God’s Missing Name
I previously wrote about God’s missing name in the Old Testament. I discussed the fact that God’s name occurs thousands of times, but most modern English translations simply render it as “Lord.”
In a comment on that post, Jochánán asked the question, “Why is there no word about JHVH (or Yahweh, pick one) in the NT?”
Yahweh in the Greek Manuscripts
It must be granted that the name Yahweh was not included in any extant Greek manuscript of the New Testament. I see several possible reasons that this may have been the case.
In my opinion, the most likely explanation is simply the fact that the New Testament authors themselves were products of their time. They too were bound by the cultural taboo regarding the utterance or writing of God’s name. Thus they followed the pattern of the Septuagint and rendered God’s name as kurios (“master”). Though they were working under inspiration, the Spirit allowed them to write in this manner, following the standard practice of their day.
Alternatively, the New Testament authors may not have been bound by the cultural taboo. In this case, they would have simply accommodated to their audiences and decided to refrain from writing God’s name in order to avoid offence. We know that Matthew did something similar, replacing “the kingdom of God” with “the kingdom of heaven.”
A third explanation is based on the theory that the New Testament books were actually first written in Aramaic and later translated into Greek for widespread distribution. According to this theory, God’s name would in fact have been included in the original manuscripts, just as it was in the Old Testament. In support of this theory is the fact that the Syriac Peshitta New Testament does contain God’s name. (Syriac is very similar to Aramaic.) However, the examination of this theory goes way beyond the scope of this post, and it is not something I have personally given much study.
Yahweh in the New Testament
Despite God’s name not being rendered as “Yahweh” in the New Testament, there are still plenty of places where the name is referenced. For example, many Old Testament passages containing God’s name were quoted in the New Testament, but his name was replaced with kurios. In some of these cases, the New Testament authors simply borrowed their translation from the Septuagint, while in other cases they made a new translation (or paraphrase).
Furthermore, Jesus made multiple references to the Father’s name, which is Yahweh.
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.’” (Matthew 6:9, NASB)
“I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” (John 5:43, NASB)
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me.” (John 10:25, NASB)
“Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28, NASB)
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; … Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; … and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:6–26, NASB)
Jesus is Yahweh
That last passage is particularly telling. In it we see that the Father gave Jesus his own name, “Your name, the name which You have given Me” (John 17:11, NASB). “Yahweh” is “the name which is above every name” that God bestowed on Jesus (Philippians 2:9, NASB).
This is true in multiple senses. In the loosest sense, it applies to Jesus’ actual human name, Yeshua, as Yeshua literally means “Yahweh is salvation.”
In a much stronger sense, it applies to the very nature of Christ Jesus, who truly is Yahweh God.
Yahweh is in the New Testament. We see his name every time we see the name of Jesus.
What Do You Think?
Why do you believe we do not see the actual name “Yahweh” in the Greek New Testament? In what other ways is he still present there?
Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.