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«Examining the New World Translation by Raymond C. Faircloth The New World Translation of the Bible was released in six volumes for the benefit of ...»

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Volume 5 - Study 23

Examining the New World Translation

by Raymond C. Faircloth

The New World Translation of the Bible was released in six volumes for the benefit of Jehovah’s Witnesses,

from 1950 to 1960 and revised in 1981, again in 1984, and again finally in 2013. The New World Translation

Committee stated that its members wished to remain anonymous. However, former members of the Jehovah’s

Witnesses organization have identified the members of the Committee as being: Nathan H. Knorr, Frederick W.

Franz, George D. Gangas, and Albert D. Schroeder. However, according to Raymond Franz, the “principal translator of the Society’s New World Translation” was Frederick W. Franz. Also M. James Penton concurs in saying: “to all intents and purposes the New World Translation is the work of one man, Frederick Franz.” In the producing of this translation it was realized that the Bible should define its own terms rather than following the phrasing of other English translations. This meant that greater use was made of the Hebrew and Greek lexicons that were based on the original language words.

Points of Excellence


These were primarily translated from Rudolph Kittels Biblia Hebraica. The points of excellence are:

• Use of the Divine Name in all occurrences. (NOTE: There is great uncertainty as to which is more accurate - whether Yahweh, or certain others – but not Jehovah for the reasons explained in STUDY 22.

Perhaps simply presenting the letters YHWH would have been best).

• Consistency in translation of the Hebrew word nephesh as soul.

• Consistency in transliteration of sheol.


• Consistency in transliteration of hades or now as its translation as “Grave” instead of the word ‘hell’.

• Consistency in rendering Gehenna as a place name instead of the word ‘hell’.

• Rendering Tartarus as a place name instead of the word ‘hell’.

• Consistent distinction between the singular and plural of the word “you.”

• The fine distinctions in verb forms of the Greek language are demonstrated, no doubt from referencing the renowned translation entitled “The New Testament in the Language of the People” (1937) by

Charles B. Williams. Examples in the NWT are:

Matthew 7:7: “…keep on asking…keep on seeking…” rather than “ask…seek.” John 17:21: “…are in union with me” rather than “in me.” Ephesians 5:11 “quit sharing with them in the unfruitful works” rather than “do not share…”

• Legitimate placing of punctuation or rendering of expressions that are in harmony with the teaching of the rest of Scrip

–  –  –

• Legitimate word choices harmonizing with the teaching of the rest of Scripture: As with REB and NJB rendering ‘proskyneo’ as “pay homage” the NWT gives “did obeisance” rather than ‘worshipped.’ Other

examples in the NWT are:

Luke 22:29:

“I make a covenant with you … for a kingdom” rather than “I assign to you a kingdom.”

Acts 13:48:

“…all those who were rightly disposed to everlasting life” rather than “appointed to.” 2 Corinthians 13:14: “…and the sharing in the holy spirit…” rather than “fellowship of the…” 2 Thessalonians 2:2: “…through an inspired expression (Literal ‘spirit’).” Also 1 John 4:1.

Hebrews 11:5:

“By faith Enoch was transferred…” rather than “taken up” which is sometimes mistranslated in the paraphrased Bibles as “taken up to heaven.” However, most of these renderings are also spread throughout in a good number of other translations.

Problem Areas GENERAL The New World Translation Committee’s claim to have attempted to use a single English word for each occurrence of the Hebrew and Greek words is a poor approach to translation. According to research professor of N.T. D. A. Carson each Greek or Hebrew word: “brings a broad semantic range with it before it is shaped by the context.” In other words the NW Translation Committee may have failed to recognize that the meaning of many words is gained only when the word is examined in context.

~ The Hebrew Scriptures~ APOSTASY Jeremiah 23:15 (Heb. hnuppa = ungodliness, godlessness, profaneness).

NWT- “apostasy” All other translations - “ungodliness”, “godlessness.” The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology gives the meaning of hnuppa as: “godlessness.

ungodliness, perversity” but not apostasy.

APOSTATE Job 8:13, 13:16, 15:34, 17:8, 20:5, 27:8, 34:30, 36:13, Psalms 35:16; Proverbs 11:9; Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 9:17, 33:14: (Heb. hanep = godless, ungodly).

NWT- “an apostate(s)” KJV- “a hypocrite.” This is one of the many words that have changed meaning over time.

All other translations - “the godless man (men)” or “impious man (men).” For all of the above texts the BDB Hebrew lexicon defines hanep as “profane, irreligious...godless, godless man...profane men” but not apostate in the above texts. The only time the word apostate is used in this lexical definition is set within brackets and with reference to the Syriac word in relation to the Muslim religion: “(Syr.

profane, hence oft, heathen, apostate; inclining to a right state, esp. the true religion, a Muslim).”

The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology gives the definition of this Hebrew word as:

“be godless, defiled, perverse, defiant” but not apostate. And in Job 36:13 ESV it states that: “those godless in heart cherish anger.” To translate wrongly as in the NWT: “those apostate in heart lay up anger” makes no ____________________

3 sense because it is not a feature of apostasy to “lay up anger” just because a person has changed his or her view concerning a belief or even left God. Clearly, in all these verses this is a case of purposeful mistranslation by the NWT translation committee. So the dictionary definition of apostasy is: “An abandonment of one’s religious faith, or any cause or principle to which one was attached. Apostanai “to stand away from.” Is it really “an abandonment of one’s religious faith” if one leaves a particular denomination but continues to believe and live in accordance with the Scriptures? Job 8:13 is in the context of those who “forget God.” But many who leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization do not forget God, but by personal study they realize that a good number of the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses are simply wrong. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society may view changes in understanding of the Scriptures by an individual as apostasy; yet this is, in fact, exactly what the WBTS itself has done throughout its history. Indeed there is a world of difference between one who is godless and one who is apostate. A person accused of apostasy may not actually be godless but simply seeks to know the truth of the Scriptures. In reverse a godless person may never have apostatized from a particular religious group.

However, true apostasy does concern one’s leaving God, but that is not the subject of the above mistranslated verses in the NWT.

With the arrival of the 2013 revision of the NWT some of the above noted texts are no longer rendered with the word “apostate” but are correctly rendered.


Proverbs 1:20, 21; 3:14-18; 8:1-3; 9:1-5:

The Hebrew word hokma translated as wisdom is feminine for the sake of personification of wisdom as a woman. The intent that personification is meant is demonstrated by the entire context of these passages. In 8:4she speaks as I, me and myself demonstrating the personification. Yet the NWT consistently translates the pronouns associated with hokma as neuter, that is, it and itself, and thereby losing the effect of this figure of speech. This is a case of contextual mistranslation. Likely this mistranslation is made because of the false teaching that Proverbs 8 is about a pre-existent person who became Jesus Christ.


Genesis 1:1-2:

“In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of [the] watery deep; and God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” The phrase “God’s active force” is interpretive rather than translational. The Hebrew is ruach elohim which means “spirit of God” as in most translations (with or without a capital “S”).


Zechariah 12:10. “...they will look upon the one whom they have pierced...” Here the Hebrew is “look upon me whom they have pierced...” This can be seen in the Hebrew Interlinear and all other translations.

Overly Literal Translation Leading to Faulty Interpretation “That is why the wicked will not stand up in the judgment” (Ps. 1:5 NWT). Many other literal versions also give the similar rendering of “stand in the judgment.” So this is taken by some to mean that the wicked will never be resurrected. Yet, this is in contradiction of Jesus’ words in John 5 which speaks of a resurrection of the unrighteous. Also the judgment is described in Revelation 20:11-15 showing the wicked as having been judged at that future time. However, there are translations which present the clear meaning as e.g. “Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment (NAB and HCSB); “When judgement comes they will not stand firm” (REB and NJB); “shall not stand [justified] in the judgment” (Amplified); “For this reason the wicked cannot

withstand judgment” (NET). The notes for the NET Bible state:

4  Heb “arise in,” but the verb is used metonymically here in the sense of “stand”; “endure,” as in 1 Sam 13:14 and Job 8:15. The negated Hebrew imperfect verbal form is here taken as indicating incapability or lack of potential, though one could understand the verb form as indicating what is typical (“do not withstand”) or what will happen (“will not withstand”).

~ The Christian Scriptures~ For the most part the Christian Greek Scripture section is fairly literal and is rendered from the Westcott & Hort text, but consulting the Nestle-Aland text in its revisions. However, it does have some peculiar non-literal renderings - paraphrases. Some of these appear to be to emphasize certain theological points peculiar to the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are also words added to and words omitted from the text. Sometimes it is unclear why there is a change from the text. Nevertheless, these are all indicators of a lack of faithfulness to the text and, without doubt, to the principle concerning the scroll of Revelation which applies to all of the holy


“I am bearing witness to everyone that hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone makes an  addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll; and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life and out of the holy city, things which are written about in this scroll.” (Rev. 22:18, 19).

Incorrect Translation of Individual Words to Emphasize a Theological Point

Matthew 24:3b:

NWT - “system(s) of things.” 34 occurrences. No other translation uses this phrase or any similar term.

KIT – “age” (Gk aionos). All interlinears give “age,” or “ages,” as the meaning.

Most modern translations render aionos fairly consistently as “age,” “ages,” or “long ago” in the more than 40 occurrences that do not mean “ever.” Aion always refers to time and so because “system of things” does not refer to time it is as incorrect a rendering as “world” in the KJV and others. The NWT and KIT have the footnote “or ‘order of things.’” However, it is really the Greek word kosmos that refers to the ‘order of things’ i.e. an orderly arrangement and refers to “the world of mankind.” See Bauer’s Gk-Eng. lexicon.

Luke 23:42:

NWT- “…when you get into your kingdom.” KIT- “…whenever you might come into your kingdom.” All other translations have the word “come.” The NWT seems to have been so rendered as to give the impression that Jesus goes to get into his kingdom in heaven instead of coming into his kingdom on earth.

Luke 24:35:

NWT “…became known to them by the breaking of the bread.” KIT “…became known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Most translations have “in” “when,” or “as he was breaking the bread.” The NJB has “at.” This simply links the timing of his recognition to them at the breaking of the bread, not that it was the way he broke it that enabled them to recognize him.

–  –  –

Romans 5:14:

NWT - “…of Adam, who bears a resemblance (Gk typos) to him.” KIT - “…of Adam, who is a type of the one…” Most translations have “type.” NJB -“prefigured.” REB -“foreshadows.” NIV - “pattern.” NLT - “a symbol, a representation of.” Bauer’s Lexicon defines typos as used in Romans 5:14 as: “of the types given by God as an indication of the future, in the form of persons or things.” Here the NWT seems to be watering down the exact paralleling of Adam with Jesus—the second Adam.

Romans 8:23:

NWT - “Release from our bodies by ransom.” KIT - “Release by ransom of the body.” Most other translations - “Redemption of the body.” NJB - “For our bodies to be set free.” REB - “Our liberation from mortality” which does not mean from our bodies.

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