Thursday, November 25, 2010

God. Deus (Latin). Theos (Greek). Elohim (Hebrew). The Big G. He's the point of the Bible, but which god? "God" is merely a title. There are lots of gods and goddesses. I could take a rock from my driveway and declared it to be a god. Some cultures, like the Hindus, have so many gods they grouped them into trinities. They all get personal names, why not the God of the Bible? Some have made the official spelling for the title "god," when writing of the Author of the Bible, to begin with a capital "G", but that is just a product of popular opinion from a Christian majority. It is not a name. The followers of any god could declare that the capital "G" had to be used for their god and, baring a divine contest to test the gods, the claim could be legally valid, even for the rock from my driveway. What we need here is a personal name for the God of the Bible. Other gods have personal names, the God of the Bible should have one too. Some say his name is Jesus. Is this correct? The obvious place to look for the real name of the God of the Bible is in the Bible, but which version? Let's cross examine some of them.

In the King James Version, His name is found in four places.

Exodus 6:3
And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

Psalms 83:18;
That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.

Isaiah 12:2;
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Isaiah 26:4;
Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

The New English Bible contains the name Jehovah at Exodus 3:15 and 6:3.

An American Translation has the name Yahweh at Exodus 3:15 and 6:3.

So now we have a name for the God of the Bible. It is either Jehovah or Yahweh. I will address the argument over which one is correct in another post. So we have his name, but there is a discrepancy. The King James Version uses "LORD" in Exodus 3:15 and both The New English Bible and An American Translation uses "LORD" at Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, and Isaiah 26:4. To further complicate things many translations, like The Revised Standard Version, The New American Bible, The Gideon Bible, The New International Version, and The Net Bible from use "LORD" and have either no reference to the name Jehovah or Yahweh, or merely contain a foot note with one or both names. Which is correct? To find that answer an examination of the oldest texts available is in order.

In the oldest text available you will find the Tetragrammaton, four letters, read right to left, that translate as YHWH, in all five scriptures. Why is God's name replaced by "LORD" in so many Bibles? The preface of The Revised Standard Version gives two reasons:

1: "The word 'Jehovah' does not accurately represent any form of the name used in Hebrew"

I will address this in a later post.

2: "The use of any proper name for the one and only God, as though there were other gods from whom he had to be distinguished, was discontinued in Judaism before the Christian era and is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church."

It seems Judaism developed an extreme view of Exodus 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." and they ceased to speak God's name entirely, thinking it was too holy to pronounce. Once this became established, it became a tradition. So I have to wonder, if God's name is too holy to pronounce, why is the Tetragrammaton in the oldest copies of the Old Testament some 6,800 times? Yes, 6,800 times, not 5 times, 6,800 times. Further in Exodus 9:16 He said to Pharaoh: "And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." (KJV) Does that sound like the words of someone that doesn't want his name known? "But it's a tradition!" some protest. Jesus said something about tradition in Mathew 15:6: "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." (KJV) Would you want to have to explain to God why your tradition was more important than His commandments? Perhaps a more important question is: If editors remove the name of God, the author of the Bible, from the Bible over 6800 times, when his name was so important to Him, then can the book's editors legitimately claim their book to be a Bible?

The good news is that there are several translations that use either Jehovah or Yahweh. The American Standard Version, The Jerusalem Bible, The New World Translation, The Bible in Living English translated by S. T. Byington, The Holy Scriptures translated by J. N. Darby, and The Holy Bible translated by Robert Young all translate the Tetragrammaton as either Jehovah or Yahweh in most or all cases.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Most Inconvenient Book

The Bible. It is such an inconvenient book. It tells you to do stuff. It tells you to not do stuff. It tells you this is right and that is wrong. Nations have gone to war over it. Nations have tried to eradicate it. Educated men have dismissed it as foolishness. Yet, with an estimated publication count of 6 billion copies in 2,000 languages, it persists and hounds its detractors even while they belittle and persecute its believers. It even claims to predict the future. It makes fools of the worldly wise and it makes wise the simple man. Worse, it probably either doesn't say what you think it does, or it doesn't say what you want it to say. Yes, the Bible is the world's most inconvenient book.

So, is it just an old book of fable written by man with little or no value to us today, or is it written by the creator of the Universe for people of our time? To determine that, we need to establish the Bible's credit rating much like a loan officer needs to establish your credit rating before loaning you money. We also need to deal with translation issues. After all, the King James version was penned by neither Moses nor the Apostles. In fact, none of the original copies exist anymore. So, how much can we trust the Bibles we have on our shelves? These issues are the focus of this blog.

Who am I, what do I know, and what will this cost you?

I'm a Nerd that was born in the early seventies that probably enjoys research more than you perhaps think I should. The Bible, among other things, has been a subject of my research from the time I could read. I am not a paid clergyman. Your belief or non belief in the Bible will in no way affect my pocketbook. I may; however, cost you some thinking and some of your current beliefs. I intend on keeping this blog add free for two reasons. One is Mathew 10:8, the other is what I recall seeing on this one Baptist preacher's site. One one side was the preacher's morality sermon, and on the other side was an add containing a woman showing off her ample cleavage. Yeah, I'm not going to open the door to that sort of embarrassment.