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 Post subject: Does God Have a Sacred Name
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:25 am 
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Does God Have a Sacred Name

Adherents of the Sacred Name Movement and Hebrew Roots Movement believe that the Hebrew divine names are the essential names of God, and that they should not be translated into other languages.

Many of those who claim that we should use only the “right” name for God, do not agree on what that name should be! For example, should we use “Yahweh,” “Jehovah,” “Yeshua,” “Yahshua,” “Yaohu,” “Yahuw,” “Yhwh” or some other transliterated versions of Hebrew names to address God? Various “sacred names” groups will claim that one or another of these names is the correct one, and the others are considered incorrect.

Therefore, the English name Jesus is considered a pagan name that should only be used in its Hebrew form of Yehoshua. Should we use the Greek name Jesus to refer to the Son of God? Did the early church place any importance on the Hebrew names of God? Let us examine this issue.

Some insist that Yeshua should be used exclusively to represent the name of Christ. They often insist that God the Father must be called by His personal name in Hebrew known as the, Tetragrammaton. They insist that names like El Shaddai, Jehovah, Yahweh and Yah should not be used, some insisting that, if they are used it is because these names are used by Satan in order to deceive us. Some go as far as to say that only Ahayah Asher Ahayah (I am) is correct. Some are adamant that Yahshua, not Yeshua, is the correct pronunciation of Jesus’ name. Is there some kind of a sinister conspiracy going on, or do some people have a preconception?

Those with this preconception believe that it is important to pronounce Jesus’ name exactly as He did. In first century Aramaic or Hebrew. They will say Yeshua rather than “Jesus” and say this would sound far closer to the way He would have pronounced His name. Should we try to reproduce the pronunciation of Christ’s name in the same language He used (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek)? The answer to this question can be established clearly by understanding the Jewish reading tradition.

Before explaining this let, us look at a secondary question, why is “Jesus” spelled with “j” in English? Since the letter, “j” is not found in Hebrew or Greek how did it come to be used in our Bibles?

“The answer is twofold: Hebrew and Greek use different alphabets, and they have different rules of grammar. For instance, the first letter of the name Yeshua in Hebrew is the letter yod. As a semi-consonant like the letters waw and he, it can play the role of a consonant or a marker of a vowel, depending on its position in a word. Thus yod is given a “y” sound at the beginning of a word, and an “i” sound when used later in a word. It has no exact equivalent in Greek, but the iota, sounded as “i” regardless of where it is used, is the closest. In the same way, the Hebrew letter shin is sounded as “sh” but has no exact equivalent in Greek, the closest being sigma, sounded as “s.”

Sacred Name Movement

Why does the Greek form of this name (or for that matter any number of other Old Testament names) end in “s” rather than in “a”? The answer is found in the rules of Greek grammar. In Greek, nouns indicate case, number, and gender by their spelling. This is called declension. Depending on its use as subject or object in a sentence, the same noun has a different ending. Spelling (rather than word order, as in English) indicates how a word functions as a part of speech. Thus, in Greek, Iesous is in the nominative case (“Yeshua”); Iesou is in the genitive case (“of Yeshua”), and so on. The name in the nominative case carries an “s” so that it may be properly declined in the other cases”. ~ John H. Ogwyn

Adherents of the Sacred Name Movement fail to understand the reading tradition that accompanied Scripture during the time of Christ. Greek-speaking Jews, who heard the Hebrew Bible read in synagogues, would have been familiar with the Greek forms of the Old Testament names. Greek-speakers would have rendered Christ’s name as “Iesous” and the Lord’s name as “kurios”.

“The Spirit of the Lord (kurios) is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18)

Luke translated Jesus’ reading of “Adonay” in Isaiah 61:1–2 in the synagogue of Nazareth as Kyrios. The Greek New Testament preserves Jewish roundabout figures of speech for the Tetragrammaton. Whenever “Yhwh” was written in the Hebrew, the reader substituted another name in its place. Usually the divine name used was “Adonay” “Lord”. The Greek Septuagint and the Greek New Testament translate “Yhwh” and “Elohim” as “Kyrios” Lord and “Theos” as God. Had Jesus not followed this convention, He would immediately have aroused tremendous controversy among the Jews and His disciples.

Adherents of the Sacred Name Movement must assert that the New Testament was written in Hebrew (or Aramaic). However, there is no evidence that this was the case. Furthermore, they would have to explain why the letters to the churches of Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, and the Books of Colossians, Ephesians and Galatians, were addressed to congregations in Greek-speaking areas in which Hebrew would have been unintelligible. Not only that, but there have never been found any copies of “Hebrew or Aramaic originals”. Today, we have portions of second century writings by men who knew the Apostles and a very careful assessment of those writings reveal no evidence of Aramaic or Hebrew originals.

There are very good examples of text fragments such as P52, which are papyrus records of parts of John 18 and 19, while P66 contains most of the Gospel of John. This papyrus texts show that the Greek name “Jesus” was being used. Papyrus P52 and P66 abbreviate the names of the Father, God and of Jesus Christ. They normally reduce to two or three letters the last letter changes according to the grammatical tradition. Jesus is abbreviated as Ιη-, (transliterated into English as Je- or Ye-). Christ is abbreviated as Χρ- (literally Chr-). The word God is recorded as Θ- while Father is shown as Πρ- and Lord as Κ-. These abbreviations clearly derive from the Greek terms and not the Hebrew.

Clearly, the Bible does not stress the importance of which language we use to address God, or precisely how we spell or pronounce His name. Nowhere in the New Testament are Greek-speaking congregations told to use the Hebrew or Latin form of Christ’s name. Furthermore, to believe the “sacred name” teachers, one must believe that God is unable to preserve his Word, and that his word is incomplete and corrupt.

These “Sacred Names” groups are creating an issue over God’s name where none exists in Scripture! Nothing in Scripture tells us we are to avoid using a particular name for God. Nowhere in the New Testament or the Old Testament are we told that all people must use an ancient Hebrew pronunciation of God’s name.

There are many ancient copies of the New Testament text. None of them use a Hebrew “sacred name” for God or Jesus, and not a single Greek New Testament manuscript known has shown any evidence of an “original” Hebrew name for God or Jesus.

In closing, let me say we can use God’s names as they are spelled and pronounced in any language. English-speaking people we use the word “God.” Spanish people use “Dios” and the Greeks use “Theos” when referring to God. God understands and honors all languages. The idea that we must address God by some specific transliterated word creates an issue over God’s name where none exists in Scripture.

As an example one group claims to have the only copy of the Original Scriptures. Avoid groups like this, please! As you read their website you will find that they cannot even agree among themselves upon the issue of personal Salvation. Secondly, they will not allow their so called “original scriptures” to be examined by peer review.

It reminds me of the old adage, “Oh, I have some good solid land in the middle of the Everglades, but you just have to take my word for it”. Don’t you want to run out and buy this great deal? What’s wrong? Want to verify my claim, sure you do.

Why would you not verify the claims of a group which claims to have the ONLY copy of the “Original Scriptures”, and they don’t agree with the rest of the Scriptures of Christendom. Sounds funny to me.

Like I said earlier these “Sacred Names” groups go as far as to invent their own Bibles. Therefore, ask yourself is this what I want to be a part of, something unverifiable and requiring some “secret” knowledge? Hopefully you will say, NO!

Hebrew Roots of Movement

Some have been seduced and brought under the delusion that they will experience more depth, if they go the route of understanding the Jewish feasts and keeping the Sabbath. An overemphasis on Jewish feasts and Sabbath keeping is useless. Many feign to have an inside line with God because they participate in Jewish ceremonialism, use a Sacred Name, or keep the Sabbath. Today some think they are holier than thou due to their connection with Jewish groups who practice observing the old feasts and Sabbaths that merely pointed to Christ.

All nations will one day keep the feasts of tabernacles, but this will not be until the millennium according to Zechariah 14. The Feasts are appointed times which Paul kept, after his conversion (though such is not necessary and he was doing such to win Jews to Jesus). They are the shadow, of things to come. We must have a good understanding of the Jewish feast days to see the idioms used in the Bible, not to be righteous. Jesus is the focal point of all the Jewish feasts. The only value the mere shadows have is that they point to JESUS.

Galatians: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1) …. “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter (the matter of any part of the law being necessary for righteousness, especially for NT, Gentiles who are saved by grace through faith in Christ). 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” (Acts 15:6-11)


Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; (Col 2:15-17)

The Sabbath, the Law, the sacrifices and offerings, and food regulations were given to the children of Israel under the old covenant. The church is now under the New Covenant in which Jesus is our Sabbath. We are not to judge one another on what day we worship or the food we eat or how we choose to pray. Christians aren’t replacing the Sabbath by worshiping on Sunday. The Sabbath on the 7th day is eternal, yet there is not one verse in the New Testament that commands believers to keep the Sabbath.

Typical Hebrew Roots Double Speak

I pulled out this line from a statement of faith on a typical Hebrew Roots website. “We believe Yeshua is to be our example on how to walk the Word, as opposed to using Yeshua as an excuse for declaring some of the Word is destroyed or made void.” This is typical double speak for picking and choosing which parts of the OT are to be kept as LAW and which parts are not. The LAW exists only when you have temple worship, no temple worship no LAW to be kept (if you really wanted to live under the LAW). The New Testament with Paul’s writings makes it very clear we should not seek to be following the Leviticus Laws even to keeping a Sabbath! Let no man therefore judge you in eating and drinking, or in taking part of an holyday [feast], or of the new moon [celebration], or of the Sabbaths: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ (Col 2:16-17). Reason would say that, if the Sabbath doesn’t have to be kept then certainly nothing else does. Christians are free from the LAW. Why do Christians keep trying to go back under the LAW? Do we still have false teachers in our midst? They certainly existed during Paul’s time, see the Book of Hebrews. I think they exist in our time as well!

The LAW is much more than 10 Commandments. You can’t keep the LAW without keeping temple worship. It is a no-brainer, hence those who advocate keeping the LAW must pick out parts that don’t deal with the whole LAW. A good example under the LAW would be a woman on her menstrual cycle had to stay in a separate building and everything she sat upon had to be unclean (Leviticus 15:19-23). LAW keepers however, overlook this uncomfortable LAW and talk Sabbaths and Commandments. The Jews were unable to keep the whole LAW, how are Christians going to do it? Why would they want to do so? Christ has come! LAW and temple worship are fulfilled in the body of Christ. His body was the temple! Hence, the phrase He came to fulfill the LAW.

We know where the name I­­ēsous came from: the Jewish Septuagint! In other words, this was not some later, pagan corruption of the Savior’s name; rather, it was the natural Greek way of rendering the Hebrew/Aramaic name Yeshua at least two centuries before His birth, and it is the form of the name found in more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. This is saying something! The name I­­ēsous is also found in Greek writings outside the New Testament and dating to that same general time frame.

Dr. Michael Brown, Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literature and a professor in Messianic Jewish Studies

Unfortunately, some popular teachers continue to espouse the Jesus-Zeus connection, and many believers follow the pseudo-scholarship in these fringe, “new revelation” teachings. Not only are these teachings and practices filled with error, but they do not profit in the least. So, to every English-speaking believer I say: Do not be ashamed to use the name JESUS! That is the proper way to say his name in English—just as Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name, and witness in Jesus’ name. And for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to him by His original name Yeshua—not Yahshua and not Yahushua—remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King”.

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