Friday, September 5, 2008

Tetragramaton in St. Louis

A couple of weeks ago the St. Louis Jewish Light published a magazine with an article about St. Louis Jewish history. ("Historic Heritage" by Jamie Sokolik. St. Louis Jewish Light , September 2008 vol. 61. no. 36 pages 22-30,48)The writer made a comment that the tetragramaton name for God appears on the outside of the St. Louis Old Cathedral. She thought it was misspelled and did not know why. Upon examining some old Bibles I am not so certain this is a mistake.
The letters look like yod-chet-vav-chet instead of yod-hey.

While viewing Library of Congress' web site for Hebraica I saw a picture of a Bible published Amsterdam --Biblia Hebraica (Amsterdam, 1667).

Note the four-letter name of God, the Tetragrammaton, surrounded by light, at the head of the title page. This edition was aimed at both Jews and Christians. The letters look just like the inscription on the Church. I don't know if the church caligrapher was copying from a Bible like this, following a tradition of not writing God's name, or just made an artistic error, but I would not be so quick to say that he made a mistake.

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