THE QUEST FOR THE ORIGINAL AND TRUE PRONUNCIATION OF THE SACRED NAME
The Old Covenant Name
As with any religious movement, the sacred name movement has its prominent identification mark. Preachers and teachers in this movement demand that their members pronounce the Hebrew name of God. This name they call the sacred name. Because of this emphasis, they call themselves the sacred name believers, thus the sacred name movement.
God's name, given to Moses at the burning bush, is written with four Hebrew letters - hwhy, in the most ancient Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts and inscriptions. At that time and for many centuries afterward the Hebrew alphabet was made up only of consonants. Therefore, these four letters are consonants.
This word is called "the tetragrammaton" (word of four letters) by language specialists. Depending on which scholar you consult, it is transliterated into English either as YHWH or as YHVH. This divergence of transliterations is only the beginning of the confusion and inconsistencies for sacred name teachers. That confusion is exacerbated by the fact that the pronunciation of the Name was lost in antiquity.
Sacred name teachers are not only confused, they are also confusing.
As a group, they are confused. The spelling and pronunciation of the Name used by one group will differ greatly from that used by another group. Some call him Yahweh, some Yaohu, some Yahuwah, and other names. These different spellings and pronunciations are, in truth, different names. Therefore, among the SN movement members there are many different Names, each Sacred to its users. Each user is convinced that his particular spelling is the true Name.
They are confused as individuals. A person using a particular spelling and pronunciation today will be using a completely different spelling and pronunciation next week or next year. Though not at all unusual, this latter confusion is ironically exemplified by the booklet What is the Inspired Hebrew Name of the Savior?, John C. Green, Keys to Understanding, 1983.
Mr. Green decries the lack of "uniformity" among the "Name-Believers" as to the correct Name to use. Of course, he has reached a conclusion and written a booklet about the correct Name. He believes this disagreement among his brothers has caused criticism to fall upon the movement. Further, he has became convinced that sacred name people can rally around the name he has chosen to promote.
Mr. Green researched, concluded, wrote, and published. He was sure and confident about the correct Name. That was in 1983. Later the booklet was distributed with a small disclaimer sheet inserted. Here, in part, is what it says. "Since the writing and publication of this volume, however, additional scholarly information of a linguistic nature has become available to the writer concerning the Names of the Most high and His Son."
In other words, Mr. Green has changed his mind about the name he wants to call God. He is only one of many sacred name teachers to have done so. He has found another name that he likes better. He then has the audacity to refer to this new name as sacred. How can all these names be sacred? There is nothing at all sacred about changing the name he uses on such an ill thought out basis.
It is apparent he was not absolutely, positively convinced and one hundred per cent sure, as he seemed to be, about the other name he used. His uncertainty, then, has become his only point of correctness. Because no one is able to be certain just how the name was pronounced by the ancient Hebrews or how it should be pronounced now.
Instead of solving the unity problem among his brethren, Mr. Green has added to it. He has compounded the confusion. In the process, he has given up his credibility as a teacher. It is very likely that he has changed his mind again by now.
Sacred name teachers find very little need for consistency. They have sown contradiction; they are reaping confusion. It is a fitting harvest.
If the true pronunciation of the name was not lost centuries ago due to the Jewish custom of not pronouncing it, it is most certainly lost to sacred name people today among the multiplicity of spellings and pronunciations given by their teachers.
Of course, sacred name teachers tell us the true pronunciation was not lost. Why then, can't they get it right? These people admit, by their own inability to find and hold to a name, that the correct pronunciation is a conundrum, a puzzle, an enigma, and a mystery. One of their own called this quest for the correct Name, one of the "...Bible riddles of our time..." He very sincerely said, "The search for this Name has proved to be extremely elusive..." Remember, according to many sacred name teachers, our eternal salvation hinges on solving this "riddle" and finding this "extremely elusive" name. All this seeking, searching, finding, and changing by sacred name teachers can lead an unbiased observer to only one conclusion. The true pronunciation of the name has been lost. Sacred name teachers have not found it.
Pick a Name, Any Name?
Take a look at the disarray these teachers make of one form of the name, YAHWEH. This is the English rendering favored by about half of all sacred name people. Though this spelling was certainly known and used among scholars earlier, it was popularized during the later nineteenth century by J. B. Rotherham in his Bible translation, The Emphasized Bible. The 1960’s Catholic sponsored translation, The Jerusalem Bible , guaranteed continuing popularity for this form.
This form of the name is spoken by some sacred name people as if it were spelled YAH-WAY. By others it is said with stress on the EH, thus YAHW-EH’. Some pronounce it YAH-WAH, so that the last syllable rhymes with the first. While still others say, YOH-WAH.
Other groups belittle the use of Yahweh and refuse to bring the four letters into English with any vowels. "If the Hebrews didn't use any vowels, then neither are we." (Perhaps vowels are of the devil?) These people use only the four English consonants, YHWH. Then, as individuals they pronounce the word in a myriad of ways. All the while, at least some of them imagine they are vocalizing the Name without saying any vowels. One of the favored pronunciations of these folks is YAH-WAH. (Here, the vowels had to be put in for you to get any sense at all of how they say the word.) Poor ignorant souls do not realize that as air passes through the mouth while voicing a word, one is uttering a vowel.
At the opposite pole, there are other teachers who have convinced themselves that all four letters of the name are indeed, vowels. In a very wasted attempt to mix history, these quote the renegade Jewish historian Flavius Josephus as their scholarly authority. Here again, convoluted but interesting pronunciations result. IaHUeH is an example of these.
Other teachers will not bring the Name into English at all. Taking their logic to its extreme, these folks use only the Hebrew, h w h y. Noticeable among these is a new bible revision catering to sacred name converts, The Scriptures. Who is to criticize? They are seeking the original name, after all. Why not write it in Hebrew?
Bible Translation a Must
A number of SN groups have realized their ultimate need if they are to survive. They cannot continue to use any unbiased translation on the Bible. They have translated (I use the word translated loosely here.) their own versions of the Bible.
Here again, the confusion is rampant. Yahweh is the choice of The Book of Yahweh, published by The House of Yahweh, a Texas Sacred Name group. Yahweh also is favored by The Sacred Scriptures from Assemblies of Yahweh of Pennsylvania, and The Holy Name Bible from the Scripture Research Association.
However, The Restoration of the Original Sacred Name Bible from the Missionary Dispensary Bible Research has YAHVAH. While The Exegeses Ready Research Bible by Herb Yahn uses YAH VEH, two words. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid the spelling and pronunciation conflict, at least one translation, The Scriptures from The Institute for Scripture Research, uses only the Hebrew, h w h y .
The story told here is not a happy one. Sincere people are attempting to find the truth of God. They seek and change names; then they seek and change again. They have been mislead by men who are themselves deceived and being deceived.
There is only one way to find the truth. You have to look where it is. It is in the Bible. SN teachers have led their people to books and books, scholars and scholars to find the Name and have not found it. There is only one scholar, the Holy Spirit. There is only one book, the Bible. It should be a sure sign that a doctrine is false when a group must create a bible to fit it. It is a simple idea, but have they ever thought of making their doctrine fit the Bible? By refusing to accept the Word of God, this movement has reached the point of utter confusion.
Here are but some of the ways the Name is spelled and/or pronounced within the Sacred Name Movement.
Continue on with Part 2 of The Quest.