The mistranslation of John 14.10

by Wonderment 10 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Wonderment

    Darby Bible Translation says the following at John 14.10 (Brackets his):

    "Believest thou not that I [am] in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words which I speak to you I do not speak from myself; but the Father who abides in me, he does the works."

    The words in bold reflect the Greek literally. Thus, a translator who seeks to stick closely to the original document, will do no wrong by rendering word-for-word in the text. In this group of literal Bibles we can include the Darby Bible, KJV, Young's Literal NT and the New American Standard Bible.

    So what's wrong in rendering literally in the above verse? Let's imagine a 13 year old asking his/her parents what those words in bold above actually mean. Trinitarian parents in the western world would probably be tempted at once to explain the words on the assumption that Jesus is God. It is generally acknowledged that the Trinity dogma as understood today was not tied to Scripture until a few centuries later. Hence, it is important not to convey a posterior thought of another era to Jesus' sayings of the First-Century.

    Jesus as a Jew fully sustained the Shema belief found at Mark 12.29:

    "“The most important one [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."

    Jesus' words at John14.10 are not a tribute to the complexity of the trinity doctrine. Rather it is a tribute to the "unity" existing between the Father and the Sent Son. Nothing more!

    Eugene Nida and Barclay Newman, two scholars who worked on the UBS Handbook Series New Testament (20 vols.) for Bible translators, explained the meaning of Jesus' words at John 14.10:

    "The meaning of [I am in the Father and the Father is in me] may be expressed by translating ‘I am one with the Father, and the Father is one with me.’....In some languages ‘my Father is united with me, and I am united with my Father’ or ‘my Father and I are just one as though we were one.....The Father, who remains in me, does his own work is a fairly literal rendering of the Greek text. These words indicate that Jesus' miracles were not accomplished by his own power or initiative (see 8.28); rather, they reveal his union with the Father. A number of translators attempt a dynamic translation; NEB has ‘it is the Father who dwells in me doing his own work’; NAB ‘it is the Father who lives in me accomplishing his works’; Mft ‘it is the Father who remains ever in me, who is performing his own deeds’; Gdsp ‘but the Father who is united with me is dong these things himself.’

    However, it may be difficult to speak of the Father ‘doing his own work.’ The reference is obviously very broad, for it includes both miracles and sayings. Sometimes one can employ such an expression as ‘my Father who remains in me causes these happenings.’ But in other instances a more satisfactory rendering may be ‘...does what he decides to do.’ Such rendering indicates clearly that the agency and the initiative rest with God."

    However, since the Trinity doctrine is prevalent within the religious world of Christendom, modern Bible readers amazingly prefer the literal wording as indicated in their so-called "contemporary" English versions. They may not realize that the words in bold above are Greek words dressed with English ones. It is the duty of the translator to employ English idioms in a contemporary version instead of Greek ones.

    In sum, John 14.10 is not a "mistranslation" per se in most English versions. They reflect the Greek wording with English replacements. Nevertheless, most English versions claiming to be "contemporary" fail in providing a thought-for-thought translation in John 14.10 by conveniently sticking to Greek idiom. So a better subject title would have been: "The mishandling of John 14.10."

  • jhine

    Wonderment , you have said that Trinitarians start from a Trinitarian viewpoint and read those literally translated words in the light of that viewpoint . As I pointed out on another thread, where you were defending the WT CHANGING of scripture , the same charge can be laid at the WT door .

    I stopped posting on the other thread because clearly the discussion was going nowhere and this one would be the same .


  • The Searcher
    The Searcher

    The Trinity is best "explained" by its creators - the Catholic church.

    Here are some of its explanations on the subject. Not unlike the gobbledygook which the Org uses to explain such things as "overlapping generation", "personal death cancels a persons sins", "144,000 will become kings as well as priests", "Christ came in 1914, was present for about 5 years, then went away, but will return yet again!"

    "The Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed to the term mystery in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a truth which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from Divine Revelation, but which, even when revealed, remains "hidden by the veil of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness" (Constitution, "De fide. cath.", iv). In other words, our understanding of it remains only partial, even after we have accepted it as part of the Divine message...... but we cannot attain that fuller knowledge which supposes that the various elements of the concept are clearly grasped.......

    All theologians admit that the doctrine of the Trinity is of the number of these. [mysteries] Indeed, of all revealed truths this is the most impenetrable to reason.....the plurality of Persons in the Godhead is a truth entirely beyond the scope of any created intellect.

    The Fathers supply many passages in which the incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature is affirmed. St. Jerome says, in a well-known phrase: "The true profession of the mystery of the Trinity is to own that we do not comprehend it"

    Only after the Aristotelean system had obtained recognition from theologians was this question thoroughly treated."


    Something that bible thumpers never seem to grasp is that the Church started by Jesus had not anything written for decades and nothing written was confirmed by any councils for centuries. IE-No bible until Jesus sent his apostles to proclaim the gospel. Everyone can agree on these that brings the question

    How did Jesus set up his church to move forward? How did he say to build his church? What did the early church look like?

  • Phizzy

    And I would add the question "Was there just one Church?"

    It looks to me that without doubt there were several groups at odds with each other, all supposedly following Christ. The obvious two are the followers of Paul and the group based around James in Jerusalem, but there were a number of others, not just one group of Primitive Christians.


    Phizzy- Are you suggesting that Jesus started more than one church? Probably others came with their own ideas, but that doesn't give them any credibility does it?

    Jesus started one church that the apostles propagated. What were they teaching? That Jesus came for 144k? That only they had the heavenly hope? That part is a new testament.

  • Aroq

    "Jesus started one church that the apostles propagated. What were they teaching? That Jesus came for 144k? That only they had the heavenly hope? That part is a new testament."

    Good point. What did Jesus say to them? Well, on the premise of belief in the Bible as the Word of God, inspired by God, we have to accept what the disciples wrote. So with this in mind, the corrections made by Paul to the different churches around and the descriptions throughout the NT, we ARE told what Jesus said to the disciples. Maybe not everything, but what God wanted us to know.

    All the rest: "That Jesus came for 144k? That only they had the heavenly hope?.....etc" are completely made up by man.

  • InChristAlone
    Wonderment, I am a Trinitarian who has spent much time and meditation on this subject. First, I want to agree with you on your assessment of the meaning of that verse. Unity is an overwhelming theme of the relationship of the Father and Son throughout the Bible. Second, the concept of the Trinity must be understood by assessing ALL relevant verses together. Too many people on both sides don't follow 2 Tim. 3:16 by including "All Scripture..." Anyone who points to simply John 14:10 or 10:30 or any single verse to prove a complex point probably doesn't really understand the concept of the Trinity. I was admittedly stumped for two years of study trying to handle "conflicting" verses, finally overcoming the difficulty. I wish you the best. Thanks you for your post.
  • megaboy

    The real Church or gathering (the heart of it) was given authority to the Hebrews, and the close relatives of the Messiah after James. There was no real organization other than that. It was focused in Jerusalem where even most of the Gentiles came. In about 66 AD, tons of "Christian" Hebrews left in a stampede and had been prepared for the Roman invasion. I believe they went in to the eastern region and set up a gathering in Petra, Pella close to 100 years of Hebrew leaders.

    I'm sure there were some make shift churches made by gentiles, but I very much doubt they had enough meat to keep anything tight, which is probably where a lot of pagan practices started seeping in. Especially once Jersualem was rebuilt and given a gentile bishop at the church built there. I know of at least 3 or four 1st to 2nd century documentation of this and its also in the Catholic Encyclopedia. I think they come sort of saying that all gentile versions are inaccurate knock offs. But I guess to them it doesn't matter because they are in authority now.

    A lot of people love Paul's writings but he really didn't cover a lot of things concerning the periods outside of his age, and their is documentation in 1st century letters showing that they left secret things out of the gospel if it doesn't benefit the growth. The disciples were mainly tasked with increasing the fold, which is where people are getting confused in the OT, thinking most of the prophesy have been fulfilled already. But it wouldn't have really benefited the apostles (or encouraged new recruits) to go around teaching the gentiles in their time that their descendants would be getting blown up in multi-national war for occupying stolen land. We are well over 200,000 civilian deaths in Syria ever since the invasion. That's not normal.

  • Brokeback Watchtower

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