On the issue of rendering the Four-Letter Name of God in Russian translations of the Old Testament texts

Cyrill Andreevich von Buettner PhD in philology, assosiate professor, Faculty of Philology Saint-Petersburg State University (Universitetskaya nabereuzhnaya, 11, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 199034) , kirvonbuettner@gmail.com

Buettner С., von. On the issue of rendering the Four-Letter Name of God in Russian translations of the Old Testament texts, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2017, vol. 6, pp. 374–386.

doi: 10.24411/2308-0698-2017-00018

Language: Russian

The article discusses the issue of rendering the four-letter name of God (YHWH) when translating the Old Testament texts into Russian. The work includes a short overview of the existing translations of the Old Testament or its particular books. The author underlines that Russian translations tend to render the name YHWH by using the equivalent of «Lord» (Gospod›). In particular, such approach is prevailing in the two full translations of the Bible: Synodal and the modern translation published by the Russian Bible Society. However, there is a special group of translations, where one can find an attempt to preserve the name YHWH in Russian as Jehovah or Yahweh. The article gives several arguments in support of the later. The use of Yahweh as rendering of God,s name is more in accord with the cultural and historical realities of the Old Testament time than the pious «Lord» substitution. Despite the fact that the word Gospod, («Lord») in the modern Russian is a given name, all of the native speakers are aware that it is connected to the common noun gospodin («master»). The Ancient Hebrew text of the Old Testament did not give the name Yahweh the meaning of «master»; the etymology of this name is not quite clear. In addition, the translations, which preserve the name Yahweh make it possible to show the reader which particular Biblical texts use this name and which ones use ˀăḏonåy «My Lord». Moreover, preservation of the name Yahweh in the text allows to also preserve the differences in rendering the combination of divine names: ˀDNY YHWH («My Lord Yahweh») and YHWH ˀLHYM («Yahweh the God»). The article includes several examples of texts, in which preservation of the name Yahweh is needed for correct interpretation (Ps 110.1; Deut 6:4–9; Ex 3:13–15).
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Key words: Bible, divine names, Bible translations, Russian Bible translations, Book of Isaiah, Servant Songs

URL: http://rcs-almanac.ru/buettner-2017-en/

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