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Vatican Seeks to Eliminate Use of the Divine Name

Vatican Seeks to Eliminate Use of the Divine Name

Vatican Seeks to Eliminate Use of the Divine Name

THE Catholic hierarchy is seeking to eliminate the use of the divine name in their church services. Last year, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments sent instructions on this matter to Catholic bishops’ conferences worldwide. The step was taken “by directive” of the pope.

This document, dated June 29, 2008, decries the fact that despite instructions to the contrary, “in recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel’s proper name, known as the holy or divine tetragrammaton, written with four consonants of the Hebrew alphabet in the form יהוה, YHWH.” The document notes that the divine name has variously been rendered “Yahweh,” “Yahwè,” “Jahweh,” “Jahwè,” “Jave,” “Yehovah,” and so forth. * However, the Vatican directive seeks to reestablish the traditional Catholic position. That is to say, the Tetragrammaton is to be replaced by “Lord.” Moreover, in Catholic religious services, hymns, and prayers, God’s name “YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.”

In support of this position, the Vatican’s document appeals to the “immemorial tradition” of Catholicism. The directive claims that even in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, dating to pre-Christian times, the divine name was regularly rendered Kyʹri·os, the Greek word for “Lord.” Thus, the directive insists, “Christians, too, from the beginning never pronounced the divine tetragrammaton.” This statement, however, ignores clear evidence to the contrary. Early copies of the Septuagint contained, not Kyʹri·os, but the divine name in the form יהוה. Christ’s first-century followers knew and pronounced God’s name. Jesus himself said in prayer to his Father: “I have made your name known.” (John 17:26) And in his well-known model prayer, Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.”​—Matthew 6:9.

It should be the desire of all Christians to see God’s name sanctified. Vatican efforts to eliminate its use dishonor Jehovah, the one who said: “This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.”​—Exodus 3:15, The Jerusalem Bible.


^ par. 3 In English, the form “Jehovah” has been widely recognized for centuries and is used in many Bible translations.

[Blurb on page 30]

“This is my name for all time.”​—Exodus 3:15, JB

[Picture on page 30]

A fragment of the “Septuagint” dating from the first century C.E. The divine name, represented by the four Hebrew letters commonly transliterated YHWH, is circled

[Credit Line]

Courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society