What Is behind God’s Name? Martin Buber’s and Franz Rosenzweig’s Reflections on the Name of God

Losch, Andreas (2015). What Is behind God’s Name? Martin Buber’s and Franz Rosenzweig’s Reflections on the Name of God. Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, 60(1), pp. 91-106. Oxford University Press 10.1093/leobaeck/ybu031

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What meaning does God’s name convey? This was a question Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig had to answer when working on their translation of the Bible. They noticed that, as certain crucial biblical verses suggest, there is indeed a meaning behind God’s name in the Bible. Thus, an important moment in their joint translation was their account of the self-revelation of God in Exod. III, together with the question of how best to translate the tetragrammaton YHWH— the name of God. This article will explore their decisions, based both on their dialogue concerning the translation of the Bible, and on their papers, especially Rosenzweig’s well-known article ‘Der Ewige’ (‘The Eternal’) and Buber’s response to it. Less well known is the fact that there exist two unpublished typescripts by Martin Buber reflecting on the name of God, which will also be taken into consideration. Contrary to the received view that the choice of the personal pronoun to transliterate the name of God in the Bible translation was mainly Rosenzweig’s, I will show that it was actually a joint decision in which both thinkers’ philosophies,1 and a question that had haunted Buber since his youth, played an important part. The choice of the personal pronoun is an answer to this question, addressing the omnipresent God, the eternal Thou, in a kind of cultic acclamation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


01 Faculty of Theology > Department of Protestant Theology [discontinued] > Institute of Systematic Theology [discontinued]
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Losch, Andreas


100 Philosophy > 190 Modern western philosophy
200 Religion > 210 Philosophy & theory of religion
200 Religion > 290 Other religions




Oxford University Press




Andreas Losch

Date Deposited:

28 Dec 2015 10:51

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 03:57

Publisher DOI:






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