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The Jewish JesusHow Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other$
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Peter Schäfer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153902

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153902.001.0001

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Different Names of God

Different Names of God

(p.21) 1 Different Names of God
The Jewish Jesus

Peter Schäfer

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses a problem that must have plagued the rabbis a great deal: the undeniable fact that the Hebrew Bible uses various names for God, most prominent among them Elohim and the tetragrammaton YHWH. Both names attracted the attention and curiosity of Gentiles, the latter because of the mystery surrounding it—it was originally used only by the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies of the Temple, and its proper pronunciation was deemed lost—and the former because it is grammatically a plural and hence could easily give rise to the idea that the Jews worshiped not just one God but several gods. The “heretics” apparently knew enough Hebrew to seize the opportunity and insinuate that the Jews were no different in this regard than the pagans and indeed accepted the notion of a pantheon of various gods.

Keywords:   rabbis, Hebrew Bible, God, Elohim, YHWH, Gentiles, heretics, Jews, pagans

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