Preface to The Word of Yahweh
The Word of Yahweh is a new edition of the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures. In order for a new Bible edition to be successful it must fill a need. This project had its origin at the 1999 Sacred Name Unity Conference in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. At that conference a presentation was given calling for a quality version of the Bible, emphasizing the sacred names of our Heavenly Father and His Son. Although there have been several "sacred name" versions published in recent years, many are not readily available or accessible to the average person.
After much discussion, there was general agreement by the participants of the Unity Conference that this was a project worthy of further consideration, but no firm agenda was set to proceed. Within days of the conference however, a brother from the Assembly of Yahweh in Eaton Rapids, Michigan initiated a proposal to go forth with this Bible project. Work was begun almost immediately. With the generous contributions of both expertise and financial support of many dedicated individuals in the Body of the Messiah, we present this Word of Yahweh as an offering of love to our Heavenly Father Yahweh and His Son, our savior, Yahshua. It is our hope that this version will contribute in some small way to bringing about that unity of the faith for which we all yearn.
The basic text of the Word of Yahweh is based upon standard English language versions of the scriptures, which in turn are built upon the oldest available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts. This version has retained much of the old English grammatical structure used by many English translations. It was our hope to present a text that would be familiar to most of our readers, yet easy to read and understand. Overriding either of these concerns, however, was our goal of portraying the original languages as precisely as possible into the English language. We believe we have achieved that goal.
The prime objective in producing this new edition of the scriptures was a desire to accurately represent the most sacred names of our Father and His Son. It has been the tradition of most translators to substitute more common, familiar terms such as lord and god, in place of the very names inspired from Yahweh Himself. We believe this is a grave injustice. Not only does this substitution steal from the richness and fullness of the original languages, but probably directly breaks the third commandment we read in Exodus 20:7.
The personal name of the Heavenly Father, Yahweh, was inspired into the Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the Old Testament nearly 7000 times. This includes 134 instances where the Masoretic scribes admittedly changed Yahweh to the more common Hebrew adonai. In all instances where Lord, or God was substituted for the Sacred Name in the English text we have properly inserted Yahweh. In addition to the many times the Fatherís name is rendered as Lord or God, there are many more instances where these terms were used as translations of the Hebrew words elohim and adonai. Because there is no accurate translation of elohim we have transliterated that title into the English. As for adonai, sovereign or master serves as an adequate translation in most cases.
The sacred names in the New Testament offered a more difficult challenge. The oldest available manuscripts of the New Testament are in the Greek language. In recent years many scholars have proposed that there are Semitic originals underlying the Greek text of much of the New Testament. Evidence put forth by these scholars for a Hebrew or Aramaic New Testament is now being given serious consideration. With these recent findings in mind, guidelines were developed to accurately insert the sacred name Yahweh into the New Testament text. These guidelines are listed at the end of this preface. In addition, the Aramaic Peshitta was consulted for further guidance in supplying the Name to the text. In the Aramaic Peshitta, the tetragrammaton was consistently replaced by the word "Mariah". This is the equivalent of the Hebrew word "Adonai". Therefore, this is the same thing that the scribes did in the 134 documented instances in the Hebrew Tenach (Old Testament), as stated above. What complicates matters is the fact that whenever we see "Mariah" in the Aramaic New Testament text, it could mean "Yahweh", or it could mean "Sovereign"!
It was also our goal to insert the Hebrew name of our savior Yahshua into the text. There can be no doubt that he was born into a Hebrew speaking society, raised by Hebrew parents, and given a Hebrew name by his parents as commanded from the heavens. The name Jesus is at best an inferior attempt to transliterate the Hebrew Yahshua. Furthermore we have used the term Messiah in reference to Yahshua instead of the more common term Christ. It is our belief that Messiah conveys a fuller, richer, more accurate description of our savior, than does Christ.
The only other changes made to the text of this version were replacing many of the archaic words that no longer have meaning to the modern reader. However, we did not change most of the archaic verbs and sentence structure, unless it clearly hindered oneís understanding of a passage. It was our goal to have consistency in any textual changes we made throughout the Word of Yahweh. In all cases we closely followed commonly accepted English language standards in any alterations to the text.
One final item we must address in relation to the text is the changes that were not made. Many believe it is our duty to rid our speech of all terminology that might have its origins in pagan idol worship. While this may be a noble goal, we found there is no way to accurately assess the veracity of a so called pagan origin of many of our English words. Therefore we leave it up to the reader to make his own assessment in this regard.
The one exception we made to the above rule was the replacement of the word "glory". It was noticed that there are at least twenty different English words for the various underlying Hebrew and Greek words that have been translated as "glory" in many English translations. We have tried to use as many of these English words as possible in place of the word "glory". We think this change will bring clarity to many passages.
This section of the preface will give the reader a brief insight into the process involved in producing a new edition of the sacred text. As was previously stated, we started with standard English language texts as the basis of this version. The first step was loading an electronic version (CD) of the Bible into the computer, and putting it into a usable format with regard to page size, type size, a good readable font style, and many other criteria, which have made the Word of Yahweh aesthetically appealing and easy to use. We were blessed to have the services of a retired professional printer to walk us through all of these very important steps. The text was then typeset into a hard copy for editing and proofreading.
The second step in preparing the text was the actual replacement of the sacred names and titles into their proper places. This was done by utilizing a variety of respected, scholarly resource materials. The accuracy of each replacement was checked and rechecked many times. It was our goal to be error free. We also updated many of the archaic, difficult to understand terms during this step.
The next stage of the process was the first proofreading from Genesis to Revelation. During this step the proofreaders checked for all of the common mistakes encountered when producing any written work. This included things such as misspelled words, dropped or duplicated text, and proper placement of chapter headings. This version was compared with other versions to insure complete accuracy in regard to these criteria.
After proofreading, the text went back to the typesetter for corrections and formatting. It was also at this stage that many of the footnotes, final page headers, and page numbers were added. A last component of this correction phase was a comparison of the Aramaic Peshitta to add strength to any revisions to the New Testament text.
After all corrections were made to meet the standards that were established at the very beginning of this project, the entire text was sent back out for a second proofreading. While the first reading was done primarily by only two proofreaders for the sake of consistency, the second proofreading was accomplished by many brethren, each taking a small portion of the text to check for any remaining overt errors. In addition this second team of proofreaders was encouraged to question any archaic terminology which remained. It is our prayer that this process has achieved our goal of presenting an error free version of the Word of Yahweh.
The final step in the preparation process was the typesetting into a camera-ready copy for printing. Again we called upon the scrutiny of our professional printer to help in this last stage. Once we were satisfied the text was ready it was sent to the printing company for printing and binding. We settled only for the highest industry standards in printing and binding. All of this resulted in the quality product you have before you. It is our hope this version will serve you for many years to come.
Footnotes have become a necessary, important part of most modern Bible versions. As an increasing amount of archeological evidence is uncovered that gives us a clearer picture of the sacred text, it is inevitable that variations will occur in different sources. It is often prudent to let the reader make his own decisions in regard to certain alternate understandings of the text. As with most versions we have accomplished this with footnotes. Following are the primary criteria we established for using footnotes.
There are 134 places in the Hebrew text where the ancient scribes actually changed the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, to the more common Adonai. These instances were changed back to the sacred name Yahweh and footnoted in every case. New Testament passages which quote from or refer to an Old Testament passage were footnoted. In all cases where an English word replaces a Hebrew title in reference to our Heavenly Father, the Hebrew word is referenced in the footnotes. The Aramaic Peshitta of the New Testament is often referenced in the footnotes to bring out differences, or offer support to the established guidelines for inserting the sacred names in the New Testament text. A general, broader category of footnotes was included, which might reference alternate renderings of words or passages, or add clarification or commentary in certain instances. Psalms
It will be observed that many of the subscriptions and supersriptions in the Psalms do not follow the standard format of most versions. It was decided the Word of Yahweh would be modeled after the format of the Companion Bible in regard to the Psalms. For a further explanation please see appendix 64 of the Companion Bible.
Our Primary Goal
The primary objective in producing this version of the Bible is to bring honor and praise to our Heavenly Father Yahweh and His Son Yahshua. We realize that no project conceived by the human mind and produced by human hands will be perfect. Nevertheless it is our prayer that this version of the sacred word will serve you as you serve your Heavenly Father. While recognizing this edition will not be perfect for everyone, we know it will bless each reader in some way. We are thankful for the many excellent ideas we received from brothers and sisters all around the world, many of which were incorporated into the final project. We extend a special thank you to the elders and brethren of the Assembly of Yahweh in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Even in doing so, we recognize the contributions by the entire body of believers in Yahshua the Messiah and Almighty Yahweh. We welcome your suggestions and comments. May Yahweh bless you as you read His word, and practice the concepts found within these pages.
Guidelines Used for Inserting the Name of Yahweh into the New Testament Text
Following are the guidelines that we used for inserting the name of Yahweh into the New Testament text. For the most part, we adhered to these guidelines. The reader will find a few exceptions. For instance, the guidelines indicate that the last phrase in John 1:1 should be translated: "and the Word was Yahweh." (Guideline #5 states: If `theos' is not preceded by a definite article, it is taken to be the Name Yahweh.) According to the Aramaic Peshitta it should be "and the Word was Elohim." This is a very difficult verse to translate. In this case we went with the Aramaic Peshitta. There are other verses where our guidelines and the Peshitta do not agree. In most cases, these were noted in a footnote.
Guideline #1. If there is an Old Testament quote in the New Testament, the names and titles will be restored as they appear in the Old Testament. This rule over-rules all other rules.
Guideline #2. When `kurios' stands alone in the greek, with no definite article in front of it, it will be rendered as the Name, Yahweh.
Exception to Guideline #2:
a) If the passage is clearly referring to Yahshua, it is best to translate it as a title meaning `Sovereign' or `Master'. Examples include situations where Yahshua is being addressed (Matt 8:6, Luke 9:57, Acts 10:36, Rev 22:20). Another example is Acts 2:36 where `kurios' alone, if translated as `Yahweh' would be very awkward.
Guideline #3. When `kurios' is preceded by a definite article meaning `the', then it will be rendered as a title, `Master' or `Sovereign.' When it is clearly understood that the one referred to is Yahweh the Father, `Sovereign' will be used.
Exceptions to Guideline #3:
a) If the passage in question is a quote from the Old Testament, by all means insert the Name as it appears in the Old Testament. b) In some passages, though we render kurios with the definite article as a title, we cannot be sure who it is talking about...whether it refers to the Father or to the Son. As a rule, if we know for sure it refers to the Father, we render it as `The Sovereign' (See Luke 2:15). If we just cannot be certain, we render it as `The Sovereign', but if we know for certain that it refers to the Son, we may render it as `The Master' or `The Sovereign,' as seems best under the circumstances.
Guideline #4. If `theos' is preceded by a definite article, it is taken as a title. Thus it will properly be rendered as `Elohim' or `The Almighty,' or something of that nature.
Exception to Guideline #4:
a) If the passage in question is a quote from the Old Testament, by all means insert the Name as it appears in the Old Testament.
Guideline #5. If `theos' is not preceded by a definite article, it is taken to be the Name Yahweh.
Exception to Guideline #5:
a) Common sense and the guidance of Yahweh's Spirit will cause sundry exceptions to arise. Two passages where theos stands with no definite article are indeed hard to apply to Guideline #5. In 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, it obvious that theos should be rendered as a title, especially since it is in the plural. John 1:1-2 is also very hard to translate.
Guideline #6. If Either the Shem Tob or the du Tillet texts of Matthew give evidence of Yahweh's Name, the Name will be inserted.
Guideline #7. If a passage in Mark, Luke or John is found to have the Name in a parallel passage in the Hebrew Matthew, the Name will be carried over to the parallel verse in Mark, Luke or John.