The oldest manuscripts of the OT are Greek translations of various parts of the Torah and NabiYA (the 350BC-300 AD Greek translations). Throughout the majority of later Septuagints as now known, the word Κύριος (LORD) without the definite article is used to represent the Divine Name, but this was NOT the Septuagint’s original rendering. Origen (Commentary on Psalms 2.2) and Jerome (Prologus Galeatus) said that in their time the best manuscripts gave not the word Κύριος but the tetragrammaton itself written in an older form of the Hebrew characters. No Jewish manuscript of the Septuagint has been found with Κύριος representing the tetragrammaton, and it has been argued that the use of the word Κύριος shows that the later Septuagints as now known is of Christian character, and even that the composition of the New Testament preceded the change to Κύριος in the Septuagint. The use of Κύριος throughout to represent the tetragrammaton has been called “a distinguishing mark for any Christian LXX manuscript”.
In some earlier copies of the Septuagint, the tetragrammaton in either Hebrew or paleo-Hebrew letters ( ) is used. The tetragrammaton occurs in the following texts:
- Papyrus Rylands 458– contains fragments of Deuteronomy. It has numerous blank spaces where the copyist had to write the tetragrammaton. It has been dated to 2nd century BCE.
- Papyrus Fouad 266b(848) – contains fragments of Deuteronomy, chapters 10 to 33, dated to 1st century BCE. Apparently the first copyist left a blank space and marked with a dot, and the other inscribed letters, but not all scholars agree to this view.
- Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 3522– contains chapter 42 of the Book of Job and the tetragrammaton written in paleo-Hebrew letters. It has been dated to the 1st century BCE.
- 8HevXII gr– dated to the 1st century CE, includes three fragments published separately.
- Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 5101– contains fragments of the Book of Psalms. It has been dated between year 50 and 150 CE
- 4QpapLXXLevb– contains fragments of the Book of Leviticus, chapters 1 to 5. In two verses: 3:12; 4:27 the tetragrammaton appears in the form ΙΑΩ. This manuscript is dated to the 1st century BCE.
- Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 656– containing fragments of the Book of Genesis, chapters 14 to 27. A second copyist wrote Kyrios. It is dated to the late 2nd or early 3rd century CE.
- Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1007– this manuscript in vitela form contains Genesis 2 and 3. The Divine Name is written with a double yodh. It has been assigned palaeographically to the 3rd century.
- Papyrus Berlin 17213– containing fragments of the Book of Genesis, chapter 19. Contains a blank space for the name of God apparently, although Emanuel Tov thinks that it is a free space ending paragraph. It has been dated to 3rd century CE.
- Taylor-Schechter 16.320 – tetragrammaton in Hebrew, 550 – 649 CE.
- Codex Marchalianus– has the Divine Name on marginal notes in Greek letters ΠΙΠΙ, and is the only another mss. with ΙΑΩ. It is a 6th-century Greek manuscript.
- Taylor-Schechter 12.182– a Hexapla manuscript with tetragrammaton in Greek letters ΠΙΠΙ. It is from 7th-century.
- Ambrosiano O 39 sup.– the latest Greek manuscript containing the name of God is Origen’s Hexapla, transmitting among other translations the text of the Septuagint. This codex comes from the late 9th century, and is stored in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
- Papyrus Vindobonensis Greek 39777, the P.Vindob.G.39777 – dated to late 3rd century or beginning 4th century.
- AqTaylor, this is a Septuagint manuscript dated after the middle of the 5th century, but not later than the beginning of the 6th century.
- AqBurkitt– a palimpsest manuscript of the Septuagint dated late 5th century or early 6th century.
Sidney Jellicoe concluded that “Kahle is right in holding that LXX [Septuagint] texts, written by Jews for Jews, retained the Divine Name in Hebrew Letters or in the Greek-letters imitative form ΠΙΠΙ, and that its replacement by Κύριος was a Christian innovation”. Jellicoe draws together evidence from a great many scholars (B. J. Roberts, Baudissin, Kahle and C. H. Roberts) and various segments of the Septuagint to draw the conclusions that the absence of “Adonai” from the text suggests that the insertion of the term Kyrios was a later practice; in the Septuagint Kyrios is used to substitute for ; and the tetragrammaton appeared in the original text, but Christian copyists removed it.
Eusebius and Jerome (translator of the Vulgate) used the Hexapla. Both attest to the importance of the sacred Name and that some manuscripts of Septuagint contained the tetragrammaton in Hebrew letters. This is further affirmed by The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, which states “Recently discovered texts doubt the idea that the translators of the LXX (Septuagint) have rendered the tetragrammaton with KYRIOS. The most ancient manuscripts of the LXX today available have the tetragrammaton written in Hebrew letters in the Greek text. This was a custom preserved by the later Hebrew translators of the Old Testament in the first centuries (after Christ)”
In the Dead Sea Scrolls
In the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Hebrew and Aramaic texts the tetragrammaton and some other titles of God in Judaism (such as El or Elohim) were sometimes written in paleo-Hebrew script, showing that they were treated specially. Most of God’s names were pronounced until about the 2nd century BC. Then, as a tradition of non-pronunciation of the names developed, alternatives for the tetragrammaton appeared, such as Adonai, Kurios and Theos. The 4Q120, a Greek fragment of Leviticus (26:2-16) discovered in the Dead Sea scrolls (Qumran) has ιαω (“YAHUU”), the Greek form of the Hebrew trigrammaton. The historian John the Lydian (6th century) wrote: “The Roman Varo [116–27 BCE] defining him [that is the Jewish god] says that he is called Iao (YAHUW or YAHW) in the Chaldean mysteries” (De Mensibus IV 53). Van Cooten mentions that Iao (YAHUW) is one of the “specifically Jewish designations for God” and “the Aramaic papyri from the Jews at Elephantine show that ‘Iao’ is an original Jewish term”.
The preserved manuscripts from Qumran show the inconsistent practice of writing the tetragrammaton, mainly in biblical quotations: in some manuscripts is written in paleo-Hebrew script, square scripts or replaced with four dots or dashes (tetrapuncta).
The members of the Qumran community were aware of the existence of the tetragrammaton, but this was not tantamount to granting consent for its existing use and speaking. This is evidenced not only by special treatment of the tetragrammaton in the text, but by the recommendation recorded in the ‘Rule of Association’ (VI, 27): “Who will remember the most glorious name, which is above all […]”.
The table below presents all the manuscripts in which the tetragrammaton is written in paleo-Hebrew script , in square scripts, and all the manuscripts in which the copyists have used tetrapuncta.
Copyists used the ‘tetrapuncta’ apparently to warn against pronouncing the name of God. In the manuscript number 4Q248 is in the form of bars.
|1Q11 (1QPsb) 2–5 3 (link: )||2Q13 (2QJer) (link: )||1QS VIII 14 (link: )|
|1Q14 (1QpMic) 1–5 1, 2 (link: )||4Q27 (4QNumb) (link: )||1QIsaa XXXIII 7, XXXV 15 (link: )|
|1QpHab VI 14; X 7, 14; XI 10 (link: )||4Q37 (4QDeutj) (link: )||4Q53 (4QSamc) 13 III 7, 7 (link: )|
|1Q15 (1QpZeph) 3, 4 (link: )||4Q78 (4QXIIc) (link: )||4Q175 (4QTest) 1, 19|
|2Q3 (2QExodb) 2 2; 7 1; 8 3 (link:  )||4Q96 (4QPso (link: )||4Q176 (4QTanḥ) 1–2 i 6, 7, 9; 1–2 ii 3; 8–10 6, 8, 10 (link: )|
|3Q3 (3QLam) 1 2 (link: )||4Q158 (4QRPa) (link: )||4Q196 (4QpapToba ar) 17 i 5; 18 15 (link: )|
|4Q20 (4QExodj) 1–2 3 (link: )||4Q163 (4Qpap pIsac) I 19; II 6; 15–16 1; 21 9; III 3, 9; 25 7 (link: )||4Q248 (history of the kings of Greece) 5 (link: )|
|4Q26b (4QLevg) linia 8 (link: )||4QpNah (4Q169) II 10 (link: )||4Q306 (4QMen of People Who Err) 3 5 (link: )|
|4Q38a (4QDeutk2) 5 6 (link: )||4Q173 (4QpPsb) 4 2 (link: )||4Q382 (4QparaKings et al.) 9+11 5; 78 2|
|4Q57 (4QIsac) (link: )||4Q177 (4QCatena A) (link: )||4Q391 (4Qpap Pseudo-Ezechiel) 36, 52, 55, 58, 65 (link:)|
|4Q161 (4QpIsaa) 8–10 13 (link: )||4Q215a (4QTime of Righteousness) (link: )||4Q462 (4QNarrative C) 7; 12 (link: )|
|4Q165 (4QpIsae) 6 4 (link: )||4Q222 (4QJubg) (link: )||4Q524 (4QTb)) 6–13 4, 5 (link: )|
|4Q171 (4QpPsa) II 4, 12, 24; III 14, 15; IV 7, 10, 19 (link: )||4Q225 (4QPsJuba) (link: )||XḤev/SeEschat Hymn (XḤev/Se 6) 2 7|
|11Q2 (11QLevb) 2 2, 6, 7 (link: )||4Q365 (4QRPc) (link: )|
|11Q5 (11QPsa) (link: )||4Q377 (4QApocryphal Pentateuch B) 2 ii 3, 5 (link: )|
|4Q382 (4Qpap paraKings) (link: )|
|11Q6 (11QPsb) (link: )|
|11Q7 (11QPsc) (link: )|
|11Q20 (11QTb) (link: )|
|11Q11 (11QapocrPs) (link: )|
The occurrence of the Tetragrammaton in some manuscripts at Qumran
The date of composition is an estimate according to Peter Muchowski, as found in “Commentaries to the Manuscripts of the Dead Sea” by Emanuel Tov in “Scribal Practices and Approaches, Reflected in the Texts Found in the Judean Desert”.