Debut author Stevens explores the different names of God as found in the book of Psalms.
The author rightly notes that English translations of the Bible all but ignore the many versions of the names used for God in the Old Testament. A prime example of this is the book of Psalms, in which the author identifies 16 distinct Hebrew words which, when translated into English, are presented simply as “God.” These variations on God’s name include, for example, “Adonai” (“the Lord we are His servants”), “El” (“Most High”), “Yah” (“Sacred”), and, of course, “Yahweh” (“Sacred and Personal”). Stevens notes that God’s name appears more than 1,200 times in the Psalms, yet the most commonly used form is “Yahweh,” with 555 instances. By ignoring the rich differences in the use of God’s name, she asserts, “The reader misses the fervor associated with each name unless they happen to study the Hebrew text.” In order to rectify this problem, Stevens has reprinted the entire book of Psalms, from the King James Version translation, adding in the Hebrew meanings of each use of “God” throughout. For instance, Psalm 81:4 is presented as, “For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God Mighty One of Jacob,” denoting that “God” here, in Hebrew, is “Elohe,” which is most properly read as “the Mighty One.” The author is to be lauded for providing average Bible readers with a useful tool and, moreover, for highlighting a limitation in English translations of which very few readers of the Bible will be aware. Her work could have been greatly augmented by a few study aids, however; she provides only a scant introduction, for instance, which only slightly touches upon the book’s topic. Even a few more pages that delved into the practice of qualifying God’s name in Hebrew would have been useful. This is a topic with a rich history, but it’s one that’s undervalued by English readers of the Old Testament. Commentary on how these many names specifically touch upon Christian tradition might have also been a worthwhile addition.
A fantastic idea for students of the Bible but one that isn’t fully fleshed out.