The Bible has lots of names and titles for God: the Tetragrammaton ("YHWH"), Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, Yah, Adonai, HaShem, Adoshem, YHWH Tzevaot, as well as Adonai, Baali, El, Elah, Eloah, Elohim, El Roi, El Shaddai, Elyon, The Eternal One, Shalom, Shekhinah, HaMakom.

But it seems to me that orthodox Christians only call him God, and when they read the Bible pronounce Lord, LORD, and lord the same even though they're distinct in Hebrew.

So why aren't the other terms used in Christianity?

I understand that some people perceive the names as titles and not names, however that's not how they were understood in Judaism. Also, I don't believe this is a hermeneutics excursion as it's more of a "why did Christianity do that?" instead of "how is this translated / transliterated?"

  • The Tetragrammaton (τετραγράμματον; "four-letters") is not אהיה אשר אהיה but יהוה. And also, just because Judaism considers some words to be names, although they're actually not, does not mean Christians are obligated to do the same. For example, Ba'al (or Ba'ali as you wrote), simply means "my husband." A woman may even refer to her husband by that word.
    – user900
    Oct 7, 2013 at 13:42
  • In this context "Once upon a time, there wasn't a difference between Judaism and Christianity - Christianity being a sect or Judaism." Christians today are not obligated. However, why did this change? Oct 7, 2013 at 14:06
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 a little grumpy today? You're bordering on "not nice" It's okay that you don't know the answer. This question wasn't asked specifically to you. Oct 7, 2013 at 15:25
  • Your question is loaded. "Once upon a time, there wasn't a difference between Judaism and Christianity - Christianity being a sect or [sic] Judaism." Prove that first. If Christianity was a sect of Judaism, then why do you group them as "Judaism and Christianity," which obviously implies Christianity is distinct from, and not a sect of, Judaism. Would you say, "Judaism and Sadducees"? Certainly not, because the Sadducees were actually a sect of Judaism, just like the Pharisees. By the time the term "Christianity" was recognized, it was already a distinct religion.
    – user900
    Oct 7, 2013 at 16:02
  • I also apologize for my previous comment to you.
    – user900
    Oct 7, 2013 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


To be clear, Christians do use other names of God in some contexts.

That list came to mind in the first 30 seconds of thinking. There are many, many others.

As to why these aren't more popular? I'd suggest it's simply linguistic. People gravitate towards the familiar when addressing a person. Even if the Duke of Cambridge has 4 main names and 21 titles, they're still going to call him "Prince William" ninety nine times out of a hundred. It's the same with "God." Hebrew is hard to pronounce, has the appearance of being overly formal in the King James, and generally is more foreign to the culture of mainstream American evangelicalism than anything else. In spite of that, as shown above, we often incorporate it. As such, I think the question should actually be reversed - why use the Hebrew as much as we do?


A very long time ago, the Church decided that it was important for people to hear the gospel in their own language. That's at the core of why the New Testament was written in Greek and not in Hebrew. The earliest churches used the common languages of the day. The Roman Catholic church picked up Latin along the way and it's still their official language. For several reasons, the church didn't really keep up with the tradition and held on to the Latin mass well into the 20th century. Martin Luther picked up the tradition again by translating the Bible into German. He was then followed by several translators over the centuries who translated the Bible into their native languages. That tradition continues today with Bible translators who work to give small tribes Bibles in their own languages.

Translators try to be as accurate as possible but conveying the meaning takes priority over literal word for word translations so little nuances like that sometimes get lost. English speaking Christians sometimes use the different names of God in Hebrew and in English for worship and prayer. They're just not usually in the translation of the Bible we use.

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