LORD or Lord? Using the Tetragrammaton w/ Theological Presision

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iddevalois

Puritan Board Freshman
The Bible translations I read and study (ESV and CSB, among others) use a variation of capitalization in conjunction with a variety of words for what the ESV's preface calls "tetragrammaton." As a young lay-person, I know very little about Hebrew and Greek, but I'm curious about the impact this should have on our English grammar.

  • When a person writes, "Praise the Lord!", is this grammatically and theologically correct? Would it be good and right to write/type instead, "Praise the LORD!"?
  • When using "LORD" in an English Bible, is the author (and translator, I suppose) specifying one person of the Triune God? The reason I ask this is because of Psalm 110, which we know to be God the Father speaking to God the Son:

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!

3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.

4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.


  • If it is the case that "LORD" refers to God the Father and "Lord" refers to God the Son, is there a similar title brought to English from Hebrew for God the Spirit?
I'm sure some study on my end of the names of God would prove useful in answering this question, but I thought I would reach out to the knowledgeable folks that I know are on this board. Thanks for your time!

Edit: I replaced "say" with "write" and "type" in my first question.
 
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NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
To your second question, it would seem that "LORD" does not always distinctly refer to a specific person of the Trinity. It is a covenant name for God, it can refer to all three persons. At times in the NT the authors seem to be referencing the tetragrammaton with reference to Christ.
 

ntk

Puritan Board Freshman
Andrew correctly answered your second question, LORD or Lord in the Bible does not specify a person of the trinity. Regarding your first question:
'When a person says, "Praise the Lord!", is this grammatically and theologically correct? Would it be good and right to say instead, "Praise the LORD!"?
It's hard to know what kind of question you are asking. We don't vocalize capitalization. These are pronounced the same way. Lᴏʀᴅ vs Lord is a typesetting convention for Bible translations. There is no need to follow it when writing the word "Lord" in English in other contexts. Also Lᴏʀᴅ is properly typeset with "ᴏʀᴅ" in small caps ("Lᴏʀᴅ"), not all-caps ("LORD"), which is not easy to do in most contexts including this board. The appearance is quite different. So if you're asking about what to use in writing or online, I would just use "Lord" in every case.

This does touch on another topic, the contemporary trend of using the reconstructed word "Yahweh" for the tetragrammaton, especially in evangelical circles, rather than Lord or the traditional Latinization of "Jehovah." This even makes its way at least once into the current RPCNA psalter (Psalms for Worship). I really dislike this unfortunate trend, but perhaps it's best to leave that can of worms, unopened.

Edit:
To your second question, it would seem that "LORD" does not always distinctly refer to a specific person of the Trinity. It is a covenant name for God, it can refer to all three persons. At times in the NT the authors seem to be referencing the tetragrammaton with reference to Christ.
To be clear, the New Testament uses the Greek word kyrios literally meaning "lord" where the word "Lord" appears in English, including where it quotes the Tetragrammaton (Hebrew YHWH), translated "Lᴏʀᴅ" in the Old Testament, for example:
  • "For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, [Κυρίου] make his paths straight." Matthew 3:3
  • "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lᴏʀᴅ, [יהוה‎ ] make straight in the desert a highway for our God." Isaiah 40:3
This is a biblical translation using "Lord" for the Tetragrammaton!
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I do not know of any Christian publishers who use small caps for the word Lord when it refers generally to God or even specifically to Christ. It is a typesetting convention used in English translations of biblical Hebrew. Its purpose is to signal to the reader that the original Hebrew writing used the covenant name, the tetragrammaton. An English speaker who says, "Praise the Lord" is not a Hebrew document using the tetragrammaton, so there's no reason to write that in small caps.

Even where the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, most English Bibles today do not use small caps for "Lord" because they are directly translating a Greek document, not a Hebrew one. For example, see Luke 20:42 in most recent translations.

The Christian Writer's Manual of Style, along with every publisher I work with, follows this convention. These publishers do not use small caps unless directly quoting an English translation of the Hebrew. For example, consider the two sentences below:
Psalm 150:1 says, "Praise the LORD!"​
– but –​
Psalm 150:1 tells us to praise the Lord.​
In the second example, I don't use small caps because I'm not directly quoting an English translation of biblical Hebrew.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
This does touch on another topic, the contemporary trend of using the reconstructed word "Yahweh" for the tetragrammaton, especially in evangelical circles, rather than Lord or the traditional Latinization of "Jehovah." This even makes its way at least once into the current RPCNA psalter (Psalms for Worship). I really dislike this unfortunate trend, but perhaps it's best to leave that can of worms, unopened.
I agree with you about the modern trend. It goes against not only thousands of years of church history but also the practice of the Lord and his apostles in the NT. I don't get it at all.
 

iddevalois

Puritan Board Freshman
The Christian Writer's Manual of Style, along with every publisher I work with, follows this convention. These publishers do not use small caps unless directly quoting an English translation of the Hebrew. For example, consider the two sentences below:
Psalm 150:1 says, "Praise the LORD!"​
– but –​
Psalm 150:1 tells us to praise the Lord.​
In the second example, I don't use small caps because I'm not directly quoting an English translation of biblical Hebrew.
Thank you, sir, for that explanation! This is the answer I was looking for in regards to how one should type out "Lord." So a person does not need to use small caps unless he or she is is directly quoting an English translation of biblical Hebrew. Good to know!
 

iddevalois

Puritan Board Freshman
To your second question, it would seem that "LORD" does not always distinctly refer to a specific person of the Trinity. It is a covenant name for God, it can refer to all three persons. At times in the NT the authors seem to be referencing the tetragrammaton with reference to Christ.
This gets into another question, but it comes to mind following these answers. Should I never associate one title translated from the Hebrew of Greek to a specific person of the Trinity? Obviously the Hebrew and Greek behind the words "Messiah" and "Christ" are specifically in reference to Jesus. But are there others? I continue to read Psalm 110 as the God the Father speaking to God the Son, due to Hebrews 1:13. As in God the Father ("LORD") speaking to God the Son ("Lord"). But what you and the other folks posting are saying is to not associate those instances of "Lord" and "LORD" with one person of the Trinity, correct?
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
This gets into another question, but it comes to mind following these answers. Should I never associate one title translated from the Hebrew of Greek to a specific person of the Trinity? Obviously the Hebrew and Greek behind the words "Messiah" and "Christ" are specifically in reference to Jesus. But are there others? I continue to read Psalm 110 as the God the Father speaking to God the Son, due to Hebrews 1:13. As in God the Father ("LORD") speaking to God the Son ("Lord"). But what you and the other folks posting are saying is to not associate those instances of "Lord" and "LORD" with one person of the Trinity, correct?
I’m not saying that in certain instances it couldn’t be used that way— I agree that Psalm 110 is the Father speaking to the Son. My point was simply that it is not always used that way— it can refer to any or all of the three persons depending on context.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
The Bible translations I read and study (ESV and CSB, among others) use a variation of capitalization in conjunction with a variety of words for what the ESV's preface calls "tetragrammaton." As a young lay-person, I know very little about Hebrew and Greek, but I'm curious about the impact this should have on our English grammar.

  • When a person writes, "Praise the Lord!", is this grammatically and theologically correct? Would it be good and right to write/type instead, "Praise the LORD!"?
  • When using "LORD" in an English Bible, is the author (and translator, I suppose) specifying one person of the Triune God? The reason I ask this is because of Psalm 110, which we know to be God the Father speaking to God the Son:

Quick comment:

Hello Isaac,

That's a great question you are asking. For some reason, in all my years, I never got this down pat. I will be paying attention.

Thanks,

Ed
 

Physeter

Puritan Board Freshman
The Bible I read (KJV) renders the tetragrammaton as LORD. I appreciate the distinction between LORD and Lord.
 
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