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Chapter 37

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 references.

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 follows:

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 translation

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 flesh."

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 student.

 


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