The New World Translation

Author: Tony Piper

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is the official title of the organisation to which Jehovah’s Witnesses belong. Its sister corporation, the Watchtower BibleandTract Society of New York Inc. (WBTS/The Society) prints all the material that Jehovah’s Witnesses distribute.

Summary of Article

This article:

… traces the history of the Society’s printing and publishing of various versions of the Bible

… gives the background to the emergence of the New World Translation (NWT) as the Society’s own Bible

… examines the credentials of the Translation Committee and the scholars who are quoted in support of its translation

… assembles the considered views of internationally known and reputable scholars on the NWT

… draws conclusions as to the validity of the WBTS’s statement that the NWT is an accurate and reliable translation of the Bible.

Introduction

From the date of its founding as a corporation in 1884, then known as Zion’s Watch Tower and Tract Society, the Watchtower Society has used over seventy translations, in English and other languages, of the Bible in its teaching and evangelism. See Apostles of Denial [Apostles] p. 191.

Some of these have been straightforward translations such as the King James Version (KJV), others have been specially chosen and referenced in various Society publications because they support the variant renderings of particular Greek words that the Society uses to prove and promote its faulty theology. This happens in spite of the avowed claim that “Their objective is not to search out texts to support their ideas” [1].

Much of the historical data given under the heading ‘The Watchtower Society and the Bible’, below, has been culled from the Society’s publication Jehovah’s Witnesses Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom [Proclaimers] pp. 605-7. Their earlier book All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial [Inspired] also has some relevant material on pages 320-2.

For a list of Watchtower publications used in this article see the Bibliography.

The Watchtower Society and Bible versions

Over the years the Society has used and distributed many different versions of the Bible. Various editions of the KJV have been used, some with concordances, maps and marginal references; also Leeser’s translation, with the English text placed alongside the Hebrew; Murdock’s translation from ancient Syriac; The Newberry Bible; Tischendorf’s New Testament; the Variorum Bible and Young’s literal translation. The Newberry Bible was especially useful in that it incorporated marginal references that drew attention to occurrences of the divine name ‘Jehovah’ (used instead of ‘the LORD’) in the original language.

As early as 1890 the Society arranged for a printing, under its own imprint, of J B Rotherham’s The New Testament Newly Translated and Critically Emphasised. This version, alongside Young’s, is cited as evidence, Reasoning from the Scriptures [Reasoning] p. 341, for promoting ‘presence’ as a more accurate rendition of parousia than ‘coming’. This is used to support the Society’s theological view that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914.

In 1902 the Society arranged for a special printing of the Holman Linear Parallel Edition of the Bible that incorporated cross-references to Watchtower publications in the margin. It contained the Revised Version with the KJV printed above where the translations differed [1]. .

Also in 1902 the Society came into possession of the printing plates for The Emphatic Diaglott, which includes J J Griesbach’s Greek text of the Christian Greek Scriptures (the 1796-1806 editions) along with an English interlinear translation. Alongside this was the rendering into English of the text by British-born Benjamin Wilson (see below) who then resided in the USA.

In 1907 the Bible Students Edition of the KJV was published incorporating the ‘Berean Bible Teachers Manual’ as an appendix. This included cross-references with WBTS publications. An edition with an enlarged appendix was issued one year later.

In 1926 the Society printed and bound its first Bible in its own headquarters factory at Brooklyn, New York. This was The Emphatic Diaglott of which the Society had sole publishing rights, and to date has produced 427,924 copies.

The Emphatic Diaglott

The Emphatic Diaglott (ED) is an interlinear New Testament and is also, like the Rotherham translation above, used to support the Society’s rendering of ‘presence’ instead of ‘coming’ for the Greek word parousia [Reasoning p. 341; NWT p. 1248 and other verses]. Thus, although cited as a supporting reference, it is not an independent source and therefore its use is open to question.

It is described as an “excellent version of the Christian Greek Scriptures” [Inspired p. 322], and the Society makes much of the fact that it had no connection with the author of the ED [Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose p. 256; cited in Apostles p. 194]. However, upon investigation, the claim “excellent version” does not stand, for the following reasons.

Benjamin Wilson, the original publisher of the ED was a newspaper editor. He was not well educated; neither did he have the respect of well-known scholars. Additionally, he was a Christadelphian, and therefore shared a common theology with the Watchtower Society on issues such as denial of the Trinity, the personality of the Holy Spirit, eternal punishment and the full atonement of Christ. Christadelphians are also known to be millenialists [Apostles pp. 194-5]. Much more could be said about the ED and Benjamin Wilson [see Apostles pp.193-6]. For the last word we may refer to Dr Bruce M Metzger of Princeton (Professor of New Testament Language and Literature) who said that, in several particulars, the ED is the ancestor of the NWT [3]. . A comparison of verses such as Matt 21:42; 22:37, 44; 23:39; 24:3, 27, 37, 39 proves this. For further information please see Apostles pp.195-6.

Other Versions

In 1942 the Society acquired the printing plates for the KJV from the Holman Company and it was published including a concordance prepared by more than 150 “collaborating servants of Jehovah” [Proclaimers p. 607]. This concordance was really only relevant to Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was described as “a ‘new world’ Theocratic concordance” [Theocratic Aid to Kingdom Publishers p. 242; cited in Apostles p. 192]. The volume was released on September 18, 1942 and up to 1992, 1,858,368 copies had been published.

Two years later the Society negotiated the rights to publish the American Standard Version of 1901 as it featured the use of the divine name ‘Jehovah’. It was released on August 10, 1944 and up to 1992, 1,039,482 copies had been produced. A pocket edition was published in 1958. Similarly, the relatively unknown translation by Steven Byington, The Bible in Living English, which also included the divine name, was acquired in 1951 and published in 1972. Up to 1992, 262,573 copies had been published.

Notwithstanding all the publishing activity described above, Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed that all the Bible versions in use were defective in some way, even those they had used and published themselves. They were found to have

“inconsistencies or unsatisfactory renderings, infected with sectarian traditions or worldly philosophies, and hence not in full harmony with the sacred truths that Jehovah has recorded in his Word” [Inspired p. 323].

The time was thus right for

“a faithful translation of the Scriptures from the original languages – a translation just as understandable to modern readers as the original writings were understandable to the ordinary intelligent people of the Bible era itself” [Inspired p. 323].

The time was right for what came to be known as the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. To this we now turn our attention.

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

Much has been written about the NWT, particularly regarding its additions to and subtractions from key scriptures concerning the person of Christ and the believer’s relationship with Him; and it is not felt necessary to repeat them here – such material is widely available elsewhere. What this article attempts to show is its historical development and its inability to be considered even a reasonable translation of the Biblical Hebrew and Greek which it purports to be. As we look at this we must remember the Society’s own words, it must be “a faithful translation of the Scriptures from the original languages.”

According to Proclaimers (p. 607) it was early in October 1946 that Nathan H Knorr, the third president of the WBTS, first proposed that the Society produce a fresh translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (the New Testament). A translation committee began work on December 2, 1947 and on September 3, 1949, after the text had been carefully reviewed by the entire committee; Knorr convened a joint meeting of the two Watchtower boards, Pennsylvania and New York. He announced that work on a modern-language translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures had been completed and had been turned over to the Pennsylvania Corporation for publication. The Society’s directors were, apparently, delighted and unanimously accepted the gift of the translation and immediately set about its publication. Typesetting began on September 29, 1949 and the bound volume was released, on Wednesday, August 2, 1950, to a heartily receptive Jehovah Witness audience during the fourth day of the World Assembly at Yankee Stadium, New York. This first volume was called the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (NWTCGS) [4]. .

Following the success of the NWTCGS the committee set about the task of translating the entire Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). Thereafter, the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into English and released progressively, in five volumes, from 1953. On March 13, 1960 the translation committee finally finished work on the fifth volume, 12 years, 3 months, and 11 days after work on the NWTCGS began [5]. .

In 1961, after a thorough review of the translation, a complete, revised edition of the whole Bible, the NWT, was released in green cloth, with a print run of 1,000,000 copies. Two years later (June 30, 1963) a special student’s edition of the unrevised text was released. Since then four updates of the revised edition have been produced, the most recent being 1984. To coincide with this a large-print edition with references was published incorporating a concordance. This volume is in brown whereas the regular size is now in black. A pocket edition was produced in 1963.

The original texts used in the translating work were, for the Hebrew – Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica of 1951 and 1955, and for the 1984 revision, it is claimed that the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, the Dead Sea Scrolls and numerous early translations into other languages were consulted [Reasoning p. 276-7]. For the Greek – Westcott and Hort’s text of 1881 was used, but it is claimed that several other master texts were consulted as well as numerous early versions in other languages [Reasoning p. 277]. For extensive Society comment on the NWT see Inspired pp. 325-30 and Reasoning pp. 276-80. As of 2001 printing of the NWT had passed the 100,000,000 mark, and the latest printing claims an all editions total of over 120,000,000. Computerisation has revolutionised production of the NWT and at one point the Brooklyn plant alone could turn out 8,000 copies per hour.

Finally, in 1963, in order to circumvent the reluctance of the major Bible societies of the Christian churches in providing Jehovah’s Witnesses with foreign-language Bibles for distribution the Society translated the NWTCGS into French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German and Dutch. These were released in July 1963, to be followed by the complete NWT in Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish and Swedish by 1992. Almost ten years later the NWT had been translated, in whole or in part, into 41 languages. For further developments see Proclaimers pp. 611-613 including information on large print, cassette and Braille editions.

The NWT Translation Committee

It is a great thing to claim that the NWT, “with its clear and accurate Bible text,” was provided by God himself [Inspired p. 326]. It is a substantial claim to say that your translation “faithfully presented what is in the original inspired writings” [The Watchtower 15 Nov. 2001, p. 7]. It is a smaller though no less ethically dishonest claim to assert one’s organisation as being competent to translate ancient languages, such as Hebrew and New Testament Greek into readable modern English and still preserve the truths that they were originally intended to convey; and to embody the latest scholarly findings gleaned from newly discovered manuscripts [Ibid.]. It is hardly right for those who loudly proclaim themselves to be God’s visible organisation to present only one side of an argument. Yet, as we shall see from the references below, the Watchtower Society has done all these things.

The Society claims that “various scholars were impressed with the NWT” [Ibid., pp. 7-8]. The scholar quoted in this issue is Alexander Thomson (see below). He is also quoted in Proclaimers (p. 609) and Inspired (pp. 325, 327). One wonders why the Society is forced to use the same scholar in, at least, three different publications involving a time span of 38 years considering the fact that various scholars were claimed to have been impressed.

Who were the men that were responsible for the NWT, and what were their credentials and qualifications as translators of these ancient languages?

The Society states that the names of the translators of the NWT have never been made public to ensure that all the glory goes to God and none to man [Proclaimers p. 608 note]. While this is no doubt most laudable it has two not so laudable riders – (i) that the credentials of the translators can never be checked, and (ii) that there would be nobody to assume responsibility for the translation.

The translators’ names, however, have never been a total secret. William Cetnar, who was working in the Brooklyn Bethel (the Society’s International Headquarters) in 1950 when the work was first begun, and whose story can be found in Edmond Gruss’ book We Left Jehovah’s Witnesses, states that the names were well known to be Nathan Homer Knorr (the then president), Frederick William Franz (vice-president and president from 1977), Albert D Schroeder, George D Gangas and Milton G Henschel, all high-ranking Society officials and later members of the Governing Body. It is Cetnar’s opinion that no one but Franz, whose training was limited, had had any adequate schooling or background to function as critical Bible translators. The following, cited in We Left Jehovah’s Witnesses (pp. 74-5), supports this view.

From the Scottish Court of Sessions, November 1954:

(The attorney) Q. Have you also made yourself familiar with Hebrew?
(Franz) A. Yes…
Q. So that you have a substantial linguistic apparatus at your command?
A. Yes, for use in my biblical work.
Q. I think you are able to read and follow the Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, German and French?
A. Yes. [Pursuer’s Proof, p. 7]

Q. You, yourself, read and speak Hebrew, do you?
A. I do not speak Hebrew.
Q. You do not?
A. No.
Q. Can you, yourself, translate that into Hebrew?
A. Which?
Q. That fourth verse of second chapter of Genesis?
A. You mean here?
Q. Yes?
A. No. I wouldn’t attempt to do that. [Pursuer’s Proof, pp. 102,103].

The NWT and its reception by the scholarly community

It has already been noted that the Watchtower Society has quoted the same scholar, Alexander Thomson, and his favourable reception of the NWT in 1963 [Inspired pp. 325, 327], 1993 [Proclaimers p. 609] and 2001 [The Watchtower 15 Nov. 2001, p. 7]. It must be stated, in all fairness, that the Proclaimers book also quotes Professor Dr Benjamin Kedar (p. 611). What did these two men find so worthy in the NWT?

Alexander Thomson, whom the Society claims is a British Bible critic and Hebrew and Greek scholar [Proclaimers p. 609], but this has been questioned (see below), was pleased that the NWT (at least the first volume of the Hebrew Scriptures – Genesis to Ruth) rendered the original Hebrew into English. He thought that the version had made a special effort to be thoroughly readable. No one could say that it was deficient in freshness and originality. Its terminology was not based upon previous versions. The translators of the NWTCGS [who obviously were the same men] were, he thought, skilled and clever scholars. The rendering ‘torture stake’ in place of ‘cross’ (e.g. Luke 23:26) was, he asserted, an improvement. “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43) was, he thought, a big improvement. This work was, according to Thomson, outstanding in accurately rendering the Greek present tense. [The Differentiator, April 1952 pp. 52-7; June 1954 pp. 131,136; cited in the publications noted in the previous paragraph].

Professor Dr Benjamin Kedar, who is said to be a Hebrew scholar in Israel [Proclaimers p. 611], said, in 1989, that he often referred to the NWT because it reflected an honest endeavour to achieve an understanding of the text that is as accurate as possible.

“Giving evidence of a broad command of the original language…I have never discovered in the ‘New World Translation’ any biased intent to read something into the text that it does not contain” [cited in Proclaimers p. 611, original source unknown].

The vast majority of scholars, however, some of whom are mentioned below, do not back up these glowing testimonials to the accuracy of the NWT.

Before we enter the scholarly debate let us first notice how two Christian writers have described the NWT. David Reed, like William Cetnar, a former Jehovah Witness, an Elder and Presiding Minister of a local congregation, succinctly states:

“Actually, the New World Translation contains hundreds of verses that have been altered to fit Watchtower doctrine” [How to Rescue Your Loved One From the Watchtower p. 45].

Robert M Bowman Jr, of the Christian Research Institute, California, is pithy in his summation of the contents of the NWT (particularly the NWTCGS). There is “evidence of a pervasive doctrinal bias in the NWT” [Understanding Jehovah’s Witnesses [Understanding] p. 65-6]. In fact Bowman devotes a whole chapter of his book to proving this claim. But as Bowman himself points out: “do the insertions and omissions, mistranslations and biases render the NWT unscholarly?”

Watchtower writers are always citing scholarly works in their publications. They are able to handle them well and obviously have a vast library of books at their disposal. What is at issue here, however, is the way they handle and quote from these works. Bowman, in Understanding Jehovah’s Witnesses (1992) and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John (1991), presents his case that the NWT systematically distorts the Bible to fit the teachings of the Watchtower,however as already said it is not the intention of this writer to deal with these issues. What is more at issue here is what may be termed the ‘dishonest journalism’ of the writers of Watchtower material. In particular, how they have used the opinions of scholars to support the Watchtower Society through the NWT. In so doing it must be borne in mind that the alleged endorsements of the NWT by scholars cannot prove its accuracy. It is simply another way of understanding the power that the Watchtower Society, through the NWT, has over Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth?

In Awake! 22 March 1987, p.12 [cited in Understanding p. 126] there is a contributor’s comment designed to persuade the reader that the Watchtower Society, in opposition to the writers of Christendom, is honest in its publications, giving all the relevant material and then allowing the reader to make an informed decision. It reads:

“I noticed that these [trinitarian] tract writers frequently manipulate the evidence, misrepresent it. On the other hand, the Society was quite honest in looking at all the evidence, all the possibilities, offering their conclusions, but then telling you to decide” [brackets in original].

Has the Society done this in regard to the opinions of scholars on the NWT?

To begin, let us return to that ubiquitous Hebrew and Greek Bible critic Alexander Thomson. According to Bowman,

“Thomson may have been versed in Hebrew and Greek to some extent, but so far as anyone has been able to determine he was not a scholar in these languages in any sense… he appears not to have had any formal credentials; not to have taught the languages in an academic setting; and not to have written anything of a scholarly nature dealing with the languages. According to Cetnar, Thomson denied the deity of Christ and was a ‘Universal Restitutionist,’ that is, he believed all men would eventually be saved [6]. … The Differentiator appears to have been a privately published journal without any scholarly reputation at all” [Understanding p. 130].

In a later edition of the The Differentiator (June 1959) [7]. Thomson wrote:

“On the whole the version was quite a good one, even though it was padded with many English words which had no equivalent in the Greek or Hebrew” [cited in Understanding p. 130].

In that same edition Thomson also said,

“Although on three occasions I have given in the Differentiator [sic] brief reviews on parts of the New World Version of the Bible [sic] it must not be inferred that I agree with the teachings of ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’, so called” [Apostles p. 214].

These later comments, we may assume, were not made available to the readers of Watchtower material even though the Society wants to give the impression that it gives all the evidence, all the possibilities.

In The Watchtower 15 March 1982 p.19 the NWT is described as being among the 14 “main 20th century English translations” which is a quote from the Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, a soundly evangelical publication. By “main translations,” however, the handbook means those in wide circulation, and not those necessarily being the best or most accurate. This is confirmed by the adjacent comment that reads “Produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, emphasising their interpretation of particular texts” [8]. , which is a harmless way of saying that the translation is biased in favour of Watchtower doctrine.

These are just two examples of less than honest journalism by the Watchtower Society. Numerous other examples may be found in Understanding pp. 126-37.

To conclude this section it may be appropriate to quote from two biblical scholars of unquestionable credentials from whom Bowman has quoted in Understanding (pp. 137-8). Firstly Bruce Metzger, already mentioned, who has written articles on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the NWT in which he argues that “the Jehovah’s Witnesses have incorporated in their translation of the New Testament several quite erroneous renderings of the Greek” [9]. . Secondly H H Rowley, Old Testament Hebrew scholar of Manchester University, England said, of the NWT (Genesis-Ruth, Volume 1 of the original Hebrew Scriptures series)

“The translators have their own views on Hebrew tenses…They profess to offer a rendering into modern English which is as faithful as possible. In fact, the jargon which they use is often scarcely English at all…the translation is marked by a wooden literalism which will only exasperate an intelligent reader…it is an insult to the Word of God…From beginning to end this volume is a shining example of how the Bible should not be translated” [10]. .

For just one example of this see Genesis 18:20.

Metzger’s comments on the NWT alongside others’ are also featured in Awake! To the Watchtower [ATTW] pp. 176-8]. This particular chapter is especially useful in that it supplies the missing words to several quotes which, at first sight, seem to approve and support the Society’s translation of the Scriptures. These are contained in a letter from the WBTS (London, 26 September 1985, ref: EC:SE; cited in ATTW p. 174), and here are two examples, the missing words given in red:

Samuel Haas said of the New World Translation, While this work indicates a great deal of effort and thought as well as considerable scholarship, it is to be regretted that religious bias was allowed to colour many passages. (Journal of Biblical Literature, December 1955, p. 283).

Bruce Metzger: “On the whole one gains a tolerably good impression of the scholarly equipment of the translators…Some of the translations which are simply indefensible…The introduction of the word “Jehovah” into the New Testament…John 1:1…is not justified despite a lengthy note…the translators have not hesitated to insert four times the word “other” (totally without warrant from the Greek)…in Col[ossians] 1:16f.” (The Bible Translator, Vol.15, 1964, pp. 151-2).

These are indicative of the style of journalism employed by the Society. In omitting the reference to religious bias, they are not only being less than honest with their quotes and implied claim that they do give “all the evidence, all the possibilities”, but fail to acknowledge that they are actually being accused of the very fault of doctrinal bias of which they themselves have accused the translators of every other Bible in existence.

Here, finally, are a few short quotes that are forthright in their condemnation of the NWT as a scholarly work, cited in Fearless Love by Anne Sanderson (pp. 251-252):

“Dr J R Mantey (who is quoted on pp. 1158-9 of the KIT original edition but not the 1985 reprint) in reference to John 1:1:- A shocking mistranslation. Obsolete and incorrect. It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 “The Word was a god.” Dr Mantey actually wrote to the Society demanding that they no longer use his name in their publications” [11].

“Dr Bruce M Metzger: – A frightful mistranslation. Erroneous, pernicious, reprehensible. If the Jehovah’s Witnesses take this translation seriously, they are polytheists.”

“Dr Samuel J Mikolaski of Zurich, Switzerland: This anarthrous construction does not mean what the indefinite article ‘a’ means in English. It is monstrous to translate the phrase ‘the Word was a god'”.

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures

In series with the NWT is the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT) which first appeared in 1969 and contained the 1961 edition of the NWTCGS on the right hand side of the page alongside the 1948 revised Westcott and Hort Greek text of 1881 underneath which was a literal word for word translation into English by the Society. In 1985 it was reissued and included the 1984 edition of the NWTCGS alongside the 1881 Westcott and Hort Greek with the 1969 literal word for word translation underneath. Both editions are signed by the New World Bible Translation Committee.

Lorri MacGregor, in her book What You Need to Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses (p. 69) has this to say about the KIT.

“A most revealing publication of the Watch Tower Society is an interlinear translation called The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, published in 1969. In this book their Scripture distortions can clearly be seen… So successful has this publication been in setting Jehovah’s Witnesses free from the Watch Tower Society that they have taken it out of print and substituted one [the 1985 edition] in which the distortions are masked much more successfully. We recommend finding the original if at all possible.”

The Society has often cited Thomas Winter’s favourable endorsement of this work, but upon close inspection, noted by Bowman in Understanding (pp. 132-4), it appears that Winter, although bona fide in his credentials, is not as familiar with Biblical scholarship as would be ideal, and his approval of Watchtower publications must therefore, be treated with caution.

The Comprehensive Concordance of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

In 1973 this volume was issued by the Society to complement the NWT.

Conclusion

In conclusion we may re-emphasise two points that were made earlier:

(i) that the NWT was to be a “faithful translation of the Scriptures…” and

(ii) that the Society leads its readers to believe that it presents “all the evidence, all the possibilities” so that they may make an informed decision.

It is obvious, from the comments of the scholarly community referred to, that the first objective has not been realised. The writer recently noticed that the NIV uses the phrase ‘breaking of bread’ when the early church celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11), but the NWT translates it to read that the church simply shared meals together, which they did on many occasions. The reason that the NWT translates the phrase as sharing meals is to disguise the fact that the early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper more than once a year, and actually broke and ate the bread in accordance with Jesus’ instructions, rather than simply passing it from one to another as do Jehovah’s Witnesses at their yearly Memorial meeting (unless they claim to be one of the anointed).

That the Society is economical with the truth is obvious from the partially quoted opinions of scholars, which only include the words that support the NWT and its translators. They do not appear to have quoted any unfavourable commentators, even though these were eminent, scholarly people, but simply prefer to quote from those who are less competent and less well-informed on biblical matters, in order to give the impression that the NWT is exactly what the Society claims. The fact that there are upwards of 120,000,000 copies in print emphasises how vitally important it is that we should realise that the NWT is not a Bible in any sense of the word but rather that it is, in the words of Bruce Metzger “a frightful translation…erroneous, pernicious, reprehensible”. In a word – disgraceful.

How to Respond

Finally, if anyone should find themselves in conversation with a Witness and they begin to use or openly refer to the NWT, the question: “Can you please tell me the names of the translation committee of your Bible?” may be asked. They, of course, will say that the committee asked to remain anonymous so that all the glory for the translation goes to Jehovah and not to themselves. To this the reply could be:

“That is very laudable but it does mean that I am unable to verify the credentials of the translators. If I go to a doctor, a dentist, an accountant, a solicitor or anyone in a responsible, accredited position I am able to check their credentials to see that they are qualified. I am then able to make an informed decision whether or not to use their services. And if I want to check on the credentials of the translators of the New International Version I can first write to the publishers for their names. There is no way that I can check that the men who translated your book were capable and qualified. Are you sure that you have a reliable and accurate translation in your hands?”

You will not win an argument with a Jehovah’s Witness but it is possible to sow seeds of doubt in their minds that may grow later under the Holy Spirit.

NOTES

[1]  Proclaimers p. 603 … return

[2]  Gruss has 1901 as the date [Apostles p. 191] … return

[3]  Bruce M Metzger, “The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus Christ,” Theology Today, 10:67, April 1963 cited in Apostles p. 193 … return

[4]  Gruss notes a second edition, with minor alterations, on May 1, 1951 … return

[5]  These actually appeared as Vol. I: Genesis to Ruth, 1953; Vol. II: 1 Samuel to Esther, 1955; Vol. III: Job to Song of Solomon, 1957; Vol. IV: Isaiah to Lamentations, 1958; Vol.V: Ezekiel to Malachi, 1960 … return

[6]  William I Cetnar, Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Kunkeltown Penn: W I Cetnar 1983, p. 69) … return

[7]  Alexander Thomson in The Differentiator, (June 1959), cited in Ian Croft, “The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures: Does It Really Have the Support of Greek Scholars?” (Perth, Western Australia: Concerned Growth Ministries, 1987 p. 2) … return

[8]  David Alexander and Pat Alexander (eds), Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, (Grand Rapids MI: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co 1973 p. 79) … return

[9]  Bruce M Metzger, “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus Christ,” Theology Today, (April 1953 p. 74); see also Metzger, “The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures,” The Bible Translator (July 1964) … return

[10] H H Rowley “How Not to Translate the Bible”, The Expository Times, (Nov. 1953 pp. 41-2) … return

[11] See Awake! to the Watchtower (P. 177) and The Facts on Jehovah’s Witnesses (p. 21) for further information on Dr Mantey and the Society … return

For examples of mistranslations please go to this article.

SUGGESTED READING

Some of the items below are out of print. Others are available from our online shop. If you have any questions you have over these publications please contact us.

On the NWT:

Robert H Countess, The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1982, 1987 edition)

Also the following articles from ‘The Watchtower’

15 September 1950 – The New World translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures
15 December 1981 – Your Bible – How it was Produced
1 March 1991 – The New World Translation Scholarly and Honest
15 October 1999 – A Milestone for God’s Word

On the testimonies of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses:

Edmond C Gruss, We Left Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1974)

Anne Sanderson, Fearless Love, (Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2000)

On theological differences:

Duane Magnani with Arthur Barrett, The Watchtower Files, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985)

David A Reed, Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses Subject by Subject, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996)

David A Reed, Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989)

Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993)

Also the books listed in the Bibliography with an asterisk (*)

On scholastic dishonesty:

Michael Van Buskirk, The Scholastic Dishonesty of the Watchtower, (Santa Ana, Cal: C.A.R.I.S, 1976)

Gordon E Duggar, Jehovah’s Witnesses Watch Out for the Watchtower, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989) chapter 6 ‘Dishonest Journalism’

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Apologist and Other Publications

*Robert M Bowman Jr, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John, (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1991)

*Robert M Bowman Jr, Understanding Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1992) [Understanding]

*Edmond Charles Gruss, Apostles of Denial, (no place: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing CO, 1970) [Apostles]

*Doug Harris, Awake! to the Watchtower, (Twickenham: Reachout Trust, 1988) [ATTW] (Now republished as Jehovah’s Witnesses – their beliefs and practices)

*Lorri MacGregor, What You Need to Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Eugene OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1992)

*David A Reed, How to Rescue your Loved One from the Watch Tower, (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House, 1991)

Watchtower Publications (published anonymously)

All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial (New York: WBTS 1963) [Inspired]

Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose (New York: WBTS 1959)

Jehovah’s Witnesses Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom (New York: WBTS 1993) [Proclaimers]

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (New York: WBTS revised 1984) [NWT]

Reasoning from the Scriptures (New York: WBTS 1985) [Reasoning]

Theocratic Aid to Kingdom Publishers (New York: WBTS 1945) … return

Categories: Jehovah's Witnesses

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