Inconsistent use of Yahweh

Another Call to Review HCSB and God’s Name

As I have been reading through HCSB for daily devotions I have discovered even more instances about the inconsistent use of Yahweh rather than LORD (or vice versa). In the Introduction to HCSB we read:

However, HCSB OT uses Yahweh, the personal name of God in Hebrew, when a biblical text emphasizes Yahweh as a name: “His name is Yahweh” (Ps. 68:4). Yahweh is also used in places of His self-identification as in “I am Yahweh” (Is. 42:8). Yahweh is used more often in the HCSB than in most Bible translations because the word LORD in English is a title of God and does not accurately convey to modern readers the emphasis on God’s personal name in the original Hebrew. (“Introduction to the HCSB,” p. xii, Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible)

That sounds good, and works in those specific instances. But I will note some inconsistencies with this in practice. I am selecting readings that I have come across in the last couple weeks of daily reading. And these are random; I have found many others in my daily readings, but these illustrate the issue.

Leviticus 22:3

Say to them: If any man from any of your descendants throughout your generations is in a state of uncleanness yet approaches the holy offerings that the Israelites consecrate to the LORD, that person will be cut off from My presence; I am Yahweh.

Notice here that within the same sentence LORD and Yahweh is used. Would the reader make the connection such that they both refer to God’s personal name?

Deuteronomy 4:1

Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to follow, so that you may live, enter, and take possession of the land Yahweh, the God of your fathers, is giving you.

There is nothing distinctive about the name in the verse, yet throughout the rest of the chapter LORD is used 4:2, 3, 4, 5, etc.

Deuteronomy 6:3-5

3 Listen, Israel, and be careful to follow them, so that you may prosper and multiply greatly, because Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has promised you a land flowing with milk and honey. 4 Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

In this case the exact same introduction (“Listen, Israel”) to both verses is followed by Yahweh in v. 3 and LORD in vv. 4-5. This does not even seem to follow the guidelines in the “Introduction.”

Deuteronomy 7:7-9

7 The LORD was devoted to you and chose you, not because you were more numerous than all peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers, He brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.

Again, no distinctive reference to the name, but the inconsistency of the use of Yahweh and LORD.

Deuteronmy 14:23

You are to eat a tenth of your grain, new wine, and oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, in the presence of Yahweh your God at the place where He chooses to have His name dwell, so that you will always learn to fear the LORD your God.

Here the use of both in the same verse but both seem to refer to the name. Can the reader make the connection?



I know that I have written about this in other posts. But when reading through the daily readings (relatively quickly—four chapters a day) the inconsistency regarding Yahweh/LORD becomes even more apparent and frustrating.

I seem to remember some hint that HCSB will be edited and will use Yahweh consistently for יְהוָ֣ה. I think that is a positive move, and for readers, it can’t happen too soon.

Another positive change would be to remove the “Plan of Salvation” page in the introduction of every HCSB sold (not everyone agrees with the theology it represents). Instead include a one page summary of all names in the Bible that have Yahweh as part of the name: Isaiah, Joshua, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Jehoshaphat, etc. That would provide a connection between the use of God’s name in revealing salvation (Joshua) and spurning God’s name (Zedekiah) leading to destruction.

Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

5 thoughts on “Inconsistent use of Yahweh”

  1. Amen! I agree on all points.

    I have about given up on the HCSB and don’t think it will last the test of time. The ESV seems to me the next Bible of Christian church, or the one with the best chance to supplant the NIV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Howdy, Johnny. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am more hopeful for the HCSB, based on two who are involved with the translation/publishing teams who have commented here about possible changes coming.

      In our context, ESV really isn’t a viable option. Since January 2012, we have alternated HCSB and GW for our Sunday readings (by month or quarter). Last month we began again using GW and will continue through at least Christmas.


  2. Thanks again for the comments and the feedback. The great news is, our Translation Oversight Committee, led by Dr. Tom Schreiner at Southern Seminary, is currently in the process of bringing recommendations for us at B&H to update the text.

    You are correct about the inconsistencies with YHWH, and we will work to fix those definitively in the near future.

    Unlike Johnny (above), the HCSB will indeed stand the test of time and have a lasting impact in the history of the English Bible. As you’ve pointed out, the ESV is not viable in many contexts — although a good version of the English Bible in the King James tradition, the language and readability are simply an issue for contemporary Bible readers, especially those with little to no church/religious background.

    Thanks again for taking the time to post. We are listening — and working — to make the HCSB even better.

    Dr. Micah Carter
    HCSB Translation Spokesman
    B&H Publishing Group
    Nashville, TN

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to see you come by to listen and to respond. I appreciate that very much. It is also good to learn that the recommendations are moving forward. I look forward to the next phase for HCSB.



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