NWT: A translation or a corruption or God’s Word?

by William J. Stewart

In recent months, due to an ongoing e-mail conversation which I’ve been involved in, I’ve had the opportunity to do a fair amount of study regarding the NWT (New World Translation) of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The NWT is reported as “…a translation of the Holy Scriptures made directly from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into modern-day English by a committee of anointed witnesses of Jehovah.” These witnesses “…have chosen to remain anonymous…” It is praised as “…an accurate, largely literal translation from the original languages.” (Reasoning From the Scriptures, pp 276, 277, 1985.) The foreword to the NWT declares, “The translators of this work, who fear and love the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures, feel toward Him a special responsibility to transmit his thoughts and declarations as accurately as possible.” (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, p 5, 1984). Let us take some time to consider whether the NWT is an accurate translation or a planned corruption of God’s word.

We might start with the qualifications of the NWT translating committee. The Witnesses report that they “…have chosen to remain anonymous…” Why? What dark secret have they to hide? The late Dr. Walter Martin said, “…there is not a single Greek scholar in the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I did everything I could to find out the names of the translating committee of the NWT, and the Watchtower wouldn’t tell me a thing. Finally, an ex-JW who knew the committee members personally told me who they were, and the men on that committee could not read New Testament Greek; nor could they read Hebrew… Only one of them had been to college, and he had dropped out after a year. He briefly studied the biblical languages while there… He read modern Greek, and I met him when I visited the Watchtower. I asked him to read John 1:1 in the Greek, and then said, ‘How would you translate it?’ He said, ‘Well, the word was a god’. I said, ‘What is the subject of the sentence?’ He just looked at me. So I repeated, ‘What is the subject of the sentence?’ He didn’t know. This was the only person in the Watchtower to read Greek and he didn’t know the subject of the sentence in John 1:1.” (excerpted from the tape, “Martin and Mantey on The New World Translation”).

By the way, the NWT translating committee consisted of: Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder, George Gangas, Fred Franz and Milton Henschel. Mr. Franz, the only one to have any knowledge of the biblical languages was asked in a Scotland courtroom to translate Genesis 2:4 into Hebrew. He said that he could not. If he was not able to translate from English back to the original language, it would follow that he was likewise incapable of translating from the original Bible language to the English. His ignorance of the Hebrew language was exposed.

There are too numerous deletions, additions and other forms of inconsistency to list. Anyone who is interested in further investigation of these things, I certainly encourage you, and would be happy to help in any way I can, but for the purpose of this study, the following will suffice to demonstrate the corrupt nature of this ‘translation’.

  • The NWT rendering of the Greek word ‘eimi’ is inconsistent. It is translated almost exclusively as ‘am’, but when used in John 8:58, where Jesus said, “…before Abraham was, I AM…”, the NWT has rendered it, “…before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” In the process, the Witnesses have avoided a clear statement of eternal existence by Jesus, linking Himself with the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Incidentally, the NWT has also changed Exodus 3:14, to avoid the connection to John 8:58, by rendering God’s word there, “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be.”

  • The NWT rendering of the Greek word ‘proskuneo’ is inconsistent. When applied to God, the word is translated ‘worship’. When applied to idols, the word is translated ‘worship’. When applied to the devil, the word is translated ‘worship’. When applied to angels, the word is translated ‘worship’. When applied to Jesus, the word is translated ‘obeisance.’

  • The NWT rendering of the Greek word ‘kurios’ is inconsistent. The word Jehovah has been inserted 237 times into the New Testament, though the tetragrammator YHWH is of the Hebrew language and does not appear in the Greek. The word ‘kurios’ means, and should be translated, ‘lord’.

  • The NWT rendering of John 1:1 as “…and the Word was a god” is inconsistent with parallel sentence structures. Here are 5 illustrations of this inconsistency just from John 1. In John 1:1, if they were consistent with the inclusion of the indefinite article “a” in the absence of a definite article, we would read, “In a beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Likewise, consistency would demand that 1:6 be translated, “…there was a man that was sent forth as a representative of a god: his name was a John.” If the placement of an indefinite article were applied to 1:12 as it has been to the latter clause of 1:1, we would read, “…to them he gave authority to become a god’s children…” The next verse also, if the JW translating committee had been consistent should read, “…they were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from a god.” Finally, a consistent application of the indefinite article “a” would render John 1:18 as, “…No man has seen a god at any time…”

  • The NWT has rendered Acts 20:28 as “…which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son].” The Greek text reads, “…hos peripoieomai dia ho haima ho idios.” The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Marshall) provides a literal translation, “…which he acquired through the blood of the(his) own.” The addition of the word “Son” in the NWT is unfounded in the Greek text. The blood used is His own, not that of another.

  • The NWT has rendered Romans 9:5, “…from whom the Christ [sprang] according to the flesh: God, who is over all, [be] blessed forever.” Now, what happens if we simply remove the translator additions? Then we get, “…from whom the Christ according to the flesh: God, who is over all, blessed forever.” Ouch!! That just called Jesus Christ God! No wonder they needed to add a couple words to obscure the Scripture. By the way, the Greek text reads, “…ho christos ho kata sarx ho on epi pas theos eulogetos eis ho aion amen.” From the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Marshall), “…the Christ according to flesh the [one] being over all God blessed unto the ages amen.”

  • The NWT has rendered Romans 13:1, “…the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God.” The Greek text reads, “…de ousa exousia hupo ho theos tasso eisi.” The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Marshall) gives the literal, “…the existing by God ordained are.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses reject that civil governments are appointed by God, and thus it is no surprise that the NWT rejects what the Greek text declares.

  • The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own interlinear translation, which is certainly not among the best available. However, it is interesting to see that even their Kingdom Interlinear Translation and the New World Translation do not agree. Though much discussion is made about the correctness of the “…a god” in the NWT (John 1:1), the KIT does not include the indefinite article “a”. Also, in the NWT, Jesus’ statement of eternal existence in John 8:58 has been masked by translating ‘ego eimi’ as “I have been”. In the KIT, the text has been correctly rendered, “I am”. Even their own interlinear translation shows the corruption of the NWT.

The fact that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have seen the necessity to translate their own Bible is curious. Notice some of the groups (and their leaders) who share the JW claim that the KJV and other translations are either corrupt or incomplete in some manner, and thus have either come up with their own translation, or ‘necessary’ supplemental publications:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Joseph Smith);

  • The Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong);

  • Seventh-Day Adventist (Ellen G. White);

  • Christian Science (Mary Baker Eddy);

  • Islam (Muhammad)

To this list of cultic groups and leaders, who, in order to excel their new found religions had to reject the Bible (as it has been translated), and have added new information which is to be accepted as from God, we can most certainly add; Jehovah’s Witnesses (Charles T. Russell).

It is unfortunate to have to be concerned about whether or not a translation of the Bible is valid or not. I certainly do not support any English translation as being 100% free from error, for they are not inspired publications, but rather translations from manuscript copies of the originals. This being said, I believe we can place high confidence in many translations, as the intent of the translators was to supply a correct English rendering of the Scriptures. However, when a translation contains the inconsistencies and blatant additions and errors which are present in the New World Translation, we ought to be extremely cautious.

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