Frederick Franz, "Bible Scholar"

by Quendi 115 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Quendi

    As some of you know by now, I spent Sunday, 7 August, renewing ties with a dear friend. We're both disfellowshipped, the difference between us being he is seeking reinstatement and I am not. We got into some very spirited discussions on different Bible topics and one of them was the value of the New World Translation itself. My friend was rather surprised that I was still using it in light of my telling him I had no intention of returning to the organization.

    "Well, you know the New World Translation was produced by real Bible scholars," he said. "Oh, which scholars?" I asked. "Well, Frederick Franz, for one. That man was a genius!" "Well, he may have been a genius," I replied, "but he was no Bible languages scholar. That much is certain. He studied koine Greek for only two years and never learned Hebrew or Aramaic. He was no more a language scholar than you and I are."

    I saw this exchange as one more example of how the WTS has lied about or obscured its past. In the case of the New World Translation, this was easy to do since it has consistently refused to reveal the names of the translation committee. Thus, it would be easy to allow the rank and file to believe that Franz was an accredited and recognized expert on biblical languages even when he was no such thing.

    I told my friend that I used ten different Bible translations in my reading and studying now. The WTS does not want rank and file Witnesses to do so. When he countered with the fact that different translations are quoted or cited in the publications I told him that was generally not true of the Watchtower study articles or other pieces in the study versions of the magazine. A different Bible version might be occasionally referenced, but mainly the WTS stuck to the New World Translation to enforce its own orthodoxy. But to me, the most interesting point of all this was the belief that Fred Franz was a first-class Bible scholar.


  • wobble

    You referring to Fred Franz the Rhodes Scholar ?

    If there ever was a Rhodes Scholar of that name, he was nothing to do with the WT.

    Mad Freddie Franz of WT fame had no qualifications to tranlate Bible manuscripts, and did not have a grasp of exegesis either, yet he is the best the poor WT can reference. The one thing he did have, which has infected the whole WT ever since, was an incredible arrogance and a great way with weasel words.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Writing that one applied for a Rhodes scholarship is hilarious. My roommate competed and made it very far. People don't care if you submitted an application. We can all submit applications to become astronauts or get in touch with the DNC about becoming the party's presidential nominee.

    I grew up with "Freddie" worshipped for his sheer brilliance. Right. Even when Knorr was president, he was just a nuts and bolts person. freddie made policy. When you wipe out all competition, coming up with whacko ideas is easy.

  • Quendi

    I met Fred Franz only once back in April 1976 when he gave a special talk in Fayette, Alabama. He spoke on the 74th Psalm, without notes or even a Bible in hand, quoting the Psalm and other scriptures word-for-word entirely from memory. It was a most impressive performance. I went backstage afterwards and had a few words with him. He was very gracious to me and the others who gathered around. As you can imagine, it was heady stuff for a young man like me who had been baptized only three months earlier.

    I thought he was definitely a brilliant man. But I wasn't completely awed by that. I was a metallurgy student at the University of Alabama back then, and had met many brilliant men and women as well as bona fide geniuses on the campus. On the other hand, I kept telling myself that I was in the physical presence of a man who expected to not only rule over the Earth, but even more importantly, would be able to converse with Jesus Christ and Jehovah God face to face. That was not a hope I entertained then and do not now. But meeting someone who professed it and also held a top tier position in the WTS made a deep impression.

    So learning about Franz's fraudulent credentials as a biblical languages scholar was a rude shock. With the advantage of hindsight I can now see why the WTS is so anxious to keep the names of the NWT translation committee secret. If those names were revealed, there would be a demand to examine their qualifications as translators. If Franz is typical of the kind of training the committee members had, then one could discredit their work. That is something the WTS would want to avoid at all cost.

    I have never studied the biblical languages. However, I did study Latin all through my high school years and was a very good student of that ancient tongue. I won recognition by the Junior Classical League for my abilities in it. So I know that two years' study of a language like koine Greek is insufficient preparation to take on the challenge of New Testament translation work. I like the New World Translation and believe it has some good features, but I certainly want to know who was behind it. Because it first appeared in 1950, it is more than likely that all who served on the committee are now dead. What harm could come from releasing their names now? Could it be that the continual refusal to do so is masking some other darker secret?


  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Did he not drop out of some seminary? I'm unclear how he became a Witness. The man was not stupid but brilliant is a far cry from reality. I've seen legal work prisoners do for themselves and it is often extremely good. Self taught people can be special. The process of translation should be transparent. I'm beginning to think they only consult the work of people who went before them and made adjustments favorable to doctrine.

    I studied French for almost ten years. Ha! Ha! Two years of Koine Greek should have convinced him of how little he knew. Nuance is important in the scriptures. My family remarked when the New World Translation first appeared. They mentioned some suspect names but all I recall is Franz' name. I was also taught that skills were not enough at Bethel. Working the internal politics was more important. Personality politics, not doctrinal stuff.

    Imagine if Franz' background were challenged by similarly educated peers. I studied with a now prominent NT scholar. We complained in front of her about favorite instructor being denied tenure while a Mr. Boring made it. She said that since we are not religious studies in school we had no background in the subject. Unlike history or English, we would believe any old thing she told us and we would be impressed. Tenure made her submit her work to colleagues.

    My Algebra teacher told me that it is better to come in last with the thoroughbreds than first with the mules.

    I have no idea how arrogant he was, how personable or how much he took himself seriously. Remember, they translated the entire Bible - or so they claim. Could they have contracted the work out to some worldly seminary students?

  • wobble

    I wonder why you like the NWT Quendi ? I find it stilted, colourless, and in places downright dishonest.

    It is not a "Translation" I would recommend , apart from someone wishing to see examples of theolgical bias used to a huge extent.

    I do not believe it to be a translation in fact, it seems that those involved in working on it consulted many translations and paraphrases, and if they were not sure, tried to see what the manuscripts said without real knowledge of the original language, they relied heavily on the work of Westcott and Hort, a source that scholarship has made somewhat dated in many renderings.

    There are many good translations out there, the NWT is very poor in so many ways, hence it does not appear on scripture comparison websites.

  • the-illuminator81

    It gets worse when you read the organization's criticism of the internet and see them talking about anonymous desktop scholars who can say anything on the internet. I guess it takes one to know one.

  • Wonderment
  • talesin

    I've seen legal work prisoners do for themselves and it is often extremely good. Self taught people can be special.

    Self taught people ARE special,, they do it without the benefit of an instructor/teacher/prof, a classroom of peers, and a support network. Formal education usually has little to do with intelligence ,,, it has more to do with opportunity.


  • Quendi

    I'm getting good feedback on this thread and I want to thank everyone who has contributed.


    I believe the NWT's outstanding feature is the restoration of the Divine Name. Removing it in favor of titles is a crime. And while the form "Jehovah" is certainly a blunder as Stephen T. Byington said, what is more important is the fact that the true God has a personal name which he revealed to humanity and encouraged them to use. I think the best way to render it now is YHWH or Yahweh. But the form "Jehovah" has been around since the twelfth century and is present in many different languages, not only English. The poor excuses advanced by many to justify their substitution of the word LORD for YHWH fall flat on their faces when examined exegetically and hermeneutically. But if you are a trinitarian, then the use of the Divine Name will clearly make you uncomfortable. I think that is the main reason it has been expunged from most English translations today.

    As for the NWT's renderings being "colourless", you'll get no argument from me on that score. The language used, while "modern" is definitely wooden and inflexible. I do like the way it consistently renders the word nephesh as soul because that is correct. Translating that word as life or creature or some other equivalent obscures the important fact that Bible writers did not believe the soul was separate from the body and possessed immortality. The consistent rendering of nephesh and psykhe as soul can make for some clumsy and wooden English language passages, but I think that should be done to convey what the writers believed the soul to be.

    I don't know if I would go so far as to say it is a "dishonest" translation, but it does have its biases and imperfections which is why I use many other Bibles in my own reading and research. My favorites are the New English Bible and the Jerusalem Bible. The latter especially is really dynamic, contains many "apocryphal" books I find intensely fascinating, and, most importantly, restores the Divine Name to the text.


    Thank you, my friend, for the reference. I will definitely look into it. I'm sure I will be able to make good use of it in any future discussions with Witnesses when they claim that the NWT is the "best translation" out there.


    As always, I deeply appreciate your comments. And you are right to say that self-taught people are indeed special and can make outstanding contributions. I have seen that in my own field of mathematics. There is the wonderful experience of a San Diego homemaker who discovered properties that pentagons have which had been overlooked by trained mathematicians for thousands of years. She worked at her kitchen table for some years. Then she showed her work to a mathematician she knew who recognized that her work was not just idle talk but an entirely new set of discoveries about these geometric shapes. It was a powerful lesson that contributions can be made by anyone.

    By the way, I have related the outcome of my seeking out my friend "Evan" on the "Trying to Salvage a Friendship" thread. I would really appreciate your feedback on that.


Share this