Ingenuous....What makes the JW interpretation especially arbitrary is that zaó "live" (ezésan "lived" in this verse) is treated uniquely as a "special case" in this passage when elsewhere, when it refers to a change of state involving a dead subject, it signifies that the DEAD person has come back to life in a resuscitation or resurrection (cf. Matthew 9:18, 27:63, Mark 16:11, Luke 15:32, John 5:25, 11:25, Acts 9:41, 25:19, Romans 6:10-13, 14:9, 2 Corinthians 5:15, 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:10), and in Revelation it is used specifically to refer to the resurrection of Jesus Christ ("I was dead and now I live forever and ever", 1:18; "Here is the message of the First and the Last, who was dead and has come back to life (ezésen) again, 2:8), to the "healing" of the "fatal wound" and "deadly injury" to the Beast in 13:14 (cf. 13:3), and most importantly to "the souls (psukhas) of all who had been beheaded for having witnessed for Jesus" in 20:4, whose "coming to life" is described in v. 5 as "the first resurrection (anastasis)". These are the Christian martyrs who experienced very real deaths, narrated earlier ("They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the witness of their martyrdom, because even in the face of death they would not cling to life" 12:11, "Anyone who refused to worship the statue of the Beast was put to death" 13:15, "I saw that she was drunk, drunk with the blood of the saints, and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus", 17:6), and the use of psukhas "souls" to refer to the dead martyrs harks back to 6:9-11 which also referred to "the souls (psukhas) of all the people who had been killed on account of the word of God" who resided in heaven "underneath the altar". These are thus very real deaths (not "spiritual deaths"), involving a real return to life in a resurrection (cf. anastasis, v. 5), so the corresponding "rest of the dead" who come back to life in an implied "second resurrection" (próté "first" in v. 5 being the first in a series) would similarly experience a return to life from a very real "death". The narration of the resurrection and judgment in 20:11-15 would thus constitute the implied second resurrection foreshadowed in v. 5a, and indeed this resurrection-judgment scene is along the same lines as the resurrection-judgment of Daniel 7:9-12, 12:1-3, 1 Enoch 50:3-6, 90:20-38, Testament of Abraham 12:1-18, 4 Ezra 7:32-44, Pseudo Philo 3:10, Matthew 25:31-46, etc. (cf. Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10).
There are two complications in the text of the chapter which have facilitated all sorts of divergent interpretations, including the one posted above by JCanon. One is the insertion of the block of text of 20:7-10 between v. 4-6 and v. 11-15 in the redaction of Revelation, and the other is the the doublet pair referring to the resurrection and judgment (version #1: v. 11-12, version #2: v. 13-15). When read in a linear way, the text has a series of contradictions and illogical turns which can only be smoothed out by a harmonizing or spiritualizing exegesis. But when the two strands are distinguished and compared against each other, each is internally consistent and stylistically distinct:
Version #1: "Then I saw some thrones, and I saw those who are given the power to be judges take their seats on them. I saw the souls of all who had been beheaded for having witnessed for Jesus and for having preached God's word, and those who refused to worship the Beast or his statue and would not have the brand-mark on their foreheads or hands; they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. Then I saw a great white throne and the One who was sitting on it. In his presence, earth and sky vanished, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of his throne, while the Book of Life was opened, and other books were opened which were the record of what they had done in their lives, by which the dead were judged" (Revelation 20:4-5a, 11-12).
Version #2: "Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the key of the Abyss in his hand and an enormous chain. He overpowered the Dragon, that primeval serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and chained him up for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and shut the entrance and sealed it over him, to make sure he would not deceive the nations again until the thousand years had passed. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive all the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, and mobilize them for war. His armies will be as many as the sands of the sea; they will come swarming over the entire country and besiege the camp of the saints, which is the city that God loves. But fire will come down on them from heaven and consume them. Then the Devil, who misled them, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and Sulpher, where the Beast and the False Prophet are, and their torture will not stop, day or night, forever and ever. Then the sea gave up all the dead who were in it; Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and everyone was judged according to the way in which he had lived. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the Burning Lake. This Burning Lake is the second death; and anybody whose name could not be found written in the Book of Life was thrown into the Burning Lake" (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10, 13-15).
The two strands have been spliced together like how the P and J sources were combined in the Flood story of Genesis 6-9 which similarly cannot be read in a strictly linear order. The two strands have their own characteristics. Version #1 is centered on the martyrs who share in eschatological judgment while Version #2 is centered on what happens to Satan the Devil. Only Version #1 refers to the "thrones" of the martyrs (v. 4) and the "white throne" of the Judge (v. 11), while only Version #2 makes reference to the Lake of Fire. In Version #1, the "thousand years" was designated as the period the martyrs would reign whereas in Verison #2, the "thousand years" was the period in which Satan the Devil would be chained in the Abyss. Version #1 (through ch. 19) assumes that an eschatological destruction of the nations has already occurred by the time of the "thousand years", while Version #2 (in v. 7-9) has this occurring after the millennium. Both versions have paralleled descriptions of the thousand-year period, the gathering of the dead, and the judgment that follows. Stylistically, Version #1 is a series of five short visions introduced each time by "I saw" while Version #2 is one long vision introduced by a single "I saw". When the two strands were combined, the redactor would have likely added v. 3b immediately prior to the interpolated v. 4-5 to summarize what will happen in v. 7-10, and added the digression in v. 5b-6 to join the strands together (note that it mixes features of both versions, such as the "second death" from Version #2 with the thousand-year reign of the martyrs from Version #1) and explicitly distinguish between two resurrections being on either side of the millennium. (This is not the only possible source-critical analysis of the text, but it seems to be the best one to me).
With respect to my first message on this thread, I also just noticed that Aune in his commentary notes that the Codex Alexandrinus actually is the best representation of the neutral text, and that in the case of Revelation, the Codex Sinaiticus is the worst of the unicals. So my suspicion may well be correct that "earlier is not necessarily better" and that contrary to what Pastor Russell wrote, the Codex Sinaiticus is not the "most reliable Greek MSS". Moreover, the translation of Revelation for the Syriac Peshitta was done very late (due to the rejection of Revelation in the canon in the East), not until the sixth century AD in fact, so the "Syriac MS" is also not an "early witness" on the same level as the early unicals.
As to "what references" I use, these are usually critical commentaries of the Word, Hermeneia, International Critical Commentary, and other major series (as I cited in this and other threads), journal articles and monographs on the subject, and my personal library of primary texts for comparison (e.g. the OT Pseudepigrapha, the Hexapla as reconstructed by Field, the Apostolic Fathers, Qumran texts, etc.). I gave a list of my library in an earlier thread, but without an active search utility I am unable to find it.