Major Problems with the New World Translation

Pocket edition of the New World Translation of...

The Jehovah Witnesses love to knock on your door and promote their New World Translation (NWT) as the best Bible available to read and study.  A few months back I responded to a question concerning the NWT and decided to post my answer.

Dear Steve,

The New World Translation used by Jehovah Witnesses comes from the actual “Dead Sea Scrolls” that were written in Hebrew. It contains exact scriptures (in English) and puts God’s name back in the Bible over 7,000 times where it is supposed to be. That is the only difference in their Bible. Why do the newer versions of the King James Bible leave out God’s name? Psalm 83:18 clearly says his name is Jehovah. Other scriptures are Exodus 6:3, Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4, Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15, and Judges 6:24.  In the newer King James versions, his name is taken completely out.  In my opinion to truly know someone it starts with knowing their name. How can you truly know someone if you don’t even know what their name is? Therefore, would you want to use a Bible that leaves God’s name out, or would you want to use one that sanctifies it? The choice is yours.

Angela

Dear Angela,
Thanks for writing and giving your view. I will begin by correcting a few obvious errors in your comments. First, your translation does not come directly from the “Dead Sea Scrolls.” The primary source material for the Old Testament in the NWT was Kittel’s Biblia Hebracia. This edition first appeared in 1906. Multiple secondary sources were used including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The New Testament for the NWT was taken from the Westcott and Hort manuscripts. I have a Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures published by your organization and it admits Westcott and Hort were the primary New Testament text utilized. These manuscripts are accepted as valid texts for the New Testament. The problem is not the original New Testament texts; the problem is how the Greek in the NWT was translated into English and how words were added that were never in the original text.

Second, Jehovah is not a Biblical word. It was created by combining the original Hebrew name for God YHWH and adonai (word used by Jews who didn’t want to say God’s name). The resulting combined word, “Jehovah” has been used for the name God by many groups but it is not found in the Bible. Nowhere do you find the word Jehovah in the original languages, Hebrew or Greek.

Third, forcing the word Jehovah into the New Testament is simply wrong. When your translators did this they went against thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament; some of which date back to the second century. Instead the New Testament uses the words “Lord” [Greek: Kurios] and “God” [Greek: theos] when talking about God. The writers never used Jehovah, even when quoting the Old Testament. The Greek New Testament source for the New World Translation, Westcott and Hort, never used Jehovah. They used kurios for Lord and theos for God. The Kingdom Interlinear confirms Jehovah was never in the original text. This interlinear published by the Watchtower Organization shows how kurios (Lord) and theos (God) were changed to Jehovah in the English translation. Stating God’s name was left out of the King James or any other version of the Bible is false. Angela, I suggest finding a Kingdom Interlinear at your hall so you can see for yourself.  When your organization says they removed the name, they are lying to you.

Finally, let me address additional problems with the New World Translation. When it comes to this translation we find it almost universally rejected by noted scholars in the field of Biblical translations. Dr. Ron Rhodes, who wrote “Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah Witnesses,” stated:

“The New World translation is an incredibly biased translation. Dr. Robert Countess, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on the Greek text of the New World translation, concluded the translation ‘has been sharply unsuccessful in keeping doctrinal considerations from influencing the actual translation…It must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work. At some points it is actually dishonest. At others it is neither modern nor scholarly.’ British scholar H.H. Rowley asserted, ‘from the beginning to end this volume is a shining example of how the Bible should not be translated.’ Indeed, Rowley said, this translation is ‘an insult to the Word of God.’”

Dr. Julius Manti, author of A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, calls the New World translation “a shocking mistranslation.” Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, professor of New Testament at Princeton University, calls the New World translation “a frightful mistranslation,” “erroneous,” “pernicious,” and “reprehensible.” Dr. William Barclay concluded that “the deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in their New Testament translation. It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest.”

It is highly revealing that the Watchtower Society has always resisted efforts to identify members of the New World Translation committee. The claim was they preferred to remain anonymous and humble, giving God the credit and glory for this translation. However, as former Jehovah witness David Reed notes, “an unbiased observer will quickly note that such anonymity also shields the translators from any blame for errors or distortions in their renderings. And it prevents scholars from checking their credentials.”

The Watchtower Society must have been utterly embarrassed when the names of the translators of the New World translation were made known to the public. The reason for concern was the translation committee was completely unqualified for the task. Four of the five men in the committee had no Hebrew or Greek training whatsoever (they had only a high school education)[1]. The Fifth, Fred W. Franz, claimed to know Hebrew and Greek, but upon examination under oath in a court of law in Edinburg Scotland he failed a simple Hebrew test.

In court Franz was asked if he knew Hebrew and he said yes. He said he had a command of various languages including Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, German, and French. When asked if he speaks Hebrew, he said no. He was then asked if he could translate the fourth verse of Genesis into Hebrew. His answer was NO! The fact was Franz, like the others on the committee, did not have the knowledge to translate Hebrew or Greek. The truth is Franz dropped out of the University of Cincinnati after his sophomore year and even while there, he had not studied anything related to theological issues[2].

More could be said about the errors of the New World Translation but I will stop here for now. Angela the New World Translation should be avoided at all costs.



[1] Rhodes, Ron, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah Witnesses, Harvest House Publ. , 1993, p. 97

[2] Ibid, p. 97

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 60 comments… add one }

  • Howard June 28, 2014, 8:39 am

    Steve,

    Yes, this is a very interesting aspect of the Bible and its history, and it is also true that many people, not just you, are unaware of its existence. And that’s a real problem because if God’s name, or some representation of it, was in the original autographs, I believe it has far reaching implications.

    You mention interlinear, I should point out that a Greek interlinear is where someone takes a specific Greek critical edition and incorporates an English translation under each Greek word. A publisher of an interlinear is not permitted to change the Greek critical edition. Thus, your answer as to why the Kingdom interlinear has kurios in the Greek text. The KIT reproduces exactly the Greek text of Westcott and Hort. So your statement should actually be, “Today’s Greek critical editions don’t seem to have a problem using kurios instead of nomina sacra.” Critical editions are compilations of existing Greek manuscripts, and show what the editors think is the most accurate reading. Here is a link of some of these Greek texts: http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/CriticalEds.html. The use or none use of the word kurios in these texts is merely the choice of the editors. Now when someone transcribes a manuscript, the nomina sacra is usually preserved. Notice the image of the text called “Das Neue Testament auf Papyrus”, part way down the linked page.

    I understand your reluctance to continue this discussion, which is fine, first because I have provided you with the most relevant evidence of the situation, and it is now up to you to form an opinion for yourself based on the evidence. Second, it was never my intention to get you to believe anything, my intention was to bring to your attention the factual errors on your original post.

    I see you want to go straight to the Trinity debate. You do realize that unlike the last discussion there are really no FACTS to consider, merely interpretation of Scripture, opinions, and ambiguous word definitions. So if you want to do this, we have to start at the beginning. First I will answer your questions.

    1. Who do you say the Father is?

    The Father is YHWH (Jehovah) a single unique being who is the creator of heaven and earth, the only true God.

    2. Who do you say Jesus is?

    He is a single unique being created by YHWH as his first creative act, he is the image and exact representation of YHWH and is the son of God (YHWH), who later surrendered up his spiritual existence to have his life force (spirit) transferred to the womb of Mary to bring to life the perfect and totally human man Jesus. Then sacrificing that perfect human life as a corresponding ransom for the sins of the perfect man Adam. Then was resurrected to once again reclaim his spiritual existence in heaven.

    3. Who do you say the Holy Spirit is?

    Well if we break down the words themselves, Holy means something separated for God’s use. Spirit is defined as an invisible active force, like wind or breath. So combined it means an invisible active force separated for God’s use.

    4. What do you think of the doctrine of the Trinity? Do you think it can be established Biblically?

    As you probably have seen by now, I do not believe in the trinity. Can it be established Biblically? Well, that I guess relies on someone’s biases and preconceived ideas. When someone believes it can be established, it usually relies on a small number of so called proof texts that are extremely ambiguous. Second, I find the concept of the trinity illogical in the face of the overall theme of the Bible.

    5. Is the Bible historically reliable? Is God the author of the Bible (using human writers)?

    Yes.

    6. Were the autographs without error?

    Yes.

    Now a couple questions from me, and I’m going to make it simple. Would you define the meaning of the English word God as it is understood today, and then define what the word Theos meant in Israel and surrounding nations in the first century. Finally, define what the word Elohim, El, meant to the Hebrews prior to the first century?

  • Vernon August 22, 2014, 6:41 am

    Howard, your intellectual reasoning greatly deceives you. Your interpretations and summations are biblically inaccurate. Steve’s points were well stated and accurate. No need to debate.

  • Summer October 31, 2014, 9:37 pm

    Jesus said that if we knew the Father we would know Him. Just reading Isiah we see over and over how God refers to himself as the Savior and becoming a Savior for us. Immanuel= means God with us! Jesus means Savior. God is our Savior and came in the flesh and no one even recognized him. How terribly sad. Also the JW founder was a Freemason and a false prophet so all theology aside, that alone should steer you away, just read Deuteronomy where The LORD tells Moses how to tell is someone is a real prophet or not. I’m so thankful the Bible is plain as day for someone even as simple as me!

  • Skaiter December 14, 2014, 2:04 pm

    Yes, the founder of JW, Russel, was a Freemason, which is occultic( you can browse on that if you like), I have just one more word for you, please visit this Website:
    http://www.bible.ca/jw.htm

  • Skaiter December 14, 2014, 2:06 pm

    I have just one word; check this website:
    http://www.bible.ca/jw.htm

  • Steve Bruecker December 14, 2014, 8:52 pm

    Thanks Skaiter for the web site recommendation. I am aware of this site and have used it occasionally as a resource. Steve

  • Kent January 5, 2015, 7:11 pm

    Howard, that is why you had the translations wrong because you based it on your “LOGICAL REASONINGS” that would fit in your ever changing doctrine http://jehovahswitnessesrefuted.blogspot.com/2010/12/ever-changing-world-of-jehovahs-witness.html. I am a former JW myself, By the grace of Jesus Christ i am saved and free from your (I hate to say this) “LIES” or if not, your deceptions among yourselves. Explain to me what happened to the Holy Scriptures during the gap starting 1611 (King James Version was completed) to Aug. 1950 (NWT Released).

    You do not have the correct translation, it is one’s preconceived theology into the text, rather than allowing the text to speak for itself.

    You are driving a big number of people to Hell (which you do not believe).

  • Anthony Brooks January 26, 2015, 6:14 am

    can I say that now that I am currently dealing with one and having to compare the original Greek text to their version. I have never seen a more wrong translation… I say all JW are brainwashed.

  • nadia March 10, 2015, 8:18 am

    Hey Guys,
    I am studying the NWT, KHV, NIV.
    As I am not from a Christian background and would love to be a Christian officially, I am yet to label myself into a denomination because of these controversies.
    I am studying the bible with both Jehovah Witness and a Pentecostal connect group.
    firstly:

    “It was created by combining the original Hebrew name for God YHWH”
    from my studies with JW, they explain the same thing, and that they translated it to an English word, in order for us to read and say it properly.
    I mean, can we really pronounce YHWH in English?
    JW explains why they don’t like to use the word ‘Lord’, as it is a title like ‘Mrs, Dr, Mr, ‘ we shouldn’t be calling God by a title, and should call him by his name God or YHWH. I mean if you really want to get to know God, why would you call him by anything else other than his name.
    JW explanation of this makes sense to me, and I never understood why God has so many names in the bible and why we just can’t call him By his original name or just God.

    Secondly:

    With the Trinity, I am yet undecided on what to believe,
    as I come from Muslim background, they believe God is one and the only, and there is no one equally powerful to him.
    This is why I questioned the Trinity initially as how can Jesus and the spirit be just as powerful as God? How can God be three things when he is the only one, and one God only?
    Then I come to understand, that because Jesus was Gods first creation, Jesus is god first ‘word’ or breath, therefore Jesus is from god, made from god, apart of god, is god in a way.
    Jesus is Gods representation on earth?
    no and then I still wonder,
    because at church we sing about Jesus, yet I feel we are loosing connection to god because we are singing about someone else and not about him.
    How can I get to know and love God, when we pray to Jesus, sing about Jesus etc.
    I understand god sacrificed Jesus for our sins. as a ransom for our mistakes and sins, and this is a big decision God made. To give up his first son as a ransom for our mistakes. Its powerful and overwhelming.

    Thirdly:

    Jehovah is mentioned in the KJV several times as the name of God
    Psalm 83:18
    Exodus 17:15; 6:3
    Isaiah 12:2; 26:4
    Genesis 22:14
    Judges 6:24

    can someone explain why jehovah/Yahweh (YHWH) is mentioned in KJV but God is also mentioned as ‘God’ ‘Lord’ ‘Elohim’ ‘El Shaddai’ ‘El Elyon’ ‘El Olam’

    If someone or some people can help me with understanding all this that would be fantastic ! All points of views are welcome :)
    sorry if there are spelling errors, I am typing fast, past 2 am and i can’t be bothered proofreading.

  • Steve Bruecker March 12, 2015, 6:46 am

    Nadia,
    Thanks for your thoughtful questions and comments. You nicely organized your letter into 3 parts, so I will answer each of those issues.

    1. The first problem is Watchtower Organization’s assertion God or Jehovah is God’s personal name. He asked Moses to call him by the title “I AM who I AM.” The Hebrew word was “Haya” and not YHWH. Even though Haya is related to YHWH, we discover God wears many titles. Each title helps us to understand His greatness.

    The second problem is the idea we need to address God by His personal name. Other than God telling Moses to call Him “I AM who I AM,” where are we commanded to only call God by His English name Jehovah? We can address God by His many titles, just like the Hebrew Scriptures do. Why do the writers address God by many titles? According the JWs, is this wrong?

    Third, I believe the true motivation for their emphasis on the personal name of God is to discount the Trinity. The definition of the Trinity is one God subsists in 3 persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal. By the use of a personal name it sounds silly to say, “Jimmy subsists in 3 persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” So by trying to get rid of the Biblical titles used to describe God in the Scriptures, they think they can render the Trinity false. They know the title God subsisting in 3 persons is not contradictory. It is not only logically possible but is what the Bible teaches (see my teaching “Loving the Trinity” on the web site).

    Fourth, the Watchtower Organization adds Jehovah to the New Testament (New World Translation), where in the original Greek manuscripts the name Jehovah NEVER appears. This practice is a deliberate corruption of the New Testament.

    Fifth, in the New Testament to help the distinctions between Jesus and the Father, the writers used the title God for the Father and Lord for Jesus. This was especially helpful when the two persons of the Trinity, the Father and the Son, addressed each other. Wayne Grudem writes in his book Systematic Theology: “When we realize that the New Testament authors generally use the name ‘God’ (Gk. theos) to refer to God the Father and the name ‘Lord’ (Gk. kyrios) to refer to God the Son, then it is clear that there is another Trinitarian expression in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6: ‘Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.’ Similarly, the last verse of 2 Corinthians is Trinitarian in its expression: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Cor. 13:14) .” In addition we see the three persons mentioned separately in Ephesians 4:4–6; 1 Peter 1:2, and Jude 20–21.

    An example of where the Father and God are interchangeable (synonymous) can be found in Matthew and Mark.

    • Matthew 12: 50 “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
    • Mark 3: 35 “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

    2. Jesus is not a created being. This was a 3rd century heresy called Arianism and was thrown out because it contradicted the Bible. You can read more about this from my web site under the Icon called “Loving the Trinity.”

    3. In the Bible God is called by many names which describe different facets of His nature, attributes, and character. A few of the Old Testament names for God and their meanings are: El-Elyon, “The Most High God”, Jehovah-Jirah, “The Lord will provide”, Jehovah-Shalom, “The Lord of Peace”, and El-Shaddai, “The Almighty God”. Since the Hebrew Scriptures have no problem addressing God with various names, why do the JWs try to make a big deal about the name Jehovah? Above I gave good reasons why they try to discount the doctrine of the Trinity by making a big deal with one personal name. The Hebrew Scriptures don’t do this. However, they do focus on 3 primary names or titles for God, Elohim, YHWH, and Adonai.

    I hope my response is helpful. I have many articles refuting the false teachings of the Watchtower Organization. You can find them under various Icons on the home page.

    To continue to study with JWs is a dangerous practice. They have the wrong Jesus and are eternally condemned. Jesus himself said this, John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Jesus was asking the Jewish religious leaders to believe He is fully God (by saying I am He is referring to Exodus 3:14). If you reject the Trinity, when you die (or a JW dies) you will still be in your sins. This means you will pay the penalty for your sins yourself. Only by trusting the one true Jesus can the penalty be paid by Him and your sins forgiven.

    Steve Bruecker

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