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.