To build your confidence in your English Bibles, we don’t often get into issues of translation from the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. But Jesse Johnson wrote a recent article at the Cripplegate about why English Bibles should translate God’s personal name as Yahweh instead of the typical “the LORD.” Johnson walks through each argument presented in the prefaces to most English translations about why they keep the superstitious Jewish tradition of not using the name God revealed to us. And then he gives his own reasons why the personal name, and not the title, should be used.
My favorite part is when he answers the objection—often considered the trump card—that we don’t actually know how YHWH would have been pronounced, since its vocalization has been long lost.
This misses the point. We don’t know with “certainty” how any of the Hebrew words were pronounced. I’m not even sure Yahweh spoke Hebrew to Adam in the garden anyway. How did Adam pronounce Eve? Is it the same way Americans do it? We can’t even agree on how to pronounce Isaiah, much less Yahweh. But the solution is not to render Isaiah as “ISH,” and it is certainly not to replace Isaiah with “The PROPHET.”
One commenter on the post asks why Johnson is okay with “Jesus” over the original “Yeshua.” Johnson replies:
At least “Jesus” is a name, not a title. Imagine replacing every use of Jesus with “The SAVIOR.” Wouldn’t that undercut his personhood? I think so.
And, btw, your point about Yeshua — Jesus is exactly the argument that should be made for Yahweh. Nobody says Jesus was pronounced that way, yet we don’t blink about using it. But then we change a name that is thousands of years older than that? Ba humbug.
Johnson’s arguments explain why I repeatedly refer to God as Yahweh in my Exodus series, and why I will continue to do so when I read the Old Testament out loud.