The New World Bible
The Jehovah’s Witnesses faith has been very active in
the printing of Bibles. Indeed, the versions they have published have
been various. Among these has been the King James Version with marginal
The Jehovah’s Witnesses first embarked upon Bible
printing in 1927 when the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society printed the
Emphatic Diaglott. This version had first been published in 1865 by its
translator, a Yorkshireman, B.F. Wilson, who migrated from England to
the United States in 1844 at the age of twenty-seven.
Although Wilson had attended the Baptist Church in
his home town of Halifax, he had later taken an interest in Campbell’s
Restoration Movement and subsequently joined the Disciples of God.
Wilson fellowshiped with this group of believers in
Illinois where he settled in the town of Geneva. The Disciples of Christ
in this town had come under the influence of the teachings of John
Thomas, who broke from the Disciples of Christ to form the
Christadelphian Church. While the Genevan Disciples of Christ chose not
to align themselves with the Christadelphian faith, they too broke away
from the Disciples of Christ and adopted the name of the Restitution
Church of God.
Wilson’s translation was faulted from its very
inception. He erroneously believed that the versions of Tyndale,
Matthew, Coverdale, and Geneva (no relationship to Geneva, Illinois, but
rather to the Swiss city of that name) were all translated from the
Latin Vulgate. Adding error to error, Wilson described his version as
The Emphatic Diaglott, containing the original
Greek Text of what is Commonly Styled the New Testament (According to
the Recension of Dr. J.J. Griesbach), with an Interlineary
Word-for-Word English Translation; A New Emphatic Translation, based
on the Interlineary Translation, on the Renderings of Eminent Critics,
and on the various readings of the Vatican Library. Title page of The
Emphatic Diaglott, 1865 Edition
It will be noted that Wilson’s work was greatly
influenced by the Codex Vaticanus. Since it had been altered by the
Gnostics to more closely conform to their view that Christ was a created
being, this manuscript quite naturally attracted the attention of the
Jehovah’s Witnesses, who shared a similar doctrinal viewpoint.
Thus in 1902 the Jehovah’s Witnesses arranged a
reprinting of the Emphatic Diaglott for their own use. Its translator,
B.F. Wilson, claimed that
Scrupulous fidelity has been maintained throughout
this version in giving the true rendering of the original text into
English, no regard whatever being paid to the prevailing doctrines or
prejudices of sects, or the peculiar tenets of theologians. B.F.
Wilson, Emphatic Diaglott
But his very use of the Codex Vaticanus suggested
otherwise, and led to his misapprehension of the origin of the
translations of William Tyndale and others.
In 1950 the Jehovah’s Witnesses produced their New
World Translation. Their confession that they used as a basis for this
the widely accepted Westcott and Hort text (1881),
by reason of its admitted excellence. Foreword, New World Bible, 1950
will not arouse confidence in the astute Bible
student. Furthermore, they took into account the text of Eberhard
Nestlé, a text closely aligned with the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex
Sinaiticus, and also gave credence to the Greek texts of Bover (1943)
and Merk (1948), both of whom were Jesuit priests.
In 1961, this version was completed by the addition
of the Old Testament, and in 1970 a revision was produced. The version
has been translated into at least four other languages—Dutch, Italian,
Portuguese, and Spanish. Associated with the 1970 revision, the
Jehovah’s Witnesses produced a literal translation of Westcott and
Hort’s Greek text in 1969.
In addition to the Emphatic Diaglott and the New
World Bible, the Jehovah’s Witnesses published The Bible in Living
English (unrelated to the Living Bible) in 1972. This translation was
prepared by Steven T. Byington (1868-1957), a member of the
Congregational Church. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society purchased
Byington’s manuscript after his death.
As the various versions printed by the Watchtower
Organization are closely examined, it is apparent that care has been
taken to utilize versions supporting their hypothesis that Christ is not
God. Thus John 1:1 ("The Word was God") is translated as "the Word was a
God"; Colossians 1:16 (By him were all things created") is translated
"by means of him all other things were created"; Romans 9:5 ("Christ . .
. who is over all, God blessed forever") is mistranslated "He who is
over everything, God blessed forever," and naturally in 1 Timothy 3:16
"God was manifest in the flesh" is reduced to "He was manifest in the
With its mixture of Westcott-Hort theory and its use
of the Codex Vaticanus and Greek texts prepared by Jesuits, The New
World Bible surely forfeits the confidence of any true Protestant Bible