NWT reasons, excuses, and assertions for inserting the Tetragrammaton (JEHOVAH)

by TerryWalstrom 11 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • TerryWalstrom


    A Summary Statement of the Writers' Error

    We believe the writers of the August 1, 2008 Watchtower magazine article, Should the Name JEHOVAH Appear in the New Testament? made a fundamental error which will be terribly costly to them. An acceptable justification for the presence of "Jehovah" in the NWT translation of the Christian Scriptures must be based on verifiable textual evidence.

    However, the writers of this article did not affirm the original New World Translation Committees' principles of translation with textual evidence supporting the use of the Tetragrammaton in the Greek text of the earliest Greek manuscripts. Instead, they developed two entirely new principles of translation based wholly on subjective values:

    1. "The translators believed that since the Christian Greek Scriptures were an inspired addition to the sacred Hebrew Scriptures, the sudden disappearance of Jehovah's name from the text seemed inconsistent.  (article page 22)

    2. "When copies of the Septuagint were discovered that used the divine name rather than Ky'ri-os (Lord), it became evident to the translators that in Jesus' day copies of the earlier Scriptures in Greek—and of course those in Hebrew—did contain the divine name."   (article page 22)

    By adopting these two subjective reasons for placing the name "Jehovah" in the New World Translation Christian Scriptures 237 times, the writers of this article have redefined the NWT Christian Scriptures as being biased. It is biased because the justification for the English word "Jehovah" is based on subjective rather than textual translation support. According to this new statement of purpose, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society must now content themselves with having produced a sectarian translation crafted to support their own doctrine.

    There is, however, no textual evidence of יהוה in any ancient Greek manuscripts. The only textual evidence the New World Translation Committee provided is the Greek text of the Westcott and Hort Greek Text which they published as the Kingdom Interlinear Translation. In fact, the Kingdom Interlinear Translation does just the opposite. Rather than providing any textual evidence for including the divine name in the Greek Scriptures, it actually validates that the Greek word Κύριος was used 714 times in the earliest Greek manuscripts.

  • JWdaughter
    For most JWs they zoned out when you said that they made a "fundamental error". The blood filling their eyes precluded them from reading anything more.
  • TerryWalstrom
    I should maybe have said, "A fun and mental error."
  • Phizzy

    What I am hoping is that some very early copies of the N.T books are found, much earlier than we have now, and of course they will not contain YHWH in any form, simply Kyrios.

    How will the JW Org wriggle out of that ? I am sure they would maintain, even if fully accredited autograph copies were found, that they were right and the copies wrong.

  • TerryWalstrom

    Phizzy says: What I am hoping is that some very early copies of the N.T books are found, much earlier than we have now, and of course they will not contain YHWH in any form, simply Kyrios.


    It has been reported that a 1st century copy of Mark has been found and is currently being examined by experts.

    On Bart Ehrman's blog he has written:

    " I would be downright thrilled, in every way.  This would be a great event.

    It would NOT be because it would force us to rethink anything.  But it would be precisely because it almost certainly would confirm with hard evidence what we already think on the basis of less hard evidence.   I’ve already indicated why it’s difficult to believe that a small scrap of a manuscript from around 100 would change anything, or that it would confirm what a group of wide-eyed fundamentalists might think about the Bible, or what a group of hard-nosed atheists might think about the Bible, or what a group of anyone in between might think about the Bible.

    But historians who work with texts are passionate about their texts.  At least this one (yours truly) is.   And any early manuscript of any early text is an absolute treasure, to be cherished above nearly all things textual.  If this thing turns up, it will be another piece in the puzzle.   One new piece is not going to change the appearance of the puzzle.  But who, working a jigsaw puzzle that is missing most of its pieces, is not elated when a new piece is discovered that fits in with everything else?  That makes it possible – and conceivable – that more pieces will turn up.  And if a LOT of new pieces start turning up, then it is in fact possible that the overall picture that is emerging from the assemblage of those pieces will start to change.

    You cannot have LOTS of pieces – our ultimate desire as textual historians – until you get the FIRST piece.  Of course, this piece – if it shows up – will not be the first piece of our puzzle or the first newly discovered piece.   We already have over 115 (fragmentary) papyrus manuscripts of the New Testament, dating, roughly from the second to the seventh centuries, almost all of them discovered over the course of the past century.  But this, if living up to the hype, would be one of the two earliest, if not the earliest.  So it would be a significant piece, and, arguably, the first to be dated this early (P52 is usually dated to 125 CE, plus or minus 25 years – although recent reexaminations suggest that this date may be too early, possibly by a 80-100 years!).  And about that, every textual scholar on the planet, of whatever persuasion, would be thrilled."

  • Phizzy

    The problem with the WT/JW Org, as I said in my post above, is that no matter how early a Manuscript is, it could be written within hours of the Autograph, they will say the "divine name" has been removed.

    No matter, as you say in the O.P.they have shot themselves in the foot, yet again, by saying that the earliest Manuscripts should have authority.  (This is not strictly true of course, as Scholars know,  and the WT does not, some later Mans. are closer to the original than earlier ones, a mere date does not guarantee accuracy).

    The arguments will rumble on, but as more is discovered the WT/JW stance looks, as with everything they do, ever more silly.

  • jhine

    Hi,,I just came across this thread and remembered this article I found a few weeks ago . " The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Scriptures " by Eric Franke talks about the NWT and says that on page 10 of the 1950 version it says -

    ". One of the remarkable facts , not only about the extant manuscripts of the original text , but in many versions , ancient and modern is the absence of the divine name "

    This then disappeared from later versions . The article discusses the reasons given for putting Jehovah into the NT and disects these reasons .


  • Earnest

    It is true that the 1950 version of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures says, on page 10, that the divine name is absent in the extant manuscripts of the original Greek text. It then goes on to discuss that although the Greek texts of the Hebrew Scriptures in the manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries use the Greek terms for 'Lord' or 'God' where the divine name occurs, earlier Greek texts at and preceding the time of Christ uses an Aramaic form of the tetragrammaton indicating it had been subsequently removed from the Greek text of the Hebrew scriptures.

    The foreword then says "Every comprehensive Greek-English dictionary states that these two Greek words have been used as equivalents of the divine name. Hence the modern translator is warranted in using the divine name as an equivalent of those two Greek words [Lord and God], that is, at places where Matthew, etc., quote verses, passages and expressions from the Hebrew Scriptures or from the LXX where the divine name occurs".

    Providing this equivalence is explained in the foreword it is an honest and widespread form of translation.

    The two so-called entirely new principles of translation were both contained in the foreword of the 1950 version. Both the inconsistency of the tetragrammaton being in the Hebrew scriptures and not the Christian Greek scriptures, and the occurrence of the tetragrammaton in copies of the LXX in Jesus' day are facts, nothing subjective about it.

    As far as the "first century copy of Mark" is concerned, it is hardly worth any comment until both the contents and date have been verified.

  • jhine

    I have been told by Witnesses of WT.teaching that the Tetragrammaton was in the early Greek Christian manuscripts and that when apostacy came into the church a few centuries later there was a conspiracy to have the divine name removed .I was told this only a few years ago .Is that now or has it been WT teaching ? Because the Witnesses who told me this firmly believed it to be true .

    If this has been WT teaching then it clearly is not true ,and by their own admission . It was hearing this from the mouths of Witnesses that started me looking into the subject .


  • Phizzy

    I don't blame those JW's for getting the impression that what they believed was true Jan. The cleverly presented arguments by the WT give that impression.

    First of all one needs to appreciate that what the WT is actually talking about are early manuscripts of the Septuagint, a greek version of the Hebrew Bible, many fragmentary examples from the 1st Century and before, and more complete ones, are extant.

    Some of these early O.T texts, though in Greek, contain the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew.

    In the introduction to the 1985 edition of the Kingdom Interlinear by the W.T they show illustrations of these, and they quote a Scholar called Aland and others, to bolster their argument.

    We all know about W.T quotes.

    There have been some good threads on here before about this subject, one of which pointed out that the reason the Name appears in Hebrew script/language, and is thus untranslated, is to warn the Reader to read, either to himself, or aloud if reading for others, Kyrios.

    So these fragments of a Jewish Bible in Greek destroy rather than support, the WT's argument for both translating the Name, and for vocalising it.

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