John 17:6, Name

John 17:6 (KJV, literal) John 17:6 (Greek, transliteration)
I have manifested thy name
unto the men which thou gavest me
out of the world:
thine they were, and thou gavest them me;
and they have kept thy word.
ΔE¢ovrocoo oo¡ :o ovoµo
:oi√¸ ov0ocroi¸ o¡¸ rocxo¸ µoi
r˙x :o¡ xooµo¡.
ooi n™oov xoµoi o¡:o¡¸ rocxo¸
xoi :ov iovov oo¡ :r:nonxov.
I-have-revealed your the name
to-the men which you-gave to-me
from the world.
yours they-were yet them you-gave [to me]
and the word your they-have-guarded
ephanerōsa sou to onoma
tois anthrōpois hous edōkas moi
ek tou kosmou.
soi ēsan kamoi autous edōkas
kai ton logon sou tetērēkan
I have revealed your name to the men you have given me from the world. They
were yours, yet you gave them [to me], and they have kept your word.
I have revealed your name to the men you have given me from the world. They
were yours, yet you gave them [to me], and they have kept your word.

17.6a: I have revealed your name
In John 17, Christ is given the divine Name by the Father (Jn 17.11-12), but reveals or
makes known the divine Name to the disciples (17.6, 26). Here, in 17.6, Jesus “reveals” the
name (phaneroō, ¢ovrooc) of the Father, while in 17.26 he “makes known” (gnōrizō,
vvcoi¸c, cognate with gnosis/knowledge) the name. How would a first century Jew have
understood the significance of Jesus revealing the name of the Father? In this chapter I will
examine the background to the concept of Name of God in the Old Testament.
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 1 Dec 11, 2010
TDNT 5:242-82; G. Parke-Taylor, Yahweh: The Divine Name in the Bible, (1975); S. Richter,
The Deuteronomistic History and the Name Theology, (2002); C. Dodd, Interpretation of the
Fourth Gospel, (1953) 93-96; J. Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, (1964), 147-63;
L. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, (2003), 381-9; J. Ronning, The Jewish Targums and John’s Logos
Theology, (2010), 70-83.
reception of Name and the nature and meaning of its transmission to the disciples will be
discussed in Chapter 11.

In the Old Testament traditions, God specifically revealed his personal name YHWH
(¬·¬·) to Moses (Ex 3.15), claiming that before the time of Moses, God had not been known by
his name YHWH (Ex 6.3).
Israel makes their covenant with YHWH,
and thereafter Israel is to
worship “YHWH your God” alone.
At the same time, God also reveals another name to Moses,
“I AM” (¬·¬×) (Ex 3.14). I will discuss the theology of the I AM name in chapter 14. Here I will
focus on the name YHWH, and its understanding in the centuries around the time of Christ.
The importance of this divine Name is found throughout the Hebrew Bible. Israel is
consistently commanded to “call upon the name of YHWH.”
Likewise, they are to glorify or
praise the name of YHWH.
Hymns praising the name YHWH are found throughout the Psalms.
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 2 Dec 11, 2010
A. Kerr, The Temple of Jesus’ Body: The Temple Theme in the Gospel of John, (2002), 323-345;
J. Fossum “In the Beginning was the Name: Onomanology as the Key to Johannine
Christology,” in The Image of the Invisible God, (1995), 109-134; Shirbroun, G. “The Giving of
the Name of God to Jesus in John 1:11,12” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Princeton, 1985); For later
Christian interpretations: N. Janowitz, “Theories of Divine Names in Origen and Pseudo-
Dionysius,” History of Religion, 30 (1991): 359-372.
However, the name YHWH is used throughout the book of Genesis: For example, Cain and Abel
make offerings to YHWH (Gen 4.3), and Seth and Enosh “called upon the name YHWH” (Gen
4.26). This paradox is one of the factors behind the formation of the Documentary Hypothesis,
which posits several different sources for the Pentateuch.
Ex 24.7, 34.10; Lev 26.45; Dt 5.2-3, etc.
Ex 20.2-5, 34.14; Dt 5.6-9; Dt 6.4.
Gen 4.26; Ps 105.1, 116.17, Isa 12.14
1 Chr 16.29; Ps 29.2, 86:9, 12, 96.8, 115.1; Isa 24.15; Rev 15.4; 3 Nephi 9:15; 11:7; 23:9; Ether
3:21; D&C 45:4; 76:43.
Many Israelite names are theophoric, and include the name YHWH in one form or another.
Divine Name is also found in non-biblical sources from ancient Israel: inscriptions, letters, and
As far as we can tell, there was no prohibition against writing or saying the name YHWH
in ancient Israel; only against blaspheming or misusing the name, or falsely claiming to speak in
the name of YHWH (Ex 20.7; Dt 5.11).
A major transformation in Name theology, however, occurred between the conclusion of
the Hebrew Bible and the age of Jesus.
Restrictions on the ritual writing and pronunciation of
the name YHWH developed in the first two or three centuries before Christ. In place of actually
pronouncing the name YHWH when reading scriptures or praying, Jews increasing said ădōnāy
(·:¬×) in Hebrew
and kurios (x¡oio¸) in Greek, both meaning simply “lord.”
In the Hebrew
biblical manuscripts from this period they often wrote the name of God in the Paleo-Hebrew
script indicating its special status and unique pronunciation.
By the time of Jesus many Jews
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 3 Dec 11, 2010
For example, Isaiah = yĕša‘yāhû = “YHWH saves”; Jeremiah = yirmĕyāhû = “YHWH founded.”
General: R. Hess, Israelite Religions, (2007), 269-290; inscriptions: Z. Zevit, The Religions of
Ancient Israel, (2001), 350-438; letters: J. Lindenberger, Ancient Aramaic and Hebrew Letters,
(2003), 61-80, 112-33; seals: L Gorelick (ed), Ancient Seals and the Bible, (1983).
For a general survey of Rabbinic concepts of the Name of God, see S. Cohon, “The Name of
God: A Study in Rabbinic Theology,” Hebew Union College Annual, 23/1 (1950-51): 579-604;
E. Urbach, The Sages, (1987) 124-34.
The sages of the Talmud describes this tradition: “The Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘I am
not called as I am written: I am written with [the letters] yod he [waw he, that is ¬·¬·, or YHWH],
but I am read, [with the letters] alef daleth [nun yod, that is ·:¬×, or ADNY, ădōnāy]’” (BT,
Kiddushim 71a).
The English practice of writing LORD in small capital letters for the Hebrew YHWH derives
from the ancient Greek and Latin Bibles, where the name is rendered kurios and dominus
L. Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts, (2006) 99-110; this is reflected in many of the
biblical manuscripts in the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially the Exodus Scroll; EDSS 2:600-2.
also began to simply say ha-šēm (“the Name” [of God]) when they came across the name YHWH
in reading a text. This practice can already be found in Lev 24.11, 16 where an Israelite is
described as blaspheming “the Name” (ha-šēm), meaning the name YHWH. These practices still
continue among Orthodox Jews today.
These practices derived in large part from contemporary interpretations of the biblical
prohibition against “taking the name of YHWH your God in vain” (Ex 20.7; Dt 5.11), based on
the Jewish tendency to “make a hedge for the Law,”
--which is to say, interpreting the law in the
broadest sense possible to prevent you from even coming close to breaking a commandment.
The transformed nature of this prohibition is most clearly reflected in interpretations of Leviticus
24.11-16. The Hebrew text reads: “whoever blasphemes/slanders the name of YHWH shall surely
be put to death” (24.16). But the Greek Septuagint, reflecting Jewish beliefs and practices in the
second century BC, reads: “whoever names the name (onomazōn de to onoma) of the Lord
(kurios)--by death let him be put to death.” In other words an original prohibition against
misusing the name YHWH was transformed by at least the second century BC into a prohibition
against even pronouncing the name at all.

There were two exceptions to this general prohibition. The first, and most important, was
the pronunciation of the name YHWH by the High Priest at the temple on the Day of Atonement.
The biblical text of the Day of Atonement ritual in Leviticus 16 does not mention a specific
benediction to be said in the name of YHWH. Our information on the ritual pronunciation of the
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 4 Dec 11, 2010
Pirke Avot, 1.1.
Philo (Life of Moses, 2.114, 205) and Josephus (Antiquities, 2.276), both near contemporaries
of Jesus, confirm these concerns for proper use for the name of God in the first century AD.
Name on the Day of Atonement comes from the Mishnah, a collection of Rabbinic oral traditions
recorded at the end of the second century AD.
When the priest and the people which stood in the Temple Court [on the Day of
Atonement] heard the Expressed Name [YHWH] come from from the mouth of the
High Priest, they used to kneel and bow themselves and fall down on their
faces” (Mishnah, Yoma 6.2).

The book of the Wisdom of Sirach contains a detailed description of the Day of Atonement ritual
performed by the High Priest Simon II, the Just {219-196 BCE} (Sirach 50), and mentions the
people prostrating themselves at the mention of the Name (Sirach 50.20-21), just as described in
the Mishnah.
The Talmud records that after the death of Simon people ceased to speak the
Name aloud.

Second, the name of YHWH was invoked during the daily recitation of the priestly
benediction described in Num 6.22-27.
When the priests pronounced this blessing, “in the
Temple they pronounced the Name as it was written, but in the provinces by a substituted word
[šēm or ădōnāy].”
The Talmud, a fourth to sixth century AD commentary on the Mishnah,
describes this practice:
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 5 Dec 11, 2010
See also Mishnah, Yoma 3.8, 4.2.
The Book of Sirach is in the Apocrypha, or Deuterocanonical books. It was written around
180 BC. In Hebrew his name is Shimon ha-Tzaddik, and he is often conflated by rabbinic
tradition with Shimon I, who was High Priest around 300 BC. His purported tomb is still
venerated by Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.
Yoma 30b.
The words of the blessing are found in Num 6.24-26, where the name YHWH is repeated three
times; see also Ps 67.1, 80.3, 19, 119.135.
Mishnah, Tamid 6.2; see also Sifre Numbers 43.
R. Tarfon said: ‘I once ascended the dais [of the temple] ... and inclined my ear to the
High Priest, and heard him swallowing [i.e. pronouncing indistinctly] the Name
[YHWH] during the chanting [of the priestly benediction] by his brother priests .’
If this report is accurate, it means that the name may have been whispered so that only the priests
could hear it distinctly, but not the people receiving the blessing, thus not revealing the sacred
When the temple was destroyed and the ritual pronunciation of the name ceased,
priestly and rabbinic scholars preserved the pronunciation for several centuries by whispering the
name to their disciples once every seven years,
but eventually the correct pronunciation of the
sacred name was lost.
The Rabbis similarly creatively misread Ex 3.15--that YHWH is to be God’s name
“forever” lĕ-‘ōlām--as lĕ-‘allēm, meaning “concealed.”
Thus, they took this passage as a
command to conceal rather than pronounce the divine name revealed by God to Moses.
This is
part of the rabbinic tradition of God’s hidden, unpronounceable, and “ineffable name,” the šēm
ha-mĕfôrāš. This phrase is not found explicitly in the Hebrew Bible, but derives from an
Aramaic Targum interpretation of Judg 13.18, where an angel asks, in Hebrew, “Why do you ask
my name, seeing it is wonderful (pelī’y, ·×¬c)?” The Aramaic Targum of Judges translates
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 6 Dec 11, 2010
Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushim 71a.
See TDNT 5:268-9 for more references.
Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushim 71a.
In an unvoweled Hebrew texts, both variants were written c¬:¬ (L‘LM), and could be
pronounced either way.
Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushim 71a; TDNT 5:269.
“wonderful” as mĕpāraš “ineffable,” meaning that the name of God is unpronounceable or

By the era of Jesus there was a strong tradition of the sacred secrecy of God’s name,
which could only be revealed by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Thus, in the context
of first century Judaism, when Jesus reveals the name of the Father, he is acting within the
context of two important biblical traditions. First, the revelation of the names YHWH and I AM to
Moses on Sinai, making Jesus the “prophet like unto Moses,” who revealed the name of God to
For a Jewish reader, the claim that Jesus revealed the name of the Father would
naturally also imply that Jesus claimed the authority (eksousia, 17.2) of the High Priest, and was
acting to bring about the atonement and reconciliation of Israel with God.
In time this tradition
of the secret name of God would develop into widespread name mysticism in Judaism,
Christianity, Islam and magical traditions.
The issue of the revelation of the name and its
meaning for Jesus and early Christians will be discussed in chapter 12.

17.6b: to the men you have given me from the world.
The idea that the Father has given the believers to the Son is repeated several times in
John (17.2, 6, 9, 11). I will discuss its significance in the commentary to verse 9. The concept of
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 7 Dec 11, 2010
J. Ronning, The Jewish Targums and John’s Logos Theology, (2010), 78.
Dt 18.15; Acts 3.22, 7.37.
A. Kerr, The Temple of Jesus’ Body: The Temple Theme in the Gospel of John, (2002),
For some of these later traditions, see V. Izmirlieva, All the Names of the Lord, (2008).
the world/kosmos in binary opposition to Christ and the disciples will be discussed in the
commentary to 17.16.
17.6c: They were yours, yet you gave them [to me],
See commentary on 17.9 for discussion.
17.6d: and they have kept your word.
The Greek for this phrase is: ton logon sou tetērēkan. The meaning of the word Logos as
a special title used by John for Christ has been discussed in chapter 5. Here it is important to
note that in John logos may also simply mean “word or discourse”--it is not always a technical
title for Jesus.
The word tetērēkan (from the verb tēreō) means to “guard, protect, preserve,
fulfill, obey” (BDAG 1002). One possible meaning of this passage is that the disciples have
guarded or protected God’s Logos, that is Christ himself. Similarly, it may perhaps allude to the
disciples having protected the logos/word, the word being the Name of the Father that Christ is
discussing in this verse.
However, in the broader context of the Gospel of John, “keeping the word” has a
technical meaning. In this context Christ’s logos/word is his teaching (Jn 6.60)--“if you abide in
my logos/word/teaching you are truly my disciples” (Jn 8.31). Jesus explains the background to
the meaning of the phrase “keep your word” in his Last Supper discourses (John 13-16),
If anyone loves me, he will keep my logos/word, and my Father will love him, and
we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does
not keep my logos/words. (Jn 14.23-24)
Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 8 Dec 11, 2010
For example, in Jn 6.60, 7.36, 7.40 (and many other places), logos clearly means “word,
saying, teaching, or discourse.”
This should be compared with the related passages in John 14.15 and 21: “If you love me, you
will keep my commandments (entolē, r˙v:oin ). ... Whoever has my commandments (entolē)
and keeps them, he is it who loves me.”
These two passages are obviously two different ways
of saying the same things.
Christ knows the Father and keeps his logos/word (Jn 8.54-55), and then reveals the
logos/word of the Fathers to the disciples: “the logos/word that you hear is not mine but the
Father’s who sent me” (Jn 14.24). The disciples must hear and believe the logos/word (5.24,
12.48); thereafter, the logos/word must abide in the disciples (5.38) while the disciples abide in it
(8.31). Then, “if anyone keeps my logos/word, he will never see death.” (Jn 8.51). The logos/
word comes from the Father to Christ, who gives the logos/word to the disciples where the logos/
word abides and is kept, leading to eternal life. Keeping Christ’s word is thus following his
teachings and obeying his commandments.

Hamblin, John 17:6, Name 9 Dec 11, 2010
These passages are based on Ex 20.6, Dt 5.10, Dan 9.4.

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