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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{ 108 comments… add one }
  • Al May 17, 2018, 12:47 am

    Mark10:18 Jesus said unto them why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is god???

  • Steve Bruecker May 17, 2018, 6:55 am

    Al,
    What is your point? If it is to deny Jesus is God, the verse doesn’t help you. You have to assume he is not God to believe this verse supports that. This is called “begging the question.” You are assuming what you have to prove.

    Jesus is not denying he is God in this verse. Where does he say he is not God? If he is God, then one way to see this verse is that it simply challenges the rich young ruler to admit that.

    Actually, the main point has to do with the foundation of all goodness is God. If you read the verses that follow, Jesus was challenging the ruler’s understanding of good and that he falls short. He needed to admit that. Salvation comes when you admit you are not good, you are a sinner in need of a savior. That savior is Jesus and he tells the man to give up his riches and follow him. Unfortunately, he walks away.

    I suggest making sure you read the Bible in context. None of these verses deny Jesus is God. Many verses teach directly Jesus is God including John 1:1, John 8:58, John 20:28, Titus 2:13, and more.

    Steve Bruecker

  • Steve Bruecker May 17, 2018, 7:17 am

    Al,
    If you love reading the Bible, then you need to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. What we see in Acts 7 is two persons, the Father and the Son, of the Triune God. I suggest reading my series on my web site called, “Loving the Trinity.” This will help you in your understanding of the Bible. A definition of the Trinity is: One God subsists in 3 persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; coequal and co-eternal.

    There are major problems if you try to deny Jesus is God. For example, who created the universe? The New Testament teaches Jesus is the uncreated creator. This is clearly taught in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16-17. Both these sets of verses teach Jesus is the creator of “all things.” Isaiah says God alone created the heavens and the earth: Isaiah 44:24 (NASB) Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone.” If God alone created all things and the New Testament teaches Jesus created all things therefore Jesus is God. This is a major problem for those who deny the Trinity.

    Steve Bruecker

  • Steve Bruecker May 17, 2018, 7:35 am

    Al,
    This entire issue of the cross vs the stake is a silly argument. What does this prove, even if you are right?

    If it was a stake, then only one nail is needed for hands above the victim’s head and one nail for the feet. Even Watchtower drawings of this event show this. However, the Bible teaches there were nails in the hands of Jesus. A cross would need two nails, which is Biblical evidence against your view. Even the New World Translation uses the plural when referring to the nails in the hands of Jesus. The so-called translation team needs to change this, similar to how they changed other parts of the Bible. Plus the historical record of that time period and archaeology supports a cross.

    Steve Bruecker

  • Steve Bruecker May 17, 2018, 7:40 am

    Al,
    It is a good thing you are not a Jehovah’s Witness. I suggest taking courses in Biblical interpretation (Hermeneutics) to help you understand the Bible. Since you know you are not a JW then I am assuming you have read some of their literature. My suggestion is to stay clear of this false organization and the materials they publish.

    Steve Bruecker

  • Steve Bruecker May 17, 2018, 8:04 am

    Al,
    In your argument against my using John 8:24 you claim I have no seminary degree. What do you have? I have a Master’s Degree in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. I have had classes in Bible interpretation and the understanding of Christian Doctrines. Have you taken a hermenuetics class? Have you studied historical theology? I doubt it!

    What you need to do is read this passage in the full context of the entire chapter. In my articles I sometimes have to short cut the process and cannot reproduce the entire chapter. Please read John 8 from beginning to end. In the verses you quote, your misunderstanding the doctrine of the Trinity is your problem. Again, Jesus is simply talking about his relationship with the Father. What we see is two persons of the Trinity.

    Jesus had two natures, God and human. As a human is always submitted to the position of the Father. As divine, Jesus was coequal and co-eternal. This is what we see in the verses you quote.

    At the end of the chapter, Jesus claims to be God: John 8:56-59 (NASB) “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

    When Jesus claims to be the “I am” he is referring back to Exodus 3:14. Here Moses asked God how to tell the people who sent him. God replies: Exodus 3:14 (NASB) God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

    By claiming to be the “I am” Jesus was clearly calling himself God. In fact, he said he was in existence before Abraham was born (As God Jesus is eternal). How do we verify this was the claim Jesus made? Because to claim to be the “I am” is blasphemy if wrong. Blasphemy carries the death penalty. The Jews knew this and wanted to stone him. They denied his truthful claim to be God hence the strong reaction. The Jews knew he claimed to be God and you and all Jehovah’s Witnesses need to acknowledge this truth.

    Steve Bruecker

  • Steve Bruecker May 18, 2018, 6:59 am

    Al,
    To give a complete answer on this issue, I will use an article from Tim Barnett from Stand to Reason.

    Did Jesus Receive Worship?
    Tim Barnett STR

    Does the New Testament teach us to worship Jesus? Absolutely. We can find multiple instances throughout the New Testament of various people worshipping Jesus. So, how is it that Jehovah’s Witnesses can claim that Jesus was never worshipped?

    To enter into this debate, you must understand the Greek term for worship: proskuneo. Groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses are quick to point out that proskuneo can refer to the act of bowing low to the ground before someone. This act was used to express respect or reverence towards a superior (e.g. a king). In these situations, proskuneo is better translated or bow down, not worship. However, when proskuneo is used in a religious context, it is an act of acknowledging deity. Therefore, context is key in determining whether or not Jesus was actually worshipped.

    Let’s look at an example from the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew reports what happened when the women disciples meet the risen Jesus. He writes,
    And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped [proskuneo] him (Matt. 28:9).

    This is an important text for at least two reasons. First, the context is religiously significant because Jesus has just raised Himself from the dead. This supernatural event vindicated His claims to be the Son of God. Anything less than full-on worship at this point would be a deficient response. Second, Matthew gives us a significant, yet seemingly trivial detail. He says that they “took hold of his feet.” This means the women were already bowed down on the ground when they worshipped. Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses must understand Matthew to be saying, “They took hold of his feet and bowed down.” This is redundant, and clearly not what Matthew was communicating.
    Another important passage that teaches the worship of Jesus is found in Hebrews 1. The author of Hebrews is making a case that the Son is greater than the angels. He writes:
    And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him (Heb. 1:6).”

    The New World Translation mistranslates this, “And let all of God’s angels do obeisance to him.” However, given the context of Hebrews 1 this translation is untenable. The One who receives worship from the angels is also the One who created and upholds the entire universe (1:2, 3), who is the radiance of the glory of God (1:3), who is the exact imprint of God’s nature (1:3), who is referred to as God by the Father (1:8); and who is the eternal, immutable Creator described by David as Jehovah (1:10-12). It is in this context that we must properly translate Hebrews 1:6.

    Furthermore, verse 6 is a quote from the Old Testament (Ps. 97:7; cf. Deut. 32:43). In the original context, it is Jehovah who receives worship, not merely obeisance, from the angels. Therefore, there is no basis for changing the meaning of proskuneo in this verse. It is a unitarian bias that awkwardly forces Jehovah’s Witnesses to mistranslate this straightforward text.

    Finally, John tells us in the Book of Revelation that all will worship Jesus.

    “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped (Rev. 5:12-14).

    Every created thing worships Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb. If the Lamb, Jesus Christ, were a creature, He would be one of the creatures joining in this worship chorus. Instead, this passage clearly teaches Jesus is the object of the worship chorus.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are quick to counter all this evidence with Matthew 4:10. It says, Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve (Matt. 4:8-10).’”

    Here Jesus is restating an Old Testament command to worship God alone. Jehovah’s Witnesses think this ends the debate. On their view, Jesus could not accept worship because He said that we must only worship God. But this assumes that Jesus is not God. If Jesus is God, then Jehovah’s Witnesses are commanded to join Christians in worshipping Him.
    Not only does the New Testament teach us to acknowledge Jesus as God, but it also teaches us to respond to Him as God. This is accomplished through worship. Theologian John Stott said, “Nobody can call himself a Christian who does not worship Jesus. To worship him, if he is not God, is idolatry; to withhold worship from him, if he is, is apostasy.”
    https://www.str.org/solid_ground/quick-thought-did-jesus-receive-worship#.Wv7YwUgvxPY

    Steve Bruecker

  • Steve Bruecker May 18, 2018, 7:07 am

    Al,
    You finish your series of 7 comments by affirming a previous writer (David) and then attacking me personally. Calling me blind and ignorant only reflects the fact you have a weak position. Please use arguments rather than call me names.

    Steve Bruecker

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