New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

by Quendi 64 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Quendi

    I know this has been discussed before, but I want to reopen the topic. I am currently reading Ray Franz's memoir Crisis of Conscience and ran across this footnote with respect to the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures:

    "The New World Translation bears no translator's name and is presented as the anonymous work of the "New World Translation Committee." Other members of that committee were Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder, and George Gangas. Fred Franz, however, was the only one with sufficient knowledge of the Bible languages to attempt translation of this kind. He had studied Greek for two years at the University of Cincinnati but was only self-taught in Hebrew."

    Now I have no concern with Fred Franz background as far as it goes. He probably knew enough koine Greek to attempt translating the New Testament himself. Anyone sufficiently trained could do that and many people have done just so down through the centuries. Well and good. But I doubt he knew enough about Hebrew to tackle the Old Testament. And in addition to Hebrew he would also have had to know Aramaic in order to translate portions of the book of Daniel.

    So my questions are, Who are/were the people who produced the New World Translation? Fred Franz clearly could not have done this alone, and the other named members of the New World Translation Committee lacked the training and competency for such work. Strong scholarship is needed to undertake the arduous task of Bible translation, and the named committee members lacked this. And if we don't know who these people were, how can we put any trust in their work or have confidence in them?

    I like the New World Translation. I think its restoration of the Divine Name to the text (even in the New Testament) is a great strength, and its contemporary language is refreshing. However, just because I like it doesn't mean that I should put blind faith in it. Also I have also come to realize that real Bible study means using a wide variety of translations as well as different Bible concordances, Greek and Hebrew lexicons and dictionaries, and other tools. I am in the process of acquiring these and I also want to study koine Greek when the opportunity presents itself. But now I am having grave concerns about the quality of the New World Translation itself. How reliable is it? How can I check its accuracy? What other resources should I consult and use in my personal Bible study and reading? I no longer consider WTS publications to be as reliable, accurate, or unbiased as they should be although there are a few that can still be useful.

    So I would appreciate any help, suggestions, and counsel that any of you would like to share. I don't believe I am alone in my concerns or interests in this matter. And while not everyone who wants to serve God has an interest in biblical languages or scholarship, I like to think there are not only a fair number who are so inclined, but that they also want to associate with others of like mind. My friends, I want to thank you in advance for your help and I await your replies.


  • transhuman68

    You might find this site useful. You can download a PDF of each chapter of the Bible in the original language:

  • WontLeave

    From what I have pieced together, because nearly all information on the subject is second-hand, unsubstantiated, and speculation, since the Society refuses to divulge exactly how they came up with their translation, it was basically a work/study program. Nobody involved knew much about the Biblical languages; definitely not enough to tackle a Bible translation with any accuracy. So, they sat down with Greek and Hebrew lexicons and basically figured it out as they went.

    I can look at Koine and ancient Hebrew interlinears and, without any first-hand knowledge whatsoever - piece together approximately what the intended meaning was. Of course, I'd be taking the writer of the lexicon's word for it and hope certain phrases or words didn't have nuances unknown to me in the context, time, or society in which it was originally written.

    All considered, they didn't do too bad a job and only denominationally-biased "experts" really seem to hate the NWT. The tendency to interpolate Scripture during translation to fit in with church doctrine is apparent in many translations. Some verses which have ambiguous meanings are translated with specific meanings This eisegesis disallows the reader to choose which way they want to view it, forcing the understanding to adhere to preconceived ideas.

  • carla

    I think its restoration of the Divine Name to the text (even in the New Testament) is a great strength,--- You do understand the word jehovah wasn't even a word until around 1700's made up by a Catholic monk named Martini don't you? Jesus never used the made up word nor would He, He never directed the apostles to either.

    Have you ever looked at the wt's own KIT to how badly they have perversed the Word of God?

    There are numerous sites that deal with the dishonesty of the wt and the NWT. Start researching. Good luck on your journey.

  • saltyoldlady

    I just LOST my whole contribution in one fell swoop - FRUSTRATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I too have the same interests and thoughts as you have expressed above. While I do not come even close to qualifying as a Bible scholar I have begun doing a great deal of side by side comparisons of various translations and it is yielding spiritual fruit for me. I too love the NWT for the same reasons as you have expressed - the restoration of the Divine Name, and its refreshing modern-day terminology. Often the expressions in the Pauline epistles especially are particularly perceptive and well-worded in comparison to others.

    However I am also discovering passages that appear preferable in other translations and am making a collection of these. Examining the nuances of grammar, propositions chosen, etc. reveals an amazing variety of meanings for the translator and contemplating the choices made is most fascinating. Careful analytical evaluation of the message being conveyed provides many clues to what may be the correct rendering. It is as much fun as any puzzle I have ever worked upon. And BIAS of the translators really does appear - sometimes rather blatantly.

    Just to give a short quick example - in my current Bible study class we covered John Chapter 17 this past week. In my 8 translations of the New Testament side by side produced by Tyndale the fact that the word "name" had been removed in half of them from verses 6 and 11 by 4 translations or versions was fascinating. One has to ask the question - Why? Either the word "name" was there or it wasn't. What is going on here? And then an interesting point came up in the class discussion that some such as the NWT used the phrase "on account of your own name" where others said "by the power of your name" - the shades of meaning and significance are fascinating to explore. In some cases I simply like to incorporate both into my comprehension of the subject. In other cases I find myself discarding NWT wording.

    Am sure others must have also made such collections of both the strong (to be preferred) and the questionable passages in the NWT. Looking forward to finding these and examining them myself. Will be checking this thread frequently in the future for what else we can learn.

  • saltyoldlady

    Substitute the word "prepostion" for proposition above. Thanks.

  • 86theWT

    With no real primary scholarship on the NWT committee, I'm guessing that the gang made use of the same tools you mentioned, concordances, lexicons, etc. Then they had to have dozens of translations to refer to. With said tools in hand (no pun intended), I'm guessing Franz & company proceded to cherry-pick the verse translations most favorable to the WT worldview. Hell, anyone with the time and desire could probably put together their own translation that way. You certainly wouldn't need any real knowledge of Ancient Near East languages, society, etc.

    On the other hand, a real, credible translation will involve maybe dozens of collaboraters, all of whom would have doctorate degrees in the appropriate fields. Plus a good set of writing skills, to make the translation enjoyable to read, or at least bearable is a big plus. I don't consider the NWT to be very readable when compared to the other English bible translations. I especially enjoy the New Living Translation update for reading, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible for studying and reading. The NET Bible has an amazing set of translator notes to let you see how they came to their decisions. If you want YHWH in your Old Testament, the aforementioned HCSB is good. It uses Yahweh when the biblical text emphasizes Yahweh as a name: "His name is Yahweh" (Psalm 68:4). However, don't expect to find it in the NT, as in the Jew World Translation.

    For your Bible studies, I strongly suggest getting some Bible software; you simply won't believe how helpful it is. If you haven't tried this already, I suggest trying out a free (but very professional) software title called theWord from I use it. Once I realized how great it was from using theWord, I got WORDsearch9 (at It has lots of the resources you are looking to collect, and if you are careful this can be had very reasonably. Finally, if money is not a big object, try Logos Bible Software ( It's the best I've tried, but a bit pricey, as I mentioned.

    Another good tool in Bible study is the "Study Bible". These come in all kinds of versions and formats. The most comprehensive I've found is the ESV Study Bible; get it at a book store that carries bibles, or online at Amazon, or anywhere, really. For the best price on the ESV SB, I got mine at Good luck in your learning journey.

  • Quendi

    Carla - The rendering of the Divine Name is simply a red herring that others sieze upon to avoid using it altogether. As Bible translator Stephen Byington put it so well, the rendering "Jehovah" is certainly a blunder. Nevertheless, he went on to say, it is very important to realize that YHWH is a personal name, not to be erased by titles such as LORD, the ETERNAL, or other sobriquets. Furthermore, the NWT is hardly the only translation to use some form of YHWH for God's name. Are you also going to denounce the Catholic Jerusalem Bible or the 1901 American Standard Version for their renderings? I should hope not.

    As for the NWT's use of the Divine Name in the New Testament, again it was not the first Bible translation to do so. Other Bibles, going all the way back to the seventeenth century have done the same. So the NWT's doing so was hardly a first, although it was certainly unusual for a twentieth century English version.

    I would also have appreciated your naming some ofthe other sites you'd like me to consult or giving their URLs. That would save me some time. I want to thank you for your reply, but I also don't want this discussion to descend into name-calling and polemics. You say the NWT is "perversed" and "dishonest". That doesn't contribute anything positive to this thread and is something I can determine for myself.

    transhuman - Thank you for the URL that you gave. I hope I can make good use of it in my own research.

    WontLeave - Thank you as well for your answer. I know Latin quite well and have had some exposure to Greek. What you say about how the NWT Committee may have gone about its work is illuminating. I suppose its decision to do it that way may have been rooted in a desire to keep the entire translation project "in the family". If so, that was a very short-sighted approach. Still, the translation has had its non-Witness praisers and defenders as well as detractors. It has its strengths as well as its weaknesses. My goal is to try to understand the Bible from an exegetical and hermeneutical viewpoint, hence the posting of this question.

    I look forward to other replies.


  • WontLeave
    jehovah wasn't even a word until around 1700's made up by a Catholic monk named Martini

    You are misinformed. The English use of "Jehovah" was already popular by the time the KJV was written in 1611.

    "Jehovah" is no more a made-up word than "Jesus". It's the accepted English translation of the Hebrew divine name, which the original pronunciation of has been lost.

  • cantleave

    How can you "restore" something that was never there?

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