Why does the TLV use “ADONAI” instead of “the Lord”? What is the difference?

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Transliteration is a word denoting that a particular word in another alphabet is being retooled with English letters. A translation, by contrast, takes a word and renders it in another language.


“Shalom,” for example, is an English transliteration of a Hebrew word sounding the same. “Peace,” however, is a way that the word is translated. I mention this because “ADONAI” is a transliteration for a Hebrew word meaning “Lord.” “ADONAI” thus equals “Lord.”

Though this question is limited to why we use “ADONAI” instead of “Lord,” I’ll here answer it and address a broader question: Why are we limited in our usage of transliterations? I raise this because we could have done it a whole lot more, with other words besides.

Wanting to accentuate the Jewish connection to the Jesus story, the TLV uses Jewish language–thus “ADONAI.” It gives the reader more of a feel for the Hebraic culture from which the biblical narrative emerged. In addition to accentuation, we’re interested in education. I say this because too much transliteration is adjudged by us to be problematic, based on a belief the verbiage can obscure the message, somewhat.

Against the backdrop of the above, we were selective on what words we wanted to transliterate, and “ADONAI” was one.

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