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Are most Christian bibles and Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible the same ? If not what are some important differences in them?

  • Welcome to Christianity Stack Exchange. When you have a moment, please take our tour and visit our help center. – Lesley Jul 30 '18 at 12:03
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    Possible duplicate of Do Jehovah's Witnesses have their own version of the Bible? – 4castle Jul 30 '18 at 12:46
  • There are similarities but this question asks specifically for the differences between the NWT and other translations. I don’t think this question is a duplicate of the one asked in August 2012. – Lesley Jul 30 '18 at 14:00
  • @Lesley The answers to the other question only discuss the differences as well. – 4castle Jul 30 '18 at 14:07
  • That's as maybe, but this question might elicit more responses and further insights. Perhaps we should wait and see? I think the answer given by TRiG to the 2012 question provides excellent information. However, it's worth noting that the 2012 question is in error when it suggests that Jehovah's Witnesses don't accept other Bible translations. Up until 1961 (when the complete NWT was published) the Witnesses used the KJV. – Lesley Jul 30 '18 at 14:13
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The main difference between the New World Translation (NWT) and other Bibles is that the NWT has attempted to eliminate almost all references to the divinity of Jesus in the New Testament. Another obvious difference is the introduction of the name ‘Jehovah’ into the New Testament. This is also an attempt to deny that Jesus is God.

The King James Version text is based on the ‘Textus Receptus’ which is not used by the New World Translation, the New International Version, the New Living Translation or the English Standard Version. The NWT Christian Greek Scriptures (New Testament) is mainly taken from the Westcott and Hort translation, but has been altered and changed to support the views of Jehovah's Witnesses that the pre-mortal Jesus was created by Jehovah and that Jesus is not part of the One Being of God.

It is true that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity and they do not believe that Jesus is God. See Section IV, V, and VI in the following article by Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, who was professor of New Testament at Princeton University. The article also looks into the history and background of the New World Translation: http://www.bible-researcher.com/metzger.jw.html

Here is a partial quote from an article that examines the background to the translators and the editing of the New World Translation and provides examples of the NWT anti-Trinitarian bias:

“New Testament, 1950. Frederick W. Franz, ed., New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures Rendered from the Original Language by the New World Translation Committee. Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1950.

Bible, 1961. Frederick W. Franz, ed., The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, rendered from the Original Languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee. Revised A.D. 1961. Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, 1961. The Old Testament was originally published in parts from 1953 to 1960. The whole was revised for the one-volume edition in 1961, and subsequently revised in 1970 and 1984.

The publisher of this version has never made public the names of the translators. But former members of the Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization have identified the members of the committee as Nathan H. Knorr (President of the organization), Frederick W. Franz (Vice-President), George D. Gangas, and Albert D. Schroeder. According to Raymond V. Franz, the "principal translator of the Society's New World Translation" was Frederick W. Franz. (1) According to M. James Penton, "to all intents and purposes the New World Translation is the work of one man, Frederick Franz." (2) Franz afterwards became the President of the organization, from 1977 to 1992, and was responsible for the revisions.

The Forward to the first edition of the New Testament (1950) explained the need for the version, and also indicated the reason for its name: "It befits the significant time of transition from the old world to the righteous new world that translations of the Scriptures today should as far as possible eliminate the misleading influence of religious traditions which have their roots in paganism." (p.7, emphasis added.)

The New Testament adheres to the text of Westcott & Hort. It is a fairly literal translation, for the most part, but it does have some peculiar non-literal renderings. These are the result of the committee's efforts to conform the version to the doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses. "Jehovah" is given as a translation for kurios (Lord) in the New Testament whenever the Father is meant, but not when it refers to Christ, the Son. "Torture stake" is put instead of "cross" because the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the cross is an idolatrous symbol introduced by the Roman Catholic Church. And because this sect teaches that Jesus Christ was merely an angel, the version shows an anti-trinitarian bias in several places.”

Examples of Anti-Trinitarian bias then follow. http://www.bible-researcher.com/new-world.html

Here is a short extract from the article ‘The New World Translation - What the Scholars Really Said’:

“The Watchtower and Jehovah's Witness apologists have often cited scholars in support of the New World Translation in general, and particularly its rendering of John 1:1c ("and the Word was a god"). Scholarly citation is a form of an "argument from authority." Such an argument cannot establish the truth or falsity of a given assertion; it can merely lend credence or cast doubt. Sound arguments from authority will consist of an accurate quotation from the scholar in question, which entails insuring that the context of the authority's statements are consistent with the argument being presented, and that contrary statements in the same passage are not removed with creative use of ellipses ("..."). Further, the scholar must be a recognized authority in a field that pertains directly to the assertion being made.

When Jehovah's Witnesses produce scholars that support the NWT, we must first establish that the scholar is, indeed, a recognized expert in the field of Biblical Languages, and that he or she has been quoted accurately. When given careful consideration, many of the scholars used by Jehovah's Witnesses do not actually constitute a sound argument from authority. I'm not suggesting that no scholars may be found in support of the NWT or its translation of John 1:1, but these are in the minority and often are not as qualified in their field as the scores of scholars who advocate the traditional translation.”

The chart that follows examines how some scholars have been used in defense of the NWT and whether they actually support the Watchtower translation as claimed: http://www.forananswer.org/Top_JW/Scholars%20and%20NWT.htm

Readers are at liberty to study the articles referenced and to draw their own conclusions.

  • The NWT also alters numerous Old Testament verses to better serve their purposes, along the same lines (especially as regards antitrinitarianism and anticatholicism) – the dark wanderer Jul 30 '18 at 22:53
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    Jehovah’s Witnesses would point out that references to Jesus’ divinity were not in the original writings but were added to bolster trinitarian dogma.and that the name Jehovah was restored to its proper place in scripture not added. – Kris Jul 31 '18 at 1:10
  • @thedarkwanderer alters Old Testament verses as written in which original earliest manuscripts? Or are you referring to altering from other translations that are preferred by trinitarian and catholic scholars? – Kris Jul 31 '18 at 1:15
  • @Kris comments are not for discussion. My comment is a suggestion to the answerer that pointing out the alterations the Jehovah's Witnesses have made to the old testament in addition to the answer which currently focuses on the news testament may be a valuable addition. I don't think citations refuting the Jehovah's Witnesses position as to their translations of the old testament would be useful in conveying my intent to the intended audience. I trust the answerer as they have shown themselves capable with the New Testament to do a similar job with the Old Testament. – the dark wanderer Jul 31 '18 at 5:05
  • @thedarkwanderer feel free to offer an answer that supplements this one with your examples of how NWT altered Hebrew Scriptures. – Kris Jul 31 '18 at 13:29
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One major difference between the NWT and other bible translations is that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society make it available, in print, at no cost to all in over 160 languages. They take seriously Jesus command...you received free, give free. Because monetary profit does not come into play, the mainstream religious stamp of approval is not necessary to continue production. If a translation gets a thumbs down from from the clergy of the major denominations, it won’t sell. Period. Decide for yourselves if this might effect translators decisions when a difficult verse effecting doctrine can be translated in more than one way (especially after pouring decades of hard work into a translation) OR which translations are chosen for mass production by publishers. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/12/18/the-good-book-business

Another distinctive feature of NWT is the fact that when a verse or word can be translated in more than one way that could effect the understanding, there is a note directing you to the appendix, which explains the possible options, sometimes with photos of original scrolls, why the translators have chosen to translate in such a way, and lists other translations that have also translated the verse in such a way. I have never come across a bible that explains so thoroughly the translators viewpoint, with proofs so easily understood.

The online version goes further, allowing the reader to compare each bible verse with other translations (those that are in the public domaine). Also, if an individual wishes to do further research on a particular verse, the online watchtower library will take you there, often presenting the view of translators that understand the verse differently. Jehovah’s witnesses have no problem changing their beliefs if it’s in harmony with the scriptures, (something they are often criticized for). Popular or not, If it’s in the NWT there’s sound basis.

This being said, the NWT is pretty much the same as other translations. The scriptures that raise controversy are comparatively few and mostly raise the ire of those who profess the trinity doctrine. You can see how passionate this discussion is by jumping over to bible hermeneutics... https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1161/in-john-11c-should-the-greek-word-θεὸς-be-translated-into-english-as-a-god-o/1162

The restoration of Gods name in the NWT is somewhat controversial, but is certainly well founded in the Hebrew Scriptures and not without precedent in the Greek scriptures.

https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2017128#h=12:294-13:190

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/great-bibles-judaic-treasures

https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1001061205#h=12:0-12:761

But every translation brings something unique and valuable to the table. Jehovah’s witnesses have deep respect for all translations and have no issue with using other translations in their bible education work. Jehovah’s witnesses also have a free bible museum open to the public in Warwick, N.Y., focused on Gods Holy name in scripture throughout the centuries. I’ve been there. It’s amazing and awe inspiring.

A bible exhibit that glorifies gods name: https://tv.jw.org/#en/mediaitems/VODBibleTranslations/docid-502016501_1_VIDEO

Below is a video about brave translators through the centuries such as William Tyndale and Michael Servetus: https://tv.jw.org/#en/mediaitems/VODBibleTranslations/docid-502017151_1_VIDEO

Dhttps://www.jw.org/en/

  • Small correction: the other Bibles found on jw.org are ones which the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society have received printing rights for. They aren't all in the public domain. – 4castle Jul 31 '18 at 22:52
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    It is disingenuous to assert that the differences are insignificant. – DJClayworth Dec 12 '18 at 20:46
  • @DJClayworth I didn’t mean to imply it was an insignificant difference that Gods Holy Name has been removed from many bibles. But throughout the scriptures there are many references where God makes clear he wants people to use his name, which clarifies whether it should have been removed in the 1st place. Likewise, a person doesn’t need to get involved in heated debates about which translation is best to understand Gods thinking on any matter when they discover the many other bible verses on any topic. This is why Jehovah’s witnesses don’t focus on which translation a person uses (2 Tim 3:16) – 1982 Dec 15 '18 at 14:36
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Many a prone to over react when talking about the NWT due to not knowing just what it says.

True they are verses that are bones of contention, but when put in a the context of the whole Bible they are in fact, very few in number.

What we preach is from on the King James Version of The Bible in the first instance as you can find the same teachings therein.

You would have to pick a verse or two to be examined openly.

Today many newer (some older) editions of The Bible now or do render various verses that are seen to be wrong in the NWT; the same way as the NWT doe or very close to the way it does, for example the following; John 1:1:-

VARIOUS OTHER RENDERINGS OF JOHN 1:1 Jesus Christ-The Wisdom and Word/Logos of God The following is a list of variant translations of John 1:1:

Interlineary Word for Word English Translation-Emphatic Diaglott, "In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word."

Edward Harwood, H KAINH DIAQHKH. The New Testament, collated with the most approved manuscripts; with select notes in English, critical and explanatory, and references to those authors who have best illustrated the sacred writings. To which are added, a Catalogue of the principal Editions of the Greek Testament; and a List of the most esteemed Commentators and critics. London, 1776, 2 vols; 2nd ed. 1784, 2 vols. 1768, "and was himself a divine person"

Newcome, 1808, "and the word was a god"

Crellius,as quoted in The New Testament in an Improved Version "the Word was God's"

La Bible du Centenaire, L’Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel,1928: “and the Word was a divine being.”

John Samuel Thompson, The Montessoran; or The Gospel History According to the Four Evangelists, Baltimore; published by the translator, 1829, "the Logos was a god

Goodspeed's An American Translation, 1939, "the Word was divine

Revised Version-Improved and Corrected, "the word was a god."

Prof. Felix Just, S.J. - Loyola Marymount University, "and god[-ly/-like] was the Word."

The Four Gospels—A New Translation, by Professor Charles Cutler Torrey, Second Edition, 1947, "the Word was god

New English Bible, 1961, "what God was,the Word was"

Moffatt's The Bible, 1972, "the Logos was divine"

International English Bible-Extreme New Testament, 2001, "the Word was God*[ftn. or Deity, Divine, which is a better translation, because the Greek definite article is not present before this Greek word]

Reijnier Rooleeuw, M.D. -The New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ, translated from the Greek, 1694, "and the Word was a god"

Simple English Bible, "and the Message was Deity"

Hermann Heinfetter, A Literal Translation of the New Testament,1863, [A]s a god the Command was"

Abner Kneeland-The New Testament in Greek and English, 1822, "The Word was a God" Robert Young, LL.D. (Concise Commentary on the Holy Bible [Grand Rapids: Baker, n.d.], 54). 1885, "[A]nd a God (i.e. a Divine Being) was the Word"

Belsham N.T. 1809 “the Word was a god”

Leicester Ambrose, The Final Theology, Volume 1, New York, New York; M.B. Sawyer and Company, 1879, "And the logos was a god"

Charles A.L. Totten, The Gospel of History, 1900, "the Word was Deistic [=The Word was Godly]

J.N. Jannaris, Zeitschrift fur die Newtestameutlich Wissencraft, (German periodical) 1901, [A]nd was a god"

International Bible Translators N.T. 1981 “In the beginning there was the Message. The Message was with God. The Message was deity.”

Samuel Clarke, M.A., D.D., rector of St. James, Westminster, A Paraphrase on the Gospel of John, London "[A] Divine Person."

Joseph Priestley, LL.D., F.R.S. (in A Familiar Illustration of Certain Passages of Scripture Relating to The Power of Man to do the Will of God, Original Sin, Election and Reprobation, The Divinity of Christ; And, Atonement for Sin by the Death of Christ [Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1794], 37). "a God"

Lant Carpenter, LL.D (in Unitarianism in the Gospels [London: C. Stower, 1809], 156). "a God"

Andrews Norton, D.D. (in A Statement of Reasons For Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians [Cambridge: Brown, Shattuck, and Company, 1833], 74). "a god"

Paul Wernle, Professor Extraordinary of Modern Church History at the University of Basil (in The Beginnings of Christianity, vol. 1, The Rise of Religion [1903], 16). "a God" "At the beginning of Creation, there dwelt with God a mighty spirit, the Marshal, who produced all things in their order."

21st Century NT Free "and the [Marshal] [Word] was a god." 21st Century Literal

George William Horner, The Coptic Version of the New Testament, 1911, [A]nd (a) God was the word"

Ernest Findlay Scott, The Literature of the New Testament, New York, Columbia University Press, 1932, "[A]nd the Word was of divine nature"

James L. Tomanec, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Anointed, 1958, [T]he Word was a God"

Philip Harner, JBL, Vol. 92, 1974, "The Word had the same nature as God"

Maximilian Zerwich S.J./Mary Grosvenor, 1974, "The Word was divine."

Siegfried Schulz, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 1975, "And a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word"

Translator's NT, 1973, "The Word was with God and shared his nature ...with footnote, "There is a distinction in the Greek here between 'with God' and 'God.' In the forst instance, the article is used and this makes the reference specific. In the second instance there is not article, and it is difficult to believe that the omission is not significant. In effect it gives an adjectival quality to the second use of Theos (God) so that the phrae means 'The Word was divine'."

William Barclay's The New Testament, 1976, "the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God"

Johannes Schneider, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 1978, "and godlike sort was the Logos

Schonfield's The Original New Testament, 1985, "the Word was divine

Revised English Bible, 1989, "what God was, the Word was

Scholar's Version-The Five Gospels, 1993, "The Divine word and wisdom was there with God, and it was what God was

J. Madsen, New Testament A Rendering , 1994, "the Word was a divine Being"

Jurgen Becker, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 1979, "a God/god was the Logos/logos"

Curt Stage, The New Testament, 1907, "The Word/word was itself a divine Being/being."

Bohmer, 1910, "It was strongly linked to God, yes itself divine Being/being"

Das Neue Testament, by Ludwig Thimme, 1919, "God of Kind/kind was the Word/word"

Baumgarten et al, 1920, "God (of Kind/kind) was the Logos/logos"

Holzmann, 1926, "ein Gott war der Gedanke" [a God/god was the Thought/thought]

Friedriche Rittelmeyer, 1938, "itself a God/god was the Word/word"

Lyder Brun (Norw. professor of NT theology), 1945, "the Word was of divine kind"

Fredrich Pfaefflin, The New Testament, 1949, "was of divine Kind/kind"

Albrecht, 1957, "godlike Being/being had the Word/word"

Smit, 1960, "the word of the world was a divine being"

Menge, 1961, "God(=godlike Being/being) was the Word/word"

Haenchen, 1980, "God (of Kind/kind) was the Logos/logos" [as mentioned in William Loader's The Christology of the Fourth Gospel, p. 155 cf. p.260]

Die Bibel in heutigem Deutsch, 1982, "He was with God and in all like God"

Haenchen (tr. By R. Funk), 1984, "divine (of the category divinity)was the Logos"

Johannes Schulz, 1987, "a God/god (or: God/god of Kind/kind) was the Word/word." [As mentioned in William Loader's The Christology of the Fourth Gospel, p. 155 cf. p.260]

William Temple, Archbishop of York, Readings in St. John's Gospel, London, Macmillan & Co.,1933, "And the Word was divine."

John Crellius, Latin form of German, The 2 Books of John Crellius Fancus, Touching One God the Father, 1631, "The Word of Speech was a God"

Greek Orthodox /Arabic Calendar, incorporating portions of the 4 Gospels, Greek Orthodox Patriarchy or Beirut, May, 1983, "the word was with Allah[God] and the word was a god"

Ervin Edward Stringfellow (Prof. of NT Language and Literature/Drake University, 1943, "And the Word was Divine"

Robert Harvey, D.D., Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Westminster College, Cambridge, in The Historic Jesus in the New Testament, London, Student Movement Christian Press1931 "and the Logos was divine (a divine being)"

Jesuit John L. McKenzie, 1965, wrote in his Dictionary of the Bible: "Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated . . . 'the word was a divine being.'

Many are inclined to say the only The NWT renders John 1:1 "a god," the above shows this very much so not to be the real case!! Also we refuse to substitute God's personal "name" "Jehovah" for phrase "the LORD" which is an illegal change:-

NWT Deuteronomy 4:2 "YOU MUST NOT add to the word that I am commanding you, neither must you take away from it, so as to keep the commandments of Jehovah (Heb. YHWH) your God that I am commanding you.

  • "Also we refuse to substitute God's personal "name" "Jehovah" for phrase "the LORD"" is that you claiming that the New Testament has been corrupted, then? And if corrupted, how do you choose when kurios was originally yhvh or adoni? – Sola Gratia Dec 15 '18 at 16:58
  • Also, why do you cite "what God was,the Word was" and "the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God" among translations supposed to support the idea that θεος ην ο λογος means 'the Word was a god?' The above contradict this and say He has the same nature as God. Only one Being as the eternal divine nature, or do JW reject that? – Sola Gratia Dec 15 '18 at 17:00
  • @Sola Geatia Yep same nature; but not the same person! – user43190 Dec 15 '18 at 17:18
  • But God's nature is the eternal and so infinite God of all creation. It's not something less. – Sola Gratia Dec 15 '18 at 17:52

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