Picture of Pastors Jim and Marie Watt
Pastors Jim and Marie Watt

Two Are Better Than One

THE NAME OF GOD”- 2009.05.19


It is only within the last year that I have begun to use the ASV '01 (The American Standard Version, 1901). Originally, British and American Scholars pooled their resources to make a new translation in 1881-1885. They had an agreement that should the American translators not be satisfied with their joint effort, that they would refrain from putting out their independent translation for 14 years. 1901 released them to put out the ASV.

One of the American goals was to use “Jehovah” as their translation for “LORD”, as it appears in the Authorized King James translation of 1608. Allow me to let them tell this in their own words:

Reasons for the ASV. There were two rationales for the ASV. One reason was to obviate any justification for the unauthorized copied editions of the RV (The English version) that had been circulating. Another reason was to use more of the suggestions the American team had preferred, since the British team used few of their suggestions in the first place, even in the latter version which they had published incorporating some of them. Interestingly, while many of the suggestions of the American scholars were based on the differences between American and British usage, many others were based on differences in scholarship and what the American revisers felt the best translation to be. Consequently, there were several changes to the KJV text in the ASV that were not present in the RV.

Features of the ASV. The divine name of the Almighty (the Tetragrammaton) is consistently rendered Jehovahin the ASV Old Testament, rather than LORDas it appears in the King James Bible. The reason for this change, as the Committee explained in the preface, was that “...the American Revisers...were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the Old Testament...” Other changes from the RV to the ASV included (but were not limited to) substituting “who” and “that” for “which” when referring to people, and Holy Ghostwas dropped in favor of Holy Spirit. Page headings were added and footnotes were improved.

Revisions of the ASV. The ASV was the basis of four revisions. They were the Revised Standard Version(1946-1952/1971), the Amplified Bible(1965), the New American Standard Bible(1963-1971/1995), and the Recovery Version(1999). A fifth revision is in the making, the World English Bible. The ASV was also the basis for Kenneth N. Taylor'sBible paraphrase, The Living Bible, which was published in 1971.

I have listed my study of this subject for the past 65 years, and the reason for my final decision to use this edition for my OT Outline Studies, and the use of “Jehovah” for the “Name of God.”

I quite regularly receive objections for my decision, but really no suggestion is given for anything more acceptable to God that I have discovered. For those of you who no doubt have unexpressed doubts concerning the wisdom of my decision, I believe you deserve to hear and know the reasoning behind it.

Many among you are correct in believing that numbers of students side with retaining of the translation of the Tetragrammaton to the 4 Hebrew consonants. However, there is also a very large number of students who prefer the choice I have made. Dr. William F. Fouts, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary of Chicago expressed the following when I graduated in 1952. He preferred translating the tratragrammaton “Ye-hoVAH.” We as a class heard him out in his reasoning. Jehovah isn't exactly an English equivalent, but is far closer that “YAHweh.”

Once a year the High Priest of Israel on Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) went into the Holy of Holies and pronounced the Tetragrammaton, and though that ceased at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, numbers believe that is was not “YAHweh” that he pronounced.

In the Newberry Reference Bible by Thomas Newberry published by Kregel Publications of Grand Rapids, Michigan - in his Introduction on p.xx, he deals with the title Jehovah appearing 6000 times in the OT, and demonstrates how it is based upon the 3 tenses of the verb “to be”, according to Hebrews 13:8 and Revelation 1:8.

But - most of all - I believe God would have us settle on the “Jehovah” translation because of the Orthodox Jewish use of “Adonai” to replace the Tetragrammaton. This is such a perversion of the true meaning, that it seems to be time to challenge this corruption with what in the days of the ASV answer this challenge so effectively. A number of times in the prophets the combination of “Sovereign Jehovah” (Adonai Jehovah, Zephaniah 1:7; Zechariah 9:14, two of these) appears. Because the strictest of Religious Jews do not believe in pronouncing the “Tetragrammaton”, and substitute “Adonai” for it - they now have a problem with this combination of Sovereign LORD, which would be “Adonai Adonai”. “Adonai Jehovah” would solve the problem.

I studied Theology for a year and a half in a Modernistic Seminary, because I felt God wanted me to thoroughly understand the perversion of Scripture that takes place in these institutions. My forebears are Scottish Presbyterian going back to the inventor James Watt, but Modernism has degraded our early heritage. The Modernists are happy to discard the ASV rendering. Later I graduated after 3 years from NBTS, an Evangelical Seminary.

Evangelicals often follow the use of Yahweh, but many of them acknowledge that this solution is really not too satisfactory either.

I have considered using the translation “Jehovah” for many years, but have hesitated. What finally launched me in the last year of my 65 years of ministry was Dr. Ivan Panin. He produced a Numeric Greek Text of the NT at the turn of the 20thCentury, and followed up with an English Translation of this text. He later stated - “The ASV 1901 is closer to the Numeric Hebrew OT than any other translation extant at that time. It was this word that after more than 60 years encouraged me to take the stand to which many object.

I of course do not ask any to follow my example - but I do believe it offers more merit than any other I have come across since 1944.

One other point. Some are sticklers that the 4 Hebrew consonants of the Tetragrammaton can not be translated.

Let me offer a challenge! The Hebrew language has no vowels!It wasn't until the days of our A.D., that rabbis recognized many could no longer pronounce their language, so they put in the present vowels we see; but they are not inspired - just the 22 consonants. So what some object to concerning the Tetragrammaton, applies likewise to the entire Hebrew language. To be consistent, we would, if we held the above view, put ourselves into a serious bind.

Also, the Jerusalem daily papers have novowels, the way it was at the beginning. For in the beginning all Jews knew the Hebrew pronunciation for their entire language apart from vowels, including Jehovah. Only in the times when Jesus came to earth, the Pharisees and rabbis stopped pronouncing the Sacred Name - but they did permit the High Priest to do so once a year. So - do wefollow the example of these Jews and notpronounce what they originallydid pronounce? I prefer to follow the reasoning of the ASV translators.

I have had but 5 years of Latin, Greek and Hebrew in formal schooling, so see myself as a student, but do not count myself as a scholar. I have however put in well over 40,000 hours on the Bible languages. I love God and His Word. Today this email came to me: “The name “Jehovah” isn't in the original text. It's supposed to be “YHVH”. Jehovah is a name made up by man. It is a transliteration of the true name YHVH.”

I have written the above answer to refute this Email. It is true that the writer may not receive my answer, but perhaps some of you may see more sense in my approach than this friend. - J.A.W.