No JW's w/ post-graduate degree in Biblical Greek/Hebrew?

by InterestedOne 19 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Bungi Bill
    Bungi Bill

    When I first began a "Bible Study" JW Indoctrination Course over 40 years ago, I was assured that F.W. Franz was, to quote, "The Foremost Scholar of Hebrew and Greek in the World."

    Sad to say, for several decades, I actually believed that to be the case!


    - During a 1954 court case in Scotland, his knowledge of Hebrew was shown up as being, at the best, extremely basic.

    (Somebody fluent in a foreign language has no more difficulty in translating that into English than in translating English into the foreign language. I know this from experience, having for many years had to use another language as part of my everyday work. The operative word is "fluent", which Franz was shown up not to be!)

    - An Awake article in the late 1980s gave Franz's university qualifications as being in modern Greek, NOT the Koine (Common) Greek of the Bible writers.

    It is extremely unlikely that anyone in the congregations has post- graduate qualifications in the Hebrew and/or Common Greek:

    - Those born into the JW religion are (and always were) scared off from a college education.

    - Those who were already qualified before contact with the witnesses would quickly see through the sham of the WT's interpretation of the Bible (similar to the person Lady Lee mentions).

    While, certainly, there is no way to actually prove that above statement ( as quoted from the "spiritwatch" website); it is still by no means an unreasonable claim to make - given the WT's downer on education.


  • InterestedOne

    From Leolaia,

    I am pretty sure Rolf Furuli counts WRT to Hebrew.

    Yes, a quick search shows that he has a post-graduate degree, magister artium, which is master of arts. I assume his degree is in Semitic languages because he is a lecturer in Semitic languages at the University of Oslo.

    This is all one needs to answer the wording of the original statement which said, "no baptized witness. . . ." You don't need to keep a list of all 7 million JW's. Still, it would be interesting to get some idea of the credentials of the people writing WT material as well as the education level in Biblical Greek/Hebrew of JW's in general since they claim to be "Bible students."

    To be clear, a person's having a post-graduate degree on a topic does not make everything they say about it true. I had professors that said all kinds of wacky things. However, it does at least bring them onto the playing field where their statements can be held up to academic standards. A search on Rolf Furuli shows that his research projects attempt to defend JW chronology and translation. I would like to see what the general academic community thinks about his work, i.e. whether his work is generally accepted or if it is disputed. My gut tells me the latter.

  • St George of England
    St George of England

    Just to add to Bungi Bill's comment, it was the Douglas Walsh trial in Scotland that he referred to.

    Fred Franz in his testimony had agreed that he had checked and verified the script of the NWT for accuracy. When the prosecutor then handed him a Bible and asked him to to translate a SINGLE VERSE in Genesis, he could not do it!

    Some expert!


  • InterestedOne
    When the prosecutor then handed him a Bible and asked him to to translate a SINGLE VERSE in Genesis, he could not do it!

    Not that I like Fred Franz, and I think there are some upsetting responses from the WT men in the Walsh trial. However, there is a rebuttal to the translation part of the trial at

    I would need to go back and look at the transcript of the trial to examine the merits of this rebuttal.

  • Bungi Bill
    Bungi Bill

    I have heard this "rebuttal" before, and it largely hangs on how much harder it is supposed to be to translate English into a foreign language than the other way around.

    For a number of years, I used a foreign language (the Tok Pisin language, of Papua New Guinea) in the course of my everyday work. All I can say is that I never at any time had any more difficulty in translating English into Tok Pisin, than I had in translating Tok Pisin into English.

    If that is indeed a problem (i.e the translating of English into the foreign language), then this raises questions about the "translators" grasp of that particular language.

    The other part of this "rebuttal" has to do with F.W. Franz saying he "wouldn't", rather than he "couldn't" translate that bible verse into Hebrew;

    - perhaps because the question was irrelevant?

    I would have thought that the proper response to an irrelevant question from the prosecutor would have been for Franz's lawyer to have protested to the court that the question had no relevance. Yet, there is no evidence that this happened.


  • designs

    Lady Lee- wouldn't that criteria apply to Christianity en masse.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    IN some Bibles yes interpret and translate are different. Many newer Bibles admit they are more interpretations

    It seems there are 2 general theories or methods of Bible translation.

    1. Formal Equivalence: as much as possible a word for word translation from one language to another

    2. Dynamic Equivalence: a thought for thought translation. This requires first an accurate formal equivalence or what you come up with in the dynamic equivalence will be off. The goal iis to be both accurate and understandable.

    Many people consider the King James to be accurate but it isn't how we talk and therefore not that great a translation anymore.

    My copy of the New Living Translation compares three verses 1 Kings 2:10

    King James Version (KJV): So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city ofDavid.

    New International Version (NIV): Then David rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.

    New Living Translation (NLV): Then David died and was buried in the city of David.

    The thought "slept/rested with his fathers" is translated into "died" which better expresses the real meaning of the expression "slept with his fathers"

    Now here is an interesting issue:

    The WTS doesn't tell us who their Translation committee is.

    NLB website has a list of the scholars who were on the translation team.

    NIV lists the people on their committee

    KJV even has a list of the translators from the year 1604

    Wikipedia has referenced some quotes from WT literature regarding the translators


    The New World Translation was produced by the anonymous New World Bible Translation Committee, formed in 1947. This committee is said to have comprised unnamed members of multinational background. [15] The New World Bible Translation Committee requested that the Watch Tower Society not publish the names of its members, [16] [17] stating that they did not want to "advertise themselves but let all the glory go to the Author of the Scriptures, God," [18] adding that the translation, "should direct the reader... to... Jehovah God". [19] The publishers believe that "the particulars of [the New World Bible Translation Committee's members] university or other educational training are not the important thing" and that "the translation testifies to their qualification". [20] Former high ranking Watch Tower staff have claimed knowledge of the translators' identities. [21] [22]

    education isn't important???

    Another interesting issue:

    The NLB that I mentioned above takes 4 large pages so explain where they got their original texts from and how they went about arriving with their translation. The NIV has 3 pages of small print explaining how they arrived at their translation. The KJV doesn't have it in the Bible but does have it online (see link above for KJV) Even my Good News Bible (GNT) has 3 pages to explain how they came up with their version. (The GNT) is a Dynamic Equivalence translation

    On the other hand I can't find anthing in my 1978 copy of NWT regarding where or how they came up with this translation. Wikipedia (above link) was able to find some info gleaned from WT publications:

    According to the Watch Tower Society, the New World Translation attempts to convey the intended sense of original-language words according to the context. The New World Translation employs nearly 16,000 English expressions to translate about 5,500 biblical Greek terms, and over 27,000 English expressions to translate about 8,500 Hebrew terms. Where possible in the target language, the New World Translation prefers literal renderings, and does not paraphrase the original text. [24]

    Textual basis

    The master text used for translating the Old Testament into English was Kittel's Biblia Hebraica . The Hebrew text, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1977), was used for updating the footnotes in the 1984 version of the New World Translation. Other works consulted in preparing the translation include Aramaic Targums , the Dead Sea Scrolls , the Samaritan Torah , the Greek Septuagint , the Latin Vulgate , the Masoretic Text , the Cairo Codex , the Codex Petropolitanus [disambiguation needed] , the Aleppo Codex , Christian David Ginsburg 's Hebrew Text, and the Leningrad Codex . [25]

    The Greek master text by the Cambridge University scholars B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort (1881) was used as the basis for translating the New Testament into English. The committee also referred to the Novum Testamentum Graece (18th edition, 1948) and to works by Catholic Jesuit scholars José M. Bover (1943) and Augustinus Merk (1948). The United Bible Societies' text (1975) and the Nestle-Aland text (1979) were used to update the footnotes in the 1984 version. Additional works consulted in preparing the New World Translation include the Armenian Version, Coptic Versions, the Latin Vulgate, Sixtine and Clementine Revised Latin Texts, Textus Receptus, the Johann Jakob Griesbach's Greek text, the Emphatic Diaglott, and various papyri. [25]

    After reading all this I feel a lot more comfortable with my NIV and NLV Bibles than I do with a NWT

  • TD


    I think the distinction is more accurately the difference between a living spoken language versus an ancient dialect or dead language that people are taught only to read.

    For example, lots of people who study Ancient Greek also eventually study modern Greek too. But the two languages aren't taught in even remotely the same way. The study of Ancient Greek focuses on grammar and forward translation. Like any other spoken language, the study of modern Greek focuses on vocabulary and self-expression.

  • PSacramento

    It's funny, some of his more "wacko" numerology crap aside, I think that I would have actually liked Russel.

    He seems far more intelligent that the idiots that came after him.

  • bnybyt

    Bungi bill, Tok Pisin is a creole / dialect of English, I wouldn't place it on par with translating from English to Ancient Hebrew or Koine Greek.

    I don't want to stand up for the WT$ in any way by saying that, but I think there are difficulties in translation which these ancient languages pose that can't be compared with modern languages or creoles.

    That said... In one of the WT videos there's a brother in the translation department answering a question about "kingdom" using the Hebrew word, and you'll notice, if you check, that he's using the modern Hebrew pronunciation.


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