This thesis attempts to understand the authorial and editorial choice
between the two most common designations for God in the Hebrew Bible:
Yahweh and Elohim. The main body of the thesis divides into four sections,
the first two parts containing the background and methodological material
against which the second two are to be read.
Part one deals with the major methodological issues relevant to the
thesis. It examines previous academic debate relating to the divine names
(=DNs), especially the works of Cassuto and Segal, the documentary
hypothesis, the Rabbinic tradition, and Dahse's preference for the Septuagint.
It outlines the approach taken here (synchronic, based on the MT), and
justifies this as being the most appropriate for this particular task
Part two is also preliminary in character, giving a brief but
comprehensive account of the meanings and uses of three designations
(Elohim, Adonai Yahweh, Yahweh Elohim) throughout the Hebrew Bible, so that
their significance (or lack of significance) will be recognized when they
appear in parts three and four.
Part three gives a quantitative account of DN usage in two corpora -
Psalms and Wisdom Literature. This reveals a number of facets of DN choice:
suitability to genre, arrangement of sections, poetic sequence, and in the case
of the Elohistic Psalter, editorial change. A possible reason for this editorial
change is offered in an appendix
Part four consists of a series of qualitative analyses of texts which
display a high degree of DN variability (including Exodus 1-6, Jonah). It is
argued in each case that DN variation is a literary device intended to
highlight certain aspects of the text. Examination of a prophetic text (Amos)
reveals possible structural reasons for the placement of Yahweh and other
designations. As the criteria for DN use are different in each text examined, it
is suggested that the significance of each DN is dependent on, and limited to
the text in which it is found.
This thesis does not conclude with a single (or even several) satisfying
answer(s) to the question of the interchange between Yahweh and Elohim, as
Cassuto and Segal attempted to do. Instead, it points to the kind of answers
which are relevant: from use in stock phrases and quotations, to bespoke
commentaries on the text. Is also demonstrates the wide variety of DN
patterns and predilections which we must recognize as 'normal'.