NWT Oddities

by snowbird 24 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • snowbird

    The NWT rendering of this Scripture has always irritated me:

    Psalm 10: 4 The wicked one according to his superciliousness makes no search;
    All his ideas are: “There is no God.”

    Why select a 16-letter word when all other English translations use pride/haughtiness of his face/countenance? I used to cringe whenever this psalm came up for the Bible reading because superciliousness was almost always mispronounced. Any similar stories or comments?


  • Leolaia

    There are lots of odd turns of phrase in the NWT. Clearly the translation was not produced by literary geniuses.

    Genesis 33:9, NIV: "But Esau said, 'I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself ' ".

    Genesis 33:9, NWT: "Then E´sau said: 'I have a great many, my brother. Let continue yours what is yours' ".

    Exodus 3:13-14, NIV: "Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they ask me, "What is his name?" Then what shall I tell them?' God said to Moses, 'I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: "I AM has sent me to you" ' ".

    Exodus 3:13-14, NWT: "Nevertheless, Moses said to the [true] God: 'Suppose I am now come to the sons of Israel and I do say to them, "The God of YOUR forefathers has sent me to YOU," and they do say to me, "What is his name?’ What shall I say to them?" At this God said to Moses: 'I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE.' And he added: 'This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, "I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to YOU" ' ".

    Exodus 4:3-5, NIV: "The LORD said, 'Throw it on the ground.' Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, 'Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.' So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 'This,' said the LORD, 'is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers -- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob -- has appeared to you' ".

    Exodus 4:3-5, NWT: "Next he said: 'Throw it on the earth.' So he threw it on the earth, and it became a serpent; and Moses began to flee from it. Jehovah now said to Moses: 'Thrust your hand out and grab hold of it by the tail.' So he thrust his hand out and grabbed hold of it, and it became a rod in his palm. 'In order that, to quote him, 'they may believe that Jehovah the God of their forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you' ".

    Exodus 4:10, NIV: "Moses said to the LORD, 'O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.' "

    Exodus 4:10, NWT: "Moses now said to Jehovah: 'Excuse me, Jehovah, but I am not a fluent speaker, neither since yesterday nor since before that nor since your speaking to your servant, for I am slow of mouth and slow of tongue' ".

    Exodus 7:18, NIV: "The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water".

    Exodus 7:18, NWT: "And the fish that are in the Nile River will die, and the Nile River will fairly [changed to "actually" in later editions] stink, and the Egyptians will simply have no stomach for drinking water from the Nile River".

    Psalm 23:5, NIV: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows".

    Psalm 23:5, NWT: "You arrange before me a table in front of those showing hostility to me. With oil you have greased my head, my cup is well filled".

    Zechariah 13:5-6, NIV: "He will say, 'I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.' If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.'"

    Zechariah 13:5-6, NWT: "And he will certainly say, ‘I am no prophet. I am a man cultivating [the] soil, because an earthling man himself acquired me from my youth on.’ And one must say to him, ‘What are these wounds [on your person] between your hands?’ And he will have to say, 'Those with which I was struck in the house of my intense lovers.’ "

    Luke 14:18, NIV: "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me' ".

    Luke 14:18, NWT: "But they all in common started to beg off. The first said to him, ‘I bought a field and need to go out and see it; I ask you, have me excused' ".

    Acts 16:15, NIV: "When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. 'If you consider me a believer in the Lord,' she said, 'come and stay at my house.' And she persuaded us."

    Acts 16:15, NWT: "Now when she and her household got baptized, she said with entreaty: 'If YOU men have judged me to be faithful to Jehovah, enter into my house and stay.' And she just made us come".

    Acts 21:30, NIV: "The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple".

    Acts 21:30, NWT: "And the whole city was set in an uproar, and a running together of the people occurred; and they laid hold of Paul and dragged him outside the temple".

  • snowbird

    Thank you for that list, Leolaia. I'm printing it out for future reference. I knew about Psalm 23:5, but all the others are new to me.


  • Narkissos
    Clearly the translation was not produced by literary geniuses


    Of course that's because the translators tried to stick to the stated NWT standards of ultra-formal correspondence (consistently translating a noun with a noun, a verb with a verb), while ignoring the basics of comparative stylistics (simply put, different languages always have different ways of saying -- approximately -- the same thing). Of course the standards are not met (because they can't be), overtranslation thrives, and the result is horrible.

    But even the French NWT was not that painful.

  • Honesty

    Psalm 10: 4 The wicked one according to his superciliousness makes no search;
    All his ideas are: “There is no God.”

    Why select a 16-letter word when all other English translations use pride/haughtiness of his face/countenance? snowbird

    Because it describes the FDS to a 'T'...

    superciliousness - -- The trait of displaying arrogance by patronizing those considered inferior.


    mark for later

  • Gopher

    The reason the NWT translators used 'superciliousness' is because of their super-sillyness.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Maybe it's just me, but I thought that this verse sounds funny:

    Daniel 11:10, NWT: "Now as for his sons, they will excite themselves and actually gather together a crowd of large military forces. And in coming he will certainly come and flood over and pass through. But he will go back, and he will excite himself all the way to his fortress."

    Compare this to the RSV:

    Daniel 11:10, RSV: "His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall come on and overflow and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress."

    The Hebrew word in question is garah in the Hitpael which Holliday's A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament lists as meaning: 1. stir onesf. up (against), oppose; 2. venture into struggle, plunge into misfortune; 3. abs. get ready. Since meaning "excite oneself" is close to "stir oneself," I can't really say that the translation is wrong. Maybe it's my own mind that reads into "excites oneself" more than it should.

    Also strange in this verse is "And in coming he will certainly come." which in Hebrew is uba'bo'. This is a very common use of the verb in Hebrew where two verbs of the same root appear together with one in the infinitive. Waltke and O'Connor's An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax says the following concerning such a construction: "Usually the intensifying infinitive with the perfective conjugation forcefully presents the certainty of a completed event...With the non-perfective conjugation the infinitive absolute often emphasizes that a situation was, or is, or will take place." (p. 584) Thus, a better translation would be "and he will surely come."

    The New World Translationdoes understand how this type of construction should be rendered. This can be seen in Genesis 2:17 which says "you will positively die" (mot tamot) and not "dying you will die," though this is given in the footnote as the "literal" reading. Actually, "And in coming he will certainly come" is a double reading where two possible ways of rendering the text have been fused together in the body of the translation. A literal reading, like "dying you will die," for uba'bo' would be "coming he will come". But since the New World Translation knows that the two verbs are functioning together to intensify the verbal idea, then they have inserted "certainly" in the middle of the "literal" reading. In actually it should either read "And coming he will come" (hyperliteral, deserving at the very most a footnote) or "And he will certainly come" (best for the body of the translation).

    However, there is a further problem that might explain why the New World Translation inserted "certainly" into the "literal" translation. Jehovah's Witnesses "do not recognize the Hebrew waw as having any conversive power over the verb with which it is ?combined, even when causing that verb to have a certain mark (da•gesh´ for´te) or to change its tone or to shorten ?its form." (see Forward of New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) The first verb, uba' is a perfect waw-consecutive which just about everyone else would understand as being imperfect in aspect. Since the New World Translation rejects this, this verb is must be understood as perfect in aspect in a context that is future. In a case like this, the New World Translation translators have stated: "In Hebrew the perfect verb used to speak of a ?future action or state as if it had already occurred and were past, this to show its future certainty or the obligation of it ?to occur." (Forward, New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) Thus, it is likely that here in Daniel 11:10, the two verbs (which should have been understood as intensifying the verbal idea to show certainty as in Genesis 2:17) was translated literally, then the perfect aspect of the first verb was taken to show "future certainty" so "certainly" was inserted into that translation yielding "And in coming he will certainly come."

    Something is obviously wrong in all this for why would the author use two different ways to convey the idea of certainty here? If the above logic is the basis for the translation "And in coming he will certainly come," shouldn't the translation read something like "And he will absolutely, positively come without fail" to convey the excessive emphasis on certainty? I will keep things simple. The perfect waw-consecutive here should be understood as imperfect in aspect in a context that demands a future tense (i.e., and he will come). Further, the use of the two verbs here of the same root with one in the infinitive should be understood as "emphasiz[ing] that [the act of coming]...will take place." Thus, the best translation would be "and he will surely/certainly come"

    Anyways, sorry to have gone off on a tangent.


  • oompa

    Leolia or anyone else, which version is the NIV, I like it. Since I still go to some meetings, I have told my dad there is no way in good concience I can keep using the NWT (due to Christian Greek Portion). Any other recommendaions?

    Thanks, oompa

  • bbdodger

    The New World Trans. sounds so "Engrish-y" when you read it... like a bunch of Chinese, Korean and Japanese people got together and tried to translate the bible. This is not meant to sound insensitive... so quit being so damn sensitive.

    If you don't know what Engrish is:

    Q. What is Engrish?

    A. Engrish can be simply defined as the humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design.

    Q. Why can’t they get it right? Don't Japanese study the English language?A. The Japanese educational system is one of the best in the world - one of the primary reasons Japan was able build the world's second largest economy. It is not a perfect system, however - although most Japanese study English for anywhere from 6 to 10 years as a second language, they get little practical use since there are not enough native English speakers to practice with. The fact that the grammatical structure of the two languages is quite different does not help. The Japanese language also does not contain many sounds that you find in English Q. Is Engrish found only in Japan?

    A. No, Engrish can be found all over the world, but the vast majority of the really funny and creative Engrish is from Japan.



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