“‘Lord LORD: Jesus as YHWH in Matthew and Luke” Article Accepted to NTS

Categories: Biblical Studies, Early Christianity, New Testament, Religion & Theology

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Jason Staples Substack

I’m pleased to pass along the news that my article, “‘Lord LORD: Jesus as YHWH in Matthew and Luke,” has been accepted for publication in New Testament Studies. The article abstract is as follows:ascension-255x340

Despite numerous studies of the κύριος [Lord] title in the New Testament, the significance of the double form κύριε κύριε occurring in Matthew and Luke has been overlooked, with most assuming the doubling merely communicates pathos. In contrast, this article argues that whereas a single κύριος might be ambiguous, the double κύριος formula always serves as a distinctive way to represent the Tetragrammaton outside the Gospels and that its use in Matthew and Luke is best understood as a way to represent Jesus as applying the name of the God of Israel to himself.

This is significant inasmuch as certain circles of scholarly orthodoxy have long held that, in contrast to the Gospel of John, Matthew and Luke do not represent Jesus as divine—or at least that Jesus never refers to himself as divine. This article challenges that perspective, suggesting that Matthew and Luke indeed identified Jesus with the name YHWH, much like Paul (Phil 2) and John.

Tags: Biblical Studies, Christology, Early Christianity, Jesus, Lord, New Testament, Septuagint

22 Comments. Leave new

  • See also
    “On The Bible” by Martin Buber how to enunciate YHWH

    see also Romans from the Hebrew Perspective

  • I have explored your site as well as the New Testament Studies site and cannot seem to locate this article. I am anxious to read it.

  • I am wondering why the difference between the terms “God” and “Elohim” (and it’s various forms) is invariably ignored in these discussions.

  • Hello, Dr. Staples. I just discovered your site today. I can only find a ‘kurios-kurios’ pairing in the following verses: Matt. 7:21-22; 25:11; Lk. 6:46; Rev. 17:14; 19:16. In the Revelation occurrences, the second form of the word is a genitive-plural, indicating that the word-pair means “Lord of lords,” and not having any (immediate) link to YHWH. So when you say that “the double κύριος formula always serves as a distinctive way to represent the Tetragrammaton outside the Gospels” – what other verses are there, exactly?

    (Also: Why isn’t the year posted alongside the month/day of a posting/comment?)

    • The Revelation occurrences aren’t the double kύριε formula in view in the article, though they are discussed. As you said, that combination is a simple and common combo that just means “lord of lords.” But the double kύριε used in the Gospels always specifically refers to the Tetragrammaton elsewhere. The article should be out in January if I remember correctly, so once it’s out all this should be clearer.

      As for the year not being listed, I suppose that’s just not the standard setting for this web template.

  • Hello Dr. Staples. I am a layman trying to keep up with scholarship on the New Testament. I am interested in your research but I do not have access to the journal New Testament Studies and I otherwise can’t afford $25 for a paper. I wanted to ask if you’d be willing to send me a copy of the paper so that I could read it. Thanks for reading this comment.

    • Done.

      • David Singleton
        January 19, 2018 1:31 am

        Could you send it to me as well? I’m in the same boat.

      • Hello Dr. Staples. I would also just like to ask you some questions as your paper has come up in a discussion with someone else. Apparently, the term ‘Lord Lord’ is translated in the LXX, sometimes, from phrases in the Hebrew that do not come from Adoniah YHWH, but perhaps YHWH Elohim and others. For example, in the LXX, Exodus 34:6, Deuteronomy 10:17, and 1 Chronicles 17:24. What do you think is the significance of these passages on your paper? I’d love to hear your response. Also, I think kurios kurios is also used in the Apocalypse of Moses 25:3.

        I appreciate your words and answers.

        • Hi Jimmy, good question. LXX Exodus 34:6 and Deuteronomy 10:17 don’t have κύριος κύριος, so they’re not really relevant here. What matters is what underlies the double κύριος when it appears.

          1 Chron 17:23 is a more interesting example. The Hebrew there has a string of various titles: “YHWH Sabaoth, the Elohe of Israel, Elohim to Israel,” which the LXX translates “kurie kurie pantokrator theos Israel” (Lord LORD, creator of all, God of Israel). The Hebrew doesn’t have Adonai YHWH, but κύριε κύριε there definitely translates YHWH, which is what really matters there—it’s another example of the double κύριος unambiguously marking the divine name YHWH.

          And yes, Apoc. Mos. 25:3 has the double κύριος; the article addresses that and a couple other examples from Greek pseudepigrapha. The bottom line is that unless we have the underlying Hebrew for a text, we can’t be 100% sure what underlies the Greek, though based on the remaining evidence, it’s most likely that the underlying Hebrew was Adonai YHWH.

      • Dr. Staples. I have an urgent need to confirm the material in your NTS article mentioned here. I am speaking on the Attributes of God this Saturday at a Messianic Jewish gathering and the parsha this week is from Ex 34. Your corresponding material on Adonai Adonai would be wonderful. I will give you appropriate attribution. Could you please send me a copy to [email protected]

      • Dcn. Mark Cromartie
        March 27, 2023 1:03 pm

        I would also like a copy if possible. Just a deacon that can’t afford the price of an academic journal or paper. Thank you for your attention.

  • Wow, terrific insight.

  • Reply
  • Todd Butterfield
    August 9, 2018 9:08 am

    Hi Jason,
    Great blog and great to explore this but I found that in these cases the person saying lord lord was not obedient. So it appears that double lord here refers to a person who is really talking up Jesus’ lordship but not doing as told. Perhaps if you scanned non Bible greek literature from period you would see lord lord used unrelates to YHVH. If the biblical instances referred to the Messianic aspect of Jesus then I would be convinced, but with all this said, no doubt Jesus IS YHVH, the YHVH who SAVES! ☺

  • In the Septuagint of the prophet Ezekiel, the term kurie kurie occurs twice as Ezekiel addresses Adonai Sacred Name in the Hebrew version of Ezekiel.

    There are three other occasions where Ezekiel addresses Adonai Sacred Name (Lord GOD) in the Hebrew version of Ezekiel. In these three instances, one is translated in the Septuagint as
    kurie the-en (Lord GOD) The other omit one of the ‘kurie’. So it is translated as Lord in English.

    The four kurie kurie occurrences in Matthew’s gospel and in Luke’s gospel are by those who are being judged by Jesus Christ in the future judgement, and Jesus responds that ‘he never knew them’. This seems as evidence that Jesus Christ does not recognize their acclamation of calling him Lord GOD, (adonai sacred name).

    • There are in fact 217 occasions of adonai YHWH in Hebrew Ezekiel, of which 54 are translated with the double kurios.

      The double kurie in Luke’s gospel does not in fact appear in the context of those being judged in the future judgment.

      It is incorrect to conclude that Jesus does not recognize these individuals’ acclamation of him as Lord YHWH; instead the point is that such acclamation is itself insufficient if not paired with the obedience such recognition requires.

  • This is highly influential on Staples’ case, since out of 84 instances of the double kurios/kurie in the Old Greek, 58 of them are in Ezekiel. Now we know that the double kurios/kurie, was originally not in Ezekiel LXX, and was not the original practice for the Old Greek either. Consequently, most of Staples’ alleged evidence for the claim that the double kurios/kurie was commonly used in Second Temple Period literature to translate adonai yahweh, turns out to be non-existent. in actual fact, we find that adonai yahweh was overwhelmingly translated with something else.

    Is there an alternative explanation for the data which actually does have evidence? Yes there is, and Staples actually acknowledges it; “it is true that geminatio sometimes does function as a
    pathos formula”. [37] However, he says this cannot explain all the evidence.

    “Whereas the doubling in Matt 7.22 or 25.11 could be dismissed as merely signalling heightened emotion as suggested by Luz, there is no indication of heightened emotion or affection in the statement ‘not everyone who says to me κύριε κύριε’ (7.21)”. [38]

    So he acknowledges the case or geminatio in Matthew 7:22; 25:11, and presents no evidence that there is “no indication of heightened emotion or affection” in the statements in Matthew 7:21. This is not a way to make a strong case.

    Staples does not mention the fact that a double vocative is a typical feature of Luke/Acts.

    Luke 8:24, “Master, Master”
    Luke 10:41, “Martha, Martha:
    Luke 13:34, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem”
    Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon”
    Luke 23:21, “Crucify, crucify”
    Acts 9:4, “Saul, Saul”
    Acts 22:7, “Saul, Saul”
    Acts 26:14, “Saul, Saul”

    • Thanks for the comment. It is inaccurate to say that “we know that the double kurios/kurie was originally not in Ezekiel LXX, and was not the original practice for the Old Greek, either.” I addressed the evidence for the earliest Greek versions and how they were read aloud in the article, and that evidence cannot be merely dismissed, nor has there been any new discovery that has shed new and contrary light on that question.

      Secondly, in Luke 6:46, there is no context of judgment or emotion, and the verb used in that context best reflects “calling” someone by a title—in this case the double kurios. That is not comparable to simply saying, “Martha, Martha” or other double vocatives in Luke-Acts. One still has to explain why someone would *call* Jesus “Lord Lord,” not why someone would cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” Those are very different things.


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