Sacred Name Bibles

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Sacred Name Bibles are editions of the Bible that "consistently use Hebraic forms of God's name in both the Old and New Testaments".[1] The term is not generally used for mainstream Bible editions, such as the Jerusalem Bible, which employ the name Yahweh only in the English text of the Old Testament, where traditional English versions have LORD.[2]

Most sacred name versions use the name "Yeshua", a Semitic form of the name Jesus.[1]

None of these Sacred Name Bibles are published by well-established publishers. Instead, most are published by the same group that produced the translation. Some are available for download on the Web.[3] Very few of these Bibles have been noted or reviewed by scholars outside of the Sacred Name Movement.[4]

Historical background[edit]

The tetragrammation (YHWH) occurs in the Hebrew Bible, and also (written in Hebrew within the Greek text) in a few of the manuscripts of the Greek translation, found at Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It does not occur in early manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Although the Greek forms Iao and Iave do occur in magical inscriptions, generally Hellenistic Jewish texts, such as the works of Philo, Josephus and the New Testament, use the word Kyrios ("Lord") when citing verses where YHWH occurs in the Hebrew.[5]

For centuries, Bible translators around the world did not transliterate or copy the tetragrammaton in their translations. For example, English Bible translators (Christian and Jewish) used LORD to represent it. Many authors on Bible translation have explicitly called for translating it with a vernacular word or phrase that would be locally meaningful.[6][7][8] The Catholic Church has formally called for translating the tetragrammaton into other languages rather than attempting to preserve the sounds of the Hebrew.[9]

A few other Bible translators, with varying theological motivations, have taken a different approach to translating the tetragrammaton. In the 1800s–1900s at least three English translations contained a variation of the Name.[10] Some of these translations were of only a portion of the New Testament; they did not represent a stated effort to restore the Name throughout the body of the New Testament.

In the twentieth century, the first translation to employ a full transliteration of the tetragrammaton was the Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, but his translation only does so in the Old Testament. Angelo Traina's translation, The New Testament of our Messiah and Saviour Yahshua in 1950 and The Holy Name Bible containing the Holy Name Version of the Old and New Testaments in 1963 were the first to systematically use a Hebrew form for sacred names throughout the New Testament, the first complete Sacred Name Bible. The Jerusalem Bible in 1966 and over a dozen other translations in the years since used the name "Yahweh" in the Old Testament.

Aramaic primacy[edit]

Main article: Aramaic primacy

Some translators of Sacred Name Bibles hold to the view that the New Testament, or at least significant portions of it, were originally written in a Semitic language, Hebrew or Aramaic, from which the Greek text is a translation.[citation needed] This view is colloquially known as "Aramaic primacy", and is also taken by some academics, such as Matthew Black.[11][12]

Therefore, translators of Sacred Name Bibles[who?] consider it appropriate to use Semitic names in their translations of the New Testament, which they regard as being intended for use by all people, not just Jews[13] Although no early manuscripts of the New Testament contain these names, some Hebrew translations from the Latin did use the tetragrammaton in part of the Hebrew New Testament. Sidney Jellicoe in The Septuagint and Modern Study (Oxford, 1968) states that the name YHWH appeared in Greek Old Testament texts written for Jews by Jews, often in the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet to indicate that it was not to be pronounced, or in Aramaic, or using the four Greek letters PIPI (Π Ι Π Ι that physically imitate the appearance of Hebrew YHWH), and that Kyrios was a Christian introduction.[14] Bible scholars and translators such as Eusebius and Jerome (translator of the Latin Vulgate) consulted the Hexapla, but did not attempt to preserve sacred names in Semitic forms. Justin Martyr (second century) argued that YHWH is not a personal name, writing of the "namelessness of God".[15]

George Lamsa, the translator of The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts: Containing the Old and New Testaments (1957) believed the New Testament was originally written in a Semitic language (the terms Syriac and Aramaic are not always clearly differentiated by some). However, despite his adherence to a Semitic original of the New Testament, Lamsa translated using the English word "Lord" instead of some Hebraic form of the divine name.

Accuracy or popularity[edit]

Sacred Name Bibles are not used frequently within Christianity, even less (if at all) in Judaism. Similarly, only a few translations replace Jesus with Semitic forms such as Yeshua or Yahshua. Most English Bible translations translate the tetragrammaton with LORD where it occurs in the Old Testament rather than use a transliteration into English. These same patterns are found in languages around the world, as translators have translated sacred names without striving to preserve the Hebraic forms, often using local names for the creator or highest deity,[7][16] conceptualizing accuracy as semantic rather than phonetic.

The limited number of Sacred Name Bibles suggests that phonetic accuracy is not considered to be of importance by mainstream Bible translators. The translator Joseph Bryant Rotherham lamented not making his work into a Sacred Name Bible by using the more accurate name Yahweh in his translation (pp. 20 – 26), though he also said, "I trust that in a popular version like the present my choice will be understood even by those who may be slow to pardon it." (p. xxi).

Transliterated Sacred Name Bibles[edit]

The following versions are Bibles which systematically use some transliteration of the Tetragrammaton (usually "Yahweh") in both the Old and New Testament, as well as a Semitic form of the name of Jesus such as Yahshua or Yeshua. These Bibles apply this to both the names of the Father and Son, both of which are considered to be sacred.[17]

  • The New Testament of our Messiah and Saviour Yahshua (1950)
  • Holy Name Bible (1963)
  • Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible (1970)[18]
  • The Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition (1981)
  • The Book of Yahweh: The Holy Scriptures (1987)
  • Sacred Scriptures, Family of Yah Edition (2000)
  • The Word of Yahweh (2003)
  • Hebraic Roots Bible (2009, 2012)[19]
  • The Restoration Study Bible (2011), published by Yahweh's Restoration Ministry and using the King James Version. Available online. [20]
  • Names of God Bible (2011, 2014), edited by Ann Spangler and published by Baker Publishing Group.[21] The core text uses the God's Word translation and the print edition has divine names printed in brown and includes a commentary. The text is also available online at In a review published online,[22] this version has been praised for its "attention to detail", but it is noted that the translation only presents "the most significant names and titles of God" in their original forms and therefore some 'names of God' are not treated in the same way: for example, “Mighty One” (Avir) which appears in Psalms 132:2 and 132:10 and a total of 23 times (most referring to God) in the Old Testament is not highlighted.
  • The Holy Bible - Urim-Thummim Version (2001)[23]

Tetragrammaton Sacred Name Bibles[edit]

The following versions of Sacred Name Bibles present the Tetragrammaton without any vowels. They follow this practice in both the Old and New Testaments (though some translations are not complete).

  • The Scriptures (ISR) Version (1993, 1998, 2009)
  • Hebraic-Roots Version (2001, 2004)
  • Restoration Scriptures: True Name Edition (2004)
  • Zikarown Say'fer Memorial Scroll (2004)
  • Sacred Name King James Bible (2005)
  • The Seventh Millennium Version (2007)
  • The Aramaic English New Testament (2008)
  • HalleluYah Scriptures (2009, 2015)
  • Abrahamic Faith Nazarene Hebraic Study Scriptures (2010)
  • The Restored Name King James Version (2012?)
  • Shem Qadosh Version (2014)
  • His Name Tanakh (In Progress)
  • Neno La Yahweh Swahili version (2014)

Limited Sacred Name Bibles[edit]

Some translations use a form of "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" only sporadically:

  • The Complete Bible: An American Translation by John Merlin Powis Smith (1939), e.g. Exodus 3:15, 6:3, 17:15
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (1999, 2002), the Tetragrammaton is transliterated "Yahweh" in 495 places in its 2010 revision. In Psalm 29:1, 2 Chron. 30:8, Isaiah 24:5, and Jeremiah 26:9 it translates the Tetragrammaton once as "Yahweh" and once as "LORD". In 2 Chronicles 14:11, it translates the Tetragrammaton three times as "Lord" and once as "Yahweh". In Job 1:21, it translates the Tetragrammaton twice as "Lord" and one as "Yahweh". In Psalm 135, it translates the Tetragrammaton 14 times as Yahweh and twice as "LORD".
  • The Emphatic Diaglott (1864), a translation of the New Testament by Benjamin Wilson, the name Jehovah appears eighteen times.
  • King James Version (1611), renders Jehovah in Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4, and three times in compound place names at Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15 and Judges 6:24.
  • Webster's Bible Translation (1833), by Noah Webster, a revision of the King James Bible, contains the form Jehovah in all cases where it appears in the original King James Version, as well as another seven times in Isaiah 51:21, Jeremiah 16:21; 23:6; 32:18; 33:16, Amos 5:8, and Micah 4:13.
  • The English Revised Version (1885), renders the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah where it appears in the King James Version, and another eight times in Exodus 6:2,6–8, Psalm 68:20, Isaiah 49:14, Jeremiah 16:21, and Habakkuk 3:19.
  • Amplified Bible (1954, 1987), generally uses Lord, but translates Exodus 6:3 as: "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty [El-Shaddai], but by My name the Lord [Yahweh—the redemptive name of God] I did not make Myself known to them [in acts and great miracles]."
  • New English Bible (NT 1961, OT 1970), published by Oxford University Press uses Jehovah in Exodus 3:15 and 6:3, and in four place names at Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15, Judges 6:24 and Ezekiel 48:35.
  • New Living Translation (1996, 2004), produced by Tyndale House Publishers as a successor to the Living Bible, generally uses LORD, but uses Yahweh in Exodus 3:15 and 6:3.
  • Bible In Basic English (1949, 1964), uses "Yahweh" eight times, including Exodus 6:2–3.
  • The American King James Version (1999) by Michael Engelbrite renders Jehovah in all the places where it appears in the original King James Version.

A few translations use either "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" in the Old and New Testaments, but are not generally considered Sacred Name Bibles:

  • New World Translation (1961, 1984, 2013)[24]
  • The Original Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010) by David Bauscher, a self-published English translation of the New Testament, from the Aramaic of The Peshitta New Testament with a translation of the ancient Aramaic Peshitta version of Psalms & Proverbs, contains the word "JEHOVAH" over 200 times in the New Testament, where the Peshitta itself does not.

The following versions use either "Yahweh" or "Jehovah" only in the Old Testament:


  • An Indonesian translation produced by the Sacred Name Movement, Kitab Suci, uses Hebraic forms of sacred names in the Old and New Testaments (Soesilo 2001:416), based on Shellabear's translation.
  • A French translation, by André Chouraqui, uses Hebraic forms in the Old and New Testaments.[26]
  • The Spanish language Reina-Valera Bible and most of its subsequent revisions uses the Sacred Name in the Old Testament as "Jehová" starting in Genesis 2:4, with the notable exception of the Reina Valera Contemporánea, a 2011 revision which replaces "Jehová" (Spanish for Jehovah) with "El Señor" (Spanish for The Lord).
  • In the Philippines, the Magandang Balita Biblia–Tagalog Popular Version uses Yahweh.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Peter Unseth Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 185.
  2. ^ Rhodes R. The Complete Guide to Bible Translations: How They Were Developed 2009 p206 "Unlike most other translations today, the New Jerusalem Bible renders the Old Testament name for God, YHWH, as "Yahweh," just as the Jerusalem Bible did. In place of "Lord of hosts" is "Yahweh Sabaoth"
  3. ^ Unseth, Peter. 2011. Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 190.
  4. ^ Review of The Scriptures
  5. ^ Aland, K. Text of the New Testament
  6. ^ David Moomo. 2005. Translating YHWH into African languages. Scriptura 88: 151-60.
  7. ^ a b Ernst R. Wendland. 1992. yhwh- The Case For Chauta ‘Great-[God]-of-the-Bow’. The Bible Translator. 43.4: 430-438.
  8. ^ Helmut Rosin. 1956. The Lord Is God: The Translation of the Divine Names and the Missionary Calling of the Church. Amsterdam: Netherlands Bible Society.
  9. ^ "In accordance with immemorial tradition which indeed is already evident in the above-mentioned 'Septuagint' version, the name of almighty God, expressed by the sacred Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH) and rendered in Latin by the word Dominus, is to be rendered in any vernacular by a word of equivalent meaning." Liturgiam authenticam, fifth instruction on vernacular translation of the Roman liturgy, Issue 5, section 41c. Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum. 2001. ISBN 1-57455-428-X.
  10. ^
    • A Literal Translation of the New Testament, by Herman Heinfetter (1863)[citation needed]
    • The Epistles of Paul in Modern English, by George Barker Stevens (1898)[citation needed]
    • St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, by W. G. Rutherford (1900)[citation needed]
  11. ^ Black, Matthew. "An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts". Oxford Clarendon 1967.
  12. ^ Cross F.L "Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church". London: Oxford University Press, 1961
  13. ^ The Sacred Name 2002: 89ff
  14. ^ Peter M. Head Christology and the Synoptic problem: an argument for Markan priority p161 "Jellicoe summarises: LXX texts, written by Jews for Jews, retained the Divine Name in Hebrew Letters (palaeo-Hebrew or "
  15. ^ Justin Martyr, Hortatory Address, ch. 21
  16. ^ David Moomo. 2005. Translating YHWH into African languages. Scriptura 88:151-160.
  17. ^ Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition Bible. Preface, V. "No translation has accurately restored the Name Yahweh to the New Testament text where it undoubtedly appeared when the apostolic authors produced their works, nor is there a translation that has faithfully restored the Saviour's true Name, Yahshua the Messiah, to the text of the Bible", Jacob O. Meyer
  18. ^ Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible.
  19. ^ Hebraic Roots Bible by Esposito.
  20. ^ The Restoration Study Bible
  21. ^ Baker Publishing Group information, accessed 12 December 2015
  22. ^ Shields, Richard P., Review: The Names of God Bible (GW), accessed 12 December 2015
  23. ^ Review
  24. ^ e.g. Robert M. Bowman, Jr., J. Ed Komoszewski, Darrell L. Bock Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ p2007 p158 "best known for advocating this is theory, of course, the Jehovah's Witnesses , whose New World Translation "restores" ... New Testament 237 times.9 Other " sacred name" groups (such as the Assemblies of Yahweh) make a similar claim "
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ Chouraqui's French translation online
  27. ^ Magandang Balita Biblia, copyright Philippine Bible Society 1980. ISBN 971-29-0102-5


  • Bivin, David. 1991a. "Jehovah"—A Christian Misunderstanding. Jerusalem Perspective Vol. 4.6: 5,6.
  • Bivin, David. 1991b. The Fallacy of Sacred Name Bibles. Jerusalem Perspective Vol. 4.6: 7,12.
  • Daams, Nico. 2011. Translating YHWH 'Elohim. The Bible Translator 62.4: 226-235.
  • King, Phil. 2014. Perspectives on translating YHWH in Papua New Guinea. The Bible Translator 65.2:185-204.
  • Neufeld, Don. 1962. An examination of the claims of the Sacred Name Movement (concluded). The Ministry 35.11: 13-16, 36.
  • Moomo, David. 2005. Translating יהוה (YHWH) into African languages. Scriptura 88 pp. 151–160.
  • Pritz, Ray. 1991. The Divine Name in the Hebrew New Testament. Jerusalem Perspective, Vol. 4:2 10-12.
  • Rösel, Martin. 2007. The Reading and Translation of the Divine Name in the Masoretic Tradition and the Greek Pentateuch. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31.4: 411-428.
  • Smith, Mark S. 2010. God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing.
  • Soesilo, Daud. 2001. Translating the Names of God: recent experience from Indonesia and Malaysia. The Bible Translator 52.4:414-423.
  • The Sacred Name YHWH: A Scriptural Study, (3rd ed). 2002. Garden Grove, CA: Qadesh La Yahweh Press.
  • The Scriptures 1993, 1998, 2009. Northriding, South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research.
  • Trimm, James (translator) 2005. The Hebraic-Roots Version Scriptures. Institute for Scripture Research (publisher).
  • Unseth, Peter. 2011. Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 185-194.

External links[edit]