|By: Lorri MacGregor; ©August 1999|
|The New World Translation of the Bible, published by the Watchtower Society, translates John 1:1 as follows: “and the word was a god.” In this intriguing article Lorri MacGregor examines the evidence and the sources they use to support that translation.|
The New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses caused quite a stir in the religious world when John 1:1 was translated “...and the Word was a god.”
They are not without support for this translation, however, and we will now take a closer look at the precedents for translating, “and the Word was a god.”
We find this important topic discussed in the publication by the Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Word Who is He? According to John. On page 5 we read: “Similar is the reading by a former Catholic Priest ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god’.”
We are directed to a footnote which reads, “The New Testament—a New Translation and Explanation Based on the Oldest Manuscripts, by Johannes Greber [a translation from German into English], edition of 1937, the front cover of this bound translation being stamped with a gold cross.” Likewise, we find this translation by Johannes Greber referred to in Make Sure of All Things Hold Fast to What is Fine [1965 ed.], page 489.
The Johannes Greber New Testament obviously set a precedent for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their rendering of John 1:1 is almost identical. We again find Johannes Greber quoted in Aid to Bible Understanding, on pages 1134 and 1669.
Prior to the introduction of this New Testament by Greber, we find the following statements about the man himself and his prayers for guidance in his translating task:
Prayers that were answered, and discrepancies clarified to him, by God’s Spirit World. At times he was given the correct answers in large illuminated letters and words passing before his eyes. Other times he was given the correct answers during prayer meetings. His wife, a medium of God’s Spirit World was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber.
As we examine this New Testament further we find constant references to God’s holy spirits [plural], and it becomes more and more obvious that we are dealing with a man deep into spiritism. This, of course, is forbidden by God’s word. Leviticus 19:31 says, “Do not turn to mediums or spiritualists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them.”
Johannes Greber published not only the New Testament, but we are also told by his foundation, “Late in the summer of 1923 God’s holy spirits contacted Pastor Greber... In his spare time he started to work on his book Communication with the Spirit World. Later he translated the New Testament with the help of God’s spirit world.”
The Johannes Greber Memorial Foundation provided a photo-copy of a letter from the Watchtower Society acknowledging receipt of not only several of his New Testaments, but also Greber’s book Communication with the Spirit World of God.
Why has the Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses willingly and knowingly been in communication with a spiritistic society?
It’s true that in the April 1, 1983 Watchtower, page 31, under “Questions from the Readers,” the Society claims that they found out from the 1980 Edition of the New Testament by Johannes Greber that he was involved with spiritism, and therefore they would not quote from his Bible in the future.
However, the facts are that the Watchtower Society knew, at least from 1956, that Johannes Greber was involved with demon spirits. They published an article to that effect in the Watchtower of February 15, 1956. With this knowledge, they deliberately used his “translation” of the Bible as a basis for their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in 1961. These dates do not lie.
Why would the Watchtower Society knowingly embrace a translation of John 1:1 given by demon spirits? Every Jehovah’s Witness needs to check this out.
Continuing on with the precedents for translating John 1:1 “...and the Word was a god,” we also find the Watchtower Society quoting on page 5 of The Word Who is He? According to John: “This reading is also found in the New Testament in an Improved Version, published in London, England in 1808.”
We are directed to a footnote which reads, “The title page reads ‘The New Testament in An Improved Version, upon the basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation with a Corrected Text, and Notes Critical and Explanatory. Published by a Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Practice of Virtue, by the Distribution of Books—Unitarian.’”
Yes, the key word above is “UNITARIAN.” This is a cult teaching that Jesus was only an extraordinarily good man, nothing more. A Mr. Thomas Belsham, after Archbishop Newcome’s death, altered his text. [See page 394, Manual of Biblical Bibliography.]
This altered text dishonoring Archbishop Newcome’s careful scholarship also provided a basis for the New World Translation’s “...and the Word was a god.” (see also the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, page 1160, 1969 ed.)
Archbishop Newcome certainly never said, the Word was “a god.” Why would the Watchtower use as their guide a cult denying the biblical Christ, and guilty of altering a reputable biblical text? Every Jehovah’s Witness needs to check this out.
A third precedent for translating John 1:1,”...and the Word was a god” comes from the Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson. His translation actually reads “the LOGOS was God.” But he placed the words “a god” under “theos” in the Greek and English.
Mr. Wilson never studied biblical Greek in college. He was a follower of John Thomas, a proven false prophet by biblical definition, and the founder of the Christadelphians, a Christ-dishonoring cult.
Yes, all the “precedents” for translating John 1:1 “...and the Word was a god” crumble away under close and honest scholarship.
Why would the Watchtower Society CHOOSE precedents that are false and even demonic? Why do they CHOOSE to ignore Greek Scholars who are reputable? Every Jehovah’s Witness needs to get satisfactory answers to these important questions.
Each one of us needs to settle the question, “Is Jesus THE GOD, or “a god”?”
If we have the right Jesus Christ, we are right for all eternity, but if we have the wrong Jesus Christ then we are wrong for all eternity.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, write to us for a free copy of the booklet, Could Jesus be “a god”? This is sent out to you confidentially, with no follow up unless requested by you.