Saturday, May 25, 2019

God's Name In Christian Manuscripts.

Only a Jehovah's Witness who is also grounded in Hebrew could come close to imagining my feelings when I received the above image of Rev. 8-9a in my email from a friend of mine who checks around the net for newly published manuscripts online.  It is from the Sloanne Collection in the Brittish Library and is Manuscript 237.  It is from the 16th century but shows evidence of coming from a much more ancient line as it has Gods name in it, which no Jew would've dared insert had it not already been in the copy they were working from.  This image also clarifies the Greek because it makes it clear that in that passage Yehovah is invoking both his name and its meaning, the one who "is, was, and will be, and come, the Almighty."  Perhaps somebody can send the link to Dr. Rolf Furuli, who I'm sure will like this post about Christian manuscripts which contain God's name, and have it written out as "Yehovah."

The manuscript is incomplete, however, what appears to b the rest of it has been located, though, that will have to wait for another time.  I don't have the credentials for ready access to many new discoveries and count on being in the good graces of some who do and they make their living as academics who have to publish.  So I can't always share unless I am a discoverer myself or share that honor with somebody who will let me, or have permission.  Recently, a number of manuscripts in several different styles of Hebrew writing were discovered and except for the one above where I didn't need it I've been given permission to share them with my friends. 
The manuscripts are from a number of collections and I can't identify them all.  But they include two of the Gospels, partials from John and Luke and complete copies of Jude and James  The partial Gospels are in the Vatican Library and the other two in other collections.  All are medieval to the 17th century, but oh what they have for us and what they imply!  All but John contain the Divine name.  I know there are some will argue against this, but that alone argues for two things, a Hebrew origin for most of the New Testament and that early Christians did use God's name, including when they wrote.  So:

The above image is the first page of Luke from the Vatican Library.  The manuscript only contains the first 35 verses of Luke's Gospel and in a way is one of the most telling.  That's because in those 35 verses it uses God's name, written out completely as Yehovah, 13 times.  That makes it the one which uses God's name the most freely.  This manuscript was found in a bin made up of pages which fell out of their manuscripts while being consulted.

And this one is from the book of James in Hebrew in Rashi script making it possibly the oldest manuscript of the lot.  God's name, written as Yehovah, is circled in red.

The questions is, what is Gods name doing there in those manuscripts and how did they get in there?  Most scholars would say that the "translators" put them there on theological grounds.  But that also leads to the question of how did they now to put the holems there given the trouble Jewish scribes went to hiding them?

Could it be that the scribes for these manuscripts were copying from much older manuscripts from much older lines of manuscripts?  Jewish scribes would not have dared to remove the name from the text as they copied.  Even the Shem Tov line of Matthew uses a shortened from of the name, a double yod, for the name in the places it occurred in the early manuscripts of that book.

We know that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew by the apostle.  And we have a line of manuscripts, the Shem Tov, which may descend from the original, though in places that line was "corrected" to conform with the Greek manuscripts.  The NT was translated into Aramaic at an early time, so it is likely the same happened to those books of Greek authorship into Hebrew as well since Christians in the Levant did speak Hebrew.  These manuscripts, just like the Shem Tov Matthew, may tell us that God's holy name was used by Christians in the early days and was written in the NT by the authors of the NT.