Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2015

The various ways in which ancient people attempted to write the Hebrew name “YHWH” each tell a story. Ancient manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint testify to the difficulty involved in translating “YHWH,” the Hebrew personal name for God. At different times, they tried various ways of communicating the name “YHWH” but none of them satisfied everyone. This isn’t an unusual sort of thing. We have several English versions of the Bible today for similar reasons. Different forms of the name “YHWH” are also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in other ancient Hebrew documents.

The Greeks eventually followed the Jewish tradition of calling YHWH, “Lord,” and “Kurios,” the Greek word for “Lord,” was substituted for “YHWH” in the Septuagint. That method simply uses a descriptive term without communicating some form of the actual name. Lacking the exact letters to represent “YHWH,” actual Hebrew characters had once been used, but these symbols would have been confusing to most Greeks.

Charts and graphics would greatly improve my blog here, but I simply do not have time to add them at the present. The symbols are easily described however. I have seen the characters that I’m currently interested in called “Phoenician Script.” In a good Wikipedia article called “Tetragrammaton,” the form is called “Old Aramaic.” “YHWH,” in this form has been found in ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint.

The Greek language is written from left to right as is English, but Hebrew is written from right to left. Please keep that in mind as you read this. “YHWH” is actually written “HWHY,” and in the Old Aramaic form, the letters look something like “EYEZ,” but the “E” shaped symbol is turned backwards as a mirror-image would be.

The symbol shaped like an “E,” is actually a Hebrew “H,” but becomes an “E” (eta) to the Greeks with the exception that they change a final “H” (ref. my previous post) to an “S.” Note that a “Z” also has an “S” sound. Because of this, reading the letters in their order in Hebrew could have given us the English words “Eyes,” and “Yes.”

If the final “E” (reading from right to left) is altered to an “s,” and the Z-shaped symbol is left unchanged, it may also have something to do with the name “Suez.” Reversing the spelling would yield the name “Zeus.” Some may scoff at this, and may prefer the explanation that I gave for “Zeus” in my previous post.

It can be shown however, that several English words have originated in this manner. In the tedious work of translation, symbols that resemble letters of your own alphabet are sometimes automatically read as such. These might be considered mistakes in translation, but such readings often form new words.

For clarification, the Z-shaped symbol has a horizontal bar in the middle. In middle Paleo-Hebrew script, this symbol is actually the letter “Y,” and the Greeks use an “I” to capture its pronunciation.

The symbol in “EYEZ” that actually resembles a “Y,” is really a Hebrew “W,” which also represents “U,” and “V.” I realize this is difficult reading, but you can begin to get a picture of the complicated task of transliterating the name “YHWH” into a different alphabet.

The name “Zeus,” appears to be an ancient attempt to spell the name “YHWH” in a foreign alphabet which lacked the proper characters to do so (ref. my previous post). That attempt would have predated the Septuagint, and “Zeus” sounds very different from the original name.

The name “Iao,” which is found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint, appears to be intended to communicate the pronunciation of the name “YHWH.” An “I” functions as a “Y,” and an “A” can serve as an “H.”

As an example, “Yah,” the shortened form of “YHWH,” becomes “jah” in our word “Hallelujah,” and becomes “ia” in “Alleluia,” the Greek influenced alternate spelling.  The Hebrew “W” (as in “YHWH”) is usually replaced by a “u,” or an “ou,” but sometimes an “O” has been used. A lowercase Greek “omega” is shaped like a small “w.”

The thing most interesting to me about the name “Iao,” is that the Greek letters are “Iota,” which is an “I,” “Alpha,” (A) and “Omega” (O). In the Greek “symbol” font, it is written “Ιαω,” or “ΙΑΩ,” in uppercase symbols.

In many printings of the New Testament, Revelation 22:16 is written in red ink because the verse is spoken by Jesus. That verse would seem out-of-place if the words of verse 22:13, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,” were not also his.

Verse 22:13 is also printed in red ink. It is sometimes difficult to tell who is speaking in the Revelation, whether it is Jesus (the Lamb), or God. The names and terms seem interchangeable. Revelation 21:5-7 is attributed to “he that sat upon the throne” (God), therefore, the words in 21:6, “I am Alpha, and Omega,” are not printed in red.

In the Greek manuscript that I checked, “Alpha” and “Omega” aren’t spelled out in these verses of Revelation, but are simply an “A” and an “O.” In Greek, the “I” form represents the letter, but not the personal pronoun “I,” as it does in English. “Ego” (“εγω” in Greek font), is the Greek word for the personal pronoun “I,” used in the verses in Revelation.

In comparing these verses with the Septuagint name “Iao,” I’m mixing English with Greek. Nevertheless, I believe that Revelation 21:6 and 22:13, are indirect references to “Iao,” the ancient Greek name for YHWH. “A,”  and “O,” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but I also think that linking the expressions of the verses to the name “Iao” gives a more complete meaning.

In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” That is a very strange statement, and it offended some of the religious leaders. They attempted to stone him for identifying himself with the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. It wasn’t blasphemy, and he wasn’t bragging, but simply stating the truth. From Genesis to Revelation, the ancient Bible is about him. He fulfills prophecy, and proves the existence of God. Jesus is Alpha (A) and Omega (Ω).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »