[From ws12/15 p. 9 for February 8-14]
“The word of God is alive.” – He 4:12
One laudable feature of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is its restoration of God’s name to its rightful place. Many other translations substitute LORD where the Tetragrammaton is found in the original.
Paragraph 5 lays down the principle that continues to guide the New World Translation committee[i] to this day.
Why is the inclusion or omission of God’s name significant? A skilled translator knows the importance of understanding the intent of an author; such knowledge affects many translation decisions. Countless Bible verses show the importance of God’s name and its sanctification. (Ex. 3:15; Ps. 83:18; 148:13; Isa. 42:8; 43:10; John 17:6, 26; Acts 15:14) Jehovah God—the Author of the Bible—inspired its writers to use his name freely. (Read Ezekiel 38:23.) Omitting the name, found thousands of times in ancient manuscripts, shows disrespect for the Author.
Let us examine the first boldfaced section. It is true that a translator is greatly aided by understanding the intent of the author. I worked as a professional translator as a young man and often found that a phrase or even a word in the original language carried an ambiguity that was not carried over into English. In such cases, I had to choose between two different words and knowing the author’s intent was crucial in deciding which to use. Of course, I usually had the benefit of having the author at hand, so I could ask him, but a Bible translator does not enjoy that advantage. So it is misleading to say, that “such knowledge affects many translation decisions.” It is not knowledge when you cannot ask the author what he means. It is conjecture, belief, perhaps deductive reasoning, but knowledge? No! Such a statement presupposes a level of understanding that can only come by divine revelation, and the translation committee hardly possesses that.
The second boldface section seems to be axiomatic, though I’m sure those who support the removal of the divine name from Bible translations would disagree. Nevertheless, I doubt that most of us would have a problem with it. It is how it is used in the article that presents the problem. To explain, have a look at the question for the next paragraph.
“Why does the revised New World Translation have six additional occurrences of the divine name?”
The eight million Witnesses studying this article are sure to assume from this that only six new occurrences are in question, while all the other 7,200 occurrences are the result of not “omitting the name, found thousands of times in ancient manuscripts”. Thus, my JW brethren will continue under the misconception that the more than 200 insertions of the divine name in the Christian Scriptures are the result of finding ancient manuscripts that include it. This is not the case. There are over 5,000 manuscripts and manuscript fragments of these Scriptures in existence today and not one—let’s repeat that for clarity—not one includes the divine name.
Paragraph 7 states that “appendix of the 2013 revision of the New World Translation contains updated information on” the significance of the divine name. What it doesn’t state is that all the “J” references found in Appendix 1D of the previous edition have been removed. Without these references, a Bible student using the new translation will simply believe that every time the name Jehovah appears in the Christian Scriptures, it is there in the original manuscript. However, if he goes back to the old version and looks up the now-removed “J” references, he will see that every occurrence is based on someone else’s translation, not an original manuscript copy.
The process of changing a translation to read differently than it does in the original is called “conjectural emendation.” This means that the translator is amending or changing the text based on conjecture. Is there ever a valid reason for adding or subtracting from God’s word based on conjecture? If this is really deemed as necessary, wouldn’t the honest thing be to let the reader know we are making a change based on conjecture and not lead him to believe that we have special knowledge of what the author (God) intends and/or imply that there is no conjecture at all, but that the translation is of something actually found in the original?
However, let us not blame the committee. They have to get approval for all these things as stated in paragraphs 10, 11, and 12. This approval comes from the Governing Body. They have a zeal for God’s name, but not according to accurate knowledge. (Ro 10:1-3) Here is what they overlook:
Jehovah is the almighty God. Despite the best efforts of the Devil, Jehovah has preserved his name in ancient manuscripts that predate Christianity. The first Bible books were written 1,500 years before Christ walked the earth. If he could preserve his name thousands of times in manuscripts that were ancient in Jesus’ time, why could he not do the same for those that are more recent? Are we to believe that Jehovah couldn’t preserve his name in even one of the 5,000+ manuscripts available to us today?
The zeal of the translators to “restore” the divine name appears to be actually working against God. His name is important. There is no question about that. For this reason, why he has revealed it over 6,000 times in the pre-Christian Scriptures. But when Christ came, Jehovah wanted to reveal something else. His name, Yes! But in a different way. When Messiah arrived, it was time for a new, expanded revelation of God’s name.
This may sound odd to a modern ear, because we view a name as a mere appellation, a label—a means to distinguish person A from person B. Not so in the ancient world. It was not the actual name, the Tetragrammaton, that was unknown. It was the character, the person of God, that men did not grasp. Moses and the Israelites knew the Tetragrammaton and how to pronounce it, but they didn’t know the person behind it. That is why Moses asked what God’s name was. He wanted to know who was sending him on this mission, and he knew his brothers would want to know that as well. (Ex 3:13-15)
Jesus came to make God’s name known in a way that had never occurred before. Humans ate with Jesus, walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus. They observed him—his conduct, his thought processes, his emotions—and came to understand his personality. Through him, they—and we—came to know God as was never possible before. (John 1:14, 16; 14:9) To what end? That we might call God, Father! (John 1:12)
If we look at the prayers of faithful men recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, we do not see them referring to Jehovah as their Father. Yet Jesus gave us the model prayer and taught us to pray this way: “Our Father in the heavens…” We take this for granted today, but this was radical stuff in his day. One did not risk calling oneself a child of God unless one be taken for a presumptuous blasphemer and stoned. (John 10:31-36)
It is noteworthy that the NWT began to be translated only after Rutherford came out with his antitypical teaching that the other sheep of John 10:16 were not God’s children. What child calls his father by his given name? The JW Other Sheep call Jehovah by name in a prayer. We open the prayer with “Our Father”, but then revert back to a repetitious recitation of the divine name. I’ve heard the name used over a dozen times in a single prayer. It is treated almost as if it were a talisman.
What meaning would Romans 8:15 have were we to cry out “Abba, Jehovah” instead of “Abba, Father”?
It appears that the goal of the translation committee was to give the JW Other Sheep a Bible all their own. It is a translation for people who consider themselves God’s friends, not his children.
This new translation is intended to make us feel special, a privileged people out of all the world. Notice the caption on page 13:
“What a privilege to have Jehovah speak to us in our own language!”
This self-congratulatory quotation is there to instill in the reader the idea that this new translation comes right from our God. We would not say anything like this about any of the other excellent modern translations available to us today. Sadly, our brothers do view the latest version of the NWT as a “must use”. I’ve heard friends tell how they were criticized for using the older version of the NWT. Imagine what would happen if you went from door-to-door using another version altogether, the King James or the New International Version.
Truly, the brothers have bought into the idea carried by the page 13 caption. They believe that Jehovah is speaking to us through this new translation. With that view, there is no room for the idea that maybe some of the texts are poorly translated or that some bias might have crept in.
[i] While the members of the original committee were kept secret, the general feeling is that Fred Franz did almost all the translation, with others serving as proofreaders. There is no evidence that the current committee includes any Bible or ancient language scholars and it is believed to be largely a work of revision rather than translation. All non-English versions are translated from the English and not form the original tongues of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
Thank you for this analysis. During the WT study in our congregation the comments to par. 3 and 4 revealed that many do not grasp that the original manuscripts of the the greek scriptures do not use the tetragramm, some seemed quite surprised when I pointed that out. The WT did not really help to understand that. What I found shocking is that in par. 7 talking about examples how Jehovah has become what he chooses to become, Noah, Bezalel, Gideon and Paul were mentioned, but NOT Jesus Christ who is the supreme example of this. In him Jehovah has… Read more »
Perhaps it should be asked, what is Satan’s goal? If Satan’s primary goal is to kill off those in Christ (his Body, Temple, New Covenant woman, Gen 3:15), wouldn’t his greatest deception be in the midst of them, or they within the midst of the deception? As we look throughout all the temptations he has devised – those we deal with day to day – what would escape our notice, primarily, if not the least obvious one? A deception is like a sparkling veil that we can desire, grab hold of; even choose to wear. Once the glitter begins to… Read more »
Well said. Thanks for bringing all those Scriptural references to bear.
Further to the point Meleti made about Exodus 3:13-15. Moses being educated by the Egyptians would have known all their Gods, as would the israelites. But most EgyptIan gods had limited power to one or a few aspects. E.g. god of the Nile, of crocodiles, of cattle, of firstborn, of rain, etc. Therefore jehovahs reply was not to reiterate his label, after he had already been the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob , but to make clear that he would do whatever he needed to do to accomplish his purpose. In an English idiom, Jehovah would prove to be… Read more »
Dear all i would recommend reading this article on the history of jehovahs name. The writer finds evidence for the pronunciation and its prescence in the hebrew scriptures, but as you said meleti, none for its prescence in the greek scriptures. Its well worth a read. https://www.academia.edu/14029315/The_Name_of_God_Y.eH.oW.aH_Which_is_pronounced_as_it_is_Written_I_Eh_oU_Ah._Simplified_edition
Thank you for bringing this out. Gertoux is a fine scholar, and his book – upon which this monograph was based – is one of the most informative investigations on the pronunciation of the divine name available in English. I second your recommendation.
WT: :May we be determined to take advantage of every gift from Jehovah, including this translation that honors his name. WT para 17 WT :“What a privilege to have Jehovah speak to us in our own language!” Meleti: “This self-congratulatory quotation is there to instill in the reader the idea that this new translation comes right from our God. “ God’s thoughts: ‘The Sovereign Lord Jehovah has sworn by himself,’ declares Jehovah the God of armies,‘ “I detest the pride of Jacob, I hate his fortified towers, And I will hand over the city and what fills it.“‘“And if ten… Read more »
I recently has a discussion around the topic of God’s name in the bible. The same argument was made, that NWT is the bible that has the name restored and other translations have removed the name. My argument was that none of the claims are true. The NWT did not restore the name because only the tetragrammaton is known and the spelling of the name is not know. So, the NWT and various other bibles have chosen to use a name they believe is most appropriate (Jehovah). But others have chosen to use another name (Yahweh, other spelling). And others… Read more »
Jesus made God’s name known to his disciples by fulfilling his Father’s word. Jehovah, He Causes To Become, fulfilled his word. Messiah was present, God’s Son, the Son of David, was among them. He Causes To Become himself was with his people in the person and name of his Son, Jesus, which means He Causes To Become Salvation. (John 17:26) . . .And I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them. . . Jesus made… Read more »
My friend also you forgot to point out the blatant decit or I will say it a lie the Organization trys to pull in paragraph 3 and 4, talking about the RSV bible and in 1952 where in the preface it talks not using the divine name. The watchtower tries to use there famous ……… But they are being deceitful, and if you look at the simplified watchtower for this week it is even more deceitful. This is the context of the quote of the RSV Bible preface about not using the divine name The form “Jehovah” is of late… Read more »
As always Meleti, your continuous hard work shows through. Nice job with the new site! Regarding the subject at hand, while it is good that efforts have been made to restore the divine name, we have allowed the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction, crossing the line of amending God’s word based on speculation. In addition to the fact that in the New Testament God’s name is not found, we take a dangerous position by choosing in which instances Kyrios refers to Jesus, and when it refers to the Father. In some scriptures the context make’s it… Read more »