Examples of Bias/Discrepancies in the New World Translation

by Londo111 83 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Londo111

    To be fair, translating the Bible is a huge undertaking, and in doing so, there are bound to be mistakes, or even limits to a committee's knowledge. Obviously, we cannot read the hearts of the four translators of the New World Translation committee to know when they consciously or subconsciously altered renderings in to support doctrinal bias.

    But more and more, I do come across things that feel askew to me. And as Jesus said, "Everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him; and the one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him." Therefore, since the Society proclaims itself to represent God's Channel of Communication, I feel that it is not overly critical to demand more than the usual of them.

    In keeping with that, I am interested in what folks here have found in regard to apparent inconsistencies, perhaps even bias. Obviously, there is much disagreement over the obvious differences between the New World Translation and more popular versions of the Bible, but nearly every Witness is schooled in these. They know, for instance, the major prooftexts of doctrines of other denominations (for example John 1:1, Luke 23:43, ect…) Therefore, what I am going for here is more than the obvious.

    For instance, at 1 Corinthians 5:11, the same words rendered 'quit mixing in company' is at 2 Thessalonians 3:14 translated as 'stop associating'. One verse is used for support of disfellowshipping, the other for the separate practice of marking.

    Or Acts 5:42 and Acts 20:20, what is translated 'house to house', is at Acts 2:46 rendered 'in private homes'. The later is used in support of house to house activity, while it seems in looking at how these words are used throughout the New Testament this practice does not seem to be found.

    Jeremiah 29:10 is rendered 'fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon' in defense of a 70-year Exile versus a 70-year period of Servitude, where other modern translations read 'seventy years are completed for Babylon', which seems not only a legitimate rendering, but more legitimate than the NWT.

    My apologies for repeating myself--I know I've put the later two verses in other threads. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I am interested in seeing everyone's findings.

  • Terry

    If there was only going to be one bible translation allowed we might wonder which one it would be?

    Catholics were not happy about the King James, were they?

    The idea of a translation is not to make clear...but, to persuade.

  • diamondiiz

    Did they have anyone educated enough to actually translate the bible or did they re-write an interlinear translation and used lexicons to make few sections more colorful while not having a problem "adjusting" some words to fit their teachings? I have Interlinear word for word Hebrew scriptures and they read similarly to NWT. This is my general observation as I haven't done deep investigation on the topic nor have I compared the several questionable phrases found in NWT. Without knowing the committee members anything is a possibility.

  • Leolaia

    I don't think the question should be "Is the NWT biased?", for every translation is biased, or has a theological Tendenz as one might say. It is more interesting to ask: In what way is it biased? Jason BeDuhn has a book devoted to bias in the NWT but it imo it reads too much like apologetics because it is really concerned with the permissibility of renderings than the question of whether the renderings draw on pre-existing exegetical traditions. Taking a cue from the search for Tendenz in translation in biblical studies, I would rather propose a different approach: Examine how given texts were rendered and interpreted in pre-1950 publications of the Watchtower Society, and then compare with the NWT versions to see whether the latter draws on what were already traditional perspectives on the meaning of the texts for Jehovah's Witnesses. This is particularly conspicuous if the text had already been singled out previously for comment that anticipates how the NWT translation committee would later translate it. This would demonstrate that the translation is to some extent a reflection of how JWs interpreted the Bible at the time. I have seen some really good examples of this looking at 1920s publications. But of course this would hardly be unique to the NWT; one could for instance find similar effects in other translations (such as the claimed evangelical bias in the NIV).

    Londo111....With respect to Jeremiah 29:10, we had a good discussion of that a number of years ago, with input from a Hebrew scholar. Here is a summary: linkie.

    diamondiiz....I don't think its a glorified interlinear, I think its a little more competent than that, but I know what you mean....particularly with respect to the awkward unidiomatic English which gives the impression that it is filled with Hebrew or Greek solecisms. To some extent, this reflects the literalness of the translation, but to some extent it is just poor English. And the translation isn't always literal; to me Philippians 2:6 is a good example of how unliteral the translation can be.

  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    Plenty of websites devoted to the NWT at the link below.

    The Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation Bible, of which there are over 100 million copies circling the globe, continues to come under intense criticism by respected Bible scholars the world over. Although the Watchtower Society boasts of a handful of defenders, the vast majority of Bible scholars are vehement in denouncing the New World Translation Bible as a horrific distortion of God's word claiming it is false and misleading, and crafted for the sole purpose of promoting the Jehovah's Witnesses' unorthodox theories.

    A careful examination of the New World Translation Bible reveals this to be true. It is unfortunate that many potential converts' initial exposure to a Bible of any kind is the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation, never suspecting that liberties to such a great degree could be taken by God-fearing people. Consequently, they too often give the Watchtower Society and their New World Translation Bible the benefit of the doubt until it is too late. As it turns out, the Jehovah's Witnesses really do have their own Bible as alleged, and it is a radical departure from Holy Scripture.

    Critics decry their Bible as being written, or mistranslated, by non-Greek speaking pseudo-scholars, totally unqualified to translate the Greek into any language. This criticism is robust and extensive. Here are just a few examples of how they have altered God's word:

    Whereas the great majority of Bibles interpret John 1:1 as "...the Word was God," the New World Translation claims the "Word was a god," thereby denying the deity of Christ. Collosians 1:17 provides that the Word was "before all things" and therefore could not have been created but is eternal, but the New World Translation inserts the word "other" to allow room for the Word's creation and inferiority to God, stating that the Word was "before all [other] things." Throughout the New Testament of the New World Translation, the word "Lord" is changed to "Jehovah" despite the tetragrammaton YHWH not existing in any of the known 5,000 original manuscript texts. The word "in" is changed to "in union with" so that Christ is not actually within the Christian, thereby denying the indwelling. Christ's identifying himself as the I AM and deity is changed to "I have been" at John 8:58.

    The list goes on. The New World Translation Bible's voluminous mistranslations are extensive and profoundly alter the very definition of Christianity. It is the primary tool employed to turn mainstream Christianity upside down and invert 2,000 years of Bible truths. And it is no wonder that respected critics of the New World Translation Bible refer to selected portions of their works as "a shocking mistranslation," "obsolete and incorrect," and "an abysmal ignorance of the basic tenets of Greek grammar." Bible students are cautioned in relying solely on the New World Translation Bible and should seriously consider cross-referencing it with reputable texts. Better yet, discard the New World Translation altogether and get a real Bible. Reliable Christian texts are abundant.


  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    I notice that no topics are pinned. This would be a good article to pin so people could add to it as time develops. I'd appreciate quotes from academics whose sole function is not to destroy the JWs.

    My church Bible study had about six translations taking place b/c every woman had her favorite. I love the KJV for the majesty of the language but tend to use NRSV and NIV for routine study. The Message Bible, beloved by one, sounded like chalk scratching on a chalkboard, to my ideas. Respecting all the women and their favorite translations, it was interesting to see what was emphasized and not emphasized. I love soaring verse. So I was exposed to very plain verse. I loved that we tolerated everyone's else favorite wihout trying to rebuke anyone. Translations even received brownie points for nice maps and timelines. Jesus in red ink is a nice feature.


    Translations are translation and not versions. A translation is to be one person translating what another person has written in any language. When a translator takes liberty in a written word and interprets his/or her own slant on any particular writing. The subject matter stops being a translation and starts being a version.

    The examples of bias in the NWT are so gross that most scholars scoff at the concept of it even being a translation. The fact that no [other] organization [aside from the WTS] speaks huge volumes about the translation. The fact that scholar after scholar discounts the version as not worth mentioning speaks volumes also. If it was close to what the WTS stated about it, it would be used by others. Simply stated, no one else uses it.

    The examples of bias are well documented on this site and others. It is corrupted and there is no denying that fact when comparing it to every other translation. Words added that were not intended from the authors. Words changed to mean something other than the writers meant prevents the NWT from being a translation.

    The most famous examples include colossians 1; 16 because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. 17 Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,

    The word 'other' is added to 4 times in these 2 verses and changes what would discribe Jesus from uncreated and eternal to created.

    Just one of many examples.


  • bioflex

    KJV FTW!. That is the only one i can call a translation, those ones like NIV, NKJW, NWT are definitely different versions.

  • TD


    Did they have anyone educated enough to actually translate the bible or did they re-write an interlinear translation and used lexicons to make few sections more colorful while not having a problem "adjusting" some words to fit their teachings?

    I don't think there's any question that the translators were amateurs and probably self-taught to a large extent.

    But even interlinears are distinguishable from each other by style and form. The NWT is as unique as any translation and one of those idiosyncrasies is that it's (usually) too literal. And even when it's not, the breaks in form appear to be deliberate and calculated as opposed to unintentional. That is a flaw that's just not possible at least a basic mechanical knowledge of the source languages.

    We've had lots of threads where people have wondered if the NWT was just aped from existing works, but I only know of one person that actually tried to this with a particular passage to demonstrate the plausibility of the idea. Some things are much easier to say than they are to do.

  • diamondiiz

    I guess anything is possible especially when the committee is anonymous. Maybe they were amateurs or maybe there was just one amateur - Freddy. At this point I trust them enough to do anything underhanded to benefit their own beliefs so whoever and however they've produced NWT is up in the air or open for discussion.

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