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Names of God

Quick Reference

1. In the OT

Yahweh: but when being read aloud the title Adonai (‘My great Lord’) was substituted out of reverence. When vowels were added to the Hebrew text, the vowels of Adonai were combined with YHWH to jog the reader's memory to use Adonai. (Hence the incorrect English hybrid ‘Jehovah’). Some modern Jewish writers observe the traditional reverence by writing ‘G—d’.

El: God, in Canaanite vocabulary, but found also in the OT, sometimes in conjunction with another word, e.g. Beth el = House of God.

Elohim: the more common form in the OT; it is plural in form, emphasizing majesty.

El Shaddai: God Almighty (perhaps originally, God of the mountains).

Adonai: My great Lord—used for kings, but after the Exile to replace ‘Yahweh’ in worship.

Baal: the Canaanite deity to whom the Israelites sometimes turned; for this they were denounced by Hosea, and other prophets.

2. In the NT

Theos: the standard Greek word for God translating in LXX the Hebrew Elohim. Used of Jesus once (John 20: 28).

*Kurios: the Greek used for Yahweh in the LXX, and printed as the Lord in some English versions. Often used of Jesus (e.g. John 20: 28), but can also be applied to a person in a high position, ‘sir’ (Matt. 27: 63; John 12: 21). Another Greek noun, despotes, meaning Lord in the LXX is found for God, translated ‘Master’ (NRSV, Luke 2: 29), and for Jesus at 2 Pet. 2: 1.

*Alpha and Omega: the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet represent God as the Beginning and the End (Rev. 1: 8) and applied to Jesus (Rev. 22: 13).

The Holy One: Used of God by Isaiah in OT and in NT (Rev. 16: 5) but also of Jesus (Mark 1: 24; Luke 4: 34; John 6: 69).

Subjects: Religion

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