How the Watchtower Screws Up Your View of Scripture

by CalebInFloroda 63 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • CalebInFloroda

    While I do not argue the stand of atheism (because as a Jew I find it totally logical and acceptable), I have noticed that there are odd carryover preconceptions about Scripture that some hold as axiomatic about the Bible (at least the Hebrew texts), misconceptions that have nothing to do with the Jewish Scriptures themselves.

    So regardless of what you may think of Scripture, whether you believe it is of G-d or not, I thought some of you might enjoy a reference to see how much the Watchtower teaching on Scripture might still be influencing the conclusions you are making least about the Tanakh. Jews read their texts acknowledging the following:

    1. NO SCRIPTURAL CONCEPT OF ORIGINAL SIN. Despite the story of Adam, Eve and the serpent, Jews don't find this story as teaching the origins of sin, or introducing a being Christians call Satan the Devil, or beginning a theological economy wherein the sin of Adam gets spread to all his descendents.

    2. NO MASCULINE REFERENCES TO G-D. While the pronoun for G-d is technically masculine, this gender state is merely part of the Hebrew syntax. Much as in the way that Spanish labels a room as masculine and a table as feminine, even though they do not possess gender, the masculine Hebrew pronoun "he" in reference to G-d actually means something closer to "it," if the word "it" could also refer to a person that is.

    3. THE SCRIPTURES ARE NOT MEANT TO ACT AS EVIDENCE THAT G-D EXISTS. Sorry Christians, but the Bible is not a manifestation of the Divine, at least that is not what Jews see in it. Jews believe that any miracles and prophecies from G-d must follow the example of Moses for them to be accepted. Such revelations were public, performed before believers and unbelievers, and oracles from G-d were publically announced and not hidden in texts. Jews believe in G-d not because of Scripture but because of public manifestations called theophanies. The greatest of these was when the entire nation of Israel stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai after the exodus from Egypt. Events like this proved G-d for the Jews, not the Scriptures that came about generations later.

    4. THE SCRIPTURES ARE NOT MEANT TO BE SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE. Sorry Watchtower, but you mistranslated Isaiah 40.22. It does not read in Hebrew that G-d sits over a spherical earth but that G-d sits over the "dome" of the earth. In the Scritptures the Jews describe the sky as a "firmament," which means a dome made out of beaten metal. (Look up the word "firmament.") You see, instead of the vacuum of space the Jews believed in the Mesopotamian cosmogony where there was just space, but water throughout the cosmos. When YHWH made the earth, G-d made a flat surface of ground on pillars, a basin in the middle of the earth so the "under waters" could come up to form the seas and rivers and springs, and water gates in the metallic dome above so water from the cosmos could fall down upon earth to provide rain. The sun, moon, and stars were luminaries that were affixed to this dome that rotated back and forth to give us day and night. Isaiah 40.22 says that YHWH sits over this metallic dome, not over the earth which is a "circle." And the Scriptures reflect all the other unscientific views of the period in which it was written...because it's not a book of science!

    5. THE SCRIPTURES ARE NOT THE BASIS OF RELIGION, THEY ARE ITS PRODUCT. The worship of the G-d of Abraham and Sarah began with these two ancestors, before there was written Torah, before there was a Bible. The religion from the G-d of Abraham and Sarah was never based on a book. No, it produced a book. And that book is based on the religion, not the other way around. Pagans had religions based on sacred texts and books, but not the Jews. Ours is based on what Abraham and Sarah believed was contact with an actual G-d, not some book someone wrote. It is pagan to base your beliefs and religion on so-called sacred texts.

    6. READING AND STUDYING THE SCRIPTURES ARE NOT A REQUISITE TO PLEASING G-D. Whatever you think about the Hebrew Scriptures, whether you believe they are folly or true, you will also have to admit that it never demands that people must read and study its pages to please the Creator. It can be a good place to start, but not a requisite.

    7. THE JEWISH SCRIPTURES ARE OFTEN NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY. Ever read Exodus? Did you notice how the Egyptians' animals kept dying again and again? One plague kills all the beasts, then a hail storm kills all the beasts, and then the Egyptians still have animals from somewhere to die in the 10th plague. If they all died in one plague, how can any be left over to die in a hail storm and then any firstborn of beast left to die on Passover night? The answer is that the Exodus is not a literal reselling of the story. A dramatized narrative device is used here as in many places that tells the Jewish reader that the truth is not in the details. By giving descriptions that could not be true, the writer is using a technique that tells the reader that an religious truth is the reason behind the story, not the events themselves. For some reason the Watchtower demands that readers see this story as if it was as true as a news report. Which makes more sense? A factual report where animals die to rise again and die two more times or the Jewish understanding that this is written using an ancient technique common to religious narratives that are not meant to be taken literally?

  • C0ntr013r
    Just curious, you type G-d out of respect? Because God is so holy? Why did you write YHWH, is that not much more sacred? That is after all as close as you get to the personal name of the Judeo-Christian God. Or am I misunderstanding you?
  • smiddy

    Thank you CalebinFloroda , you make some quite interesting observations/facts here.

    .Christianity I believe is a Bastardisation of the Hebrew Scriptures .That`s my view anyhow.

    I loved your post on J.W.`s and Jews , also ,

    Welcome to the board , we need a new Jewish perspective on the Hebrew Scriptures.


  • freemindfade

    Thanks Caleb, as always I have enjoyed your perspective that I came to learn some of myself being surounded by *you people*

    I look forward to hearing you break more fundamentalist hearts on here and also your informaton could be very eye opening for lurkers. Your contributions are valuable.

  • John Aquila
    John Aquila

    Thanks Caleb, I've been learning a lot from your posts. And I've been passing alone the information to some JW friends. It's freaking them out. But making them think.

    I'm going to see them today and freak them out some more when I relate the point you made about the animals dying, again, and again, and again, in the Exodus account. I read that so many times and never saw that.

  • GodZoo
    How the Watchtower Screws Up Your View of Scripture

    .. and everything else in life for that matter..

  • LorenzoSmithXVII
    For some reason the Watchtower demands that readers see this story as if it was as true as a news report. Which makes more sense? A factual report where animals die to rise again and die two more times or the Jewish understanding that this is written using an ancient technique common to religious narratives that are not meant to be taken literally?

    Just in passing, I'm not sure if I determined this by my own research or that it was covered in explanation in some WTS publication, but the reference to "animals" was very specific. There was a distinction between "domestic" animals and cattle. In other words, it was my impression that cattle were killed by one plague and then pets in the house were killed by another plague. So that the impression that "all" animals are being killed more than one time is a incompetent interpretation. That is, the Bible is specific about one group of animals being killed by one plague and another group of animals being killed by another. You know, God killed the cattle in one plague then killed the Egyptian pets in another plague -- they were not the specific same group of animals. But the casual reading presuming a nonspecific concept for a general reference to ALL animals is the basis for confusion.

    Even so, to make this claim I think you needed to be aware at lest of the WTS' explanation of how one plague killed the animals and yet another plague claims to kill other animals.

    But this is typical. When scholars superimpose their own incompetent misinterpretation of the Scriptures to what the Bible really teaches, they come up with a negative view of the bible based on their incompetence and not on the Bible itself and this is "typical." But the Bible is sometimes a very difficult book to understand or some people superimpose their own personal view of the Bible as the only option.

    Case in point, your #1. The Law Code and Jewish ritual of temple sacrifices more than confirms the concept of the original sin. Direct statements in the OT scripture about the transference of the sin of the fathers to the son creates the foundation of the original sin. But since you apparently MISSED that, you presume the idea of the original sin is not part of Jewish culture.

    Now this is a very intellectualized concept of what Jews believe, but frankly, it is not intellectualized enough. The Law Code teaches Jews about the "original sin" and how the ransom sacrifice works, a concept seemingly not comprehended by you.

    So I hear you, based on your own distorted misinterpretation of Jewish doctrine. Your inadequate view of Scripture is what you are creating conclusions on and not the specific facts of Scripture.

    Or like your concept of the "firmament." You provided your own interpretation of "dome" rather than circle and then superimposed that reference to contradict the interpretation in some Bibles that the earth was actually round. But my interpretation of the "firmament" is not to the sky but to the water canopy after the division of the waters below and the waters above. "That is, that the earth was completely covered with water at first and above it a thick fog. So a division was made between the sea and the fog. The fog became condensed into the water canopy around the earth creating a clear bubble around the earth which then was frozen solid. Thus the earth was encased in something similar to a clear glass bubble, only it was clear ice, that is, something solid. This, in turn, created the "hot house" effect on the earth at a time when there were no seasons and no rains. Now that is "scientific" and part of the context of what happened during the flood. That is, this solid ice water canopy was super-heated and melted back into thick rain clouds and resulted in a global flood, covering the highest mountains.

    So truly, you speak intelligently and all of what you say sounds reasonable, but only to someone who doesn't actually know Scripture. Or I should say, some read passages and get one concept of those passages and don't realize someone else gets another concept of the same passage. Then they draw conclusions on their own interpretation of the passage, which may be faulty or precise and then wonder why others come to a different conclusion?

    So I will politely acknowledge that perhaps if I had your interpretation of the Scriptures I'd reasonably come to the same conclusions as you did, but since I have my own interpretation, I have different conclusions.

    But let me share this one thing with you. You seem to be someone who presumes that the Exodus didn't really happen. Do you realize the Bible confirms that Akhenaten was the pharaoh of the Exodus and that after the 10 plagues he converted to monotheism? Thus the ten plagues and the Exodus literally happened?

    It is one thing to claim the Exodus never happened and claim there is no evidence of the Exodus and quite another to try to dismiss the Exodus from happening during a specific time and with a specific pharaoh. But then, of course, you will lack "evidence" of the Exodus occurring during any other time than it actually happened, that's a no-brainer. Point being, someone arguing the Exodus never happened in a nonspecific manner or a distorted manner, like dating the Exodus at the time of Rameses II rather than Amenhotep III can get by with that logical argument. But it is far more difficult to claim the Exodus didn't happen in the context of a pharaoh becoming a monotheist.

    So I would propose to you to please comment on the Exodus as an actual event if it occurred at the end of the reign of Amenhotep III and the beginning of the reign of Akhenaten? I would add, though, that the pharaoh of the Exodus was never lost historically. George Syncellus, for instance, from the 8th Century AD clearly confirmed that the pharaoh of the Exodus was understood to be Amenhotep III. Thus this concept that we don' know who the pharaoh of the Exodus was is pure propaganda. And this does relate to "science" as well, since the dating of the fall of Jericho is linked to the Israelites. Determine the date Jericho fell last followed by a 400-year period of desolation and you can date the Exodus! Guess what? The LBA fall of Jericho between 1350-1325 BCE per archaeologists, points to an Exodus between 1390-1365 BCE which points to Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, who were the traditionally established pharaohs of the Exodus anyway.

    The fact that you don't even know that, apparently, or have found excuses to ignore it, is something to consider.

    So would you please comment for me on whether (1) you believe the Exodus was a real event, but also please date the Exodus at the time of Amenhotep III. Thank you.

  • John Aquila
    John Aquila

    I have noticed that there are odd carryover preconceptions about Scripture that some hold as axiomatic about the Bible (at least the Hebrew texts), misconceptions that have nothing to do with the Jewish Scriptures themselves.


    Why were the Apocrypha: 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Wisdom (Wisdom of Solomon), Baruch, Tobit, Judith, and additions to Daniel and Esther accepted by Jewish believers as part of the Hebrew Bible?

  • CalebInFloroda


    You are close with you assumptions. Here’s the deal. (Forgive the length, but I think this is important to put here and share with the JWs and those under their influence.)


    You see, in Jewry, both in the religion of Judaism and if you are secular, there are customs that express how you feel about the world. Some things are considered sacred or holy and some things are just every day mundane objects. These Eastern customs are just part of our society, and they are often the opposite of Western ways of doing things.

    To illustrate: you know about the Six-Day War, right? How we Jews recaptured Jerusalem and even our most holy site, the Temple Mount? Why did we not remove the Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, at that point? We had total access to it at that point. Why do we settle for praying at the Western Wall?

    Because the Dome of the Rock is built over the foundation of the Holy of Holies. As such Jews avoid it. In fact there are signs outside of the Dome area that forbid Jews by order of Torah to go further. Doing so would be dishonoring our culture, our ancestors, and be a sacrilegious act of the highest form of disrespect (not to mention sinful) because it would expose us to the area meant to be hidden from sight and used rarely. That is how we deal with holy things in our culture. We don’t touch. We don’t handle. We don’t look.

    Until the Messiah or Messianic Age arrives, Jews feel we have no direction from G-d on how to rebuild the Temple. We don’t want to desecrate the site by stepping where we shouldn't, and despite the difficulties you often see portrayed between Jews and Muslims on television, both sides actually have a respect for one another to a certain degree because of our shared view of how to handle holy things.

    That is how the Name of G-d is handled. Since I can’t avoid using words to describe G-d, but I don’t want to use any of G-d’s names like I would any mundane word, I use substitutes. In Hebrew, “God” is an actual name for the Deity Abraham and Sarah worshipped. So I use it rarely, and more often you will find me using G-d.

    Since it is not pronouncing the Name, and in fact not writing it in Hebrew, it is not problematic for me to write YHWH. It is also not a problem to use the term “Jehovah,” although that does irk me for more reasons than just because I am a Jew.

    It is a Gentile heathen custom to use the name of a deity, and to use it frequently. It is the Jewish customs to avoid use of holy things, because that is how we show they are holy. We don’t use them much, or we avoid them except for special occasions.

    It may be of interest that even Jesus was against using the Divine Name. You can use the following with Jehovah’s Witnesses to get them off your back if they ever try to impress the importance of saying “Jehovah.”

    In Matthew 6, right before Jesus teaches the “Our Father” or “Lord’s prayer,” Jesus gives the instruction against repetition of prayers at verse 7, right?

    WRONG! What Jesus actually prohibits is repetition “like the pagans” or “heathen” or “Gentiles,” or how ever your particular translation states it. (In academia the NRSV is “the Standard” for English translations, so I will use that when discussing the New Testament.)

    Matthew 6.7-9: “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name….”

    Did you notice? It is not just against using many words repeatedly or “heap up empty phrases.” It’s about not doing this “as the Gentiles do”! This is important to note with the Witnesses because Jews DO REPEAT EXPRESSIONS in prayer as well. Take them to Psalm 118, where the phrase “his steadfast love endures forever” (NRSV) gets repeated between every verse. Jews pray or chant the Psalms to this day, and this is an inspired written prayer! “The Bible doesn’t contradict itself, does it?” you ask the Witness at this point.

    The repetition “as the Gentiles do” has to do with uttering divine names of deities. Many pagans believed that their gods did not pay attention to their prayers UNLESS they used their name. You didn’t have the attention of your god without uttering their personal name or even if you mistakenly mispronounced it. So they would compose lists of various and possible pronunciations and affiliated titles to make sure their prayers would be heard and accepted by their god. These they made sure to repeat before, during, and after their petitions and praises (sound familiar?).

    Jesus is here stating that the G-d of Abraham and Sarah is not like that. Abraham and Sarah’s G-d always has us at the center of attention, and we do not need to worry that G-d’s attention is ever off of us so that we need to do the same like the heathens. G-d knows what we need before we ask because G-d is always with us.

    To put the cherry on top of this instruction, Jesus then prays that we hold G-d name as sacred or holy, but he never pronounces it in the prayer. That is because Jesus’ definition of keeping the name holy is the Jewish definition. You don’t use sacred things often. Holy names are not mundane names like that of pagan gods that you can use over and over again or babble from a list to arouse or force the hand of a false god.

    But what you see and hear Witnesses do is a carryover from paganism. It is the pagan custom of using a divine name repeatedly with the heathen belief that the G-d of Abraham and Sarah is the same as false idols and requires such babbling before your prayers can be acceptable.

  • CalebInFloroda


    It appears you made a mistake based on what I can only guess was a very superficial reading of my comments.

    I’m Jewish. I’m not just a convert to Judaism. I’m one of those people you can take a sample from by swabbing the inside of my mouth and use the results to see some genuine Jewish DNA. I practice Judaism, and I am a philologist.

    This is why I find your comments odd, such as: “But since you apparently MISSED that, you presume the idea of the original sin is not part of Jewish culture.” I know for a fact that the doctrine of Original Sin is not a part of Jewish culture because I am not just ethnically Jewish, I actually practice Judaism.

    You obviously don’t know this, but Christians and especially Catholicism teaches that Christ was the one who “enlightened” humanity about Original Sin. Before Christ and without Christ there was no knowledge of this doctrine, at least according to Christians. So therefore to claim that I am mistaken that Judaism doesn’t believe or teach the doctrine of Original Sin is to disagree with this teaching that Jesus is the one who brought this “truth” to light. In fact one of the main reasons Christians claim that Jews are “spiritually blind” is because none of us believe in the concept of Original Sin.

    The word “firmament” is not a water canopy. I told you to look up the word (which apparently you did not). Wikipedia states under “Firmament”: “The firmament is the sky, conceived as a vast solid dome. According to the Genesis creation narrative, God created the firmament to separate the "waters above" the earth from those below. The word is anglicized from Latin firmamentum, which appears in the Vulgate, a late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible.”

    The Hebrew concept of the universe was as seen in this diagram below. The "circle" that G-d dwells over is this "dome" not a full sphere.

    Finally, I believe in the historicity of the Exodus. In fact, again I am a Jew. I believe it historically happened. We all do, even secular Jews. Even atheists know that there is archaeological evidence of my people being one of the enslaved tribes in Egypt before the mass slave escapes that, in Judaism, became part of our cultural history. I believe in this so much that every Passover I enact this event at every Passover Seder. At my table you will often find Christians and atheists and agnostics who also celebrate with me because, despite what people think of the religious details or whether they accept them or not, the fact is that this is real history.

    The rest of your information falls flat because of these mistakes you have made about me. Go ahead. Ask the other posters on this site and see whether or not you have made some grave errors in your assumptions. Your conclusions are incorrect because of these errors. However I am willing to believe that you made them only because you approached my comments without reading them thoroughly (otherwise you were very insulting).

    By the way, you should also look up “philology” or “philologist.”

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