By Mike Spencer, Spiritwatch Ministries..
Numerous qualified Greek scholars of international renown have voiced serious reservations about the New World Translation. Dr. Bruce Metzger of Princeton University (arguably the world’s foremost living Greek scholar) calls many of the New World Translation’s renderings “erroneous" (5). Dr. Julius R. Mantey (co-author of A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament and A Hellenistic Greek Reader) called it “a shocking mistranslation”(6). Dr Robert Countess concluded, in his PhD dissertation on the New World Translation, “it [the New World Translation] must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work. At some points it is actually dishonest" (7).
Comparison of Scholarly Qualifications Of NWT / NASB Translators
Although the Jehovah’s Witness leadership desperately wants the names of the New World Translation’s translators to remain unknown (for reasons that shall soon become clear), the names have, in fact, been revealed by former high- ranking members of the Jehovah’s Witness sect (8). Are these men qualified to correct the [allegedly] defective, inconsistent, and unsatisfactory translations produced by other Bible translators? Listed below (in the right-hand column) are the names and academic qualifications of the translators who produced the New World Translation. As a comparison, the names and credentials of the translators of the New American Standard Bible are listed in the left-hand column. We invite the discerning reader to judge for himself which English translation (the NASB or the New World Translation) is more likely to accurately represent the meaning of the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic of the Bible.
The NASB Translation Committee
The New American Standard Bible was produced by a diverse team of 40 translators, each with earned doctorates in the field of Biblical languages. Their names are as follows: (9)
Dr. Peter Ahn
Dr. Warren Allen
Dr. Gleason Archer
Dr. Herman Austel
Dr. Kenneth Lee Barker
Dr. Fred Bush
Dr. David L. Cooper
Dr. Richard W. Cramer
Dr. Edward R. Daglish
Dr. Charles Lee Feinberg
Dr. Harvey Finley
Dr. Paul Gray
Dr. George Giacumakis
Dr. Edward F. Harrison
Dr. John Hartley
Dr. F.B. Huey, Jr.
Dr. Charles Isbell
Dr. David W. Kerr
Dr. William L. Lane
Dr. Timothy Lin
Dr. Oscar Lowry
Dr. Elmer Martens
Dr. Henry R. Moeller
Dr. Reuben A. Olsen
Dr. J. Barton Payne
Dr. Walter Penner
Dr. John Rea
Dr. W.L. Reed
Dr. Robert N. Schaper
Dr. Moises Silva
Dr. Ralph L. Smith
Dr. Merrill C. Tenney
Dr Robert L. Thomas
Dr. George Townsend
Dr. Bruce Waltke
Dr. Lowell C. Wendt
Dr. William C. Williams
Dr. Herbert M. Wolf
Dr. Kenneth Wuest
Dr. Fred Young
The New World Translation Committee
The New World Translation committee consisted of four members of the Jehovah’s Witness religious sect. Their names and scholarly qualifications are as follows: (10)
Nathan Knorr : President of the Watchtower Society (no academic training in any Biblical language)
Fred Franz : (no academic degree in any Biblical language, though he did study Greek for two years at the University of Cincinnati)
Albert Schroeder : (no academic training in any Biblical language)
George Gangas: (no academic training in any Biblical language)
Three Examples Of NWT Alterations Of Biblical Text For Doctrinal Purposes
It is our belief that the New World Translation is a doctrinally driven translation. By this we mean that the people who produced it were motivated primarily by the desire to render the text of the Bible in such a way as to make it agree with the doctrinal teachings of the Jehovah’s Witness religious sect (11). It is also our belief that the basic principles of Greek grammar, the overwhelming consensus of Greek language scholarship, and the established scholarly principles for evaluating Biblical manuscript evidence have been consistently ignored by the NWT translators whenever the rigorous application of the same would result in a rendering of the Biblical text that would contradict Jehovah’s Witness theology. Consider the following three examples. In each case the New World Translation deviates significantly from not only two major, scholarly, modern translations, but also two of the Watchtower’s own interlinear Greek-English translations of the New Testament text.
Example #1 : (words in bold type are my emphasis)
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for ouradoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Rom. 8:23, NASB)
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom. 8:23, NIV)
… the release by ransom of the body of us. (Rom. 8:23, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures)
… the redemption of the body of us. (Rom. 8:23, The Emphatic Diaglott)
… the release from our bodies by ransom. (Rom. 8:23, The New World Translation)
In the above passage Paul clearly states that he earnestly expected his body to be redeemed. Yet the Jehovah’s Witness translators totally reverse the meaning of the text by deleting the word “of” and inserting the word “from” in its place. Why? Because the official teaching of the JW leadership is that all members of the “faithful slave” class (Paul included) will be restored to life as invisible “spirit beings”. Paul’s physical body (according to JW theology) will never be redeemed (i.e. resurrected) by God. Yet it is clear in Romans 8:23 that the redemption of (and not from) the body is the correct translation. Why is this, you ask?
First, a Greek noun in the genitive case (such as “the body” in Romans 8:23) following this particular Greek word for redemption (apolutrosin) is invariably the object of the redemption. See, for example, Ephesians 1:14 where Paul uses the identical linguistic construction (apolutrosin followed by a genitive case noun) to refer to “the redemption of the purchased possession” (12). Second, in the immediate context of Romans 8:23 Paul is describing the body’s redemption as an integral part of God’s redemption of the material world from its bondage to the principle of death and decay. Since the world will not be “ransomed away” from its body (i.e. its physicality), there is no reason to suppose that Paul (and other early Christians) expected to be “ransomed away” from their physical bodies either (13). Third, two of the publications printed by the Watchtower Society on its own printing presses (the Emphatic Diaglott and The Kingdom Interlinear Translation) agree with the NASB and the NIV in opposition to the New World Translation! Jesus said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mk. 3:25). The Jehovah’s Witnesses own testimony about Romans 8:23 is divided against itself. It cannot stand.
Example #2: (words in bold type are my emphasis)
And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. (John 17:3, NASB)
Now this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NIV)
But this is the everlasting life in order that they may be knowing you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you sent forth. (John 17:3, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures)
And this is the age-lasting life, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3, The Emphatic Diaglott)
This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3, The New World Translation)
In John 17:3 the New World Translation reads “this means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” Yet a literal rendering of the Greek in this passage reads “this is eternal life, that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.” In the Watchtower Society’s rendering, the path to eternal life is through human effort, i.e. a continuous, lifelong process of “taking in knowledge” about God and Christ (using only approved Watchtower study materials, of course!)(14).
In the correct, literal rendering of this text, however, eternal life is based upon knowing God and Christ, i.e. in an intimate, personal way. It is a sad fact, but a fact nevertheless, that Jehovah’s Witnesses know nothing of the intimate communion with their Creator enjoyed by true Christians. Sadly, Jehovah’s Witnesses are even warned by their leaders not to be too “familiar” with Jehovah in their prayers, lest they incur his displeasure (15)! Interestingly, the introduction to the 1984 study edition of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures states, “paraphrases of the Scriptures are not offered" (16). Yet in this particular case the JW translators clearly violate their own stated policy. They do offer us an ungrammatical and inaccurate paraphrase in John 17:3. Why? Could this “translation” be a clever ploy by JW leaders to scare JWs at the local level into regularly attending Watchtower magazine study sessions at their local Kingdom Halls? You decide.
Example #3: (words in bold type are my emphasis)
Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:24, NASB)
Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:24, NIV)
having known that you will receive back the gift back in exchange of the inheritance from Lord; be you slaving to the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures)
Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the recompense of the inheritance, for you serve anointed Lord (Colossians 3:24, The Emphatic Diaglott)
For you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward of the inheritance, slave for the Master Christ. (Colossians 3:24, New World Translation)
In over 200 places in the New Testament (the exact number is 231) the New World Translation deletes the word “Lord” (Gk: kurios) or “God” (Gk: theos) from the Biblical text and inserts the proper name “Jehovah” in its place. Why? Because the Jehovah’s Witness sect places great emphasis on the regular and frequent use of God’s proper name. The regular use of the name “Jehovah” is said by Jehovah’s Witnesses to be one of the identifying marks of the true Christian faith. But this extraordinary claim can hardly be supported if no New Testament writer uses the name “Jehovah” even once. The fact of the matter is that no ancient New Testament manuscript or manuscript fragment has ever been found that contains the proper name “Jehovah”.
Space does not permit a detailed look at the lengthy and involved arguments advanced by the JW leadership to justify its wholesale alteration of the Biblical text. We will content ourselves with a brief outline of their arguments and a brief refutation of the same (17).