Seeking Recommendations for Key Leaflets/Books for a Paper
I am writing a paper on the teachings of the JWs with a friend where we are going to debunk their Bible translations and other false teachings/predictions the Church has taught over the years.
I have never been a JW so this has put me in a bit of a pinch so I thought I would turn here to ask you guys for some help.
What are some of the key books/leaflets that debunk, or outline, the many false teachings/predictions of the JWs?
I asked JWFacts and he told me to ask here so I thought I would.
Key documentation is always original source material. In this case that's Watchtower publications. I write and until recently taught history. Most of what you find online is inadequate or wrong. Distrust everything until you can verify it.
On what basis do you hope to debunk the NWT. I had two years of NT Greek and would find the task of 'debunking' the NWT daunting. You can repeat what others have said, but be aware that a significant part of what you find online is wrong. Mantley tried to rebut the NWT claiming they misrepresented him. In fact, Mantly did not write what he claimed. He revised Dana's Greek Grammar and had nothing to do with the quotation in question. So beware.
One anti NWT tract claimed that the Witness translation was criticized by an expert who died 100 years before the first volume of the NWT was released. Be cautious. Use truly authoritative sources, not mere polemics.
The same is true when dealing with Witness 'predictions.' Many things are misstated even in sources that seem authoritative. In the next volume of our book, Separate Identity, we consider Watch Tower expectations for 1881. After considering the secondary and tertiary sources we've written this paragraph:
"Russell and his fellow believers’ expectations for the approaching year are almost always misstated. Brown, Bell, and Carson’s Marketing Apocalypse says: “Jehovah’s Witnesses ... have rescheduled the end of the world on nine separate occasions,” and cites the 1881 date. None of the dates they cite were the focus of end of the world predictions. That they claimed such indicates a profound misunderstanding of Watch Tower theology. Neither Watch Tower adherent believers nor descendent groups believe the world will end. They expected other things for 1881. L. L. Dawson and B. C. Whitsel claimed that “Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted Christ’s second coming in ... 1881.” They derived this from a misreading of an article by Zygmunt, failing to read any of the original material. Russell and his associated did not believe Christ would return in 1881. They believed he was already present. There is little excuse for errors of this nature. Others with some pretension to academic credentials have made similar claims. One can safely consign their research to the trash bin of poorly researched history."
My point is that you will find many claims, most of which will prove false. Verify from the original Witness sources.
Back to translation criticism: Go to standard sources, not anti-witness polemics. Among these are Brown, Driver, Brigs, Lang's Commentary; Various Lexicons, M. R. Vincent's word studies, Vines, A. T. Robertson. Also, some fall into the trap of ignoring Witness explanations for controversial translations. Don't do that. Check out what they said.
Others ignore textual context when making their point. This is always a mistake. For instance, when considering John 1:1 controversialist writers tend to focus on the anarthrous theos, arguing over its significance or lack of significance. This is a valid discussion, but it ignores the state of being verbs: ie Jesus was God; Jesus became flesh. These are as important, maybe more important contextually, as the anarthrous theos. If you wish to argue this point to a valid conclusion you must account for the verb forms.
Am I suggesting you give it all up? No. Neither am I defending Witness theology. But I am advising you to be more than the usual amateur controversialist. There are many junk refutations of the Watchtower. Don't write another one. Do your homework. Don't parrot what others say. Verify, verify, verify.
Vienne, indeed we will verify. My friend is very oriented with Latin and Greek. He'll handle it carefully.
But what Watchtower documents are a good starting spot to work with doctrinal wise either abandoned teaching or present teaching?
My friend and I will try to bring our own unbiased look on it without delving too much on the ex-JW forums and takes. Sure we might us "Crisis" in our paper, but we will generally do this independently.
I came here asking for suggestions because this site would know key Watchtower documents and books that we should read, since neither my friend nor I were Witnesses at any points in our lives.
We want to do a good job. We will try to do our best. I am a one-time journalist, verifying sources is something I love to do.
Anyway, thanks for that. If you have any suggestions for good Watchtower publications to sort over, lemme know.
Welcome Ja. Wein. You have a P.M.
Without seeing your outline, I'm reluctant to recommend specific literature. Almost all WatchTower publications are digitized and on a CD. Download and read. Use key word searched. The WT library is downloadable. The first years of the WT is sold on various disk sets. The WT from 1879 to 1916 is online. Other years are sold on disk. Do a search to find whoever is selling them currently.
I"m not writing this kind of book, but I think the key predictions made by the Watch Tower are for the years 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, implied events for the 1940s, 1975. That means you must search relevant issues of Watchtower magazines and publications for those years. Start with a basic google or yandex search. Just don't accept as valid everything you find.
For events between 1914 and 1925 you will want access to The National Labor Tribune and The St. Paul Enterprise. Both newspapers ran Bible Student news, often written by Bible Students. PSL Johnson wrote a huge series of books. He still has his followers, but, at the risk of offending his followers who come here, he is a fruit cake. But ... he lived through WT history from 1903 onward. Suspect everything he writes, but don't ignore it either.
You will need to read Millions Now Living Will Never Die. The Finished Mystery [1917 edition] will be an essential read. The Consolation [now Awake!] from 1937 to 1946. I don't know if all the Golden Age is available to you. But relevant material is found within it.
You may want to explore the 'return of the princes' doctrine and its evolution. There is a very rare Franz recording, but probably you'll do better reading the text material within the Watchtower.
Critiquing the NWT will require you to read it side by side with other translations. I recommend any of the online bible sites, The Bible from 26 Translations, the Kingdom Interlinear Translation. Just read the NWT until a question arises, then research the verses in question.
I write narrowly focused, detailed history. Your project appears to be a generalist approach. Craft your outline; make a list of questions; pursue them. You're trying to skip a research step. I used to advise my PhD students to read widely in the appropriate literature and then narrow their focus. Much of successful research is based on educated guesswork and serendipity. You find what you find because you actively look. That means time in tedious reading, cogitation, and careful notes.
I can't make detailed suggestions, because I'm not privy to your outline or approach.
From my point of view, the one true essential flaw of all editions of the New World Translation is bad English grammar. I spent a huge amount of time comparing it to the New English Bible New Testament. The NWT was often technically better, but set against the better grammar of the NEB, it comes across as pale and amateurish. In nearly every case the NWT was more faithful to the Greek text, but its translators handled English as if it were not the translators' native language. They tried to do what Kenneth Wuest did, but with less success with the end product.
Most other issues raised against the NWT fall to valid alternative translation. [Notice I said most, not all. But here we're into debatable opinion.
Another observation. In your initial post you stated your intent to 'debunk' false teachings. Every writer brings their own beliefs to their project. But, writing with someone with beliefs contrary to my own, has taught me that it is far better to 'report' than criticize. Back in 1945 H. H. Hewitt, a sociologist, published his book The Jehovah's Witnesses. He misreported quotations, chose his material without regard to the full facts, and his personal doctrine crept into his text. His book is a failure because he turned from Sociologist to religious controversialist. As a result he manipulated 'facts.'
Witnesses aren't all dull minded. There is true genius among them, and if you present a distorted, inaccurate story, they will know it and they will savage it.