Tetragrammaton And Jehovah’s Witnesses

Unwarrantedly Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee added “Jehovah” in 237 places in New Testament. By doing so, New World Translation (NWT), Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible, blurs many passages that depicts Christ Jesus as Lord (Kyrios) of Old Testament.

In Journal of Biblical Literature, Kurt Aland showed that the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, does not appear in any of the 5,255 known New Testament Greek manuscripts (Aland 1968: 184). The Tetragrammaton is also absent in the writing of the early Christians. For example, Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians written ca. 100 A.D quoted Joshua 2 cf. Heb. 11:31(“I[Rahab] know assuredly that the Lord(“κύριος”) your God hath given you this city […](1 Clement 12), Ezekiel 33:11  “For as I live, said the Lord (Ky′ri·os), I do not desire the death of the sinner so much as his repentance”.(1 Clement 8). NWT’s  unwarrantedly added “Jehovah” in front of “Lord”.

In the same period,  the author of the epistle of Barnabas quoted Exodus 24:18, 31:18, 32:7; Deut. 9:12.  and Isa. 42:,6-7, 61:1- 2 in just chapter fourteen and in all times he used “κύριος”(Lord) .  While years later Irenaeus  quoted Matthew 1:20; 4:10, Romans 11:34, and Acts 2: 25 in Against Heresies using “Lord” and not “Jehovah”, contrary to Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee. Both Philo and Josephus, like New Testament writers and early Christians, probably used the complete  Septuagint (LXX ) which had “κύριος”(Lord). Some of older fragments of LXX do contain the tetragrammaton while others simply had blank spaces in place of the tetragrammation (e.g. Papyrus Rylands 458 )

Even though Watch Tower Society  do know as entailed by their own question , viz., “[w]hy, then, is the name absent from the extant manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures or so-called “New Testament”?”(Watchtower 1971: 887) that the tetragammaton does not appear in any known Greek manuscripts, they, without warrant, press forward and reject the use of Kyrios (Lord) in 5000+ Greek manuscripts dating from 2rd century and early Christians’ writings as corrupted. Watch Tower Society found their support, that New Testament must have had tetragammation, in 25 Hebrew J Versions of the Bible  and 2 non-version (J1 to J27),  the translations of New Testaments into Hebrew , which came to scene earliest  late 14th century onwards

New World Translation translators should be commend for restoring the tetragrammation in Hebrews Scriptures(Old Testament) but I think from their own reasoning which is in a form of a question and answer, namely:

How is a modern translator to know or determine when to render the Greek words κύριος and θεός into the divine name in his version? By determining where the inspired Christian writers have quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. Then he must refer back to the original to locate whether the divine name appears there.(Watchtower 1969: 18-19)

With the use of Lord and not YHWH (tetragrammaton) in all known copies of copies of originals (since historians have no surviving original or copies of originals) of New Testaments Greek manuscripts, contrary to Watch Tower’s Society, adding of the tetragrammaton in New Testament would not be restoration of God’s name but distorting and blurring the author’s meaning.

Blurring of 1 Corinthians 10:9: Who Is Put To The Test?

One of the passage which I believe Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee blurs with this maneuver  is 1 Corinthians 10:9: “Neither let us put Jehovah to the test, as some of them put [him] to the test, only to perish by the serpents.”(NWT). With this move  Jehovah’s Witnesses are led to believe that it is Jehovah the Father that the Israelites put to test and not Christ Jesus who is the rock to which Israelites drank a spiritual drink (v4).

Faithfully Watchtower Society’s traslators added a footnote in their translation of this verse. They explained that “Jehovah” appears in Hebrews J Versions of the Bible 18, 22 and 23, while Codex Sinaiticus(א), and Vatican ms 1209(B)  both of 4th century and Codex Ephraemi rescriptus(C) of 5th century have ton Ky′ri·on (Lord), Papyrus 46 of 3rd century and Bezae Codices(D) of 5th and 6th century have “the Christ” and last Codex Alexandrinus(A), of 5th century has “God.”

“On closer examination,” The NET Bible Bible First Edition Notes explained, “the variants appear to be intentional changed.”

Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.”(Biblical Studies Press 2006)

They argued that scribes were likely “to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages”.

The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen.(ibid)

If The NET Bible First Edition Notes is correct, which I believe it is, then Watch Tower Bible translators blurred 1 Cor. 10:9 that depicts Christ Jesus as the Yahweh of the Old Testament by selectively embracing a late 14th century J version of the Bible when convenient. Watch Tower Society ignored places in J versions, for example  J14’s reading of 1 Corinthians 12:3, “[…] no one can say “Jesus is Lord Jehovah, except by the Holy Spirit.” and  J7 and J8’s reading of Hebrew 1:10;  J13 , J14 and J20’s  reading of 1 Peter 2:3 which all applied the tetragrammaton to Jesus.

Question To Jehovah’s Witnesses: If the name “Jehovah” was changed to “Lord” in all 5000+ Greek manuscripts ranging from 2nd century, why don’t we have even a single early manuscripts with “Jehovah” nor do the early Christians make use of it?

Note: A free PDF for further study: The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scripture: A Comprehensive Study of the Divine Name In the Original Writings of the Christian Greek Scriptures. To know more about  NT Greek Manuscripts,  here is a table with a name of a manuscript, its branch, category, content and location arranged by date.


Aland, Kurt (1968). Greek New Testament: its present and future editions. Journal of Biblical Literature 87.2: 179-186.

Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (1 Co 10:9). Biblical Studies Press.

Watchtower Society (1969) Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

____________________ (1971) Aid To Bible Understanding. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

_____________________ (1984) New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures – With References. Rendered from the Original Languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

______________________ (1989) Reasoning From the Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Brooklyn, New York.

Cover Photo Credit: Pre 1971 Board of Directors. Jehovahs-Witnesses.net

10 thoughts on “Tetragrammaton And Jehovah’s Witnesses

  1. Hello Roy,

    Again, my concern is not in how YHWH would be pronounced. If it is truly Yahweh, then I’m fine with that.

    So, my question is entirely this:

    Question: Since God declared that Yahweh(YHWH) is his MEMORIAL name into all generations, why would he inspire Bible writers to remove his own name where he previously inspired them to include it?

    He would be violating the very thing that he instituted as his perpetual MEMORIAL .

    And once you have answered that, please answer this. Do you believe that God INSPIRED the writers of the Hebrew scriptures to include his name YAHWEH nearly 7000 times in the text?

    How then can translators remove it if He INSPIRED it to be there? As you claim, the pronunciation was never lost, so why remove it? Did God want it there in the first place?


  2. Again, God never declared his name to be Jehovah. Below is a short explanation why we use Lord and God instead of His personal name. God has a name and it is not Jehovah.

    It’s not that I am so critical of the name Jehovah – just that Yahweh and Jehovah are _both_ scholarly reconstructions of YHWH, and I am presenting evidence that Yahweh is more likely to be correct.

    Yes, English Bibles mangle almost all Jewish names! But there’s nothing wrong with pointing out that Jacob was actually pronounced Yaacov, or that Josiah was pronounced Yoshiyahu – or that LORD was pronounced Yahweh.

    People often use the word bias for anyone who disagrees with them! But bias in scholarship actually refers to a prejudice towards or dismissal of evidence without good grounds. It also usually implies that you start with your conclusion, then cherry-pick the evidence that supports your conclusion.

    And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.”

    The God of the Israelites, his name being revealed to Moses as four Hebrew CONSONANTS (YHWH) called the TETRAGRAMMATON. After the excile (6TH CENTURY BC), and especially from the 3rd century BC on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. First, as Judaism became a universal religion through its proselytizing in the Greco-Roman world, the more common noun elohim, meaning “god,” tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. Secondly, and at the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.

    The Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew words Adonai (“Lord”) or Elohim (“God”). Thus, the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being. Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th centuries biblical scholars again began to use the form Yahweh. Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and this pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.

    In 1278 a Spanish monk, Raymundo Martini, wrote the Latin work PUGIO FIDEI (Dagger of faith). In it he used the name of God, spelling it Yohoua. Later printings of this work, dated some centuries later, used the spelling JEHOVA.

    Soon after, in 1303, Porchetus de Salvaticis completed a work entitled VICTORIA PORCHETI AVERSUS IMPIOS HEBRAEOS (Porchetus’ Victory Against the Ungodly Hebrews). He spells God’s name IOHOUAH, IOHOUA and IHOUAH.

    Then, in 1518, Petrus Galatinus, a Catholic priest born in the late 1400’s, published a work entitled DE ARCANIS CATHOLICAE VERITATIS (Concerning Secrets of the Universal Truth) in which he spelled God’s name IEHOUA.

    Now, the direct answer to your question: the name “Jehovah” first appeared in an English BIBLE in 1530, when William Tyndale published a translation of the Chumash (the first five books of the Bible). In this, he included the name of God, usually spelled IEHOUAH, in several verses (Genesis 15:2; Exodus 6:3; 15:3; 17:6; 23:17; 33:19; 34:23; Deuteronomy 3:24. Tyndale also included God’s name in Ezekiel 18:23 and 36:23 in his translations that were added at the end of THE NEW TESTAMENT, Antwerp, 1534), and in a note in this editon he wrote: “Iehovah is God’s name… moreover as oft as thou seist LORD in great letters (except there be any error in the printing) is is in Hebrew Iehovah.” (Please note as I told you previously, there was no “J” in English at this time; the J is a product of a stylized I; thus giving us the current Jehovah rather than the Old English Iehovah. The “u” used in the above names is also a reminder that there was no “v” in Old English, as you can read David in the original King James version was written “Dauid”.)

    In 1534 Martin Luther published his complete translation of the Bible in German, based on the original languages. While he used the German “Herr” (Lord or Sir) for the Tetragrammaton, in a sermon which he delivered in 1526 on Jeremiah 23:1-8, he said, “The name Jehovah, Lord, belongs exclusively to the true God.”

    Subsequently, Jehovah was used not only in the “Authorized” King James version of 1611, but the Spanish VALERA version of 1602, the Portugese ALMEIDA version of 1681, the German ELBERFELDER version of 1871, and the American Standard Version of 1901. It appears that the Jerusalem Bible was the first one to used Yahweh instead of Lord and Jehovah.

    Devout Jews avoid saying YHWH (pronounced Yahweh) out of honor for God, replacing it with either Adonai (Lord) or Hashem (the name). In the Hebrew Bible, the vowels from Adonai are transposed onto the divine name YHWH to remind the reader to say Adonai instead of Yahweh. This results in the Hebrew spelling YeHoWaH, although it is never pronounced that way. Modern English Bibles normally translate YHWH with LORD, Adonai with Lord, and Elohim with God.

  3. Hello Roy,

    Jehovah is simply an English equivalent to YHWH. Just like Jesus is an English equivalent to Yehoshua. , Yahweh is also a popular rendition of YHWH. The point is not the pronunciation, the point is the usage of YHWH as that memorial name. Exodus and elsewhere clearly establishes that YHWH is the God’s memorial name into all generations.

    But I would like to hear your response to the question I asked:

    Question: Since God declared that Jehovah(YHWH) is his MEMORIAL name into all generations, why would he inspire Bible writers to remove his own name where he previously inspired them to include it?

    He would be violating the very thing that he instituted as his perpetual MEMORIAL .


  4. Rotherham, where do you find Gods declaration that Jehovah is His memorial name?

    We have to look to the Hebrew names from the Old Testament that refer to the Creator, the translations from Hebrew/Aramaic, into Greek, then add the correct pronunciations, which have been lost to time.

    After Moses saw the burning bush, he wanted to know God’s name in order to proclaim it to the enslaved children of Israel in Egypt:

    “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you. The Lord [YHWH] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” Exodus 3:14-15

    A good educational source on Gods real name can be found at



  5. Hello Prayson,

    I read the book that you referenced.

    Question: Since God declared that Jehovah is his MEMORIAL name into all generations, why would he inspire Bible writers to remove his own name where he previously inspired them to include it?

    He would be violating the very thing that he instituted as his perpetual MEMORIAL .


  6. The supposed,”translators” had no formal training to any credibil degree.
    The new and old testament references that point tp Christ’s being God in the flesh, and any reference to Christ’s divinity has been removed from the NWT. Jehovah’s Witnesses used the King James Version untll they made the! New World Alteration.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormans, and Islam all claim their books had to be created because the Bible had been corrupted over the centuries. We have ancient manuscripts that provide verification of accuracy of the Bible. None of them do.

  7. I would also question the Jehovah’s Witnesses denial of the triune aspect of God. Their official website, jw.org does not have a “statement of faith” page. It does have a small FAQ page and in regards to Jesus it states, “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) So we do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God.” They pull one verse out of context from a chapter that alludes to the mystery of the Trinity.

    I would also question why there is no mention of the Holy Spirit at their official website.

    Biblical evidence supports the Trinity or tri-personality of God so we know it is true, yet comprehending it is another matter. John Wesley said, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God.”

    In Isaiah 9:6-7, which was written about 700 years before the time of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a son who would be called “Mighty God” and “Eternal Father.”

    KJV – For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

  8. my mother always told me to stay away from them, so I don’t know much. Your article was very good, and informative. I am Brethren, and a Christian, and I will continue to remain this way but each person is entitled to believe what they wish, I think, so I will not say anything either way about this

  9. Is “Jehovah” the Name of God

    Jehovah isn’t God’s true name, so it can’t be ‘restored’ to the Bible text. Strong’s Concordance tells us this name (Jehovah) is made up.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia and Judiaism 101 (on line) both agree that a German copiest was putting YHWH in his mms and then Adonai underneath the letters. He asked the Pope if he could place the vowels within the consonants to make a name.

    The Pope said fine! Thus the invention of His new name. His self given name is found at Exodus 3:14, and is not Jehovah!(see the Hebrew translation). *Jehovah’s* Witnesses the name of an adventist Millerite spin off sect.

    It’s the Catholic Pope who ‘invented’ the Jehovah name and the Watchtower should give him credit for it.
    —Danny Haszard dannyhaszard(dot)com

  10. Great post. The issue with Jehovah’s Witnesses is that their Bible is not a “translation” the way that word is normally used. It is rather a doctoring of existing English versions to match their theology. It’s interesting to note that the Watch Tower Society will not release the names of anyone involved in producing the New World Translation. They claim it is to be sure God gets all the glory but more likely it’s to hide the fact that none of the “translators” were qualified to do a Bible translation from the original languages.

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