recognition of at least 18 centuries of Christian tradition and practice, and perhaps more importantly, through the use of Κύριος in the NT.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 6, 2020 at 5:02
  • 2
    Another interesting question would be if there's any textual evidence in NT manuscripts of them using the Hebrew tetragrammaton in their OT quotes. I've never heard of that though.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 6, 2020 at 5:04


...While on the surface these reasons may seem honorable, they are very unscriptural. They were and are attempts to improve on Yahweh's already perfect ways. If Yahweh really wanted a substitute, why would He have placed His name there to begin with? Though scripture says to follow Yahweh rather than man, we find that nearly 7,000 times the most important name of all is replaced with a another word that man has chosen.

I found the following quite interesting:


...God’s name Jehovah/Yahowah appears in the original hebrew text about 7000 times, but the NIV fails to mention it even once. When asked about this, Edwin H. Palmer, Th.D., Executive Secretary for the NIV’s committee wrote :

“Here is why we did not : You are right – that Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. But we put 2 1/4 million dollars into this translation and a sure way of throwing that down the drain is to translate, for example, Psalm 23 as, ‘Yahweh (Jehovah) is my shepherd.‘ Immediately, we would have translated for nothing. Nobody would have used it (or purchased it)....

The bolded part made me chuckle...definitely doesn't carry the same connection as LORD. And that led me to wonder if the early translators actually made the changes to "marry" the OT to the NT for early English Christians. After all, the 'ploughboys' might have struggled with Yahweh and wondering how Jesus fit in.

I doubt, now, that the early translators were following the Jewish superstition about not saying the name of Yahweh - or they may as well have changed Jesus' name.

Personally, I think that every Bible after 1950 (in largely educated America) should have been Interlinear, with proper Hebrew and translit - not the English translation plastered over the Hebrew. There is soooo much that is missed when reading only the English. To me, there is no justification for an English-only Bible, today.

Anyway, thanks for the question. I'd wondered about it several times but never searched it out. The second link has other interesting remarks.


I found these answers from Research Supports the truth. WHY IS GOD’S NAME MISSING FROM MANY BIBLES ? 1 Reply


“…the distinctive Hebrew name for God – usually transliterated Jehovah, is in this translation represented by “LORD.” – Today’s English Version (preface)

There are many different reasons why God’s name was removed from the Bible. I will attempt to briefly discuss them here.

First off, it was a MISTAKE to remove God’s Name from the bible.


As Author of the Bible, Only God himself has the right to change or alter the Bible. God himself gave mankind a warning – in his own Word – The Bible; to NOT add to – NOR take away from his Words.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life.” (Revelation 22:18,19)(NIV)-BibleGateway


“…the suppression of The Name (Jehovah) has entailed upon the reader, and especially upon the hearer, irreparable loss… its suppression was a MISTAKE…” –Rotherham, 1, Ch. IV, 22-29

“…the most common “ERROR” made by most translators in the last 3500 years…is their elimination of heaven’s revealed Name of the Most High, Yahweh (Jehovah)” – A. B. Traina; in the Preface of the Holy Name Bible

“The substitution of the word “Lord” is most unhappy; for…it in NO WAY represents the meaning of the sacred name (Jehovah)…” – The 1872 edition of Smith’s Bible Dictionary


  1. Anti-Semitic Feelings The Jewish God of the Jewish Messiah was hated and despised by the Greeks and Romans. When Christianity became a State Religion of Rome – All attempts to blot out the Hebrew origins of Jesus were employed – and Removing God’s Name from the Bible was a major attempt to obscure Jesus’ Jewish heritage.

“Well, be assured that the God that the Jews worship – is the very same God that we worship. Their sacred writings, the Law and the Prophets, we revere and read aloud in our meetings. And because we worship this God of the Jews, the one thing we cannot be accused of is novelty.” –Glimpses Issue #139 : Why Early Christians Were So Despised; Ken Curtis PH.D., Beth Jacobson, Diana Severance Ph.D., Ann T. Snyder and Dan Graves. ©2003 by Christian History Institute. “The Octavius of Minicius Felix” ; 2nd century A.D.

  1. Support of Trinitarian Doctrine When Rome voted to adopt the Trinity doctrine of the numerous Pagans in her empire – The Name of God – YHWH (translated Jehovah in English) – interfered and hindered the Newly Adopted teaching That Jesus was the Almighty God – Jehovah. Rome paid her translators to remove God’s name almost Seven Thousand Times (7,000) from the Bible.

“In the first two centuries nearly all the various readings of the New Testament came into existence, the majority of them by deliberate alteration of the text…in the interests of (the trinity) dogma…” -the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics; The Bible in the Church

“Codex B (Vaticanus)…was altered by a later hand in more than two thousand places. Eusebius, therefore, is not without grounds for accusing the adherents of….the newly-risen doctrine of the trinity of falsifying the Bible…” -(Fraternal Visitor 1924, p. 148; translated from Christadelphian Monatshefte).

“The removal of the Tetragrammaton (Jehovah) from the New Testament and its replacement with the surrogates KYRIOS and THEOS blurred the original distinction between the Lord God and the Lord Christ, and in many passages made it impossible which one was meant. As time went on…it was often impossible to distinguish between them. Thus it may be that the removal of the Tetragrammaton (Jehovah) contributed significantly to the later…Trinity “ – George Howard, Bible Scholar ; The Name of God in the New Testament, BAR 4.1 (March 1978), pg 15 ` “It was they who demanded, in effect, that Christianity be “updated” by blurring or even obliterating the long-accepted distinction between the Father and the Son.” – When Jesus Became God by Richard E. Rubenstein, p.74

  1. MONEY Because the God of Christ – The Jewish God, Jehovah, was not popular with the world of mankind, they sought to remove him from their Bibles. Bible translators knew that for their Bibles to be purchased they would need to appeal to their readers. They also knew, that if they used God’s Divine Name Jehovah, then people would not purchase their Version and thus they would lose money.

God’s name Jehovah/Yahowah appears in the original hebrew text about 7000 times, but the NIV fails to mention it even once. When asked about this, Edwin H. Palmer, Th.D., Executive Secretary for the NIV’s committee wrote :

“Here is why we did not : You are right – that Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. But we put 2 1/4 million dollars into this translation and a sure way of throwing that down the drain is to translate, for example, Psalm 23 as, ‘Yahweh (Jehovah) is my shepherd.‘ Immediately, we would have translated for nothing. Nobody would have used it (or purchased it). Oh, maybe you and a handful [of] others. But a Christian has to be also wise and practical.
We are the victims of 350 years of the King James tradition. It is far better to get two million to read it- that is how many have bought it to date- and to follow the King James, than to have two thousand buy it and have the correct translation of Yahweh(Jehovah) . . . It was a hard decision, and many of our translators agree with you.” – The Reason NIV removed Jehovah’s Name Edwin H. Palmer, Th.D., Executive Secretary for the NIV‘s committee

“The situation today, where many translations… exists largely because of the amount of money to be gained…” -(The Preservation of the Bible By Faithful Churches) –By Charles V. Turner

  1. MAN MADE “TRADITION“ It was a tradition of the Jews to avoid using God’s name altogether. They stopped all mention of him. No longer using God’s Divine Name, they no longer used it in their prayers, even making it a sin to say his name out loud. They considered it “blasphemy” to utter the name of God, Jehovah. Many translators admit to following this “Jewish Tradition” and have thus removed Jehovah’s name and replaced it with Titles such as “LORD” and “GOD” – all in capitals – to show that they have removed God’s name in those places. Jesus condemned the man-made tradition of the Jews. Following their lead in this – would be directly against Jesus’ Teachings on this issue.

“…Yahweh (Jehovah), is the proper personal name of the God of Israel…the term Adonai, ‘My Lord’ was later used as a SUBSTITUTE. The word LORD in the present version represents the TRADITIONAL usage.” – New American Bible (Catholic) Introduction to the O. T., Page XI.

“In this translation we have followed the orthodox Jewish TRADITION and substituted ‘the Lord’ for the name ‘Yahweh’ (Jehovah)” — Preface – 1935 Bible ; J. M. Powis Smith and Edgar J. Goodspeed

“Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? …Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. “ (Matthew 15:3,6)(NIV)-BibleGateway

  1. SUPERSTITION During the time when Israel was in slavery to Babylon, she absorbed and adopted many Babylonian customs and ideas. One of these was the “Superstition” against using the name of a God – for fear that bad things would happen to them. As the Babylonians called their Chief God – Marduk by the title “LORD” so as not to offend him, so too – the Jews adopted this idea in reference to Jehovah God.

“When the Yisraeli (Israelites) came out of Babylonian captivity, they brought along with them the Babylonian culture, and along with it Babylonian beliefs and superstitions. One of these pagan Babylonian practices or beliefs was called “ineffability.” This was the SUPERSTITION against using the name of a deity for fear of something bad happening to them. The idea was that if you said the name of a deity he or she would notice you. The pagan practice of ineffability was further reinforced by Greek Hellenization.” -(b.Pes. 50a) (b.Kidd. 71a).

“The avoidance of the original name of God (Yehowah) both in speech and, to a certain extent, in the Bible….. first arose…..in Babylonia. According to Dalman (l.c. pp. 66 et seq.),” -The Jewish Encyclopedia TETRAGRAMMATON; by Crawford Howell Toy, and Ludwig Blau

“The idea that only the priest could utter The NAME of The HEAVENLY FATHER, and that he was to disguise or hide it from the common people, came from the idea that the NAME was “ineffable” or “unutterable”. However this was a pagan doctrine that they adopted from the Egyptians, Babylonians, and the Greeks…” -THE FINAL REFORMATION; KOSTER P.54, P112

Marduk was, therefore, a very important god of Babylon. In the first millennium BCE, his name was considered so holy, that it was almost never pronounced; instead, people said and wrote Bêl, ‘LORD’.

Herodotus correctly calls the supreme god of Babylon Bêl (“lord”), because his real name was not pronounced. -[Herodotus, Histories 1.181-2; tr. Aubrey de Sélincourt]

“The ineffability of divine names was on old idea in Egypt… the name of Osiris himself was said to be ineffable…the name Marduk of Babylon was also declared ineffable. The Greeks avoided the names of their deities and preferred to call them by the titles Kurios and Theos.” -The Final Reformation By Dr. Koster; pp. 54 and 112

“…But at least by the third century B.C.E. the pronunciation of the name YHWH (Jehovah) was avoided, and Adonai, “the Lord,” was substituted for it…” – Encyclopedia Judaica (p. 679).

“The Hebrews considered The Name of God to be ‘ineffable’ and substituted in reading Adonai (My Lord).” -Columbia Encyclopedia Vol. 2 under the subject ‘God’

  1. “JEHOVAH” IS NOT THE HEBREW WAY TO SAY GOD’S NAME Some Bible Translators say that they have removed God’s name from the Bible – because Jehovah is not the proper way to say God’s name in Hebrew. This reasoning is merely an excuse and not a reason at all. For if this reason was valid, then we would also have to remove Jesus name from the Bible, since the name “Jesus” is not the way that it was written or spoken in Hebrew either. Many Hebrew names are written in the Bible – which are not as they were in Hebrew and yet we do not remove them. Therefore this reasoning is truly invalid. Examples of Jewish names in the Bible which are translated into English – much differently than their original Hebrew couterparts – are : Jesus, Jeremiah, Jonah, Joel, Jerusalem, Joshua, etc.

“… the Committee… is, omitting the name of God (because) the word ‘Jehovah’ does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew…” – The Preface of the Revised Standard Version

Thus, the Hebrew “ye-ru-sha-LA-yim” became “Jerusalem“; “ye-ri-HO” became Jericho; and “yar-DEN” become “Jordan”. Hebrew personal names such as “yo-NA” became “Jonah”, “yi-SHAI” became “Jesse” and “ye-SHU-a” became “Jesus“.

Likewise “YHWH, Yahweh, or Yehowah” became “Jehovah” in english.

  1. GOD DOESN’T NEED A NAME God does not need to be distinguished from other gods. Some translators have made this statement. Who are we to say that God doesn’t need a name ? God deemed it necessary to name all the stars in the heavens, and to place his name upon people that he liked, and upon places that were important to him. His own word the Bible – emphasizes the importance of a name. The translators of the Bible did not remove Satan’s name from the Bible – nor did they remove the names of numerous false gods from the Bible.

“the use of any proper name for the one and only God… is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church.” -the preface of the Revised Standard Version; Under reasons (excuses) for the removal of God’s personal name – Jehovah

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalms 147:4)(NIV)-BibleGateway

“Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by name… The everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth…” (Isaiah 40:26,28)(ASV)-BibleGateway

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)(NIV)-BibleGateway

“A good name is better than oil of much worth…” (Ecclesiastes 7:1)(NLV)-BibleGateway

“…The Sacred Name Yahovah was revealed to man by Yahovah Himself and is not a man-given name” -(see II Apol., 10, 13; Trypho, 126, 127).

In the Bible, refusing to mention the name of a god means refusing to worship this god (Ex 23:13) and that is why Satan incited the Israelites, by means of the prophets of Baal, not to use the Name of Jehovah (Jr 23:27).

“Yahweh (Jehovah) is the name that indicates the God of the Hebrews. Where the Philistines worshipped Dagon, the Egyptians, Amon, and the Ammonites, Milcom, the Hebrews worshipped YAHWEH (Jehovah). The title ‘god’ (elohim) is ALSO applied to false deities in the Scriptures as well as Yahweh (Jehovah), hence is NOT a term by which one can be distinguished from the others. When the voice said, ‘I am Yahweh (Jehovah),’ there was no doubt in any listener’s mind as to the identity of the speaker. He was the God of the Hebrews. So far as is known, no other peoples called their god by this name.” – Review and Herald, December 16, 1971

“In the Scriptures there is the closest possible relationship between a person and his name, the two being practically equivalent, so that to remove the name is to extinguish the person. (Num. 27:4; Deut. 7:24) To forget God’s name is to depart from Him.” –Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 571 (1964)


Non-superstitious Jewish translators always favored the name “Jehovah” in their translations of the Bible. On the other hand one can note that there is no Jewish translation of the Bible with “Yahweh”.

NAME OF VERSION (JEWISH) TONGUE PUBLISHED IN: DIVINE NAME RENDERED Immanuel Tremellius Latin 1579 Jehova Baruch Spinoza Latin 1670 Jehova* Samuel Cahen French 1836 Iehovah Alexander Harkavy English 1936 Jehovah** Joseph Magil (see below) English 1910 Jehovah Rabbi L. Golschmidt (see below) German 1921 Yehovah “non-superstitious Jewish translators always favored the name Jehovah in their translations of the Bible. On the other hand one can note that there is NO Jewish translation of the Bible with Yahweh.” —M. Gérard GERTOUX; a Hebrew scholar, specialist of the Tetragram; president of the Association Biblique de Recherche d’Anciens Manuscrits


“As a follower of Christ, Peter used Gods name, Jehovah. When Peters speech was put on record the Tetragrammaton (YHWH / Jehovah) was here used according to the practice during the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E.” – Paul Kahle; Studia Evangelica, edited by Kurt Aland, F. L. Cross, Jean Danielou, Harald Riesenfeld and W. C. van Unnik, Berlin, 1959, p. 614 (See App 1C §1.)

“The early Christian scholars therefore easily learnt the true pronunciation.” –The 15th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 12, p. 995, under the heading “Jehovah”


“The ASV (American Standard Version) has “Jehovah” in it about 6,823 times, just like the original Hebrew, but the NASB removed it every time. This makes for some awkward situations like Psalms 110:1, “The LORD said to my lord.” “ -Jason Beduhn Northern Arizona University Department of Humanities Arts and Religion

Jesus’ name appears only 500 some times in the Bible; whereas Jehovah’s Name appears almost 7,000 times.

Obviously Jehovah is proud of his name.

So how does he feel about mankind removing HIS Name from the Bible ?


“Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O Jehovah, And that a foolish people hath blasphemed thy name.” (Isaiah 74:18)(ASV)-BibleGateway

“And now this admonition is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says Jehovah Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.” (Malachi 2:1) (ASV)

“How long, O God, will you allow our enemies to mock you? Will you let them dishonor your name forever?” (Psalm 74:10) (NLT) -BibleGateway

“And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. “ (Isaiah 52:5,6) (NIV) -BibleGateway

“Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this once will I cause them to know my hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah.” (Jeremiah 16:21) (ASV) -BibleGateway

“And I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 36:23) (ASV) -BibleGateway

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered…” (Joel 2:32)(ASV)-BibleGateway

“…this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the ‘last days’….. everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (Jehovah) will be saved.'” (Acts 2:16,17,32)(NIV)-BibleGateway


So rather than follow the Jewish Traditions – that Jesus Condemned – We should follow Christ’s example in making his Father’s name known.

“Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) – BibleGateway

Jesus used his father’s name – and told us to do the same.

In prayer to his father, Jesus said:

“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them YOUR NAME and I will continue to make it known… “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world.” (John 17:25,26,6)(ESV)-BibleGateway

“I will praise thy name for ever and ever.. Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised; And his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:2,3)(ASV)-BibleGateway

“That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” (Psalm 83:18) (King James Version) -BibleGateway

  • So much huffing an puffing!! Your case would be credible if there were any instances of the inspired NT writers adopting your preferred practice; but there are NONE! As for me, I will take the authority of inspired me rather than anything else every time. And what did the inspired men write? They wrote "Kyrios" and I am happy with that.
    – Dottard
    Apr 25, 2020 at 4:58
  • Im happy to know that the word Kyrios was not what was originally there. It was a replacement.
    – user35499
    Apr 25, 2020 at 5:03
  • can you cite a scintilla of evidence for that assertion in the NT? Or is it a pious hope?
    – Dottard
    Apr 25, 2020 at 5:06
  • If the New Testament is a continuation of the Old Testament, what language did Jesus and the apostles use whenever they quote from the Old testament? Did they use Kyrios? Is Kyrios the original word for YHWH or is it a replacement?
    – user35499
    Apr 25, 2020 at 5:17
  • Below are some examples of English translations that have used God’s name in the New Testament: (scintilla of evidence) A Literal Translation of the New Testament . . . From the Text of the Vatican Manuscript, by Herman Heinfetter (1863) The Emphatic Diaglott, by Benjamin Wilson (1864) The Epistles of Paul in Modern English, by George Barker Stevens (1898) St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, by W. G. Rutherford (1900) The Christian’s Bible​—New Testament, by George N. LeFevre (1928) The New Testament Letters, by J.W.C. Wand, Bishop of London (1946)
    – user35499
    Apr 25, 2020 at 5:47

Psalm 90 is a prayer from Moses who is identified as being a man of "Elohim" (הָאֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים). Moses begins by addressing Elohim as "Adonai" (אֲ‍ֽדֹנָ֗י) and he closes by acknowledging "Adonia" (אֲ‍ֽדֹנָ֗י) is "Elohinu" (אֱלֹהֵ֗ינוּ):

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God (Elohim). Lord (Adonai), you have been our dwelling place in all generations. (90:1) [ESV]

Let the favor of the Lord (Adonai) our God (Elohinu) be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! (90:17)

The prayer and its terminology reflects the historical situation. Moses was a man (singular) of God who he calls "Adonai." After leading the people out of Egypt, Moses calls "Adonai" our (plural) God.

When praying to God, Moses addresses Him as "Adonai" which is the Hebrew word for "Lord." Thus, using the example of Moses, a proper address for God is "Lord."

The Jewish Custom & Christian Practice
Just as Moses used "Lord," the vast majority of manuscripts render the Tetragrammaton as "Lord" and, significantly, this follows how it is traditionally handled. In commenting on Genesis 2, the first occurrences of the YHVH, Jon D. Levenson notes:

For the first time, we see the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) or the four-letter proper name of the God of Israel, the pronunciation of which rabbinic law forbids categorically. The name is conventionally rendered in English as "LORD" and in Heb. as "Adonai (in prayer and in liturgical reading of Scripture) or "ha-Shem" in other contexts.1

This custom is still observed. It is Jewish practice, but the first Christians in general, and leaders in particular were all Jewish. Modern translators who replace the Tetragrammaton with "LORD" are presenting the text as it was used by the first Christians. In other words, what had been a Jewish custom was the Christian practice as evidenced by the overwhelming manuscript evidence when Old Testament passages were used by the Church.

LXX Examples
Consider this example where "Lord" was not used: enter image description here

Here the Name was not translated; the translator simply wrote the Name in Hebrew. A similar treatment is found in the JPS translation2 of Exodus:

I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make Myself known to them by My name יהוה. (Exodus 6:3)

The best way to handle the Name is to preserve the Hebrew. God's Name doesn't change from one language to another and so it should never be translated. It is one thing to call Him "Lord" in English, or "Adonai" in Hebrew because those are accurate forms of address which acknowledge man's relationship to God. It is a different matter to "rename" Him when using a different language.

There is an example from Leviticus where the Name was translated as ΙΑΩ:

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“If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD's commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt (Leviticus 4:27) [ESV]

However, given the fact the Temple was still standing and all sacrifices were carried out by the Levitical (i.e. Hebrew) priest's, there is reason to question the purpose for translating the Name in this book. Surely, it was not for the reader to use.

According to Jerome, ΙΑΩ was how YHVH was pronounced. Thus, the use in Leviticus would allow someone who did not know Hebrew, to "follow along" at least in part when the Temple sacrifices were offered. In other words, ΙΑΩ was a phonetic device reflecting the untranslated Name.

Jerome's comments are significant as they indicate he believed he understood the correct pronunciation and yet he translated the Tetragrammaton as Dominus ("Lord"), affirming the Apostolic use of Lord.

The overwhelming manuscript evidence shows the Tetragrammaton was rendered as "Lord" and "Lord" was how it was used in prayer and liturgy. The lack of capitalization at the time may have led to confusion in some passages, but modern translators can easily distinguish those.

LORD presents the text the way it was used by the Apostles and the earliest Christians.

1. Jon D. Levenson, Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 15
2. Jewish Publication Society TANAKH translation copyright 1985, 1999

  • It appears even an absurd, Scripture-denying (Mk 7:9, 13) rabbinic prohibition of pronouncing "Yahweh," "Yehovah" or similar (whether in Hebrew or Greek, English, Welsh or "click" ), to whatever extent it was obeyed, disobeyed, or ignored (especially in an emergency)--even that's under the sovereign hand of Jehovah (God, Elohim, Father, Son, and Spirit) to, as Lad suggests, "emphasize" that God's new move in His economy was to become a man, Jesus Christ, to die for us and resurrect to give us zoe, His life (Ac 20:28; Heb 13:12; 1 Jn 5:12). Jehovah's no longer "merely" Jehovah. He's Jesus
    – Walter S
    Apr 9, 2020 at 17:59
  • @WalterSmetana Exactly, the idea the OT was "static" so taken as such ignores the Jewish tradition still in practice today and the salvation reality "the Word became flesh." To presume Jews who believed Jesus was the predicted and promised Messiah would then go back and "rewrite" the the OT ignores the present day reality of Jewish understanding and the NT which says we have a name above all names which is the only name by which man may be saved...after which Peter went back to replace Lord with YHVH to obscure the message he just preached. Not likely. So the need to limit the NT to answer, Apr 9, 2020 at 18:29
  • So following 1 Cor 9:20, on when to "become a Jew," Paul in Ac 22:3 may have spoken either "Elohim," or one of the Jewish substitutes for Yahveh, to his listeners in Hebrew, since the substitutes effectively equaled "God." Likewise in every language in Ac 2:11. To be fair, the original question, even though from an Arian, is about modern OT translations; and my preferred OT translations, both Christian and Jewish and other, transliterate "Jehovah" or Yhwh every time it appears in the original Hebrew. (I exclude Jehovah's Witnessism's New World Translation---wouldn't touch it with 11 foot pole)
    – Walter S
    Apr 9, 2020 at 19:23

I found this article online. It touches on the subject of the question. WRIGHT WAY: A new King James Bible? Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2015 8:00 am A new King James Bible has broken a centuries-old tradition and is following in the footsteps of several Bible translations that restored the Divine Name to its original place in the Old Testament.

The Divine Name King James Bible is raising eyebrows in the world of Bible translators for replacing the capitalized GOD and LORD with the English translation “Jehovah” in 6,972 places. In Hebrew the four letters representing the Divine name, also called the Tetragrammaton, is YHWH. To this day no one is certain of its exact pronunciation.

Translators of the Divine Name King James Version are following the pattern of other Bible translations, including Young’s Literal Translation, Darby Translation, The New World Translation, The American Standard Version and The Bible in Living English, in restoring the Divine Name where it was originally written.

Publishers of this latest King James Version wrote, “We specifically left the Authorized Version as it is except to restore the Divine Name. We hope then to make people pause and ask themselves if they want ANY modern English Bible that does not display God’s Divine Name as it is found in the original writings no matter how well translated it is.”

The group also stated it is not affiliated with or sponsored by any religious organization and the new edition was not produced by the direction, assistance or approval of any religious organization or religious community.

Explaining their reason for restoring the Divine Name where it originally appeared, the publishers stated online, “Does it not seem clearer than ever why Jesus instructed us at Matthew 6:9 to pray ‘Hallowed be thy name’ not ‘hidden be thy name.’ Jesus faithfully showed why the name of Jehovah must be known to us, for only by that way would we know who Jesus is and how actually Jesus set the pattern for pure worship.

“This is directly tied to our having eternal life, for Jesus himself said in prayer to Jehovah, ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.’” — John 17:3.”

While some scholars prefer the transliterated pronunciation “Yahweh,” others say the name Jehovah has already been established over centuries and preserves the four consonants of the original Divine Name in English (JHVH). Publishers of this latest effort to restore the Divine Name said, “The base text of the Authorized King James is in the public domain but the exclusive feature of restoring the name Jehovah or Yahweh to the otherwise unmodified content of the base text constitutes an important new literary expression.”

One example given of this “new literary expression” is at Isaiah 42:8 where the Divine Name KJV reads, “I am Jehovah: that is my name.” Numerous translations continue to insert “LORD” or “Lord” where the Divine Name originally appeared, a practice that is being challenged by adherents to more literal translations.

There is also the “21st Century King James Version”(KJ21), completed in 1994, which updated obsolete words from the 1611 edition by using Webster’s New International Dictionary, second edition. Spelling, punctuation and capitalization were also updated. While the more popular Authorized King James Version uses the Divine Name “Jehovah” in Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4, The New King James Version replaced the name with LORD or YAH in those verses and Psalm 68:4.

The 21st Century King James Version, however, restores the Divine Name in the four places where the Authorized King James Version used it for centuries. The Divine Name King James Version, however, restores the name Jehovah in nearly 7,000 places where YHWH or JHVH (Latin) originally was.

Personally, I am in favor of the most literal translation of the Holy Bible in its entirety regardless of who translates it. I understand the need for modern translations in view of the way meanings of words change. Still, any translation that is going to be closest to what was originally written and what was originally meant is bound to bring its readers closer to God, wouldn't you agree?

Besides, at Deuteronomy 4:2 — the verse that tells humans not to add or take away from God’s Word — many translators removed the Divine Name! Do you find that offensive? Should you? I wonder how does that make God feel? I simply want the truth as God intended us to have it, don't you? You don’t have to be a scholar to know that removing someone’s personal name and replacing it with a title is not accurate translating. One might call it an audacious, even presumptuous move by translators.

Some people are adamant about sticking with the Bible they were raised on. Others see the benefit in modern translations. To each his own. I was raised on the King James Bible. I will always love it. But I also love modern translations which give me the benefit of more advanced research into the original Hebrew and Greek language. My goal, like yours, is to understand the Word of God, not change it.

Whichever translation you personally prefer, most people will agree there should always be room for the author’s personal name in His own book.

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    The quite modern Lexham English Bible faithfully adheres to the proper use “YHWH” and should be commended for that.
    – Richard7
    May 16, 2020 at 14:19
  • "Jesus faithfully showed why the name of Jehovah must be known to us"---The Lord Jesus took it and translated it: Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins. Jn 8:24. For Jesus is Jehovah in the flesh. Philip 2:6-11; Jn 1:1-2, 14; 8:58; 13:19. Our Father who is in the heavens, Your name be sanctified (Mt 6:9) uses the name "Father" (Isa 9:6; Jn 17:1, 5-6, 11-12, 21, 24-26; Mt 28:19), not the particular name "I Am." The Father indwelt the Son and the Son: the Father. Jn 17:21. Even to the point of identity; while remaining distinct. Isa 9:6; Jn 14:9, 20, 28, 31.
    – Walter S
    May 16, 2020 at 20:47

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