Jehovah's Witnesses and John 1:1 (Greek trans. error by JW)


#1

Can someone explain to me how JW’s translate “And the Word was God” into “And the Word was a god” from the Greek?

I’m not versed in ancient Greek, but I imagine someone here must have a working grasp of it. As a Catholic, I have been brought in to a conversation with a JW who claims that the interpretation they use is correct. Naturally, I trust in the Magisterium, but would like to be able to point out their translational error.

My purpose here is that I’ve a close friend who has left paganism for Christ. She lives a few states away and has a good friend who is a JW. This friend of hers (the JW) is attempting to turn her toward their way of thinking and I would hate to see that happen.

I have been able to detail for her that “In the beginning was the Word” and since Christ is the Word, and since Genesis states that in the beginning was God, then the natural correlation shows that if God was there in the beginning, and the Word was there in the beginning, and the Word is identified as Christ, then Christ is God; this negates the JW account. But, I feel it would be very beneficial to explain the translational error the JW’s make.

Thanks in advance.


#2

Translations like this are what you get when you work backwards to make the bible agree with your theology. The JW’s had five people working on their “translation”, none of whom were at all schooled in any ancient languages. See the JW tracts on the CA main page for the full story. Unfortunately, the translation part is mentioned in two tracts and you have to read both of them to get the complete story. It seems they took the KJV and simply set about changing those passages that were troublesome to them. No translation was ever really involved, just changes to make the bible fit their religion.


#3

Unworthy:

Good article on it here, at Jeff Schwehm’s site: :
catholicxjw.com/Wordwasgod.html

Good links here, too (scroll down)
catholic-forum.com/members/popestleo/


#4

This is probably redundant with writings on Jeff’s site, but I keep a blog with things I am learning, especially things that refute JW teachings. This is what I wrote on John 1:1 recently:
The JW booklet “Should You Believe In the Trinity,” talks about verses from Proverbs (8:12, 22, 25, 26):
[indent]"Yahweh created me, first fruits of his fashioning, before the oldest of his works. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I came to birth; before he had made the earth, the countryside, and the first elements of the world."
and they say that Wisdom refers to the prehuman Jesus, and that Jesus was therefore a created being.

But, Isaiah 43:10 says:
You are my witnesses, says the LORD, my servants whom I have chosen To know and believe in me and understand that it is I. Before me no god was formed, and after me there shall be none.
and in the JW bible:
“YOU are my witnesses,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that YOU may know and have faith in me, and that YOU may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none.
Well, according to John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Or, even with the JWs mistranslation:
In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
And the JWs agree that the Word in John 1:1 was referring to Jesus. So, how could He be a god, if He was formed after God, but yet no god was formed after God? They missed some logic there…
[/indent]


#5

Try asking a JW about the verse - if the word was a god and the word was with God, how many Gods do you have? The verse in the New World translation clearly states that there are at least 2 gods.

And yes, relating Jn1 to Gen1 is good. Especially as John says that all things were created through the Word and then identified the Word with Jesus.

With this sort of reasoning I had a couple of JWs once accept on the doorstep that Jesus must be God. Trouble was, a few days later I had the JW elders on the doorstep with more arguments!


#6

Another way of de-bugging the arguments about John 1:1, that sidesteps the linguistic approach, is to ask the question:

What would others who knew John say? Is there any way to find out, in our 21st Century, what someone who personally knew John would have to say about the use of the word “God” as applied to Jesus?

And the answer is, yes there is. By looking into the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. He was the bishop (Greek-*episkopos; *KJV, Douay- *bishop; *NWT, NASB, others - *overseer) *of Antioch, the congregation that is talked about in Acts and Galatians. He was at one time a student of John.

Anybody who has any interest at all in how John used the word “God” as applied to Jesus would do well to avail themselves of the writings of his student Ignatius; some of them are here:
catholic.com/library/Divinity_of_Chirst.asp

But while you’re at it you might want to get a copy of Jurgen’s “Faith of the Early Fathers Vol 1” (Amazon: amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0814604323/102-2256825-3291360?v=glance ) and check out for yourself how other early, pre-Nicene Christians used the word “God” with relation to Jesus.

A.H.F.


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