Monday, December 7, 2009

Typography of the Tetragrammaton through the centuries

Kendall Soulen, at Wesley Seminary, recently sent me the following question:

I'm working on a book on the name of the Trinity that touches on how scribes and printers have handled divine names in sacred texts. There's been a fair bit written on nomina sacra recently, but I haven't seen much on handling e.g. the Tetragram in modern european vernacular translations. Can you direct me to a source that traces the history of using capital type for LORD (HERR etc.) in recent centuries? Specifically, I'm wondering whether Luther introduced the practice, or whether it was already current before him. I would be grateful for any help.

I've been doing a little digging, but I haven't been able to find much information on this practice. If anyone out there reading this can point out some good resources on this question, please leave a comment below. Many thanks.

1 comment:

Jimmy B. said...

Soulen might already have this, but there's an essay by John L. Flood, "Martin Luther's Bible Translation in its German and European Context," in a book edited by Richard Griffiths, "The Bible in the Renaissance: Essays on Biblical Commentary and Translation in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries." Regarding English translations (as best I can tell from what's available online, which would need to be checked against facsimiles), Wycliffe has Lord God, but Tyndale has LORde God in cases of Yahweh Elohim; I'd suspect that Tyndale took over the capitalization from Luther. [Also, Wycliffe has Adonai in Exodus 6:3; Tyndale has Iehouah.] In short, it's a good question, and I don't know the answer; but if I were in final Jeopardy I'd write Luther--in the form of a question of course.