In Judaism it has been a taboo to pronounce the four letter name of God. It was never explicitly said when reading the Jewish scriptures. Do any forms of Christianity have a similar approach?

4 Answers 4


The Tetragrammaton ('Hashem', The Name) was written many times in the Hebrew Scriptures without vowels, therefore YHWH could not be pronounced by anyone without knowledge of the vowel points. Nor was it encouraged, out of concern not to break the second of the Ten Commandments. When it came to the Christian Scriptures, they were originally written in koine Greek, and the equivalent of the Tetragrammaton never even occurred once. Of the more than 5,000 available copies of ancient Greek Christian Scripture manuscripts (MSS), some from as early as 200 C.E., there are no MSS that show any evidence of the Tetragrammaton.

However, there are no superstitious views about any need to refrain from translating the Tetragrammaton into other languages, for Christians to read or to pronounce. Of course, it remains true that no Christian would wish to take The Name of God in vain, but it is not the pronunciation that is the problem here. We all know that it is pronounced in different ways in different languages.

A Dominican monk, Raymundus Martini, was commissioned by the Pope to translate the Latin Vulgate Bible into German. That’s when ‘Jehova’ first appeared. In German, the 'J' is pronounced ‘Yah’. 'Jehova' is first recorded in 1270 in Martini's book "Pugeo Fideli".

It was William Tyndale who first used Jehovah in English, as a new word, once the letter 'J' had been introduced into the English alphabet in the early 1500s. Tyndale produced his translation of the Pentateuch in 1530. There are many old hymns (particularly in the Protestant tradition) where the name of God, Jehovah, is sung - usually with reference to Hebrew (Old Testament) events. YHWH is often viewed as God's OT (or, covenant) name. There is no taboo in Christianity against pronouncing God's Name.


Although specifically not forbidden from saying it, Catholics are not supposed to use the the name of God in their Liturgy:

Avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds. Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to 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.


Basically, this means we can't sing "Yahweh, I know you are near" any more, because the His name was never in the liturgy to begin with. God and Jesus is referred to as Lord or Father (I can never remember who which person we're talking about, but I'm not sure it matters)

  • Does "the Christian context" only refer to the liturgy? Or is it anything related to Christianity (in other words, Catholics shouldn't say it outside of church either)? Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 2:59
  • @thunderforge, I'm pretty sure it's only in relation to the liturgy, but that may be because the American Bishops know that if they ban something outright it just makes it more popular with Satanists.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 13:27

No, it is fairly commonly said in Christianity. Some pronounce it as "Jehovah", but that is now recognised by most to be an inaccurate pronunciation, and most think the likely pronunciation is "Yahweh".


No. And from my studious of history even Judaism didn't fully adopt that taboo until the time of the writing of the Talmud. Prior to that, in NT times they were wary of the way you used God's name because it was one of the commandments that could get you stoned on the spot, but there wasn't a full taboo or ban of using the name of the Divinity.

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