I AM EMBARKED on a huge and groundbreaking survey of the Septuagint Greek translations of Yahweh and Adonai. At present we are focusing on Yahweh. I can now confirm to have categorised 6867 Yahweh translations into Greek based on the current critical text of the Septuagint. For quite some time I have pointed out that any meaningful research needs to focus on certain cases only and today I am going to demonstrate that definitively: only nominative and genitive are the relevant cases.
There is a lot of data in the above chart, but that is part of the point: not of all it is relevant. The key thing to look for is the green and purple bars, representing the Greek translations in the accusative and dative cases. They tend to be much, much higher than the blue and orange bars, representing the nominative and genitive cases, sometimes maxing out at or near 100%. Let us translate what that means: generally speaking, when a Greek translator came across an instance of Yahweh that seemed to require an accusative or dative translation, they become unpredictable on whether or not to add the relevant article, apparently "torn" between a special rule on Yahweh translations (requiring as few articles as possible) and the pull of the Greek grammar.
Let us illustrate this with an "arthrous" example of each, to give a feel for the accusative and dative scenarios frequently faced by the translators:
➟ ἄνδρες κακοὶ οὐ νοήσουσιν κρίμα οἱ δὲ ζητοῦντες τὸν κύριον συνήσουσιν ἐν παντί
2. Dative example. In 2 Kings 23:21, we read Then the king commanded all the people saying, “Celebrate the Passover to the LORD [Yahweh] your God as it is written in this book of the covenant.”
➟ καὶ ἐνετείλατο ὁ βασιλεὺς παντὶ τῷ λαῷ λέγων ποιήσατε τὸ πασχα τῷ κυρίῳ θεῷ ἡμῶν καθὼς γέγραπται ἐπὶ βιβλίου τῆς διαθήκης ταύτης
Numbers and Deuteronomy, however, should catch our eye. In fact, when broken down by case, we see more fluidity than my original results suggested in the first five books. A few weeks ago, as I started releasing my results on my blog and wrote Pentateuch Translations of Yahweh, I showed a robust picture of consistent low article rates with the nominative and genitive cases. That remains true, but depending on the book and the case, it seems that there was an application of the "grammatical signature", as I sometimes call it, even wider than that, especially in Deuteronomy.
So what might that suggest? It suggests, like many historical phenomena, development. Development is messy because it produces big results from often untraceable or imprecise origins (like world religions, for instance!) Here's a caricature: a gifted bilingual Jewish scribe and translator is authorised and required to oversee a translation project of the Torah. The project exceeds his own capacity and requires a team effort, but he remains the leader. Steeped in Jewish history, belief and maybe even collective national pain of being an unfulfilled and deported people, he is deeply aware of the Adonay-Yahweh relationship and devises or rigorously adopts the anarthrous rule as he goes about translating Deuteronomy, whether he needs a "kyrios", a "kyriou", a "kyrion" or a "kyrio". He informs and instructs his fellow translators to do likewise. These translators, also gifted bilingual Jewish scribes, understand the basic principles of Deuteronomy Translator, but also are sensitive to the needs of their target language and make a few compromises, beginning to include articles in accusative and dative situations. The weight of this authoritative publication will continue to have strong albeit varied influence for the various translations as the rest of the canon was translated in the subsequent centuries, the most sustainable cases, however, being those most consistently upheld in the Pentateuch: nominative and genitive.
(Alongside the authoritative editions of the massive works, of which only one or two copies would have coexisted, other ad-hoc translations would also have existed. The tiny fragmentary texts that have survived from this period I believe may have been for usage in diaspora synagogues and were still hampered, however, by the perceived risks of pronouncing the divine Name, and used various systems to avoid even writing kyrios, either because of an alternative translation tradition or because of the likelihood that these were the copies to be read out. It is well established in Jewish tradition that two forms of the text exist)
To the critics of the early kyrios situation: how do you account for a relatively sudden Christian creation of this practice given the variations you see evidenced above? I still can't see it.