I like New Jerusalem Bible’s use of “Yahweh”

In the last few days, I’ve been reading from the New Jerusalem Bible. What strikes me the most about the NJB is its numerous references to “Yahweh” in place of “the Lord.”

“Yahweh drove the sea back with a strong easterly wind all night…” (Ex.14:21)
“Yahweh looked down on the army of the Egyptians…” (Ex. 14:24)
“That day, Yahweh rescued Israel from the clutches of the Egyptians…” (Ex. 14:30)
“I shall sing to Yahweh, for he has covered himself in glory…” (Ex. 15:1)

If you can get use to reading “Yahweh” instead of “the Lord”, you would enjoy this translation. I am coming to enjoy it more and more. It’s an underrated translation and does deserve to be more widely read in North America. Apparently, it is supposed to be the most popular Roman Catholic translation. I would place this in the mediating equivalent category because it is not as formal as the NRSV but more formal than the NLT. It also reads very well.

Here’s a portion from 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

“we hold this treasure in pots of earthenware, so that the immensity of the power is God’s and not our own. We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair;we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but still have some life in us; always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are continually being handed over to death, for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our mortal flesh. In us, then, death is at work; in you, life. But as we have the same spirit of faith as is described in scripture — I believed and therefore I spoke -we, too, believe and therefore we, too, speak, realising that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up with Jesus in our turn, and bring us to himself — and you as well. You see, everything is for your benefit, so that as grace spreads, so, to the glory of God, thanksgiving may also overflow among more and more people. That is why we do not waver; indeed, though this outer human nature of ours may be falling into decay, at the same time our inner human nature is renewed day by day. The temporary, light burden of our hardships is earning us for ever an utterly incomparable, eternal weight of glory, since what we aim for is not visible but invisible. Visible things are transitory, but invisible things eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-18, NJB)

I was so impressed with the study notes that I purchased my edition of the the NJB hardcover edition, the one with the complete text with introductions and notes, edited by Henry Wansbrough, published in 1985. It is over 2000 pages thick. There’s the standard edition without notes and also the classic edition with notes. The classic edition is actually a study bible and I believe it is one of the most academic study bibles out there. Unfortunately, this is a little known fact. For a translation published in 1985, I consider it top-notch. Its study notes place it in the academic category. I like it more than the HarperCollins Study Bible or the NOAB. Moreover, there are probably more study notes than the HCSB or NOAB. It’s also in a different category than the T/NIV or NLT Study Bibles. In the past, I’ve used the New Jerusalem Bible for research and have found its notes extremely useful. I think it is simply one of the best out there and I’m not even Roman Catholic. From my experience with it so far, I really like it. I will be reading more from the NJB in the future. I would recommend it to anybody because it is truly a high quality study bible.

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

16 thoughts on “I like New Jerusalem Bible’s use of “Yahweh””

  1. Thank you for the post.

    I don’t understand why Yahweh isn’t used in other translations. Seems odd.

    I had intended to purchase a NJB a while back. You have renewed my intention.

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  2. I own a copy of the NJB as well and I agree that it probably has the best notes for any study Bible, certainly any Catholic edition. Plus, there are a ton of cross-references! Also, I like the fact that they use a single-column format! It gives plenty of room for personal notes on the side. The NJB is a very under-rated and under-appreciated Bible!

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  3. Use of the Divine Name especially makes sense in passages such as this one:

    “But if serving Yahweh seems a bad thing to you, today you must make up your minds whom you do mean to serve, whether the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now living. As regards my family and me, we shall serve Yahweh.’” (Josh 24:15 NJB)

    Really “the LORD” makes NO sense in a passage like that if you really think about it.

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  4. Stan, even though God’s name of Yahweh is holy, it doesn’t mean that we should not be able to use it in scripture. I may be incorrect about this but I think it has been translators’ decision not to use it in case we come to use his name in vain. But I don’t see anything wrong with using it in scripture. Btw, I like your new look. Who is that sharp looking dude?

    Tim, I just love the NJB study notes and it is par excellence. You can tell the contributors have done a lot of research. I’m one of those who use to prefer the two-columns but I’ve come to really love the one-column. I don’t know, maybe because it helps to read faster?

    Rick, yes it makes more sense because since there were other gods in the Promised Land, using the name of the God of the Israelites’ makes it more specific and differentiates Yahweh from the god of the Amorite and their ancestral gods. Yahweh works for me.

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  5. I also love the NJB. I bought the copy without all of the notes and have regretted it ever since. I plan to pick up the full edition which you have pictured here, and your post makes me want to do it sooner rather than later. It is a great translation and the OT reads much differently with the usage of Yahweh.

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  6. Nathan, it’s one of the most neglected translations. If I hadn’t seen it on the bookshelf in seminary, I don’t think I would have even considered reading it because its so obscure and unknown, especially in the evangelical world. If you’re into the academic stuff, I’m sure you’d love it.

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  7. Kevin,

    Here is another interesting, although minor, difference in the NJB translation. I was recently doing my daily devotional reading on the Gospel of Mark. I am currently in chapter 14 when I came upon verse 41 which seems to be translated differently in the NJB than most other translation. Having quickly checked a few interlinears, it seems that the NJB’s translation might be closer to original.

    NRSV: “He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come;”

    ESV: “And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough.”

    NIV: “Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come.”

    NJB: “He came back a third time and said to them, ‘You can sleep on now and have your rest. It is all over. The hour has come.”

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  8. Tim, this is something very interesting. Thanks for bringing this up. I’ve always thought Jesus said this as a question but you may be right. I don’t know how the translators decided that Jesus’ statement was a question? I also checked the interlinear and I think the NJB’s use of “It is all over” was possibly a statement too. The BDAG lexicon doesn’t seem to give a definition for this but I know other lexicons does provide one for “enough”. I’d like to know if “Over” is good. This is something that someone out there may have an answer for.

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  9. The New Jerusalem Bible is my favorite it contains the name of Yahweh the real name of the Creator according to the Hebrews. It helps you stop using the Errors of God and Lord and only Yahweh. That is defiantly a good thing.

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  10. Sirius, welcome to the New Epistles. Yes, if it’s God’s name, why not use it. I like people to use my name and probably so does God. But if they use it wrongly, that’s their problem, not God’s.

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  11. I have been reading the NLT, and I DO like it… but I wanted a break for the new year. I dusted off my NJB and my JB reader’s editions. While I’ll be primarily reading the NJB, I am supplementing it at points with the JB.

    I find the Psalms hauntingly beautiful in the NJB. I wanted a fresh reading… but not too dumbed down.

    I found it here in the NJB.

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  12. I have read some of the Jerusalem Bible, and I am so happy and joyful to read Yahweh in the old testament. My friends and I would like to see Yahweh and Yahshua the Messiah in the new testament. For it is also known by scholars that Yahshua is the true name of the Messiah, and son of Yahweh. The name Yahshua means Yahweh is salvation. And Acts4:12 reads, And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, in which we must be saved.

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    1. Paul and friends, cross ref the “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures” and the “Kingdom Interlinier of the Greek Scriptures”; a Greek/English transliteration. Both place and render the divine name form YHWH back into it’s original positions in the NT Greek scriptures as Jehovah.

      I enjoy using both the New Jerusalem and the NEW World Translation and find remarkable scholarship in translation. Where word choice differs on occasion it only serves to broaden the sense of the original meaning.

      Be well,

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  13. Ken, with the beauty in the JB/NJB, I don’t understand why it’s not more widely read.

    Paul, going with Yehshua instead of Jesus would also be correct. “Jesus” is so widely known and ingrained in our Christian psyche that a change from that would be a big leap. Will it be accepted?

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  14. Very late comment!
    The New Testament invariably followed the Old Greek rendering of YHWH as ” ho Kyrios” – The Lord”; and the English versions, until fairly recently, followed this rendering. The New Testament was written , for us, in Greek; and we are not free to depart , in the New Testament, from the rendering “The Lord”. As to the Old Testament,
    there may be merit in rendering “YHWH” as “Yahweh”; but (a) the vocalisation (though probable) is not certain, and (b) we would lose the link with the New Testament’s “the Lord”. An acceptable solution might be , in both Testaments, “the LORD”, with a suitable marginal note.

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