Footnote on Yhwh’s Origins

I’m reading through Alberto R. W. Green’s book The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East, and I came across a rather lengthy footnote that brings together representative publications addressing the question of the origin and meaning of the name Yhwh, and the emergence of Yahwism. Anyone interested in the topics might find something helpful in the footnote, even though many of them are pretty early (obviously some of the items have already been cited in Green’s book, so their shorter citations appear):

H. O. Thompson, “Yahweh (Deity),” ABD 6.1011-13; de Moor, The Rise of Yahwism, esp. pp. 108-36; T.N.D. Mettinger, In Search of God: The Meaning and Message of the Everlasting God (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988); M. S. Smith, The Early History of God; G. W. Ahlström, Who Where the Israelites? (Winona Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns, 1986), 59-60; E. A. Knauf, “Yahwe,” VT 34 (1984): 467-72; Z. Zevit, “A Chapter in the History of Israelite Personal Names,” BASOR 250 (1983): 1-16; Cooper and Pope, “Divine Name and Epithets in the Ugaritic Texts,” 337-42; C. E. L’Heureuz, “Searching for the Origins of God,” in Traditions and Transformations: Turning Points in Biblical Faith (Frank Moore Cross Festschrift, ed. B. Halpern and J. D. Levenson; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1981), 33-44; idem. Rank among the Canaanite Gods, 49-70; M. Görg, “Jahwe: Ein Toponym? BN 1 (1976): 7-14; Cross, CMHE, 44-75 ;R de Vaux, “El et Baal, le Dieu des peres et Yahweh,” Ugaritica IV, 501-17; Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, 168-72; J. P. Hyatt, “Was Yahweh Originally a Creator Deity?” JBL 86 (1967): 369-77; W von Soden, “Yahwe, er ist, er erweist sich,” WO 3 (1944-66): 177-87; A. Finet, “Iawi-ila, roi de Talkayun,” Syria 41 (1964): 117-24; Hyatt, “The Origin of Mosaic Yahwism,” in The Teacher’s Yoke (Waco, Tx.: Baylor University Press, 1964), 85-93; J. Lindblom, “Noch einmal die Deutung des Jahhwe-Names in Ex. 3:14,” ASTI 3 (1964): 4-14; H. Kosmala, “The Name of God (YHWH and HU’),” ASTI 2 (1963): 103-20; O. Eissfeldt, “Jahwe der Gott der Väter,” TLZ 88 (1963): cols. 481-90; idem. “‘aheyah ‘asar ‘aheyah und ‘El ‘Olam,” KS 4.193-98; Cross, “Yahweh and the God of the Patriarchs,” HTR 55 (1962): 250-59; S. Mowinckel, “The Name of the God of Moses,” HUCA 32 (1961): 121-33; R. Abba, “The Divine Name Yahweh,” JBL 80 (1961): 320-28; D. N. Freedman, “The Name of the God of Moses,” JBL 79 (1960): 151-56; R. Meyer, “Der Gottesname Jahwe im Lichte der neuesten Forschung,” BZ 2 (1958): 26-53; M. Reisel, The Mysterious Name of Y.H.W.H. (assen: Van Gorcum, 1957); M. H. Segal, “El, Elohim, and Yahweh in the Bible,” JQE 46 (1955): 98-115; A. Murtonen, A Philological and Literary Treatise on the Old Testament Divine Names ‘l, ‘lwh, ‘lhym, and yhwh (StudOr 18; Helsinki: Sociatas orienstalis Fennica, 1952).

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23 responses to “Footnote on Yhwh’s Origins

  • Scripturefocus

    So, how do your handlers in the Mormon cult feel about this?

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      My “handlers”? Carol, you know I don’t have “handlers.” Also, Ive been around the block enough times with you about “cult” that you should know better than to think you can defend your use of it.

  • theologyarchaeology

    Your Mormon?? i should learn to read the about me pages before entering a discussion.

  • theologyarchaeology

    Oh and of course, the meaning and origin of the name YHWH come from God Himself.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      You mean the cryptic folk etymology given in Exod 6:3? The one where the author explains, in contradiction to the current form of the book of Genesis, that the name YHWH was unknown to the patriarchs?

  • theologyarchaeology

    Yes because God may have used a different name with them. Doesn’t mean there was a different author of the books of the Bible it simply means that God chose to identify Himself in a different manner to them.

    Take for example a person with nicknames, some people know the real name while most only know the person’s nickname. Doesn’t mean that there are two different people or two different authors writing about that one person it just means that some people were introduced one way and others another.

    You, like most scholars, are reading far too much into the different names of God and have no textual or physical evidence to support your ideas.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      The only problem is that Exod 6:3 directly contradicts numerous portions of Genesis where the patriarchs explicitly call upon Yhwh’s name. The presupposition of univocality causes numerous problems with understanding the Bible.

  • theologyarchaeology

    as anaside and very off topic your blogroll is greatly out of date. the jim west link goes to a page that says he has deleted his account and I accessed his current site just this morning. (unless he decided to repent and is mending his ways throughout the night)

    I hope you will take the time to update it so people won’t waste their time when they click on a link.

  • theologyarchaeology

    It doesn’t contradict anything, using a different name is not negating the fact that they called upon God.

    oh and that is not an excuse for ignoring bad links when someone tells you you have a problem with it.

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    But they didn’t use a different name. You don’t seem to understand what I’m saying. Exod 6:3 specifically names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as “fathers” who did not know the name YHWH. Abraham Isaac, and Jacob, however, explicitly say YHWH’s name numerous times in the book of Genesis. Which is it? Did they know YHWH’s name or not? Either Exod 6:3 is wrong or the book of Genesis is wrong. They can’t both be right. Which is it?

    As for the bad links, if it’s no excuse, feel free to report me to the authorities. I will be punished for my heinous crime.

  • theologyarchaeology

    You have yet to cite specific examples from Genesis to support your case but neither are wrong.

    as for your attitude about your links, all i did was report that they were out of date and you came up with a lame excuse for having a bad website. the fact that you do not care about how good your service is for others tells me a lot about you and that you can’t handle the explanation for exodus 6:3.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Genesis 15:2, 7, 8; 18:14; 22:14; 27:20, 27. Please explain how neither can be wrong when Exod 6:3 states unequivocally that Abraham didn’t know Yhwh’s name, and the texts above show Abraham explicitly using Yhwh’s name.

      When I have the time to sit down and update my website, I will of course update my links. When an antagonistic and naive fundamentalist comes on my blog to bark at me for being a Mormon and then instructs me on how to run my website, I don’t feel particularly compelled to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you want people to to take your feedback seriously, you need to start with not being a pseudo-academic and sectarian jerk to them initially. If you can do that, you’ll find people are magically a lot less curt with you.

  • Alan Hooker (@awhooker)

    Have you heard of Nick Wyatt’s proposition, that the tetragrammaton derives from Hurrian ‘yau’?

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Yes, I have read it, most recently in his contribution to Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah. We’ve also talked about YHWH’s origins a couple of times. I find a lot of his conclusions to rest on less secure ground than I am comfortable with.

  • Matthew Landis

    Howdy!

    @theologyarchaeology: you point out Daniel’s outdated web-links, but it’s clear that your own views on scripture are much more outdated by hundreds of years. Might want to catch up on information that has been well-known among Biblicists – even conservative ones – for ages. Moving on…

    @Daniel: Good posts and articles!
    Have you read D. Schwemmer’s online “The Storm-Gods of the Ancient Near East: Summary, Synthesis, Recent Studies” (2007), which is an update (and synthesis, obviously) of his ” Wettergottgestalten Mesopotamiens und Nordsyriens” (2001)? Though his update does not deal with Yahweh in any way, it seems to provide some helpful critiques of Green’s work (which did not take advantage of Schwemmer’s work). It’s unlikely that it will help much with the Southern tradition of Yahweh’s Name, but it has some very interesting comments, nonetheless.

    Anyways, I look foward to reading your Thesis some day and reading more interesting posts.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Matthew-

      Thanks for your comments, and yes, I have both parts of Schwemmer’s articles. I have done a cursory reading and made some notes of the more serious differences, but I plan to sit down and look a lot more closely at both authors’ claims in the future. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish my thesis at this rate, though. I just get so engrossed in every new topic I start up!

      • Matthew Landis

        It’s the never-ending rabbit hole of following references and finding even more interesting things. I’m following some of the ones you posted above currently! :)

  • Kyle

    Thanks Daniel! I needed this for my research. Jesus bless you. Ephesians 1:2

  • Edwin

    can you give the page please?

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      It’s note 46 on page 231.

      • Edwin

        thank you!
        I appreciate that
        Happy new week

      • Edwin

        I was not able to find all the entries you found in Alberto R. W. Green’s book The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East. But I was able to find some other ressources
        F. C. Burkitt, “On the Name Yahweh,” Journal of Biblical Literature 43, no. 3-4 (1924), 353-356; Raymond A. Bowman, “Yahweh the Speaker,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3, no. 1 (1944): 1-8; James A. Montgomery, “The Hebrew Divine Name and the Personal Pronoun HŪ,” Journal of Biblical Literature 63, no. 2 (1944), 161-163; M. H. Segal, “El, Elohim, and Yahweh in the Bible,” Jewish Quarterly Review 46, no. 2 (1955): 98-115; Aimo Edvard Murtonen, The Appearance of the Name Yhwh outside Israel (Helsinki, 1951); Idem, A Philological and Literary Treatise on the Old Testament Divine Names אל, and אלוה, אלהים, יהוה (Helsinki, 1952); John Gray, “The God YW in the religion of Canaan,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 12, no. 4 (1953): 278-283; S. D. Goitein, “YHWH the Passionate: the Monotheistic Meaning and Origin of the Name YHWH,” Vetus Testamentum 6, no. 1 (1956), 1-9; Rudolf Meyer, “Der Gottesname Jahwe im Lichte der neuesten Forschung,” Biblische Zeitschrift (Neue Folge) 2 (1958): 26-53; David N. Freedman, “The Name of the God of Moses,” Journal of Biblical Literature 79, no. 2 (1960): 151-56; Raymond Abba, “The Divine Name Yahweh,” Journal of Biblical Literature 80, no. 4 (1961): 320-328; Sigmund O. P. Mowinckel, “The Name of the God of Moses,” Hebrew Union College Annual 32 (1961): 121-33; Frank Moore Cross, Jr., “Yahweh and the God of the Patriarchs,” Harvard Theological Review 55, no. 4 (1962), 225-259; Otto Eissfeldt, “Jahwe, der Gott der Väter,” Theologische Literaturzeitung 88, no. 7 (Jul 1963): 481-490; Hans Kosmala, “The Name of God (YHWH and HU’),” Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute 2 (1963): 103-120; Jozef Vergote, “Une Théorie sur l’Origine Égyptienne du Nom de Yahweh,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 39, no. 3 (1963), 447-452; James Philip Hyatt, “The Origin of Mosaic Yahwism,” The Teacher’s Yoke: Studies in Memory of Henry Trantham (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 1964), 85-93; William Foxwell Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths, Jordan Lectures 1965 (London: Athlone, 1968), 168-72; F G. Smith, “Observations on the Use of the Names and Titles of God in Genesis: and the Bearing of Exodus 6:3 on the Same,” Evangelical Quarterly 40, no. 2 (1968), 103-109; Roland de Vaux, “El et Baal, le Dieu des Peres et Yahweh,” Ugaritica VI: Publié à l’Occasion de la XXXe Campagne de Fouilles à Ras Shamra (1968), Mission Archéologique de Ras Shamra 17; Bibliothèque Archéologique et historique 81 (Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1969), 501-517; Roland de Vaux, “The Revelation of the Divine Name YHWH,” Proclamation and Presence: Old Testament Essays in Honor of Gwynne Henton, ed. John I. Durham, Joshua Roy Porter (London: SCM Press, 1970), 48-75; Michael C. Astour, “Yahweh in Egyptian Topographic Lists,” Festschrift Elmar Edel, ed. Manfred Görg and E. Pusch (Bamberg: Manfred Görg, 1979), 17-34; A. R. Millard, “YW and YHW Names,” Vetus Testamentum 40, no. 2 (1980), 208-212; Stig I L. Norin, “YW and YHW Names: A Reply to A. R. Millard,” Vetus Testamentum 40, no. 2 (1980), 239-240; A. Cooper and M. H. Pope, “Divine Name and Epithets in the Ugaritic Texts,” Ras Shamra Parallels: The Texts From Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible, Analecta Orientalia 51 (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1981), 3:337-42; Conrad E. L’Heureuz, “Searching for the Origins of God,” in Traditions and Transformations: Turning Points in Biblical Faith, Frank Moore Cross Festschrift, ed. B. Halpern and J. D. Levenson (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1981), 33-44; Z. Zevit, “A Chapter in the History of Israelite Personal Names,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 250 (1983): 1-16; Ernst A. Knauf, “Yahwe,” Vetus Testamentum 34, no. 4 (1984): 467-472; Charles R. Gianotti, “The Meaning of the Divine Name YHWH,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 142, no. 565 (1985), 38-51; Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God: The Meaning and Message of the Everlasting Names, trans. Frederick H. Cryer (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988); Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (NY: HarperCollins, 1990); Stephanie Dalley, “Yahweh in Hamath in the 8th Century BC: Cuneiform Material and Historical Deductions,” Vetus Testamentum 40, no. 1 (1990), 21-32; Richard S. Hess, “The divine name Yahweh in Late Bronze Age sources,” Ugarit-Forschungen 23 (1991), 181-188; Mark S. Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (NY: Oxford University Press, 2001); Josef Tropper, “Der Gottesname Yahwa,” Vetus testamentum 51, no. 1 (2001), 81-106; John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Supplement Series 265 (NY: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002); Alberto Ravinell Whitney Green, The Storm-god in the Ancient Near East, Biblical and Judaic Studies 8 (Winoma Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003); William G. Denver, Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005); Thomas Schneider, “The First Documented Occurrence of the god Yahweh? (Book of the Dead Princeton “roll 5″),” Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 7, no. 2 (2007), 113-120; Baruch Halpern, From Gods to God: The Dynamics of Iron Age Cosmologies, Forschungen zum Alten Testament 63 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009).

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