A BIBLE TRANSLATION PRODUCED BY JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
The original of this article is from:
Is The New World Translation Biased and Unscholarly?
We begin with this common criticism:
“The NWT is so extremely biased & perverted, it is questionable if any Hebrew or Greek scholars worked on it.“
So began one web site critical of The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Is it really? Read this from The Watchtower, October 15th, p21;
Insight on the News. “New World Translation Passes Examination”
“In times past, Bible readers of one religion were suspicious of translations made by another religious group. Such distrust is generally unwarranted, claims theologian C. Houtman in the scholarly Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift(Dutch Theological Magazine). After reviewing these translations, his opinion is that only rarely can passages be found that reflect “the translators’ denominational or political and social viewpoint” While for the most part this is true, there are some cases in which Bible translators have let their religious bias show through their renderings. For example, some modern translators have completely eliminated the personal name of God from their works. Others have wrongly translated the word Gehenna as “hell fire.” Yet, if someone deliberately changes or omits part of the contents of the Bible, he is on dangerous ground. As one Bible book warns: “If anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life.” Revelation 22:19. Rather than removing God’s name from the Bible, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures has retained it- 7,210 times. Copies of the Bible’s original language text provide a basis for doing this. Interestingly, Houtman notes that on the point of translator bias “the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses can survive the scrutiny of criticism(1984, 38, pp279-280-italics mine).“
And note these comments:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses: NWT, which is certainly not ‘filled with the heretical doctrines of this cult…even though a few aberrations can be found. ….Some have to condemn out of hand any version made by Jehovah’s Witnesses…..because they must be full of heresies…..It is true that there are some heretical doctrines to be found in NWT(eg. the incoherent polytheism in Jn.1:1…., but the percentage of the whole Bible thus affected(I have looked!)does not reach even 0.1% of the whole, which is very far from ‘full’.-How To Choose Your Bible Wisely, A.S.Duthie. pp. 30, 216. “Filled with the heretical doctrines of this cult,” so said G.D.Fee and D. Stuart, ‘How to Read the Bible for all it’s Worth,’ Zondervan/Scripture Union, 1982/3, p.41
Whether the NWT’s John 1:1 indicates that the Apostle was promoting some form of “polytheism” see John 1:1. Duthie is, we believe, mistaken here. But at least Duthies’ is an honest overall evaluation! Which is more than can be said for Fee and Stuart’s! One other “aberration” is, according to Duthie, John 8:58. Click on the link as provided to read the basis for the NWT’s rendering. Duthie is a Trinitarian so of course he does not like the way the NWT has translated John 1:1; 8:58. You will see that the NWT has rendered the Greek accurately and has the support of neutral Greek scholars and also well known grammarians.
So, who really is guilty of being unfairly biased? The NWT or the above critic quoted at the top of this page? When one meets such strong language the reader then ought to exercise extreme caution about any other statements thereafter made by that critic. And do you see the reason why the above critic has accused the NWT Translation Committee of being devoid of “Hebrew and Greek scholars”? Because of it’s [supposed] ‘biasedness and pervertedness.’ This shows that the above critic did not need to know who the translators were or their academic qualifications. He thought as he did, if we are charitable to him, because of the translation itself. We will examine some examples of supposed unwarranted bias and ‘perversions’ to be found in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. But it should be acknowledged at this point that what information we might be able to glean about those who sat on the NWT Bible Committee is not really the deciding factor in how we can evaluate the New World Translation itself. As the words of one who has academic qualifications in the biblical languages said: “I personally have absolutely no interest in the biographies of translators — that would be pretty boring to me, and completely irrelevant to a judgement of the translations themselves. You can assess everything you need to assess about a Bible translation by just looking at it and comparing it to the original text (in the case of the Bible, the original Hebrew and Greek). You can see how accurate it is, how well or how poorly the translators knew the languages they were working with, how much or how little they were familiar with scholarship on issues of understanding the meaning of the original, etc. You can even identify their biases, and work up a pretty clear picture of their own theological commitments by seeing how they handle certain key biblical passages. The names or educational credentials of the translators are quite beside the point. Of course, you have to have certain knowledge to translate, but that knowledge can be acquired in any number of ways. Having a Ph.D. after your name doesn’t give you translation skills; it is some of the work you presumably did in the process of earning that Ph.D. that may give you translation skills. But you can acquire those same skills independently. In fact, one could, working solely with an interlinear New Testament, and analyzing the forms and structures of the original Greek seen there, develop a pretty good understanding of how Koine Greek works. That would take a tremendous amount of dedication, patience, and analytical acumen. But it could be done. It is, after all, through such study of Greek literature that we have developed the very knowledge of Greek that we impart in academic study of the language.”
So, as to whether the accusation that it is “questionable if any Hebrew or Greek scholar worked on it.”
One wonders how the likes of Professor Benjamin Kedar(on the Hebrew translation of NWT)and Dr Jason BeDuhn(on the Greek translation of NWT)could say what they have? Also, James Parkinson has said on his web page,”The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation (NWT, 1950) offers a relatively accurate translation from a different theological perspective. Like Rotherham,though, it is often not smooth reading.” (Not smooth reading comes from it being largely a literal translation. But this does have it’s advantages as well!)
The critic, by this charge against the NWT, has accused the above four scholars, and others, of the self same thing, of not being able scholars!!
Similar to the above criticism is that which we have read:
“The first point that should be made is that none of the “translators” of the NWT had degrees in the Biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew. Only Fred Franz had any “knowledge” of these languages, but under oath in Scotland in 1954 he refused to attempt a translation of Genesis 2:4…”
As the members and even the number of them that make up the New World Translation Committee have never been divulged then whether they had “degrees” or not cannot be proven either way. Certainly the above writer and all those others who have made similar charges against the NWTTC do not offer any proof for these same. If they had the proof they would be more than happy to share it. They do not for they have none. The above writer is only assuming that Frederick Franz was one such member. He certainly did not admit he was in the trial mentioned above in Scotland in 1954. As to whether “he refused to translate Genesis 2:4”? The records show that Franz was not asked to translate the Hebrew of that passage into English but the English into Hebrew. Why he did not attempt that might be answered from the following which has been taken from the book “Jehovah’s Witnesess Defended, An Answer to Scholars and Critics(1998,1st edition, Elihu Books, Huntingdon Beach. Ca) p.334 by G.Stafford who quotes William Sanford LaSor’s “Handbook of Biblical Hebrew, vol.1(Grand Rapids: Errdmans, 1978, p.3:
“All learning is in context. The context, however, is not artificial, composed perchance by one who does not use the language naturally, but rather it is the actual language of those who used it as their mother-tongue. For this reason, I refuse to ask students to compose sentences in Hebrew. To do so is to impress errors on the student’s mind. And, frankly, most of us who teach Biblical hebrew do not have sufficient fluency in the language to speak or write it.”
Remember, that although Franz said he could read Hebrew he said that he could not speak it.
So that which has been stated as follows on one site is plainly wrong. One has to wonder at the writer’s knowledge and/or sources.
“Many people now believe that the mistranslations in the New World Translation were actually clearly and deliberately designed to deny the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and to support other false doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
In answer to this: What “people“? And what matters what they “believe“! The “mistranslations” that the above critic is referring to is none other than Matthew 28:17(Gk.proskyneo); Luke 23:43; John 1:1; 8;58; 10:17; 17:3; Col.2:9; Heb 1:8 and Titus 2:13. All of which have been translated as we find in the NWT by other translations produced by Trinitarian scholars !!! Are they really then to be considered “mistranslations”? Are the trinitarian translations of these same, and likewise the comments by so many scholars, “designed to deny the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ”? By “Deity” the critic means the trinitarian understanding about Jesus’ ‘God/godship.’ Jehovah’s Witnesses do accept the divinity or deity of the Son of God. But certainly not the trinitarian belief as articulated from the 4th century onwards, namely, that the Son is the ‘second person of a consubstantial trinity of persons.’ We will look in vain for this in the Bible. From this we can see that almost all criticism’s of the New World Translation have come from those who hold to the trinity doctrine. Whilst this might be able to satisfy some who are of the same theological persuasion, the fact is that the basis for most criticisms that can be read on the internet is the Trinity teaching! Is this an objective, equitable, dispassionate and even-handed approach to this subject matter, namely, Is the New World Translated Biased and Unscholarly? We, on this website, do not think so. We believe that the forthcoming book by Jason Beduhn will be the “objective, equitable, dispassionate and even-handed approach to this subject matter,” and not only regarding the New World Translation, that is needed.
“The translators of the New World Translation have always tried to conceal their identities. The reason they give for this is so that their work will give glory to God. However, many have suggested that their identities have been concealed so that their lack of knowledge of the ancient biblical languages will not be revealed.”
Whether the translators of the NWT have a “lack of knowledge of the ancient biblical languages” should be able to be gained from the translation itself as already discussed. The above web page does not discuss the merits of the translations in the NWT of the above passages and so does not go any where near to proving the allusion they are trying to make. Merely asserting something is no proof of it. The “proof of the pudding is in the eating” as the saying goes. The above remarks by the critic is an ad hominem.
“In fact, it was revealed that one of the translators of the New World Translation was a man named Fred W. Franz. This man was tried for purgery[sic] in Edinburgh, Scotland in November 1954. During the trial, he was asked if he could read the biblical languages including Hebrew. He replied that he was. However, when asked to translate the fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis, he could not.”
Now we know for sure that the critic has not even read the transcription of the trial. Franz was being tried for “perjury” ? Where did this critic get this from! The critic then says that during the trial Franz was asked to translate Genesis 2:4 and he could not. Not so. As we have already learned Franz was not asked to translate the Hebrew of Genesis 2:4 into English but the English of this passage into Hebrew! To this request he did not say he “could not” but that he “would not attempt to do that.” For his reason for that I must refer you back to Lasor’s Handbook already quoted. The above critic has plainly done some “perjury” himself on the web page where he said the above! It is our belief that Fred Franz was certainly one of the members of the New World Translation Committee. He had a gift for languages and learned Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese. Another who was and began serving at the Bethel in Brooklyn stated in a 1932 Watchtower magazine: “[My mother]was able to read the Bible in Latin and Greek, and she inculcated in me a desire to study the Bible in its original languages”. As the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures first came out in 1950, this one, like Franz, had plenty of time to study the original languages before attempting a translation of them.
Sharp’s Rule and Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1
When such criticisms are made they are then usually followed up by supposed examples where the NWT Translation Committee have gone against “established rules of Greek grammar.” But when these examples are given the critic does not inform their readers of the fact that in most of these examples other translators/translation committees have chosen to render these “established examples” the same way as found in the NWT. Nor do they admit that well respected grammarians and commentators have reservations against such rules.Take for instance this particular criticism:
“So according to the rule, since this phrase[in Titus 2:13]meets all the grammatical requirements, Jesus is declared unequivocally to be God and Savior.The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ very poor translation of the Bible, obviously mistranslates this important portion of Scripture so that Christ’s deity is not obvious in this verse. It reads: “…the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus.” The word “of” is not in the Greek text nor is the next word “the” which is shown by the brackets around it. If these two little words were deleted the phrase would read: “…the great God and Savior of us, Christ Jesus.” So when the words not found in the original text are eliminated, the clear statement, Jesus is God, is plainly seen. But the Watchtower Society could not bear to have it read thus and thereby teach that Jesus is God, or Jehovah.”
The “rule” that this writer is referring to is Granville Sharp’s rule, as the writer says “What is this Greek grammar rule? It is none other than the old grammar rule that every first year Greek student learns, ..” as he wants you to realise. The above writer says that the NWT “obviously mistranslates” Titus 2:13, and that the “Watchtower Society could not bear to have it read thus and thereby teach that Jesus is God..” Following though is a list of Bible translations that render Titus 2:13 similarly to the NWT’s. When you read them, ask yourself: Have these also “obviously mistranslated” a rule that definitely applies to Titus 2:13, one which “every first year Greek student learns”(implying of course that the NWTTC members were less competent than these and/or dishonest)and whether they too “could not bear to have it read” so that it applies the term “Great God” to Jesus Christ?(Sharp’s rule asserts that “When the copulative ‘kai’ connects two nouns of the same case,[viz.nouns(either substantive or adjective, or participles)of personal description…]if the article ‘ho’ or any of it’s cases, precedes the first of the first nouns or participle and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle: i.e. it denotes a farther description of the first-named person.”) The following Bible translations at Titus 2:13 have Paul, the author, refer to TWO subjects:
New American Bible(1986): “of the great God and of our saviour Jesus Christ.”
A New Translation of the Bible-Moffatt: “of the great God and of our Saviour Christ Jesus.”
The New Testament in Modern English,J.B.Phillips(1972): “of the great God and of Christ Jesus our saviour.”
The Riverside New Testament(1934): “of the great God and of our Saviour Christ Jesus.”
More could be cited. So is it really the case that in Titus 2:13 “Jesus is declared unequivocally to be God and Savior“?
Did you notice that Sharp used the word “always” in regard to his ‘rule’? By so doing Sharp was saying that his ‘rule’ was a ‘law’!! But in this various scholars have not gone along with him.
In answer to the question why some Bible versions, render Titus 2:13 as if referring to one person The Watchtower replied:
“Persons inclined to believe in the deity of Jesus sometimes give the impression that the above position is demanded by proper Greek grammar. But that is not so. In fact, the validity of the “rule” being applied in Titus has been much debated by scholars. For example, Dr. Henry Alford (The Greek Testament,Vol. III) says: “No one disputes that it may mean that which they have interpreted it” as meaning, but he adds that one needs rather to determine ‘what the words do mean.’ And that cannot be settled by grammatical rules. A Grammar of New Testament Greek(Moulton-Turner, 1963) states about Titus 2:13: “The repetition of the art[icle] was not strictly necessary to ensure that the items be considered separately.” What, though, about “Sharp’s rule”? Dr. Nigel Turner admits: “Unfortunately, at this period of Greek we cannot be sure that such a rule is really decisive.” (Grammatical Insights into the New Testament , 1965) As to the Greek construction used, Professor Alexander Buttmann points out: “It will probably never be possible, either in reference to profane literature or to the N[ew] T[estament], to bring down to rigid rules which have no exception, . . . “-A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. In The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Dr. N. J. D. White observes: “The grammatical argument . . . is too slender to bear much weight, especially when we take into consideration not only the general neglect of the article in these epistles but the omission of it before” ‘Savior’ in 1 Timothy 1:1; 4:10.” And Dr. Alford stresses that in other passages where Paul uses expressions like “God our Savior” he definitely does not mean Jesus, for “the Father and the Son are most plainly distinguished from one another.” (1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3-5) ………
“Thus, Dr. White concludes: ‘On the whole, then, we decide in favour of the rendering of this passage, appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’ A number of modern translations agree. In the main text or in footnotes they render Titus 2:13 as speaking of two distinct persons,…”-The Watchtower-April 1st,1981.
So much for this “established rule” and the New World Translation.When the above writer said that in Titus 2:13 Jesus Christ is “declared unequivocally to be God and Savior” it is clear that perhaps he himself should go beyond what a first year student of Biblical Greek learns. If he had done so perhaps he would not have been so hasty in his assertions. This is not to assert that it is ‘wrong’ in the sense of being ‘ungrammatical’ that many think and have translated Titus 2:13 as referring to one subject and thereby applying the term “theos” to Jesus. There are arguments for and against either side of this matter. But it is wrong for certain ones to impugn the scholarship of the New World Translation by certain implicit, even explicit, remarks, such as we have read above. I do not believe that the NWTTC have ever imitated this unchristian attitude by belittling the scholars behind the opposite proposition regarding Titus 2:13 and other scriptures of a parallel grammatical construction.
What though of Sharp’s Rule? Firstly, Sharp was trying to find a rule to show that Jesus Christ was “God.” That was his aim. Also, he only looked at the Greek New Testament. One would be ill advised to obtain a ‘rule’ from such a small corpus of Greek. These two observations should make one careful about accepting this ‘rule’ or at least thinking that this rule has to apply in any given Greek sentence where the article-noun KAI noun construction(with all the limitations Sharp and others give it for the one person view)exists. But did Sharp find anything or see something? Yes, he did. What he observed was a principle, not a rule! But not that this principle would show that the “great God” and “Savior Jesus Christ” are necessarily the same person. What he saw can be described as “a combined enumeration.” This is “an enumeration of two or more persons or things, joined by a connective particle[such as kai, “and”] and where the Article[ho, “the”] before the first only intimates a connection between the whole,forming one object of thought.”(Handbook To the Grammar of the Greek Testament section 232 by Rev. Samuel G. Green). We can find many examples of this in the Greek N.T.(We have highlighted the Greek article and the connective particle in each in red and these ones are in fact Green’s examples in the above cited section in his Grammar).
Ephesians 2:20: “EPI TW QEMELIW TWN APOSTOWN KAI PROPHHTWN,” “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Here, the “apostles” are not the same subjects as the “prophets” but as Green says there is a connection between them, one which is “one object of thought” in Paul’s mind here. We see this at Colossians 2:12: “TA ENTALMATA KAI DIDASKALIAS TWN ANQRWPWN, “the commandments and teachings of men.” The “commandments” and “teachings” of men were not being here indentified as one and the same but “together constituting one system”(Green). Matthew 17:1 : “TON PETRON KAI IAKWBON KAI IWANNHM, “Peter and James and John.” The three were not the same person but an inseperable group. This nicely leads us to Titus 2:13. Paul was not there necessarily identifying the “great God” with “Savior Jesus Christ” as one and the same but they were an inseparable two subjects in “the blessed hope and manifestation” Paul mentions here. Green’s last example is in fact Titus 2:13 where he writes after giving the Greek and Ellicott’s translation:
Did you see the two options given by Green there? So, ‘Sharp’s Rule’ is nothing more than the above stated principle(not a rule!)and in connection with Titus 2:13 the Greek is in fact ambiguous and may mean either of the two choices Green gives so that one could legitimately translate and make the “great God” and the “Savior Jesus Christ” two separate subjects(as the New World Translation, New American Bible, the James Moffatt translation and others have done and others give in a footnote as the alternative translation)or one. Yes, the grammar here does not decide it. Any appeal to Sharp’s rule as being decisive in this matter then is invalid. What decides the matter in all these texts including those like Titus 2:13 is the author’s wider treatment of the person or persons he mentions. In Paul we consistently find he makes a distinction between the one who he says is and thinks of as QEOS and this one’s Son. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 is a good example. The author of the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Collegesagrees that “the rule that the one article indicates the one subject… [cannot] be too strongly relied upon as decisive.” Humphreys, A. E., The Epistles to Timothy & Titus, Cambridge University Press, 1895.)
Are we alone in stating that Sharp’s rule is invalid in the sense it is at least not the deciding factor that one subject, one person is in view in Titus 2:13? And this in spite of trinitarian Daniel B. Wallace and his entry in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, pages 270-290 on “The Article with Multiple Substantives Connected by KAI(Granville Sharp Rule and Related Constructions)” where he concludes that Titus 2:13 is “an explicit affirmation of the diety of Christ”? (See also Wallace “The Article with Multiple Substantives Connected by KAI in the New Testament: Semantics and Significance”(Ph.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1995) which we believe has been published.) No. Professor Jason Beduhn in his book “Truth in Translation, Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament” in a chapter “Words Together and Apart”(pages 89-95) concerning such Greek sentences rejects out right Sharp’s Rule and he is well aware of Wallace’s treatment of it.
What about 2 Peter 1:1?
We have read this seemingly reasonable argument as put out on a web page:
“The passage found at 2 Peter 1:1 is even more compelling. Some have simply by-passed grammatical rules and considerations, and have decided for an inferior translation on the basis of verse 2, which, they say, “clearly distinguishes” between God and Christ… Such translation on the basis of theological prejudices is hardly commendable. The little book of 2 Peter contains a total of five “Granville Sharp” constructions. They are 1:1, 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18. No one would argue that the other four instances are exceptions to the rule. For example, in 2:20, it is obvious that both “Lord” and “Savior” are in reference to Christ. Such is the case in 3:2, as well as 3:18. No problem there, for the proper translation does not step on anyone’s theological toes. 1:11 is even more striking. The construction here is *identical* to the construction found in 1:1, with only one word being different. Here are the passages as they are transliterated into English:
1:1: tou theou hemon kai sotaros Iesou Christou
1:11: tou kuriou hemon kai sotaros Iesou Christou
Notice the exact one-to-one correspondence between these passages! The only difference is the substitution of “kuriou” for “theou”. No one would question the translation of “our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” at 1:11; why question the translation of “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” at 1:1? Consistency in translation demands that we not allow our personal prejudices to interfere with our rendering of God’s Word.”
In answer to the above we can see that in all of the above “identical constructions” to 1:1 they all have “kyrios” rather than “theos.” Now, in 1 and 2Peter the author refers to Christ as “kyrios” 12 times, but, excluding 2Peter 1 for the moment, not once as “theos.” But when we examine where and how he refers to the Father we find that Peter calls him “theos” 45 times. So it might be said that his readers were very well aware of who “theos” was. The Father. So that it is likely that in 2 Peter 1:1 there was no need to repeat the article before “soteros” as with the mention of the articulated “theos” his readers would have known he was referring to the Father especially when we have “Iesou khristos” after “soteros” making this latter a separate subject. We would then have before us the typical, usual practice of opening up of an epistle with a reference to both God the Father and Jesus Christ. In agreement with this is the Catholic scholar Karl Rahner who in Theological Investigations said; “St Paul often speaks of the Father as [“theos”] where he predicates [“Kyrios”] of Christ; and a mention of the Father as well as the Son is to be expected at the beginning of 2 Peter, in accordance with the usual practice at the beginning of a letter.” It should be added here that in thevery next verse(2)God and Jesus are explicitly distinguished and treated as two separate subjects
Hence, like Titus 2:13, we have translations other than the New World Translation that render 2Peter 1:1 as referring to TWO subjects-The New Testament in Modern Speech(Weymouth);The Twentieth Century New Testament(1904 rev.ed.); Jewish New Testament(1990)and the translations by George Noyes(1869); Samuel Sharpe(1881); J.B.Phillips(1969).
A Catholic critic, a Mr Pacheco, after quoting those translations of the RSV, DR, NAB, NASB, KJV and the NIV (whom he says all designate Jesus as both the ‘Great God and Saviour’), regarding the NWT of Titus 2:13 in a response to the “Babylon Rebutted” page on this site has come out and said:
“The first three are from Catholic bibles (the RSV being the Catholic Edition), while the second three are from Protestant Translations. All of these translations clearly point to the divinity of Jesus Christ as understood in the traditional Trinitarian way.”
Actually, the KJV does not “clearly point” as if the “Great God” and “Saviour Jesus Christ” are one and the same. Neither at Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1. Also the Catholic New American Bible he quotes does not describe Jesus Christ as “the Great God”!!! But it does inform it’s readers that the way Pacheco prefers it to be translated, that is “the great God” and “Jesus Christ” are one and the same, is “possible.” [ftnte; Catholic Study Bible edition, 1990) Yet we must point out aswell that which Pacheco does not that the footnotes to Titus 2:13 in the NASB and RSV/NRSV [in which the latters preface says that such a rendering as found in the NWT is an “alternative rendering.”] offers the alternative translations that agree with the NWT translation that gives this verse two subjects not one. Pacheco then quotes the NWT Titus 2:13:
“Here is how the NWT renders the passage: “…while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus…” “
He then says: “Witnesses often appeal to other characters in scripture being referred to as ‘saviour’. They use this to try and demonstrate that Jesus is simply assuming the same kind of title rather than being the source of salvation itself. Yet, it is an undeniable fact that St. Paul in his letter to Titus is referring to God as the ultimate saviour in verse 10 (and, indeed, throughout the letter):“…not committing theft, but exhibiting good fidelity to the full, so that they may adorn the teaching of our Savior, God, in all things.” (NWT) “
Jehovah’s Witnesses and others do not think that Jesus “assumes” the “title” Saviour ! That Jesus is not the ‘source’ of salvation can be seen from a careful reading of Titus itself. In 3:4-6 Paul writes: “But when the kindness and generous love of God our saviour appeared…..he[God]richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our saviour.”-New American Bible(a Catholic translation). Does this not call both “God[the Father]” and “Jesus Christ” ‘saviour‘? And that while God is called “saviour,” further on, in regard to the believers salvation, that it came “through” Jesus Christ. Never is ‘salvation’ ever said to be “through” him, God[ho theos]. But it often does in connection as Jesus Christ. Why? Because the source of salvation is God, the God Jehovah, yet it is “through” Jesus Christ, he being the ‘instrument’ of salvation as Jude 25 says. Mr Pacheco then remarks:
“Are we to believe that St. Paul has switched his meaning within three short verses[from verse 10 Titus 2]between the true Saviour (God) and His alleged ‘instrumental saviour’, Jesus Christ? No, I don’t think so. Aside from the grammatical problems for Witnesses, the context itself is even more conclusive as to how the passage should be translated. The focus of the passage is not a false dichotomy that Witnesses construct between the Father and the Son. Instead, the passage is unquestionably emphasizing the person of Jesus Christ”
According to the Catholic New American Bible verse 10 reads: “..so as to adorn the doctrine of God our saviour in every way.” Who is the “God” mentioned in this verse? Is it not, according to Paul’s usage, God the Father?(see verse 1 where God is undoubtedly the Father as it is throughout this epistle a fact that Pacheco agrees for did he not say above “it is an undeniable fact that St. Paul in his letter to Titus is referring to God as the ultimate saviour in verse 10 (and, indeed, throughout the letter):“) God here, in 2:10, is the christians “saviour,” yet is not the Son Jesus Christ. So if Mr Pacheco believes that Paul does not “switch meaning”[perhaps he means “referents” rather than “meaning“]then does he believe that the one mentioned as “God” in Titus 2:10 is the same “God” three verse later? If so then he must think that the God in verse 13 is the Father because he seems to believe that the saviour in v.10 is the same as the saviour in v.13! Yet, if Mr Pacheco thinks that the “God” of verse 10 is the Father and yet is not the Father in verse 13[the “Great God”]then he would believe that Paul can use terms like “God” for different referents[“different meaning”]and doing so in close proximity! So if Paul can do so with the term God can he not do so likewise with ‘saviour’? Yes. In fact we have already seen this with this very word. Does Mr Pacheco think that Paul “switched meaning” when he used the word saviour as an appellative of “God” the Father and the Son Jesus Christ within three verses, Titus 3:4 and 3:6? Of course, he would have to “think so.” So why doesn’t he think so at Titus 2:10 and 2:13? He does not tell us! Mr Pacheco has inadvertently argued for the NWT ‘case’ !!! But not only that. If Pacheco believes that the saviour of 2:10 is the Father and is the same saviour of 2:13 whom is explicitly said to be Jesus Christ he then must hold that the Father is the Son !! Is that not called sabellianism? But Pacheco calls himself a Catholic apologist. It does not take too much to see that Pacheco would be considered a heretic amongst Catholics if he preached that!! But what of the “meaning ” of the word “saviour” at both Titus 2:10 and 2:13? Does the NWT change it’s “meaning” when it indicates that though God is “saviour” and Jesus Christ is “saviour” yet only God is the “ultimate source” and Jesus Christ is “saviour” yet in an ‘instrumental’ sense? Of course the word does not have a different lexicalmeaning! But it is applied to two different persons and one is the source and one whom the source uses to accomplish this salvation. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this because that is exactly what all the Bible writers tell us. He is the “saving power of God”-Luke 2:30 R.A.Knox-Catholic translation. He was “sent” by God not to do his own will but that of anothers-God.Jude writes that “to the only God, our saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord….” v.25 NAB. Literally “to only God Saviour of us.” Jesus maybe termed “saviour” but not as “God Saviour.” But the Father is for only he is God and Saviour. What Jude has written then supports a rendering as found in translations like that of the NWT otherwise the Father could not be the “only God Saviour” as Jude informs us.
“There is no definite article before “Saviour” ……… in the Greek. Unlike other verses where the insertion of an article does not change the meaning of the passage, the same obviously cannot be held here. Inserting the article in this verse completely changes its meaning by diluting Jesus of his Divinity.”
Pacheco is right. The use of the article by the NWT does “completely change” the “meaning,” or rather the sense, of Titus 2:13. But the New World Translation and other translations did not break any inviolable rule of Greek grammar in doing so. That has already been proven above.(see the use of the article “the” when it is “not in the Greek” at Titus 2:13 with Weymouth‘s footnote. See also the footnote to 2 Peter 1:1 in the New American Bible where the alternative is given and the English article “the” is“inserted.”) If inserting the article “the” “dilutes” Jesus’ “divinity” does Pacheco believe that the Catholic New American Bible which does not translate Titus 2:13 to read that Jesus Christ is the “Great God” and also offers an alternative translation in a footnote to 2 Peter 1:1 which uses the definite article “the” though not in the Greek to make God and Jesus two separate subjects is ‘diluting Christ’s divinity’ ? Yet this Catholic Bible does contain the nihil obstat and imprimatur and so its scholarship is vouched by the high Catholic clergy. Pacheco said further on in his latest effort:
“The NWT is the bible for a PARTICULAR type of sect, and it is trumpeted as being a superior translation. When such a translation attacks the fundamental meaning of the biblical text, then I come out swinging.”-italics ours.
Why then did not Pacheco, who is himself a Catholic, “come out swinging” against the New American Bible in his Babylon’s Rebuttal page in regard to Titus 2:13? Probably because he misread this translation(and the KJV) at this place. But that is not his worst mistake. Does he believe that the Catholic New American Bible “attacks the fundamental meaning of the biblical text“ when it translates Titus 2:13 as two separate subjects not one?(compare also the NAB at Romans 9:5 which does not ascribe the term “God” to the Messiah, Jesus, either)) He also said he was “Frankly … not impressed with….obscure translations.” Should Pacheco be “impressed” with the Catholic New American Bible? It’s not obscure and it is Catholic. Perhaps Pacheco should stop and think more carefully and cogently when he attempts to criticise a valid rendering in the New World Translation. In the title of his latest effort that has been put out on the internet he claims about the New World Translation:
“…shamelessly going where the Greek has not gone before.”
Has Pacheco proven the above remark of his? Not in regard to Titus 2:13 at any rate! Do you, reader, think he has overdone the “swinging” ? Not only that but could it be he has been just “shadow boxing”(NAB) or “striking the air”(1 Cor.9:26)? Where then lies the real “shame”?
In the book Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, An Answer to Scholars and Critics a fine discussion is found in the chapter ‘Excursus.’ (pp.221-248 in 1st edition) Therein, the author, G. Stafford contributes a very valuable contribution in understanding, not only in regard to Sharpe’s Rule and it’s application to such texts as Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, but also to the refinement or clarification of that rule by Daniel B. Wallace(“The Article with Multiple Substantives Connected by kai in the New Testament: Semantics and Significance.”) It has been said that anyone ignoring what is put forth therein is neglecting a discussion of “high caliber.” We would like to recommend it.(2nd edition now available)
At this point we would like to quote from F.F.Bruce’s History Of The English Bible. When you have read this portion you will understand why. We take it up at the point where Bruce is discussing Thomas More’s animosity at William Tyndale’s New Testament in English resulting in treatises where the former was attacking and the latter then refuting the attack:
“It affords no pleasure to us to-day to contemplate two great Englishmen, men of principle who were both to suffer death for conscience sake, engaging in bitter controversy of this kind. But the issue was one in which the lives of men-and, as both Tyndale and More believed, the souls of men-were at stake; and both men would probably have thought that the urbanities of modern theological debate betokened a failure to appreciate the seriousness of the issue. Yet More was no bigoted obscurantist; he was a leading humanist and patron of the new learning, and a warm friend of Erasmus, whose Greek New Testament Tyndale had now turned into English. One might have thought that he would at least have appreciated the cultural value of Tyndale’s work, however much he deplored Tyndale’s theological position.
Bruce continues by reporting that More’s charges when examined amounted to nothing more “than a complaint that Tyndale translated certain ecclesiastical terms by English words which lacked ecclesiastical associations.” This involved translating words as “presbyteros” as “senior”(later editions “elder”) and “ekklesia” as “congregation” rather than “church.” He says: “Why should any translation be branded as heretical in Tyndale’s English version when they were tolerated in Erasmus’s Latin version? Because, said More, he found no such “malicious intent” in Erasmus as he found in Tyndale. In short, it was not the translation but the translator that More really objected to.” It seems to us that it is a similar situation today with the New World Translation. Today, Tyndale’s work is hailed as a landmark in English Bible translation history. For that time it was an excellent piece of translating. It was the translator , Tyndale, that the likes of Sir Thomas More and Bishop Tunstall were against and that because of Tyndale’stheology. Likewise, it is because the New World Translation is the work of those whom Christendom’s scholars look down upon, because of the translator’s owning certain theological opinions, that it receives so much[unwarranted]criticism. When coming across some of the criticism’s made against the NWT on the internet we sometimes have to “rub our eyes”!
We have read:
“One of the marks of a cult is their claim to be the only true church. Since this is such an exclusive claim, it’s not unusual for them to have their own extra biblical revelation from God. In the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, one of those revelations is the New World Translation of the Bible.”
Whether Jehovah’s Witnesses are really a “cult” is not within the scope of this web page discussion. Nor is the topic of who are “the only true church.” But the above writer calls the New World Translation an “extra biblical revelation from God.” If this means that the writer holds the opinion that the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that it, the NWT, was “revealed” to them by God then he is sorely mistaken. The most the NWT Translation Committee has claimed for their work is the ‘hope’ that their work in translating the original Biblical text, as preserved in the extant mss, has his blessing. They explicitly state that no translation, including the NWT, of the Bible is “inspired.” They went on to say: “No uninspired translator or committee of translators can claim any direct command from the Most High God to engage in translating the divine Word into another language.” (Foreword of the 1950 NWT of The Christian Greek Scriptures.) So how can the above critic call the NWT an “extra biblical revelation from God” and it is certainly not a “revelation” from God either. If it was then one has to wonder why the NWT Translation Committee took over 12 years to translate the original text and then when done did not dis-band? In fact, as is well known, the NWT Translation Committee continued to meet from time to time and since 1960 the NWT has been revised the last one coming in 1984. Would the NWT, if it was a “revelation” from God be in need of “revision”? The NWT has been and is still in the process of itself being translated into other languages. But until the NWT was or is available in those languages where the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach, the Witnesses use the Bible versions that are currently available in the language of the lands they are in. Were these Witnesses without an “extra biblical revelation” from God for all these years? Obviously, the writer is only expressing his own jaundiced view, one that is both uninformed and misinformed and as such cannot be taken seriously. Of course, it is common knowledge that Jehovah’s Witnesses use what ever Bible version that is at hand and have no objection in using those that have been provided by Catholic and Protestant scholars and translators. These and the other older versions the NWTTC have said “consistently met[meet] the needs” of those of their time and “still do.”-ibed. The New World Translation takes it’s place beside them.
Alan Duthie, in his book already quoted from (‘How To Choose Your Bible Wisely’), said:
“..for detailed word studies and similar interests in the original languages, we suggest either a very literal version like the N[ew] A[merican] S[tandard], N[ew] W[orld] T[ranslation...”p.225.
One has to wonder how Duthie could recommend the New World Translation in relation to a study of the “original languages”, that is, both the Hebrew and the Greek, when “it is questionable if any Hebrew or Greek scholar worked on it[the NWT]?” What isquestionable then, is the veracity, the credibility, of the critic? Let us listen to what Jason BeDuhn has said;
“Atrocious, deceitful, and inaccurate” may be what some call the NWT, but such a characterization is completely erroneous. Nearly every message I have received since the Watchtower article came out has claimed that “all reputable scholars,” “every Greek or biblical scholar,” etc. has condemned the NWT. It often sounds like people are getting this quote from the same source. But whatever the source, it is a lie. I have looked into the matter, and found almost no reviews of the NWT in academic journals. Most date from the 50s and 60s (the NWT has been improved since then). This kind of blanket condemnation of the NWT does not exist, for the most part because biblical scholars are far too busy to review WBTS publications which are considered outside of academic interest. It is simply something we don’t pay attention to. I would welcome the names of any scholar who has written a review of the KIT or NWT; I am looking for these reviews, which seem few and far between. For [this]characterization to be correct, [a critic] would have to point out places in the NWT where the translators deliberately give a false meaning for a word or phrase. Not a meaning within the range of possibility for the Greek, but something actually false and ungrammatical. Despite dozens of contacts in the last month, no one has yet supplied a single example which shows deliberate distortion (and I have checked many passages suggested to me). The fact is that the NWT is what I call a “hyper-literal” translation, it sticks very close to the Greek, even making awkward English reading. There are a few places where the translators seem to have gone far out of their way, sometimes to clarify something suggested by the Greek, often for no apparent reason (maybe my ignorance of fine points of Witness theology prevents me from grasping what they are up to). And if you look at any other available translation, you will find similar instances where interpretation has been worked into the text in a way that stretches, if it does not violate the Greek. Every translation is biased towards the views of the people who made it. It is hard to judge who is right and who is wrong simply by comparing versions. You must go back to the Greek.”
An interested person in Beduhn’s comments as they appeared in a Watchtower asked;
“So, do I understand correctly that you are praising both the the word-for-word translation of the Watchtower Society directly below the Westcott-Hort Greek text and the New World Translation reproduced in the right column? In what ways is it “superior to the most successful translation in use today”?
Before we proceed to Professor BeDuhn’s response allow me to quote Julius Mantey‘s opinion on the Kingdom Interlinear:
“I have never read any New Testament so badly translated as The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of The Greek Scriptures…. it is a distortion of the New Testament. The translators used what J.B. Rotherham had translated in 1893, in modern speech, and changed the readings in scores of passages to state what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe and teach. That is a distortion not a translation.” (Julius Mantey, Depth Exploration in The New Testament (N.Y.: Vantage Pres, 1980), pp.136-137)
“The interlinear is what I payed most attention to. Of course it is based on Westcott & Hort. One difference I noted is a very slavish word-for-word correspondence in the English words used to parallel the Greek. This is good. Most interlinears do a bit of interpretation already in selecting a variety of English words for one Greek word, depending on context. This interpretive move is bestleft for translations.
Do you deem Mantey’s opinion worthy of a competent or a unbiased/neutral Greek scholar? We will let you think upon that for yourselves. But Mantey’s remarks quoted above can be found repeated / reproduced in several places critical of the JW’s/NWT including here on the www.
The critic also alleged: “The Only Bible the Jehovah’s Witnesses will trust!” Clearly the critic has not bothered to check up the actual facts about the use of Bible translations Jehovah’s witnesses have and still use in the hundreds of countries they find themselves residing in, or the statements made in this very area by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It is true that the editors of the magazine The Watchtower have(as have many a reviewer) pointed out the weaknesses and inconsistencies in Bible translations(e.g.,WT 1969, pp.328-331, “Choosing a Modern Bible Translation.”) but even when they do they still exclaim that “It is indeed a blessing that there have been produced so many different translations.”- WT 1974, p.364, italics ours. As the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been existence since the 1870’s one wonders what Bible they were ‘trusting’ in before 1950, the date when The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was first issued? The WTB&TS also publishes other Bible translations such as the KJV, ASV, The Emphatic Diaglott, The Bible in Living English(S.T.Byington) and the NEB. Also, in what ever country Jehovah’s Witnesses have found themselves in they have used, and still do use, the Bible version that is current in the language of that land-before and since 1950. As a Watchtower said:
“Too, we note the humility of the committee in acknowledging in their footnotes that there are other ways that passages could be rendered. Appreciating this, we have always both recognized and encouraged the use of a variety of Bible translations.Thus, while deeply grateful for the work of the New World Bible Translation Committee, Jehovah’s witnesses use whatever Bibles are available in the local languages. Whether it be the clear, modern-language New World Translation or another, we encourage all to use the lamp of God’s Word to light life’s roadway.-Ps. 119:105″ -1974, p768
“No one uses the NWT except the JW’s.”
Dr Jason Beduhn had used the Kingdom Interlinear Translation,which in his words is, “Simply put, it is the best interlinear New Testament available,” in instructing a class of students in Biblical Greek. Obviously, it must have a scholarly status for him to do so. The KIT was produced by the NWT Translation Committee in 1969. So what does this indicate about those behind both the NWT and the KIT? That they must have had a good grasp of Kione Greek. That they must have been scholars in their own right. Is this not a logical argument we herewith present?
“JW’s on the other hand will use nothing else!” That, we, believe has already been answered but;
We are Jehovah’s Witnesses and we have and am familiar with 45 English Bible translations. If you peruse any of the WTB&TS publications they make free use of many other translations. Do you think the critic has made his point?
“It[the NWT]has undergone many revisions.”-so charged one website. But we would reply: So what?
So has the KJV-several times before the Revised Version of it in 1881-in 1613, 1629, 1638, 1644, 1664, 1701, 1744, 1762, 1759 and 1850. The New English Bible of 1960 has been revised-resulting in the Revised English Bible of 1989. J.B.Phillips brought his translation out, The New Testament in Modern English in 1960 then revised it in 1972. The Revised Standard Version of 1950 was itself a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901 which in turn was a revision of the King James Version of 1611. Then in 1989 out comes a revision of the RSV-The New Revised Standard Version. This could be said also of others. The NWT started off as a good translation. Through it’s revisions it is now that much better. That is what revisions are for!
It was in 1961 that The New World Translation was first issued as a single volume. A number of footnotes that were in the earlier volumes were put into the main text “to conform more closely to the literal meaning of the original languages.” The Watchtower1981, December 15th, p.11. In 1970 the NWT underwent another revision taking note of changes in English usage and taking advantage of the better understanding of the original languages in the scholarly community. There were over 100 changes made from the 1961 edition. The 1981 edition was the result of a further careful review which was made easier by advanced computerized typesetting and composition equipment. The latest revision came about in 1984. As the foreword said, “[It]is not just a refinement of the translated text……., but it has been expanded to include a complete updating and revision of the marginal(cross) references that were initially presented in English, from 1950 to 1960.”-New World Bible Translation Committee, June 1, 1984, New York, N.Y.
“It is not a translation, but a corrupt sectarian paraphrase.”-same website.
We believe that which you have already read belies that accusation as wholly false! But we might add the view of one who is not prejudiced and nor has an axe to grind against the NWT:
“I would have to prefer the NWT to both the NIV and the NRSV. The reason is simple. Both the NIV and the NRSV are more paraphrastic than the NWT. By that I mean that in both cases the translators work out what an entire passage “means” and then render the whole passage into English that conveys that meaning. The problem is that there are many passages of which we are not sure of the meaning. It is better to stick very close to the Greek, rendering it as literally as possible without torturing English grammar. Both the NIV and the NRSV indulge in glossing–that is, they both cover up difficulties in the text by producing smooth, apparently clear passages which when compared with the Greek depart quite away from the literal problematic Greek says. These glosses often follow traditional renderings (deriving from the King James tradition) and conform to readings consistent with the dogma of the mainstream denominations (the NIV is more guilty of this than the NRSV).
“The Greek New Testament is full of riches–nuances of meaning, subtle references, all sorts of cultural metaphors–that are often lost in translation. The NWT is very literal, which is a step in the right direction, because at least I can point out a passage to my class and they can see words which may not make perfect sense in themselves, but provide the clues to the meaning I can elaborate for them by reference to other passages of the Bible, or to details about Jewish, Greek, or Roman society and culture. I find it very difficult to do this with the more commonly used translations.
“It is incorrect, however, to take “hyper-literal” as a sharp condemnation. I support the literal end of the translation spectrum against the paraphrastic and interpretive because it is less conducive to the intrusion of biased understandings and leading interpretation. Of course, I work in a world where I stand right beside the student and help decipher the peculiar expressions and idioms, and most Bible readers don’t have that kind of help. So for them a “hyper-literal” translation will pose some difficulties. But those sorts of difficulties lead people to go out and find what they mean, whereas a nice, comfortable, contemporary idiom paraphrase deludes people into thinking that the Bible is perfectly understood and that it offers no challenges to our ordinary modern ways of thinking. That is terribly misleading.” Dr Jason BeDuhn.(He described the NWT as “hyperliteral” which some took as a sort of criticism. It was not. The NWT is of course a literal translation as the Dr,indeed anyone who is aware of the facts, would know-so it is certainly not a paraphrase!,although some paraphrases do, of course, appear–needfully.” (Not that this scholar hasn’t his own views on how any particular passage might be best translated. The above quote is not intended to make out that he agrees 100% with NWT of the Christian Greek Scriptures. He does not. But no two scholars are going to agree 100% of the time.But any Bible translation can be found ‘fault with’ by any scholar who might take the time to review it.)
Back in 1950 the New World Translation Committee said, in answer to the charges in regard to the translators wishes to remain anonymous;
“The true scholarship behind the New World Translation will make itself known, not by the disclosure of the names of the translating committee, but by the faithfulness of the translation to the Greek text and by the reliable help it gives toward understanding God’s written revelation to men. We are not troubled, therefore, by your thrust: “Albeit the identity of the translators is being withheld at their own request- they are not likely to make much impression on either Catholic or Protestant scholars. It is no wonder that the translators wish to remain unknown.” Not praise from the scholarship of this fading world, but the true service of God and the education of the people in his Word, is what we are after. The honesty, courage and firm foundations of this translation will commend it to honest seeking hearts. Already the fact that the universally known Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society publishes this New World Translation has been more of a recommendation to lovers of God’ s Word than the mere scholarship of Christendom.”
And in 1974 in The Watchtower, p768 again addressed this by answering the question of why did the members of the NWTTC wish to remain anonymous:
“ ….These translators were not seeking prominence; they did not desire to draw attention to themselves. In the spirit of “doing all things for God’s glory,” they wanted the reader to base his faith on God’s Word, not on their worldly qualifications. (1 Cor. 10:31) Other translation committees have taken a similar view. The jacket of the Reference Edition (1971) of the New American Standard Bible states: “We have not used any scholar’s name for reference or recommendations because it is our belief God’s Word should stand on its merits.””
A little off the subject but worth answering is this:
“By the way, when they come to your front door, ask them[JW’S] what Bible they used before 1950 when the NWT was first published. If they say the King James, then ask why the NWT does not agree with the KJ. If the KJ was used, then ask how could they have used it from 1870 until 1950 since that little letter ‘A'[the writer is referring to John 1:1 NWT here]was not in the KJ..”
What this particular critic appears ignorant of is that Jehovah’s Witnesses used a variety of translations in many different languages, not just the KJV. We have here a straw man! To name a few English Bible versions they used prior to 1950: KJV, ASV, Rotherham, Emphatic Diaglott, Goodspeed. What he also fails to take into account is that just because you might “use” any particular Bible version does not mean you have to agree with it 100%.(eg.Would a trinitarian prefer the KJV’s Titus 2:13 which does not unambiguously ascribe the “great God,” to Jesus there.?)One place the Jehovah’s Witness did not agree with in the KJV is John 1:1. But, of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses were cognisant of the fact that the rendering therein found of John 1:1 had been challenged by others. One such comes from the Emphatic Diaglot by Benjamin Wilson(our own copy being that published by Fowler & Wells,NY.and is dated 1883.)Often the literature of the witnesses prior to 1950 referred it’s readers to John 1:1 in this translation which reads: “In the Beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with GOD,and the LOGOS was God.” Notice the use of “God” rather than “GOD” when used of the LOGOS(the Word).The interlinear reading is, “….and the Word was with the God,and a god was the Word.”-italics mine. Of course, Goodspeed’s translation here reads,”…and the Word was divine. “This was another, along with Moffatt, that was used and alluded to on many occasions before 1950. All individual JW’s knew therefore, ‘despite’ the KJV’s rendering at this place, that the Word was not “God.” The release of the NWT of the Christian Greek Scriptures in 1950 showed the belief of the JW’s since 1870 and why it did not so render John 1:1 the way the KJV does. So when the JW’s “knock on your front door” and you ask the above question, you now know how they might answer!(NB.Anyone who is not familiar with Wilson’s Diaglott can contact us with any questions. We have much background knowledge of Wilson and his Emphatic Diaglott.)
We have read:
“We have made our own Bible translation, the New World Translation, the most correctly translated Bible ever. The translators names are kept secret, so as the honor of this translation goes to Jehovah – not to men.” So says the file ‘What do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe’ as taken from their website at http://22.214.171.124. Okay, since Jehovah is given all the credit for writing this translation, and if Jehovah is GOD, then this truly must be a perfect translation, as GOD is perfect, and cannot dispense error. Dispensing error is satan’s job, right? I then must ask why there are so many conflicts, inconsistencies, and changes in the NWT? In this file I will list only a few. All verses are taken from the NWT.“
Of course, this critic of the NWT has misrepresented what Jehovah’s Witnesses have said about it themselves. [We suspect he has also misquoted the WTB&TS web page.] If the critic had bothered to have done his research properly he would have found this statement from the Foreword of the NWT 1950 edition:
“…No translation of these sacred writings[the New Testament]into another language, except by the original writers, is inspired….No uninspired translator or committee of translators can claim any direct command from the Most High God to engage in translating the divine Word into another language….So, to do the work of translating is an opportunity and a privilege. In presenting this translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures[NT] our confidence has been in the help of the great Author of The Book. Our primary desire has been to seek, not the approval of men, but that of God, by rendering the truth of his inspired Word as purely and as consistently as our consecrated powers make possible.” pp.5,7.
It should be obvious by all that the New World Translation Committee has not claimed that the NWT is “inspired” of God, or, as the critic put it, “Jehovah is given all the credit for writing this translation.” That is a complete distortion of the facts. They had/have the “confidence” that they had/have the “help” of the Author, God. But that is no different from any other Bible translation committee made up of mortal and imperfect men and women. But, of course, none, including the NWT Translation Committee, that have made this kind of statement in their prefaces of their work are claiming that their translation must therefore be “perfect.” For instance, The Committee on Bible Translation for the New International Version said in August 1983, “Like all translations of the Bible, made as they are by imperfect men, this one undoubtedly falls short of its goals.Yet we are grateful to God for the extent to which he has enabled us to realise these goals and for the strength he has given us and our colleagues to complete our task…”
In 1969 there was printed The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, also the work of the New World Bible Translation Committee. This Greek-English work gives anyone the opportunity to examine closely the endeavors of the translation committee on that portion of the Bible. So it is evident that the committee is asking all, whether scholars or not, to closely compare their translation right next to the primary Greek text, the Westcott and Hort text, on which it was based. Do you deem that an endeavour aimed at openness as to their work? I would. If the NWTTC were doing all the things with this portion of the Bible that many have accused them of doing, like “hoping no one would notice,” as one critic said regarding the translation ofMatthew 27:50, would they have brought out such a work as the Kingdom Interlinear Translation?
“Why the bias[in the NWT]concerning Christ? Because the Watchtower teaches that Jesus is a mighty god, but not the almighty God, a creature rather than the Creator.”
So said one writer on the internet who has a different viewpoint in regard to Jesus Christ. But is the NWT guilty of “bias” because the producer’s of it are non-Trinitarian?
This position is far too simplistic and is in fact misleading. One might just as well consider all translations done by trinitarians to be biased because they are trinitarians! It would be wrong to say “Why the bias in such-and-such translation? Because the Translators teaches that Jesus is Almighty God, but not a mighty god, the Creator rather than a creature.” That just will not do. No, the charge of unwarranted bias can only be made when the theology of the translators can be seen or proven to over-ride such things as grammar, semantics, context and linguistic matters that are involved in understanding and translating any particular passage of scripture. Time and time again one will read that the NWT renderings are biased toward their ‘theology,’ usually in regard to the ‘deity’ of Christ. But usually, one can find that other translators and translation committees who are not Jehovah’s Witnessesand do not share a ‘theology’ with the Jehovah’s Witnesses yet have rendered a scripture the same way as the NWT has. So, obviously, more than the witnesses’ beliefs should be looked at when deciding why the NWT has arrived at their translation of any particular passage of scripture.
Some may quote the opinions of reputable scholars to support their contention that the New World Translation is unreliable due to the translator’s “theology'” or their ‘rejection’ of the “deity of Christ.” But what can be said about such opinions. For instance, one might quote Robert Bowman who has written “I should also clarify at the outset what it means to charge a translation with doctrinal bias. While _all_ translations reflect their translator’s doctrinal convictions to a certain extent, some_ translations are extremely biased to the point of severely distorting the meaning of the Bible. And so, though it is true that all translations reflect some biases, these are in most cases inconsequential compared to the bias of the NWT.” -italic mine.
Please note that Bowman is not just accusing the New World Translation of bias but of being “extremely biased” towards the doctrines of it’s editors(so he is in disagreement with Houtman quoted at the beginning)so that the meaning of the Bible is “severely distorted.” Bowman tries to prove this fierce contention which we will examine below. But the following is what Jason BeDuhn has written to one critic of the NWT that has a bearing on this:
“Be careful whom you trust for information. My expertise is in Koine Greek. Speaking of information, your much tauted list is just a list of names: how do we know what any of these individuals have actually said? And does anyone besides me see the common denominator of all of these scholars? They are all members of religious schools attached to specific denominations of Christianity. I have no reason to question the integrity of any of these gentlemen. On the contrary, I am sure they have perfect integrity in their primary commitment, namely their religious beliefs. Isn’t it fair to presume that their affiliations already testify to their theological commitments? I would imagine that these gentlemen read the bible in line with those commitments, and I would not fault them for that; that is their prerogative, and I am sure they are supported in this by their institutions. Anyone who wants the Presbyterian or Catholic or Evangelical reading of the bible, I would urge you to consult with such experts. If, however, you want an objective assessment of bible translation, don’t ask theologians, ask secular bible scholars at public universities. Our jobs are not on the line if we seem to contradict church dogma, and we are not in the business of apologetics or polemics. We are historians and linguists trying to find out what was said and what was meant in ancient texts. I wouldn’t expect you to turn to us for spiritual guidance. But if you want to know what the original Greek of the NT can and cannot mean, we have the training and self-discipline to provide it without special pleading. That’s no proud boast; that’s a comment on the kind of education we value in a nation committed to the separation of church and state (for the protection of both), and on a profession which will let no unexamined claim stand unchallenged.”-italics mine.
Note BeDuhn’s remark of “If, however, you want an objective assessment of bible translation, don’t ask theologians, ask secular bible scholars at public universities.” Has Bowman’s overview(for he admits that most of his remarks are only to be regarded as such)of some NWT renderings been “objective.”?
This same Professor went on to show how the translator’s theological commitments is a driving force for any preferred rendering:
“Believe me, I am sure of my facts; and I suggest that you check yours. None of the major modern translations have been accomplished by groups of linguists working with the same methods employed in the translation of Homer or Plato. Instead, every translation committee has consisted of denominationally-affiliated bible scholars, most of whom had theological commitments which, when push came to shove, superseded a strictly linguistic approach. The kinds of considerations that are made by these committees concerning the meaning and proper translation of a verse simply do not occur in secular translation work. There is always a concern for the theological implications of the words. The Lockman foundation and the NIV committee openly avowed their primarily theological concerns in their translation work. The RSV/NRSV editors have gone so far as to modify translations to please specific denominational groups. The RSV/NRSV committee has, over the years, included a handful of “non-trinitarian” scholars, but this was simply part of the RSV editors’ goal to make the RSV THE Bible of the English speaking world, and the tiny minority of dissenting voices within the committee could have little impact on the finished product. The “broad spectrum” (of scholars) you refer to is in fact very safely in the mainstream of modern Christianity. Now I think it safe to say that you assume modern mainstream Christianity to be correct and “true” Christianity, and a tiny minority like the JWs to be in error. But imagine if the situation were reversed. Imagine that your “true” Christianity was the minority, and the huge majority to have followed a wrong turn somewhere down the road to “error.” This is just a hypothetical situation. In such a situation, any claim based on numbers, on majority rule, would have no meaning for you. It’s pretty nice to speak with the confidence that you are in the majority isn’t it? But has it ever occurred to you that in attacking the JWs and insisting that they give up their “different” beliefs and conform to your “true” beliefs and “correct” translations that you are pressuring them to do precisely what you would never do: yield in your faith, your truth, to the pressure of the outside world? I have often been struck by this irony.”
Robert Bowman attempts to back up the accusation that the New World Translation is “doctrinally biased” by saying: “Some of the additions in brackets with the NWT so clearly change the meaning that it is a wonder that more JWs do not question them. In 1 Corinthians 14:12-16 the expression “gift of the” is added in brackets five times, changing “spirit” to “[gift of the] spirit.” The result is that Paul’s contrast between his own personal “spirit” and his “mind” is removed, which again serves the JW doctrine that the spirit is not a distinct entity which survives death. To assure that this contrast is missed, the word “my” is also added in brackets before “mind” twice in verse 15. Thus the simple contrast between “the spirit” and “the mind” is changed to “the [gift of the] spirit” and “[my] mind.”
Is the New World Translation showing it’s “doctrinal bias” here with the word “spirit” in these five verses of 1 Corinthians 14:12-16? It is true that the NWT ‘adds’ or rather ‘supplies’ the words “gifts of the”(once) or “gift of the”(four times). But what Bowman does not say is that in verse 12 most translations also ‘add’ or ‘supply’ a word to the Greek word “pneumatwn”, literally “of spirits.” So we have here “spiritual gifts”-The New Testament in the Langauge of the People by C.B.Williams, The Revised Standard Version(1989); “gifts of the Spirit”-The Revised English Bible(1989);”spiritual endowments”-The Bible,An American Translation(Goodspeed);Amplified Bible(1958).
The last translation cited above, The Amplified Bible, adds/supplies the words “by the Holy Spirit that is within me” in verses 14,15(twice) and 16 after the word “spirit.” The Translation Committee of the Amplified Bible then is in disagreement with Bowman here. While Bowman says the word “spirit” in verse 14 is Paul’s “personal spirit,” the Amplified Bible informs us that they believe it is the Holy Spirit. So here we see a divergence of opinion already. A footnote in the Amplified Bible shows they have followed the ‘interpretation’ here of Marvin R. Vincent’s “Word Studies in the New Testament.” So right away this Jehovah’s Witness has raised a “question” not about the supplied words found in brackets here by the NWT but about Bowman’s own reliability to inform his readers that here we have differing opinions about what “spirit” is meant in verses 14 to 16 of 1 Corinthians 14. That there is indeed a divergence of interpretation here one only has to look in The Linguistic Key to the Scriptures which says after the words “pneuma mou,” “my[Paul’s] spirit” in verse 14 “It could refer to the human spirit of Paul([C.K.]Barrett[A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians]) or the Holy Spirit or the spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit(s[ee].[Johannes]Weiss[Der erste Korinther Brief.];P[aul’s] A[nthropological] T[erms],190f[by Robert Jewett,Leiden:E.J.Brill,1971.]
Did you notice there that Paul’s “spirit” could have reference to “the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit.” Hence, if the NWT Translation Committee takes this as the meaning here what option did they have but to supply the words “gift of the” in square brackets? We must remember that translation must convey the whole sense of the word as used by the original writer and understood by the original recipients of it and not always just an ‘equivalent’ word or term(if there actually is one)into the target language. So ‘additional’ words to be supplied by the translator is essential at times. The NWT Translation Committee chose, as it is the right of all translators to do, to supply the words “gift of the” so that no confusion could arise in how THEY believed the word “spirit” meant at these places under dispute. The addition of the words “gifts of the” helps the reader to understand the ‘recommendations’ Paul was giving to the Corinthian congregation in regard to the “spiritual gifts” that they were to “zealously seek”(1 Cor.14.1),especially toward those who had the gift of speaking in “tongues”(1 Cor.14.2) did Paul offer his inspired thoughts. All through chapter 14 Paul is focusing on this particular “gift.” But all this goes to show that in translation there is a degree of interpretation. If any one thinks otherwise they are naive. Bowman has certainly not proved that in 1 Corinthians 14.12-16 the New World Translation is “doctrinally biased.” In fact “A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament” at 1 Corinthians 14:12 where the Greek word ‘pneumata’ occurs states: “..pneumata here, spiritual gifts.”(Max Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor, Unabridged, Revised Edition in One Volume, Rome Biblical Institute Press, 1981.)
Ironically then, Bowman’s example of “some translations are extremely biased to the point of severely distorting the meaning of the Bible” in the NWT, is really nothing more than unfair bias on his side! So Professor BeDuhn, quoted above, was being astute when he said, “Be careful who you trust for information” !
Just to remind you, Bowman also said, “the word “my” is also added in brackets before “mind” twice in verse 15. Thus the simple contrast between “the spirit” and “the mind” is changed to “the [gift of the] spirit” and “[my] mind.”
However, Bowman is too hasty in being critical of the NWT here. For does not The Translator’s New Testament also “add” the word “my” before “mind” in verse 15? See also the translations of Barclay,Weymouth and The New Berkeley Version. Others no doubt could be cited.
For myself, I have allowed Bowman to get me to “question them,” that is, the supplied words in square brackets and yet rather than find the NWT wanting have found him so.This is fairly strong language but those who are going to make their strongly worded critical opinions public must be ready to have those opinions challenged.
Bowman goes on to say:
“CHANGING WORDS* The NWT is further guilty of mistranslating or paraphrasing words in a way which not only does a disservice to the text but betrays its prevailing doctrinal bias as well. It does this with words as small as prepositions. Of course, it is possible to make too much of prepositions. Words like “in,” “of,” “into,” and “with” really do not in and of themselves have doctrinal significance. Only as these words are attached to other words do they take on significance. It is also important to recognize that a preposition can have different meanings in different contexts. Yet — though this is true — prepositions do have recognizable functions and meanings and cannot be translated in whatever manner one chooses. In violation of this, the NWT translates the simple preposition “in” (Greek, _en_) with unnecessary variations which often obscure or alter the meaning of the passage. This is illustrated in 1 John 5:20 where the NWT reads in part, “And we are in union with the true one, by means of his Son Jesus Christ.” Reading this translation, one would never suspect that _in union with_ and _by means of_ translate the same simple Greek preposition. There is no sound reason for this variation. “And we are _in union with_ the true one, _in union with_ his Son Jesus Christ,” would have brought out John’s point that union with Christ _is_ union with God.”
Let us examine Bowman’s illustration of the NWT’s “mistranslating and paraphrasing words in a way that….betrays it’s doctrinal bias” and translating prepositions “with unnecessary variations which obscure the meaning. “He cites 1 John 5:20.
Would Bowman accuse C.B.Williams of doing the self same thing? For does not Williams in his translation The New Testament in the Language of the People render the preposition “en” differently each time in 1 John 5:20 as;
“…and we are in union[Gk.”en”] with the true one through[Gk.”en”] His Son,Jesus Christ…”
Or what of The Modern Language Bible/New Berkeley Version:
“…And we are in union[Gk.”en”] with the true One, with His Son Jesus Christ…”
Or what of E.Goodspeed’s translation in The Bible, An American Translation:
“…and we are in union[Gk.”en”] with him who is true, through[Gk.”en”] his Son,..”
Or The Twentieth Century New Testament:
“…and we are in union with the True God by our union with his Son.”(italics mine)Notice the word “by” that has been used by this translation in connection with the second occurrence of the preposition “en.”
All these translations and no doubt more could be cited, have taken the first occurrence of the very common preposition “en” in the basic sense of “in.” But with the instrumental sense in it’s second occurrence. It is “by means” (NWT) or “through” (Goodspeed) Jesus Christ that Christians are “in” or “in union with” the true God. This appears to fit more easily with the first part of verse 20 for it is by the coming of the Son of God that Christians have been given “mental capacity” (NWT ftnte 1 John 5:20) that they may gain knowledge of the True One, God. So Jesus was the instrument God used to enable those with faith in his Son to be “in union” with Him. Hence, the Contemporary English Version(1995) renders this passage “..And because of Jesus Christ, we now belong to the true God.” (emphasis ours) At any rate, whatever translation one might prefer Bowman cannot accuse these other Bible versions with “doctrinal bias.” Certainly these others were and are not Jehovah’s Witnesses and do not hold to the same doctrines. So the most Bowman should be is to be critical on the translational level-not bring in the charge of unwarranted bias-and this toward other translations as well and not just isolate the New World Translation. A case of with-holding relevant information from his readers again. This is what this page is all about! Not really proving that a critic cannot disagree with the decisions made by the New World Translation Committee but showing that the critics charges of doctrinal bias in translation has more to do with differences in theology with that of the NWT editors. In these instances each should be fair to each other. Unfortunately, Bowman has not been here.
One more example under his heading “Changing Words” Bowman says:
“Again, in Colossians 2:6-12 the preposition “in” is translated by the NWT using unnecessary variations. The Greek phrase _en auto_ (“in him”) is translated “in union with him” (v.6b), “in him” (vv. 7a,9), and “by means of him” (v. 10). _En ho_ (“in whom”) is translated “by relationship with him” (vv.11a,12a). These variations of “in” serve no useful purpose, undermine the unity of the passage, and obscure the point of the author which is that the Christian life consists of a supernatural relationship with Christ through faith.”
His last sentence says that the NWT rendering of the common preposition “en” here “serves no useful purpose,” it “undermine the unity of the passage,” it obscures “the point of the author” of that “supernatural relationship with Christ.” Let us examine Charles B. William’s translation of this passage before us, namely Colossians 2:6,7,9-12. We will indicate with different colour fonts where the preposition “en” ocurrs, Williams rendering of it together with the NWT’s rendering at that place so you can easily compare the two translations.
“(6).So, just as you once accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue living in vital union with [“en” “in union with] Him,(7)with your roots deeply planted in Him, being continuously built up in[“en” “in“]Him, and growing stronger in faith, just as you were taught to do, overflowing through it in you gratitude….(9)For it is in[“en” “in“] Him that all the fulness of Deity continues to live embodied, (10)and through union[“en” “by means“]with Him you too are filled with it……(11)And through your union with him[“en o” “by relationship with him“]you once received…(12)for you were buried with Him in baptism and raised to life with Him through[“en o“ “by your relationship with“]your faith in the power of God…”
So according to Bowman Charles B. Williams has also “translated by…using unnecessary variations” so as to “serve no useful purpose,” and to “undermine the unity of the passage,” and to obscure “the point of the author” of that “supernatural relationship with Christ.” Yet we have never seen any reviewer of Williams’ translation here be critical of him for doing so. Indeed, Julius R. Mantey whilst teaching post graduate Greek in which his class spent a whole year studying translations of the New Testament said “it became increasingly apparent to all those making the study that Dr. Williams’ translation possessed unusual and unparalleled merit, not only in the meaning of tenses but also bringing out clearly and accurately the meaning of all the Greek words and ideas….We concluded that it is the best translation of the New Testament in the English language.” We have also brief commendations by Edward A. McDowell of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky and that of John Mostert of Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois.(Also Ray Summers, Philip C.Johnson, Lloyd S.Cressman and Boyce W.Blackwelder.) None of whom seemed to pick up what Bowman would consider a “mistranslation” by “unnecessary variations” with the translation of the preposition “en” that “serve no useful purpose,” and to “undermine the unity of the passage,” and to obscure “the point of the author” of that “supernatural relationship with Christ.”
We should also note that there is also some “variation” of translation in this matter in The New Testament-A Translation by William Barclay, The Bible – An American Translation ( Edgar Goodspeed), Todays English Version.
What then do you think was the motivation behind Bowman’s criticism of the New World translation here? In our opinion both The New World Translation and Charles B.William’s The New Testament in the Language of the People have been exceptionally careful to bring out all the right nuances and more than just a bland, similar-sounding translation of the Apostle Paul here.
He goes on with his critical comments of the NWT by saying:
“Another kind of mistranslation involves the word “believe.” One of the most offensive teachings of evangelical Christianity to the JWs (and to many others as well) is that God reckons the sinner righteous on the basis of simple faith, or believing, in Christ. Of course, where “faith” or “belief” is reduced to mental assent to a doctrine, this is rightly rejected. But biblical justification is based on faith in _Christ,_ not faith in a doctrine. Nonetheless, even when this teaching is properly defined it is offensive to the JWs, as is evidenced by their attempt to obscure this truth in the NWT. Most notable in this regard is the NWT rendering of the Greek word for “believe” (_pisteuo_) as “exercise faith” instead of “believe.” As others have noted, to “exercise faith” implies more than to believe; it implies doing works on the basis of one’s belief. The NWT almost always renders _pisteuo_ as “exercise faith” when it concerns God’s free pardon and justification of those who believe in Christ (e.g., John 1:12; 3:16-18 [but note v. 15]; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:22).”
Let the NWT editors answer this for themselves:
“Why does the New World Translation at times render the Greek word pi’steu’o as “believe” like most translations and at other times as “exercise” [or put] faith in”?
“This is done to reflect different shades of meaning that are expressed by the Greek word pi’steu’o. For example, the Grammar of New Testament Greek, by James Moulton, notes that early Christians clearly recognized “the importance of the difference between mere belief . . . and personal trust.” Both these thoughts can be expressed using the Greek word pi’steu’o. Often, the different shades of meaning of pi’steu’o must be discerned from the context. At times, though, different grammatical constructions help us to see what the writer had in mind. For example, if pi’steu’o is followed merely by a noun in the dative case, the New World Translation usually renders it simply as “believe”- unless the context indicates something different. (Matthew 21:25, 32; but see Romans 4:3.) If pi’steu’o is followed by the word epi’, “on,” it is generally rendered “believe on.” (Matthew 27:42; Acts 16:31) If it is followed by eis, “to,” it is usually translated “exercise faith in.”-John 12:36; 14:1.This latter rendering (which reminds us that pi’steu’o is related to the Greek word pi’stis, “faith” ) is in harmony with a comment in An Introductory Grammar of New Testament Greek, by Paul Kaufman. This work says:” Another construction which is common in the New Testament (especially in John’s Gospel) is [pisteuo] with [eis] and the accusative case . . . The whole construction of [eis] plus the accusative must be translated rather than attempting to translate the preposition [eis]as an isolated word. Faith is thought of as an activity, as something men do, i.e. putting faith into someone.””-The Watchtower, December 1st,1990.
Do you believe that Bowman has proved his point? Or do you deem that the New World Translation has been very careful and precise on this occasion?
On the point of “adding words” Bowman says:
“What is not so often recognized is that the NWT does this same thing in several other passages as well (Acts 10:36; Romans 8:32; Phil. 2:9). In Romans 8:32 (“….will he not also with him [Jesus] kindly give us all other things?”), the word “other” is not even placed in brackets, contrary to the work’s stated practice. In each case, the intent is apparently to undermine the implication of the text that Jesus Christ is God.”
Looking at Romans 8:32 what do we see. The Greek word the NWT has translated “all other things” is “panta” an inflected form of “pas”. No one who knows Greek would dispute that the word “pas” can mean “all” absolutely. But it can also mean if the context allows for it “all other” or “all kinds of.” How have other translations rendered it here in Romans 8:32.Many translate it as “all things.” For instance The Revised Standard Version has “all things” which is what Bowman would agree to. But the New Revised Standard Version of 1989 ‘changed’ it to “everything else,” agreeing with the NWT. The NRSV is not the only one to do this. The New English Bible(1960) has here “all he has” but the Revised English Bible of 1989 has “every other.” Bowman’s article of which we have been quoting him from came from the Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1989, page 20. We have to wonder if Bowman would have included Romans 8:32 as an example of where the NWT “distorts” the Bible due to it’s “doctrinal bias” if he had known that the two revisions that appeared later in 1989 were going to translate “pas” as had the New World Translation? Still, we do have the older translations of Moffatt “everything besides” and that of C.B.Williams “everything else.” Are all these “distorting” the Bible due to their belief that “Jesus is not God”? Hardly! See also the New American Bible(1990).
And on “omitting words” Bowman says:
“John 14:14 should also be mentioned. In the NWT this reads, “If YOU ask anything in my name, I will do it.” The Greek text in the _KIT_, however, has “me” after “ask.” It therefore should be translated, “If you ask _me_ anything in my name, I will do it.” It is true that some later Greek manuscripts omitted this word, but most of the earlier ones included it, and most modern editions of the Greek New Testament (including those used by the JWs in producing the NWT) include it. At the very least, the NWT ought to have mentioned this reading in a note.”
Don’t forget: Bowman is including this example in The New World Translation because it is one where he believes it shows the “extreme bias” of this Bible version of Jehovah’s Witnesses.Is it really?
Bowman may well have a point in that perhaps the New World Translation “ought to have mentioned this reading in a note,” that is, that the Greek text of Westcott and Hort contains it. However, not all has been said on the matter.
First of all there are other translations that base their work on the Westcott and Hort Greek text yet similarly do not include the word “me” here in John 14:14 and neither add any footnote as to their reason for doing so. The Twentieth Century New Testamentand The New Testament in the Language of the People by C.B.Williams are two examples. The latter translator said in the foreword to his work, “Our translation is based on the Westcott and Hort Greek text… When there are conflicting variations in the Greek Manuscripts, we have generally followed the Vatican Manuscript, which is the oldest and usually conceded the best.”
Bowman is correct that in the KIT(Kingdom Interlinear Translation) the “Greek text..has “me” after “ask”. The Greek text being, of course, the Westcott and Hort text. But what must be known is that although the Westcott and Hort Greek text is reproduced in the left hand column of each page of the KIT, the notation of Westcott and Hort is not. This is important to know. If we look at the Greek text as seen in The New Testament in the Original Greek, MacMillan and Co., Limited, London 1926 we can see the original notation of these textual critics. At John 14:14 we can see that the word for “me,” in Greek has square brackets around it. What does this indicate? On page 581 of the above work we find an explanation of what this means. I will quote from it:
“Alternative Readings: Wherever it has been found impossible to decide that one of two or more various readings is certainly right, alternative readings are given: and no alternative reading is given which does not appear to have a reasonable probability of being the true reading. The primary place in the text itself is assigned to those readings which on the whole are more probable, or in cases of equal probability the better attested. The other alternative readings occupy a secondary place, with a notation which varies according as they differ from the primary readings by Omission, by Addition, or by Substitution.
So we know that Westcott and Hort did not consider the word “me” in John 14:14 as the primary reading but a “secondary reading” that has “a reasonable probability of being the true reading.” This is possibly the reason why the NWT Translation Committee did not deem it necessary, because of following the a secondary reading at this place, to include a note as Bowman says it would have been “the very least that they could do” in the 1950 edition of the NWT. But if Bowman is right here then he should also expect that it would have been the “very least” that Goodspeed could have done. Why? Because Goodspeed used the Westcott and Hort Greek text also in The Bible-An American Translation. And if the word “me” in John 14:14 is the secondaryreading then according to Bowman Goodspeed should have “at the very least” put a note in his work indicating that he followed this secondary, not the primary reading, of the Greek text of Westcott and Hort.
In 1984 the New World Translation was revised. The Greek text that was used for the portion that is the Christian Greek Scriptures or the so-called New Testament was said to be not only based on Westcott and Hort, Nestle, Bover and Merk but nowothers. Now Bowman, if I can remind you, said “It is true that some later Greek manuscripts omitted this word, but most of the earlier ones included it, and most modern editions of the Greek New Testament (including those used by the JWs in producing the NWT) include it.” But in the New World Translation Reference Edition of 1984 we do have a note under John 14:14. It informs us that the following manuscripts do not have the word “me” in this place in the Greek. They are: Codex Alexandrius(5th century); Bezae Codices, Greek and Latin(5th and 6th centuries) and the Old Latin Versions(2nd to 4th century.) Against this reading the note informs us those manuscripts that do contain the the word “me.” They are: Papyrus Bodmer 2(c.200 A.D.); Codex Sinaiticus(4th century); Vatican Ms 1209(4th century); Freer Gospels(5th century); Latin Vulgate by Jerome(c 400 A.D.); Philoxenian-Harclean Syriac Version(6th and 7th century); Syriac Peshitta,Christian Aramaic(5th century).
The Revised English Bible of 1989 were also aware, no doubt, that, as Bowman said,”… that some later Greek manuscripts omitted this word, but most of the earlier ones included it, and most modern editions of the Greek New Testament (including those used by the JWs in producing the NWT) include it.” Yet they too, like the New World Translation do not include the word “me” in Jesus’ words at John 14:14. So much for Bowman’s example of “extreme bias” of the NWT Translation Committee! One has to wonder who is really the one with “extreme bias”!!!
Robert Bowman is not the only one to make extraordinary claims about alleged bias in the NWT in regard to John 14:14. Another critic James White has written:
“OPEN CHALLENGE TO “BC BLAD” OR LARRY KELLY OR ANY OTHER *** REPRESENTATIVE OF THE WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY ***POINT OF DEBATE: The Watchtower Society’s publication entitled, “The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures” omits a word from the text of John 14:14 which directly bears on the issue of the Deity of Christ. In that the Watchtower Society is willing to deliberately alter the text of Sacred Scripture to suit its own preconceived theological teachings, we can reject the claims of that Society to be “Jehovah’s only organization” and can identify that group as opposing the work of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel…..I challenge “Bc Blad” or Larry Kelly or any other representative of the Watchtower Society to give logical, factual reason for the translation of the Westcott-Hort Greek text found in the Kingdom Interlinear that is given to us in the New World Translation. Why does the NWT delete the term “me”?”
Did the “Watchtower Society” or rather the NWTTC “deliberately alter the text of Sacred Scripture to suit its own preconceived theological teachings,[so that] we[James White etc]can reject the claims of that Society to be “Jehovah’s only organization”
We believe the above reply given to the charge of Bowman answers that. Does James White also think that the producers of theRevised English Bible “deliberately alter the text of Sacred Scritpure to suit [their] own preconceived theological teachings”? Does James White think that those who sponsored the Revised English Bible such as the Baptist Union of Great Britain, The Church of England, The Church of Scotland, The Council of Churches For Wales, The Irish Council of Churches, The Methodist Church of Great Britain, The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, The Salvation Army and others somehow are also to be “rejected” as claiming to be ‘representatives’ of Jehovah on this Earth[“Jehovah’s only organisation”]because John 14:14 in this translation reads exactly how it does in the New World Translation? If he thinks so why does he not say so? One has to believe he does think so when reading his charges against the NWTTC above ! Does he also believe that the REV and it’s above named sponsors are “opposing the work of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel”? Again, reading what he has publically said we must think he does. At any rate, so much for this “open challenge” by this one James White. Why does not White openly challenge those others who have translated John 14:14 the same way the NWT has? The answer should be obvious. White himself is biased and is not interested in presenting the whole factual picture. In doing so White is misleading those who listen to him.
Bowman again says:
“There are several types of mistranslations in the NWT. …….also notable is the NWT rendering of Colossians 1:19, “because [God] saw good for all fullness to dwell in him.” Here the little word “the” is omitted before “fullness.” This is significant, because in the NWT rendering “all fullness” is ambiguous, whereas “all _the_ fullness” clearly refers to the “fullness” of God’s own being (cf. Col. 2:9).”
But the translations of Robert Knox, Andy Gaus and Ferrar Fenton also have no “the” before “fullness” here at this place. Also, it should be noted that this “fullness” was his,the Son’s, because God “saw good,”(NWT,Gk;”eudokesen” aorist active indicative of “eudokew”) or it “pleased the Father”(KJV) for this to be so. So whatever this “fullness” was it was the Son’s “by God’s own choice“(New English Bible) not because the Son was “God”. Or as Francis Young, Lecturer in N.T. Studies, Birmingham University, England remarked upon this word [“eudokesen”] “..the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in him…it was choice, will, purpose, election, rather than essential derivative nature.”
Bowman continues after a brief comment or two on the use of the Divine name in the N.T. part of the NWT by saying:
“The second way the NWT has systematically abused the divine names or titles is in its handling of texts in which Jesus is called God. There are nine texts where Jesus is definitely called God (Isa. 9:6; John 1:1,18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20; possibly also Acts 20:28). Of these, four are translated so that Jesus is not called God at all (Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1). Two are rendered so that he is “a god” or “god” (John 1:1,18). The remaining three texts (Isa. 9:6; John 20:28; 1 John 5:20) are interpreted so that either Jesus is not called God at all or he is called God only in some lesser sense. In short, wherever possible, the NWT has translated texts which in their natural reading plainly call Jesus God in such a way that they no longer make that identification.”
But as one can readily determine from a discussion of these very passages on this site; is it really so that the above cited “nine texts” “definitely [call Jesus] God”? Each and every one of them has been interpreted by non-Jehovah’s Witnesses, even Trinitarians, as saying that in these places Jesus is not described “absolutely as God.”- V.Taylor. Perhaps Bowman should correct himself on this claim of his?
“Moved by the thought of the immeasurable favour of God to His people, Paul breaks out into an inscription of praise: Blessed for evermore be the God who is over all! Amen! There is another possible way of construing the words, according to which they form the conclusion of the previous sentence: ‘Theirs is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever.’ But such a direct application of the term ‘God’ to Christ would be unique in Paul’s writings. Even though he ascribes to Christ functions and dignities which are consistent with nothing less than deity, yet he pointedly avoids calling him ‘God’ (e.g. 1 Cor.viii.6; Phil. ii.6-11; …). Thus Dr Moffat’s rendering[quoted above]seems to be the most natural and probable.”-The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, The Moffatt New Testament Commentary, London, Hodder & Stoughton Limited, reprint July 1947, p.152.[Words in brackets ours]
Of the “four”(which includes Romans 9:5)Bowman mentions that the NWT does not have Jesus called “God at all,” quite a few translations sponsored and translated by trinitarians also do not call Jesus “God at all” ! He remarks about the other “three” as if these also cannot be understood other than Jesus is God. But again, Bowman fails to admit that others so interpret as the NWT editors do. That the NWT translations are bonafide ones and have the support of other translations and commentators. (We could cite as an example G. B. Caird who comments in his book New Testament Theology “With the possible exception of Romans 9:5 he[Paul]does not appear to have taken the step of calling Jesus God.”-p.339, Clarendon Paperback, Oxford University Press, 1995. Note that even in regard to Romans 9.5 he states that it is only a “possibility” that Jesus is called “God” and by writing as he has Caird has excluded Titus 2:13 also.) True, they are translated in accord with the NWT theological persuasions but that can be said of those translations that translate them as if Jesus is unequivocally “God.” We could just aswell retort that those translations that “wherever possible” they have translated texts which in the “natural reading” plainly do not call Jesus “God”! Whatever does Bowman think by saying their “natural reading”! The criticism works both ways! Would Bowman concede that some translations “systematically [abuse] the divine names and titles” in their “handling” of these same? Bowman is inserting into his biased arguments(if we can call them that)emotive terms such as “abuse”. This alone undermines the worthiness of Bowman’s arguments.
Bowman goes on to state:
“Only a small sampling of doctrinally-motivated mistranslations in the NWT have been documented here. We have seen words added, words omitted, and words and phrases paraphrased improperly with a view toward transmuting the Bible into JW doctrine. We have seen that these mistranslations conveniently support the distinctive JW understanding of the name “Jehovah” and their denials of Christ’s deity, the personhood of the Holy Spirit, the separableness of the human spirit from the body, spiritual life after the death of the body for Christians, God’s absolute sovereign control over the world, the unity of God’s people, and justification by faith. Were we to extend the study, we would see that every distinctive of the JWs has strategically been insinuated into the text of the NWT in a way that to the non-JW clearly shows doctrinal bias.”
What we have really seen is that Bowman has not given the full ‘picture’ as to the texts/passages he brings up. He calls these places in the NWT “doctrinally motivated mistranslations”. But that only portrays his own biasedness! Have not the above replies shown this? If Bowman were to “extend [his] study” we would only see more evidence of this!! Are we to charge other translations of “strategically” insinuating into the text of their translations which clearly show their “doctrinally motivated bias,” that is, their beliefs that Jesus is “God,”, part of a “Trinity”, the personality of the holy spirit, the continuation of human life immediately after their death, etc etc? Clearly Bowman is ‘prattling’ on here and to be sure he highlights the distinctive translations of the NWT at some places. But each and every translation is distinctive in some way. He has not shown that the NWT have mistranslated any passage or word! He seems to be ‘preaching’ to the ‘converted’ rather than making an objective contribution to the subject of un-warranted bias in modern English translations.
Further to the above he states:
“One possible criticism of this survey would be that it does not consider the arguments JWs would advance in defense of their controversial renderings in the NWT. In reply I must point out that to address such arguments would necessarily mean limiting the examples of mistranslation to just a few. But, it is my experience and doubtless that of many others that no JW will admit that there might be so much as one doctrinally-slanted verse in the NWT. To defend such a position, however, they must now satisfactorily explain all of the examples given here. In any case, the more in-depth treatment a specific text is given (including evaluation of arguments in its favor), the more evidence piles up that the JW renderings are wrong and biased.”
This, “no JW will admit that there might be so much as one doctrinally-slanted verse in the NWT.” is patently not true. One wonders what Jehovah’s Witnesses he has talked to! The rendering of John 1:1 as “and the Word was a god” is no more “doctrinally-slanted” than the rendering “and the Word was God.” Both are “doctrinally slanted.” This is because the Greek can be rendered either way. So one’s theology must come into play. Trinitarians such as Bowman, if he were to discuss what this passage means to him, will bring in what his view of Jesus and God is- a trinitarian view. The “Trinity” is a “doctrine”. He would bedoctrinally slanted himself! But this is not the real issue! It is, as we have repeatedly stated, whether one is putting into a word or passage of scripture a meaning that is not there. As we have seen, there are good grounds for all of the NWT’s renderings Bowman discusses but briefly. He has not proven his main contention and really have not addressed the real issue of whether a word or passage can be said to be a “mis-translation” or not.
In conclusion with this critic: