Jehovah's Witnesses Release New Bible Version at Annual Meeting

After more than half a century after its original release, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has released a major revision of their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures at their 129th annual meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Saturday October 5, 2013.

While the new gray-covered Bible that was released to eager Jehovah’s Witnesses in attendance (most by means of video tie-ins at Jehovah’s Witness Assembly Halls across the United States), other editions such as large-print and pocket-sized, even a PDF version, were promised to soon be available.

The new version is not a totally new translation but a revision of the original text. The majority of changes are in adopting modern English-language usage. To illustrate, the previous version of 1 Kings 14:10 reads:

Here I am bringing calamity upon the house of Jeroboam, and I shall certainly cut off from Jeroboam anyone urinating against a wall.

In the new version “anyone urinating against a wall” has been replaced with “every male.” The Witnesses are touting the update as using ‘21st-century English.’

It should be noted, however, that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are somewhat late to adopt such updates. Modern translations have already been doing so most notably since the release of the New Revised Standard Version in 1989 with many other translations both Protestant and Catholic following shortly thereafter.

While the original New World Translation was developed by a handful of men in Watchtower leadership positions, none of which officially allowed their names or credentials to be publicly released, there is no word on who among the Witnesses produced the current revision except that it took only 5 years.

This seems a bit out of place since, officially speaking, pursuing higher learning and formal academic training is heavily discouraged among the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The previous version committee, believed to have been made by previous members of their Governing Body, did not include any ancient language scholars. The recent 2011 release of the Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) for example, (which by the way also uses “every male” at 1 Kings 14:10) took some 40 years and some 70 scholars to produce.

How a committee of anti-university learning Jehovah’s Witnesses managed such a feat in just 5 years is peculiar indeed!

UPDATE: I have just been informed that this new Bible is being called a completely new translation, not merely a revision.

Additional information:

The new Bible translation committee of Jehovah’s Witnesses has taken it upon themselves to remove two portions of Scripture from the canon.

[LIST=1]
*]Both short and long endings have been totally discarded from the book of Mark. Their new version ends at Mark 16:8.

*]The account of the woman caught in adultery, John 7:53-8:11, has been completely removed from the gospel.
[/LIST]

The new Bible edition released today has an additional “handbook” at the end to aid them in their work to proselytize, listing ways to “eliminate” counter points made by non-Witnesses, and collections of quotes and lists of “proof texts” that support their doctrine to be used when they are speaking in their canvassing work.

And these people apparently don’t have an issue with this… sad… and I’d say it’s likely that they just piggybacked off of other translations because even when the first one was written, their “scholars” were not well acquainted with the ancient languages.

They never seize to amaze me, and no that’s not a compliment.

It kinda makes you wonder. If the original translators were inspired by God [or ‘Jehovah’], why change anything? It’s always peculiar to me how a group like this changes all the time.

It’s astonishing that they get away with adding to, and removing, scriptures at will to suit their beliefs. That said, having known a few Witnesses and seeing the cult-like grip the organization has over every facet of its members’ lives, it’s not all that surprising.

It’s tough to post on this subect when Catholicism has such a dark history of banning bible use, bible burning and ardent fighting against having the bible translated into common languages.

It should be tough for you since your “dark” history is not factual. The Church did not oppose faithful vernacular translations but heretical additions and distortions to the Bible.

This article gives a good look at the JW’s translations
Is the New World a Valid Version of the Bible?

I wonder in this “new” version how many more scriptures they have changed to accommodate their doctrine?

No dark history. The Church has never banned the use of bibles. Catholics have four readings from the bible at every Mass.

The Church HAS burned heretical bibles. The New World Translation would be an appropriate one to burn.

ardent fighting against having the bible translated into common languages.

completely misinformed. The Church has brought the bible to the world.

PnP

Reading from Sacred Scripture has been done by the Catholic Church since there was Sacred Scripture, not just every Sunday, and not just every day, but each and every hour of the day, all over the world. That was the intent of assembling the New Testament; for use in Catholic liturgies. The Catholic Church had made translations into at least 14 different languages before Martin Luther saw the light of day.

If you are going to make comments such as this you had better be prepared to back up your comments with a source. Please demonstrate historically where and when the Church ever banned the use of the Bible?

Thanks.

Oh come on guys, I don’t mean to be antagonistic,just realistic. It would me much more advantageous to the church to admit its past mistakes and make corrections than to keep denying them. For years and years Catholics saw the bible as a protestant book. How many of us actually took a bible to church? How many do now? My grandmother got her bible confiscated by our priest, who told her she had no business reading that book. When I first tried to read it, my own father forbade it, saying I wasn’t qualified to read it, that’s what he grew up with. I don’t know why we even had one, we weren’t allowed to touch it! The church was very quick to charge others of heresy when they preached anything that disagreed with church doctrine, which, unfortunately, includes many passages from the bible. When they finally started reading thd scriptures, alot of the faithful left the church. This is also a fact that cannot be denied. Catholics SHOULD NOT deny the church past mistakes if they want to be taken serious today including by members of the faith. The priesthood is struggling for new, young priests and the pews are struggling to be filled. Denying the past won’t help.

Lefty, you are simply in error on some points here.

It would me much more advantageous to the church to admit its past mistakes and make corrections than to keep denying them.

The Church has made errors on practices, a number of them, but not on faith and morals. Always have to keep that in mind.

For years and years Catholics saw the bible as a protestant book.

The bible was written by, for and about the Catholic Church and the collection of writings were put together to have a universal set of readings for Mass…plus teaching, instruction and correction. But there is truth to what you say as the Church wanted to protect its members from falling into error Read the link here.

How many of us actually took a bible to church? How many do now?

I seldom do so at Mass because the Written Word of God is meant to be heard, not read. And before the printing press, hardly anyone had a bible in their home as it was too expensive…so that’s about 1,400+ years of Church history without people having a bible in their home.

My grandmother got her bible confiscated by our priest, who told her she had no business reading that book.

My sense is that priest was concerned about her reading it in error. To his point, 40,000 Christian denominations show how reading one book can be so difficult. Again this is my speculation based on history.

When I first tried to read it, my own father forbade it, saying I wasn’t qualified to read it,

This supports my point above

The church was very quick to charge others of heresy when they preached anything that disagreed with church doctrine,

for good reason

which, unfortunately, includes many passages from the bible.

example?

When they finally started reading thd scriptures, alot of the faithful left the church.

People have left the Church mainly when they fail to conform their beliefs to the Church. Better find & / or stay with the Church Christ founded and conform our beliefs to Christ.

Catholics SHOULD NOT deny the church past mistakes if they want to be taken serious today including by members of the faith.

I believe the Church has done a good job of acknowledging it’s mistakes. Yet the Church has continued to be protected by Christ, without error on faith and morals. On practices and behavior of individual members, not so much

The priesthood is struggling for new, young priests

IMHO more the influence of secularism but all the more reason we should pray. God will continue to protect his Church.

and the pews are struggling to be filled.

Not so much by me but this is true across the whole population and many non-Catholic churches. Many are led astray, believing one does not need to believe and worship God.

Denying the past won’t help.

No denying the past…

PnP

This may be your personal experience, however this is not the experience of millions and millions of Catholics around the world. The Catholic church has never been afraid of education and practically invented the education system as we know it. Educating the faithful in the fullness of the Truth is what it has always done and continues to do today.
I am 50 and I have my grandmothers bible and various prayer books all drenched in scripture. When you say that it is a Fact that can not be denied that a lot of the faithful left the church because they finally started reading the Bible, this is just nonsense, if anything the opposite has more foundation in the Truth, and that is that Secular Materialism which is a direct result of protestant reform theology finally got such control over mainstream culture that a lot of the faithful have been seduced by this error.
We don’t take bibles to Mass or as you say church because at Mass we worship God through the liturgy as a community and we open ourselves up to the living Word of God through the Living Tradition of his Church. Most Catholics learn this in the cradle?

peace
my brother

This jehovah ‘weakness’ tradition is what i simply don’t understand…they are lost in our world and refuse to be found. Strange people with absurd doctrine, no placement!
God will look down on earth and wonder our creativity. One God, one man, one tree…40000 different religions.

Do you have a source that they made these deletions? Thanks.

The 2013 revision is at:
jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/

Thanks to Georgia for supplying the link to answer this question, as I have been away due to health problems.

An update on my post:

I have had a chance to look further into the actual pages of this latest revision.

It is not an “entirely new translation” as one person put it on the day of its release. It is, for the most part, the same translation the Witnesses have had since 1950. The style of renderings is still choppy and clunky, and this is disappointing. While they did address several vocabulary changes in word choices, its seems there was not an equal attempt to render sentence structure into more readable English.

The selection of modernized vocabulary is peculiar. The word choices are not only identical to modernizations that occur in the previously released NRSV and NABRE translations, they show a startling abandoning of pride in the previous version as well.

Where once the Witnesses constantly harped that their version was “more accurate” due to uniformly rendering the Hebrew word “nefesh” and the Greek “psyche” as “soul” each time they appear in Scripture (not doing so, they claimed, was dishonest translating), they have dropped such a practice altogether and quite suddenly.

They now translate these words according to context, like all other mainstream versions do, using words such as “person” or “life,” again like the (N)RSV, and NABRE do.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses depended on the previous New World Translation rendition to support their belief in “soul sleep,” condemning all other versions for not translating in the same manner. Now that their new Bible reads the same as the Bibles they once condemned, using new word choices that will make supporting their belief in “soul sleep” problematic one cannot wonder if the leadership is preparing their people to abandon this major facet of Watchtower doctrine.

Most startling of all is their new rendition of John 17:3 (bold lettering added).

*Previous version: *
This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.

2013 Revision:
This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

Where they once prided themselves on claiming that the previous NWT was the most accurate for stating that eternal life was dependent on “taking in knowledge” of God and Christ, it now reads that one must get to “know” God and Christ–just like our Bibles do. (For an example, see this personal blog written before the release of the revised NWT by a JW who, quoting from Watchtower publications presents the previous rendering as superior in language almost verbatim of their official theology.) With one sudden and unannounced swoop, the new translation of the NWT makes this 50-year-old song of pride obsolete overnight.

Sure, other points have yet to change (they have slightly strengthened their anti-Trinitarian renderings in a few places), but if anything this is a sign that the Witnesses are becoming more like the religions they have been condemning in using a translation that reads more like ours…or at least like a stilted NRSV or poor cousin of the NAB(RE).

I wonder? Is the translation committee anonyms for this version as well?

Yes. The Governing Body claims it assigned a group of “anointed” members (those among them who believe they are part of the 144,000 who will be the only ones to receive a heavenly reward, according to their theology) some five years ago to do the work of revision.

I don’t know about you, but five years for a revision? The RSV and NAB took decades to create revisions, and the JWs do not allow any of their members to receive university training of any type, not to mention in ancient languages or manuscript transmission studies.

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