translating-truth-truth-in-translation

The 2013 year of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was the biggest since 1914. While they made many doctrinal adjustments this year, it is their 2013 revision of their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures that was most shocking, to both Witnesses and non-Witnesses alike. The Witnesses have used a literal translation from the beginning in their evangelism work. Setting aside doctrinal differences, the Witnesses are notorious for their dedication to the commission of Matthew 28:1-20.

Below you will find the history of the Bible publishing and printing endeavors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses over the past 125 years. You will notice first and foremost that they have always cherished literal translations. They have written on this subject quite extensively, and have always raved about how literal translations get you closer to what God said. However, being that I have read many of their articles on the differences between literal and dynamic equivalent translation philosophies, and how to pick a good translation, or what makes up a good translation, I can say that their position has been that literal is preferred, but the dynamic equivalent has its place. They have written of the strengths and the weaknesses of both translation philosophies. Below the history of their Printing and distrusting of the Bible, you will find a complete quote from Appendix A and B of their newly revised 2013 New World Translation. You will recognize my comments, because they will be within bold square brackets […………..].

History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Printing and Distributing of the Bible

  • As early as 1890, according to available evidence, the Society arranged for a special printing, bearing its own name, of the Second Edition of The New Testament Newly Translated and Critically Emphasised, as prepared by the British Bible translator Joseph B. Rotherham. Why this translation? Because of its literalness …
  • In 1902 a special printing of the Holman Linear Parallel Edition of the Bible was made by the arrangement of the Watch Tower Society.
  • That same year, the Watch Tower Society came into possession of the printing plates for The Emphatic Diaglott, which includes J. J. Griesbach’s Greek text of the Christian Greek Scriptures (the 1796-1806 edition) along with an English interlinear translation.
  • Four years later, in 1907, the Bible Students Edition of the King James Version was published.
  • It was 36 years after it first undertook publishing Bibles that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society printed and bound a Bible in its own factory. The first one thus produced was The Emphatic Diaglott, the plates for which had been owned by the Society for 24 years. In December 1926 this Bible was printed on a flatbed press in the Society’s Concord Street factory in Brooklyn.
  • Sixteen years later, in the midst of World War II, the Society undertook the printing of the entire Bible. To this end, plates for the King James Version with marginal references were purchased in 1942 from the A. J. Holman Company, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • The Witnesses wanted to help people to get to know the personal name, as well as the purpose, of its divine author, Jehovah God. There was a translation in English—the American Standard Version of 1901—that used the divine name in the more than 6,870 places where it appeared in the sources from which the translators worked. In 1944, after a number of months of negotiations, the Watch Tower Society purchased the right to make a set of key plates for this Bible from plates and type supplied by Thomas Nelson and Sons, of New York.
  • Steven Byington, of Ballard Vale, Massachusetts, U.S.A., had also made a modern-English translation of the Bible that gave the divine name its rightful place. The Watch Tower Society came into possession of his unpublished manuscript in 1951 and acquired the sole right of publication in 1961. That complete translation was printed in 1972.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses wanted a translation that embodied the benefits of the latest scholarship, one that was not colored by the creeds and traditions of Christendom, a literal translation that faithfully presented what is in the original writings and so could provide the basis for continued growth in knowledge of divine truth, a translation that would be clear and understandable to modern-day readers. The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, released in 1950, filled that need—at least for that part of the Bible.
  • After that, the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into English and were released progressively, in five separate volumes, beginning in 1953.
  • Since the one-volume edition of 1961 was published, four additional up-to-date revisions have been issued. The most recent of these was in 1984 when a large-print edition with an extensive appendix, 125,000 marginal references, 11,400 enlightening footnotes, and a concordance was published.[1]

Principles of Bible Translation

The Bible was originally written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Today it is available in whole or in part in about 2,600 languages. The vast majority of people who read the Bible do not understand the original languages and therefore must rely on a translation. What principles should guide how the Bible is translated, and how did these govern the rendering of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures?

Some might conclude that a strict, word-for-word, interlinear-style translation would enable the reader to get closest to what was expressed in the original languages. However, that is not always the case. Consider a few of the reasons:

[This is very misleading on several fronts. This has been the Witnesses philosophy for 125 years that the literal translation gets you closest to what God says. Moreover, this statement is deceiving just like those of the dynamic equivalent translations do. They are using word-for-word and interlinear right next to each other, which makes it seem as though they are the same. They are not. An interlinear is not even, strictly speaking, a translation. It is the original language with the lexical definitions beneath the original language words. There is absolutely no consideration of the grammar and syntax of the English under the original language words. Note below the interlinear is first, with a literal English translation that follows. Notice that the English translation brings the Hebrew or Greek over into correct English Grammar and Syntax.]

interlinear-hebrew

interlinear-english-of-hebrew

interlinear-greek

interlinear-english-of-greek

[What the Witnesses and those of the dynamic equivalent camp appear to be doing is trying to prejudice readers against the literal translation philosophy. Because, if a reader thought the interlinear rendering is what is meant by word-for-word (which has long been a phrase applicable to literal translations), it would make them seem nonsensical. Let us continue with the NWT’s Appendix.]

  • No two languages are exactly alike in grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure. A professor of Hebrew, S. R. Driver, wrote that languages “differ not only in grammar and roots, but also . . . in the manner in which ideas are built up into a sentence.” Different languages require quite different thought patterns. “Consequently,” continues Professor Driver, “the forms taken by the sentence in different languages are not the same.”

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul used an expression that is literally translated “in the (dice) cube of the men.” (Ephesians 4:14, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures) This expression refers to the practice of cheating others when using dice. In most languages, however, a literal rendering of this allusion makes little sense. Translating this expression as “the trickery of men” is a clearer way to convey the meaning.

When writing to the Romans, Paul used a Greek expression that literally means “to the spirit boiling.” (Romans 12:11, Kingdom Interlinear) Does this wording make sense in your language? The expression actually means to be “aglow with the spirit.”

[This quote of Driver is found in the 2009 Watchtower, under the article, “How can You Choose a Good Bible Translation?” It is specifically under the heading, “Are Word-for-Word Translations Best?” Notice how they mislead as I quote the article in a box below,]

[First, they are using interlinear and literal interchangeably, as though they were the same, as they did with the word-for-word in the above. They are not the same, as we have clearly demonstrated. We will demonstrate it again here. We will quote the verse they speak of with three literal translations.]

Ephesians 4:14

English Standard Version (ESV)

14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Ephesians 4:14

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

Ephesians 4:14

American Standard Version (ASV)

14 that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;

[The Greek word kybeia has the literal sense of trickery (dice playing). It is “any type of misrepresentation intended to take advantage of a person in some way.” Do any of these literal translations use “(dice) cube,” which is what found in the Kingdom Interlinear? No, they actually use terms that are found in other interlinears, and lexicons, “cunning,” “trickery,” “craftiness,” or “sleight.” All of these are straight from the lexicon, to use any of them is what literal translations do, and it is known as lexical interpretation. What happens with dynamic equivalent translations is, they take it a step further, and they may use a phrase like ‘intentionally deceiving.’ Thus, the Witnesses like those of the dynamic equivalent are being intentionally deceiving by using word-for-word (known for literal translations), literal, and interlinear interchangeably. We will do one more from the above, Romans 12:11.]

Romans 12:11

English Standard Version (ESV)

11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Romans 12:11

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

American Standard Version (ASV)

11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

 

[Again, we have three literal translations, do any of them say literally “to the spirit boiling”? No. All three have fervent for the Greek word zeontes. The literal sense of zeontes is “to be inflamed (boil).” Like many words, it can be used figuratively of “emotions, anger, love, eagerness to do good or evil, to be stirred up emotionally, be enthusiastic/excited/on fire.[2] It can be used in the sense of “fervent in spirit” (burning zeal) like Apollos was as a new Christian (Ac 18:25), or when Paul admonishes the Roman Christians to be “fervent in spirit.” (Rom 12:11) While it is true that to a degree “fervent in spirit” is an interpretation of the literal “boil”; otherwise, it would read, “not lagging behind in diligence, to the spirit boiling, serving the Lord.” It should be still said that the range of meaning for the word is “boil (primary meaning), enthusiastic, fervent, excited, on fire, zealous.” It literally means to be inflamed, boil, to be or become emotionally inflamed. Therefore, the literal translations above are still treating it literally, as to be dynamic equivalent, would be to render it “spiritual glow” (Moffatt), “heart full of devotion” (TEV/GNB), “eagerly follow” (CEV), or “a heart full of love” (NLV). Do you see what the dynamic equivalents have done; they decided to interpret what was meant by “fervent in spirit” or rather a “boiling spirit.”]

[Now, getting back to the NWT, and its position that no two languages are alike, this is absolutely true, and no one would argue otherwise. However, this does not give a translator or a committee to go beyond lexical interpretation, into a commentary mode. However, this is not to say that the primary literal meaning of a word can always be used in ever context either. Literal translations attempt to keep the same corresponding English word or phrase as long as it is possible, but they respect that the context might require another of those words in the range of meaning.]

  • No modern language exactly mirrors the vocabulary and grammar of Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, so a word-for-word translation of the Bible could be unclear or at times could even convey the wrong meaning.
  • The meaning of a word or an expression may vary depending on the context in which it is used.

A translator may be able to mirror the literal rendering of the original language in some passages, but this must be done very carefully.

Here are some examples of how word-for-word translation can be misunderstood:

  • The Scriptures use the expressions “sleep” and “fall asleep” to refer both to physical sleep and to the sleep of death. (Matthew 28:13;Acts 7:60) When these expressions are used in contexts that refer to death, Bible translators can use such wording as “fall asleep in death,” which helps the modern reader avoid confusion.—1 Corinthians 7:39;1 Thessalonians 4:13; 2 Peter 3:4.
  • The apostle Paul used an expression found in Ephesians 4:14 that can be literally translated “in the playing of dice of men.” This ancient idiom alludes to the practice of cheating others when using dice. In most languages, a literal rendering of this allusion makes little sense. Translating this expression as “the trickery of men” is a clearer way to convey the meaning.
  • At Romans 12:11, a Greek expression is used that literally means “to the spirit boiling.” This wording does not convey the intended meaning in English, so it is rendered “aglow with the spirit” in this translation.
  • During his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used an expression that is often translated “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5:3King James
matthew-5-3-poor-in-spirit

MATTHEW 5:3

Literal English: “the poor in spirit”

Idea: “those conscious of their spiritual need”

  • Version) But in many languages, a literal rendering of this expression is obscure. In some cases, a strictly literal translation could imply that “the poor in spirit” are mentally unbalanced or lacking in vitality and determination. However, Jesus was here teaching people that their happiness depended, not on satisfying their physical needs, but on recognizing their need for God’s guidance. (Luke 6:20) Thus, such renderings as “those conscious of their spiritual need” or “those who know their need for God” convey more accurately the meaning of the original expression.—Matthew 5:3The New Testament in Modern English.

[While there is no problem with taking a literal sense of a word, and going to what it means in the context, this does not always mean that one is off in the weeds of dynamic equivalence, i.e., interpretive translation. The literal sense of the Greek word ptochos is one who has little money or possessing little of something. In this case, one is “poor in spirit” or “possessing little in spirit.” It is true that most Christians, and even pastors have misunderstood this literal wording, and they have tried to explain how a person can be both happy or blessed while being “poor in spirit,” or “possessing little in spirit,” or even “spiritual poverty.” You see, the happy one is, the one who becomes aware of his “possessing little in spirit,” or “spiritual poverty.” In other words, he recognizes that salvation is beyond himself, and he needs another, namely Jesus Christ. This thought of knowingly being low on something, but having God is something that Jesus Jewish listeners would have been well aware of, as the concept is found throughout the Old Testament. (Ps 40:17; 69:29–30, 33–34; Isa. 57:15; 61:1; 66:2, 5) Thus, the modern day read carries the obligation of not reading the Bible like it is some novel, but slowing down, pondering and meditating, and yes, even researching when at first glance, the verse is not easily understood.]

yadhThe Hebrew word yadh is usually rendered “hand,” but depending on the context, this word may be rendered “authority,” “generosity,” “power,” and many other ways
  • In many contexts, the Hebrew word translated “jealousy” corresponds to the common meaning of the English word, namely, to feel anger over the apparent unfaithfulness of a close associate or to envy others for their possessions. (Proverbs 6:34;Isaiah 11:13) However, the same Hebrew word also has a positive connotation. For example, it may be used of the “zeal,” or protective ardor, that Jehovah shows for his  servants or of his “requiring exclusive devotion.” (Exodus 34:14;2 Kings 19:31; Ezekiel 5:13;Zechariah 8:2) It may also be used of the “zeal” that his faithful servants have for God and his worship or of their ‘tolerating no rivalry’ toward him.—Psalm 69:9; 119:139; Numbers 25:11.
  • The Hebrew expression that usually refers to the human hand has a wide variety of meanings. Depending on the context, this word may be rendered “authority,” “generosity,” or “power.” (2 Samuel 8:3;1 Kings 10:13; Proverbs 18:21) In fact, this particular word is translated over 40 different ways in the English edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

[The English word “hand” has over 20 different meanings, and will be determined by the context as well. This does not mean that you are not translating literal, because you do not use the primary meaning of the word, hand, the part of the human arm below the wrist. Any of the ranges within the lexicon are literal renderings. Let us take Proverbs 18:21 as example.]

Proverbs 18:21

English Standard Version (ESV)

21 Death and life are in the power [yad, hand] of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 18:21

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

21 Death and life are in the power [yad, hand] of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21

American Standard Version (ASV)

21 Death and life are in the power [yad, hand] of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

[If you doubt the above are literal renderings, her are three dynamic equivalents, i.e., interpretive translations.]

Proverbs 18:21

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

21 Words can bring death or life!
Talk too much, and you will eat
everything you say.

Proverbs 18:21

Good News Translation (GNT)

21 What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.

Proverbs 18:21

New Century Version (NCV)

21 What you say can mean life or death.
Those who speak with care will be rewarded.

[I do not believe I even need to argue the case of which are literal, and which are not. Below we resume with the Appendices.]

In view of these factors, Bible translation involves more than simply rendering an original-language word with the same term each time it occurs. A translator must use good judgment in order to select words in the target language that best represent the ideas of the original-language text. In addition, there is a need to structure the sentences in a way that conforms to the rules of grammar of the target language, making the text easy to read.

[Let me put the above in easy to read language, which is, we are going to a dynamic (interpretive) translation, which gives all of the responsibility to the translator, not the reader. In other words, they are more concerned with the reader’s side of the equation, than get at the Word of God in corresponding English. What they are saying is, when the translator deems something too difficult to understand, they will interpret that literal meaning for you, and give you the interpretation. The problem with this is what if the interpretation is wrong.]

[An example would be the ancient Hebrews would have used the kidney to symbolize the deepest recesses of the inner person, while the modern day person would use the heart similarly. J. N. Oswalt wrote, “When used figuratively, the term refers to the innermost aspects of personality.”[3] An example of this would be Psalm 16:7. The top row of translations below is the three most literal, with the second row being somewhat literal. However, you see that none says, “During the nights my kidneys have corrected me.” That is the way the 1984 NWT rendered it, with the 2013 revision saying, “During the night, my innermost thoughts correct me.” However, they do the extra mile offering an alternative reading, plus the literal reading in a footnote: “Or ‘my deepest emotions.’ Lit., ‘my kidneys.’” You will notice that the main text and 2013 footnote renderings cover two different thoughts, the same split from our translations below, “innermost thoughts” (mind) or “deepest emotions” (heart). The LEB goes all the way through to the dynamic equivalent level, with its “innermost being,” and the HCSB even further down the interpretive rabbit hole.]

[We are not saying that it is wrong to substitute new body part that carries the same meaning as the other of old, in exchange for the modern day reader (heart or mind), but it is going too far into the interpretive well with “conscience,” “innermost being,” “innermost thoughts,” or “deepest emotions.” You see “innermost being,” “innermost thoughts,” or “deepest emotions.” are descriptive of what the kidneys stood for to the ancient Israelites, which is stepping over into the interpretive realms, but the HCSB is completely interpretive with its “conscience” rendering, because it is telling us what the “innermost being,” “innermost thoughts,” or “deepest emotions” are. You will see that this is the case with the dynamic equivalent translation, the Today’s English Version AKA the Good News Bible, “I will praise the Lord, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night.”]

Psalm 16:7

English Standard Version (ESV)

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.

 

Psalm 16:7

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

Psalm 16:7

American Standard Version (ASV)

I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel; Yea, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Psalm 16:7

Lexham English Bible (LEB)

I will bless Yahweh who advises me;
yes, at night my innermost being instructs me.

Psalm 16:7

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

I will praise the Lord who counsels me—
even at night my conscience instructs me.

Psalm 16:7

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.

[Let it be noted that it is the reader’s responsibility to study the historical setting of Bible times, the Bible backgrounds, who would then discover what the Israelites meant by their use of “kidney.” How though can he do that, if we remove what the original author said, and replace it with what he meant by what he said? Now, we return to the New World Translation appendices.]

At the same time, extremes in rewording the text must be avoided. A translator who liberally paraphrases the Bible according to how he interprets the overall idea could distort the meaning of the text. How so? The translator may erroneously insert his opinion of what the original text means or may omit important details contained in the original text. So while paraphrases of the Bible may be easy to read, their very freeness at times may prevent the reader from getting the true message of the text.

[This is true, but it is not just true of the paraphrase, but also of the dynamic equivalents (CEV, NLT, TEV, etc.), but to a lesser degree.]

Doctrinal bias can easily color a translator’s work. For example, Matthew 7:13 says: “Spacious is the road leading off into destruction.” Some translators, perhaps affected by doctrinal bias, have used the term “hell” rather than what the Greek term really means, namely, “destruction.”

[Doctrinal or theological bias is very real, and it affects all of us, no one is exempt from it.[4] In order to be fair, all translators come to the translation job with the greatest of intentions of setting aside doctrinal bias at the door. The NWT is correct about the paraphrase, though. Whether you believe that our punishment is eternal torment in hellfire, or eternal destruction, i.e., death; you need the verses to be rendered correctly, so as to get at the correct understanding of a doctrine. Below are three literal translations, followed by one paraphrase, take notice of the difference. You will notice that the literal ESV, NASB, and the ASV all have “destruction,” while the paraphrase The Living Bible has “hell.”]

Matthew 7:13

English Standard Version (ESV)

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

Matthew 7:13

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

Matthew 7:13

American Standard Version (ASV)

13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby.

 

Matthew 7:13 Living Bible (TLB)

13 “Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way.

[We now return to the NWT.]

A Bible translator must also consider that the Bible was written using the common, everyday language of average people, such as farmers, shepherds, and fishermen. (Nehemiah 8:8, 12; Acts 4:13) Therefore, a good translation of the Bible makes the message  it contains understandable to sincere people, regardless of their background. Clear, common, readily understood expressions are preferred over terms that are rarely used by the average person.

[While it is true that the intended audience would have better understood what was written to them than we could ever hope to, this does not mean the text was easy to understand. The apostle Peter had this to say about the apostle Paul’s letters, “as he [Paul] does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand …” We have books on Bible backgrounds, custom and culture, as it is the reader’s responsibility to get back into the world of the time. It is then his responsibility to ascertain what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his readers, and are there any implications for him. Again, how does a reader know to investigate what the original author said, if the translator has removed what the author said, and has replaced it with what he meant by what he said? We return to the NWT.]

Quite a number of Bible translators have taken the unjustifiable liberty of omitting God’s name, Jehovah, from modern translations even though that name is found in ancient Bible manuscripts. (See Appendix A4.) Many translations replace the name with a title, such as “Lord,” and some even obscure the fact that God has a name. For example, in some translations, Jesus’ prayer recorded at John 17:26 reads: “I made you known to them,” and at John 17:6, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me.” However, a faithful rendering of Jesus’ prayer reads: “I have made your name known to them,” and “I have made your name manifest to the men whom you gave me.”

As stated in the foreword to the original English edition of the New World Translation: “We offer no paraphrase of the Scriptures. Our endeavor all through has been to give as literal a translation as possible, where the modern English idiom allows and where a literal rendition does not for any clumsiness hide the thought.” Thus, the New World Bible Translation Committee has endeavored to strike a balance between using words and phrasing that mirror the original and, at the same time, avoiding wording that reads awkwardly or hides the intended thought. As a result, the Bible can be read with ease and the reader can have full confidence that its inspired message has been transmitted faithfully.—1 Thessalonians 2:13.

[There is no argument here on that matter. We would wholeheartedly agree. Please read, “The Divine Name: Does it Really Matter?

Features of This Revision

The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was released in English in 1950, and the complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures was published in 1961. Since then, tens of millions of readers in well over 100 languages have benefited from this accurate yet readable rendering of the Holy Scriptures from the original languages.

[There is little doubt that most would disagree with this statement, some vehemently so. However just as there is assuredly theological bias in the NWT of 1984 and the 2013 revision, it exists in other translations too. Let me tell you a story about the release of the New King James Version. The translators came to a well-respected evangelical university, and released the new translation to an audience of university instructors. Once the speaker was finished, he asked if there were any questions, and the professor from the New Testament department shot his hand up in the air. He asked the translation committee, ‘why did you keep the interpolation at 1 John 5:7, ‘the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.’ We all know this was added in and is not part of the original.” The speaker said, ‘we wanted to remove it, but the publishers wanted to retain it, because they did not think it would sell as well.’ Below are three examples of how 1 John 5:7 should read, followed by the NKJV,]

1 John 5:7

English Standard Version (ESV)

For there are three that testify:

1 John 5:7

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

For there are three that testify:

1 John 5:7

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

For there are three that testify:

1 John 5:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

[If you need another example, we can turn to John 8:58 in the,]

John 8:58 Good News Translation (GNT)

58 “I am telling you the truth,” Jesus replied. “Before Abraham was born, ‘I Am’.”

[Notice that the “I Am” is capitalized, when there is absolutely no reason for doing so, other than theological bias. It is the translation committees attempt to turn the “I am” into a title, for the sake of Exodus 3:14.]

Over the past half century, however, languages have changed. The current New World Bible Translation Committee recognized the need to respond to those changes in order to touch the heart of today’s reader. For this reason, a number of style and vocabulary changes have been made in this revision, with the following objectives in mind:

[While it is true that languages have changed, but more than that is true as well. The shift of going from the literal translation philosophy to the dynamic equivalent interpretive translation had changed too. I personally believe that this had a major impact on their decision to come out with a revision. Moreover, I believe too that the skills of their translation committee have improved over the years, and they saw the need to revise as well.]

  • Use of modern, understandable language. For example, the expression “long-suffering” can be misunderstood to mean “someone who suffers for a long time.” However, the intended idea is that of deliberate restraint, which is better expressed by the term “patience.” (Galatians 5:22) The now obsolete meaning of “dumb” was replaced with “speechless.” (Matthew 9:32, 33) The term “harlot” was changed to “prostitute.” (Genesis 38:15) In this revision, “fornication” is usually rendered as “sexual immorality”; “loose conduct” as “brazen conduct”; and “revelries” as “wild parties.” (Galatians 5:19-21) The expression “time indefinite” was replaced with such terms as “forever,” “lasting,” “everlasting,” or “long ago,” to convey the intended meaning in each context.—Genesis 3:22;Exodus 31:16; Psalm 90:2; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Micah 5:2.
  • The term “seed” in ancient Hebrew and Greek could refer to plant seed as well as to human offspring, or descendants, or to semen. Because it is no longer common in English to use the term “seed” when referring to humans, it was replaced with expressions that convey the intended idea according to the context. (Genesis 1:11;22:17;48:4; Matthew 22:24; John 8:37) In most cases, the term “offspring” is now used when referring to the Edenic promise, found at Genesis 3:15.
  • The English verb “impale” was used in previous versions of this Bible in connection with the execution of Jesus. While this term could refer to the way that Jesus was nailed to the torture stake, it is more often used in reference to the ancient method of execution by running a sharp stake through the body and fixing the victim on it. Since Jesus was not impaled with the torture stake, this revision uses such expressions as “executed on a stake” and “nailed to the stake” with regard to the manner in which Jesus was fastened to the torture stake.—Matthew 20:19; 27:31, 35.
  • Biblical expressions clarified. Some terms used in previous editions of the English New World Translation often needed to be explained in order to be properly understood. For example, the Hebrew term “Sheol” and the Greek term “Hades” are used in the Bible to refer to the common grave of mankind. Those terms are unknown to many, and “Hades” has a dual meaning as a result of its usage in Greek mythology. Therefore, both terms were replaced with what was meant by the Bible writers, “the Grave.” The terms “Sheol” and “Hades” are now given in footnotes.—Psalm 16:10;Acts 2:27.
  • In past editions, the Hebrew word nepheshand the Greek wordpsy·khe were consistently rendered “soul.” In view of the many misconceptions regarding the meaning of the word “soul,” this approach helped the reader to see how the inspired Bible writers used these original-language terms. Depending on the context, those words may refer (1) to a person, (2) to the life of a person, (3) to living creatures, (4) to the desires and appetite of a person or, in some cases, (5) even to dead individuals. However, since such use of the word “soul” is not common in English, the decision was made to render these original-language words according to their intended meaning, usually with a footnote that reads “Or ‘soul.’” (See, for example, Genesis 1:20; 2:7; Leviticus 19:28; Psalm 3:2; Proverbs 16:26; Matthew 6:25.) However, in some poetic or well-known contexts, the word “soul” was retained in the main text, along with a footnote referring to the Glossary or showing another possible rendering.—Deuteronomy 6:5; Psalm 131:2; Proverbs 2:10; Matthew 22:37.
  • Similarly, the word “kidney” was retained when it refers to the literal organ. However, when it is used figuratively in such verses as Psalm 7:9 and 26:2 and Revelation 2:23, the intended idea of “deepest emotions” or “innermost thoughts” is conveyed in the main text, and the literal idea is given in a footnote.
  • Like its Hebrew and Greek equivalents, the English expression “heart” has both a literal and a figurative meaning, so it was usually retained in the main text. However, in a few contexts where the sense was not clear, a more explicit rendering was used. For example, in the book of Proverbs, “in want of heart” now reads “lacking good sense,” and the literal idea is given in a footnote. Other expressions, for instance, “fat,” “flesh,” and “horn,” were handled similarly, according to the context. (Genesis 45:18;Ecclesiastes 5:6; Job 16:15) Some of these expressions are discussed in the “Glossary of Bible Terms.”
  • Enhanced readability. In previous editions of the English New World Translation, auxiliary expressions were used to indicate whether the Hebrew verb is in the imperfect or the perfect state. For example, the continuous action often expressed by imperfect verbs was indicated by means of the expressions “proceeded to,” “went on to,” “came to be,” and so forth. The emphasis often conveyed by the Hebrew perfect verb was denoted by the added expressions “certainly,” “must,” “actually,” and similar ones. As a result, these terms were used thousands of times in the text. In this revision, auxiliary terms were retained in certain contexts by using such expressions as “kept,” “keep on,” and “used to” when there was a valid reason to express continuous action. (Genesis 3:9;34:1;Proverbs 2:4) However, they were omitted to enhance readability when the auxiliary expressions were not critical for conveying the original meaning.
  • Conveying the correct idea of words involving gender. Hebrew and Greek nouns indicate male or female gender, and in Greek, also neuter. At times, though, reflecting the gender of the original-language term may obscure the intended meaning. In both Hebrew and Greek, plural nouns are generally masculine, not only when referring exclusively to males but also when referring to both males and females. For example, though the expression “the sons of Israel” may refer to the 12 sons of Jacob, it more often refers to the entire nation of Israel, both men and women. (Genesis 46:5;Exodus 35:29) So in the revision, this phrase was often rendered “Israelites” to show that it refers to the entire nation. Similarly, the expression “fatherless boy” was rendered “fatherless child” or “orphan” to show that it may refer to a boy or a girl. On the other hand, since the Bible uses the male gender in reference to God and to his Son, as well as to various angels and demons, there is no basis for using genderless terms as is done in some modern translations.

[I pause at this point because; this is now the common practice to placate the liberal-progressive world that we live in, nothing more. God had his Word penned in certain times, places, and cultures. Who are we to bow to the liberal-progressive world, and alter that Word for the sake of not causing offense, to a people, who could care less about the Bible? If you want to have a better understanding of this issue, please read, “Gender-Inclusive Language in Bible Translation.”]

[If you want an in-depth analysis of this, you can read, The TNIV and the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy by Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress (Jan 1, 2005)]

  • Omission of indicators for second person plural. Past editions also indicated whether the pronouns “you” and “your” and second person verbs were singular or plural by using small capital letters to show plurality. This feature was not retained in this revision, but readers may consult earlier editions of this translation for this information.
  • All adjustments in the Bible text were made prayerfully, carefully, and with deep respect for the fine work of the original New World Bible Translation Committee.

Other features of this revision:

This Bible edition contains a limited number of footnotes. The footnotes generally fall into the following categories:

[In the final analysis, the New World translation has chosen to abandon the literal translation of God’s Word. This will not concern most evangelical Christians, but it should. While you will certainly disagree with the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they have been the most effective evangelists, in the last 125 years. It is they, who are stealing your members. That is not even my point.]

[The main argument of those that support dynamic equivalents is that they are more effective in the evangelism field,[5] and new ones cannot grasp the literal translations. The Witness defy that point because they have been outpacing everyone else for 125 years, using a literal translation all along. The problem with the Christian denominations is that they do not prepare their church members to evangelize their communities; so of course, they are ineffective in using a literal translation. They are ineffective in using any translation.]

[There is little doubt that the 2013 revision of the New World Translation is easier to read, but is it more accurate, does it say what God’s Word said, or what the committee interprets that Word to mean?]

[1] Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom chap. 27 p. 605 -611 Printing and Distributing God’s Own Sacred Word

[2] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 426.

[3] Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris, 1980, Vol. 1, p. 440

[4] We do have a blog on this very issue that touches on the doctrine of hellfire, “Is Hell a Place of Eternal Torment?

[5] This is a weak excuse for the fact that, almost no churches go out into the community to evangelize. Therefore, how would you know?