New World Translation - Variants

by Wonderment 16 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Earnest

    Doug, I think it is a bit misleading to say that the WTS's NT is based on the 19th century Greek text.

    What you have consider is what manuscripts/papyri have been found since Westcott & Hort prepared their text, and to what extent the study of textual criticism has advanced.

    The basis for the WTS's NT is :

    In the mid-20th century, the New World Bible Translation Committee used [the Westcott & Hort] master text as the basis for its translation. Other early papyri, thought to date back to the second and third centuries C.E., were also used. Since then, more papyri have become available. In addition, master texts such as those by Nestle and Aland and by the United Bible Societies reflect recent scholarly studies. Some of the findings of this research were incorporated into this present revision.

  • slimboyfat

    There is not a huge number of differences between WH and recent editions of NA, is there? I wonder if there is a complete list of differences between WH and the latest NA28 somewhere. It is true that the NWT reflects some of the changes that have been made, I do believe. It’s been a while since I looked at it in detail.

    They didn’t take up the suggestion of NA28 that Jude 5 should read “Jesus”!

    Incidentally one of the best texts for demonstrating how the removal of the divine name created complexity in the textual tradition and confusion between God and Jesus.

  • Earnest

    In Text of the New Testament, by K. Aland and B. Aland, pp.26-30, they say that while the NA25 text shows, for example, 2,047 differences from von Soden, 1,996 from Vogels, 1,268 from Tischendorf, 1,161 from Bover, and 770 from Merk, it contains only 558 differences from the Westcott & Hort text. I would expect NA28 to be similar.

    Both Barbara Aland and Bart Ehrman observe that the critical editions of the N.T. have changed relatively little since the work of Westcott and Hort.

  • careful

    Yes, SBF and Earnest, and most of those 558 differences are quite minor. There are not many places where in the rev. NWT where the "committee," based on more recent editions of the Greek text, namely NA and UBS, made a change from the old NWT editions. However, one such is at Eph. 1:15.

    "Since I have heard of the faith you have in the Lord Jesus and toward all the holy ones," older NWT editions done by Fred Franz.

    "Since I have heard of the faith you have in the Lord Jesus and the love that you demonstrate toward all the holy ones," rev. NWT.

    The change in bold print is based on the Greek text in NA/UBS. This in turn is based not on any newly discovered manuscripts. In fact, the only manuscript find since the time of WH that bears on this passage is P46 which reinforces the text WH provide, what Fred Franz went with when he produced those earlier NWT editions, and not what UBS/NA read. Rather what has happened is that textual critics (scholars who try to establish what was originally written) have largely changed their thinking here and have come to believe that the words "the love" accidentally dropped out as the text was transmitted down through time. It is not what the earliest sources read. The words in the NWT "that you demonstrate" are not in the Greek but were added for clarity. Overall, what those who are responsible for the rev. NWT often did was look at other modern English translations, often conservative Protestant ones, and imitate them. The NIV, HCSB, ESV, have "your love" here. So do the NRSV and the 2017 NT translation by David Bentley Hart. The NEB/REB has "the love you bear." All these renderings are because the scholars translating them relied on the NA/UBS Greek text, not because of new manuscripts being found.

    Two further things. First, WH were well aware of the textual problem here. They discuss it in vol. 2, pages 124-5. Second, what the manuscripts read is only one consideration of textual criticism. It's called the external evidence. The other area is called the internal evidence, and this includes things like scribal habits, textual transmission and its history, the influence of the church on the text, and so on. WH were aware of both components of textual criticism, but the field has been giving more emphasis to the internal evidence since the time of WH. Hence the change of readings in passages like this. It seems very unlikely that those responsible for the rev. NWT are even aware of details like this. They are just adopting, in certain passages that do not affect their key doctrines, what they see in other modern translations.

  • slimboyfat

    Thank you careful for the Eph 1:15 example. Yes, one suspects that their methodology for accepting new readings was probably to follow the example of other recent Bible versions. I would need to explore more carefully to confirm this suspicion.

    On the Hebrew Scriptures, an appendix of the revised NWT 2013 says that the Dead Sea Scrolls impacted the reading of some passages and offers this example.

    For example, at 2 Samuel 13:21, the Greek Septuagint contains the equivalent of the words: “But he would not hurt the feelings of Amnon his son, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.” Earlier versions of the New World Translation did not include these words because they are not in the Masoretic text. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls do contain these words, which are now included in the 2013 revision.

    Again one suspects that choices of other versions on when to use DSS readings guided the NWT revision.

    And thanks Earnest for confirming from Barbara Aland and Bart Ehrman that text of the NT has been largely agreed upon since WH. I bet many of the 500 or so differences involve the words God/Lord/Jesus/Christ.

  • Earnest

    Further to the differences between the Westcott & Hort Greek text and the Nestle-Aland Greek text, I thought it might be of interest to the forum to get an idea of the type of differences that exist between these two texts.

    For the uninitiated, when reference is made to Greek texts it refers to those manuscripts, papyri etc. which have been found in the deserts of Egypt, Judaea and elsewhere which are hand-written copies of the Greek New Testament, some of which go back to the second century.

    In 1881 two scholars, Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort collated together the manuscripts and papyri then known to exist and on that basis they attempted to establish the wording of the New Testament which had the strongest manuscript support. They also developed various theories (known as textual criticism) to determine which manuscripts were more likely to reflect the originals most accurately. The text they produced is known as the Westcott & Hort Greek text and this was the text that was primarily used as the basis for the New World Translation.

    Needless to say, since 1881 further manuscripts and papyri have been found, and the theories to determine which manuscripts should receive priority have been refined. In 1898 Eberhard Nestle produced a text based on the work of Westcott & Hort as well as other textual scholars. Nestle's text went through several editions and you can have a look at its history here. The most recent edition (28th) was produced in 2012 so it is of interest to know what has changed in the 130 years since Westcott & Hort produced their text.

    Two scholars involved in textual criticism, Barbara Aland and Bart Ehrman, have both concluded there has been very little change. But what does that mean? There are about 550 differences between the two texts (Westcott & Hort and Nestle-Aland 28). I will refer to these texts as WH and NA28. While I could list all 550+ it would make this a rather lengthy post which will probably not be of interest to everyone. So what I have done is to check all the differences in Matthew and that will give a flavour of the type of differences elsewhere in the New Testament.

    One difference between the two texts is where a word or words are omitted from one or the other of these texts. For example:

    Matthew 6:8 reads "...for ["God" WH] your Father knows..."

    In this instance the WH text reads "...for God your Father knows..." while the NA28 text reads "...for your Father knows...".

    Another example is Matthew 8:7 which reads "["And" NA28] he said to him..."

    So in this verse the WH text reads "He said to him..." while the NA28 text reads "And he said to him...".

    Everything else in the text agrees apart from the difference shown. Hopefully you understand my methodology. The remaining verses in Matthew which differ in this way are:

    8:9. "...a man ["placed" WH] under authority...".
    9:32. '...brought him a dumb ["man" NA28] possessed...'
    12:44. "...finds it unoccupied ["and" WH] swept and adorned."
    13:11. "In reply he said ["to them" NA28]:"
    13:45. " a travelling merchant ["man" NA28]..."
    15:31. "...they saw the dumb speaking ["the maimed whole" NA28] and the lame walking..."
    16:20. "Then he ["sternly" WH] charged..."
    16:21. "...Jesus ["Christ" WH]..."
    19:3. "...Is it lawful ["for a man" NA28] to divorce..."
    20:8. " ["them" NA28] the wages..."
    20:15. "["Or" NA28] is it not lawful..."
    20:21. " at ["your" NA28] right hand..." WH
    21:28. "...two children. ["And" NA28] going up to the first..."
    22:21. "They said ["to him" NA28]:..."
    22:39. "["And" NA28] the second is like it..."
    23:24. "Blind guides, ["which" NA28] strain out the gnat but swallow..."
    23:38. "...Your house is abandoned to you ["desolate" NA28]."
    25:42. "...["and" WH] I got thirsty..."
    26:20. "...the twelve ["disciples" WH]."
    27:16. "...prisoner called ["Jesus" NA28] Barabbas."
    27:17. "...["Jesus" NA28] Barabbas or Jesus the so-called Christ?"
    27:40. " yourself! If you are a son of God, ["and" NA28] come down..."

    Another type of difference is where there is a variation in the wording of a verse. For example Matthew 3:7 reads "...coming to the baptism..." in Westcott & Hort, but it reads "...coming to his baptism..." in NA28. It's a subtle change (although not all the changes are subtle), and it is often not entirely clear which wording is the more accurate. In my methodology I show this difference in this form:

    3:7. "...coming to the baptism..." WH
    3:7. "...coming to his baptism..." NA28

    Here are the remaining differences of this type in Matthew:

    3:14. "But [he] tried to prevent..." WH
    3:14. "But John tried to prevent..." NA28

    7:13. "...because broad and spacious is the way..." WH
    7:13. "...because broad is the gate and spacious the way..." NA28

    7:14. "...because (hoti) narrow is the gate..." WH
    7:14. "...since (ti) narrow is the gate..." NA28

    8:23. "...a boat..." WH
    8:23. "...the boat..." NA28

    9:18. "...who had approached (proselthon)..." WH
    9:18. "...who had come (elthon)..." NA28

    12:22. "Then they brought (prosenegkan)..." WH
    12:22. "Then was brought (prosenekhthe)..." NA28

    13:28. "They (hoi) said to him..." WH
    13:28. "The servants (hoi douloi) said to him..." NA28

    13:44. "...sells what things (hosa) he has..." WH
    13:44. "...sells all (panta hosa) he has..." NA28

    15:30. "...people that were lame, maimed, blind, dumb..." WH
    15:30. "...people that were lame, blind, maimed, dumb..." NA28

    17:15. " unwell (kakos ekhei) ...". WH
    17:15. " suffering badly (kakos paskhei) ..." NA28

    18:14. " Father..." WH
    18:14. "...your Father..." NA28

    19:24. "...It is easier for a camel to enter (eiselthein) through a needle's eye than for a rich man into the kingdom". WH
    19:24. "...It is easier for a camel to get (dielthein) through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter (eiselthein) into the kingdom". NA28

    19:29. "...will receive many times more (pollaplasiona)..." WH
    19:29. "...will receive a hundred times more (ekatontaplasiona)...". NA28

    20:17. "Being now about to go up (Mellon de anabainein) to Jerusalem..." WH
    20:17. "And going up (Kai anabainon) to Jerusalem...". NA28

    20:30. "...Lord, have mercy on us..." WH
    20:30. "...Have mercy on us, O Lord..." NA28

    20:31. "...Lord, have mercy on us..." WH
    20:31. "...Have mercy on us, O Lord..." NA28

    21:29. "... 'I will, sir,' and did not go." WH
    21:29. "... 'I will not,' but afterwards he repented, and went." NA28

    21:30. "Approaching the second (deuteroi)..." WH
    21:30. "Approaching the other one (heteroi)..." NA28

    21:30. "... 'I will not.' Afterwards he repented and went." WH
    21:30. "... 'I will, sir,' and did not go." NA28

    21:31. "...They said: 'The latter.'..." WH
    21:31. "...They said: 'The first.'..." NA28

    22:10. "...the room for the wedding (numphon) was filled..." WH
    22:10. "...the wedding festival (gamos) was filled..." NA28

    24:24. "...great signs and wonders so to mislead (planasthai) if possible even the chosen ones." WH
    24:24. "...great signs and wonders so they will mislead (planesai) if possible even the chosen ones". NA28

    27:4. "...I betrayed righteous (dikaion) blood'..." WH
    27:4. "...I betrayed innocent (athoos) blood'..." NA28

    27:46. "...saying: 'Eloi eloi..." WH
    27:46. "...saying: 'Eli eli..." NA28

    27:64 "...that the disciples (hoi mathetai) may never come..." WH
    27:64. "...that his disciples (hoi mathetai autou) may never come..." NA28

    I don't think I have missed any differences but would welcome any correction to this. I do find it astonishing that there are so few real differences between the two texts despite 130 years separating them.

  • Wonderment

    First, I want to thank Doug Mason for providing photocopies of the NWT Danish and Swedish editions where they read "for Babylon" at Jeremiah 29.10.

    Secondly, I want to also thank Earnest for his research on differences between the WH and NA28 Greek Text editions, particularly in Matthew. I noticed most of these changes are not of doctrinal import.

    Hence, it would be interesting to determine the actual differences between the WH, NA28 and the Received Text, which I suspect we will find more doctrinally related differences, or discrepancies between the use of Jesus, God, Lord, Christ, etc., throughout the New Testament.

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