This dissertation investigates the evidence to determine the best English translation for the Shema (Deut 6:4), by analyzing the historical interpretation of the verse through the last 2500 years, and the pertinent philological and contextual/theological issues. Chapter 1 informs the reader of the importance of the Shema and the recent controversy related to translating and interpreting the verse. The thesis is "Although several modern scholars defend divergent English renderings of the Shema (Deut 6:4), the predominant traditional translation: 'Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one,' remains the best translation and understanding of the verse."
Chapter 2 presents a survey of the historical interpretations of the Shema for the previous 2500 years. Many early sources reveal that they interpret the third segment of the Shema Adonai Eh&dotbelow;ad to be a clause, "the LORD is one." Also, the predominant historical interpretation for the Shema is that the verse is a monotheistic declaration about the unity and uniqueness of the LORD.
Chapter 3 evaluates the philological and contextual evidence relevant to translating the second segment of the Shema, Adonai Elohenu since translating the first segment Shema Yisrael is not controversial. Three main translations for Adonai Eh&dotbelow;ad are evaluated: "the LORD is our God," "our God is the LORD" and "the LORD our God." Based on the evidence, "the LORD our God" translation is the most probable.
Chapter 4 evaluates the philological and contextual evidence for translating the third segment Adonai Eh&dotbelow;ad. Four main translations for this segment are evaluated: "the LORD alone," "one LORD," "the LORD is One" and "the LORD is one." In consideration of the relevant evidence, "the LORD is one" is the most likely translation.
Chapter 5 shows the theological importance of "the LORD is one." The translation "the LORD alone," for the segment Adonai Eh&dotbelow;ad, was found wanting. However, the translation "the LORD is one" not only fits the immediate and broader context of the Shema, but it is also the most basic biblical statement that declares the unity, uniqueness and monotheistic nature of the LORD.
Based on the historical interpretation evidence, philological evidence and contextual/theological evidence for the Shema, this dissertation presents, "Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one" as the best translation. This translation proclaims the unity and uniqueness of the LORD, and is the fundamental statement of monotheism in the Bible.