Jehovah’s Witnesses: Lost in translation

The Jehovah’s Witnesses use the New World Translation of the Bible. According to Macgregor Ministries, it has been severely mistranslated to mold it to fit the views of their organization. There were no Hebrew or Greek scholars involved in the translation; they refuse to release the names of anyone who was involved.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses also use the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, which has an original Greek manuscript printed next to the English translation. It uses the Westcott & Hort Greek New Testament manuscript, which is believed by Christians to be acceptable. The preface of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation says, “We offer no paraphrase of the Scriptures” and “nearly as possible word for word, the exact statement of the original” (Page 9, 1985 ed.). So the question is: Is it really translated word for word?

One belief of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that only God should be worshiped—and I wholeheartedly agree (1st and 2nd Commandments). However, I disagree with their belief that Jesus isn’t God and shouldn’t be worshiped.

In Revelation 7:11, we read that the angels, elders, and four creatures worshiped God, as you can see in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation.

10rev711.jpg

But, in Matthew 14:33, the same Greek word used for worship in Revelation 7:11 is translated as “obeisance.”
11mat1433.jpg

It’s clear that the Watchtower didn’t translate word for word as they stated. The same Greek word (προσεκύνησαν) is translated into different words, based solely on whom the object of the worship is. All Jehovah’s Witnesses interested in finding the truth should switch to a reliable Bible translation.

There are many other glaring issues with the New World Translation; you can learn more about this from Macgregor Ministries. Most of this information comes from that site.

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6 Responses to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Lost in translation

  1. rbenhase says:

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim Jesus was “a god” but not The God. In other words, he was a lesser god. They actually use the lack of a definite article before “God” (in reference to Jesus, the Word) in the Greek text of John’s Gospel to assume this. When your entire theology is based upon tiny technicalities in the Greek, there might be a problem.

  2. Cretan says:

    The Greek word Proskyneo have several meanings such as worship, knee-deep, obeisance. Jehovah’s Witnesses translated the word proskyneo when it is referred to Jesus because the bible doesn’t support the idea that Jesus is God. There is no error.

    More information you can find here http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/newworldtranslation/pageindex.htm

    (I am from Greece, so my english are not good)

  3. billphillips says:

    Cretan,

    Thanks for your comment. Whether or not Jesus is God is certainly the issue. I’ve been trying to get Jehovah’s Witnesses to discuss this with me, and I’ve written a couple of posts about Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs in the last month or so. Maybe you can find them, and tell me what you think. Specifically, I’d like to hear your thoughts on comparing Revelation 1:8 and Revelation 22:13. Why does Jesus refer to Himself as the Alpha and Omega, when this is a name Jehovah calls Himself?

    If you’re approaching the Bible with a presupposition that Jesus is only a god, you’re going to translate proskyneo in the Matthew 14:33 context as obeisance, and it’s only going to give more evidence that Jesus isn’t God. I’ve heard Jehovah’s Witnesses point out that Jesus never received worship as evidence against the Trinity.

    Your English is pretty good, so don’t worry about it. The sad thing is it’s better than some Americans.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  4. evanden says:

    I hope you don’t mind me butting in on the conversation. The question about Revelation 1:8 & 22:13 is an interesting one indeed. In 1:8, it seems clear that it is God (YHWH) who is doing the speaking. The Greek syntax leaves little room for wiggle room in that verse. However, in 22:13, the waters become a bit murkier, mostly due to the lack of punctuation in the original Greek. Throughout the book of Revelation, John is being led by an angel or messenger of some sort, and starting around Revleation 22:9, he begins to quote the words that he heard in his vision. From Rev. 22:9-11, it is clear that it is the angel speaking. Then, without any warning, in 22:12-13, we find this Alpha and Omega business. The quote goes on through 22:15, and only in 22:16 does John write, “I, Jesus.”

    I’m not suggesting here that Jesus is not the one claiming to be the Alpha and Omega. I’m just saying that identity of the speaker is actually a really difficult question in the context of these final verses of the book. The fact that Koine Greek originally had no punctuation only makes the question a more difficult one. Again, I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness, but I would imagine their defense would point to the ambiguity present.

    The New World Translation is not a particularly good one, and is more theologically “loaded” than most. The fact that they translate the greek “kyrios” as “Jehovah” is particularly troubling, being that kyrios means “Lord,” it is not a formal name. Their use of the name Jehovah is strange to begin with, being that this name is the result of a translation error that happened in fairly recent years. The majority of Biblical scholars seriously question its validity, being that its pronunciation is actually impossible in ancient Hebrew.

    Anyway, that is my two cents. I enjoy your blog and look forward to future conversations. I just started mine, so there isn’t much there. Have a great day!

  5. billphillips says:

    Evanden,

    Thanks for your comment and your Greek expertise. Revelation 1:8 and 22:13 seemed to be the most compelling, but there are other verses to choose from using the names Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End, including Revelation 1:17-18 and Isaiah 44:6.

    There are other names that work like that that I put in a table in one of the previous posts on Jehovah’s Witnesses if anyone cares to look at it, and even more examples when you don’t limit yourself to the NWT.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  6. Sarah says:

    Bill,

    This is response to your comment at http://cornerstonefishingstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/i-finally-had-spiritual-conversation.html

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. The tract that Tony had was from http://www.FellowshipTractLeague.org. The tracts are free although they do take donations. I wasn’t too impressed with their general tracts but I did order 11 different ones that were all geared towards false religions. They’re thin enough that you can keep one of each on you at all times pretty easily (not bulky) for when you come across someone from a false religion. Hope that helps!

    -Sarah

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