On their website in the video "Organizational Accomplishments" Watchtower devotes this segment to praising the superiority of the New World Translation. About half way through, David Splane relates the reason for a change in wording from the old 1984 NWT Reference Bible to the 2013 Revised NWT. He said this was because of the recent discovery of an older manuscript that contained the Greek word for overseer that was unavailable when the Reference Bible was being compiled. So they added it to the new silver sword. However, the King James Bible renders the verse correctly. The word does not appear in the Kingdom Interlinear so I can see why it was rendered that way. But it does occur in the Emphatic Diaglott which was produced about 100 years earlier and based on Vatican 1209. Does anyone know what Splane is talking about?
2013 New World Translation
No, sounds like BS to me. What verse is he referring to?
Worrying about which translation to use is a bit of a red herring. For the WT it merely perpetuates the narrative of being a "bible based" religion. In reality religions are about community and Identity. Us or them, being inside or outside.
All Christian religions use the same book and yet have different doctrine. Doctrine merely serves to differentiate one group from the others. Few members care about the doctrinal details, in fact it can change over time. As long as it is different, it works.
Translations play a very small role in this. JWs were JWs long before making their own translation. It was basically a pet project of F. Franz that cemented his reputation for being a 'scholar' among JWs. In reality anyone can make a new translation using reference works and following the lead of the preexisting translations. There really isn't much in the NWT that precedents can't be pointed to by someone with similar theological outlook on a particular topic. Don't get drawn into believing the NWT is the issue, it's not any worse than most others, it's just different.
The 1950 NWT used the Westcott and Hort Greet text that does not contain the word “overseer” in the verse.
The older manuscript that Splane was referring to was probably P72, a papyrus that was discovered in 1952, that includes the word for “overseer” in the text.
The 2013 revision of the NWT used updated Greek texts NA28 and UBS4 that include the word for “overseer” partly on the basis of P72.
This is just a verbose explanation of slim's post above, so skip it unless you want mind-numbing detail.
In the Introduction to the 1984 NWT Reference Bible it says that the basic Greek text used was The New Testament in the Original Greek, by Westcott and Hort (W&H). The Greek texts of Nestle, Bover, Merk and others were also considered.
Quite simply, W&H did not include episkopountes in 1 Peter 5:2 and the translators of the NWT concurred. Why did they not include it when there was sufficient reason for the King James Bible to translate it as "taking the oversight thereof" in 1611? Because they concluded the early mss did not support it.
In the Appendix to the W&H Greek text there is a section Notes on Select Readings which include "miscellaneous rejected readings sufficiently interesting to deserve special notice". The rejected reading of episkopountes at 1 Peter 5:2 is included and the notes are shown here: What does that mean? That there is quite a lot of support for episkopountes, but manuscripts without it include Sinaiticus (original reading) and Vaticanus 1209, and W&H maintained that when these two important witnesses agreed on a reading then it was usually given more weight than alternative readings.
Although the Emphatic Diaglott is based on Vatican 1209, the codex doesn't have episkopountes at 1 Peter 5:2 and so the Emphatic Diaglott has the word in square brackets to show it's not in the main text.
How was the basic Greek text of 2013 Revised NWT different to the 1984 translation? The Watchtower of 15 December 2015 explained (p.17):
The original New World Translation was based on the Hebrew Masoretic text and the respected Greek text by Westcott and Hort. The study of ancient Bible manuscripts has continued to advance, shedding light on the reading of certain Bible verses. Readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls have become available. More Greek manuscripts have been studied. Much updated manuscript evidence is available in computer format, making it easier to analyze the differences between manuscripts to determine which reading of the Hebrew or Greek text is best supported.
David Splane relates the reason for a change in wording
David (Overlapping(TM)) Splane will fail to admit they're just mucking about with words to fit their own money making narrative. Rather than change their system to fit the Bible, they do it the other way around. They know what they're doing, too.
Could this be The fallacy of equivocation?
Glad I'm out of the cult.
Thanks for the detailed explanation Earnest. 👍
A related, and perhaps more significant change between the 1950 and 2013 versions, was the complete removal of the word “elder” in 1950 (apart from the instances of elders in heaven in Revelation) and its reintroduction in 2013 revision.
It’s ironic that Splane says Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t change the Bible to suit their beliefs because, when the NWT was first released in 1950 Jehovah’s Witnesses had abandoned congregation “elders”, and more specifically “elective elders”, a term and arrangement that Rutherford had undermined as being anti-Theocratic. So when the 1950 NWT uniformly replaced of the word “elder” with the descriptor “older man”, it was reflecting JW practice at the time which had no position of “elder” in the congregations. Jehovah’s Witnesses reintroduced the “elder arrangement” (this time minus democracy) in the 1970s, so it made sense to restore the word “elder” back again in the 2013 revised NWT in favour of the idiosyncratic 1950 NWT rendering “older man”.
For example the 1950 NWT at Titis 1:5 read:
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders.
Whereas the 2013 NWT reads:
I left you in Crete so that you would correct the things that were defective and make appointments of elders in city after city, as I instructed you
Splane used this as an opportunity to take a swipe at the Catholic Church when in reality they based their original decision on the judgement of Westcott and Hort. The King James Bible, based on the Textus Receptus, had it right in the first place. The discovery of Bodmer P 72 confirmed it.
The role of translator is not only to convert one word to another but choose words that the translator believes reflects the author's meaning.
Take this 1 Peter 5:2 for example. The word (episkopeó) is used twice in the NT and means "be watchful" . If you wish to add a shade of meaning you could use the English word "oversee" which carries the connotation of authority over or you could use a more neutral word like watchful or careful like the NWT does at Hebrews 12:15.
The NWT is hardly unique in doing this, but few readers would be aware that the two verses use the same word. That is one simple example of of the tiny role translating has in perpetuating a church identity. Ultimately the identity is formed by personalities and circumstances and merely bolstered by the translation used.
The WT today using computer software could create a new translation in short order. Motives for a new translation are probably twofold, raise revenue selling millions of new Bibles and projecting an image as a scholarly religion.
Perhaps they changed it to prepare for all of the 21-24 year old elders being appointed moving forward from this years letter to all bodies. "Older men" would be a harder sell on the R&F I think. It still is but PIMI's will fall in line anyway.