The New World Translation (NWT) is defined by the Jehovah’s Witnesses’  parent organization (the Watchtower Society) 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.” The NWT is the anonymous work  of the “New World Bible Translation Committee.” Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that  the anonymity is in place so that the credit for the work will go to God. Of  course, this has the added benefit of keeping the translators from any  accountability for their errors and prevents real scholars from checking their  academic credentials.

The New World Translation is unique in one thing –  it is the first intentional, systematic effort at producing a complete version  of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific purpose of agreeing  with a group’s doctrine. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society  realized that their beliefs contradicted Scripture. So, rather than conforming  their beliefs to Scripture, they altered Scripture to agree with their beliefs.  The “New World Bible Translation Committee” went through the Bible and changed  any Scripture that did not agree with Jehovah’s Witness theology. This is  clearly demonstrated by the fact that, as new editions of the New World  Translation were published, additional changes were made to the biblical text.  As biblical Christians continued to point out Scriptures that clearly argue for  the deity of Christ (for example), the Watchtower Society would publish new  editions of the New World Translation with those Scriptures changed. Here are  some of the more prominent examples of intentional revisions:

The New  World Translation renders the Greek term word staurós (“cross”) as  “torture stake” because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus was  crucified on a cross. The New World Translation does not translate the Greek  words sheol, hades, gehenna, and tartarus as “hell”  because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in hell. The NWT gives the  translation “presence” instead of “coming” for the Greek word parousia because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christ has already returned in the  early 1900s. In Colossians  1:16, the NWT inserts the word “other” despite its being completely absent  from the original Greek text. It does this to give the view that “all other  things” were created by Christ, instead of what the text says, “all things were  created by Christ.” This is to go along with their belief that Christ is a  created being, which they believe because they deny the Trinity.

The  most well-known of all the New World Translation perversions is John 1:1. The original Greek text reads, “the Word was  God.” The NWT renders it as “the word was a god.” This is not a matter of  correct translation, but of reading one’s preconceived theology into the text,  rather than allowing the text to speak for itself. There is no indefinite  article in Greek (in English, “a” or “an”), so any use of an indefinite article  in English must be added by the translator. This is grammatically acceptable, so  long as it does not change the meaning of the text.

There is a good  reason why theos has no definite article in John 1:1 and  why the New World Translation rendering is in error. There are three general  rules we need to understand to see why.

1. In Greek, word order does not  determine word usage like it does in English. In English, a sentence is  structured according to word order: Subject – Verb – Object. Thus, “Harry called  the dog” is not equivalent to “the dog called Harry.” But in Greek, a word’s  function is determined by the case ending found attached to the word’s root.  There are two case endings for the root theo: one is -s (theos),  the other is -n (theon). The -s ending normally identifies a noun as  being the subject of a sentence, while the -n ending normally identifies a noun  as the direct object.

2. When a noun functions as a predicate nominative  (in English, a noun that follows a being verb such as “is”), its case ending  must match the noun’s case that it renames, so that the reader will know which  noun it is defining. Therefore, theo must take the -s ending because it  is renaming logos. Therefore, John 1:1 transliterates to “kai theos en ho logos.” Is theos the subject,  or is logos? Both have the -s ending. The answer is found in the next  rule.

3. In cases where two nouns appear, and both take the same case  ending, the author will often add the definite article to the word that is the  subject in order to avoid confusion. John put the definite article on  logos (“the Word”) instead of on theos. So, logos is the  subject, and theos is the predicate nominative. In English, this results  in John 1:1 being read as “and the  Word was God” (instead of “and God was the word”).

The most revealing  evidence of the Watchtower’s bias is their inconsistent translation technique.  Throughout the Gospel of John, the Greek word theon occurs without a  definite article. The New World Translation renders none of these as “a god.”  Just three verses after John 1:1, the  New World Translation translates another case of theos without the  indefinite article as “God.” Even more inconsistent, in John 1:18, the NWT translates the same term as both “God”  and “god” in the very same sentence.

The Watchtower, therefore, has no  hard textual grounds for their translation—only their own theological bias.  While New World Translation defenders might succeed in showing that John 1:1 can be translated as they have done, they cannot  show that it is the proper translation. Nor can they explain the fact that that  the NWT does not translate the same Greek phrases elsewhere in the Gospel of  John the same way. It is only the pre-conceived heretical rejection of the deity  of Christ that forces the Watchtower Society to inconsistently translate the  Greek text, thus allowing their error to gain some semblance of legitimacy in  the minds of those ignorant of the facts.

It is only the Watchtower’s  pre-conceived heretical beliefs that are behind the dishonest and inconsistent  translation that is the New World Translation. The New World Translation is most  definitely not a valid version of God’s Word. There are minor differences among  all the major English translations of the Bible. No English translation is  perfect. However, while other Bible translators make minor mistakes in the  rendering of the Hebrew and Greek text into English, the NWT intentionally  changes the rendering of the text to conform to Jehovah’s Witness theology. The  New World Translation is a perversion, not a version, of the Bible.

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