Thursday, September 27, 2012

Names of God in the Old and New Testaments

Through the normative witness of the Bible, we learn that there is only one true god and also that this one true god is Trinitarian in nature. Today we will reflect on the names by which we may rightly invoke and speak about this god.

When this one true god spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:14), he told Moses his name was YHWH. The Hebrew text of Exodus uses only capital letters and does not have any vowels. Traditionally, when this Hebrew name, "YHWH," is written in English, the vowels "a" and "e" are added to give us "Yahweh."

Around 250 BC, scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, translated Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. This translation is called the Septuagint. Whenever translators of the Septuagint needed to translate "YHWH" from Hebrew into Greek, they always substituted the word "Lord." Modern English versions follow their example by almost always translating "YHWH" as “LORD.

When referring to what we Christians now call the Old Testament, all New Testament writers referred to the Greek Septuagint. When, in his letters, the apostle Paul, for example, quotes from the Old Testament, he always quotes the Septuagint and not the original Hebrew text. Consequently, New Testament writers use "Lord" as another name for the one true god.

New Testament writers also refer to the one true god by name as God.

As a result, we may rightly refer to the one true god by name as Yahweh, Lord, and God.

The one true god is Trinitarian in nature. Traditionally, the church has referred to Yahweh's three distinct ways of being god as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.

At the same time, Jesus taught us to refer to God the Father by name as Abba (the Aramaic word for "Daddy").

"Jesus," of course, is the name of God the Son.

The Bible refers to the third person of the Trinity as the "Holy Spirit" or simply "Spirit."

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
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