Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1951
NUMBER 35, PAGE 10-11

A New Jehovah's Witnesses Bible

Robert C. Welch, Florence, Alabama

Recently one of the Jehovah's Witnesses magazines was handed to me. The September 15, 1950 issue of The Watchtower has much to say about their new translation of the New Testament which they have designated New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. This translation will be in the homes of many people; for all who read their literature will be earnestly persuaded to buy one of these books. A copy of the translation is not before me; therefore this does not pretend to be a review of the translation itself, but a criticism of the articles about it in the above-mentioned issue of the magazine.

The preparatory article speaks of a "pure language" among the peoples. Though the quotation from Zeph. 3:9 is misapplied, their contention is that the peoples of the earth are not speaking a pure language. The implication in the article is that no one except Jehovah's Witnesses is speaking the pure language of God. On page 308 the Bible is said to be the textbook of that pure language. The writer says that does not mean the language in which the Scriptures were originally written, nor does it mean a knowledge of the Bible. But he says it means, "The pure message of God's written Word, which he alone can make clear by his spirit." It is agreed that many religious peoples are not speaking the truth of God. How may we know who is speaking the "pure language?" The article claims that Jehovah's Witnesses are, because God is making it clear to them "by his spirit." Thus, they claim inspiration for their books of supposed explanation of the Scriptures, and for their translation.

The story of its making is given in an article bearing the title of the translation. Announcement of a translating committee was made by the president of the society to its directors according to these words, "After the meeting was opened with prayer the president announced to these eight fellow directors the existence of a 'New World Bible Translation Committee' and that it had completed a translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures." (p. 315) This committee is a Jehovah's Witnesses committee. The article says that existent translations are "inconsistent or unsatisfactory." The implication is that other translations are unsatisfactory to Jehovah's Witnesses. It is no wonder, when their doctrines are examined.

Furthermore, the article claims that this is an "unsectarian work." (p. 316) How can that be when it is in the hands of a sect and denomination, Jehovah's Witnesses? The article gives themselves the grand title, "New World Theocratic Assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses" (p. 314); or, "International Theocracy's Increase Assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses." (p. 316) Such titles cannot be found in the Bible. Such doctrines as they claim are not to be found in the Bible nor in all other religious bodies or assemblies. Thus, by their very name they admit to being a sect. It is to be expected, then, that this translation will follow sectarian tenets even more than those generally accepted translations. For this one belongs to, is acceptable to, and is the product of a sectarian assembly, Jehovah's Witnesses. Other versions belong to an individual, or to a publishing company with no sectarian connection, or to no designated owner. The translations usually accepted were not made by individual denominations, but by recognized bodies. Thus, they were not, and could not be made, to defend any one denomination's peculiar doctrines.

Another feature article mentioned is the use of the word "Jehovah" instead of the usual translation of "Lord." The reason for such change is evident. The sect denominates itself with this first word, thus they make all possible efforts to justify themselves in its use. In other translations the word is not used in the New Testament. It is only found in the Old Testament; some versions even use the word "Lord" in the Old Testament. The article admits that the word "Jehovah" (a Hebrew word) is not found in the ancient manuscripts of the New Testament. The article justifies its use by the argument that Matthew first wrote his book in Hebrew, and that he quoted from the Hebrew Old Testament instead of the Septuagint version which was in Greek. No such contention can be proved; but granting that he did write his book in Hebrew, nothing is known of the words he used, for there is no Hebrew original, nor copy in Hebrew. Watch his consistency, though, in his article. The article is speaking of the book of Matthew, "In that way he could transfer his inspiration to his translation into Greek, so that his written translation was inspired." (p. 311) The Greek manuscripts use the word which is rightly translated "Lord." Jehovah's Witnesses claim the Greek translation was inspired. Thus, the article has destroyed its own argument for the use of the term "Jehovah" instead of "Lord" in the New Testament.

Another feature of this sectarian book pertains to the translation committee. "Therefore the men who compose the translation committee have indicated their desire to the Society's boards of directors to remain anonymous, and specifically do not want their names to be published while they are in life or after death." (p. 320) Why do they want their identity kept secret? The article would have people think that it is because of their meekness. Christ was not anonymous in his work on earth, yet he was meek. Paul attached his name to his epistles, and no one questions his standing in the sight of God. Yet these men refuse to make themselves known, pleading their meekness. How do people know whether they are scholars or not, when they do not make themselves known? The people who read their literature are not scholars so that they can know if the translation is faithful. Their refusal to let themselves be known is a token of duplicity. It indicates that they are unwilling to let their scholarship be questioned. It indicates that they are not scholars, but are putting the doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses sect before the people under the blasphemous claim that it is the word of God.

The scholars who gave us the versions which are daily accepted and used are not boastful of their attainments, yet their names can be ascertained and their scholarship examined. They are willing to stand for their reasons for the rendering. They have freely used the ancient Greek manuscripts as well as ancient translations into other languages in their versions; they have carefully compared all the available material to give us an English version as nearly perfect as possible. This Jehovah's Witnesses committee makes no such open declaration of their work. But they have made an effort to give us a perverted translation which will justify their damnable doctrines such as their false teaching on, "The human soul, hell, earth's destiny, God's kingdom, and other doctrines of importance." (p. 319) If you see a copy, note that it will teach: that all there is to a man is matter; that there is no eternal punishment of the wicked; that the nations of the earth will soon bow to the personal literal reign of Christ as he sits personally on a throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years; giving people who have died in rebellion to him another opportunity to yield to him. Such Russellite doctrines are not to be found in the Bible as it has come to us from reliable and authoritative scholars in their translations. The people should take warning, and not be deceived into using such literature as this purported translation when their peddlers knock on the doors.