John 1.1 and Colossians 1.16 - "all other things"

by Wonderment 2 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Wonderment

    The NW Translation and some of its unique renderings, like John 1.1- "a god," and Colossians 1.16 - "all other things," have been consistently at the top of the most debated topics here in this forum and elsewhere from the beginning.

    The anger felt by detractors of the NWT rendering of John 1.1 (a god) has diminished considerably when compared to the furious debates surrounding the verse that raged on during the 1950 thru 1970s. I remember very well those years being a JW back then, and the prevalent feeling people had of JWs being some sort of translation "lunatics" by their infamous bible renderings. It was the general feeling back then, that only the Witnesses could come up with such ludicrous translations. It was kind of "the talk of the town" in religious circles.

    But a strange thing happened after the 1970s: Various scholars have come out publicly announcing that the rendering "a god" was a grammatically permissible literal rendering, even when they still held that the interpretation was wrong. Harner's study in 1973 on anarthrous nouns was greatly responsible for this change, convincingly taking the wind out of Colwell's argument of definiteness of such nouns. He was not alone. Even William Barclay who previously denounced JWs as ‘intellectually dishonest’ morons, admitted afterwards that the "a god" rendering was ‘a grammatical possibility’ from the Greek text, but an interpretation error. In top of that, various individuals have published articles on the internet showing how dozens of other translators have deviated from the traditional rendering ("the Word was God"), which according to scholar Murray J. Harris, "cannot stand without explanation." The sum of all these statements have somewhat diminished the heat and the quantity of the criticisms against the NWT reading "a god" at John 1:1. So I am not going to elaborate further on this text at this time.

    Instead, I will look at another hot topic which seems to be more prevalent (in this forum) than is the scripture mentioned above. Is the one of Colossians 1.16 ("all other things"). Here's one scripture which clearly shows ‘the stupidity’ of the NW translators, or so is the claim. The NW translators added the word "other" to "all things" at Col. 1.16 to imply that Christ was created before everything else. The problem was aggravated with the NWT revision in 2013 which omitted the brackets, which until that year were shown printed in the verse. This of course hurts some ex-JWs who have adopted the majority view that the Trinity is a biblical teaching.

    I will start with the premise that the main objection here is likely to be the "trinity" doctrine. Trinitarians for the most part have no problem doing away with the divine name "Jehovah" in the Bible, and many show a clear aversion to the sound of the English name. Even when they insist that "Jehovah" is wrong, and "Yahweh" is more likely right, they use neither. Their hate for Jehovah's Witnesses is so great that it overshadows any faithful adherence they profess to the Hebrew original. Ex-JWs too have that inclination, it seems. Thus, one example mentioned here, removing God's name, is portrayed as not equal in badness as is adding "other" to Col 1.16. Adding to Scripture is not that bad either when mainstream translations do so. Various examples have been pointed out to members here. One example is adding the word "true" to "the true God" in the Hebrew portion of the Bible. If a JW does it (as in the NWT) it is "error." But when a Baptist scholar does it (like Watts), it is admissible. He has a Ph.D, right? Such inconsistency is not fairness to one of the parties. I don't hear much noise when others translators do exactly the same thing as the NWT does, but perhaps in different contexts. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the problem lies. It is not grammar the issue, it comes down to interpretation: "My religion is better than yours," seems to be the general mantra.

    And so it is with the word "other." The addition of "other" at Col. 1.16 is recognized as "blatant error" by traditionalists. Let's look at some facts:

    The word "other" is added by some translators as a personal choice to clear matters up in various scriptures. In another post, Exodus 18:11 was mentioned: Ex 18:11. This link ( ) shows that four versions in the list added the word "other" to the hebrew expression "than all the gods" (mikkol-ha'elohim) when the biblical language was not explicit:

    (To be continued... I hit the "Save" button by mistake too soon)

  • jhine

    Hi Wonderment , I get the general gist of what you are saying , but I think that the question is more about context . Adding " true " to make " the one true God " isn't out of context with the whole Bible . Adding " other " in the verses quoted gives a meaning out of context with the rest of the NT .

    The main problem with the WT is taking things out of context . The whole blood issue is because they take verses about blood out of context , as shown by Cofty's excellent write up on the subject .

    The whole Michael is Jesus thing ( there is another thread on that right now ) again is because of verses about Archangels being taken out of context .

    The list goes on .......


  • Beth Sarim
    Beth Sarim
    It is obvious the NWT twists words to fit their own doctrine. It's understandable that things are out of context.

Share this