JW questions

On Sat I had a visit from some Jehovah Witnesses. I was surprised to see they now carry Ipads. I only got a brief look when I brought up John 1 to her and she pulled it up and showed me a parallel verse but it happened so fast, does anyone know what the parallel bibles on that app are? I think King James was one of them, but I did not recognize the other one. I challenged her to look at all the times “worship” and “obeisance” was used in the NWT and see that they are the same word in the Greek.

Also, is there any historical evidence to suggest that the Romans ever hung people on stakes or is this just a total fabrication?

I invited her back in a couple weeks - I thought I was on the JW do not call list by now so I was not really prepared.

The program is a specially designed App created by the Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves. The Bible translations they use through this program are their New World Translation, The King James Version, the American Standard Version, a translation by a man named Steven Byington and their New World Translation New Testament in Greek interlinear format, using the Westcott and Hort critical text of 1881.

Their belief that the Romans used an upright pole instead of a cross as a means of capital punishment is based on a lack of education on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are discouraged from continuing education past high school.

Because the Gospel writers chose to use Greek, the language of the Septuagint, instead of Latin, the language of the Romans, they employed the Greek word that was used for the Latin “crux.” The word in Greek is “stauros,” and before the Romans came on the scene a “stauros” or upright pole was used by the Greeks as a form of capital punishment.

The Romans invented the cross by adding the crossbeam in order to lengthen the period of suffering upon criminals. But there was no word in Greek for this new invention, so the Bible writers employed “stauros.” They also used “xylon” which is often translated “tree” because the limbs of a tree are similar to the crossbeam on a cross, and because the device was made of wood.

The first picture ever inscribed of the Roman cross device upon which Jesus died was made by a Roman who was poking fun at Christianity. Known as the Alexamenos graffito (below), it proves that Jesus did NOT die on an upright single pale as a Roman would not have created an image of a cross in this depiction if it were not the instrument his people used.

The inscription in Greek on this reads: “Alexamenos worships [his] God.”

Byington ! That’s the one, never heard of that one before, but that’s the one she used. Is that closer to the NWT?


Steven T. Byington was a very well educated libertarian or, more accurately, an “individualist anarchist,” and as such was not associated with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Over the course of around 45 years (from 1898 to 1943) he translated the Bible from original texts, working on a little bit of it everyday after he returned home from work. The end result is what he called The Bible in Living English, but he could not get anyone to publish it during his lifetime.

For the reason that Byington used the Divine Name “Jehovah” in his translation of the Old Testament, it was acquired and published in 1972 by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The translation, having been a product of Byington’s time, is actually quite hard to understand in many places by today’s readers of English even though it is very well done. Except for the use of “Jehovah,” it does not feature any of the unique renderings preferred by the Witnesses to support their doctrines.

A humorous note to this story is that Mr. Byington once published a magazine review of the *New World Translation *of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in which he stated that their translation was “well supplied with faults and merits.”–The Christian Century, November 1, 1950.

Yes, I actually found this article - he brought up an interesting point that the use of “impale” rather than “crucify” makes no sense because it would imply that a stake would be thrust through a person, not that they would be nailed to it.

Also - Can someone explain, or point me in the right direction, of how the Catholic view of our future resurrected bodies differs from the JW utopia view?

I’m not sure on the point of resurrected bodies.

What I do know is we believe the soul is immortal. JW’s do not. To get around this they believe God resurrects a person who is exactly like the person who died.

They believe the body they will receive in the resurrection to the paradise earth will be a ‘perfect’ one; it won’t age, get sick and they will be perfect people in that they retain the capacity to sin but will not.

I guess my frustration is that they always pull out the Revelation passages that point to the earthly paradise. I am pretty sure these are close to our beliefs, I know we would say that the soul and body are now joined in a glorified state but really don’t have a response to the whole “How would you like to live in a world without hunger and war? The bible says its coming…”

Delson gave very good response to your OP. This is an altogether new issue - interpretation. Its the same issue you will have with all non-Catholics to some degree. The response to this should begin with “how do you know your interpretation is the correct one?” :wink:


The best place to start would be in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1038-1060, which describes the resurrection and the upcoming New Heavens and New Earth. This details what we believe as Catholics and, as you will notice, it really isn’t too different from what the JWs are expecting.

What are the differences?

A Resurrection Based on Memory

Now it is true that the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not hold a belief in the immortality of the soul. Unlike Catholics who hold that God transcends space and time, they believe that God is so confined to temporal reality that God has to have a literal spiritual body that requires it to be located in an actual “place” called “heaven.” In God’s spiritual “head” the Jehovah’s Witnesses say he has a “spiritual brain” with memories, including the memories of all the people who have ever lived and died.

The Witnesses also believe God cannot transcend time and therefore has to be selective with his attention and the use of his almighty spirit brain. (They even officially claim that God has the ability to know all, but actually only filters out information much like a radio listener who can get all the stations but only chooses to listen to one thing at a time.) Using His superior photographic memory, they claim, God will reconstruct the body and personality of each person who has passed.

What the Church Believes

What we as Catholics believe is that the soul does survive death, put that neither it nor God continues to be limited by time or space at this point. Going into the presence of God after death is not going to a place for we believe that God is so almighty that God transcends time and space. “Heaven” is not a location per se, but it is no less very real, even more real than any place you or I know now. Being with God is “heaven,” what we call the “Beatific Vision.” And this experience will extend beyond our mere death and afterwards when we expect to be in “heaven.”

The faithful will also remain in this Presence of Beatitude at and after the Resurrection. Raised to life a new era will begin wherein both we and the physical universe will undergo a “re-creation,” so to speak. The “new heavens and new earth” of Revelation will be fulfilled wherein physical reality will no longer be a limiting barrier to being with God. In fact, the description of life in this new reality after the resurrection is that God will dwell with us:

Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them.–Revelation 21:1-4.

While the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a bit of a cartoonish concept of what this will be like, Catholics expect something far greater than anyone can illustrate in a book or a religious magazine.

Blowing Their Minds

And this is what blows the minds of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Don’t just read those sections of the Catechism to yourself. No, show them to Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially section 1042 onward, entitled: “The Hope of the New Heaven and the New Earth.”

You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses are very convinced that one of the earmarks of true religion (which only they possess) is believing that the earth will someday be a paradise in which humanity is to dwell. I’ve spoken with one of them who believed it was impossible for anyone else to know this but them because the belief in a New Earth was unique to their “one true religion.”

Boy, was she shocked to be confronted with section 1042 in the Catechism. In fact, she acted as if I had somehow concocted it just to confuse her because, to quote her: “I’ve seen for myself and know what the Catholic Church teaches, and that which you are showing me is not it!”

But if you are a Catholic you pray about this all the time when you say the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in…the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.” And every Sunday we mention it as we say the Nicene Creed: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

To quote Hebrews, “it was not to angels that he subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.” (Hebrews 2:5) No, we are speaking of the coming New Heavens and New Earth that we have believed in for 2000 years, longer than the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They got their belief from us and don’t even know it!

Why don’t we talk about it more? One reason, as you will learn from reviewing your Catechism, is that we don’t know exactly how the details of this promised “world to come” will come to pass. We trust in it, believe in it, and have our minds set on the Beatific Vision, “heaven,” which is what will be carried on into it. Heaven is what will be truly lasting and what we will be experiencing regardless of what this New Heavens and New Earth turns out to be. This everlasting future is but part of our Heaven that we are citizens of.

As it is written:

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,

and what has not entered the human heart,

what God has prepared for those who love him,”

this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. --2 Corinthians 2:9, 10.

Yes, this is really a good point.

What we as Catholics should do is concentrate not so much on how the JWs view is “wrong,” but refresh our memories regarding what we believe in order to share this with them and others.

Of course we can do this in a specific manner to aid those who are facing challenges from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some Catholics have family members who are studying with the JWs and thinking about leaving the Church. They need specific help on how to aid their family from making what may be a mistake they may come to greatly regret.

Others want to demonstrate that we as Catholics are equipped to stand firm in our beliefs, but this can be difficult when the Witnesses are daily trained to use techniques to draw us into debates with them and ourselves. We may know what we believe, but it is important that we not get this lost in trying to find our way through a needless debate.

So instead of letting this thread grow into a “hate thread” or a repeat of another thread about a more specific subject regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses (we shouldn’t cover the same issue on two separate threads–and so far we are not), it might be best to keep this one going along the lines of more generalized questions about Jehovah’s Witnesses…

…Or as an aid to help others find the information more readily, to begin a new thread about a specific or new question that arises. I know that I am not the only one who can offer good help in time of need. Plus by dividing threads into separate subjects it not only gives others a chance to aid us with their fine experience in deal with these issues, it keeps the forum tidy and easy to manage.

And adf417 has a good reminder: We would be more effective not only if we ask ourselves how we know we have found the truth, but make others who are out to proselytize us do all the work by putting the ball in their court instead of putting us in the hot seat when they come to our doors, etc.

Delson - Perfect !! Thank You !!

Interpretation is a tough one, because the JW’s believe their “organization” is the true interpreter. I want to focus on how their organization felt it needed to change the words of the Bible itself to fit their theology. I have some passages in hand regarding the divinity of Jesus, now I need to look them up in the NWT where I am sure they will be different and argue using the King James and see if I can plant that seed. I realize its a tough sell. The last group came to my house 3 times and that was it.

Some of the arguments are so bizarre though. I went right to John 1 and asked if Jesus was a false god since there is only one true God. She replied that Satan is referred to as a god also. So I said, yes, he is a false god. Another time they said Agrippa spoke as if he was a god. What does that mean? So they are putting Jesus in the same category as Agrippa and Satan??? At that point I don’t even know what they are arguing. Its like a Monty Python skit sometimes. “Yes we have cheese”

I’ll tell you what, let me get something together that will help explain why the “yes, we have cheese” problem comes up with them (funny–but I know exactly what this is and that’s a perfect way to explain it).

I will either make a new thread or something, but I get a lot of questions about how to handle this from a Catholic viewpoint (or whether or not it always should be handled), so let me get back in a couple of days so that you will have something useful before the weekend.

And now for something completely different---- :wink:

I see on another one of your posts you say that the JW just came out with a new edition of the NWT. Can you tell me what changed? I have a NWT from '69 or '70 and I have interlinears from '69 and '84.

They really did some odd things with their recent revision, and if I didn’t know any better the changes seem to have been created by “borrowing” the phraseology and unique word choices of the NRSV.

Here’s a brief list of what they did and why it is odd:

**JWs said up till now: **Our translation is more correct than all others because it translates the words “nephesh” and “psyche” as “soul” each and every time they occur in the original text. It is wrong to use the word “person” or “life” in these cases.

**The revised NWT: **Have now followed the NRSV and other translations that translate these words according to context, using words such as “person” or “life.”

JWs said up till now: All translations are dishonest in the way they translate John 17:3 (such as the NRSV does: "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. ", but ours is the only correct one because we render it: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” It should be “taking in knowledge,” not just “know!”

**The revised NWT: **They now translate it the “wrong” way along with the NRSV and other versions they condemned for the past 50 years: “This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”

JWs said up till now: All translations are dishonest when they translate the words “Sheol” and “Hades” by such words as “grave” or “netherworld,” like the New American Bible for Catholics. Only the New World Translation does it correctly by rendering these words as “Sheol” and “Hades” each time, and thus not clouding the issue!

**The revised NWT: **They now render “Sheol” and “Hades” as “grave,” a lowercase “g” when an individual grave is meant and a capital “G” when the word represents “gravedom” or the “netherworld” as the New American Bible renders it.

And to add to this:

*]They have adopted some inclusive language for the first time, and in the places they have inserted it and the word choices tend to be identical to those of the NRSV, using identical terms which did NOT come easy or quickly for the NRSV to employ.

*]They have smoothed out and updated language, again using modern terms that are unique to the NRSV.

*]They have removed the various endings to Mark and the first few verses of John 8 (the story of Jesus and the adulteress) from the main text, citing that since these verses do not appear in the oldest known manuscripts that they cannot therefore be canonical.

*]They have claimed to have examined the Dead Sea Scrolls to make their new version but do not add any of the recognized “lost” verses to the text, such as appears at the end of 1 Samuel 10 in the NRSV and in the footnote at the opening of 1 Samuel 11 in the NABRE.

*]They make claim to using ancient texts to restore God’s name in several additional places in the text, but they have not “restored” it to Psalm 102:25 which pre-Masoretic readings have as: “Long ago, O YHWH, you have founded the earth and the heavens are your handiwork.” The reason? Then they would have to “restore” God’s name to Hebrews 1:10 which would have the Bible writer calling Jesus by the name YHWH.

*]They claim to have made all these revisions in 5 years, though they have no formally educated language scholars among them.

I listened to Fr Mitch Pacwa’s tape on the JW which gets more into their history than their theology, but he said Russell once sued a preacher for slander and the attorney showed Russell a chart with the Greek alphabet and Russell could not read it making the point that how could he do a translation if he doesn’t know the alphabet. Fr Pacwa said “I guess he was never even in a fraternity”

Two rules when discussing subjects with Jehovah’s Witnesses:

*]Avoid subjects they are prepared for.
*]Instead of debating, demonstrate how your logic is sound.

Many folks on this and other forums where religion is discussed would claim that they are engaged in apologetics. Most of them time, however, we are not.

What we are almost always engaged in on the threads is debate. While debating a point can be a useful facet of apologetics, an apologetic discourse does not have to employ debate in order for it to be effective.

Differences Between Debate and Apology

People in debates become opponents, take sides, and in the end there is no way to definitively prove who wins. Usually the better debater or speaker wins, and this is generally decided by popular opinion of a watching audience (debates are like tennis matches with players on two sides and folks who sit on the sidelines to be entertained by the drama that unfolds). None of the persons in the debate has to demonstrate the validity of their claims, and the one who comes out on top can sometimes actually have the weaker argument. It’s all about how well you argue, not how true or accurate your argument is.

An apology is different. You don’t have an opponent. You only have an audience, which may be one or many persons. The audience usually doesn’t have the same convictions you do, and it is understood that they will not necessarily adopt your convictions when all is said and done. But that’s not what apologies are for, anyway.

An apology demonstrates that the logic you have employed to adopt your position or convictions is sound. It’s not about proving the validity of your position or convictions, just the logic for your adopting them. The expert replies and articles on this site are an extremely good example of this. They generally avoid debate as a facet while sticking to developing and demonstrating a sound argument. Read not just what they say, but study how and why they say what they do.

Prove Logic Behind Your Conviction, Not Your Conviction

To illustrate: You cannot “prove” that God exists according to the scientific method.* Why not? Because the methodology requires a few things for “proof” that cannot occur. Your subject (in this case God) needs to be available for examination in the physical world (or you need to be able to at least take a “sample” from God). There also needs to be an agreed upon definition of what constitutes a deity in science (and there is no such thing in science). And once you finish your examination and report your findings, the how process needs to be capable of being repeated by a disinterested party. You can’t do this with God because God transcends the physical universe and time. You can’t take samples of that which cannot be sampled, and even if you could you would still have no standard for God but God, and that goes against the scientific method.

But you can prove why believing in God is logical, and you can prove that the reasons for your convictions in an “un-provable” God (so to speak) are sound. “Proving” God by others means will come next with those who find your reason for belief a reason for them to investigate further.

(*–There are also other manners of “proofs” for God’s existence, just not according to what is allowed by the scientific method. The scientific method actually has rules that make it impossible to apply to transcendence and spiritual realities, but it is not the only critical methodology you can employ to prove things. Apologetics happens to be the methodology of choice for religious subjects.)

Logic Holds Weight with the Witnesses

So what you have to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses is not debate with them about interpretations. What you need to do is prove your logic.

Instead of arguing the points they raise about the Trinity, you must demonstrate why your faith in the Trinity is a sound choice. Instead of proving the Trinity, you must prove your logic *for being *a Trinitarian.

This approach always worked on me when I was a Jehovah’s Witness (and from what I’ve seen it works about 95% of the time with other JWs too). While I would not always end up agreeing with the other person who held the conviction different from mine, I would always stop my attempts to further argument for my points once it was clear that the other person’s conscientious choice was sound. Witnesses tend to do the same thing, except for a few who will just keep going on like a broken record because they weren’t paying any attention to you in the first place (a no-no for JWs that a few among them never seem to learn). While we have discussed the existence of a few bad examples, for the large part Jehovah’s Witnesses are courteous and respectful, and they can be very mannerly if we treat them mannerly ourselves.

I will demonstrate how this works on another thread about the subject of the Trinity, using questions I have been asked here and even challenges from other Witnesses to show how this information can be applied. Feel free to add some of your own or comments (especially if you’ve managed to do the same yourself and got your “apology” across effectively).

I will also show the rules of logical discourse in apologetics and how you can use these to disarm a Witness without having to deal with the repetitive rhetoric that they often spew out at us. They don’t prepare for such an approach (and actually CAN’T use it), and therefore it can be helpful—as long as your reasons for why you believe what you do are logical and sound.

You may not make converts of them, but you will diffuse debates and end attempts from most of them to further try to proselytize you.

I do want to add that the above is NOT an exhaustive explanation of what apologetics are and how they can be employed. There are various manners of approach that I do not even touch on in the above post.

The above is a comprehensive look at the techniques that would be most effective in dealing with Witnesses to stop the “yes, we have cheese” syndrome we were chatting about earlier.

For those who don’t know what the “yes, we have cheese” syndrome is, it comes from a famous Monty Python skit. A man walks into a cheese shop and asks for cheese. Despite his ability to list practically every type of cheese known to man, the cheese shop owner tells the customer that he is all out of that type of cheese.

Eventually the customer asks: “Do you have any cheese at all?”

The owner replies: “Of course we do. After all this a cheese shop.”

The skit continues with the customer listing more cheeses and the owner saying “no, don’t have that in stock” to them all. The point of the sketch is that sometimes people reason in a weird way and allow themselves to act ridiculous just so they won’t go against their own reasoning.

Since a cheese shop exists and the owner and the potential customer are clearly standing in a building marked “cheese shop,” then, the owner’s reasoning goes, he must indeed have cheese. If there’s a cheese shop there must be cheese, he reasons, because if there wasn’t then there would be no cheese shop and the two would not be here discussing cheese. So even though he has none of the cheeses the man orders, he keeps saying “yes, we have cheese. After all this is a cheese shop.”

If you’ve ever had to talk to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at length, you can relate.

Yep! :thumbsup: I can relate.

Can you link to the thread about the trinity, please?

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