Bible Translation Shenanigans

by Perry 20 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Simon

    Isn't this like arguing over which pronunciation of "experiamus" will actually produce the spell?


    (not Harry Potter, that was pretty good)

  • sir82

    If the KJV was good enough for Jesus to use, it's good enough for me!

  • BackseatDevil

    I'm going to go ahead and say this... but on the onset of it's birth, the New World Translation (1961) was a pretty decent bible translation. It was "colored" to fit the religion... but it wasn't bad. IT WAS NOT THE BEST, but it was good enough.

    Through the years, especially with the latest changes, the religion has changed the bible to impose a division between their world and reality... between historians who have spent their lives studying bible history and a group of men desperate to be right. It's frightening, honestly. I don't now how a bible translation can change so much in such a short period of time and people still feel it "the truth".

    in any case is a great resource for side-by-side bible verse comparisons.

  • Simon

    If the KJV was good enough for Jesus to use, it's good enough for me!


  • designs

    All attempts by Christians to make the Jewish Bible say its Messiah is the christian's Messiah fail, why- your Christian messiah offered himself as a human sacrifice, he died, and he tried to atone for the sins of mankind all of which make him Not the Jewish Messiah; Rabbi Maimonides.

  • OnTheWayOut

    The Bible is not clear about any such doctrine as Perry claims. It is as unclear as can be.

    Sure, there are writings that indicate that "the son" or Jesus has a role that was given to "the father" or God in the Old Testament.

    But that whole Father/Son thing and translating from ancient meanings to more modern meanings later and then again later again and trying to understand what was meant, then copying and copying and copying. Just as it seemed pretty straightforward that the child would be born of a maiden, an unmarried young woman, and it was later changed to a virgin, most of what we read today has little to do with the intent of the original writers.

    Genesis was about two groups' stories merged into one book. You had a league of Gods and you had that one among them. He wasn't their only God until sometime after captivity in Babylon.

    And Perry going off the deep end to worship the guy they wrote about 50 or more years after his supposed existence, and then written with an agenda, it's a fiction.

  • problemaddict


    I hate arguing the trinity and throwing around "anti-christ" as if even those that beleive in the veracity of scripture could say it points to one thing.

    After all, can it be JW's AND Barack obama?

    I believe in God, and am finding my way, but honestly I still reject the Trinity as plausible scripturally. And really the NWT is not nearly as bad as people think (the first one not this last one which i don't even really care to get into). Most scriptures and verses of contention have to do with a theological bias (on both sides) about the nature of God. in short, because there are various renderings (as pointed out by Bobcat) for many of these verses.....the bias is what fills in the holes.

  • BackseatDevil

    For those that wish to translate themselves, the Dead Sea Scrolls are online for your study

    Also, in good form, the Vatican will be putting tons of ancient manuscripts online for us as well

    So maybe now people won't have to depend on just the WTBTS to interpret everything for them.

  • Mebaqqer2

    One of the rules they set for themselves in the foreword is: wherever the Greek words ‘Kurios’ and ‘theos’ appear, they will uniformly translate these as ‘JEHOVAH.’ That is their rule! Upon coming to Phil. 2:9-11 they fail to translate ‘kurios’ as Jehovah.

    Green’s argument here fails upon launch since the translators of the New World Translation never said that kyrios and theos are to be “uniformly” translated as “Jehovah” “wherever the Greek words ‘Kurios’ and ‘theos’ appear.” Their “rule” is explained by them quite clearly in the first edition of their New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures as follows:

    How is a modern translator to know or determine when to render the Greek words Κύριος and Θεός into the divine name in his version? By determining where the inspired Christian writers have quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. Then he must refer back to the original to locate whether the divine name appears there. This way he can determine the identity to give to ky'ri-os and the-os' and he can then cloth them with personality . . .

    To avoid overstepping the bounds of a translator into the field of exegesis, we have tried to be most cautious about rendering the divine name, always carefully considering the Hebrew Scriptures. We have looked for some agreement with us by the Hebrew versions we consulted to confirm our own rendering.

    -New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (1950), 20

    In stating a “rule” on how a translator may “know or determine when to render the Greek words Κύριος and Θεός into the divine name,” it is obvious that the translators also envision instances where one will simply translate kyrios as ‘Lord’ and theos as ‘God.’ Thus Green has misrepresented the “rule” the translators of the New World Translation gave in their Forward so that his citations of Philippians 2:9–11 and 1 Corinthians 12:3 as violations of a “rule” that Green himself has imputed to them makes for a very poor argument.

    Now Green’s argument would have gone much better had he actually grappled with the “rule” as the translators of the New World Translation articulated it as many others have done. One notes in their “rule” that one is dependent on the “Hebrew Scriptures” to know where to “restore” the divine name and the translators have in mind “verses, passages and expressions from the Hebrew Scriptures or from the LXX where the divine name occurs” (New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, 19). Further, they also state that they looked to Hebrew versions to “to confirm” their translation “to avoid overstepping the bounds of a translator.” While the 1984 revision gives nearly the same verbiage as the 1950 edition about methodology in “restoring” the divine name, the 2013 only discusses the translator’s general argument that the divine name appeared in the New Testament (see New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—with references (1984), 1564, 1565; New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (2013), 1736–1741). However, as there has been no change in handling the divine name in the New Testament in the 2013 revision, one may assume that the more recent translators accepted the original methodology that stands behind those 237 instances where the translation introduces ‘Jehovah’ into the text. The methodology for “restoring” the divine name, as it is presented to the reader then, is as follows:

    1. Find a passage in the New Testament where either the word kyrios or theos appears.
    2. Examine the Jewish Scriptures to determine if it reflects a citation or allusion.
    3. If so, replace kyrios or theos with ‘Jehovah’ in the translation.
    4. Check if any of the J-References include the divine name at this point and if so, note it as confirmation of the decision.

    Now while the forgoing perhaps appears quite reasonable and objective, there are huge problems with all this. The biggest problem, beside the fact that there is no Greek manuscript of the New Testament with the divine name, is the theological presupposition upon which the whole methodology is built, namely, that the divine name is only applicable to the Father. This is the reason behind why they state that a translator “restoring” the divine name into the New Testament “can determine the identity to give to ky'ri-os and the-os' and he can then cloth them with personality.” However, assuming that the arguments made by the translators are correct that the divine name did appear in the earliest New Testament writings, there is nothing in that fact that necessitates that the divine name was not applied to Jesus by New Testament writers. It may well be that the name was exclusive to the Father, but it may equally have been applied to Jesus as well. Thus the translator’s methodology is predicated on a pre-conceived theological position and cannot in any way be considered objective. As such, their statement about “overstepping the bounds of a translator into the field of exegesis” is rather disingenuous given the fact that whereas a translator attempts to render words found in his source text into those of another language which are of the same semantic domain, the enterprise of seeking to “cloth [the words kyrios and theos] with personality” by substituting these titles with the divine name under the guidance of a preferred theological view is exegetical, or more correctly, eisegetical in nature. It should be remarked here that anyone interpolating the divine name into the New Testament in any major way, i.e. outside of explicit citations, will have this problem since in the absence of any real textual evidence to guide them where to place the divine name, one will necessarily be guided by theological views related to the (in)applicability of the divine name to Jesus. In light of the forgoing then, one may now see an additional step in the methodology used by the translators of the New World Translation:

    1. Find a passage in the New Testament where either the word kurios or theos appears.
    2. If the passage’s use of kyrios or theos can only be understood as referring to Jesus, translate with ‘lord’ or ‘god.’
    3. If not, examine the Jewish Scriptures to determine if it reflects a citation or allusion.
    4. If so, replace kyrios or theos with ‘Jehovah’ in the translation.
    5. Check if any of the J-References include the divine name at this point and if so, note it as confirmation of the decision.

    The theological presupposition embodied by the additional step (number 2) is demonstrated in a number of verses in the New World Translation. As an example, let us consider 1 Peter 2:3 with only the 4 step methodology presented to the reader in the Forward. In the New World Translation (2013) this verse reads:

    provided you have tasted that the Lord is kind.

    (ei egeusasthe hoti chrēstos ho kyrios)

    For ‘the Lord’ the Greek text reads ho kyrios. Thus per step 1 we have a verse which has kyrios so that we should next examine the Hebrew Scriptures to see if this verse reflects a citation or allusion per step 2. Doing so we find Psalm 34:8 (vs. 9 Heb.) which reads in the New World Translation (2013):

    Taste and see that Jehovah is good; Happy is the man who takes refuge in him.

    Now, in turning to the Septuagint, one finds that this verse reads “taste and see that the Lord is kind.” (geusasthe kai idete hoti chrēstos ho kyrios) where ho kyrios should be YHWH per the translators of the New World Translation’s argument that the Septuagint originally had the divine name where it is found in the Hebrew text. Having then found that 1 Peter 2:3 alludes to Psalm 34:8, we should replace kyrios with ‘Jehovah’ in 1 Peter 2:3 per step 3. Having done that, we should check the J-References to see if any of them use the divine name per step 4. Doing so we find the following J-References “confirm” the divine name here:

    J7, J8, J13, J16, J20, J28

    (J14 not examined, but since J14 is a simply a reprint of J13 it almost certainly reads YHWH as well).

    Thus we find that 6 (most likely 7) J-References “confirm” the divine name here so that by using the methodology the translators of the New World Translation themselves present to the reader, we should translate 1 Peter 2:3 as “provided you have tasted that Jehovah is kind.” And yet this is decidedly not how the New World Translation reads. The reason being of course that 1 Peter 2:4 shows that the kyrios in verse 3 is Jesus. As such, per the theological presupposition that the translators of the New World Translation bring to the text, they are forced to disregard the allusion to Psalm 34:8 as well as the J-References in preference to that presupposition. This verse then, is an excellent example of the serious flaw in the methodology of the translators of the New World Translation, highlighting as it does the subjectivity in “restoring” the divine name.

    This presupposition works the other way as well. This is most obvious in the case of Ephesians 6:8 where the divine name was originally “restored” because the translators “feel strongly” about the inclusion of the divine name in this passage based on “the context and . . . related texts” (New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, 20). This even though the verse does not contain any citation or phrase from the Jewish Scriptures and originally even lacked support from the J-References.

    Turning to Ephesians 6:8, verses 5 and 6 setup the context by admonishing slaves to serve their earthly “masters” (kyriois) with real sincerity “as to the Christ” (hōs tō Christō) so that “as slaves of Christ” (hōs douloi Christou) they will actually be performing the will of God though such service. Having thus explained that the service of slaves to their earthly “masters” (kyriois) stands in relation to their true position as “slaves of Christ,” a position which actually makes Christ their true heavenly “master” (kyrios), verse 7 then goes on to admonish that such service should be performed with a positive attitude “as to the Lord” (hōs tō kyriō), i.e. Christ. The New World Translation obscures this otherwise clear context though its “restoration” of the divine name to read “as to Jehovah” which works to move away from the theme of servitude to Christ that was established in the previous verses. It is only after the theme of servitude to Christ has been cancelled out though the intrusion of the divine name into the context at verse 7 that one can speak of the context as calling for a “restoration” of the divine name at verse 8. Both of these intrusions, however, are unwarranted not only given the fact that verses 5 and 6 explicitly show that it is servitude to Christ which is in view here, but also from the fact that the integral use of slave (doulos) and master (kyrios) in both a temporal and spiritual sense beginning at verse 5 and continuing on though to verse 9 necessitates that “Lord” (kyrios) is the original reading of verses 7 and 8 as well.

    As for related texts, the footnote of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (1950) at Ephesians 6:8 explicitly states that the inclusion of Jehovah was made there “to correspond with Colossians 3:22-24.” However, the same integral wordplay of slave and master noted in Ephesians is evident throughout these verses in Colossians as well. Furthermore, Colossians 3:24 ends the section by explicitly showing that the “master” (kyrios) it has been discussing is Christ by saying “slave for the Lord Christ” (tō kyriō Christō douleuete). In this way, the use of the divine name throughout Colossians 3:22-24 is just as problematic as it is in Ephesians 6:5-9. Thus neither the context nor the related texts adduced by the translators show that the inclusion of the divine name at Ephesians 6:8 is justified contrary to the assertion made by the translators of the New World Translation. In fact, these appeals to context and related texts actually presume what needs to be proved in that both are contingent on still other inclusions of the divine name that are equally suspect. All of this shores up the point made previously concerning the exegetical nature of the divine name’s inclusion into the New Testament and how it moves one beyond the work of simply translating into the realm of exegeses.

    Before closing one final thought is in order. Since the 1984 revision of the New World Translation support for the inclusion of the divine name has been cited from J22 and J24 for Ephesians 6:8 and J23 for Colossians 3:13, the later also originally lacking support from the J-References. Ironically, with this same revision 1 Corinthians 7:17 ended up losing its support from J17 which had been given since the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (1950). This too has been remedied in certain foreign language editions of the New World Translation where J28, a J-Reference not cited in English editions, has been cited to “confirm” the inclusion of the divine name in this passage. These three examples show quite clearly that the translators of the New World Translation do not use the J-References as the basis for their “restoration” of the divine name. Rather, the J-References only serve as ad hoc justification for the decisions already arrived at by the translators of the New World Translation. Knowing this should serve as a corrective to those who argue “J-Reference X has the divine name in this verse, thus the New World Translation should read ‘Jehovah’ in this verse too.” It should be obvious from these three examples, as well as the one from 1 Peter 2:3, that the translators only care about the J-References in so far as these source may be exploited to give their own translation a veneer of objectivity.

    While examples may be multiplied, this post is already too long as it is. I only wanted to point out that Green’s argument is problematic because he does not really engage what the translators actually said or seriously try to grapple with their methodology as stated by them. As such, he comes off as some fundamentalist Christian who wants to point the finger at Witnesses because their theology differs from his. I, as an agnostic, am not concerned with whether Jesus was actually God, an archangel, an incarnation of the Buddha, an avatar of Kirshna, or a Jewish zombie. What matters in the translation of any text is accurately conveying the thoughts of the original writers on their own terms. That is what I am concerned with. As it stands the New World Translation’s inclusion of the divine name in the New Testament follows from a specific theological agenda rather than sound methodology which in turn obscures the intentions of the original writers. That is what I find problematic. The forgoing post hopefully helps to aid others in the correctly focusing the discussion about the New World Translation’s use of the divine name in the New Testament to where it needs to be.


  • DS211

    Perry..when they change it to "God is your throne forever" me still implies almost the same thing. Theyve tried to eradicate the former but if God is a type of being, like humans...then God (the position or divinity, whatever) as such belongs to Christ. For instance if humans were customer service employees and Jesus in the flesh was Gods assistant manager....and God was the manager, Christ was elevated to the position of manager (ie God) after his death.

    Does that make sense? Hm

    either way their attempt to undermine the scriptures meaning because Jesus is still shown to have been elevated to this level and contains the same divine nature as God.

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