Off and on, although I've probably lost most my readership by being so intense about it recently, I have been studying the peculiar problem of how to translate this biblical name for God, Yahweh. At times, also prodded by my wife but hinted at by my friends, I've been asked the most important question of all: w h y ?
It's an excellent question for me that has haunted me. Of course, I kicked this whole blog off on a quest to understand "the divinity of Christ", "the Trinity" and other core beliefs that I no longer felt were obvious from "Scripture Alone" - and one of the spinoff questions was the relationship between the Old and New Testament "Lords", the common answers to which I clearly found distinctly unsatisfying (still). But it feels like ages that I have come to terms with some of the "how" and "why" questions of 4th century Christian-establishment and Empire-backed theological wording still endorsed today by the church of today. This debate, as I had understood it, was "the wrong debate" (see my sample chapter for more of what I mean by this). But the Yahweh question still dogged me.
So I tried other stabs at the "why" question, like the rather boring "can we better understand the history of the Greek translation" (an example here) and even what about biblical translation today of "Yahweh"? Do we need to rethink how we translate this "LORD"? Such a well-established translation practice seemed and still seems ludicrous to a hardly-read blogger to even bother with, but I made a couple of gestures at the relevance of my research (like here). And then this morning happened - I "ah-ha'd", felt like a goon, and promptly fell back to sleep again. I didn't even remember it until feeling in a tired state again this evening, which is kinda lucky, because it could end up being the end-game of this research.
Let's not think about "Lord" so much as a translation but just as a word. If you are not a Christian, do you even have a feel for this word? Do you use it? Or does it conjure images of antiquated British legal structures?
I think I'm bothered with the irrelevance of the word. A church that wants to bring the world into restorative relationship with its maker and redeemer needs to be relevant. At times she has been cutting edge. Sometimes she survives, barely hanging on. But this Name business, so important for the first believers, has become devoid of the value it initially held, because "Lord" scarcely exists as a non-Christian concept. The "name" works against the goal. But not GOD!
Yes, that's why I felt like a goon, because the answer, or at least what I think this work could be suggesting as at least a better answer, might simply be good old "God", potentially capitalised. Why do I like "GOD"?
- GOD is a much more widely understood and furnished concept, regardless of personal belief.
- GOD uniquely fulfils the mandate originally set up by the Septuagint translators, by being both anarthrous in English and still being a title. The same is true in other languages!
- GOD is already a popular although as-yet undeveloped translation, appearing on the occasions where "Adonai" and "Yahweh" (or Elohim) occur together in authoritative translations like the KJV and the NASB as "Lord GOD".
This could be so big, so obvious, yet formed at a scarcely awake time and from an untrained researcher that you'd be forgiven for seeing it as hilarious!!!!
Sorry, that wasn't very respectful.
More soon - hope this was more accessible, please let me know.
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