Don’t Eat That Hat: The Truth About Holy Names

There is so much confusion, some error, and difficulty in rendering the Holy Names of G_D.

G_D’s Holy Name

Some folk won’t even use the word ‘holy,’ and they insist on calling it the ‘set a part name.’ Their reasoning is based on the fact that there is a pagan deity called ‘Holi.’ So, the ‘Holy Spirit’ becomes the ‘Set Apart Spirit.’

Link to the Bible Word Study clip:

Is this a question of personal choice, and is it theologically sound?

The Tetragrammaton

The Tetragrammaton, or Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew theonym יהוה‎, the name of God in the Hebrew Bible. The four letters, written and read from right to left, are yodh, he, waw, and he. The name may be derived from a verb that means “to be”, “to exist”, “to cause to become”, or “to come to pass.”

G_D said, “I will be what I will be,’ or ‘I am that I am.’ ‘I am the eternal one, who was, is, and is to come.’

Considerable confusion surrounds this designation for Israel’s G_D.

In the 19th century a German theologian coined a word in his attempt to explain the Tetragrammaton – יהוה‎YHWH:

Jehovah – Because the YHWH has no vowels he took the vowels from Adonai and inserted them into the YHWH/ JHWH = JeHoVaH/ Jehovah. The Jehovah’s Witnesses took this into their usage of God’s holy name based on the American Standard Version of the Bible (1901).

Translation from one language to another always poses a problem, that is not only of a linguistic nature, but also a cultural, and in the context of Scripture a theological factor as well.

Modern Usage

In modern usage Biblical Hebrew describe G_D’s name, Yahuweh – “Yahuweh, this is My name FOREVER, throughout ALL generations” (Ex 3:15); Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared Yahweh spoke to one another, and Yahweh gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear Yahweh and esteem His Name.

Linguistically this rendering of the biblical Hebrew, can be difficult to say in English. Any personal or public reading poses its own unique challenges, particularly if the reader has little if any knowledge of the original languages that the Scriptures were originally written in.

Therefore, carefully consider this notice given below:

How should we use the names of G_D?

Whether we attempt to translate, or say them, what is the best way? Some while ago I came to the personal decision to investigate how Judaism approaches the question.

Firstly, Judaism shows great deference and respect towards G_D’s names. An overriding reason is so that they do not profane his name, or worse be guilty of being blasphemous in saying his name.

Orthodox Jews say, ‘HaShem,’ ‘The Name,’ without actually saying it out loud. ‘Elohim,’ – ‘Almighty,’ they will render, ‘Elokim.’ For English speakers and readers, there are numerous translations of the Scriptures to choose from. My personal choice is to render the Tetragrammaton as ‘LORD,’ and Lord for the Hebrew word Adonai –

Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי

I also prefer to write G_D for YHWH, and instead of ‘O,’ in ‘GOD,’ I ‘_.’ When speaking about other deities, I am happy to write, ‘god,’ or ‘gods.’

We also have the name,

‘G_D Almighty’:

In Hebrew, the title “God Almighty” is written as El Shaddai and probably means “God, the All-powerful One” or “The Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24Psalm 132:2,5), although there is a question among most Bible scholars as to its precise meaning. The title speaks to God’s ultimate power over all. He has all might and power. We are first introduced to this name in Genesis 17:1, when God appeared to Abram and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”

God has many names and attributes. He is the Almighty (Genesis 49:25), the Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19), Builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4), the King of heaven (Daniel 4:37), God of all mankind (Jeremiah 32:27), and the Eternal King. (Jeremiah 10:10). He is the only God (Jude 1:25), the Eternal God (Genesis 21:33), the Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28), and Maker of all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5). He is able to do more things than we can ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed and miracles that cannot be counted (Job 9:10). God’s power is unlimited. He can do anything He wants, whenever He wants (Psalm 115:3). He spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1:3). Furthermore, He answers to no one as to His plans and purposes: “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35).

When we see God as the Almighty, we are struck by His power and by the fact that He is indeed a great, mighty, and awesome God (Deuteronomy 10:17). The identity of God as Almighty serves to establish the sense of awe and wonder we have toward Him and the realization that He is God above all things without limitation. This is important in view of how He is described next in the Bible. In Exodus 6:2-3, God said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.” How is this significant? It is significant because God, whom we previously knew only as God Almighty, has now given a new, more personal and intimate name to Moses (and Israel). This desire on God’s part for a more personal relationship with mankind would culminate later when God Almighty sent His only Son to earth–God in flesh–to die on the cross so that a way for forgiveness of our sins could be provided. The fact that God Almighty would humble Himself in this way for us makes His name all the more remarkable.

Transliterations of other languages into our own mother tongue seeks an equivalent to the original language that the words were rendered.

This is well illustrated below:

Jesus’ name: So how do we say it? Ἰησοῦς‘ in Greek; in Classical Latin = Iesus; in  Jesus’ name in Hebrew is Yehoshua (Yeh-HO-shoo-ah), which, over time, became contracted to Yeshua.

Some say, Jesus Christ which is Yeshua HaMashiach. Biblical Aramaic/Hebrew name יֵשׁוּעַ, Yēšūaʿ was common: the Hebrew Bible mentions several individuals with this name – while also using their full name Joshua.

Let’s not get trapped into Gnostic notions that says, that getting the right formula is vital. So that by invoking that ‘Name,’ we have special access or power to the hidden knowledge of the deity.

Freedom to choose:

It is not about who has got it right and who is wrong?

Let each one of us be persuaded in their own heart and mind –– we need to extend grace to those with whom we may differ in our interpretation of the Holy Names! We are standing on sacred ground when we come to how we say G_D’s holy, set-apart names.



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Roni & Elisheva Discussions: The Temple in the Gospel of Mark

The Author

Elisheva Mechanic

The Temple in the Gospel of Mark 

The Temple in the Gospel of Mark provides an introduction to the Gospel of Mark and to the religious world of second temple Judaism. It also helps us to understand one of the major themes running through Mark’s gospel. It looks specifically at the significance of the temple in the Gospel of Mark which takes us directly to the events of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. It also gives us some background knowledge of the temple. It is written from a historical and Biblical studies perspective. Each chapter has some questions at the end for the reader to reflect on. I have drawn on a wide range of sources. The book helps the reader to look at the story of Israel and how this impacts the Gospel of Mark. The word gospel is important to the life, Scriptures, and understanding of the church, not only at the time when the gospel was written but it also holds importance for the church of all time. Thus it is important for us today and we need to understand and interpret it for our own life and time. I have been interested in the theme of the temple and tabernacle in Scripture for many years. N. T. Wright’s books on second temple Judaism I found very helpful as I researched this topic. I searched in commentaries on Mark and found the arguments that went back and forth very challenging. There is nothing straightforward in interpreting Scripture. Looking at the way Jewish interpretation of Scripture often differs from the Christian approach helped to keep me firmly grounded in the Biblical texts both in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament. While many students do not engage with the extra-biblical non-canonical writings including the Pseudepigrapha, Josephus and the apocryphal writings, I have introduced some examples of these that help us to compare what they have to say with Scripture. Most important of all it is my hope that the reader will be drawn to a deeper understanding of why Jesus and his followers followed the new pathway that he pioneered.

by Elisheva Mechanic  | 13 Sep 2022
The Temple in the Gospel of Mark

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