Accuracy of the Revised NWT

by dabster 60 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Phizzy

    Jason BeDuhn is right of course that many relgions, and others, use selective quoting, but that does not make it ethical.

    I doubt the WT will ever print this from BeDuhn :

    "Having concluded that the NWT is one of the most accurate English
    translations of the New Testament currently available, I would be remiss if I
    did not mention one peculiarity of this translation that by most conventions of
    translation would be considered an inaccuracy, however little this inaccuracy
    changes the meaning of most of the verses where it appears. I am referring to the
    use of 'Jehovah' in the NWT New Testament. 'Jehovah' (or 'Yahweh' or some other
    reconstruction of the divine name consisting of the four consonants YHWH) is the
    personal name of God used more than six thousand times in the original Hebrew of
    the Old Testament. But the name never appears in any Greek manuscript of any book
    of the New Testament. So, to introduce the name 'Jehovah' into the New Testament,
    as the NWT does two-hundred-thirty-seven times, is not accurate translation by
    the most basic principle of accuracy: adherence to the original Greek text."

  • Wonderment

    Phizzy: "Jason BeDuhn is right of course that many religions, and others, use selective quoting, but that does not make it ethical."

    I agree with you here. But the reason I submitted this quote was to address the charge made by the poster I was addressing that the WT ALWAYS quotes everybody wrong. In this case, Dr. BeDuhn acknowledged he was quoted accurately, with the exception they skipped some parts where the professor felt the NWT was weak. And even that, as Mr. BeDuhn himself pointed out, the practice of selective quoting is not uncommon. Why repeat that?

    For the simple reason, that some posters here give the impression tha ONLY the WT do things like this. Like the poster I was addressing which seems to view things: good or evil. The WT is evil. Catholics and Protestants are the good. And that´s where I disagree with those holding such views. I see a problem with the JWs, Catholics and Protestants. Who is better or worst among these groups is not so easy to determine. They all have good and bad.

    I dislike, to put it mildly, what the WT have done to my family and exJW friends. Overall, I lost them over two decades ago. Thus, I have suffered the consequences every day of my life since then. In fact, I don´t even know where my daughter lives. Do I think this WT practice is evil? Yes, but no less evil than what Catholics and Protestants have done throughout history. This is a reason why I have avoided going to any church, not because I don't think I could benefit somehow from it, I just lack the incentive to go. The hypocricy of most religious groups is easily evident. I wish we could find a realistic explanation for a lot of things.

  • dabster

    Whoa! I haven't been able to spend any time here in a few days - and have some catching up to do. This is fantastic, even where the thread unravels a bit. Thanks everyone, very much.

    Someone may have mentioned this, Wonderment, but μονογενὴς wasn't incorrectly translated in the ESV at all. The word means only, only-begotten, only one of a kind (unique). Two German NT dictionaries, Bauer and Preuschen also have 'begotten by the one and only' (vom Einzigen erzeugt).

    Someone at a hermeneutics site ( wrote,

    'The "begetting" of Jesus did not proceed in the normal way. As S. Michael Houdmann observed,

    "So what does monogenes mean? According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BAGD, 3rd Edition), monogenes has two primary definitions. The first definition is 'pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship.' This is its meaning in Hebrews 11:17 [where] the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham's 'only begotten son' (KJV). Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of the covenant. Therefore, it is the uniqueness of Isaac among the other sons that allows for the use ofmonogenes in that context." (Note: my emphasis.)

    "The second definition is 'pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind.'This is the meaning that is implied in John 3:16 (see also John 1:14, 18; 3:18; 1 John 4:9). John was primarily concerned with demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31), and he usesmonogenes to highlight Jesus as uniquely God's Son—sharing the same divine nature as God—as opposed to believers who are God's sons and daughters by adoption (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is God’s 'one and only' Son." (Note: my emphasis.)

    From the perspective of John the Evangelist, both definitions (i.e., unique within a specific relationship, and unique in class or kind) applied to Jesus Christ. A Latin phrase which perhaps provides an excellent synonym for monogenes is sui generis, which means one of a kind, unique, singular.

    In His relationship to the Father, the Word is utterly unique. Just as Isaac, the child of promise, was utterly unique (though Abraham had other offspring), so also the Word of God was uniquely the child of promise.'

    So the translators of the ESV were perfectly justified in translating the word here as they did. How accurate is the translation? Very.

  • Wonderment


    Actually, I did not say that ESV translated monogenes incorrectly. What I did say is that the ESV translators focused and displayed in English the first part of the compound word mono-genes. The translators may have given the popular trinitarian definition found in trinitarian lexicons, but lexicons do not always show lexical particulars. The ESV translated monogenes as "the only God."

    That may be acceptable to Trinitarians, but since the Trinity doctrine was developed after John's writings, one does well to question controversial renderings. The ESV translated like if the original reading was: "ho monos theós." Is this what we find at John 1:18? Please take a look at how monos is applied to God in the next few verses.

    "O [Jehovah] our alone [monos] are God" - Is. 37:20, Septuagint.

    "Father, know thee who alone [monos] art truly God" - John 17:1, 3, NEB.

    "from the one who alone [monos] is God" - John 5:44, TEV, cf. NEB, AB.

    "he alone [monos] is God" - 1 Tim. 1:17, LB

    "to the one only [monos] God" - Jude 1:25, AB, cf. LB.

    Now, how should mono-genes be translated? Some Trinitarians avoid the -genes part of the compound. Some may think the -genes part is not necessary to translate the compound word. There may be a doctrinal objection to show a rendering for that part.

    Take a look at how the ESV translated a compound word in Matthew 18:9, monó phthalmos = one eye. (mónos & opthalmós). This is in contrast to dúo o phthalm ó s = "two eyes." Yes, this rendering affects no religious doctrine.

    Below you will find a list of compound words and their translations. Notice how the second part of the word is not ignored.

    m onohḗmeros = one day; a day ( Wisdom of Solomon 5.14, LXX)

    monókerōs = one horn ed ; “unicorn” (Job 39.9, ABP, LXX)

    monózōnos = one girdle; “a band of troops” (NETS); “ lightly armed ” (2 Samuel 22.30, ABP, LXX.)

    Modern Greek :

    monokúttaros = one-celled

    monódrama = single play, one [person] drama

    monóprakto = one-act play

    monódromos = one-[way] street

    monoet ḗ s = one year

    monographía = monograph

    monóklino = single-[bed] room

    monokommatikós = one party

    monópeto = single breasted

    monokómmatos = one piece

    monóphylos = one-leaf

    monochromía = monochrome

    monócheiras = one-handed

    monóchordos = one-stringed

    monosántalos = [wearing] one-sandal

    monóstichos = [of] one verse

    monótrochos = one-wheeled

    It is standard practice to consider the full meaning of Greek compound words.

    Many scholars do define monogenes huiós/theós as the "only-begotten Son/God." This way, they are addressing the fact they are in presence of a compound term. Do you not think this affects accuracy?

  • dabster


    Thanks for your exhaustive explanation. What we can't get away from though, is the fact that the writer to the Hebrews uses μονογενὴς (in the accusative) to refer to Isaac, who was not Abraham's only-begotten son but who was unique. The term would still be in currency 20 or 30 years later when John wrote his Gospel. It would be fair to say that John considered Jesus unique, a later development of the doctrine of the Trinity notwithstanding. In fact, I don't see how that doctrine has any bearing on this aspect of the present discussion. It may have, but with 5% battery left on my iPad I can't think of any.

    I'm finding it difficult understanding your use of a couple of synonyms, "correct" and "accurate". You weren't saying the translation in the ESV was not correct but that by translating μονογενὴς as they did, its accuracy was affected.

  • HowTheBibleWasCreated

    The 1961 version of the NWT screwed up majorly what do you expect from the RNWT?

    Check out Job ^:6 for instance and tell me if you can take that seriously? (The word mellows would be more appropriate)

    Revelation 5 has a biased mistranslation as does John 8:58.

    Revelation 8:23 has a known mistranslation from Westcott and Hort. (Unless you believe in squaking eagles)

    Jeremiah inserted the word testicle where there is very sparse need for it.

    All the OT has the expression 'dungy idols' where there is very sparse translation need.

    The expression 'the true God' has NO textual basies and is always Elohim.- God

    Colossians 1:14-16 has major insertations.

    I fail to see why the 1961 version removed 'son of gos' from mark 1:1 then reinserted it in 2013. Do these guys even compare manuscripts and see the following verse Mark 1:2 contains a lie in the text they used?

    Genesis 1:2 is a joke at best! How they can possibly render psirit as 'active force' is a laugh. 'Wind' would be accurate.

    Zechariah 12, Luke 2, Acts 8, Isaiah 14, Job 38 all contain outright lies in the translation.

    Genesis 34:7 i beleive is also mistranslated as saying 'against Israel' and not 'in Israel' as the text says. This is a lie to hide the late authorship.

    The boosk of Lamentaions, Pslams and Haggai look like someone copied from the JPS. (Someone should sue)

    I'm an atheist and I can spot these errors... that's sad.

  • HowTheBibleWasCreated

    As for the insertations of the name 'Jehovah' into the NT I would argue against it but ...

    The Scriptures 1998

    An Americain Translaton

    The Messianic Israel Standerd Bible

    and several others do the same. (All these translations are Messianic Jewish.

  • dabster

    Thanks HTBWC, for all of this. I can help wondering though, what any of this would matter to an atheist?

  • HowTheBibleWasCreated

    Would you prefer to read Homer in a deliberate mistranslation or have someone change Shakespears plays or change mozarts plays a little to suit their tatses?

  • Wonderment


    I will briefly address the issues I was able to grab (The others were not clear to me).

    John 8:58 as it's rendered in NWT is not a biased translation. It responds to both Greek and English idiom.

    For example: Genesis 31:38 literally says in Greek LXX (Jacob to Laban): "These mine twenty years I am with you." How would an English speaker render those words into English?

    John 8:58 has a similar Greek construction. In Ge 31.38, Jacob's statement contains an expression of past implications (These twenty years of mine). So when Jacob in LXX adds "I am," the translator would have to take into account the present verb used (I am) combined with words of action that began in the past. Charles Thomson dealt with this Greek construction this way: "These twenty years that I have been with thee." Thomson was correct in doing this.

    An English speaker cannot properly use a present verb to convey present action having begun in the past. In the Hebrew narrative Jabob's words lack a verb, like this: "This twenty year I with-you."

    How do modern translators render this? With an English perfect indicative of course, even though there is no Hebrew verb used. And just as translators normally do with this type of Greek construction. It is at John 8.58 where Trinitarian translators want to handle this construction differently in their obsession to make Christ equal to God. If there is no temporal modifier extending to the past before "I am," then "I am" means "I am."

    Which insertations would you condemn? The NWT additions at Colossians 1:16, where they added, other to "all things," Or the one at Col. 1:17, where Trinitarians translators add "else" to "everything else"? (Check ISV; TLB; and CEV)

    Genesis 1:2, which rendering is worse for you for the Hebrew w e ru'ach ?

    "the breath of God" (Thomson)

    "and God's wind" (Common English Bible)

    "God's active force" (NWT)

    "the power of God" (Good News Bible)

    "the rushing-spirit of God" (Fox)

    I like all of the above for Ge 1:2.


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