Attacks on the Scholarship and Honesty Of the Translators of the New World Translation
The late Dr. Julius Mantey, noted NT Greek scholar and strong trinitarian, allegedly wrote a powerful attack against the accuracy and honesty of the NWT. We will look at all the points raised concerning the NWT in a July 1974 letter to the Watchtower Society attributed to Mantey which anti-Watchtower writers are fond of reproducing and quoting.
His first concern was with John 1:1. His complaint that the WT Society dishonestly used his book to support their translation is incredible! It’s undoubtedly true that he didn’t intend anything in that book to support a non-trinitarian interpretation of John 1:1. (The Watchtower Society never claimed he did.) But the fact is that it does support it nevertheless! The quote by the Society refers to an example used by Mantey in his book which is grammatically identical to John 1:1 (articular subject after the copulative verb and anarthrous predicate noun before the copulative verb) and which Mantey has translated as, "and the place was a market" - an exact parallel to the NWT’s "and the Word was a god." - see NWT 17-18.
Mantey continues, "it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 ‘The Word was a god’ [as in the NWT]. Word order has made obsolete and incorrect such a rendering." If this were really true, then Mantey himself has been neither "scholarly nor reasonable" in his rendering of an identical word order in complete agreement with the NWT rendering of John 1:1.
In addition, I have been given a photocopy of page 47 of some unidentified publication which shows (in improperly punctuated format) various quotes from well-known (and some not so well-known) NT Greek authorities concerning the NWT rendering of John 1:1. Dr. Mantey is here quoted as saying:
"a grossly misleading translation. It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 ‘the Word was a god.’ But of all the scholars in the world, so far as we know, none have translated this verse as Jehovah’s Witnesses have done."
[But note the translation of parallel Greek constructions at John 4:19 ("a prophet"); John 18:37 ("a king"); and in the ancient Greek Septuagint at Judges 6:31 ("a god"); and 3 Kings 18:27 ("a god").]
Also quoted was trinitarian Bruce M. Metzger, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary:
"Far more pernicious in this same verse is the rendering,... ‘and the Word was a god’.... As a matter of solid fact, however, such a rendering is a frightful mistranslation." - Theology Today, 4/1953.
Famed trinitarian scholar Dr. William Barclay was quoted as follows:
"The deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in their New Testament translations. John 1:1 is translated: ‘...the Word was a god’, a translation which is grammatically impossible. It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest." - The Expository Times, Nov., 1953.
However, twenty years after saying that the rendering of "the Word was a god" is "grammatically impossible," Barclay, in a letter to an enquirer into this rendering, said the complete opposite!
In the book Ever yours: a selection from the letters of William Barclay, CBE DD, William Barclay; Clive L Rawlins, Dunbar [Scotland] : Labarum Publications, 1985, ISBN: 0948095040, page 205 after stating the traditional KJV translation, then said:
"You could translate," Barclay wrote, "so far as the Greek goes: 'the Word was a God';…" [italics added]
The question that should come to our minds then is: Who really was being "intellectually dishonest" back in the 1950's? The New World Translation Committee or Dr William Barclay?)
Respected trinitarian Bible scholar Dr. F. F. Bruce was quoted as saying:
"Much is made by Arian amateur grammarians of the omission of the definite article with ‘God’ in the phrase ‘And the Word was God’. Such an omission is common with nouns in a predicate construction. ‘A god’ would be totally indefensible."
And Dr. Harry Sturz, Professor of Greek at Biola College is quoted as saying:
"Therefore, the NWT rendering: ‘the Word was a god’ is not a ‘literal’ but an ungrammatical and tendential translation. A literal translation in English can be nothing other than: ‘the word was God.’" - The Bible Collector, July - December, 1971, p.12.
The NWT Translation of John 1:1c is also the main objection ("especially objectionable") to the NWT found in Zondervan’s So Many Versions?, 1983, a "scholarly" review of modern English Bibles by trinitarian Bible scholars. "There is no justification for the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation [of Jn 1:1c]," they say on p. 99.
While it’s not surprising that trinitarian scholars would do their utmost to preserve a trinitarian interpretation at John 1:1 (surely the most impressive of scriptural "evidence" for a "Jesus is God" doctrine for people who are not familiar with Greek), it is certainly thought-provoking to find so many respected NT authorities attacking the scholarship and honesty of the NWT rendering of John 1:1c. However, these are all English-speaking trinitarians appealing to English-speaking readers. More conclusive is the practice of trinitarian scholars in Greek-speaking lands: The trinitarian churches in Greece carefully avoid using Jn 1:1c as evidence for the deity of Christ. Those who know and speak Greek would ridicule the English trinitarians’ interpretation ("the Word was God") in other (non-Greek-speaking) lands!
Even more important than the witness of modern-day Greek grammarians is the witness of the most knowledgeable Greek grammarian of all Christian scholars from a time when men knew NT Greek the best.
Origen (185-254 A.D.) was
"probably the most accomplished Biblical scholar produced by the early Church" (Universal Standard Encyclopedia) and "the greatest scholar and most prolific author of the early church. ... not only a profound thinker but also deeply spiritual and a loyal churchman." (The History of Christianity, a Lion Book).
"Origen, the greatest and most influential Christian thinker of his age" - p. 89, A History of the Christian Church, 4th ed., Williston Walker, Scribners, 1985.
"The character of Origen is singularly pure and noble; for his moral qualities are as remarkable as his intellectual gifts." - p. 229, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, Eerdmans.
Origen’s Commentary on John is "the first great work of Christian interpretation." Origen was certainly the most knowledgeable about NT (koine) Greek of any scholar. He studied it from early childhood and even taught it professionally from his teens onward. - The Ante-Nicene Fathers, pp. 291-294, Vol. X, Eerdmans Publ., 1990 printing.
Origen distinguishes between those who are called "god" and He who is called "God" by the use of the definite article ("the") being used with "God" and not with "god" in the NT Greek. He further teaches that God "made first in honour some race of reasonable beings; this I consider to be those who are called gods [angels], and .... [finally he made] the last reasonable race, ... man." - p. 315, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. X., Eerdmans.
And then on p. 323 of this trinitarian-published, trinitarian-translated book Origen admits in his "Commentary on the Gospel of John," Book 2, part 2, that John actually calls Jesus, not "God," but "a god" at Jn 1:1!
Obviously the most knowledgeable scholar of all concerning the New Testament language knew of no "rule" which could make Jn 1:1c say that "the Word was God." In fact, although they did not use capital letters to distinguish proper names or significant nouns as we do today, Origen himself is clearly saying that the proper understanding of Jn 1:1c is "the Word was a god"!!!
But the only way for those of us who are not fluent in the Greek language to reply to such an attack is to actually look at all the places in John’s writings where he has used the same construction as that used by him at John 1:1 and see how all Bible translators have translated them.
The studies "The Definite John 1:1c" (DEF) and "John 1:1 Primer" examine all such instances to see if they are really made definite (as in "Colwell’s Rule," for example) as some trinitarians claim.
The QUAL study paper and the HARNER study paper examine all such instances to see if the predicate noun is made "qualitative" as some trinitarians claim (many of whom insist that the "Definite" trinitarians are practicing Sabellianism ["in other words, heresy" - Wallace, p. 96]).
In the "Definite" study (DEF) all the proper examples of John 1:1-type constructions used in all the writings of John are shown to be indefinite (comparable to "a god"). - See DEF or PRIMER studies.
In the "Qualitative" study (QUAL) we find none of the John 1:1-type constructions being translated in a "qualitative manner" in all the 16 different trinitarian Bibles examined. Again, of course, we see that all proper examples are obviously indefinite and are, therefore, equivalent to "a god" at John 1:1! - Also see "Harner’s ‘Qualitative’ Rule" (HARNER).
Kolasis - "Cutting Off"
Next we find, in Mantey’s letter attacking the NWT, his condemnation of "the translation [by the NWT] of kolasis as ‘cutting off’ when ‘punishment’ is the only meaning cited in the lexicons for it."
This is easily checked out! And easily proven false!
Dr. Young in his popular Young’s Analytical Concordance, p. 995, defines this word, kolasis, as "a pruning, restraining". And although Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance merely tells us kolasis derives from the source words kolazo and kolos (which means "to curtail"), The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance tells us that kolasis comes from kolazo and kolos and that kolos means "docked" ("dock .... 1. to cut off" - Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary).
And what does highly respected NT Greek expert W. E. Vine say about the source word (kolazo) for kolasis in his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 903 ?: "kolazo primarily denotes to curtail, prune, dock (from kolos, docked)."
An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon says that kolazo is "Properly, to curtail, dock, prune" - p. 441, Liddell & Scott, Oxford, 1994 printing.
Dr. Mantey must know this. Young’s Analytical Concordance ("Index-Lexicon to the New Testament" section) is certainly among the more popularly known lexicons. And merely knowing the meaning of the source words for kolasis (as Mantey must) makes his criticism of the NWT misleading (at best).
We should also note that kolasis appears in only two places in the NT: Matt. 25:46 (the verse that bothers Mantey) and 1 John 4:18. Whether we infer the meaning of "punishment" ("judgment" in some translations) or "cutting off" at 1 John 4:18 may be a little difficult to decide from context. But at Matt. 25:46 it seems clear that "death" (or "cutting off") is the proper interpretation. Notice that "everlasting kolasis" is contrasted here with "everlasting life"! Certainly "death" is the most appropriate contrast to "life"! (Even if we insisted on a "punishment" meaning here, there is no reason why that "punishment" could not be understood as death as context demands in this verse. - compare the use of kolasis at Ezek. 18:30 in the ancient Greek Septuagint: the "punishment" here is also to be understood as death as the context of the entire chapter clearly shows. - Also note the everlasting punishment meted out at 2 Thess. 1:9 and the contrast of life with destruction at Jn 3:16 and Matt. 7:13, 14.)
Presbyterian minister and anti-Watchtower writer R. H. Countess admits that "the root meaning of [kolasis] is that of ‘checking’ in the realm of trees..." - p. 81, The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament, 1987 ed. However, it is more accurately described (as shown above) as pruning of trees and vines and docking of animals (tails, horns, etc.). He attempts to apply this ‘pruning of the tree’ as a ‘corrective punishment’ for those who are so ‘punished.’
But if we are referring to those persons or things which are pruned, docked, or cut off (the ‘branches,’ ‘horns,’ etc.), we are speaking of things that are no longer living but dead! These things are not being ‘corrected’! It is the remaining body (which loses that which was ‘pruned’) that is being ‘corrected’ through the destruction of that ‘limb,’ ‘branch,’ ‘horn,’ etc.
This figurative use of cutting off branches and completely annihilating them is clear in John 15:5, 6
"I am the vine, you are the branches. .... If anyone does not remain in union with me, he is thrown away as a mere branch and is dried up; then it is picked up and thrown into the fire and burned up [kaiw, kaio]" - CBW.
Obviously when a branch is cut or broken off from the vine (or tree), it immediately begins to die. By the time it is dried up it is dead. Then, after it is dead, it is completely burned up, annihilated. Such figurative examples leave no place for the eternal torment concept favored by those who insist on the more ambiguous "eternal punishment" rendering.
The word used in this verse is kaio (kaiw in NT Greek) and defined by Thayer as: "to burn; consume with fire: pass. Jn. xv. 6; 1 Co. xiii. 3." – p. 319, #2545, Baker Book House, 1984 printing.
Popular NT scholar Dr. William Barclay writes about this verse: "The only thing that could be done with the wood pruned out of a vine was to make a bonfire of it and destroy it [not torture it - RDB]." – p. 174, The Gospel of John, Vol. 2, Revised Ed., The Daily Study Bible Series, 1975.
One of Christendom’s most respected Bible dictionaries, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology ("Indispensable for advanced theological students and scholars as well as for ordinary Bible students." - Christianity Today) agrees:
"Jesus did not teach, like Plato and others, that the soul was intrinsically immortal and that it would necessarily go on after death. References to the eternal fire (Matt. 18:8; cf. Mk 9:43-48; Jude 7) are necessarily figurative.
"Eternal judgment is referred to in Heb. 6:2 and 2 Thess. 1:9. This, like the idea of eternal fire, does not necessarily imply that those concerned go on being judged or continue to be consumed. If the metaphor of fire is to be pressed at all, it would imply that the fire of righteousness continues to burn, but that what is consumed once is consumed for good (cf. also Paul’s observation about works being consumed by fire, 1 Cor. 3:15)." - p. 99, Vol. 3, Zondervan Publ., 1986.
While this particular attack by Mantey may have more merit (when measured by the standards of most "orthodox" Bible scholars) than the rest of his attacks, it does not appear to bear directly on a matter that is essential to eternal life (such as exactly who is the only true God - John 17:3). It seems somewhat similar to the question of how harpagmos should be translated at Phil. 2:6, but that particular translation does bear on the essential matter of exactly who God is! And you will find that the NWT is one of the very few Bibles that actually translates that word properly in spite of the rarity of occurrences of that word in the NT (as with the word kolasis). Yes, the only proper translation of this word, harpagmos, (as in the NWT and TEV Bibles - the NEB is very close also) proves that Jesus was not God in his pre-human existence in spite of the majority of translations to the contrary! - See the study paper on Philippians 2:6 (PHIL).
Jn 8:58 - "I AM"
Mantey also complains of the NWT "mistranslation" of ego eimi [usually rendered "I am"] at John 8:58. Other (trinitarian) NT Greek authorities, however, also justify the rendering of a perfect tense rendering for ego eimi under identical conditions as found at John 8:58 (see study paper on John 8:58 - I AM). In fact, renowned trinitarian scholar Dr. James Moffatt rendered John 8:58 in his famous Bible translation in the perfect tense also: "I have existed." And even Dr. Mantey’s own well-known reference book justifies the use of a perfect tense rendering for a present tense ("present of duration") in cases similar to John 8:58! - p. 183 (c.), Dana and Mantey’s Manual Grammar.
Heb. 9:27 - "Once For All Time"
Mantey next attacks "the addition of ‘for all time’ in Heb. 9:27 when nothing in the Greek New Testament supports it."
But the equally rabid trinitarian scholar, W. E. Vine, says (of the NT Greek word hapax that was translated "once for all time" by the NWT) in his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 809: "1. Hapax denotes a. once, one time.... b. once for all, of what is of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition."
Also see hapax in Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament; Liddell and Scott's An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon; the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (‘Little Kittel’), Eerdman’s Publ., 1985; the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 1, Eerdman’s, 1990; and A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 5, p. 404.)
Like so many words (in NT Greek and OT Hebrew as well as in English) hapax has more than one meaning. Either the a. or the b. definition is an honest translation of the Greek word hapax!
Look at these trinitarian translations of hapax:
Heb. 9:26 - "He has appeared once and for all" [hapax] - Jerusalem Bible, NJB, GNB, TEV, NEB, Phillips.
- "once for all" [hapax] - NAB (1970), NAB (1991), RSV, NRSV, REB.
Heb. 9:27 - "reserved for men to die once for all" [hapax] - MLB; Rotherham.
- "Destined that men die only once" [hapax] - JB, NJB, Living Bible.
Heb. 9:28 - "Christ sacrificed once for all" [hapax] - MLB.
- "Christ died only once" [hapax] - JB, NJB, LB.
Jude 3 - "once and for all" [hapax] - NEB, JB, NJB, GNB, TEV, Phillips.
- "once for all" [hapax] - RSV, NRSV, REB, NASB, NAB, NAB (1991), Mo, MLB, LB, AT (Goodspeed).
Yes, even the trinitarian standard, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Zondervan, Vol. 2, pp. 717, 718, tells us hapax means
"once in the sense of an event that cannot be repeated. It is so used of the sacrificial death of Christ (Heb. 9:26 ff; 1 Pet. 3:18).... The author of Heb. sees the death of Christ as the once-and-for-all [hapax] sacrifice" - p. 717.
"Jude 3 urges its readers ‘to contend for the faith which was once for all [hapax] delivered to the saints.’" - p. 718.
A final note on hapax comes from the highly trinitarian (and highly anti-Watchtower Society) "cult" expert Dr. Walter Martin. This "born-again" spokesman likes to quote Dr. Mantey in an attempt to show the "mistranslations" and "perversions" of God’s Word by the Watchtower Society. Interestingly, Martin himself interprets hapax in Jude 3 as "once for all time":
" ‘...contend earnestly for the faith once [hapax] delivered to the saints,’ that’s King James, but the [NT] Greek is a little better," says Martin. "The Greek says, ‘... put up a stiff fight for the faith once for all time [hapax] delivered to the saints.’" - Introduction to the Cults, cassette tape recording by Dr. Walter Martin, 1980. - Compare Jude :3 NWT.
Mantey next berates the NWT’s "mistranslating arche tes ktisoos" as "beginning of the creation" at Rev. 3:14 even though this is the literal rendering of the NT Greek. But how do most trinitarian Bible translations themselves translate Rev. 3:14 ? - The KJV has "beginning of the creation." So do the NKJV; ASV; NASB; RSV; MLB (1969 ed.); Douay; Byington; Darby; Lamsa; Lattimore (1979); New Century Version; Phillips; Rotherham; Third Millenium Bible; Webster; Revised Webster (1995); Wesley’s New Testament; Weymouth; and ISV NT.
How is it, then, that the NWT is "mistranslating ... as ‘beginning of the creation’"?
While we are discussing Rev. 3:14, we might as well note that certain anti-Watchtower writers (evidently not Mantey, however) have condemned the NWT rendering of the genitive noun theou at Rev. 3:14 ("the creation by God"). This genitive noun, like most genitives, can be (and usually is) translated with the word "of" preceding it. Therefore, theou is usually translated "of God."
So, at Rev. 3:14, most translations read: "the beginning of the creation of God." Certainly this is a grammatically correct translation, but it does allow a potential ambiguity. Grammatically it could mean "the creation belonging to God," or "everything created by God," or even, "God himself being created" !
For example, notice how the genitive noun at Acts 1:22 causes difficulties with its usual rendering of "baptism of John." This rendering leads many readers to believe that John’s own baptism (by some other baptizer) is being spoken of here. Instead, many (if not all) Bible scholars believe the intended meaning here is a baptism performed by John!
Therefore, some respected trinitarian translations have used the equally honest (and much clearer, in this case) rendering of "baptism by John" (or its clear equivalent): LB, NEB, REB, JB, NJB, AT, CBW, and translations by Phillips, and Rotherham.
Also notice that the genitive form of "Jesus Christ" at Rev. 1:1 can be properly rendered as "by Jesus Christ" (rather than "of Jesus Christ" as in KJV, ASV, etc.): Mo, AT, and Beck’s The New Testament in the Language of Today, 1964 ed. - see p. 236, So Many Versions?, Zondervan, 1983.
We can also find the genitive theou (as at Rev. 3:14 itself) at 1 Tim. 4:4 ("creation of God") is rendered "everything created by God" in the RSV, NASB, NRSV, NAB  (or its equivalent: NEB, REB, JB, NJB, CBW, AT, NIV, NAB , etc.)
And "taught of God" (theou as found at Rev. 3:14 itself) at John 6:45 is properly rendered "taught by God" in RSV, NRSV, NIV, JB, NJB, NEB, REB, AT, MLB, NAB (1970), NAB (1991), GNB, TEV, Mo, CBW.
Surely no honest Bible scholar can condemn the same rendering by the NWT at Rev. 3:14!
Luke 23:43 - Punctuation
To return to Dr. Mantey’s criticisms, we next find him complaining of the NWT "attempt to deliberately deceive people by mispunctuation by placing a comma after ‘today’ in Luke 23:43," when he knows better than anyone that none of the earliest manuscripts (up to the 9th century A.D.) originally had capitalization or punctuation! Later copyists have added punctuation wherever they felt it should be!
Just because a modern text writer decides where he wants the punctuation and capital-ization to be in his interpretation of the original text (as Westcott and Hort did for the text that is used by the NWT and Nestle did in the text used by the NASB, etc.) does not mean that is how the original Bible writer intended the meaning - as explained in the Kingdom Interlinear footnote for this verse.
For example, at John 8:58, most (if not all) text writers have left ego eimi uncapitalized. However, some respected trinitarian Bibles (such as NASB, TEV, and Phillips) have ignored the text writer’s preference and used capitalization here in an attempt to make this verb appear to be a Name: "I AM." Are these popular trinitarian Bibles also guilty of "deliberately deceiving," then, by miscapitalization?
Clearly, for Dr. Mantey to even hint that punctuation can be precisely determined at Luke 23:43 is totally dishonest. We see The Emphasized Bible by Joseph B. Rotherham also punctuating this scripture to produce the meaning found in the NWT:
"Verily I say unto thee this day: With me shalt thou be in Paradise."
And the footnote for Luke 23:43 in Lamsa’s translation admits:
"Ancient texts were not punctuated. The comma could come before or after today."
"George Lamsa, the noted Aramaic scholar and translator, referring to Luke 23:43, puts the comma after the word 'today', explaining that what Jesus said was a common Aramaic idiom (Jesus spoke Aramaic as his native language), 'implying that the promise was made on a certain day and would surely be kept' (Lamsa)." [Gospel Light, and New Testament Commentary, George M. Lamsa, Copyright 1936 and 1945, A. J. Holman Company, Philadelphia, PA] - http://www.believershomepage.com/today.htm (by Hal Dekker)
The Concordant Literal New Testamentrenders it: "43 And Jesus said to him, 'Verily, to you am I saying today, with Me shall you be in paradise.'"
2001 Translation – An American English Bible: 43 And [Jesus] replied, ‘I tell you this today; you will be with me in Paradise.’
A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testamentby E.W.Bullinger, DD., page 811 says:
"'And Jesus said to him, Verily, to thee I say this day, with Me shalt thou be in the Paradise.' The words today being made solemn and emphatic. Thus, instead of a remembrance, when He shall come in...His kingdom, He promises a presence in association (meta, 'with') Himself. And this promise he makes on that very day when he was dying.... Thus we are saved (1) the trouble of explaining why Jesus did not answer the question on its own terms; and (2) the inconvenience of endorsing the punctuation of the [KJV] as inspired; and we also place this passage in harmony with numberless passages in the O.T., such as 'Verily I say unto you this day,' etc.; 'I testify unto you this day.' etc. Deut.vi.6; vii.1; x.13; xi.8;,13,23; xii.13; xix.9; xxvii.4; xxxi.2, etc., where the Septuagint corresponds to Luke xxii.43."
Yes, there is no reason to deny the rendering of Luke 23:43 as, "I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise."
A couple examples from the Hebrew Scriptures of the OT in modern Bibles:
(NKJV) Deuteronomy 30:18 "I announce to you today that you shall surely perish"
(NASB)Deuteronomy 30:18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish.
(RSV)Deuteronomy 30:18 "I declare to you this day, that you shall perish"
(GodsWord)Deuteronomy 30:18 "If you do, I tell you today that you will certainly be destroyed"
(MKJV(Green)) Deuteronomy 30:18 "I declare to you today that you shall surely perish"
(NASB)Zechariah 9:12 "Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you."
(KJV)"even to day do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee;"
(TEV)"Now I tell you that I will repay you twice over"
(RSV)"today I declare that I will restore to you double."
(JPS)"even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee"
(BBE)"today I say to you that I will give you back twice as much"
(God'sWord)"Today I tell you that I will return to you double blessings."
(CEV)"because today I will reward you with twice what you had."
(NJB)"This very day, I vow, I shall make it up to you twice over."
(NAB)"This very day, I will return you double for your exile."
[Also compare Deut. 5:1 and 6:6]
These are all the NWT "mistranslations and perversions of God’s Word" listed by Mantey in his letter, and, although he hints at more examples that he didn’t mention, one would conclude that he had listed his very best examples ("fired his best shot"). So, if these are his best examples, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture how exceedingly poor his other examples must be!
Of course, others besides Mantey have been attacking the honesty and scholarship of the NWT for years. Dr. Walter Martin, for example, made a very lucrative profession out of NWT-bashing for over 30 years. Here are most of Martin’s attacks (which frequently include Jn 1:1 and Jn 8:58 mentioned above).
The following 5 examples selected by Martin in his The Kingdom of the Cults, 1985 ed., pp. 72-79 are "some of the outstanding examples of fraud and deceit from the New World Translation." - p. 72.
These "five prime examples of the Watchtower’s inaccuracies in translating the New Testament" (p. 73) are:
(1) "Jehovah" in New Testament
This is "the first major perversion that Jehovah’s Witnesses attempt to foist upon the minds of the average reader." - see pp. NWT 22-25. (Also see JHVHNT)
(2) "Other" at Col. 1:16
"For through [Jesus] all things were created in heaven and on earth" - MLB.
"by means of [Jesus] all [other] things were created" - NWT.
The use of the word "other" by the NWT at Col. 1:16 makes many trinitarian "scholars" very upset. Dr. Walter Martin tells us in his The Kingdom of the Cults, 1985 ed., p. 75 that this "dishonest rendering of Col. 1:16, 17, and 19 by the insertion of the word ‘other’" is "one of the most clever perversions of the New Testament texts that the author has ever seen." He further states that "attempting to justify this unheard of travesty upon the Greek language and simple honesty, the New World Bible Translation Committee enclosed each added ‘other’ in brackets." [But see pp. 77-88, Truth in Translation, Dr. Jason BeDuhn, University Press of America, 2003 for a detailed explanation of this scripture and the arguments by some trinitarians concernng it.]
The Seventh-day Adventist publication, God’s Channel of Truth - Is It The Watchtower? (GCOT), pp. 101, 102, makes similar accusations concerning this text (and Heb. 1:8 - see Hebrews 1:8 study paper - HEB): "[The Watchtower Society has] obscured the meaning of many texts." - Cf. p. 101, So Many Versions?, 1983 ed., Zondervan.
Here again the accusation is perfectly clear: Martin (and GCOT, among others) is claiming that the NWT has dishonestly added to God’s Word! But what is the truth about words added to the original text?
Well, the KJV also adds words at many places in the scriptures and frequently signifies these additions by italicizing such added words. In fact all Bible translations add words to make the intended meaning of the original language clear to the readers of another language. The NWT usually indicates added words with brackets [ ] and does so at Col. 1:16, 17 with ["other"]!
Yes, all Bible translators supply needed words in accordance with their own under-standing of what meaning the Bible writer actually intended. Any serious Bible student knows this elementary fact. You can see that the KJV translators (and NIV, NKJV, TEV/GNB, Beck, etc.) added the word "other" at Acts 5:29 (and rightly so) even though it is not actually written in the original text (also compare KJV at Job 24:24). Were they, then, dishonestly, blasphemously adding to God’s Word? Of course not!
The Bible writers very often excluded the subject (and others) when using the term "all" (and "every"). This is a common usage even today. For example, the police sergeant making an arrest of a criminal group might say: "Everyone in this room is under arrest!" Obviously the sergeant does not include himself (nor his captain who is with him) even though he says "everyone"! Or "the criminal tied up everyone in the room before stealing the gems."
[Here is the most recent example that just presented itself a few minutes after I was re-reviewing this study paper in 2004:
Jun 5, 5:47 PM (ET)
By TERENCE HUNT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ronald Reagan, the cheerful crusader who devoted his presidency to winning the Cold War, trying to scale back government and making people believe it was "morning again in America," died Saturday after a long twilight struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93.
"Reagan lived longer than any U.S. President, ...."
But to be accurate we must remember that Reagan was one of those U.S. Presidents! Obviously the AP writer did not mean to imply that Reagan hadn’t ever been President. We all understand that what he meant was "Reagan [the subject] lived longer than any other President"!– added 5 June 2004, emphasis added]
This also applies to the word "all" [pas, pantws, etc.] as used in the early Greek manuscripts of the Bible. For example, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Kittel and Friedrich (abridged in one volume by G.W. Bromiley) tells us of this word in the ancient Greek translation of the OT (the Septuagint): "In many passages, of course, the use is rhetorical". And in the NT this esteemed work tells us of the word "all" that it is often "used in the NT simply to denote a great number," not literally "all." – pp. 796, 797, Eerdmans, 1992 reprint.
And Dr. Young wrote in the foreword ("Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation") of his well-known Bible Concordance:
"Some particles such as ALL, are frequently used for SOME or MOST, e.g., … Matt. 3:5; 26:52 [even King David?]; … 1 Cor. 6:12; … Col. 3:22" – Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible, Eerdmans, 1978 reprint.
(Also see p. 97, vol.1, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Eerdmans, 1984; examine Isaiah 44:24)
The highly regarded NASB (and NEB; REB; NIV; JB; NJB; NKJV; ETRV; BBE; NLV; MKJV; MLB; Darby; Beck; and Young’s) translate Is. 45:14 - "There is no other God." The word "other" is not in the Hebrew OT manuscripts and has been added by the translators (and rightly so)! The NWT renders it "there is no [other] God." RSV and NRSV have also added "other" and also another, similar phrase: "there is no other, no god besides him."
In a similar usage, we find at Ephesians 4:6 that there is - "one God and Father of all" (NRSV). Obviously God here is not the father of himself. Again, the subject ("God") is excluded from the word "all." It is clearly understood to mean that God is the Father [Creator] of all other things.
In Matthew 10:22, Jesus tells his followers: "and you will be hated by all [pantos] because of my name." - NRSV. Certainly, Jesus didn’t mean that his true followers would be hated by Jesus himself or God. And most certainly he didn’t mean they would be hated by themselves! (Remember, the subject – as in 1 Cor. 1:16 - is most often understood to be excluded from the "all" statements.)
The Moffatt translation, An American Translation, The Common Bible, The Amplified Bible, and translations by C. B. Williams, and Beck all add "other" after "all" at 1 Cor. 15:24 (e.g. "when he will put an end to all other government, authority, and power" - C. B. Williams, The New Testament in the Language of the People, Moody Press, 1963). Although the NWT does not happen to add "other" at that scripture, its translators (as well as every other Jehovah’s Witness on earth) would whole-heartedly agree that those who have added "other" there have done so properly and that the original Bible writer so intended the meaning! And conversely, at Jn 2:10 the NWT has added "other," and, although most [other] translations do not add it, I’m sure most people would agree that, whether actually written in the scripture or not, context demands such an understanding: "Every other man puts out the fine wine first..."
Again, at 1 Cor. 6:18 the respected trinitarian Bibles NIV, NASB, NEB, REB, AT, GNB, TEV, JB, NJB (among others) have added "other" to the text. And the NWT agrees whole-heartedly! And at Matt. 6:33 JB, AT, GNB, TEV, and Beck (Lutheran scholar) have added "other" (NEB has added "the rest"), and, again, the NWT agrees. Or how about Luke 13:2:
"all the other Galileans" - NIV, Luke 13:2
"all other Galileans" – NASB
"all other Galileans" – NAB (’91)
"all other Galileans" - NRSV
"all other Galileans" - NKJV
"all the other Galileans" – RSV
"anyone else in Galilee" – NEB and REB
"than any other Galileans" - JB
"than all other Galileans" - NJB
"any other Galileans" - AT
"everyone else in Galilee" - CEV.
"all other Galileans" - TEV.
"all other Galilaeans" - BBE
"other people from Galilee" - GodsWord
"all the other Galileans" - ISV NT
"the rest of the Galileans" - Moffatt
When Gen. 3:20 tells us that Eve "was the mother of all living," does that really make her the mother of Adam? of all animals? of all plants? of angels? of God? So, although the literal Hebrew says "all," we know from the teachings of the rest of the Bible that this is a severely qualified "all," and it would be perfectly honest to add some qualifying word or phrase ("all other humans" - after all, she, although the subject, wasn’t her own mother, or Adam’s).
Notice also God’s words to Noah at Gen. 6:17, "I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens" - NIV. Since the rest of the Bible shows that Noah did not die in that flood, this scripture could honestly be rendered "to destroy all [other] life." Noah knew God was using a qualified "all" and did not apply to himself and so should we!
When the angel of Jehovah told his mother about Ishmael that "His hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand will be against him," She did not think by this that Ishmael’s own hand would be against himself. As usual the "every" or "all" excepted the one who was the subject.
Another good example of honest adding can be seen in reference to another too literal interpretation of "all." Romans 3:23 says literally, "All have sinned" -- but, obviously, Jesus, the Father, and myriads of faithful angels have not sinned! So some Bibles (including TEV and NAB [1970 ed.]) have honestly qualified this "all" by adding to this scripture and translated it "All men have sinned." You may notice also that they haven’t even bothered to indicate that the word "men" has been added.
Also in Romans we find the very same words used by Paul in Col. 1:16 (ta panta) - "He [God] didn’t spare His own Son but gave him up for all of us - He will certainly with Him give us everything [ta panta]." - Ro. 8:32, Beck (Lutheran). Obviously, the "everything" that is given to Christians does not include God or Jesus, or even fellow created Christians. It certainly would not be improper to translate this as: "He will ... give us all [other] things." In fact, notice these trinitarian Bible translations:
"... how can he fail to lavish every other gift upon us?" - REB.
" ... will he not with him also give us everything else?" - NRSV
"... won’t he also surely give us everything else?" - Living Bible.
"... will he not also give us everything else along with him?" - NAB (‘91)
"... will He not with Him graciously give us everything else?" - CBW.
Since ta panta does not include all created things in this scripture, it certainly does not have to mean all created things in Col. 1:16!
Even the Seventh-day Adventists themselves admit: "It is also very clear that in Genesis 9:3 the word ‘every’ tacitly excludes the unclean animals and those whose flesh might be poison to man, as some creatures are today." - Signs of the Times, Feb. 1976, p. 28. Here they admit that "every" (or "all") must sometimes be qualified! But if the NWT does something similar it has "obscured" or "mutilated" God’s Word!
Yes, Col. 1:16, 17 needs a qualified "all" as the teaching of the rest of the Bible testifies. It is similar to Hebrews 2:8 in this respect.
At Heb. 2:8 we read: "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him." However, it would certainly be honest and proper for a translator familiar with the teachings of the rest of the Bible (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:27) to add the qualifying words to this scripture that were understood and intended by the original writer. E.g., "Thou hast put all [other] things in subjection...;" or even, "Thou hast put all things [except the Father and yourself] in subjection..." - see 1 Cor. 15:27.
[From Alan on an internet group:
Additionally, the negative usage of terms such as "not one" is also subject to what is being spoken of. In Hebrews 2:8, for instance, in speaking what has been subjected to man as spoken of in Psalm 8:6, we read: "For in that he subjected all things to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But now [due to the sin of Adam, man has been subjected to futility -- Romans 5:12-19; 8:20] we don't see all things subjected to him, yet." Note that the scripture says that God left nothing that is not subject to him (man). Does these mean that God subjected absolutely everything in the entire universe to man? Absolutely not!
Psalm 8:7,8 describes the "all things" that was subjected to man, which corresponds with Genesis 1:26,28. All that was subjected to man pertains to all the earth, not absolutely all in the universe."]
Similarly, we find Paul saying at Phil. 2:9 that God exalted Jesus and "bestowed on him the name above all names." - NEB. But, obviously, his name is not above the name of the God who exalted him. Nor can it be above his [Jesus’] own name. Therefore, it is not wrong to add "other" and render this as "God ... gave him the name which is above all other names" as did the translators of JB; NJB; NAB (1970); AT; GNB/TEV; LB; CBW; Beck (NT); ETRV; and NLV.
Paul continues in Phil. 2:10, "So that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth...." But, obviously, the Father in heaven does not bend his knee, and Jesus certainly does not bend his knee to himself! This, too, should be a qualified "every knee"! (And analyze 1 Pet. 4:7)
So how accurate is Martin when he says the translators of the NWT have made a "dishonest rendering of Col. 1:16, 17, and 19 by the insertion of the word ‘other’"?
Well, let’s look at Col. 1:17 itself: "And he is before all things." - KJV. This is the literal wording and what Martin wants.
But look at what these (other) trinitarian translations have added to this verse:
"He is before all else that is..." - NAB (‘70).
"He was before all else began..." - LB.
"Before anything was created, he existed" - JB.
"Christ was there before anything was made." - ETRV.
Since it is obvious that Christ did not exist before himself, nor before the Father, these two, at least, have to be excluded from "all things." Therefore, the very trinitarian NAB and LB above have properly added "else" to this scripture. This is the same thing as writing "before every [other] thing"!
And the trinitarian Jerusalem Bible has added "created" and the trinitarian ETRV has added "was made" for the very same reason.
Certainly it is not wrong from a grammatical viewpoint (nor is it a "dishonest rendering") to add "other" as the NWT has done at Col. 1:16, 17 (and the LB and the NAB have done with "else" at Col. 1:17) and so many trinitarian translators have done in other similar situations. Whether it is doctrinally correct as Rev. 3:14, Prov. 8:22-30, 1 John 4:9 ("only-begotten"), and Col. 1:15 ("firstborn of all creation") suggest is a matter for all honest-hearted persons to discover but not a reason for falsely accusing someone of dishonestly rendering God’s Word!
[If above reasoning is refused, consider John 10:29: "My Father … is greater than all" – KJV.
Then the Father is greater than the Son and greater than the Holy Spirit and "greater even than Himself???"
The Living Bible says, My Father "is more powerful than anyone else," which still means He is greater than the Son and greater than the Holy Spirit [if it were really a person], but, of course, shows He is not greater than Himself. The NRSV also uses "else" here.]
(3) Pneuma - "Spirit," "Wind," "Breath"
Dr. Walter Martin quotes Matt. 27:50 and the "parallel" first half of Luke 23:46 in the 1969 ed. of the NWT to "prove" the dishonesty of the Watchtower scholars and translators:
Matthew 27:50-"Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up his breath" (NWT).
Luke 23:46-"And Jesus called with a loud voice and said: ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit’" (NWT).
Martin claims that the word pneuma in both scriptures must be translated "spirit" and not "breath" or "wind," and, therefore, the NWT is being unscholarly, dishonest, deceitful, etc. at Matthew 27:50!
"Sometimes," he admits, "and in various contexts, spirit (pneuma) can mean some of the things the Witnesses hold, but context determines translation, along with grammar, and their translations quite often do not remain true to either.
"Having forced the word ‘breath’ into Matthew’s account of the crucifixion, to make it appear that Jesus only stopped breathing and did not yield up His invisible nature upon dying, the Witnesses plod on to Luke’s account, only to be caught in their own trap. Luke, learned scholar and master of Greek that he was, forces the Witnesses to render his account of Christ’s words using the correct term ‘spirit’ (pneuma), instead of ‘breath’ as in Matthew 27:50.... if the Witnesses are consistent, which they seldom are, why did they not render the identical Greek term (pneuma) as "breath" both times, for it is a parallel account of the same scene!
"The solution to this question is quite elementary as all can clearly see. The Witnesses could not render it ‘breath’ in Luke and get away with it, so they used it where they could and hoped nobody would notice it, or the different rendering in Matthew." - p. 76, The Kingdom of the Cults, 1985 ed.
Notice how Thayer’s Lexicon (which Martin frequently quotes and calls "one of the best lexicons of the Greek New Testament" - p. 81) defines pneuma:
"1. a movement of air, (gentle) blast; a. of the wind ... b. breath of the nostrils or mouth ....
"2. the spirit, i.e. the vital principle by which the body is animated" - p. 520.
Trinitarian W. E. Vine also defines it: "PNEUMA ... primarily denotes the wind (akin to pneo, to breathe, blow); also breath; then, especially the spirit, which like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful." - p. 1075.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have no qualms about translating pneuma as "spirit" and do it frequently as Martin well knows. They have always believed that the "animating life force" or the "spark" of life within a man is called "spirit" (pneuma)!
So, although they do differ with Martin on the precise understanding of the nature of that spirit within a man, there is absolutely no disagreement on the use of that rendering ("spirit") for what Jesus yielded up at his death (as the NWT has always shown at Luke 23:46 and John 19:30). Martin has brought up a non-issue in a hypocritical attempt to show the "dishonesty" of the NWT!
As we will see, most trinitarian translations are not "consistent" in the translation of this term at the "parallel" accounts of Jesus’ death as Martin insists the NWT must be. But even beyond this Martin has dishonestly built up this "straw man" by comparing the words of the Gospel writer at Matt. 27:50 ("Jesus yielded up his breath [or spirit]") with the non-parallel words of JESUS in the first half of Luke 23:46 ("I commit my spirit")!
To use the honest parallel to the Gospel writer’s statement at Matthew 27:50 we must look at the last half of Luke 23:46 where the Gospel writer states: "he breathed his last" - RSV.
An even closer parallel is found at Mark 15:37 which, like Matt. 27:50, does not include the actual words spoken by Jesus but simply has the Gospel writer’s words, "he thus breathed his last" - RSV.
Here, then, are the NWT renderings of the parallel accounts of Jesus’ death. These are followed by some respected Trinitarian translations of the same parallel accounts. Notice how "consistently" they render "spirit" or "breath" among these parallels!
............... Matt. 27:50.....Mark 15:37...... Luke 23:46......John 19:30
NWT(1961-70) "his breath" - "expired" - - "spirit...expired" -- "spirit"
NWT(1971) "his spirit" -- "expired" -- - "spirit"... "expired" -- - "spirit"
NEB-"breathed his last" ----- "died" --- - "spirit" ... "died" --- - "spirit"
REB-"breathed his last" ----- "died" --- - "spirit" ... "died" --- - "spirit"
TEV-"breathed his last" ----- "died" --- - "spirit" ... "died" --- - "spirit"
NRSV-"breathed his last "breathed last" - "spirit" ..."breathed" - "spirit"
NASB--- "his spirit" -- "breathed last" - "spirit" .. "breathed" - "spirit"
NIV--- "his spirit" -- "breathed last" - "spirit" .. "breathed" - "spirit"
RSV--- "his spirit" -- "breathed last" - "spirit" .. "breathed" - "spirit"
JB---- "his spirit" -- "breathed last" - "spirit" .. "breathed" - "spirit"
NAB--- "his spirit" -- "breathed last" - "spirit" .. "expired" - "spirit"
CBW--- "his spirit" -- -- "expired" --- - "spirit" .. "breathed" - "spirit"  f.n. in 1984 reference Bible: "or, ‘ceased to breathe’."
12] f.n. in NEB: "Or ‘breathed out his life’."
Notice how the respected New English Bible (NEB); Revised English Bible (REB); New Revised Standard Version (NRSV); and Today’s English Version (TEV) have, according to Martin’s analysis of the NWT, "forced the word ‘breath’ into Matthew’s account of the crucifixion"! Notice how many of these trinitarian Bibles have "forced" the word "breath" (or "breathed") into the truly parallel portions of Mark and Luke even though they have been "inconsistent" by not doing so in the Matthew account!
In short, there are very good reasons for translating pneuma as "breath" in the account of Matthew, and other Bible translations have done so. The NWT certainly does not deserve criticism for such an interpretation. However, it appears that the 1971 revisers of the 1961 NWT decided in favor of "consistency" (it is very rare that this meaning of "breath" was intended in the NT) and rendered pneuma as "spirit" (with a footnote in the 1984 Reference Ed. maintaining that "breath" may have been the intended meaning, nevertheless) in the Matthew account.
Now go back and carefully reread Martin’s accusations against the scholarship and honesty of the NWT at the beginning of this discussion. Who is really being dishonest, inconsistent, and attempting to "redefine Biblical terms to suit [his] own peculiar theological interpretations"? - p. 76.
And, again (since we’re on the subject of honesty in scholarship), on p. 124, Martin resumes his "spirited" attack on the "dishonesty" of the Watchtower scholars:
"According to the Watchtower the soul is ‘a living, breathing, sentient creature, animal or human,’ and Jehovah’s Witnesses also define a spirit as ‘a life force, or something wind-like’ (page 357, Make Sure of All Things)." - KOTC.
Notice the quote of the Watchtower book Make Sure of All Things by Baptist minister and respected, authoritative "Cult" expert, Dr. Walter Martin: "a life force, or something wind-like"!
But when we actually examine p. 357 of the 1953 Watchtower publication Martin "quoted," we find the following:
Spirit, as translated from ru’ahh in the Hebrew and pneu’ma in the Greek: The simplest or elementary meanings of both original words are to describe something windlike, that is, something that is not visible but which nevertheless produces visible or perceptible results. Both are drawn from root verbs meaning "to breathe" or "to blow." "Spirit" as used in the Bible has at least seven different senses or applications of meaning to describe something windlike, viz., as applying to (1) Jehovah God, (2) Christ Jesus, (3) angels, (4) life force, (5) mental disposition, (6) inspired expression and (7) active force of God. This variety of applications is possible in that all are windlike, all are invisible to the human eye and yet all produce effects that are visible, as the elementary meaning of the original words indicates. [Emphasis added.]
The next 9 pages of the Make Sure book are devoted to Scripture quotes showing the Bible’s use of the 7 above-defined meanings of "spirit."
The point is that Martin’s quote is not only misleading but downright dishonest. If he had even quoted it as "something windlike ... life force....," it would have been, although still misleading, at least an honest quotation. But instead, to make his point, and to sell more books to people who want to hear such things (2 Tim. 4:3, 4), he actually lied!
Not only has the Watchtower Society proven its 7 different meanings for "spirit" with copious examples from the Bible, but these meanings are also corroborated by such NT Greek experts as W. E. Vine (pp. 1075-1076) and Joseph H. Thayer (pp. 520-523).
- - - - - - - - - -
This seems like the proper place to bring up a related issue concerning pneuma that has troubled some critics of the NWT. Although I haven’t found this particular attack by Martin, I have seen it in anti-Watchtower letters from relatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For some reason (perhaps just a perverse excuse to attack the NWT) some members of Christendom angrily criticize the NWT for translating the plural form of pneuma (pneumata) at Hebrews 1:7 as "spirits" rather than "wind" as found in some highly-respected Bibles (e.g. RSV, NASB, NIV). It is very true, as we learned above, that pneuma (and its plural pneumata) may be translated as "spirit," "breath," and even "wind."
But out of approximately 380 uses of pneuma in the NT, modern translators have found only two instances where the meaning "wind" may have been intended by the original writers. Instead the inspired writers of the first century nearly always used the word anemos when they truly intended the meaning of "wind."
According to Young’s Analytical Concordance the word "wind" (or "winds") was used 34 times in the NT. Out of these the word anemos was used 31 times. There were also one use of pneo, one use of pnoe, and one use of pneuma (John 3:8). (Based on the KJV this popular concordance by Young considers pneumata at Heb. 1:7 to be properly rendered as "spirits.") The other 380 uses of pneuma/pneumata were used to mean "spirit/spirits." But even that single generally-accepted use of pneuma for "wind" (Jn 3:8) is not certain. Footnotes in the following Bibles are careful to explain that pneuma at Jn 3:8 could just as honestly have been rendered "spirit": ASV, RSV, NRSV, NEB, REB, and NAB  (St. Joseph Ed.).
The degree of doubt for the use of "wind" at Jn 3:8 can be shown by the UBS’ The Greek New Testament, 1975 ed. which says that pneuma is perhaps translated "wind" at Jn 3:8 (p. 145 in Appendix).
The reason "wind" is generally used for pneuma at Jn 3:8 seems to be explained as follows: John is making a play on words, a dignified pun, in which pneuma is used so the double meaning of "spirit" and "wind" can be emphasized. Certainly this is a possibility. However, remember that even with this belief in a play on words by John translators still have some doubt as to whether "wind" or "spirit" (or both) was actually intended here.
Now let’s look at Heb. 1:7. Do we see any indication here of a play on words that would allow for the extremely rare use of the meaning "wind" for pneuma? The KJV translators didn’t think so. They translated it "spirits" with no reservations ("who maketh his angels spirits"). So did NKJV; MKJV (and KJIIV); Young’s; the Catholic Douay Version; Webster’s; Revised Webster’s (1995); Darby’s; and Lamsa’s translations.
I see no valid reason for a play on words here, either. The writer’s intention here at Hebrews 1 is to show Jesus being elevated to such a high position that he is not only much higher than men, but even higher than the angels. He needs a statement, however brief, to establish the superior quality of angels themselves to bring home the magnitude of Jesus being superior even to them. He does this at Heb. 1:7. He either quotes Ps. 104:4 (1) to show that angels are mere servants of God occasionally used as destructive agents comparable to wind and fire OR (2) to show that they are glorified, superior individuals created by God of superior substance.
I believe the first interpretation is out of line with the whole theme of Hebrews 1. It seems off track and irrelevant. The Bible writer is showing how the angels were created to be much superior to human beings. They are not "winds" but creatures made of spirit, a "substance" vastly superior to flesh, and, therefore, anyone superior to them is superior indeed!
Heb. 1:7 is quoting from Ps. 104:4. MLB; KJV; NKJV; KJIIV (and MKJV); Darby; Lamsa; Webster’s; and Revised Webster’s, 1995) use "spirits" rather than "wind" here, and even the highly-respected NASB (as well as the Living Bible) uses "spirits" in its footnote for this scripture.
We should also be aware that Heb. 1:7 is a parallelism. That is, the first statement ("maketh his angels spirits") is, in some sense, parallel to the second statement ("and his ministers a flame of fire"). In other words, "angels" and "ministers" are parallel terms here with approximately equal meanings ("angel" literally means "messenger" in NT Greek). So it is with "spirits" (or "wind") and its parallel term "flame of fire."
As already explained, it seems unlikely that the writer of Hebrews would have chosen this verse to make a point that angels were created to be (on rare occasions) agents of destruction (one parallel meaning between "wind" and "fire") since it would be entirely out of place here. The other parallel (which seems more appropriate here) is that "spirit" and "fire" are parallel terms describing the superiority of the very nature or substance of angels.
We know that when angels actually come to earth as messengers of Jehovah they often assume a fleshly form. Notice, however, how heavenly spirit persons are described (as seen in visions or dreams) when they are not assuming a fleshly form. They frequently appear to be composed of fire (sun, lightning, flame) when they are represented in their natural spirit forms: Ezek. 1:13, 14; Matt. 28:3; Rev. 10:1.
Jehovah made his angels, not winds, but spirits or "flames of fire." Heavenly spirit creatures are of a superior substance or nature. Not of imperfect flesh but of spirit which can best be described to humans as like a "flame of fire." That’s probably the true parallel for Heb. 1:7 - superior heavenly spirit creatures are as flames of fire.
Finally, we need to compare Hebrews 1:7 with Hebrews 1:14. The very same Greek word (pneumata) is used here to describe angels, and it is universally understood to mean "spirits." The context shows that the writer is, in part at least, referring to Heb. 1:7 when he says: "Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits...? - Heb. 1:14, ASV. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977 ed. admits in a footnote that this means: "as to their nature, angels are spirits [pneumata]."
I believe the evidence favors the NWT (and KJV) rendering of "spirits" here at Heb. 1:7. However, as with the scripture above that Martin made such an angry fuss over, it would not be dishonest to use the other rendering of the word pneuma here. And, in fact, if the NWT translators decided to revise this scripture to read "wind," it would certainly not shake my faith in their scholarship or their honesty. An honest case can be made for either rendering.
But let’s get back to Martin’s other "proofs" of NWT "dishonesty":
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
(4) Analuo ("Releasing") - Phil. 1:21-23
Walter Martin writes:
"Philippians 1:21-23- ‘For in my case to live is Christ, and to die, gain. Now if it be to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work - and yet which thing to select I do not know. I am under pressure from these two things; but what I do desire is the releasing and the being with Christ, for this, to be sure, is far better.’ (NWT)." - p. 76, KOTC.
"To anyone possessing even a cursory knowledge of Greek grammar the translation ‘but what I do desire is the releasing....’ (verse 23) signifies either a woeful ignorance of the rudiments of the language or a deliberate, calculated perversion of terminology for a purpose or purposes most questionable." - p. 77, Kingdom of the Cults (KOTC), 1985 ed.
"The rendering, ‘but what I do desire is the releasing ...,’ particularly the last word, is a gross imposition upon the principles of Greek exegesis because the untutored [Jehovah’s Witnesses] have rendered the first aorist active infinitive of the verb analuo (analusai) as a substantive (‘the releasing’) which in this context is unscholarly and atrocious Greek." - p. 77.
It turns out, then, that this terrible "perversion" is not merely the basic meaning of the word, but the rendering of a verb infinitive ("to run," "to give," "to release," etc.) as a substantive ("the giving," "the releasing," etc.). According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, a substantive is "... a verbal noun, or any part of speech used as a noun equivalent." So most of Martin’s diatribe here has to do with the rendering of an infinitive verb as a noun equivalent. Before we examine this "calculated perversion," let’s look at the basic meaning of the word analuo.
NT scholar Ralph P. Martin tells us that this word in Phil. 1:23
"is a euphemism for death; it is a military term for striking camp ... and a nautical expression for releasing a vessel from its moorings." - p. 81, Philippians, (Revised ed.), Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Eerdmans, 1991 reprint.
The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance, The Lockman Foundation, 1981, states:
"360. analuo; from 303 and 3089, to unloose for departure" - p. 1631.
"303. ana ... upwards, up" - p. 1630.
"3089. luo; a prim. vb.; to loose, to release ...." - p. 1664.
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Baker Book House, tells us:
"360... 1. to unloose, undo again, (as woven threads)...." - p. 40.
"3089... 1. to loose any person (or thing)...fastened" - p. 384.
And The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, says for analuo (or analyo):
"The vb. koimao (sleep) is used as a euphemism for -> death in 1 Thess. 4:13 ff. and 1 Cor. 15:6, 18, 20, 51, but is replaced by analyo (unloose, depart) in Phil. 1:23." - p. 925, Vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986.
Obviously, then, it is certainly proper to translate this verb as "to release"! And it is no more improper to render the literal 'release' for 'dying' than it is to render the literal 'sleep' for the same thing! (Compare most Bible translations for 1 Thess. 4:13 and those in 1 Cor. listed above.)
But what about rendering it as a substantive or a verbal noun? Can the infinitive to analusai (literally "the to be loosing up") be rendered "the releasing"? Yes, this is a common practice in all Bible translations as anyone (NT Greek scholar or not) who takes the time to examine an interlinear Bible can easily discover! New Testament scholars, of course, already know this elementary fact.
Christendom’s NT Greek experts even bring out this elementary fact in their basic NT Greek beginners’ primer textbooks:
"301. The Greek infinitive, being a verbal noun, can have the article, like any other noun. It is treated as an indeclinable neuter noun and so has the neuter article [to]. 302. The infinitive with the article can stand in most of the constructions in which any other noun can stand." - p. 137-138, New Testament Greek for Beginners, Dr. J. Gresham Machen, The Macmillan Company. 1951.
"The infinitive .... is a verbal noun ... though its case when used as a noun will be shown by the def[inite art[icle]." .... "the infinitive may be the subject or the predicate of a sentence. Sometimes the English participial form - really the gerund [a verbal noun with ‘-ing’ as its ending] - is the equivalent of this: ‘seeing is believing’ = ‘to see is to believe [in NT Greek].’ Here we have one inf[initive] as subject and another as the predicate." - pp. 69, 72, New Testament Greek Primer, Dr. Alfred Marshall, Zondervan Publishing House.
And, obviously, it is also made clear in more advanced NT Greek Grammars and Lexicons:
"The neut. to [the definite article, ‘the’] before infinitives a. gives them the force of substantives." - Thayer, p. 435, #6.
"The Infinitive ... Here we have noun and verb occupying common ground. This may be sometimes expressed by an ordinary noun of action, but is more forcefully expressed by a verbal substantive." - A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Dana and Mantey, p.208, Macmillan Publishing, 1955.
"(b) Articular Infinitive
Essentially the function of an article with an infin. is the same as with a noun since the infin. is probably in origin a noun, except that with the infin. the article often appears for no reason except to supply the case-encing which is lacking." - p. 140, Vol. 3, Grammar of the New Testament Greek, Moulton/Turner, T & T Clark, 1993 printing.
Wallace also specifically shows us that the infinitives 'to live' and 'to die' in Phil. 1:21 are most likely 'subject infinitives' and may be "translated as gerunds: 'living is Christ and dying is gain.' " - pp. 600, 601, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.
For example, the verb infinitives at Phil. 1:21 (literally, "the to live" and "the to die") are rendered in the following Bibles as :
1. "As life means Christ to me, so death means gain" - Moffatt translation.
2. "For, to me, ‘life’ means Christ; hence dying is so much gain" - NAB.
3. "For to me life is Christ, and death gain" - NEB; BBE; and REB.
4. "Life to me...is Christ, but then death would bring me ... more" JB; NJB
5. "what is life? To me it is Christ. Death, then will bring more" - TEV.
6. "For to me LIVING means Christ and DYING brings gain" - CBW.
7. "LIVING means Christ and DYING something even better." - AT.
8. "LIVING is Christ and DYING is gain." - NRSV.
9. "To me, LIVING means having Christ ...." - NLV.
Yes, these respected Bibles used nouns to translate the literal NT Greek infinitive verbs!
The literal infinitive verbs at Phil. 2:13 ("the to will" and "the to operate" - The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1980) can be translated "to will and to work for his good pleasure" - RSV. But the following translations render them, instead, as noun equivalents:
1. "both the will and the deed, for his own chosen purpose" - NEB; REB.
2. "both the will and the action" - JB.
3. "of desire or achievement" - NAB (1970).
4. "the will and the power" - Phillips.
5. "both the WILLING and the WORKING" - Byington
6. "the intention and the powers" - NJB.
Again we can see NT Bible scholars have translated infinitive verbs as nouns!!
Obviously, then, by their rendering an infinitive verb as a verbal noun or substantive, many respected "orthodox" NT scholars are, according to Martin, also guilty of "unscholarly and atrocious Greek" and a "woeful ignorance of the rudiments of the [NT Greek] language or a deliberate, calculated perversion of terminology" - p. 77, Martin.
We must ask ourselves, how could ministers across the nation (indeed even entire Ministerial Associations: see the KNOW study paper) endorse Martin’s teachings for over 20 years now by their sermons, and by reprinting his writing, playing and providing his commercial tapes, and hiring Martin to speak to their congregations and communities? Any interested person (especially those with even a beginner’s background in NT Greek such as most ministers presumably have) can easily prove many of Martin’s statements terribly, hypocritically wrong!
(5) Parousia ("Presence")
Martin’s big complaint here is that the NWT always translates the NT Greek word parousia as "presence." It’s ironic that he often complains about the "inconsistencies" of the NWT (see #3, "Pneuma" above), and now he is complaining that it is too consistent. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses readily agree that some NT Greek words, like modern English words, can have more than one meaning. When translating those words one must carefully determine as best as possible which meaning was intended by studying the context. It may still be impossible, at times, to be absolutely certain which meaning was intended. In cases like this it is to be expected that the translators’ own understanding and interpretation will decide which meaning to use.
Martin’s own understanding and interpretation is that when speaking of Christ’s parousia, the Bible writers meant his visible, physical coming to earth. Therefore, he, and most "orthodox" members of Christendom, want parousia to mean "coming" in all such instances. This does not make it so!
Martin himself admits that sometimes parousia does mean "presence" as the NWT translates it - p. 80.
So it is not a "grammatical perversion," etc. as Martin would like us to believe, but a matter of honest interpretation! If context or other clear Bible statements make it absolutely certain that a visible "coming" was intended in these scriptures - so be it. Then the Witnesses would have made a relatively minor interpretational error. They are not perfect and freely admit it.
I believe, however, that the Witnesses are correct in their interpretation of parousia in the NT. After all, it is readily admitted by all NT Greek scholars that parousia "lit[erally means] a presence, para, with, and ousia, being" - W. E. Vine, p. 201, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. No one disputes this literal meaning of parousia. Even Young’s Analytical Concordance gives this as the literal meaning (" a being alongside, presence" - p. 188.)
As J. B. Rotherham (noted Bible scholar and translator of The Emphasized Bible) wrote in the appendix of his translation:
"in this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’ (‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). .... The sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shewn by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Co. x.10, and expressed in Ph. ii. 12) that the question naturally arises, - Why not always so render it? The more so, inasmuch as there is in [2 Peter 1:16] also, a peculiar fitness in our English word ‘presence.’ This passage, it will be remembered, relates to our Lord’s transformation upon the Mount. The wonderful manifestation there made was a display and sample of "presence" rather than of "coming." The Lord was already there; and being there he was transformed (cp. Mt. xvii. 2)" - p. 271. [Also cf. 2 Pet. 1:16, Young’s Literal Translation; and Lattimore’s translation]
In other words, context clearly demands "presence" in some instances. And, although context would allow either "presence" or "coming" in other instances, why should a translator insist on "coming" when the word in question does not even mean that in the first place? Rotherham’s answer to this question was to render all uses of parousia into "presence" in his translation.
So it is the meaning "coming" that demands a clear need from context to establish its use instead of the more literal "presence"! If context clearly shows that "presence" cannot be properly used, then, and only then, we may properly consider a different meaning. (For more on this subject see The Watchtower, 15 August 1996, pp. 9-14 and Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, article entitled "Presence" - also compare pp. 201 and 1271, W. E. Vine.)
If it should turn out that the translators of the NWT are mistaken, it would not shake my confidence in the essential doctrines which are of greatest importance taught by the Watchtower Society which are clearly provable and which are important enough to mean one’s very eternal life!
Well, those were Martin’s "five prime examples" of NWT "inaccuracies" and "perversions" specifically listed and commented on in his KOTC, pp. 73-83. Here are a couple more objections Martin sometimes uses on other occasions:
Unnamed Translators and Humility
Some trinitarians (including Dr. Walter Martin) take great exception to the fact that the NWT translators choose to remain anonymous. They imply cowardice, dishonesty, and incompetence as the motives behind such anonymity. In fact, however, such anonymity has been a part of the Watchtower Society for much of its history and in all phases of its publishing activity. The reason has always been to keep from glorifying any man when it is Jehovah and Jesus who deserve the recognition. Humility is extremely important to any real Christian as the scriptures teach, and every Jehovah’s Witness should be able to produce clear scriptural evidence for his belief in this area.
However, it should be sufficient to point out what one respected trinitarian organization believes (and does). Yes, the Lockman Foundation states in the preface to their New American Standard Bible: "no work will ever be personalized." (And the jacket of the 1971 Reference Edition of the NASB states even more clearly: "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.")
And, sure enough, they do not identify their translators. Why? Because, as they write in their preface: "They shall give to the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place, the place which the Word gives Him, and no work will ever be personalized." When Dr. Walter Martin mocks the Watchtower Society for its humility, he also mocks other respected "orthodox" organizations attempting to follow God’s Word in this respect.
Martin: NWT "Misquoting" and "Obvious Misuse" of Mantey’s Work
Before we see Martin’s attack upon the honesty of the NWT appendix writers, we will see both what that appendix actually said and the context of Mantey’s quote which was used in that appendix.
Pages 773, 774 in the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, 1951 ed.: After a listing of trinitarian Bibles that translated Jn 1:1c as "The Word was divine," we read,
"Careful translators recognize that the articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas an anarthrous construction points to a quality [like ‘divine’] about someone. That is what A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Dana and Mantey remarks on p. 140, paragraph vii [also see p. 149].
"Accordingly, on p. 148, paragraph (3), this same publication [by D&M] says about the subject of a copulative sentence:
" 'The article sometimes distinguishes the subject from the predicate in a copulative sentence. In Xenophon’s Anabasis, 1:4:6, emporion d hn to cwrion [emporion d’ en to chorion], and the place was a market, [my emphasis - remember this is Dana and Mantey’s own translation of the Greek example they just provided - see below], we have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1 [that is, the anarthrous predicate noun emporion (‘market’) comes before the verb, and the articular subject to chorion (‘the place’) comes after the verb exactly as in John 1:1], kai qeoV hn o logoV [kai theos en ho logos], and the word was deity. The article points out the subject in these examples. Neither was the place the only market, nor was the word all of God, as it would mean if the article were also used with qeoV [theos].'
"Instead of translating John 1:1 and the word was deity [as Mantey did in the accurate quote above], this Grammar could have translated it, and the word was a god, to run more parallel with [Dana and Mantey’s own translation of] Xenophon’s statement, and the place was a market." - - [Emphasis and bracketed material added and Greek characters changed to English equivalents by me.
Now, before we see Martin’s wrathful indignation concerning the great "dishonesty" of the above NWT statement, let’s see the actual quotes from my own copy of D&M’s A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, pp. 140, 148, 149.
"vi. The use of the articular and anarthrous constructions of qeoV [theos] is highly instructive. .... without the article qeoV [theos] signifies divine essence [?], while with the article divine personality is chiefly in view." - pp. 139-140.
"vii. The articular construction [a simple noun with the definite article] emphasizes identity; the anarthrous construction [a simple noun with no article] emphasizes character [a quality]." - p. 140.
"An object of thought may be conceived of from two points of view: as to identity or quality. To convey the first point of view the Greek uses the article; for the second the anarthrous [without the article] construction is used." - p. 149.
"(3) With the Subject in a Copulative Sentence. The article sometimes distinguishes the subject from the predicate in a copulative sentence. In Xenophon’s Anabasis, 1:4:6, emporion d hn to cwrion [emporion d’ en to chorion]
and the place was a market, we have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1, kai qeoV hn o logoV [kai theos en ho logos], and the word was deity. The article points out the subject in these examples. Neither was the place the only market, nor was the word all of God, as it would mean if the article were also used with qeoV [theos]. As it stands, the other persons of the Trinity may be implied in qeoV.
"martuV gar mou estin o qeoV
God is my witness. Rom. 1:9.
See also: Mk. 6:35; 1 Jn. 4:8.
"In a convertible proposition, where the subject and predicate are regarded as interchangeable, both have the article". - pp. 148-149.
Now we are prepared to check the honesty of Dr. Walter Martin’s attack upon the honesty of this appendix note in the NWT. Here is what he says on p. 87 of his The Kingdom of the Cults, 1985 ed.:
"It is nonsense to say that a simple noun can be rendered ‘divine’ and that one without the article conveys merely the idea of a quality (pp. 773, 774, appendix to the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures). The authors of this note themselves later render the same noun theos as ‘a god’ not as ‘a quality.’ This is a self-contradiction in the context ...." - p. 87.
"One need only note the obvious misuse in their quotation from Dana and Mantey (the New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures, pp. 774, 775 .) Mantey clearly means that the ‘Word was Deity’ in accord with the overwhelming testimony of Scripture, but the writers have dragged in the interpretation ‘a god’ to suit their own purpose ... The late Dr. Mantey publicly stated that he was quoted out of context and he personally wrote the Watchtower, declaring ‘there is no statement in our grammar that was ever meant to imply that ‘a god’ was a permissible translation in John 1:1’." - p. 87.
First, it is obvious that the writer of the NWT appendix was merely pointing out why certain trinitarian Bible translators had translated the simple anarthrous noun theos as a quality ("divine") at John 1:1 ! Those trinitarian translators obviously agreed with Dana and Mantey that an anarthrous (without an article) noun may denote character or quality [but not identity]. - see pp. 140 and 149 quoted from D&M above. Whether any of the translators of the NWT believe such a thing is not stated and is beside the point.
That the idea that a noun without the article (anarthrous) can mean a "quality" is "non-sense" as Martin insists is his own opinion (although I happen to agree with this). But the NWT appendix writer has shown that many trinitarian scholars (including Dana and Mantey themselves!) have resorted to such an understanding because the NT Greek doesn’t properly allow for the traditional trinitarian understanding at John 1:1 - an understood article making theos into ho theos ("God")!
If we examine all the scriptures in the writings of John that are truly grammatically parallel to John 1:1, we find that invariably all trinitarian Bibles translate them with an indefinite predicate noun (e.g. "he was a prophet" - John 4:19) just as the NWT translates John 1:1 ("the Word was a god")! So, rather than the NWT being inconsistent here (or having "a self-contradiction in the context"), it is all the trinitarian translations (whether "Definitarians" like Martin usually is or "Qualitarians" like Mantey is) which are inconsistent in their translations of John’s NT Greek at John 1:1c with their translations of all parallel constructions found in John’s writings.
Third, Martin’s implication that the NWT appendix obviously misused Mantey’s words because he "clearly means that the ‘Word was Deity’" is ridiculous at best. Mantey is clearly a trinitarian and obviously would not prefer the translation "the Word was a god."
Furthermore, the NWT appendix itself honestly states that Mantey translates it as "and the word was deity"! Mantey (and Martin) are pretending to be upset at the NWT appendix writer for misquoting, etc. when they should be upset with Mantey for his own proper translation of a Greek construction which he admits is parallel to John 1:1c ("and the place was a market")!! The NWT appendix writer showed the context for his quote of Mantey’s work and even quoted Mantey’s translation of John 1:1c (which was really unnecessary). The fact that Mantey had unintentionally presented some factual information that was detrimental to his own personal interpretation of John 1:1 doesn’t mean that information shouldn’t be used by others.
In spite of what trinitarian scholars would like John 1:1c to say (and many of them admit that "a god" is grammatically correct, but prefer "God" because of their interpretation of other "trinity proofs" in scripture), we can see that when it comes to translating passages which are parallel to John 1:1c, they render them in the same manner as the NWT renders John 1:1c ("a god.").
This whole business by Martin and Mantey is devious and hypocritical in the extreme. If you carefully review Martin’s charges and the relevant quotes above, you will discover exactly who is misusing quotes and using dishonest methods, etc. (See the MARTIN study paper for more on this subject.)
In his public lectures Martin has made a point of repeating a quote from C. F. D. Moule’s An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, 2nd ed., 1960, p. 116.
This quote (which trinitarian Moule himself actually attributes to Dr. Westcott) is, "It [theos at Jn 1:1c] is necessarily without the article." Martin sometimes likes to imply that Moule (actually Westcott) is thereby supporting Martin’s version of Colwell’s Rule wherein theos in the grammatical construction found at Jn 1:1c must have the definite article understood. (Of course Colwell’s Rule doesn’t really say that, but Martin tells us it does - p. 85, KOTC - see MARTIN study paper.)
However, an honest use of this quote cannot be used to support Colwell’s Rule! In context it actually condemns the Martin-supported Colwell’s Rule. Here is the rest of Moule’s quote of respected trinitarian scholar Dr. Westcott:
"It is necessarily without the article (theos not ho theos) inasmuch as it describes the nature of the Word and does not identify His Person. It would be pure Sabellianism [a heretical teaching] to say ‘the Word was ho theos [as Colwell’s Rule would have it understood].’"
Yes, Dr. Westcott (and Dr. Moule) was a "Qualitative" trinitarian (see the QUAL or HARN studies) and, therefore, believed the "Definite" trinitarians (see the DEF study paper) are teaching heresy by trying to supply an understood definite article at Jn 1:1c. Martin, usually a "Definite" trinitarian himself, knows this of course, and, when it profits him, at times, he even uses the opposing "Qualitative" approach himself!
NT Greek expert A. T. Robertson makes a similar statement to that quoted by Moule. On p. 768 of his A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research Prof. Robertson writes:
"The absence of the article here [with theos at Jn 1:1c] is on purpose and essential to the true idea." He continues, "[W. F. Moulton] finds that when the article is used in the predicate the article is due to a previous mention of the noun (as well known or prominent) or to the fact that subject and predicate are identical. The words that are identical are convertible as in the older idiom. If he [Moulton] had added what is in Winer-Schmiedel, that the article also occurs when it is the only one of its kind [as the only true God], he would have said all that is to be said on the subject."
Yes, Prof. Robertson was also a "Qualitative" trinitarian. He also noted that Colwell’s Rule when applied to John 1:1c amounted to heresy:
"It is true also that [ho theos was the Word] (convertible terms) would have been sabellianism." - pp. 767-768.
So Walter Martin has taken part of a quote from Moule’s book which said that the article must not be with (or, obviously, not even be understood to be with) theos or it would be heresy! Martin has taken part of this quote and implied that Westcott (or less accurately, Moule) has stated that Jn 1:1c is necessarily without the article so that Colwell’s Rule, which supplies an understood definite article with theos at Jn 1:1c, can be used! This is not an inadvertent admission of error by Westcott (or Moule) which Martin has found and used against them - - - - This is an outright, dishonest misuse of a partial quote. This well illustrates the difference in honestly quoting an "opponent" and dishonestly doing so.
"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money... holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. .... And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them." - 2 Tim. 3:1,6,12-14 NASB. Also 2 Cor. 4:2-4 and Matt. 15:13-14.
Jn 17:3 - "Taking in Knowledge"
I have had more than one acquaintance tell me about the NWT "mistranslation" of John 17:3. They object strongly to the translation of ginosko as "taking in knowledge." They don’t like the idea that it is a continuing process of gaining knowledge of God. They tell me that it is improper and dishonest to translate ginosko in this manner, and that, instead, ginosko means to be in an "intimate relationship" with someone.
We need to understand that there are two NT Greek words that are translated "know," "knowledge," and "knowing": ginosko and oida. Whether there is any real difference between the meanings of them is debatable.
For what it’s worth here is what one trinitarian NT Greek authority has to say about these two words:
"I. GINOSKO signifies to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand" - p. 627.
"The same idea of appreciation [which implies behaving or living in accord with that knowledge - RDB] as well as knowledge underlies several statements concerning the knowledge of God and His truth on the part of believers, e.g. John...17:3".
And, "The differences between ginosko [Jn 17:3] and oida [2 Thess. 1:8] demand consideration: (a) ginosko frequently suggests inception or progress in knowledge, while oida suggests fulness of knowledge, e.g., John 8:55, ‘Ye have not known him’ (ginosko), i.e., begun to know [take in knowledge - RDB], ‘but I know Him’ (oida), i.e. ‘know him perfectly.’ [John] 13:7, ‘what I do thou knowest not now,’ i.e. Peter did not yet [fully, completely] perceive (oida) its significance, ‘but thou shalt understand,’ i.e., ‘get to know [learn gradually, progressively - RDB] (ginosko), hereafter’". - p. 628, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The NWT is perfectly in harmony with this trinitarian NT Greek expert’s views of ginosko. Whether there really is a difference between the intended meaning of ginosko and oida, however, is a matter of interpretation. The verses cited above by Vine could just as easily be evidence showing that the two words can be used interchangeably. And furthering that understanding would be a comparison of John 17:3 (ginosko) with 2 Thess. 1:8 (oida), Jeremiah 10:25 Greek Septuagint (oida), and 1 John 5:20 ("the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know [ginosko] him who is true" - NIV).
Yes, if you actually examine all the uses of oida and ginosko, it appears that there was often very little, if any, distinction between the two words. Heb. 8:11 and Gal. 4:8, 9, and John 14:7 all use both ginosko and oida. Can you tell which is which without looking at an interlinear or concordance - simply from context? Also 1 John 2:3 uses ginosko twice - compare the two usages!
Other scriptures where ginosko does not have to mean "intimate personal relationship" - Jn 7:17; Jn 8:31, 32; Jn 8:52; Jn 10:38; Jn 13:12; Jn 13:35; Jn 15:18; Jn 17:23; Jn 19:4; 1 Jn 2:18; 1 Jn 2:29; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 3:3.
Not only is the NWT not dishonestly translating ginosko at John 17:3, but it is possibly the only translation that renders it in accord with the respected trinitarian NT Greek expert, W. E. Vine’s, definition: "Ginosko signifies to be TAKING IN KNOWLEDGE"! - (Updated information in March 1, 1992, WT, p. 23.)
Apparently another anti-Watchtower writer has appealed to another noted NT scholar and Bible translator’s review of the NWT: Dr. Goodspeed. I have received a photocopy of a page in which Dr. Goodspeed is quoted as criticizing the NWT. And what terrible errors did Dr. Goodspeed point to? Mistranslation? Adding to or subtracting from the original text? No! According to this anti-Watchtower writer, Dr. Goodspeed objected to some instances of translating the original Hebrew into awkward English.
Did it distort the meaning of God’s Word? Well, here is the outstanding example that the anti-Watchtower writer of that page found in Dr. Edgar J. Goodspeed’s critique of the NWT:
"One reading he pointed out as especially awkward and grammatically poor [in English, of course] was in Judges 14:3 (p. 803, first edition), where Samson is made to say: ‘Her get for me....’."
Yes, the full sentence in the original edition of the NWT reads, "Her get for me, because she is the one just right in my eyes." True, this is awkward English (it has long since been revised). But does it change the meaning? Does it make it so you can’t understand it?
The writer claimed that Dr. Goodspeed knew the NWT well, and yet all he could find to criticize from Dr. Goodspeed’s review was an instance of awkward English that in no way harmed the accuracy of the translation!
The problem is that the more literally accurate a translation tries to be the more awkward the English often becomes. There must be a trade-off between being literally accurate and having perfect English (as in any translation from one language to another). - see any Hebrew-English Interlinear.
The fact is that the New World Translation, being the work of men, cannot be a perfect translation, but it may well be the most literally accurate translation available today (with the exception of some Hebrew-English Interlinear Bibles which are certainly much more awkward and harder to understand than the NWT).
You will find that the word-for-word translation of the original Hebrew manuscripts at Judges 14:3 is: "Her get for me for she she is right in eyes of me." - see The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, Zondervan; or The Interlinear Bible, Baker Book House. Compare this with the NWT rendering quoted above: "Her get for me, because she is the one just right in my eyes."
Now compare other translations:
"Get her for me, because she pleases me." - NRSV.
"Get her for me. She’s the right one for me" - NIV.
"Get her for me; she pleaseth me well" - KJV.
"Get her for me, for she pleases me well." – NKJV; RSV.
"Get her for me, for she looks good to me" - NASB.
"Get her for me because she pleases me" - NEB.
"Get this one for me; get her, because I like her" - JB.
Are these most-respected translations really more accurate than the NWT? IS the NWT "distorting" God’s Word? Isn’t it, rather, "bending over backward" in striving for accuracy?
A criticism I have been confronted with concerns the rendering of Rev. 5:10. Most translations have "reign upon [epi] the earth" or similar renderings.
Rev. 5:10 - rule upon (or 'over'?) the earth:
The NT Greek word in question ("upon" or "over") is epi (epi).
The scripture is:
(Rotherham) Revelation 5:10 And didst make them, unto our God, a kingdom and priests,--and they reign on [epi] the earth. - cf. most translations.
(Darby) Revelation 5:10 and made them to our God kings and priests; and they shall reign over [epi] the earth.
(AT - Smith-Goodspeed) Rev. 5:10 ...and they are to reign over the earth.
(C.B. Williams) ... and they will rule over [epi] the earth.
(W.F. Beck) ... and they will rule as kings over [epi] the earth.
(JB) ...to serve our God and to rule the world.
The question is: what does epi mean?
Well, NT Greek dictionaries give the major meaning as "on" or "upon." However a significant alternate is "over."
For example of the 54 times that epi is rendered as "over" in the NASB, the following have to do with ruling over or having authority over:
Luke 1:33; 9:1; 19:14; 19:27; Acts 7:18; 7:27; Ro. 9:5; Eph. 4:6; Heb. 2:7; 3:6; 10:21; Rev. 2:26; 9:11; 13:7; 17:18.
Sticking with Revelation alone we find:
Revelation 2:26 `He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER [EPI] THE NATIONS; - NASB. Also KJV; NKJV; RSV; TEV; ASV; and many more.
Revelation 9:11 They have as king over [epi] them, the angel of the abyss; - NASB. Also KJV; NKJV; RSV; TEV; ASV; and many more.
Revelation 13:7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over [epi] every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. - NASB. Also KJV; NKJV; RSV; TEV; ASV; and many more.
Revelation 17:18 "The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over [epi] the kings of the earth." - NASB. Also KJV; NKJV; RSV; TEV; ASV; and many more.
Furthermore in all other cases in the KJV where 'reign' and epi are used together it always means 'over':
Luke 1:33; 19:14; 19:27; Romans 5:14; Rev. 17:18.
It is not inappropriate, therefore, to use "over" at Rev. 5:10 also.
Some seem to think that since the word following epi is a genitive noun, epi should therefore be rendered "over."
A genitive noun is one which is usually rendered with "of" before it. So, `theou' for example, would normally be rendered as "of God" or "of a god." In Rev. 5:10 `earth' is in the genitive case. This does not seem significant. Acts 7:27, for example, uses the genitive emon in a parallel use: `ruler … over (epi) us (emon).'
In fact, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon notes specifically that epi "A. with the GENITIVE .... I. of Place; and 1. of the place on which; .... d. fig. used of things, affairs, persons, which one is set over, over which he exercises power .... Rev. v. 10;" - p. 231, Baker Book House, 1977.
Criticism by Zondervan’s So Many Versions?
Zondervan, the respected trinitarian publishing, company published a book which examines most twentieth century English versions of the Bible: So Many Versions? (SMV), by trinitarian Bible scholars Dr. S. Kubo and Dr. W. Albrecht. They have published this book since 1975. I purchased my copy new in 1991 from a "Christian" book store. So, for over 15 years this popular trinitarian publishing company has been printing the following criticisms of the NWT. We will examine them in the order they appear in my copy of this book (1983 revised edition.).
"Jehovah" in the New Testament
It is readily admitted by the Watchtower Society that, except as part of proper names and the "Hallelujah’s" at Rev. 19, the still-existing NT manuscripts do not use the name "Jehovah" where one would expect to find it. Knowledge of this apparent discrepancy and support for the inclusion of God’s Name at certain places in the NT portion of the NWT are found in many places in Watchtower literature over the last 40 years. All Jehovah’s Witnesses should be familiar with this information and willing to share it with others.
SMV, however, insists (p. 98) that "There is absolutely no basis for the translation of the Greek original [in the NT] by the word ‘Jehovah.’" But not only do the NWT translators give a good basis for using the Divine Name here, they also give many examples of Bible translators (even trinitarian translators like famed Lutheran scholar Delitzsch and the highly-respected United Bible Societies) who also use the Divine Name at these places in their translations of the New Testament into other languages.
SMV adds that,
"The NWT translators arbitrarily decide when the word ‘Lord’ in the Greek should be rendered ‘Jehovah’ and when it should be left as ‘Lord’."
It has been clearly and repeatedly explained by the NWT translators and commentators that when "Lord" is found in the NT Greek in an obvious quote from (or commonly used expression in) the OT we must see if the OT manuscripts actually used "Lord" or "Jehovah" there and translate accordingly. This is squarely in line with the trinitarian New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology which also tells us that there are:
"… numerous quotations from the OT [found in present-day NT manuscripts] in which kyrios [‘Lord’] stands for Yahweh [Jehovah]" - Vol. 2, p. 513, Zondervan, 1986.
The examples SMV gives of this "arbitrariness," of course, are verses where the "Lord/Jehovah" confusion is used by some trinitarians to "prove" that Jesus is Jehovah. These include 1 Cor. 12:3 and 2 Cor. 4:5 and Acts 19:20. But even the two NT translations I have in my possession by the noted Lutheran scholar Delitzsch and the United Bible Societies (UBS) use "Lord" ("Adon") instead of Jehovah at 1 Cor. 12:3 and 2 Cor. 4:5 exactly as the NWT does! And Delitzsch also uses the Divine Name (YHWH or "Jehovah") at Acts 19:20 exactly as the NWT does! (Both Delitzsch and the UBS also use "YHWH" ["Jehovah"] at John 6:45 exactly as the NWT does, in spite of SMV’s criticism on p. 101.) Apparently SMV believes these respected, scholarly trinitarian works are "arbitrary" in this respect also! (See NWT-B study paper)
We even find the King James Version (KJV); the New King James Version (NKJV); the Modern King James Version (MKJV); and the Modern Language Bible (MLB), which actually substitute "LORD" (ALL CAPITALS) for "Jehovah" in the Old Testament, also sometimes use "LORD" (meaning "Jehovah") in the New Testament as well: Acts 2:34 (KJV; MKJV; & NKJV, most printings); Matthew 22:44 (MLB; NKJV; MKJV; and KJV); 2 Cor. 5:8 (MLB); 2 Cor. 6:18 (NKJV); etc. !
Walter Martin has also selected this subject as one of five "outstanding examples of fraud and deceit from the New World Translation." - p. 72, KOTC. On pp. 74-75 of that book Martin tells us that there is ONLY ONE manuscript of the ancient Greek Septuagint Bible to substantiate the Watchtower claim that this ancient Bible translation originally used the name "Jehovah" for hundreds of years until sometime around the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. when all copies of the Septuagint began replacing this personal name of God with the title "Lord." If this happened, as all evidence shows, with this ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, it isn’t surprising that it would also happen to the copies of the New Testament Greek manuscripts at this same time.
Martin claims that only one copy of the Septuagint uses "Jehovah" and hundreds of others do not, therefore the Witnesses are frauds, cheats, liars, etc. to claim this as evidence. The truth is, however, that all the many manuscripts that Martin refers to are 4th century A.D. and newer. And all the manuscripts found that are older than 300 A.D. actually use the proper name of God, "Jehovah," NOT "Lord"!! The highly-praised trinitarian reference work The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology confirms this - Vol. 2, p. 512, Zondervan, copyright 1976 and 1986. This information and data about 6 different Septuagint manuscripts older than 300 A.D., all of which use the personal name of God, was available to Martin long before this 1985 revised edition of his KOTC was published.
For more information on this important subject, see pp. 23-27 in The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever brochure, 1984; pp. 1133-1138 in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, 1985 ed.; and pp. 1562-1566 in the Appendix of the Large-print Reference edition of the NWT, 1984 ed. (Also see the NWT-B and JHVHNT studies.)
But even without considering the Septuagint there is further strong evidence showing the original use of the divine name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The ancient Jewish religious work, the Babylonian Talmud, when speaking of rules governing conduct during the Sabbath, discusses whether one may properly save a Bible manuscript from a fire on the Sabbath. Then the following passage apparently discusses whether the writings of the first Christians should also be saved. "Said Rabbi Tarfon: May I bury my sons! If (these books) would come into my hand, I would burn them along with their TETRAGRAMATA [actual uses of God’s Divine Name: ‘Jehovah’ or ‘Yahweh’]." - see November 1, 1993 Watchtower, pp. 30, 31. This seems to confirm that the first Christian writings did use the name "Jehovah"!
What is most significant here is something scarcely even referred to by SMV and most "orthodox" trinitarian Bible scholars: The only personal Name of God, "Jehovah" in customary English form (or "Yahweh" in probable ancient Hebrew form), has been removed in "orthodox" translations from all (or nearly all) the 7000 places it actually occurs in the original manuscripts of the Old Testament! Indeed, this has been done in every instance in SMV’s highest-rated Bible translations (RSV, NIV, NASB) where "Jehovah" ("Yahweh") has been removed and "LORD" added in its place to follow the usual KJV tradition! - Compare Ps. 83:18 in KJV with NIV, RSV, or NASB, for example.
Reasons for such God-dishonoring "pollution" of his only personal name (Ezek. 39:7, KJV) include: manufactured trinity "evidence" ("special pleading"?); desire for popularity; literary "beauty;" economic considerations; and the traditions of men. One of the few respected "orthodox" scholars honest enough to admit this was Dr. Palmer.
Yes, the late Edwin H. Palmer, Executive Secretary of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation; Coordinator of all translation work on the NIV; and General Editor of The NIV Study Bible by Zondervan (see "Tribute to Edwin H. Palmer," p. v., The NIV Study Bible, 1985), wrote the following reply to an inquiry about why the NIV did not use God’s personal name (Jehovah) as found nearly 7000 times in all the ancient Bible manuscripts of the Old Testament:
"Here is why we did not: You are right that Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. But we put 2 1/4 million dollars into this translation and a sure way of throwing that down the drain is to translate, for example, Psalm 23 as, ‘Yahweh [or Jehovah] is my shepherd.’ Immediately, we would have translated for nothing. Nobody would have used it. Oh, maybe you and a handful [of] others. But a Christian has to be also wise and practical. We are the victims of 350 years of the King James tradition. It is far better to get two million to read it - that is how many have bought it to date - and to follow the King James [‘LORD’] , than to have two thousand buy it and have the CORRECT translation of Yahweh [or Jehovah - RDB].... It was a hard decision, and many of our translators agree with you." - Quoted in 15 July 1979 The Watchtower. (My emphasis added).
Notice how two of the most-respected, "orthodox," trinitarian Bible study publications address this extremely important issue:
"Of primary significance is the name of Yahweh [or Jehovah] which he himself made known in his revelation (Gen. 17:1; Exod. 3:14 [and 3:15]; 6:2...). One of the most fundamental and essential features of the biblical revelation is the fact that God is not without a name: he has a personal name [Jehovah or Yahweh], by which he can, and is to be, invoked." - p. 649, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986.
And the New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House Publ., 1984, after telling us on p. 812 that God changed his previously ‘external’ relationship with mankind by revealing his PERSONAL NAME to his people and thereby established with them "the highly personal relationship to a God who has given his people the liberty to call him by name [Yahweh or Jehovah]," further states:
"The name of God is described as his ‘holy name’ more often than all other adjectival qualifications [titles, descriptions, etc.] taken together. It was this sense of the sacredness of the name that finally led to the obtuse [stupid] refusal to use ‘Yahweh’, leading as it has done to a deep loss of the sense of the divine name in [English-language Bibles]." - p. 813, section d.
Also, the trinitarian Today’s Dictionary of the Bible (Bethany House, 1982) says:
"Jeho’vah, the special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord [or God]) by which God revealed himself .... The Hebrew name ‘Jehovah’ is generally translated [in most English Bibles] by the word ‘LORD’ printed in small capitals to distinguish it from the [honest] rendering of the Hebrew Adonai and the Greek Kurios, which are also rendered ‘Lord,’ but in the usual type." - p. 330.
Even trinitarian translator and scholar Jay P. Green writes in the Preface of his The Interlinear Bible:
"The only personal name of God that belongs to Him alone was rendered Jehovah or, in its shortened form, Jah. We preferred the transliteration JHWH (thus Jehovah) over YHWH (or Yahweh) because this is established English usage for Bible names beginning with this letter (e.g., Jacob and Joseph). - p. v, Baker Book House, 1982.
(Remember how even the KJV itself – and others - admits, in effect, that "Jehovah" should be used in the New Testament: most editions of the KJV use "LORD" - which is recognized by all knowledgeable Bible scholars as the "code" for "Jehovah" in the KJV and most other versions - at Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34.)
So, rather than "have the correct translation of Yahweh [or Jehovah]," as Dr. Palmer admits, nearly all Bible translations have incorrectly translated this extremely important Name of God as "LORD"! And SMV happily endorses them!
- "How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal [‘Lord’]?" - Jer. 23:26-27, RSV. "Our fathers have inherited nought but lies, .... they shall know that my name is the LORD." - Jer. 16:19,21, RSV.
"God said further to Moses, You tell the Israelites: JEHOVAH ... has sent me to you. This is My name forever and by this I am to be remembered through all generations." - Ex. 3:15, MLB (Cf. NEB, LB, ASV, KJIIV).
"Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, [O Jehovah - ASV] .... That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth." - Ps. 83:16, 18, KJV, LB.
"HALLELUJAH [‘Praise JEHOVAH’]! O servants of Jehovah, praise his name. Blessed is his name forever and forever." - Ps. 113:1, 2 - Living Bible.
"And now, O priests, this command (is) to you. If you will not hear, and if you will not set on (your) heart to give glory to My name, says Jehovah of hosts, then I will send the curse on you, .... and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Jehovah, and those esteeming His name." - Malachi 2:2; 3:16, KJIIV, 1982.
"And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah . And my holy name will I make known in the midst of my people Israel; neither will I suffer my holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah." - Ezekiel 39:6, 7, American Standard Version.
Also see Deut. 6:4; Ps. 79:5, 6; Is. 45:5-7; Jer. 33:2 in the Living Bible (LB). For more information on the importance of this only personal name of God and the incredibly tragic rejection of that name by most Bible translations and "Christian" churches and organizations today see The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever brochure printed by the Watchtower Society, 1984.
As previously noted SMV lists the NWT translation of John 1:1c as its most objectionable rendering. To justify their backing of the trinitarian rendering of "the Word was God," they use the incredibly poor, trinitarian-invented "Colwell’s Rule" (see the DEF study paper) and even misrepresent that: "a definite predicate noun when it precedes the verb never takes an article in Greek." An examination of Jn 1:21; 15:1; 20:15; 21:7 (2); 21:12; and 2 Jn :6 in any interlinear Bible shows the complete falsity of this statement.
SMV complains that "there is no consistency" in the NWT’s use of the NT word for "God/a god" (theos) whereas, in reality, the NWT is more consistent than any other Bible translation I have found. - See the DEF study paper (also the MARTIN and PRIMER study papers).
Although, as with "Colwell’s Rule" above, SMV does not name the "rule," it describes the trinitarian-concocted "rule" known as "Sharp’s Rule" on pp. 100-101. "Sharp’s rule" tells us that if two person-referring nouns are put together with an "and" in between, and the first noun has the word "the" and the second does not (e.g., "the servant and master"), then both nouns must refer to the same person. This is obviously ridiculous and shows the desperation of certain trinitarians who want to prove the trinity doctrine is actually taught in the Bible.
Many of the most-respected trinitarian scholars themselves refuse to accept this modern "rule," and many (if not most) trinitarian Bible translations ignore this "rule" in some or all of their renderings where it is supposed to apply. (See the SHARP or SHARP PRIMER studies.) The authors of SMV know all this and yet criticize the NWT for not following this discredited "rule" in the selected few instances where such a rule would "prove" that God and Jesus are the same person. They, of course, do not criticize the many trinitarian Bibles they review in this book which also ignore this "rule."
"[Other]" and Phil. 2:6
Next SMV (p. 101) criticizes the NWT for its addition of "[other]" at Col. 1:16-17. We have already examined this above in the Walter Martin section. Then (pp. 101-102) they blast the NWT for its rendering of Phil. 2:6 when, again, the NWT is one of the few Bibles to have the most honest rendering of this verse. - See the PHIL study paper. (Cf. NEB; TEV; and GNB.)
"Is" Translated as "Means"
Another strong criticism of the NWT concerns the occasional translation of "means" for the NT Greek verb estin ("is"). Zondervan’s So Many Versions, 1983, (written by trinitarian Bible scholars Kubo and Specht) particularly objects to this (p. 102) and says of 1 Cor. 11:24-25 in the NWT:
"The Greek verb is ‘is’ and should have been translated thus. [The NWT’s] concern for accuracy and literalism seems to be set aside whenever the literal text conflicts with their theological position." [This last statement should make us carefully examine the literal translation of John 1:1c.]
It is certainly no secret that the Greek verb "is" (estin and its related forms) may be (and often is in most Bible translations) translated as "means," "represents," etc. This understanding is clearly shown in NT Greek lexicons. The highly respected Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, for instance, plainly states this on p. 176. (Also see W. E. Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 722.)
Actually, to see the truth of this, we only need to examine the following translations of "is": Matt. 9:13 RSV, NRSV, NASB, NIV, KJV, NEB, REB, NAB, AT, JB, NJB, etc.; Matt. 12:7; Matt. 13:38; Mark 9:10; Luke 8:9; and Eph 4:9 RSV, NASB, NIV, NEB, NAB, JB. (Also see John 17:3 GNB, AT, and C. B. Williams, and see Rev. 19:8 NIV, AT.)
Even the NIV (highly praised by SMV) has translated "is" as "leads to" at John 12:50 - "his command leads to [estin] eternal life." (To be consistent NIV should have done this at Jn 17:3 also.) - Cf. LB, CBW, and AT.
And the highly acclaimed Bible scholar and translator, Dr. James Moffatt, even rendered the scripture in question (1 Cor. 11:24-25) as: "This means my body …. This cup means the new covenant" - The Bible - A New Translation, Harper and Row, 1954.
And the footnote for 1 Cor. 11:24 in the NIV Study Bible says: "The broken bread is a symbol of Christ’s body given for sinners." In other words, "this bread means (or symbolizes) my body" - Zondervan, 1985.
Even to imply that it is improper to translate this verb as "means" is dishonest in the extreme!
"Baptism for Dead" and "Virginity"
1 Cor. 15:29 1 Cor. 7:36
Although it is obvious that most translators have struggled to find an appropriate interpretation for these two grammatically difficult scriptures (see various commentaries) and that they are often debated today by NT scholars, it is apparently "wrong" for the NWT to make its own interpretation here (pp. 102-103).
SMV admits, "no matter what translation one takes up, it will surely be an interpretation. It is almost impossible to translate this passage without interpreting it." (p. 103). And yet, after making this admission, it criticizes the NWT’s use of the word "virginity" at 1 Cor. 7:36. That this is unfair is shown by the use of this very word in this verse by J. B. Rotherham; J. N. Darby; and Jay P. Green (MKJV and KJIIV) in their respective translations. - Compare the Emphatic Diaglott (and notes).
We also find an endorsement for using "virginity" at this verse in the respected Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1976, Vol. 3, p. 1036.
And in Adam Clarke’s Commentaries we also see:
"3. ‘The apostle by parqenoV [parthenos, "virgin"], does not mean a virgin, but the state of virginity or celibacy, whether in man or woman.’ Both Mr. Locke and Dr. Whitby are of this opinion. .... [Clarke agrees and says:] parqenoV here should be considered as implying not a virgin, but the state of virginity or celibacy. ....
".... The whole of the 37th verse relates to the purpose that the man has formed; and the strength that he has to keep his purpose of perpetual celibacy, being under no necessity to change that purpose. ....
".... He then who marrieth, though previously intending perpetual virginity, doeth well; as this is agreeable to laws both Divine and human: and he who marrieth not, doeth better, because of the present distress. See 1 Corinthians 7:26." - pp. 515, 516., Vol. 6A, Sage Software, 1996.
It becomes clear that the authors of SMV are determined to deride and condemn the NWT in any way they can, whether honest or not.
The next complaint is that the NWT is too literal. Instead of even faint praise for the extreme accuracy, this section (pp. 103-104) is devoted to showing that by sticking too closely to what the actual Bible manuscripts literally said, the NWT has destroyed the literary beauty and thereby repulsed prospective readers. The examples given were carefully selected to show the awkwardness and lack of beauty. They also claim the accurate rendering makes it too difficult to understand.
Accuracy must be the prime factor in any translation of God’s Word! The NWT has done an outstanding job in being as accurate as possible and still being understandable. Examine the examples which were specifically selected to show "awkwardness." Even these are certainly understandable in spite of their "awkwardness." In fact, even with its incredible literal accuracy, it is still vastly more understandable than the KJV which the majority of Christendom still prefers. To complain of its great literal accuracy vs. lack of literary beauty certainly shows the tragic priorities of most of Christendom.
"Torture Stake" vs. "Cross"
Next SMV tells us of two "unfortunate examples" of "peculiarities in translation": "torture stake" instead of "cross" and "impale" instead of "crucify." Other than obviously disliking the change from tradition, SMV’s only defense of the traditional "cross/crucify" is a page-long attack on the NWT by a Catholic scholar (who obviously must defend his Church’s strong tradition of venerating the Cross) in a 1951 article of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.
We can find equally strong defenses of the Witness interpretation. Even the highly regarded (by "orthodox" Protestants) New Testament scholar, W. E. Vine, in his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 248, tells us that the so-called "cross" was really an upright pale or stake (without a crosspiece) and that an apostate Church finally, in an effort to please pagan "converts," allowed them to keep their pagan symbols, including a two-piece cross. Only then did the cross become a "Christian" symbol.
At the beginning of the third century Minucius Felix wrote to the pagans in Octavius and revealed the attitude that early Christians had toward the cross up to that time. He said: "Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. . . . Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it." (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, p. 191) True Christians never revered the cross or regarded it as a symbol of true Christianity.
Note also what is stated in The Companion Bible, published by the Oxford University Press. On page 186 in the "Appendixes" it says: "Homer uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake, or a single piece of timber. And this is the meaning and usage of the word throughout the Greek classics. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone. Hence the use of the word xulon [which means a timber] in connection with the manner of our Lord's death, and rendered tree in Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:24. . . . There is nothing in the Greek N.T. even to imply two pieces of timber. . . . The evidence is thus complete, that the Lord was put to death upon an upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle." 1 Feb. 1968 WT, pp. 93, 94.
Another noted NT scholar agreed:
E.W. Bullinger,' perhaps the greatest workman and scholar of the holy scriptures in our time,' states the following:
"In the Greek N. T. two words are used for "the cross", on which the Lord was put to death. 1. The word stauros, which denotes an upright pale or stake, to which the criminals were nailed for execution. 2. The word xulon, which generally denotes a piece of a dead log of wood, or timber, for fuel or for any other purpose. It is not like dendron, which is used of a living, or green tree, as in Matt. 21:8, Rev. 7:1,3; 8:7, 9:4, &c. As this latter wood xulon is used for the former stauros, it shows us that the meaning of each is exactly the same. The verb stauroo means to drive stakes. Our English word "cross" is the translation of the Latin crux; but the Greek stauros no more means a crux than the word "stick" means a "crutch".
Homer uses the word stauros of an ordinary pole or stake, or a single piece of timber. And this is the meaning and usage of the word throughout the Greek classics. It never means two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, but always of one piece alone. Hence the use of the word xulon (No. 2, above) in connection with the manner of our Lord's death, and rendered "tree" in Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Gal. 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24. This is preserved in our old English word rood or rod. See the Encycl. Brit., 11th (Camb.) ed., vol. 7, p. 505 d."
- http://www.believershomepage.com/cross.htm (by Hal Dekker)
The Catholic scholar quoted in SMV appeals to the writings of two early Christians. Unfortunately, the authenticity of these two writings is highly questionable. There are extremely few copies available at all (unlike manuscripts of the scriptures), and no copies are available that are older than the 4th century (when the tradition of venerating a two-piece cross was introduced), and it can be shown that copyists of that time, and later, have introduced their own ideas into these writings. - See p. 671, The Watchtower, 1972.
For more evidence favoring the "torture stake" interpretation see the Appendix in the NWT large-print Reference Bible; Reasoning From The Scriptures, pp. 89-93, 1989 ed.; Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, pp. 1116-1117; and Awake!, pp. 27-28, Nov. 8, 1972.
We are not to venerate images or man-made objects. This certainly includes a two-piece "Cross." (Ex. 20:4, 5. "The early Christians, influenced by the Old Testament prohibition of graven images, were reluctant to depict even the instrument of the Lord’s Passion." - New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. iv, p. 486.) We do not want to be associated with those who do so nor with the actions of those who do apostate things "in the name of the Cross"!
For example, a study of the terrible evils of the Crusades will horrify most people. Not only were the Crusades under the flag of the Cross and conducted under the "sign of the Cross," but the very name "Crusades" even means ‘marked with the Cross’ (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1957, Vol. 8, p. 255). Surely, an interpretation based on real evidence which tends to eliminate any possible scriptural pleading for such a tradition does not deserve the criticism SMV gives it.
More "Awkward" and "Wooden" Complaints
Next, we find more complaints (combined with sparse faint praise) about the literal accuracy of the NWT destroying "the literary beauty" and adding to "the woodenness and awkwardness of the translation." - pp. 106-107. (See comments above: "Too Literal".)
"Rock-mass"; "Holy Ones"; and "Inspired Expression"
On p. 108 we find a complaint about the NWT translating the Greek petra as "rock-mass." But we see The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan Publ., Vol. 3, p. 381, declaring that petra can mean "a mass of rock," and that this held true for the writers of the Septuagint (which was quoted in many places in the NT), p. 381.
And W. E. Vine tells us precisely that
"PETRA (petra) denotes a mass of rock, as distinct from petros, a detached stone or boulder, or a stone that might be thrown or easily moved." - An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 974.
Vine also gives Matt. 16:18 as an example of petra used as a metaphor for Christ ["rock-mass"] which is contrasted with the metaphorical word-play petros ["rock" or "Peter"] for the Apostle Peter! (Compare the correct translation of Matt. 16:18 in the NWT with most other translations - also cf. Matt. 7:24.) Also notice the "strange" translations of petra at Matt. 27:60 in NAB (1970) and GNB !
"petra denotes a large ‘rock,’ but also a ‘cliff’ or ‘rocky mountain chain.’ .... petros is more often used for smaller rocks, stones, or pebbles." - p. 834, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Kittel and Friedrich, abridged and translated by G. W. Bromiley, Eerdmans Publ., 1992 reprint.
We even find A. T. Robertson admitting in his discussion of Matt. 16: 18:
"On this rock … [petra] Jesus says, a ledge or cliff of rock like that in 7:24 on which the wise man built his house. Petros is usually a smaller detachment of this massive ledge." – p. 131, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 1, Broadman Press.
And we have the following notes found in C.B. Williams’ New Testament in the Language of the People and in the New American Standard Bible:
16:18 – "…your name from now on is to be Peter, Rock, and on a massive rock like this [note e] I will build my church" - Note e: ‘A different word from the word trans. Peter [petros]; i.e., petra, a massive rock, meaning faith in the Christ, the Son of God.’- CBW.
16:18 – "…you are Peter [note 1], and upon this rock [note 2] I will build My church" – Note 1: ‘Gr., Petros, a stone.’ And note 2: ‘Gr., petra, large rock, bedrock.’ – NASB, Reference Edition, Foundation Press, 1975.
Equally "unnecessary and awkward" (but equally accurate) is the NWT use of "holy ones" for the more traditional "saints." W. E. Vine, again, tells us that the NT Greek word actually means "sanctified" or "Holy Ones" - p. 556. See the much-respected (even by SMV) NIV at 1 Cor. 1:2 where hagiois is also properly translated "holy ones." And also see the footnote for Ro. 1:7 in the NIVSB.
Zondervan, the respected trinitarian publishing company, prints a book which examines most twentieth century English versions of the Bible: So Many Versions? (SMV), by trinitarian Bible scholars Dr. S. Kubo and Dr. W. Albrecht. They have published this book since 1975. I purchased my copy new in 1991 from a "Christian" book store. So, for over 15 years, at least, this popular trinitarian publishing company has been printing the following criticism of the NWT.
We are told by these NT experts also that ‘Inspired expression’ [in the NWT] for the word usually translated ‘spirit’ (pneuma, pneumatic, pneumatos) "cannot be justified" at 1 Jn 4:1-3, 6. But see the SMV-praised C. B. Williams’ translation of 1 Jn 4:1, 6:
"stop believing every so-called spiritual utterance …." And, of course, see the Bowman-praised An American Translation quoted above.
Furthermore, see 2 Thess. 2:2 in NEB; REB; JB; AT; GNB; LB; Mo; Phillips; CBW; NIV; and the NIV Study Bible footnote:
"do not … alarm yourselves, whether at some oracular utterance [pneuma]…." - NEB.
"do not be alarmed by any prophetic utterance [pneuma]…" - REB.
"do not get … alarmed by any prediction [pneuma]…." - JB.
"wrought up, by any message of the Spirit …" - AT.
"prophesying (pneuma)" - GNB.
"special messages from God [pneuma]…" - LB.
"spirit of prophecy [pneuma]… Moffatt.
"any prediction [pneuma] …" - Phillips.
"some message by the spirit [pneuma]… - C.B. Williams.
"a ‘spirit’ message [pneuma] …" - Dr. Beck’s translation.
"by some prophecy [pneuma] …" - New International Version.
"prophecy. Lit. ‘spirit,’ denoting any inspired revelation." - f.n. for 2 Thess. 2:2 in NIV Study Bible, Zondervan,1985.
JWs, read your Insight book, Vol. 1, pp. 1206-7, "Inspiration."
If something akin to "inspired expression" for "spirit" (pneuma) "cannot be justified," or "which is accepted by NO SCHOLAR ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH" then an awful lot of highly respected Bible translators (even many of those praised by the writers of SMV themselves) should have received equal criticism for this in this book ---- but they didn’t! [Also see BOWNWT 4-5,8]
Then we are told that it is improper to consistently translate parousia as "presence" in all its uses in the NT. Context, they say, should determine when it is correctly translated as "presence" or as "coming." This is the same argument as Martin’s above and deserves the same answer - see #5, "Parousia" in the Walter Martin section above,
So Many Versions (SMV) also gives us a page and a half of what it calls "peculiar translations" (pp. 108-109) by the NWT. Many of these "peculiar translations" are comparable to translations found in more popular Bibles of Christendom. But these comparable renderings are not criticized at all in SMV’s critique of them.
1.Gen. 7:15 - "force of life was active" vs. RSV’s "breath of life." - - But examine this verse in NEB (‘had life in them’) and Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible (‘a living spirit’). The Hebrew word here is ruach (or ruah) which can be translated "wind," "breath," "spirit," etc.
"By extension when applied to a person ruah … comes to mean vital powers or strength. It is the spirit that sustains a person through illness (Prov 18:14), but the spirit of the troubled person can be crushed (Psalm 34:18). This dynamic force can be impaired or diminished as well as renewed or increased. It was a drink that caused the spirit (strength) of Samson to return and revive him (Jud 15:18-19) and the coming of the wagons from Egypt that revived Jacob's numb heart (Gen 45:26-27). Spirit also bespeaks limitations. When taken back, the person returns to dust (Psalm 104:29-30)." - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
"Basic range of meaning of ruach [OT Hebrew] and pneuma [NT Greek]... 1. Wind, an invisible, mysterious, powerful force... 2. Breath,... or spirit..., the same mysterious force seen as the life and vitality of man (and beasts). .... 3. Divine power, where ruach is...a supernatural force..." - p. 1136, New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1984, Tyndale House Publ.
"[Ruach (and Pneuma)] denotes the life-FORCE of the individual.... As a life-FORCE it manifests itself in varying degrees of intensity, the dominant idea being that of its accompanying vitality rather than that of breathing. .... The thought implicit in ruach is that breathing, with the movement of air which this involves, is the outward expression of the life-FORCE inherent in all human behaviour." - pp. 690, 691, Vol. 3, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Zondervan, 1986.
2.Gen. 8:21 - "Jehovah began to smell a restful odor" vs. RSV’s "the Lord smelled the pleasing odor." [Also notice the disgraceful "pollution" of God’s name in this scripture by the RSV (and most other translations) at this verse.]
The OT Hebrew word translated here as ‘odor’ is reach (ray’- ack). Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament explains this word: "Most frequently reach is used of the ‘odor’ of a sacrifice being offered to God. The sacrifice, or the essence of the thing it represents, ascends to God as a placating ‘odor.’" - p. 352, Thomas Nelson Publ., 1980.
More important, however, is the Hebrew word nichoach which RSV translates in this verse as ‘pleasing’ (and KJV as ‘sweet’). The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, tells us nichoach literally means "quieting, soothing, tranquilizing." - 1981 ed., #5207, p. 1561.
The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon also tells us nichoach means "soothing, tranquilizing odour of sacrifice" - p. 629, #5207, Hendrickson Publishing, 1979.
And Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Abingdon Press, tells us this same OT word literally means ‘restful’! - "Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary" section, #5207; p. 78.
This explains why the NASB (which SMV praises so highly for its great accuracy) translates this verse (Gen. 8:21): "...smelled the soothing aroma." - Compare NEB, REB, AT, NKJV, LVB, and Moffatt translations also.
Again we see the NWT’s literally accurate translation being derided by SMV because it does not follow the tradition of the KJV (or RSV).
3.Gen. 16:12 - "he will become a zebra of a man" vs. RSV’s "He shall be a wild ass [pere] of a man." This may be one of SMV’s most accurate criticisms. But notice how very nit-picking it really is. Both translations refer to a man by the metaphor of a wild, stubborn donkey-like animal. What real difference is there if one is very slightly more accurate than the other? And what purpose would there be for anyone to invent such a definition?
Granted, "wild ass" is the more popular definition of the Hebrew word here, but "zebra" was not invented by the translators of the NWT as SMV seems to imply:
"The word ‘pere,’ rendered ‘zebra’ (NWT) has also been translated ‘wild ass.’ Because of their similar characteristics, both zebra and wild ass fit the context of the scriptures cited above [which include Gen. 16:12]. However, a recent Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon by Koehler and Baumgartner defines ‘pere’ as ‘ZEBRA.’" - Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1682.
Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, (eds.):
A Bilingual Dictionary of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament
"English and German. The publication of the first edition of A Bilingual Dictionary of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner in 1953 marked a major event in Old Testament studies. It presented a vast treasure of lexicographical material, with renderings into both German and English. Its publication superseded at once all other existing dictionaries, mostly stemming from the 19th century. The Dictionary offered for the first time a strictly alphabetical order of entries, rather than a simple arrangement by roots. This feature not only saved the scholar much time and work, it also set the standard for future lexicographical work on the Old Testament." - from Abebooks (on-line bookseller) blurb.
And A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (based on the Koehler and Baumgartner Lexicons) edited by William L. Holladay says for pere:
"zebra (oth.: wild ass, onager) Gn 16:12." - Eerdmans Publ., 1988.
4.Gen. 17:4 - "you will certainly become father of a crowd of nations" vs. RSV’s "you shall be the father of a multitude [hamon] of nations." - Good grief!! Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this one is the most nit-picking of all!! (Cf. NAB, NEB - "host of nations".)
The OT Hebrew Hamon here means "noise, tumult, crowd" - Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, #1995, Abingdon Press, 1974 printing.
It is also defined as:
"Sound, murmur, roar, crowd, abundance;.... 1. sound, murmur, rush, roar, esp. sound made by a crowd of people.... 2. tumult, confusion... 3. crowd, multitude" - p. 242, #1995, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, Hendrickson Publishers, 1979.
The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible also defines Hamon as:
"a sound, murmur, roar, crowd,….,p. 1512, Holman Bible Publishers, 1981.
Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testamenttells us:
"Hamon represents the stirring or agitation of a crowd of people.... Hamon sometimes means a ‘multitude or crowd’ from which a tumult may arise." - p. 256.
"Mul"ti*tude\, n. [F. multitude, L. multitudo, multitudinis, fr. multus much, many; of unknown origin.]
"1. A great number of persons collected together; a numerous collection of persons; a crowd; an assembly." - Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary.
5.Gen. 21:9 - NWT: "Sarah kept noticing the son of Hagar...poking fun" vs. RSV: "Sarah saw the son of Hagar...playing with her son Isaac."
Cf. NASB (‘mocking’); NIV (‘mocking’); KJV (‘mocking’); NKJV (‘scoffing’); ASV (‘mocking’); MLB (‘teasing’) ; LB (‘teasing’); NLV (‘make fun of’); MKJV (‘mocking’) ; Darby (‘mocking’); Webster (‘mocking’); Lamsa ( ‘mocking’); Young’s (‘mocking’); JPS Version - Margolis (‘making sport’); and Beck (‘mocking’).
The NASB renders this word (tsachaq - Strong's #6711) only once as "play," but three times (including the above verse) as "mock" or "make sport of." Likewise the KJV renders it only twice as "play," but six times as "mock," "sport," or "make sport" (including the above verse).
The Englishman's Hebrew-English Old Testamenttranslates this literally from the text as: "And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had born to Abraham, mocking."
And The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament Translates it word-for-word from the text as: "but-she-[saw - Strong's #7200] Sarah *** son-of Hagar the-Egyptian whom she-bore to-Abraham mocking."
So, apparently, it is wrong for the NWT to render it more accurately as: "... whom she had borne to Abraham, poking fun" rather than RSV's rendering of: "...whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac."
Isn't it 'odd' that these respected Bible scholars criticize the NWT for its rendering of "poking fun," but make no mention of the synonymous "mocking" found in the NASB; NIV; ASV; "teasing" in the LB and the MLB; and "scoffing" in the NKJV?
6.Ps. 1:2 - "But his delight is in the law of Jehovah, And in his law he reads in an undertone day and night" vs. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates [hagah] day and night." (Cf. Jerusalem Bible; NJB - "murmurs." Footnote for Ps.1:2 in Tanakh: "Or ‘recites’; lit. ‘utters.’")
The Hebrew word hagah here means
"to meditate; moan, growl, utter, speak... reflecting the sighing and low sounds one may make while musing, at least as the ancients practiced it." - Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, p. 245, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1980.
Gesenius also tells us that hagah means
"(1) to murmur, to mutter, to growl.... (2) poetically, to speak. - absolutely (to utter sound)....[and] (3) to meditate (prop. to speak with oneself, murmuring and in a low voice, as is often done by those who are musing...)...Ps. 1:2" - Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, p. 215, Baker Book House.
And A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament says of hagah:
" .... c) read in an undertone Ps I:2" - p. 76, Eerdmans Publ., 1988.
So, just how do these respected Bible scholars get away with such a specious criticism? Not only can hagah have the meaning of "reads in an undertone," but Ps. 1:2 is specifically mentioned as a verse where this is intended.
7.Is. 58:1 - "Call out full-throated; do not hold back" vs. "Cry aloud, spare not."
The Hebrew here is qara "to call" and garon "(with) the throat" -Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, pp. 28, 213, Eerdmans Publishing.
And Gesenius tells us:
"[garon]...the throat,.... Isa. 58:1 [qara garon] ‘cry with the throat,’ i.e. with the full voice. For those who speak in a low voice use only the lips...while those who cry with a loud voice propel their words from the throat and breast." - p. 179.
The NJV (New Jewish Version or Tanakh published by the Jewish Publication Society) is highly praised for its accuracy by SMV:
"The NJV is a monument to careful scholarship .... It ranks as one of the best translations of the Hebrew Bible [the Old Testament] available." - p. 143, SMV.
And how, then, does NJV translate Is. 58:1? - "Cry with FULL THROAT." Also compare NAB (1970) ['full-throated'], NAB (1991) ['full-throated'], Young’s ['with the throat'], and ASV [footnote: 'with the throat'] and OT Interlinears.
So, why is this not noted by the authors of SMV? If their "monument to careful scholarship" can render this verse as "cry with full throat," why should the NWT be criticized for essentially the same (accurate) wording? As with so many other critics of the NWT, the points being criticized are often more literally accurate in the NWT than in other more "praiseworthy" works.
8.Malachi 3:8 - "Will earthling man [adam] rob God?" vs. "Will man rob God?"
The Hebrew word here, adam, in contrast with other Hebrew words which may be translated "man" (e.g., ish), is often "a collective, referring to mankind" - The New Oxford Annotated Bible (1977 ed.) footnote for Gen. 1:27. Since this noun can stand for mankind in general, it would be appropriate to translate it in such a way as to make that understanding clear when so required. But why did the NWT use "earthling man" for such a designation? Because of the further inherent meaning of the word adam.
Yes, SMV itself tells us in its glowing review of the NIV:
"‘The Hebrew for man (adam) sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for ground (Adamah); it is also the name Adam (see Gen. 2:20).’" - p. 271.
The Universal Standard Encyclopedia also states:
"The name Adam is taken from the Hebrew adam, ‘man’, from adamah, ‘ground’ or ‘earth’; the word is used in the Bible both as a proper name, to designate a person [Adam], and as a common noun, to designate man in general, or all mankind." - Vol. 1, p. 40, 1955.
Therefore, the NWT, in order to bring out the distinction between this word and others like ish, included "earthling" which brought out the probable meaning actually inherent in the Hebrew word adam (‘earth’ or ‘ground’). Is this a "peculiar" translation, then, because it is not the "traditional" one? Or because it is too accurate?
9.Of all the minor criticisms of the "peculiar" translations of the NWT that are found on pp.108-109 of So Many Versions?, one of the most interesting to me is that Matt. 6:17 reads "grease [aleipho] your head" in the NWT whereas the most-respected RSV has "anoint your head." As minor as this is, it does show the great efforts taken by the NWT translators to translate accurately.
Since "anoint" in traditional Bible English has strong connotations of "consecration to a holy or sacred use" - Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, p. 40, Bethany House Publ. - and "to signify holiness, or separation unto God" - New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 50, Tyndale House Publ., it should come as no surprise that the accuracy-seeking NWT translators used "grease" for all 8 instances of the word aleipho found in the NT to distinguish it from the word which is more properly rendered "anoint" (chrio in NT Greek).
"In contrast with the more important word ‘chrio,’ it [aleipho] refers consistently to the physical action of anointing, performed exclusively on people: for care of the body (Matt. 6:17); as a mark of honor to a guest (Lk. 7:38, 46; Jn 11:2; 12:3); to honor the dead (Mk. 16:1); and to heal the sick (Mk. 6:13; James 5:14)." - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, p. 120.
That same source also tells us that
"aleipho ... denotes the process by which soft fat [grease]... or oil ... is smeared upon ... a person." - p. 119.
And Thayer tells us that aleipho is "allied with lip-os grease." - p. 25.
On the other hand, W. E. Vine tells us
"‘Chrio’ is more limited in its use than [aleipho]; it is confined to sacred and symbolical anointings .... in the Scriptures it is not found in connection with secular matters." - pp. 50, 51.
The RSV has been revised. Significantly, the revisers have changed SMV’s model for the "correct" rendering of "anoint your head" to "put oil on your head." - NRSV, 1989.
So the NWT, instead of being criticized, should be praised for properly showing the clear distinction between the actual meanings of these two NT Greek words. The same thing can be said for most, if not all, of the criticisms of the NWT made by So Many Versions?.
10.1 Cor. 2:7 - NWT‘s "sacred secret" vs. (according to SMV ) RSV’s "mystery."
Examine NIV, NEB, TEV, and GNB. But above all, look at the RSV, 2nd ed., 1971. This was the current edition of the RSV at the time SMV (1975, rev. 1983) was published. And yet, in spite of the fact that SMV claims to compare the NWT’s "peculiar" translation here with the RSV’s, we find that the RSV, 2nd ed., 1971 (as well as the revised 1952 edition), actually says, "We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God" and not "mystery" as SMV claims! And even the earlier 1946 RSV version reads the same! And the 1989 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) still has "God’s wisdom, secret and hidden" !
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theologyfurther tells us:
"Practically everywhere it occurs in the NW mysterion is found with vbs denoting -> revelation or -> proclamation, i.e. mysterion is that which is revealed (cf. TDNT IV 819). It is a present-day secret, not some isolated fact from the past which merely needs to be noted, but something dynamic and compelling." - p. 504, Vol. 3, Zondervan, 1986.
And The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia also tells us of musterion:
"Its usual modern meaning (= something in itself obscure or incomprehensible, difficult or impossible to understand) does not convey the exact sense of the Gr musterion, which means a secret imparted only to the initiated, what is unknown until it is revealed, whether it be easy or hard to understand. The idea of incomprehensibility, if implied at all, is purely accidental." - p. 2104, Vol. 3, Eerdmans Publ., 1984.
Notice what the word actually means:
"In the N[ew] T[estament] mysterion signifies a secret which is being, or even has been, revealed, which is also divine in scope, and needs to be made known by God to men". - New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 805, Tyndale House Publishers, 1984. (Also see the MINOR study paper.)
Now, I ask you, why shouldn’t the NWT translate mysterion (musterion) as "sacred secret" when it actually means "divine secret"?
11.The final "peculiar" translation according to SMV: Rev. 13:1 - "wild beast [therion]" vs. RSV’s "beast."
The NT Greek word here is therion. This word (therion) means "wild beast" in distinction to ktenos ("beast" or domestic animal) - New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., Tyndale House, p. 127.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, vol.1, p. 419, also distinguishes therion as a "wild beast" in contrast to ktenos which is a domesticated beast. - Eerdmans, 1984.
And W. E. Vine states that therion
"almost invariably denotes a wild beast....Therion, in the sense of wild beast, is used in the Apocalypse [Revelation]...[Rev.] 11:7; 13:1-18; 14:9, 11..." - p. 95, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Thomas Nelson Publ., 1984 printing.
Noted NT scholar Gerhard Kittel agrees: see p. 333, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Abridged in one Volume), Eerdmans Publ., 1985.
And highly respected NT scholars Liddell and Scott write:
"[therion] a wild animal, beast .... of savage beasts" - p. 396, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell and Scott, Oxford University Press, 1994 printing. (Cf. A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. vi, p. 398.)
Adam Clarke agrees: Commenting on the word often translated as ‘beast’ in Rev. 13:1, Clarke refers us to its use for the four beasts in the Book of Daniel. The Hebrew word used for these beasts was %*( (chaiyah).
"This Hebrew word [chaiyah] is translated in the Septuagint by the Greek word [therion], and both words signify what we term a wild beast; and the latter is the one used by St. John in the Apocalypse. Taking up the Greek word [therion] in this sense, it is fully evident, if a power be represented in the prophetical writings under the notion of a wild beast, that the power so represented must partake of the nature of a wild beast. Hence an earthly belligerent power is evidently designed." - pp. 1109, 1110, Vol. 6B, Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
Also examine NAB (1970); CBW; and Weymouth which all use "wild beast" at Rev. 13:1.
And here’s how most Bibles translate therion at Mark 1:13:
"Wild beasts" - RSV; NRSV; NKJV; KJV; ASV; NASB; JB; NAB (1970); NAB (1991); NEB; REB; AB; CBW; Mo; Byington; Webster (and Revised Webster); KJIIV (Green); Darby; Weymouth; and Lamsa. "Wild animals" - NIV; NJB; GNB; AT; NLV, Beck; and Phillips.
We can see the same thing at Rev. 6:8 where RSV; NASB, ASV; NIV; NEB; REB; NJB; NAB (‘70); MLB; GNB; Moffatt; and Phillips translate therion as "wild beasts." Also LB; CBW; NRSV; and AT render it as ‘wild animals.’
Weights and Measures
Finally, after two short sentences about the improvement of using "sense paragraphs" by the NWT, SMV criticizes its use of "ancient terms for weight, measures, money, and time." The authors of SMV have no problem with the other translations they review which also use "ancient terms for weight, measures, money, and time." In fact, their favorites of all the translations, the RSV, NIV, and NASB, also do this (e.g. Ezek. 45:10-14; Matt. 17:24, 27). But we find no criticism of these translations in this respect!
A short paragraph on p. 110 concludes SMV’s review of the NWT:
"Dr. Bruce M. Metzger’s evaluation is that ‘on the whole one gains a tolerably good impression of the scholarly equipment of the translators.’"
This is a surprisingly good evaluation by a very respected (and very trinitarian) Bible scholar who dislikes the teachings of the Watchtower Society intensely – also see quote attributed by some to Metzger on page 1 above.
"The translation at times," SMV continues, "is also good. However, the theological bias and the inconsistent quality of the translation neutralize the good elements within it."
In the conclusion for its review of the highly-praised NASB we are told by SMV how this translation "seeks to give an accurate literal rendering of the Hebrew and Greek." However, it adds, "its stilted and nonidiomatic English will never give it a wide popular appeal. It does, however, have great value as a study Bible, and this is perhaps its significant place as a translation." - p. 230 (Cf. pp. 338, 339.)
Notice how its literalness and "accuracy" have reduced the popularity of this highly-respected Bible, but, nevertheless, its "accurate literal rendering" is seen as of great value for a study Bible! The NWT is used primarily as a study Bible by many millions around the world, but SMV never acknowledges its "great value" in that respect at all. Nevertheless, the NWT is far more accurate than the NASB, even in bringing out major, essential scriptural truths. (E.g. God’s Name; John 1:1; Phil. 2:6; etc.)
I submit that the authors of SMV have as great a "theological bias" as does the NWT, and, moreover, their bias is provably wrong! A thorough, honest-hearted comparison between the doctrines of the Trinity-biased, God-Name-removing, tradition-bound scholars promoted by SMV and the teachings of the scholars of the Watchtower Society will reveal whose bias is distorting the essential truths and whose is not. Such a study can prove life-saving. (John 17:3; 2 Thess. 1:8, 9)