NWT - Franz and Hebrew

GregStffrd at aol.com GregStffrd at aol.com
Fri Jun 15 11:30:36 EDT 2001

Dear Dave:

I am greatly disappointed that you completely avoided the issue at hand (Isa. 
40:26), yet you felt it necessary to bring to the fore other issues which are 
not relevant, here. You also made several terrible mistakes in your email, 
particular in reference to F. W. Franz' testimony. Let me help straighten 
this mess out: 

The trial you mentioned was held to establish whether or not Jehovah's 
Witnesses should be recognized as a legal religious organization in Scotland. 
Here is the salient portion of Franz' testimony under cross-examination:

Cross: "You, yourself, read and speak Hebrew, do you?"
Franz: "I do not speak Hebrew."
Cross: "You do not?"
Franz: "No."
Cross: "Can you, yourself, translate that into Hebrew?"
Franz: "Which?"
Cross: "That fourth verse of the Second Chapter of Genesis?"
Franz: "You mean here?"
Cross: "Yes."
Franz: "No. I won't attempt to do that." 

Let us assume for the moment that Franz could not speak or read Hebrew. How 
in the world does this prove that he could not translate Greek? Franz studied 
Greek for two years at the University of Cincinnati and continued his study 
of the language after he decided to become a full-time minister. Also, how 
does his testimony imply that the other Committee members (assuming that 
Franz was a member of the Committee) were unable to translate Hebrew or 
Greek? Of course, it does not.

Getting back to the cross-examination of F. W. Franz, note his complete 
answer to the final question of the cross-examiner. To the question, "Can you 
translate that [Genesis 2:4] into Hebrew?" He responds with, "No. I won't 
attempt to do that."  May I point out that Franz did not say that he COULD 
NOT translate the English of Genesis 2:4 (NWT) into Hebrew, but that he WOULD 
NOT attempt to do so. Why would he refuse to do so? Perhaps the answer to 
this question will be better understood after we consider the following 
comments from William Sanford LaSor:

All learning is in context. The context, however, is not artificial, composed 
perchance by one who does not use the language naturally, but rather it is 
the actual language of those who used it as their mother-tongue. For this 
reason, I refuse to ask the students to compose sentences in Hebrew. To do so 
is to impress errors on the student's mind. And, frankly, most of us who 
teach Biblical Hebrew do not have sufficient fluency in the language to speak 
or write in it. (William Sanford LaSor, Handbook of Biblical Hebrew, vol. 1 
[Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978], page 3.)


Now, considering Franz' earlier testimony, that he had made himself familiar 
with Hebrew, and that he could read and follow the Bible in Hebrew,  and his 
admission that he could not SPEAK Hebrew, we can certainly understand Franz' 
refusal to translate Genesis 2:4 from English INTO Hebrew (not Hebrew into 
English). For, as LaSor points out, even most teachers of Biblical Hebrew "do 
not have sufficient fluency in the language to speak or write in it." So your 
assessment of Franz' testimony is superficial, inaccurate, and misleading.


Your remarks about Mantey and the "Bible Answer Man" (BTW, does he speak or 
read Hebrew?) are also wildly inappropriate as a response to this topic of 
Isa. 40:26. 

It's probably a good idea for everybody if you answer questions that are put 
to you on topics relevant to this List. Making inaccurate statements, 
off-base claims, and misleading people about the translation skills of 
certain people, is not an endearing quality. It is certainly not something 
one would expect from a Reverend.

Best regards,

Greg Stafford.

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