“Yahweh” as the Unspeakable Name

The Vatican has made a ruling that I fully agree with: The Tetragrammaton, YHWH, should not be uttered as “Yahweh”.

“In recent years the practice has crept in of pronouncing the God of Israel’s proper name,” the letter noted, referring to the four-consonant Hebrew “Tetragrammaton,” YHWH.  That name is commonly pronounced as “Yahweh,” though other versions include “Jaweh” and “Yehovah.” But such pronunciation violates long-standing Jewish tradition, the Vatican reminded bishops.

    “As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, (the name) was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: `Adonai,’ which means `Lord,’” the Congregation said.

    That practice continued with Christianity, the letter explained, recalling the “church’s tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred Tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.”

I might point out that the practice got a big impetus from the Roman Catholic translation of the Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible, but I’m willing to let that go.

The Chronological Bible

The publishing house Thomas Nelson is coming out with The Chronological Study Bible, which not re-arranges not only the books but their passages (including the Psalms) to put everything in chronological order.

My impression is that even conservative Bible scholars are not fully agreed on when the different books of the Bible were written. In any event, looking at it from a literary perspective, this would seem to break up the unity of particular books. But do you see a value in this? And, theologically, is there a significance to the order of the canon?

The penalty for possessing a Bible

Something else I learned at the CIRCE conference: In the heyday of Soviet Communism, the penalty for possessing a Bible was 3 years in prison. Think of that the next time you dare to read that dangerous book.

The necessity–and value–of church divisions

Rev. William Cwirla offers some provocative and oddly encouraging thoughts about why divisions within a congregation or church body are, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “necessary.” See Blogosphere Underground: Devilish Distractions. A sample:

Dissensions and divisions have their root in our old Adamic flesh (Gal 5:20; 1 Tim 6:4; Titus 3:9). The old Adam loves to stir up trouble wherever he can find it. Dissensions and divisions in the church arise from false teachings and false teachers who subvert the Gospel (Rom 16:17; Jude 19). Paul’s desire for the Corinthian congregation is that it be united, of the same mind and judgment (1 Cor. 1:10). Yet Paul goes on to make this remarkable statement: “It is necessary that there be divisions (Gk: heresies) among you so that those who are proven might be manifest among you” (1 Cor 11:19). In other words, the soundness of a teacher is tested in the face of controversy, and divisions serve the purpose of showing who is proven.

Rev. Cwirla goes on to apply what this means and why. He does not praise church divisions, mind you, seeing them as sinful; and yet God uses them nonetheless.

Nancy Pelosi’s favorite Bible verse

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been taking every opportunity to share her favorite Bible passage:

“The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.’ On this Earth Day, and every day, let us honor the earth and our future generations with a commitment to fight climate change.”

Apparently, it’s a favorite verse of hers. She has used it in official statements on global warming, the budget, Martin Luther King Day, Christmas, and why she’s a Democrat.

Taking the scariness out of Jonah

A Touchstone article criticizes children’s Bible story books that take out the scariness that is in the Bible, looking particularly at the treatments of Jonah and the whale. The author, Ronald F. Marshall, argues that the scary parts are necessary for the child to realize the Gospel in those stories. See Eaten Alive.