Examples of Bias/Discrepancies in the New World Translation

by Londo111 83 Replies latest watchtower bible


    Hebrews 1;8 is and example of strong bias in my opinion. Note the comparisons below with the NWT version.

    New International Version(©1984)
    But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.

    New Living Translation(©2007)
    But to the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice.

    English Standard Version(©2001)
    But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

    New American Standard Bible(©1995)

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    International Standard Version(©2008)
    But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of your kingdom is a righteous scepter.

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
    But concerning The Son, he said, “Your throne, oh God, is to the eternity of eternities. A straight scepter is the scepter of your Kingdom.”

    GOD'S WORD® Translation(©1995)
    But God said about his Son, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter in your kingdom is a scepter for justice.

    King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
    But unto the Son he says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom.

    American King James Version
    But to the Son he said, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom.

    American Standard Version
    but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    Darby Bible Translation
    but as to the Son, Thy throne, O God, is to the age of the age, and a sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    English Revised Version
    but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

    Webster's Bible Translation
    But to the Son, he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

    Weymouth New Testament
    But of His Son, He says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and for ever, and the sceptre of Thy Kingdom is a sceptre of absolute justice.

    World English Bible
    But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom.

    Young's Literal Translation
    and unto the Son: 'Thy throne, O God, is to the age of the age; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy reign;

    New World Translation version of Hebrews 1; 8 But with reference to the Son: “God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.


  • Londo111

    Band on the Run,

    I am relatively new here, so please forgive my ignorance, but how does one 'pin an article'?


    When I was a Witness, I knew the obvious variances in regard to the doctrines of the Trinity. I think many sincere Witnesses, ready to make a defense of their beliefs, should know these things if they've been paying attention and studying the publications like they are "supposed to".--as well as understanding what brackets mean, and are capable of reading the footnotes in the reference Bible.

    Of course, there were some who didn't, who literally didn't know the Tetragrammaton from a Pentagram, who didn't know what Yahweh, Elohim, and Adoni meant (of course, the same could be said about some other Fundamentalists I've come across). There were others who went on and on about a particular word in the scripture, which was an English rendering, without checking the interlinear to make sure that particular English word had a Greek counterpart.

    Quite likely, most here who were former Witnesses, are in the same boat I am. They know the obvious examples, like Hebrews 1:8, and they know how it is rendered in different translations, and the Society's arguments for rendering it thusly.

    But again, what is more interesting is seeing the not-so-obvious.

  • Leolaia

    One effect of the overliteral and awkward language is that it makes it much more difficult to read a lengthy connected passage and follow the writer's train of thought. I realized this when I was still a JW and I couldn't make sense of the argument in one of Paul's letters in the NWT. This makes contextual reading harder, but prooftexting of isolated passages easier.

    TD.....I have my own theory, looking at the history of biblical interpretation in Watchtower publications. Prior to the production of the NWT, the Society didn't use a single translation. They used a host of different translations (including but not limited to the AV, ASV, the Emphatic Diaglott, Rotherham's translation, the Douay-Rheims, Moffatt) because no single version contained the readings that facilitated the desired interpretation of focal texts. The use of different translations was thus somewhat ad hoc, and doctrinally motivated. And then there were some passages that lacked any translations that were agreeable with the desired interpretation, necessitating the Watchtower to explain away (when a given passage is brought up) the usual rendering of the text and suggest a different understanding. What the NWT did was eliminate the need for any of this; the NWT would essentially have all the favored renderings together in one translation (as well as innovate other things, like the interpolation of "Jehovah" as a DN in the NT). And so the NWT became the default translation and these other older translations would mainly be cited as supporting the NWT. This gave greater cohesion to the citational intertexuality of scripture in the publications of the Watchtower Society, reducing the appearance that the Society was citing translations selectively.

    TTWSF....That really doen't establish that the NWT rendering is biased. It shows that it is uncommon. That could be the result of idiosyncratic bias, or it could represent a fresh unbiased understanding of the text that goes against conventional translation (which itself might be biased). At it turns out, it is a permissible reading, Westcott argued in favor of it, and there are a number of translations that adopt it (Smith and Goodspeed, Moffatt, Byington, etc.). This is because the text is ambiguous and allows both renderings. The phrase ho theos could be either vocative or nominative, and there is a textual discrepency in the next clause between sou "your" and autou "his" (found early in P46, , B); autou would conflict with the translation "Your throne, O God" because it would involve a switch in reference from second to third person, whereas "God" would be the antecedent for "his" if we treat ho theos as nominative (i.e. "God is your throne forever and ever, the scepter of his [i.e. God's] kingdom is the scepter of righteousness"). So this could be construed as an argument in favor of the NWT rendering. Nor does this mean that there isn't bias motivating the NWT's decision to adopt the nominative reading; indeed "bias" could bias one to correct readings as much as incorrect ones. As I see it, bias rather would represent whether the translator drew on an already-existing exegetical tradition. If the Watchtower Society in the decades prior to 1950 normally understood Hebrews 1:8 as meaning "God is your throne", then it is not unreasonable to conclude that the translator was indebted to this history of interpretation. But again, this is hardly unique to the NWT. Almost any translator is going to rely on their own hermeneutical heritage. Where bias becomes especially conspicuous is if the rendering exceeds what is permissible in the text. There are many examples of this in the NWT (such as the insertion of "Jehovah" on an ad hoc basis in the NT). But Hebrews 1:8 by itself is not an example of this. OTOH what is noticeable is that in all the ambiguous passages that could permit a high christology, the Society always opts for the lower christological option. That pattern itself might be an indication of bias, even though for any given text both options are technically feasible.

  • PSacramento

    The only bias they can be truly accused of is their insistence on the "downgrading" of Christ and His Name.

    We see this in their use of passages from the OT that are quoted in the NT, Romans and hebrews comes to mind.

    The bias of using the term Jehovah even when not present in the original manuscripts.

    The use of a permissable but far less "typical" meaning of a word is used to "make sure" there are no indications of Christ being "God" or "worshipped" or using any "Godly title" on Himself.


    Respectfully Leolaia, I disagree. Below is the Greek to English translation, word from word. I think it is without a doubt a very good example of bias in the NWT. Sorry for the format. Admittedly, I did copy and paste from Biblos.com

    8 unto
    8 Prep

    1161 [e]
    3588 [e]
    5207 [e]
    υ??ν ,
    3588 [e]
    2362 [e]
    4771 [e]
    σου ,
    of you
    3588 [e]
    2316 [e]
    θε?ς ,
    1519 [e]
    [is] to
    3588 [e]
    165 [e]
    3588 [e]
    of the
    165 [e]
    α??νος ,
    2532 [e]
    3588 [e]
    4464 [e]
    3588 [e]
    2118 [e]
    ε?θ?τητος ,
    righteousness [is]
    4464 [e]
    the sceptre
    3588 [e]
    of the
    932 [e]
    4771 [e]
    σου* .
    of you
  • Leolaia

    Thanks for posting the interlinear, but what are your arguments? Simply posting a list of translations and an interlinear does not show how the translation in this instance is biased, and in my earlier post I explained why. I also laid out what kind of evidence would support the claim of bias. Also I focused on the central issues with this text and showed that it is ambiguous and the NWT rendering is one viable option (and textual evidence might even favor it). That doesn't mean it isn't also biased but it means that the NWT reading doesn't exceed what the text allows. If you disagree, please explain why.

  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    Replacing the word "Lord" with Jehovah in the NT seems to indicate a bias.

    As does changing phrases like "Christ is in you" to "Christ is in union with you."

    And at Colossians 1, changing reference to the Word being "before all things," to "being before all other things" (which is exactly how they write it in the Insight books, without the brackets) indicates a clear bias promoting the heretical notion that the Word was created.

    There is bias involved in changing "The Word was God" to "The Word was a god."

    I don't understand how anyone can deny bias here, even if it is subject to a different interpretation, and in other Bibles as well. So much of it is a judgment call. Just because one version is "possible" doesn't automatically make it non-biased in adopting that version. You can still have two versions, and adopting one over another contrary the great weight of authority indicates a clear bias.

    The same goes for changing I AM to I have been, as a means of denying deity to Christ.

    Bias is rampant and blatant in the NWT. Of course, the same can be said of any other Bible, so maybe it's a question of degree.


    even though for any given text both options are technically feasible.

    But I don't think that bias requires that one version be technically false, or that it is enough for one version to be technically feasible.

    And even if one version might be "technically" feasible, if it is logically or scripturally improbable, or within a given context should lean one way over the other, that's where the bias comes in. The NWT is horribly biased. For all practical purposes it is not a Bible and a person is advised to obtain a more accurate Bible.

    Perhaps the problem here is the lack of clear definition of what "bias" means in this context.

  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    Hebrews 1:8 sure seems biased, and unscriptural, to me.

    In accordance with the vast majority of translations, the inspired writer of Hebrews 1:8, 9 specifically referred to the Son as God. Chapter 1 is devoted to distinguishing Christ from angels and identifying Him as God the Son which should leave no doubt that Christ is not an angel as the Jehovah’s Witnesses preach.

    [B]ut as to the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your kingdom; You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; because this God, your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above your companions.” (Hebrews 1: 8, 9 Green’s Literal Translation)

    According to the Catholic New American Bible “[T]he application of the name “God” to the Son derives from the preexistence mentioned in vv 2-3;…” (NAB notes 1:8-12).

    …in these last days, he spoke to us through a Son,
    whom he made heir of all things
    and through whom he created the universe,
    who is the refulgence of his glory,
    the very imprint of his being,
    and who sustains all things by his mighty word.

    When he had accomplished purification from sins,
    he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, … (NAB)

    First, at verse 3 a literal translation says that Christ is “the express image of His essence” (Green’s Literal Translation; “imprint of His being” NAB). Here, “image” (Greek charaktar) denotes that the Son is “literally equal to God,” of whose essence he is the imprint. It is the fact of complete similarity which this Word stresses” (Strong and Vine’s, 269). Clearly, Christ could not have been created and most certainly was not an angel because either way He would not be literally equal to God, but much less.

    Secondly, verse 13 quotes Psalm 110:1 where Jehovah God is said to refer to Christ as Adonai (adonay) (Hebrew for Lord) which is a title used exclusively for God (Strong and Vine’s, 6) , an interpretation even the Jehovah’s Witnesses concede (Insight, 1008). Hebrews 1:13 reads:

    But to which of the angels did He ever say,
    “ Sit at my right hand
    until I place Your enemies as a
    footstool of Your feet”? (Green’s Literal Translation)

    This is a direct quote of Psalm 110:1, a psalm of David, which reads:

    A statement of Jehovah to my Lord (adonai):
    Sit at my right hand, until I place
    Your enemies as Your footstool. (Green’s Literal Translation)

    Adonai is identified with Interlinear Number 136 which cross-references to Strong and Vine’s entry for “adonai,” at page 6.

    Not only is the Son not an angel, but this supports the interpretation of verse 8 which refers to the Son as God.

    Third, it is important to note that verses 10-12 also play a significant role in the interpretation of Hebrews 1:8 because that is an Old Testament passage directed to God Almighty but “redirected to Jesus” (NAB notes 1, 8-12). Of the Son, He said:

    And, “You, Lord, at the beginning founded the earth, and the heavens are works of your hands. They will vanish away; but You will continue; and they will all become old like a garment, and You shall fold them up like a covering, and they shall be changed. But You are the same and Your years shall not fail.” (Hebrews 1:10-12 Green’s Literal Translation)

    Fourth, Hebrews 1:8 is an Old Testament quote from Psalm 45:6,7 (7,8) which also says in part “Your throne, O god…” (NAB). Psalm 45 is a royal wedding song. Here, “god” refers to “the king” who “in courtly language is called “god,” i.e., more than human, representing God to the people. Heb 1,8-9 applies 7-8 to Christ” (NAB notes Psalm 45:7).

    Since they deny that Jesus is God, the Jehovah's Witnesses invert Hebrews 1:8 and Psalm 45:6 (7) to read “God is thy throne.” They justify this in part by quoting B.F. Wescott who in 1889 wrote regarding Psalm 45:6 that “It is scarcely possible that [Elohim] (god) in the original can be addressed to the king” (Reasoning, 422). Therefore, if elohim (god) cannot refer to the secular king, then a traditional rendering “Thy throne, Oh god” in Psalm 45:6 or “Thy throne, Oh God” in Heb 1:8 is not possible.

    Their expert’s reasoning, however, contradicts the Jehovah's Witnesses’ own statement in the previous paragraph where they state “Hebrews 1:8 quotes from Psalm 45:6, which originally was addressed to a human king of Israel” (Reasoning, 422). Such an obvious contradiction is perplexing, especially in light of the official definition of elohim which actually did apply to secular kings and magistrates in the Old Testament, i.e.,

    … rulers; judges, either as divine, representatives, at sacred places or as reflecting divine majesty and power, divine ones, superhuman beings including God and angels.” (Strong and Vine’s, 17)

    A simple reading makes it quite obvious that Psalm 45 did in fact apply to a secular king, possibly Solomon. Psalm 45:6 also applied to Christ; it has a dual application as seen by reference to the throne lasting forever and ever. This cannot be said about that earthly Jewish king’s Old Testament throne at Psalm 45:6, but can be said of Christ’s throne.

    Even though “throne” can refer to a seat (Matthew 23:22), heaven (Matthew 5:34), or grace (Hebrews 4:16) (Strong and Vine’s, 117), the Jehovah's Witnesses use it here exclusively with reference to “power and authority.” Thus, for them, “God is thy throne” only means God is the source of Christ’s power, authority and kingship (Reasoning, 422).

    While at first glance that might be true, a deeper look at the use and application of “throne” (Greek thronos) shows that God’s throne is also Christ’s throne and if it is also Christ’s throne then it is illogical to say “God is your throne,” in the exclusive sense that it is a separate power or authority apart from Christ. It wouldn’t make sense.

    For example, before the 1,000 year reign Revelation 3:21 refers to Christ sitting down with His Father on His throne, together. Christ is seen as being not only at the right hand of God’s throne at Revelation 5:6 but at 7:17 the Lamb is in the midst of God’s throne. And, at Revelation 22:3, after the millennial reign, the throne is “of God and of the Lamb;” it is both their throne, and “his servants shall worship Him” (NAB; “sacred service” NWT) which is a direct reference to the Lamb or the unity of God and the Lamb and an overt declaration that the Lamb shares the power and authority symbolized by the throne which implies equality.

    Jesus illustrated the shared equality of power and authority with his “hand,” a metaphor for the power of God (Strong and Vine’s, 271).

    27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one. (John 10: 27-30)

    Jesus is saying far more than the Father and He share a unity of purpose, as the Jehovah's Witnesses interpret these verses. Having the same purpose goes without saying. Verse 30 is “justification for v. 29; it asserts unity of power and reveals that the words and deeds of Jesus are the words and deeds God” (NAB notes 10, 30).

    Out of the mutual recognition between Jesus and his own comes the gift of eternal life, and the ultimate security of believers, that is, of those who stand under the authority of Jesus (in his hand). This authority, and this security, are moreover the authority and security of God himself; say ‘Jesus’ and you have said ‘God.’ (C.K. Barrett, Peake’s Commentary, 856)

    Jesus is not simply acknowledging unity of power and authority with God. To be God is to have God’s power and authority inherently. The illustration necessitates a unity of identity in the triune fashion because Jesus speaks of only one hand. If no one (including God) can take Christ’s sheep out of his hand, and no one can take these same sheep out of God’s hand (including Christ) there can only be one hand, the same hand. Thus, Jesus could rightfully claim that “The Father and I are one,” not two as the Jehovah's Witnesses argue, but one, and the same. Hence, Hebrews 1:8, “Thy throne, Oh God, is forever and ever.”

    This is made all the more evident by Christ’s own proclamation that he possesses all power and authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), and rightfully so because as mentioned in section 23 since there can only be one “First and Last” and since both the risen Jesus and God Almighty are “the First and the Last”; and, because “the First and the Last” (Jesus) is also the Alpha and the Omega, and furthermore, because at Revelation 21:5 the Alpha and the Omega sits on God’s throne, the throne of power and authority is that of God and the Lamb ultimately, as one principle. The Jehovah's Witnesses don’t realize it, but by interpreting Hebrews 1:8 to read “God is your throne,” they inadvertently concede that Jesus is God.

    Fifth, this “kingship” or throne of power and authority lasts forever and ever:

    [B]ut as to the Son, “Your throne, O God,
    is forever and ever…, (Hebrews 1:8 Green’s Literal Translation)

    Daniel 7:14, which the Jehovah's Witnesses cite in support of Christ’s kingship and dominion, or rule and authority, also makes it very clear that it lasts forever and shall never be destroyed:

    His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Green’s Literal Translation)

    But even the Jehovah's Witnesses don’t believe that. Their version of Jesus Christ, the angel, has a very limited, narrow role to play in salvation history and for all practical purposes He is dispensed with after the millennial reign. He is not regarded by them as the eternal king of an eternal kingdom, but reverts back to being an angel on the sidelines. They write:

    Since sin and death are to be completely removed from earth’s inhabitants, this also brings to an end the need for Jesus’ serving as “a helper with the Father” in the sense of providing propitiation for the sins of imperfect humans. (1Jo 2:1, 2) That brings mankind back to the original status enjoyed when the perfect man Adam was in Eden. Adam, while perfect, needed no one to stand between him and God to make propitiation. So, too, at the termination of Jesus’ Thousand Year Reign rule, earth’s inhabitants will be both in position and under responsibility to answer for their course of action before Jehovah God as the Supreme Judge, without recourse to anyone as legal intermediary, or helper. (Insight, 170)

    When God … raised Jesus Christ from the dead to spirit life in heaven … the heavenly Jerusalem received him into the midst of her organization of angelic sons in heaven, but as the Chief One among them, in the position of Archangel. (M. Alfs, Concepts of Father, Son and Holy Spirit [Minneapolis, Minnesota, Old Theology Book House, 1984], 71 n. 152) (Concepts)

    The Jehovah's Witnesses should probably take a closer look at Hebrews 7:25: “Consequently He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” RSV). This refers to the “intercession of the exalted Jesus, not the sequel to His completed sacrifice but His eternal presence in heaven, cf. Romans 8:34 (NAB notes Hebrews 7,25).

    Sixth, the Jehovah's Witnesses contend that someone other than God is speaking at Hebrews 1:8, reasoning that “God, thy God” must be someone other than God, “showing that the one addressed is not the most high God but is a worshipper of that God,” and therefore presumably cannot be God speaking (Reasoning, 422). But this argument is weak because no mention there is made of any third party “worshipping” God the Son. It refers to what God was saying about the Son; it is not the Son or anyone else speaking, but God the Father speaking of the Son and emphasizing His divinity. Chapter 1 verses 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 13 are obviously in reference to what God said, and it is no different at verses 8 and 9.

    Seventh, the Catholic New American Bible at John 1:18 makes an emphatic declaration that the Son is God: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”

    The only Son, God: while the vast majority of later textual witnesses have another reading, “the Son, the only one” or “the only Son,” the translation above follows the best and earliest manuscripts, monogenes theos, but takes the first term to mean not just “Only One,” but to include a filial relationship with the Father, as at Lk 9, 38 (“only child”) or Heb 11, 17 (“only son”) and as translated at Jn 1, 14. The Logos is thus “only Son,” and God, but not Father/God. (NAB notes 1, 18)


  • jonathan dough
    jonathan dough

    Maybe the question should be rephrased. Is a particular bias justified, even if technically feasible, given the weight of authority in one direction or another? Even John 1:1c boils down to context after it's all said and done.

  • Leolaia

    jonathan....That is more of an argument. :) Mind you, I am not arguing that the NWT rendering is correct, nor that it is unbiased. I am saying that the evidence to demonstrate bias in this instance lies beyond a simple determination that "Your throne, O God" is the most common or feasible translation of ho thronos sou ho theos. That is because the alternative "God is your throne" is a possible option, even if it is improbable, and it is an option endorsed by translators and scholars regardless of theological persuasion. So we find a nominative rendering in Tyndale's translation ("God thy seate shal be forever and ever"), Hugo Grotius' Latin rendering ("Deus ipse est sedes tua perpetua"), Thomas Belsham's translation ("God is thy throne forever and ever"), Edgar Goodspeed's, James Moffatt's, and Stephen Byington's translations ("God is your throne forever and ever"), and it appears in footnotes in the NRSV and TEV. More to the point, it is acknowledged or endorsed as a viable option by various trinitarians over the years. So Samuel Clarke, in The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity (published in 1738), wrote: "Nevertheless it ought not to be concealed that the words 'Thy throne, O God! is for ever and ever,' may with equal propriety, both from the Greek and Hebrew, be also thus rendered, 'God is your throne,' &c." (p. 48). So I don't think adoption of the rendering itself is necessarily due to bias. To demonstrate bias, I think one needs to go a little further. One should show that the particular rendering draws on a preceding JW exegetical tradition of understanding the passage similarly and/or that the rendering is part of a larger general pattern of rendering ambiguous texts in favor of a lower christology. One could point out, for instance, that Unitarians in the 18th and 19th centuries favored the nominative rendering of "God is thy throne", developed arguments in favor of this option, and that the Society is probably indebted to this exegetical tradition, as their arguments iirc are dependent on the work of earlier Unitarians in other ways.

    Personally, I do favor the vocative reading as the better option, for similar reasons given above. What I find persuasive is the fact that vocative reading has a closer connection with the original Hebrew sense of the Psalm text, Aquila uses the vocative in his version of the OG, the LXX has a vocative form in the preceding verse, and the overall sense is better. It is still noteworthy that the passage is grammatically ambiguous and Moffatt and Bart Ehrman both considered the textual variants in the second clause as reflecting an ancient understanding of the first clause as "God is your throne".

Share this