Jehovah's Witnesses No Longer Participating In the Work of a Bible Society

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been directed by their Governing Body to no longer freely display the Bible to those they meet in the public ministry.–“Announcements,” Our Kingdom Ministry, February 2014, a directive guide to the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

When displaying publications that they offer the public for learning about God, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has instructed that Witnesses “should not display Bibles.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are now to use their personal judgment and only supply their New World Translation to people who directly make a request for one or to persons who “demonstrate sincere interest” in accepting their unique doctrine.

This is a remarkable turn of events. At the turn of the last century, the Jehovah’s Witnesses created their “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society” to do the work that other Bible Societies were doing in the 1800s, namely offer Bibles and get them into the hands of everyone they could. A century later they are now instructing their people to limit their offering of the Scriptures, even hide them from public view.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses proudly claim to be engaged in “a worldwide Bible education work,” but who gets one of their BIbles is now limited to their discriminating eye, with not everyone being deemed worthy to know they even have them or refrained from getting one unless they show “sincere interest in the truth" as defined by them.

Is this not just cost cutting measures or will they also be removing their bible from the web?

That is not mentioned in the directions, and their Bible society no longer has a website. Watchtower.org was removed in favor of one highlighting the religion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Witnesses run a Bible society or at least they did until now. This is what makes the news most interesting as their publishing activities were based on a charter that created an organization to publish and freely distribute Bibles. Apparently the work of a Bible society is no longer being undertaken.

The Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society was started by the religion’s founder over a century ago.

There was an interesting episode of The Journey Home this week on EWTN radio featuring a former Jehovah’s Witness. Their theology is extremely unorthodox.

Was it ever undertaken?:shrug:

Their Bible society printed and distributed various Bible versions in multiple languages, including editions of the King James Version, the American Standard Version, and even a few interlinear New Testaments.

Up until this recent development they were very proud of their New World Translation, unorthodox as it was. They regularly offered it as they went door-to-door. and it was rendered into 11 other languages besides English, with a printing of 56,000,000 by the late 1980s.

The Witnesses were very proud of this translation (even though it is clearly filled with errors), even claiming that it was the most accurate and most unbiased translation ever produced. But with the release of this newest revision this past October something changed. The release was not made to the public in general but only to Witnesses living up to a certain standard (tickets were issued for these to be present for this special release).

Upon its release they were instructed not to show the new edition to others, and this latest information seems even more odd.

I was once a member of their religion some 20 years ago. I offer this information because I am worried about those I left behind and those I often come across who I hear are studying to enter the ranks of that religion—like a Catholic woman in my area who is convinced they have the truth because of “their love for the Scriptures.”

They are people with good intentions with zeal for their own particular beliefs. But I fear that they are drifting further and further away, not only from us but from what they once were. I am frightened for them for they have changed so much that even if I wanted to return to that religion I once left–which I don’t–I couldn’t. It no longer exists.

I have an Uncle and cousins who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. I think I will ask him about this.

I have always found their interpretation of the Bible to be strange and off base. However, I do respect their efforts to know God and to live a Godly life. I just think they are missing out so much because they don’t believe in the Sacraments or the Trinity.

Anyway, if I learn something from my uncle I will share it.

Agreed. Their beliefs are not mine but I’m sure they’re doing their best to know and serve God.

One of my Protestant relatives once got into a Bible debate with them and didn’t agree with them but said that they were decent and good-living people.

Thanks. I would appreciate anything that could be added to this.

I did get this information:

They have recently closed their massive Brooklyn Heights printing plant and have sold the buildings in October. The giant iconic “Watchtower” sign that people used to see as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan has gone dark, and they have moved their offices upstate to Warwick.

What offices are left in Brooklyn had all references to “Read the God’s Word the Bible daily” removed (it was in large letters that could be read by travels on the Brookly Bridge), and all signs using the word “Watchtower” have been dropped in exchange for a small blue and white logo that reads “JW.org”.

While their religion is still running, the Watchtower Society may be gone after all.

Well, given that the Dead Sea scrolls proved their so-called translation of the Bible to be bologna, it’s hardly surprising. It’s like what mormons did when they started to try to sweep Joseph Smith’s translation under the rug and, instead, to use the King James Version.

While I appreciate where you are coming from, in reality there is nothing in the Dead Sea Scrolls that outrightly disproves their unorthodox renditions in their New World Translation anymore than any other manuscript does.

To be more accurate, their translation can be easily refuted using any original language text. They actually claim to have used the Dead Sea Scrolls to reintroduce the misspelling of the Divine Name “Jehovah” into places of the Hebrew text of the latest New World Translation revision.

But lacking evidence has never been a problem for the Witnesses when it comes to their version of the Bible. Though there are no texts or even ancient quotations of the New Testament that use the Divine Name where they add it to the Christian Scriptures, they still do it. They acknowledge they do so on the basis of a theory, but then say the theory fits the “facts” even though there is no evidence to support it.

This makes me sigh all the more for them. A recent Watchtower magazine of theirs celebrates the fact that their “prediction” that Christ returned in 1914 will see its 100th year anniversary this coming year in 2014–a “celebration” of nothing happening the way they have said it would.

It reminds me of the details of how Eva Braun held parties and danced in the bunkers as the Red Army marched on Berlin just moments before she and Adolf committed suicide. Can’t face the truth of reality? Then celebrate.

Jospeh Smith’s “Inspired Version” as it is called by Latter Day Saints outside of the Utah Mormon Church (RLDS and its many splinters) use it as thier only bible. I have a few copies from my days(years) in the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It too is a polluted text.

Interesting times to live in.

My guess is this is an attempt to get the most mileage out of their updated Bible, to build on the approach of making JW’s feel unique, special and privileged. They needed a special ticket to go to one of the special meetings where the surprise was a revised version of their Bible translation, and now they have the incredibly important responsibility to determine who is allowed to obtain or even see a printed copy of this new Bible (although it is still right there in digital form on the front page of their web site). Also, I have no doubt there is a money aspect to it, because they cannot have enthusiastic JW’s giving away tons of Bibles and not “contributing” enough to “offset the cost”. Most JW’s I know do not realize how often the money aspect is the main driver behind the direction they receive. It really is as strange as it sounds, and I sincerely worry about the folks who are completely caught up in it. I hope they can gradually realize a fuller faith, although the path is usually painful.

Anyone know what some of the revisions in the new version are?

The revisions are actually quite welcome from the standpoint of mainstream Christianity. This may prove problematic to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Except for two, basically all the changes made to the New World Translations text seem to be lifted from the New Revised Standard Version that was released in 1989. (I do not say this because I favor the NRSV. The changes also match renditions in most other translations too, it’s just that most changes reflect the word choices and order particular to the NRSV).

It should be noted that some of the newly-adopted changes were at one time condemned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses as dishonest and unfaithful renditions.

  1. “Soul” once rendered literally for each occurrence of the Hebrew word “nefesh” and the Greek “psyhke” (considered essential for their “soul-sleep” doctrine), is now rendered according to context. These words sometimes mean “person,” “living being,” etc., and the NWT now acknowledges this in their revision.

  2. While not going so far as to copy all of the inclusive language choices of the NRSV, they did adopt those choices which reflect common English-language uses, such as “humankind” for “mankind,” albeit done unevenly.

  3. The use of “sheol” and “hades” has been replaced with “grave,” reflecting the most common rendition of those words in American Catholic liturgy and the New Testament of the New American Bible.

  4. A major change is to their rendition of John 17:3. The text used to read that “taking in knowledge” of God was essential to gaining everlasting life. For over half a century the Witnesses loudly proclaimed that the traditional Christendom rendering of “to know” was a prime example of weak, incomplete, inaccurate, and unfaithful scholarship. This is now the rendering chosen for the main text reading in this verse of the NWT, demoting their previous rendition to the footnote.

  5. While still clumsy and sometimes confusing in a few places, the readably of the text has improved. In fact, this is where it seems to copy the NRSV most of all by adopting the NRSV’s motto to translate “as literal as possible, as free as necessary.” No other translation on the market currently does this like the NRSV, and no one has even attempted to actually try (and that’s what makes each Bible translation unique). But the adoption of this approach can read like an eerie “coincidence”(?).

(While not my translation of choice, I am quite familiar with the NRSV, and I still can’t shake off that the revision of the NWT “tastes too similar,” in my humble opinion. If I didn’t know any better, I would say they used it as a model for their revision though their claim is to original academic scholarship of their own abilities–and I am not officially claiming they copied anybody. I just mean I get that “been-done-before” feeling.)

  1. They have removed the short and long endings from the main text of Mark claiming they are not inspired.

  2. They have removed John 7:53-8:11, the story of the woman caught in adultery, from the main text, also claiming it is not inspired.

Much else is still the same. John 1:1 still has Jesus being called “a god” in opposition to their belief that Jehovah is “the only true God.” (John 17:3) They still ignore the fact that the Greek words for “stake” meant “cross” to the Romans who wanted to show the Greeks up in their form of torture. And they still add the name “Jehovah” to the New Testament, even though they acknowledge they do so on the basis of no textual evidence, on the basis of what they call a “theory” (it’s really a hypothesis), and without validating the hypothesis by independent disinterested parties (like you’re supposed to do before you can have a working theory).

In conclusion, there is more good news than bad. They demonstrate through this revision that the doctrines and translations they reject today will likely be the doctrines and translations they endorse and preach tomorrow. They are adopting more mainstream teaching and, while not doing so apologetically, are now in some instances preaching a gospel they once condemned as evil (at least in the details).

Finally got to talk to my uncle, who is a practicing JW. Yes they have sold their Brooklyn Heights printing plant. They now have two sites, both in New York. One site is in Warwick, NY and the other in Patterson, NY. They are continuing all projects as before, but are simply utilizing two locations to get the same work done. Also, all of their Watch Tower Magazines are now printed in Canada.

My uncle actually helped in the building of one of the New York sites. He also explained that they have a more modern version of their Bible that was created to make it easier for the common person to read. So, there is no indication what so ever that they are quitting their original works. My uncle referred me to this web site, which I share in case anyone wants to look at it and review what is going on.
www.jw.org

Though I don’t agree with their teachings I do know, from watching my uncle and his family, that members participate in hours of study every week from childhood, go to other countries to proclaim God’s Word and do missionary work, and do what they call “Servicing” every weekend. My uncle puts in 70hours a week since his retirement.

I am not sure were the idea came from that they are hiding their Bibles, but my uncle certainly says otherwise, and in my neighborhood we see Witnesses all the time, Bibles in hand.

What your uncle talked to you about is not what I mentioned at the beginning of this thread.

Since they began, the Witnesses have done the work of a Bible society (for more information on what a Bible society does see this.) Jehovah’s Witnesses have been using display tables and carts in their Bible education work, offering their other religious literature alongside the Scriptures. This has been a common feature of the work of a Bible society. Their goal is to make the Bible available to all people, at cost or free of charge.

The new direction from their Governing Body to the Witnesses reads: “When engaging in public witnessing using a table or cart, publishers should not display Bibles.” Bibles are only to be made available “to individuals who request one or who demonstrate sincere interest in the truth,” meaning active interest in joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses.–Our Kingdom Ministry, February 2014.

I was pointing out how odd it is for a Bible society to give such direction. Can you imagine the American Bible Society not displaying the various editions of the Bible it produces from the public, leaving it up to the public to guess if they still have them to distribute? Would a Bible society offer religious tracts and delegate their Bibles to second place, available only to those who ask? Can you image them offering God’s Word only to people who “demonstrate since interest” in joining a particular religion?

If it’s a question about costs, Charles Taze Russell, who was the first president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, once stated that when they stopped having sufficient funds for publishing they would take this as a sign from God that it was time for them to stop their work.

The Witnesses have prided themselves on not “passing the offering plate” to the public they serve. As Christ said: “You received free, give free.”–Mathew 10:8, New World Translation, 2013 edition.

We did not discuss this aspect in detail, and he made no mention of it. From our conversation it seemed that there has been no restraint in issuing Bible’s at least were he lives. Now, they could be starting with their literature and then issue Bible’s once a person starts to study with them. He also mentioned that they have their Bible in electronic form, and a lot of those doing service, like his daughter, use those instead.

He sticks with using the physical Bible and handing them out. I imagine some combination of responses could occur. He also said that they are building an average of 2 Kingdom Halls a day through-out the world. There numbers seem to be increasing and yes, they might find it more cost effective to wait before issuing Bibles to everyone they stop to speak too.

Again, I can’t accept all of their teachings, but I can say they are persistent, generally know their Bible inside and out, and do a lot more sharing of responsibility for ministering to God than most Faiths do. I have to respect that, regardless of how I feel about their beliefs.

I am not in any way contradicting what you or your uncle are saying. You misunderstand me because we are not talking about the same thing. You’re discussing the day-to-day life of the Jehovah’s Witness and their preaching work up to now.

I’m discussing the work of their Bible society–a legal corporation owned and run by the Jehovah’s Witnesses–and a new directive, released just the other day that will go into effect beginning February 2014. This will change the way Witnesses have been freely offering their translation of the Bible up to now (as we did in my day when I was a Witness).

The work of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is not connected to their building of Kingdom Halls or even how their religion is run. It is a non-profit organization that, by law, has to fulfill its charter or lose that status. While the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is run by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is not the religion of the Witnesses. It can close down without their religion ending.

I understand it can cause confusion if you don’t know the difference, but as the title of this thread shows it is about the “Jehovah’s Witnesses No Longer *Participating In the Work of a Bible Society.” *I am not talking about their religion’s growth or what practices they currently employ in their BIble distribution up to this new directive, just the end of doing the work of a Bible distribution organization.

I apologize for not making that clearer.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.