Sacred Name Movement

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The Sacred Name Movement (SNM) began within the Church of God (Seventh-Day) in Christianity, propagated by Clarence Orvil Dodd in the 1930s, which claims that it seeks to conform Christianity to its "Hebrew Roots" in practice, belief, and worship. The best known distinction of the SNM is its advocacy of the use of the "sacred name" Yahweh (Hebrew: יַהְוֶה‎), i.e., the reconstructed proper name of the God of Israel, and the use of the purported original Hebrew name of Jesus, transliterated as Yeshua, Yehoshua or Yahshua.[1] SNM believers also generally keep many of the Old Testament laws and ceremonies such as the Seventh-day Sabbath, Torah festivals, and kashrut food laws. The Italian branch is located in Alessandria.


The Sacred Name Movement arose in the early 20th century out of the Church of God (Seventh Day) movement. This movement was influenced by Joseph Franklin Rutherford who changed the name of the main branch of the Bible Student movement to Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931, based on his belief in the importance of the Hebrew name of God.[2] C. O. Dodd, a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day), began keeping the Jewish festivals (including Passover) in 1928, adopting sacred name doctrines in the late 1930s.[3]

The Assembly of Yahweh was the first religious organization in the Sacred Name Movement. It was formed in Holt, Michigan, in the 1930s. The Assembly of Yahweh believes the name of Yahweh should be used along with their reconstruction of his son's name, Yahshua. They keep the seventh day Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) along with all the scriptural feast days. They believe the Torah (law) was not done away with. They believe Yahshua is the son of Yahweh and that his life, death, burial, and resurrection give us salvation. They believe after a person repents of sin, they should be baptized in the name of Yahshua. They first met in private homes near Lansing, Michigan. Later the assembly was located at The Camp of Yah outside of Eaton Rapids, Michigan. The land was owned by the Smith family, and Pearl Smith was the first pastor of the assembly. For a time after her leadership, the assembly was governed by a group of male elders. Sometime in the late 1960s, Samuel Graham was made pastor. The congregation purchased a one-room school house and an additional 79 acres (32 ha) a few miles from the original Camp of Yah. They later put a small addition on the original building. In 2008, the group received an anonymous donation to be used for a larger building. The main meeting room now allows up to 200 to meet for worship.

Dodd began publishing The Faith magazine starting in 1937 to promote his views.[3] It is currently freely distributed by the Assembly of Yahweh. American religious scholar J. Gordon Melton wrote, "No single force in spreading the Sacred Name movement was as important as The Faith magazine."[4]


The Assembly of Yahweh publishes the Faith Magazine and the Word of Yahweh Bible. They have services every Sabbath at 10:30 am and host all Feast days. During the Feast of Tabernacles, people come from different states and other countries to observe the feast.


The Sacred Name Movement consists of several small and contrasting groups (such as Yahweh's Assembly in Messiah, and Yahweh's Assembly in Yahshua, etc.), unified by the use of the name Yahweh and for the most part, a Hebraic-based form Yahshua for the name of God's son. Angelo Traina, a disciple of Dodd, undertook the translation of a Sacred Name edition of the Bible, publishing the Holy Name New Testament in 1950 (see Tetragrammaton in the New Testament) and the Holy Name Bible in 1962, both based upon the King James Version, but changing some names and words in the text to Hebrew-based forms, such as "God" to "Elohim", "LORD" to "Yahweh" and "Jesus" to "Yahshua". Most groups within the Sacred Name Movement use a Sacred Name Bible, others having been produced since Traina's.

The SNM rejects Easter and Christmas as pagan in origin and instead observes the holy days of Leviticus 23 such as Passover and the Feast of Weeks. The movement is also non-Trinitarian because it rejects the doctrine of the Trinity as unbiblical.[5]

However, groups within the movement have differed on doctrinal points, such as the wearing of beards and what constitutes a Sabbath rest. The Assemblies of Yahweh (headquartered in Bethel, Pennsylvania) distanced itself from the movement because of its refusal to become doctrinally united with it, calling the movement a "disorganisation" and "confusion".

Sacred Name Bibles[edit]

Sacred Name Bibles are Bible translations that consistently use Hebraic forms of God's personal name, instead of its English language translation, in both the Old and New Testaments.[6] Some Bible versions, such as the Jerusalem Bible, employ the name Yahweh, a transliteration of Hebrew YHWH, in the English text of the Old Testament, where traditional English versions have LORD.[7]

Most sacred name versions use the name Yahshua, a purported Semitic form of the name Jesus.[6]

None of the Sacred Name Bibles are published by mainstream publishers. Instead, most are published by the same group that produced the translation. Some are available for download on the Web.[8] Very few of these Bibles have been noted or reviewed by scholars outside the Sacred Name Movement.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Semitic philology[citation needed] reconstructs the Aramaic name of Jesus as Yeshua, Yehoshua or Yahshua (cf. English "Joshua" Heb 4:8).
  2. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (1992), Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, New York: Garland Publishing, p. 83, ISBN 978-0-8153-1140-9, OCLC 246783309
  3. ^ a b Hughey, Sam, A History of the True Church, The Reformed Reader, archived from the original on 7 January 2009, retrieved 7 January 2009
  4. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (1978), The Encyclopedia of American Religions, Wilmington, North Carolina: McGrath Publishing Company, p. 476, ISBN 978-0-7876-6384-1, OCLC 4854827
  5. ^ Clarke, Peter. Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. p. 543.
  6. ^ a b Peter Unseth Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 185.
  7. ^ 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"
  8. ^ Unseth, Peter. 2011. Sacred Name Bible translations in English: a fast-growing phenomenon. The Bible Translator 62.3: 190.
  9. ^ Review of The Scriptures
  10. ^
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ RSB online
  13. ^ [2]