A Study of Translations: The New World Translation

By Bobby L. Graham

This abominable work of the Watchtower Society, first published around 1950 and revised since that time, does a first-class job of butchering the Biblical text in an effort to pave the way for many of the erroneous views of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In many cases it becomes evident to a knowledgeable person that the translators know precious little about what they were supposed to be doing: it is no wonder that the Watchtower Society refuses to reveal the names of the so-called translators.

Their denial of the personality and spiritual nature of the Holy Spirit starts off their work in Gen. 1:2, where they have “active force,” and that is what they believe Him to be. One of their books even explained him to be something like a radar beam.

Their false idea concerning the nature of man- that he is totally physical, having no spirit-shows through in Matt. 27:50, for there they said that Jesus “yielded up this breath.” In a parallel account, Luke 23:46, it would have been absurd to translate breath and they gave us spirit. This is a clear case of their doctrine driving them to mistranslate God’s word to support their idea, but not being able to do the job consistently.

The Witnesses’ denial of the deity of Jesus finds expression in John 1:1; “a god” is what they call him. Here again, they were driven by doctrine; but in John 1:6, 12, 13, and 18 they did not give the same treatment to the same identical words in the original language because in these verses the reference is not to Jesus (whose deity they deny), but to the Father (whose deity they accept). Their inconsistencies occur in numerous other verses. In Col. 1:16 and other verses of that context, the Witnesses added the word other in an effort to substantiate their view that Jesus was a created being, not a divine being. Try beating that one for unscrupulous mishandling of God’s word!

They tried to remove the idea of existence after death for the spirit of man in their rendering of Phil. 1:23. Instead of putting depart, they put releasing, even as they did in 2 Tim. 4:6 and even explained this in the appendix at the back of the book.

In another assault on Christ’s deity, Phil. 2:6 says that Christ “gave no consideration to a seizure, namely that he should be equal to God.” Imagine such a mistranslation! Why, it forces the verse to say exactly the opposite of what the text really teaches. The truth of the passage is that Jesus did not think the being on an equality with God was a thing to be grasped or held on to, even though he existed in the form of God. He was willing to lay his heavenly rank, position, and glory down that he might come to earth to die for man.

Anointing, to them is “greasing” in James 5:14, in a, somewhat humorous rendering.

Reflecting their view that Jesus came in 1914, though the coming was invisible, 2 Thess. 2:1 speaks of His presence; and urges the people not to be upset by any message to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.

These are some of the “abominations of desolation” in the NWT.

Truth Magazine XXII: 31, p. 506
August 10, 1978