"THE UNKNOWN GOD"
The ancient Greeks labelled the Creator: "The
Unknown God" (Acts 17:23). They forgot WHO He
is - because they had lost the meaning of His
name! That name is important - what is it? What
does it mean?
Herman L. Hoeh
The words of our Savior are given to us in the NT. Some
claim they were originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic and only
translated - wrongly - by some later hand into Greek, thus
deleting the name YHWH. But before He ascended to heaven, He
promised His disciples, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, BUT MY
WORDS SHALL NOT PASS AWAY" (Matt.24:35).
I think all will agree, that heaven and earth have not
passed away! THEN NEITHER HAVE THE WORDS OF THE SAVIOR! FOR HE
EVER LIVES TO PREVENT SUCH A THING FROM OCCURRING. HIS WORDS ARE
FOUND INSPIRED IN THE NT TODAY! How are the NAMES of Deity
rendered in the NT for the Greek-speaking converts? Notice!
Paul was sent to the Gentiles - particularly the
GREEK-speaking Gentiles. His ministry covered the whole
Greek-speaking world. Most Greeks did NOT KNOW Hebrew or Aramaic.
They knew GREEK. HOW did Paul explain to these Greek converts
who the Father and who the Son are? What NAMES did he use for
the Greeks when referring to the Creator?
The answer is - HE USED THE GREEK WORDS for "God," "Lord,"
"Christ," the "Word," and "Jesus." God INSPIRED him to
TRANSLATE the Hebrew word EL, meaning "God," into the Greek word
THEOS. God inspired Paul in the NT to TRANSLATE the Hebrew word
YHWH into the Greek word KURIOS, meaning "Lord."
In 665 different places in the NT the apostles were inspired
to translate the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word KURIOS,
meaning the eternal "Lord." And 1,345 times the apostles were
inspired to TRANSLATE the Hebrew word for God into the Greek word
THEOS - which means "God" in the Greek language! These two Greek
words - KURIOS and THEOS - meaning "Lord" and "God" in Greek, are
found HUNDREDS of times in the GOSPELS, and in the direct quoted
words of Jesus Himself! AND JESUS SAID HIS WORDS WOULD NOT PASS
AWAY - Matthew 24:35.
Either we HAVE the INSPIRED WORDS of Jesus, or He LIED - and
if He lied you have no Savior! BUT HE DID NOT LIE. These are
His words. He INSPIRED His apostles to translate the names of
God from the Hebrew in to the Greek when writing to the Greek
converts; and He has seen to it that not ONE WORD has PERISHED or
God's Word has NOT BEEN CORRUPTED or tampered with! God HAS
PRESERVED His message UNALTERED. Otherwise you would have no
basis for your faith.
There is not ONE NT manuscript with the names of Deity
written in Hebrew! There is NOT ONE NT manuscript which supports
the idea that the apostles EXCLUSIVELY USED Hebrew names for God
when speaking to the Greek people.
NT INSPIRED IN GREEK
Those who believe that God can ONLY be correctly addressed
or referred to in Hebrew must DENY what the inspired NT says, and
DENY it was ORIGINALLY written in Greek. They assume Jewish
Christians could not understand Greek and would also have us
believe Paul wrote to the Greek converts in Greece, Asia Minor
and Rome in ARAMAIC instead of GREEK. THIS IS NOT TRUE!
GREEK was the ONE UNIVERSAL language which united the COMMON
people in the Roman Empire in NT times. The JEWISH historian
JOSEPHUS testified to Greek as the language which the Jews
EVERYWHERE understood in NT days! Not ONLY did the Jews who
lived in the Greek world speak Greek, but EVEN the Jews who lived
in JUDEA and GALILEE, he declared, were WELL ACQUAINTED WITH
(Many reading this will not know that as far away as in the
land of Britain, the people also spoke Greek - it's in the
history books, especially the ones on the British Druids - Keith
Greek-speaking Jews - who could NOT speak Hebrew or Aramaic
- were so PREVALENT in JUDEA that synagogues for them had to be
built (Acts 6:9). Jewish LAW PERMITTED that the Scriptures "may
be read in a foreign tongue to them that speak a foreign tongue"
(Megillah 2, article 1). AND IT WAS FURTHER PERMITTED "that the
Books (of the Bible) may be written in any language," but that,
apart from Aramaic, at the time of Jesus the Books were "ONLY
PERMITTED TO BE WRITTEN IN GREEK" (Megillah 1, article 8, THE
MISHNAH, Herbert Danby, Oxford University Press).
Though the native born Jews in Judaea in the days of the
apostles GENERALLY used Aramaic (or perhaps even Hebrew in
certain areas) as their common spoken language, YET GREEK WAS THE
NEXT IN IMPORTANCE EVEN TO THEM.
JOSEPHUS tells us why he, a Jewish priest, when he had
decided after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 to become a
writer, had to make a special study in Greek:
"I have also taken a great deal of pain to obtain the
learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek
language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our
own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with such an exactness"
- Josephus spoke Greek with a Semitic accent - " for our nation
does not encourage those who learn the language of other nations,
and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their
periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment
(imitating the supposedly 'great' men of the Greeks) AS COMMON ,
not only to all sorts of free men, but to as many of the servants
as pleased to learn them. But they give him the testimony of
being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is
able to interpret their meaning" (Antiquities of the Jews, book
XX, chapter XI, section 2).
Nearly everyone in JUDAEA in those days knew a moderate
amount of Greek.
GREEK THE INSPIRED VERSION
Now let us notice the testimony of history as to the
language in which the books of the NT were inspired. ONLY two
books - out of a total of twenty-seven in the NT - were EVER
ASSERTED even by ecclesiastical tradition to have been written in
Hebrew. The church historian EUSEBIUS did relate, based in part
upon an earlier tradition of Papias: ".....the epistle to the
Hebrews is the work of Paul, and.....it was written to the
Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but...Luke translated it
carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same
style of expression is found in this epistle and in Acts."
From Eusebius' account - written two and a half centuries
later - one would conclude that Paul's letter to the Hebrews was
INSPIRED to be translated by Luke and published in the Greek
language. It is Luke's INSPIRED translation God INTENDED to
be PRESERVED for us.
Eusebius also wrote, and Jerome repeated, that MATTHEW
wrote, "the reports," which he took to mean Matthew's gospel, in
Hebrew for Jewish Christians. But we need not think that someone
other than Matthew wrote the inspired Greek gospel. GOD
INSPIRED MATTHEW TO WRITE HIS FINAL ACCOUNT IN GREEK FOR THE
WHOLE CHURCH. It is Matthew's INSPIRED Greek gospel, whether
there was a Hebrew precursor or not, WHICH GOD HAS PRESERVED.
(It is very interesting that these words written so long ago
by Herman Hoeh should in 1997 take on very vital and vivid
meaning with the publishing of the book EYEWITNESS TO JESUS by
Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew d'Ancona. The front cover under
the title reads: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origin
of the Gospels. On the back cover we read: What does it mean
that the Magdalen Papyrus dates to about A.D.60? Underneath that
are three quotations: "The problem is, this upsets the whole
theological establishment." - Ulrich Victor, Humboldt University,
Germany. "NT scholarship may be revolutionized by three old
scraps of papyrus no bigger than postage stamps." - Richard N.
Ostling, Time. "One fellow of Magdalen(College, Oxford,) said
the discovery made the hairs stand up on the back of his neck." -
Julia Llewellyn Smith, The Times of London.
The cover slip in part says: "Christmas Eve 1994 would have
come and gone like any other, had it not been for three tiny
papyrus fragments discussed in The Times of London's sensational
front page story. The avalanche of letters to the editor jarred
the world into realizing that matthew d'Ancona's story was a big
as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The flood of calls
received by Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede, the scholar behind the
story, and the international controversy that spread like
wildfire, give us an inkling as to why the Magdalen Papyrus has
embroiled Christianity in a high-stakes-tug-of-war over the
The whole story is about three little papyrus scraps that
were obtained a century ago by a certain scholar and donated to
the Magdalen College in Oxford, England. There they were on
display behind glass for a century, and had been dated to about
180-200 A.D. Then comes along Dr. Thiede and with all the modern
technology at his skilful and expert hands, re-dates them to
roughly A.D.60. It was then that people started to flock to the
library wanting to see and behold a first-century original or
copy of a part of the gospel of Matthew.
All this means that we now have evidence that Matthew wrote
his gospel within a generation of Jesus' death, and that by
around 60 A.D. it was being written in GREEK, regardless as to
whether it was first written in Hebrew or Aramaic as some have
If you have not read the book EYEWITNESS TO JESUS I
recommend you do. It is somewhat very technical and so a little
above most of our heads, but the basic facts and truth on this
latest discovery in the world of ancient Biblical papyrus is
still worth the effort to read the book - Keith Hunt).
Now, back to the article by Hoeh:
None of the other twenty-five books of the NT were ever said
to have been written in Hebrew(apparently a few would disagree
with this statement today - Keith Hunt).
The aramaic versions of the NT which we have today are
admittedly TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GREEK despite what some
mistakenly claim. (See THE BOOKS AND THE PARCHMENTS by F.F.
Bruce, page 189).
PROOF THAT ARAMAIC IS NOT ORIGINAL
Open your Bible to Mark 15:34. The English rendering of this
verse reads: "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud
voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthan? which is, being
interpreted, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Notice this! The last half of verse 34 proves that Mark was
writing his gospel account, including these final words of
Christ, in a language different from the one in which Jesus
spoke! Jesus' own words are quoted in Aramaic, but TRANSLATED
Now consider the Aramaic version, which some have claimed to
be the original version of the NT. If Aramaic were the original
language of the NT, there would have been no reason to insert in
the Aramaic version the words "which is, being interpreted,
'My God,My God, why hast thou forsaken me?'" BECAUSE EVERY
ARAMEAN WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD JESUS' WORDS WITHOUT TRANSLATION.
Yet the Aramaic NT DOES REPEAT the exact Greek original word for
word. This PROVES Aramaic NOT to have been the original language
of the NT, but merely a TRANSLATION from the GREEK.
There are LEAST a dozen places in the NT where Aramaic words
are quoted and are TRANSLATED INTO THE GREEK for the
Greek-speaking people - and in most cases the Aramaic NT
retranslates the original Greek word for word!
Another example is John 1:41: "He (Andrew) first finds his
own brother Simon, and says unto him, We have found the Messias,
WHICH IS, BEING INTERPRETED, THE CHRIST." The word MESSIAS is a
Greek spelling of the Hebrew word MESSIAH, which means "an
anointed one." But the Greek-speaking people were not generally
acquainted with the meaning of the word MESSIAS, hence John
translates it for them into the Greek word CHRISTOS which means
"the Anointed One."
To be continued
Emphasis throughout this series on God's Name is both the
respective authors of the articles and also from myself - Keith