The 2001 Translation Translator NotesNote

Jehovah in the New Testament: Greek grammar ‘errors’ (Category A)

Many Greek New Testament manuscripts have bizarre and obvious Greek grammar errors in many places where He is called “Lord.” Instead of saying “the Lord” (as would be grammatically correct in these sentences), it just says “Lord,” as if “Lord” were a proper noun.

What happened? It is deliberate. The exact same ‘error’ occurs in the Greek Septuagint wherever copyists removed YHWH and put kyrios in place as a euphemism for the Divine Name. It was to let readers know where YHWH was originally, so it is not really an ‘error’ at all, but a well-established custom.

Interestingly, English Bibles do something similar today, writing “Lord” for Jesus and “LORD” where the original manuscripts say “YHWH.” The ancient Greek equivalent was this ‘bad grammar.’

Could there be a simpler explanation? Like careless copyist errors? Not really.

Firstly, these ‘errors’ are so obvious that it’s difficult to imagine how any copyist or translator could make such a mistake – and why did they only make this mistake in places where YHWH could fit?

Secondly, many of these instances (all listed on this page) are within quotes from Old Testament verses that we know contained YHWH. As I mentioned, if we look up those quoted Old Testament verses in the Greek Septuagint, we find the same grammar ‘error’. The word ‘the’ is missing before ‘Lord’ in places where the Hebrew text originally had YHWH.

Even if the Christian writers did not write down YHWH in their books and letters when copying these quotes, they were copying the ‘bad grammar’ that readers understood to be a euphemism for YHWH. As translators, we must convey this understanding to the modern reader.

Not all Old Testament quotes have the grammar ‘error.’ Why not? Perhaps later copyists ‘corrected’ them. However, many remain ‘uncorrected.’

Learn more about the Divine Name, and why we use it our New Testament.

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