What is Nomina Sacra?


Nomina Sacra in Latin means "sacred names." It refers to the abbreviated writing of divine names or titles in Greek manuscripts of the Bible since the first century. Nomina sacra were formed by taking the first one or two letters of the name or word, omitting the intervening letters, and drawing a line over the whole.

Bruce Metzger’s book Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, lists 15 such expressions from Greek papyri: the Greek counterparts of God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Son, Spirit, David, cross, Mother, Father, Israel, Savior, Man, Jerusalem, and Heaven. Initially this masking was done specifically for "names" and references to the Father and Son.

This practice is of special interest to the Believer. The case is strong that it is but a continuation of the effort begun by Jewish scribes to hide the Sacred name through manipulation or substitution of its letters.

From the Nomina Sacra we see that a manipulation on the "sacred names" was also done in the Greek. No wonder that most translations today lack the revealed, personal names of Father and Son in both testaments. And from the Nomina Sacra we can also show that neither are the words "God," "Lord," "Jesus," and "Christ" found in the Greek New Testament.

The believer should find these facts quite eye-opening.

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