NWT

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Fri Jun 15 10:04:46 EDT 2001


Dear Dave,

See my comments below.

>Some on this list have taken issue with my statements, <<None of the seven
>translators of the NWT had any training in Hebrew or Greek, and it seems
>many of the interpretations are intended more for doctrinal purposes than
>accuracy.>>
>
>Since some have asked for clarification, let me point out some problems with
>the the New World Translation.  It is full of New Testament verses with the
>name "Jehovah" in them.  Of course, there is no Jehovah in the Greek, only
>kurios.  But since the importance of Jehovah's name is central to Witness
>theology, they decided to insert them here and there throughout the NT,
>claiming they are simply restoring an unknown version!!!  In Romans 10:9-13
>this passage is clearly teaching that Jesus is Lord.  In fact these very
>words are given in verse 9.  But in verse 13 NWT translates kurios Jehovah,
>not wanting to admit that Jesus is the one who saves.  In Colossians 1:16
>the NWT adds the word "other" even though it's not anywhere in the Greek.
>The reason -- Jesus couldn't have created all things since Jehovah's
>Witnesses believe only Jehovah did that, hence the need to add the word
>other.  In Hebrews 1:8 the Greek seems to be clearly stating about Jesus,
>"Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever."  This presents a
>difficulty to the Witnesses since this is quoting an OT verse that refers to
>Jehovah and they don't want to admit that Jesus might be forever, which
>would be against their teachings.  So they twist it to make a meaningless
>statement, "But with reference to the Son: `God is your throne forever and
>ever....'"  There are many other similarly questionable examples.

I have written a book entitled  "The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible
Translation With a special look at the New World Translation of Jehovah's
Witnesses" where I discuss many of your points below from a philological
and linguistic point of view. The conclusion is that the NWT is a very
accurate translation, but in the book it is criticized on several points as
well.

I see no reason to discuss in detail your NT points on this OT list. I
would just like to mention three points: 1) There is quite a good
philological evidence that the word KURIOS found in NT manuscripts from the
middle of the second century C.E. onward, is a translation of two different
words used by Jesus and his disciples, that one of these words may have
been the tetragrammaton, and that YHWH was replaced by KURIOS in NT
manuscripts between 100 and 125 C.E. as was the case with LXX manuscripts.
2) All the renderings that you criticize below are perfectly legitimate on
the basis of the rules of Greek grammar and syntax. You may disagree with
the choice of the translators, but linguistically their choices have a firm
basis. 3) Your words that "In Colossians 1:16 the NWT adds the word "other"
even though it's not anywhere in the Greek" can rightly be criticized. I
argue in my book that "other" in this place is perfectly legitimate from a
lexical, grammatical and contextual point of view. But I criticize that a
footnote or appendix  explaining this is lacking, and say that a correct
understanding of the meaning is possible also without "other".


>
>As far as the translators -- F.W. Franz was presented in a court case
>against the Watchtower Society as an official translator.  Under
>cross-examiniation, he was forced to admit that he was unable to read
>Hebrew.  Klann, who wrote the book Jehovah of the Watchtower, names five of
>the translators and makes this statement about them, "None of the committee
>members reads New Testament Greek, or, for that matter, Hebrew or Aramaic."
>Mantey (the author of the Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament) was
>offended when he was misquoted by the Watchtower Society.  So he did some
>research and discovered that none of the translators could read Greek or
>Hebrew.  He made this statement on the radio program, The Bible Answer Man.
>The Watchtower Society refuses to give out the names of the "translators,"
>and I wonder why anyone would take seriously a translation when you know
>nothing about the translators!


Most Scandinavian Bible translations do not give the names of their
translators, but that does not lover their quality. To suggest that the
translators of the NWT did not know Greek or Hebrew without knowing their
names, is a strange claim, to say the least. In connection with writing my
book I read the English text of the NWT against the Hebrew text, word for
word. After first reading the Hebrew and then the English text, I sometimes
said to myself: "Was this nuance really in the Hebrew text?" And certainly
it was! The translators of the NWT have been extremely faithful both to
their own translation principles and to the the Hebrew text. those who say
that the translators did not know the original languages either have not
read the thext of the NWT or don't know the original languages themselves.

I also read the transcript of the mentioned case in connection with my
book. It is not true that F.W.Franz stated that he could not read Hebrew.
What happend was that he was asked to translate a passage of Genesis from

English into Hebrew, and he answered that he would not attempt to do that.
This passage is very complex, and I asked two of my collegues who teach
Hebrew at the University of Oslo, to translate the passage. Both had
problems with the translation from English to Hebrew, even though they both
are experienced teachers, and their results were very different. So the
question may have been asked intentionally to try to put Franz into a bad
light. This does of course not tell anything about his ability to read and
translate Hebrew, and it says absolutely nothing about the ability of the
other translators whom we do not know the names of.



Regards

Rolf


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo






















More information about the b-hebrew mailing list