the truth about Jehovah’s Witness, part 1

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

December 4, 2007

I have had a recent visitor to my home. It is someone that most people are familiar with. A Jehovah’s Witness man and woman stopped by my house to deliver me a copy of Watchtower, and let me know that they would be happy to talk to me more about it. I looked at the “cover story” of that issue of Watchtower, and it simply posed the question, “Can you trust the Bible?”. Being an instructor at a small, local Bible College, and currently teaching a class on Bible Interpretation, I was actually a bit intrigued.

When I let my spontaneous visitors know that I taught at the Bible College, they quickly left encouraging me to read their materials. One of the interesting things that I discovered was that much of what they taught about the source and reliability of the Scriptures was almost verbatim from what I’ve been teaching my class. So I figured that we had something in common, and I wanted to learn more about what the differences are between what they believe and what I believe as a Non-Denominational Christian.

One thing that I teach in my Bible Interpretation class is about where the Bible came from, and what the difference is between the many translations that exist. I even had my class do papers that researched several different translations and asked about their translation methods, what motivated them to do the translation (political, public opinion, textual problems off earlier versions, etc.), and what the public (and expert) opinions are of these translations. The purpose of that exercise is to help them learn about how they can find a translation (or two, or more) that they can trust.

Typically, when you look at a translation of the Bible, there is a certain method used to describe how the text is translated. Versions like the King James, New King James, English Standard Version use a word-for-word (literal) method. Versions like New International Version and New Living Translation use a thought-for-thought (dynamic equivalent) method. Then some translations like The Message are more of a paraphrase (free) than holding to a stong “translation” technique. The point here is that each of these different types of translations has value, but in different ways. More importantly, each of these are very clear about how they were translated, and who did it and why.

For example, the English Standard Version (my current preferred literal translation) used scholars with varying backgrounds, from various theologies and denominations, and also from different English speaking countries. The reason for having such a variety of influence was to eliminate any personal bias in translating the text.

The one thing about what the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim about the Bible is that their New World Translation is the ONLY correct translation. Since we are not reading the text in it’s original Greek and Hebrew forms, then it seems to me that there cannot be only one way for me to look at and evaluate how words have translated into the English language.

When I study the original language used in the Scriptures, I find 3 or 4 different words used in the Greek (and in Hebrew) that we translate into the English word “love”. I also find at least five different words that we commonly translate into the one word “worship”. If there are so many more deeper meanings to these words, then how can I rely on one English translation to understand the original message?

The other thing that I noticed is that they were also very clear on the fact that the authors of this “New World Translation” were completely anonymous. Every other group, team or committee of scholars that have worked on the other translations were open about who the people were. There is an issue with understanding the credentials of the people in order to guarantee quality. We can verify the quality of the other translations. Not to mention that the only reason that I can think of that you would be so secretive about this type of thing is that you have something that you are trying to hide. We simply can neither confirm nor deny the quality of the the “scholars” doing the translation.

But why would there be something to hide? I don’t want to answer that question without having factual information, otherwise I run the risk of unfairly passing judgment. Suffice it to say at this point that the very “scripture” that they use to base their faith on has some serious questions about whether it can actually be called the true Word of God, or if it is something that someone has rewritten to reinforce concepts important to their agenda. I plan to continue this series by bringing up other issues that I find with the Jehovah’s Witness faith. I am finding some very large theological cracks in the very foundation of these beliefs, and would love to share my findings here…

…Stay tuned!

Other posts in this series:

21 Comments

  1. Julie

    Hi Dan,

    Very well said.

    Several years ago two Jehovah’s Witnesses arrived on my doorstep. Oh, how they are trained to argue. I was quite distressed at their level of deception. After they left, I prayed throughout the day, and the Lord told me that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20). It was a relief to me to know that I didn’t have to ‘win an argument’, but that God was able to show Himself to them.

    I really like the Amplified Bible, because it amplifies out the Greek and Hebrew translations. I really get an in-depth understanding with it. Currently, however, I am reading the New Living Translation, which I like vey much.

    Also, I like your point about knowing the credentials of who translated which Bible version. Actually, I always like to know the source of whatever I read, regardless.

    Thus ends the longest comment you’ve ever received.

    LOL

    Reply
  2. Julie

    Hi Dan,

    Very well said.

    Several years ago two Jehovah’s Witnesses arrived on my doorstep. Oh, how they are trained to argue. I was quite distressed at their level of deception. After they left, I prayed throughout the day, and the Lord told me that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20). It was a relief to me to know that I didn’t have to ‘win an argument’, but that God was able to show Himself to them.

    I really like the Amplified Bible, because it amplifies out the Greek and Hebrew translations. I really get an in-depth understanding with it. Currently, however, I am reading the New Living Translation, which I like vey much.

    Also, I like your point about knowing the credentials of who translated which Bible version. Actually, I always like to know the source of whatever I read, regardless.

    Thus ends the longest comment you’ve ever received.

    LOL

    Reply
  3. BibleDude

    Julie,
    I also like the Amplified version, and the Lockham Foundation has done a great job in developing boththe Amplified (great for study) and the New Living Translation (nice for easy devotional reading).

    Stay tuned for more in this series!

    Thanks!
    Dan

    Reply
  4. BibleDude

    Julie,
    I also like the Amplified version, and the Lockham Foundation has done a great job in developing boththe Amplified (great for study) and the New Living Translation (nice for easy devotional reading).

    Stay tuned for more in this series!

    Thanks!
    Dan

    Reply
  5. BibleDude

    Julie,
    I also like the Amplified version, and the Lockham Foundation has done a great job in developing boththe Amplified (great for study) and the New Living Translation (nice for easy devotional reading).

    Stay tuned for more in this series!

    Thanks!
    Dan

    Reply
  6. Julie

    Hi Dan,

    Very well said.

    Several years ago two Jehovah’s Witnesses arrived on my doorstep. Oh, how they are trained to argue. I was quite distressed at their level of deception. After they left, I prayed throughout the day, and the Lord told me that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20). It was a relief to me to know that I didn’t have to ‘win an argument’, but that God was able to show Himself to them.

    I really like the Amplified Bible, because it amplifies out the Greek and Hebrew translations. I really get an in-depth understanding with it. Currently, however, I am reading the New Living Translation, which I like vey much.

    Also, I like your point about knowing the credentials of who translated which Bible version. Actually, I always like to know the source of whatever I read, regardless.

    Thus ends the longest comment you’ve ever received.

    LOL

    Reply
  7. Hopeful Spirit

    A very interesting series! I have always wondered about this group!

    Reply
  8. Hopeful Spirit

    A very interesting series! I have always wondered about this group!

    Reply
  9. Hopeful Spirit

    A very interesting series! I have always wondered about this group!

    Reply
  10. Malin

    Hi! Surfing on the net, found your blog when I was Googling pics of the bible for a P.P. presentation i´m doing! Very interesting stuff, will definitely continue to drop by. Blessings from Norway!!

    Reply
  11. Malin

    Hi! Surfing on the net, found your blog when I was Googling pics of the bible for a P.P. presentation i´m doing! Very interesting stuff, will definitely continue to drop by. Blessings from Norway!!

    Reply
  12. Malin

    Hi! Surfing on the net, found your blog when I was Googling pics of the bible for a P.P. presentation i´m doing! Very interesting stuff, will definitely continue to drop by. Blessings from Norway!!

    Reply
  13. Will

    Hello. I was wondering if you could email me in regard to a question I have about Witnesses.

    They believe that they should be separate from the world – Not just in the way I believe that the Bible teaches, such as morally and righteously, but also socially. They believe that they should not become too close to anyone who is not of their religion, anyone who is, thus, ‘part of the world’.

    I enjoyed this blog, however, I saw no mentioning of this. I hope that you can, at least, email me a response, or respond here with one.

    Reply
  14. Will

    Hello. I was wondering if you could email me in regard to a question I have about Witnesses.

    They believe that they should be separate from the world – Not just in the way I believe that the Bible teaches, such as morally and righteously, but also socially. They believe that they should not become too close to anyone who is not of their religion, anyone who is, thus, ‘part of the world’.

    I enjoyed this blog, however, I saw no mentioning of this. I hope that you can, at least, email me a response, or respond here with one.

    Reply
  15. Will

    Hello. I was wondering if you could email me in regard to a question I have about Witnesses.

    They believe that they should be separate from the world – Not just in the way I believe that the Bible teaches, such as morally and righteously, but also socially. They believe that they should not become too close to anyone who is not of their religion, anyone who is, thus, ‘part of the world’.

    I enjoyed this blog, however, I saw no mentioning of this. I hope that you can, at least, email me a response, or respond here with one.

    Reply
  16. Dan King

    Will,
    These are great questions! I think that I did touch on this just a little bit in the post in this series that speaks about their relation to the government. They do anot participate or even recognize government, but I believe that this is based on a flawed interpretation of the scriptures, and completely ignores other references. You can find that post here…
    http://bibledude.net/WordPress/?p=49

    Also, the intent of this series was not to be all-inclusive of every one of the JW beliefs. But it is merely an overview of some key points that I have come across in my studies and discussions with some JW visitors to my home.

    As far as separation is concerned, here is what I believe…
    Jesus prayed that we not be separated from the world, but protected from the “evil one”. I think that this is an issue across the church, not just with the JWs. I think that morally we should be different (or separate) from the world, as we are not under the same influence. However, we are not to be removed from it completely. We often retreat into our “bubble” in order to protect ourselves from the evil of the outside world. But if we completely separate ourselves from other people, then how can we ever expect to reach them? So I basically do not believe that it is scriptural to separate oneself to the level that JWs typically do.

    Let me know if this makes sense or not…

    Thanks!
    Dan

    Reply
  17. Dan King

    Will,
    These are great questions! I think that I did touch on this just a little bit in the post in this series that speaks about their relation to the government. They do anot participate or even recognize government, but I believe that this is based on a flawed interpretation of the scriptures, and completely ignores other references. You can find that post here…
    http://bibledude.net/WordPress/?p=49

    Also, the intent of this series was not to be all-inclusive of every one of the JW beliefs. But it is merely an overview of some key points that I have come across in my studies and discussions with some JW visitors to my home.

    As far as separation is concerned, here is what I believe…
    Jesus prayed that we not be separated from the world, but protected from the “evil one”. I think that this is an issue across the church, not just with the JWs. I think that morally we should be different (or separate) from the world, as we are not under the same influence. However, we are not to be removed from it completely. We often retreat into our “bubble” in order to protect ourselves from the evil of the outside world. But if we completely separate ourselves from other people, then how can we ever expect to reach them? So I basically do not believe that it is scriptural to separate oneself to the level that JWs typically do.

    Let me know if this makes sense or not…

    Thanks!
    Dan

    Reply
  18. Dan King

    Will,
    These are great questions! I think that I did touch on this just a little bit in the post in this series that speaks about their relation to the government. They do anot participate or even recognize government, but I believe that this is based on a flawed interpretation of the scriptures, and completely ignores other references. You can find that post here…
    http://bibledude.net/WordPress/?p=49

    Also, the intent of this series was not to be all-inclusive of every one of the JW beliefs. But it is merely an overview of some key points that I have come across in my studies and discussions with some JW visitors to my home.

    As far as separation is concerned, here is what I believe…
    Jesus prayed that we not be separated from the world, but protected from the “evil one”. I think that this is an issue across the church, not just with the JWs. I think that morally we should be different (or separate) from the world, as we are not under the same influence. However, we are not to be removed from it completely. We often retreat into our “bubble” in order to protect ourselves from the evil of the outside world. But if we completely separate ourselves from other people, then how can we ever expect to reach them? So I basically do not believe that it is scriptural to separate oneself to the level that JWs typically do.

    Let me know if this makes sense or not…

    Thanks!
    Dan

    Reply
  19. Bella

    The new world translation is the most accurately translated bible available. You may want to do a bit more research….. Just some friendly advice.

    Reply
  20. Anne

    On such a topic it is easy to be biased because if a person loves God’s word our feelings and our likes and dislikes come into play. Here is an interesting point that was made on the Jeopardy game show that asks the very same question.

    Recently on Jeopardy, one of the questions was “What is the most accurate translation of the Holy Scriptures?” No one got the correct answer, so Alex Trebek said “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, printed by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.”

    Book: “TRUTH IN TRANSLATION: ACCURACY AND BIAS IN ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT”

    Author: Jason David BeDuhn is the Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana, an M.T.S. in New Testament and Christian Origins form Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Study of Religions form Indiana University, Bloomington

    The Nine English Translations Compared in BeDuhn’s book are:

    – The King James Version (KJV)

    – The Amplified Bible (AB)

    – The Living Bible (LB)

    – The New American Bible (NAB)

    – The New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    – The New International Version (NIV)

    – The New World Translation (NW)

    – The (New) Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

    – Today’s English Version (TEV)

    Excerpts from his book:

    Chapter Four: Examples of translation of the Greek word “proskuneo”, used 58 times in the New Testament. The word is translated various ways as worship, do obeisance, fall down on one’s knees, bow before. Scriptures discussed include Matt. 18:26; Rev. 3:9; Mark 15:18,19; Matt 2:1, 2, 8,11; Matt 14:33; Matt 28:9, “… in our exploration of this issue, we can see how theological bias has been the determining context for the choices made by all of the translations except the NAB and NW… translators seem to feel the need to add to the New Testament support for the idea that Jesus was recognized to be God.” Regarding Matt. 28:16, 17, where all versions except the NW use “worship” where the NW uses “did obeisance”: “Here all translations except the NW have recourse to “worship” — a rendering which makes no sense in this context… This contradiction seems to be missed by all the translators except those who prepared the NW.”

    Chapter Five: A discussion of Philippians 2:5-1 1: “The NW translators… have understood “harpagmos” accurately as grasping at something one does not have, that is, a “seizure.” The literary context supports the NW translation (and refutes the KJV’s “thought it not robbery to be equal)…”

    Chapter Seven: A discussion on Col. 1: 15-20: “It is a tricky passage where every translation must add words.” “The LB translator is guilty of all the doctrinal importation discussed above with reference to the NIV, NRSV, and TEV, and even surpasses them in this respect. So it is the NIV, NRSV, TEV and LB — the four Bibles that make no attempt to mark added words – that actually add the most significant tendentious material. Yet in many public forums on Bible translation, the practice of these four translations is rarely if ever pointed to or criticized, while the NW is attacked for adding the innocuous “other” in a way that clearly indicates its character as an addition of the translators… But the NW is correct. “Other” is implied in “all”, and the NW simply makes what is implicit explicit… It is ironic that the translation of Col. 1:15-20 that has received the most criticism is the one where the “added words” are fully justified by what is implied in the Greek.”

    Chapter Eight : A discussion on Titus 2:13; 2 Thess. 1:12; 2 Peter 1:1, 2: “… the position of those who insist “God” and “Savior” must refer to the same being… is decidedly weakened.”

    Chapter Nine: A discussion of Hebrews 8:1: “so we must conclude that the more probable translation is “God is your throne…, “the translation found in the NW… It seems likely that it is only because most translations were made by people who already believe that Jesus is God that the less probable way of translating this verse has been preferred.”

    Chapter Ten: A discussion on John 8:58: “Both the LB and the NW offer translations that coordinate the two verbs in John 8:58 according to proper English syntax, and that accurately reflect the meaning of the Greek idiom. The other translations fail to do this.” “There is absolutely nothing in the original Greek of John 8:58 to suggest that Jesus is quoting the Old Testament here, contrary to what the TEV tries to suggest by putting quotations marks around “I am.”

    “The majority of translations recognize these idiomatic uses of “I am”, and properly integrate the words into the context of the passages where they appear. Yet when it comes to 8:58, they suddenly forget how to translate.” “All the translations except the LB and NW also ignore the true relation between the verbs of the sentence and produce a sentence that makes no sense in English. These changes in the meaning of the Greek and in the normal procedure for translation point to a bias that has interfered with the work of the translators.” “No one listening to Jesus, and no one reading John in his own time would have picked up on a divine self-identification in the mere expression “I am,” which, if you think about, is just about the most common pronoun-verb combination in any language.” “The NW… understands the relation between the two verbs correctly… The average Bible reader might never guess that there was something wrong with the other translations, and might even assume that the error was to be found in the… NW.”

    Chapter Eleven: A discussion of John 1:1: “Surprisingly, only one, the NW, adheres to the literal meaning of the Greek, and translates “a god.” “Translators of the KJV, NRSV, NIV, NAB, NASB, AB, TEV and LB all approached the text at John 1:1 already believing certain things about the Word… and made sure that the translations came out in accordance with their beliefs. … Ironically, some of these same scholars are quick to charge the NW translation with “doctrinal bias” for translating the verse literally, free of KJV influence, following the sense of the Greek. It may very well be that the NW translators came to the task of translating John 1:1 with as much bias as the other translators did. It just so happens that their bias corresponds in this case to a more accurate translation of the Greek” “Some early Christians maintained their monotheism by believing that the one God simply took on a human form and came to earth — in effect, God the Father was born and crucified as Jesus. They are entitled to their belief, but it cannot be derived legitimately from the Gospel according to John.”

    “John himself has not formulated a Trinity concept in his Gospel.” “All that we can ask is that a translation be an accurate starting point for exposition and interpretation. Only the NW achieves that, as provocative as it sounds to the modern reader. The other translations cut off the exploration of the verse’s meaning before it has even begun.”

    Chapter Twelve: A discussion of holy spirit: “In Chapter Twelve, no translation emerged with a perfectly consistent and accurate handling of the many uses and nuances of “spirit” and “holy spirit.” The NW scored highest in using correct impersonal forms of the relative and demonstrative pronouns consistently with the neuter noun “holy spirit,” and in adhering to the indefinite expression “holy spirit” in those few instances when it was used by the Biblical authors.”

    Summary: “… it can be said that the NW emerges as the most accurate of the translations compared…the translators managed to produce works relatively more accurate and less biased than the translations produced by multi-denominational teams, as well as those produced by single individuals.” “Jehovah’s Witnesses… really sought to re­invent Christianity from scratch… building their system of belief and practice from the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there. Some critics, of course, would say that the results of this practice can be naive. But for Bible translation, at least, it has meant a fresh approach to the text, with far less presumption than that found in may of the Protestant translations.”

    “…Most of the differences are due to the greater accuracy of the NW as a literal, conservative translation of the original expressions of the New Testament.”

    Commenting on bias in translation : “To me, it expresses a lack of courage, a fear that the Bible does not back up their “truth” enough. To let the Bible have its say, regardless of how well or poorly that say conforms to expectations or accepted forms of modern Christianity is an exercise in courage or, to use another word for it, faith.”

    For those that want to add this book to their library, it’s available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Trutjr Translation-Accuracy-Translations-Testament/dp/0761 825568

    Read more: Which Bible is the most accurate translation of the original text? | Answerbag http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/25814#ixzz2RPfIjJIi

    Reply

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  8. the truth about Jehovah's Witness, part 3 - BibleDude.net - […] Part 1 :: The Translation Problem (New World Translation) […]
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the truth about Jehovah’s Witness, part 1

by Dan King time to read: 4 min
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