Thursday, August 14, 2008

No more Y-H-W-Y

Briefing and comment: the 'Tetragram' is the combination of the four consonents
of God's Name, which was treated with enormous respect in the Old Testament, and is still so treated by Jews today. When it appears in the Bible it is never read aloud, being substituted by the word 'Adonai', 'Lord'. (This led to the confusion by which the nonesense word 'Jehovah' was invented: with the consonents of the Tetragram and the vowels of Adonai).

Sentitivity to the Holy Name was maintained in the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the classic vernacular translations of the bible, which render it 'LORD', indicated in printed bibles with capitals; you also see 'Lord GOD' where the Hebrew text had 'Lord Y-H-W-Y'. This convention was jettisoned by some modern translations, including the Catholic New Jerusalem Bible, which has never been approved for liturgical use. These inserted what the translators infer are the intended vowels.

In Pope Benedict's book 'Jesus of Nazareth' the practice of using the Holy Name in this way is condemned as not only impious but suggesting the the God of ancient Hebrews was just another Near Eastern deity, alongside Baal and so on. Now Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has confirmed that it should never be used in the liturgy.

Hat-tip to Fr Finigan, who has more commentary.

Last Friday, Bishop Serratelli, Chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship sent this letter from Cardinal Arinze and Archbishop Ranjith concerning the use of the Divine Name, signified in the sacred tetragrammaton. The key directives are as follows:
1. In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

2. For the translation of the Biblical text in modern languages, destined for liturgical usage of the Church, what is already prescribed by n. 41 of the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: "Lord", "Signore", "Seigneur", "Herr", "SeƱor", etc.

3. In translating, in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated "Lord" and the form God" is to be used for the tetragrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.

1 comment:

solerso said...

Thank you for this bit of clarity. I am no scholar of the issue of the "name of god" but i have always understood that God's name was unknown, and even if it were known, could be niether spoken, or spelled. The consonants YHWH, as you explain,represent the four points of the tetragram the solomonic "seal" of god, and were derived from the work of Hebrew mytics, never meant to be a "name" of god, like Sam, or Paul, or "Baal". The name "Jehova", and comically the new "correct" name of "Yahweh" is invoked all over the protestant world.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen