The new New World Translation: a Tarnished Sword

SwallowingSilverSwordThe new New World Translation, is hot off the press, and you can download it here!
This publication, with its silver cover, has been dubbed by Witnesses: “the Silver Sword.” I see that as very fitting. Because, unless you are into fencing, sword swallowing, or happen to be the queen of England about to knight one of your favorites, swords have but one purpose: to kill people.

The Watchtower religion has long been preoccupied with death. Their favorite images will always be of their future-selves frolicking on their estates in the “New World” : eating grapes and petting lions. But their second-favorite images all center around the mass murder that makes up their longed-for Armageddon (where swords figure prominently.)

Jesus reputedly said that he came “to bring a sword” by setting family members against one another (Mt 10:34-37), and this is certainly something the Watchtower has excelled at with its shunning policies.

Finally, the Bible relates numerous graphic tales of “God’s people” running their swords through all and sundry1 making the sword appellation all the more apropos.

What’s New?

So, what’s new about this “silver sword:” the new New World Translation? They tell us they’ve replaced the 1950’s language with up-to-date English. I assume they mean American English. So, if we imagine a passage such as the following from one of Paul’s epistles:

“Greetings, brothers. I admonish you to know this truth: sinners are damned, and the fool has said in his heart there is no God. But the family of believers will be saved.”

In the old New World Translation, with its fifties lingo we might’ve seen this translated something like:

“What’s buzzin, cuzzin? Like I got the word from the bird that sinners are nowheresville and atheists are a nosebleed. Believers be crazy cool: like wow, man!”

But in the contemporary American English of the new NWT we’re likely to read:

“Wha’s up, homies? It’s like styll that yo sinners be merked, an’ atheists are like: duh? Such derps, dude. Believers be my mains; real swag! They’re like–. You know what I’m sayin’?”

That’s all well and good, I guess. But, did they “strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel?” (Mt. 23:24) This was their chance to right some major wrongs of the old NWT, and it seems they blew it.

Sorry; We Still Can’t Get God’s Name Right!

Why didn’t they replace “Jehovah” with “Yahweh:” the name that the appendix in the old New World Translation told us was more accurate?2 The appendix in the new New World Translation no longer admits that Yahweh is more accurate: it simply excuses the mistranslation by telling us that the name Jehovah is “familiar:” having been known and used for centuries3. When I first read that excuse I have to admit that I called the translators by another familiar name that I won’t repeat here. But if God’s name really was all that “familiar” then I guess the Witnesses oft-repeated claim of being the only ones “making Jehovah’s name known” is false; by their own admission it had been known, used, and “familiar” for centuries!

Allah” is a more familiar name for God, and was invented way longer ago than the name Jehovah. In addition, it doesn’t have the occult connections of the name Jehovah. So, if we’re going to mistranslate YHWH, then, using Watchtower logic, Allah is a better candidate than Jehovah.

Other Problems with no Solutions

Amongst numerous other problems with the old NWT, which the new NWT did not see fit to mend, here are a few highlights.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:26 (NWT, 2013 ed.)

A footnote to the above verse still tells us that “hate” really means “love to a lesser degree.” But then if that’s how we would put it in contemporary American English, why doesn’t the new NWT go ahead and translate it that way? Could it be that the original language really does mean “hate” and they’re not bold enough to over-ride the Bible’s real message in this instance: settling for a mere footnote to try and whitewash its immorality?

Of course, we still have the Watchtower’s insistence on Jesus being “a god” in John 1:1, whilst remaining a “Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6. Did we even need to bother looking it up?

The new NWT still has the inserted words “sorts of” in Romans 5:18 where equivalent words do not exist in the Greek:

“So, then, as through one trespass the result to men of all sorts was condemnation, so too through one act of justification the result to men of all sorts is their being declared righteous for life.”

This renders the meaning quite different from what was intended, as is shown in the same verse in other translations such as the English Standard Version:

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”

 

In Russell’s day the Watchtower used the above verse as proof that everyone would make it into the Millennium4. But since the Watchtower now teaches that everyone except Jehovah’s Witnesses will be destroyed in Armageddon prior to the Millennium (and further: that most of the Bible’s promises to believers only apply to their “anointed class”5), they have once again allowed their beliefs to corrupt their Bible translation by changing “all men” to “all sorts of men.”

The first glaring biblical contradiction I ever had pointed out to me was a comparison between the following verses describing the same event:

“And again the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah.”

2 Samuel 24:1 (NIV)

“Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.”

1 Chronicles 21:1 (NIV)

[The new NWT says basically the same thing: “Then Satan stood up against Israel and incited David to number Israel.” — 1 Chronicles 21:1 (NWT, 2013 ed.)]

This is revealing, because Chronicles was a rewrite of the Israelites’ history–written after they had been in exile to Babylon. In Babylon at that time the religion was Zoroastrianism: known for its invention of the idea that God was all good, and evil came from an adversary (Hebrew: “Satan”) of God6. When the time came around to rewrite their history, the writers of Chronicles evidently used this new idea of an adversary instead of leaving the record to incriminate Jehovah for forcing David into the “sin” of census-taking. This is only revealing, of course, if the translators of your Bible version are honest enough to translate what it actually says. The old NWT failed in this, and so does the new NWT by replacing “he” with “one:”

“The anger of Jehovah again blazed against Israel when one incited David against them, saying: “Go, take a count of Israel and Judah.”

2 Samuel 24:1 (NWT, 2013 ed.)

Spurious…

The translators of the new NWT have removed some “spurious” passages such as where Jesus says his followers will be known for handling deadly snakes and drinking poison without harm (Mark 16:17-18.) I’m not so sure about the validity of their reasons for removal, but I think removing such nonsense is a good thing; we’ve had enough of Baptists dying from these biblical procedures–not that Baptists are likely to read the new NWT. Though this still leaves an equally bad passage in Luke 10:19: “Look! I have given you the authority to trample underfoot serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing at all will harm you.” [The thing is, though: if we were to remove all of the nonsense from the Bible it would become an extremely thin book and slide right out of our Bible cases.]

…and ‘Spuriouser!’

If they made an effort to remove spurious passages such as the above, then why not remove the spurious addition of the name Jehovah in the Christian Greek Scriptures? This is where the “translators” have become interpreters: allowing their own beliefs to alter what is before them in the source text. That’s the worst thing a translator can do.

According to the Christian Greek Scriptures, Jesus depicts his God as a loving, merciful heavenly father who cares about each sparrow and advocates pacifism. That is not at all how one could honestly describe Jehovah as depicted in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jehovah did not show mercy to the first human couple when they didn’t yet know wrong from right. He instituted a system of massive ritual animal sacrifice to appease himself (and savor the smell of burning flesh), and he ordered his people to show no mercy to their enemies as they ran their swords through every last one of them and their animals7. So maybe Jesus purposely avoided calling his God “Jehovah” in order to disassociate him from all of that God’s contrary characteristics; he was introducing a new concept of God very different from the Hebrew’s old God of war.8 That is, at least, one viable interpretation of the Christian Greek Scriptures: an interpretation which should not be rendered “out of the question” by translators dishonestly forcing the name Jehovah into the text.

What excuse do they give for allowing their beliefs to influence their translation? In the appendix they stoop to using the childish defense that other people have done it as well. [Though, as far as I can tell,  the other translators have only rendered “Lord” as Jehovah  where a direct quotation is made from the Hebrew Scriptures.] So, next time the elders take you to task for “unclean conduct” be sure to use the “Governing Body Defense:” “Other people are doing it too.”

But not only did they allow their own beliefs to corrupt the translation process, they have also included an introduction that tells their readers how the Watchtower wants them to interpret the Bible in their hands. I know that it’s their publication, and they can put whatever they want in it, but in my opinion it seems unfair to bias a person towards what it all means before allowing them to read it for themselves and draw their own conclusions [something the Watchtower never wants to happen!]

Some highlights from the Introduction:

The Bible contains God’s message, or word, for us today. It shows us how to live our lives successfully and how to gain God’s approval.

Where is the proof for these outrageous statements? The Bible cannot be any god’s message; it is too self-contradictory and loaded with factual errors, impossibilities, and condoned immoral actions. I’ve written an entire book on this point to which I would refer anyone who doubts this.

The Bible doesn’t show you how to live your life successfully. Very few Witnesses are what one could objectively call “successful.” Its advice is to let people walk all over you: turning the other cheek so that the bullies can hit you again more easily; and giving thieves double what they’ve stolen from you; and never suing or standing up for your rights!9 The Bible shows us that King David “gained God’s approval” by massacring entire villages10, lying11, practicing polygamy12,  murdering his own step-sons13, and enslaving people14. After which the Bible relates that its God Jehovah said that David “kept my commandments and walked after me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.” (1 Kings 14:7-8; see also: 1 Kings 15:5) I don’t think that “gaining God’s approval” in this way is a good thing. Emulating David, you’re more likely to wind up in a prison shower facing a large horny man named Bubba than in heaven facing Jehovah.

Under the heading: How Can the Bible Help Your Family? We see this biblical advice for wives:

“You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord.”

Subjection?” Is that word still in use in 21st century America? Certainly not in any positive sense. Women have freed themselves (slightly), after centuries of suffering as second-class citizens, to the point where enlightened men now recognize them as their equals. But here we have the Watchtower imposing the words of the misogynist Paul upon the modern world–as if he had any clue about modern relationships or any real sense of morality after his complicity in the murder of Stephen and others, and having struck a man blind for disagreeing with him! (Acts 7:58-8:1; 9:1; 13:9-11) Thanks, Watchtower, for trying to set the world a hundred years backwards in its moral progress.

From the Foreword:

“The Bible inspires us to reflect Jehovah’s qualities of love, mercy, and compassion.”

We can reflect upon them in shock and disgust. Here is a god that loves the smell of burning flesh. Commands his people to murder children and babies and run pregnant women through their bellies with the sword. He punishes all humankind for millennia for the sin of one couple–when that couple didn’t know right from wrong– and the only way he knows to make himself forgive us for what we didn’t do is by murdering his son! I sincerely hope no one ever reflects these qualities of Jehovah.

From Appendix A3:

“What about the 27 books of the Christian Greek Scriptures? Those books were first penned by some of the apostles of Jesus Christ and by a few other early disciples.”

Where is the evidence for this statement? Scholars are fairly certain that none of the books were penned by the apostles. They would have all been dead by the time these books made their first appearance: please see the Wikipedia article on The Authorship of the New Testament.

Appendix A6: Chart: Prophets and Kings of Judah and Israel.

All 14 discrepancies in the reigns of these kings are deceptively glossed over in the Watchtower’s chart. Please see a truthful version of this chart in my appendix to The Cure for Fundamentalism..

Here is one example:

If Omri’s reign began in the 31st year of Asa’s, and lasted 12 years (as 1 Ki. 16:23 says that it did), and if Ahab’s reign began in the 38th year of Asa’s reign (as 1 Ki. 16:29 states), then the reigns of Omri and Ahab overlapped by 5 years. However, 1 Ki. 16:28 says that Ahab began his reign after his father Omri died, so there could not have been any overlap.

Finally, the NWT chart ends with this statement:

“607 BCE: Jerusalem and its temple are destroyed by the invading Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar.”

As the Watchtower well knows, this is an erroneous date (the event occurred in 587 BCE). But they cling to this date in order to retain their equally erroneous ideas about the year 1914 (which year is also mentioned–to the everlasting shame of the publishers–in this highly biased publication purporting to be the “word of God.”)

Conclusion
The more I think about the above “spiritual food” found in the new “silver sword,” the more apropos seems the sword-swallowing analogy; it’s downright amazing what the Watchtower expects us to swallow!


References:

1.

“Then Samuel said to Saul: “Jehovah sent me to anoint you as king over his people Israel; now listen to what Jehovah has to say. This is what Jehovah of armies says: ‘I will call to account the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they opposed them along their way coming up from Egypt.  Now go, and strike down the Amalekites, and devote them to destruction along with all that they have. You must not spare them; you are to put them to death, man as well as woman, child as well as infant, bull as well as sheep, camel as well as donkey.'””

1 Sam. 15:1-3 (NWT, 2013 ed.);

But King Saul spares King Agag, as well as some of the cattle (in order to sacrifice the latter to Jehovah.) This infuriates Jehovah to the point that he dethrones him, and crowns an even more merciless man in his place: David. Jehovah’s prophet then carries out Jehovah’s instructions: “With that Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before Jehovah at Gilgal.” (1 Sam. 15:33) –A story that you’ll surely want to share with your children! {sarcasm}

2.

“While inclining to view the pronunciation “Yah.weh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form “Jehovah” because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century.”
— New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures with References, Revised 1984, p. 23

 

“By combining the vowel signs of ‘Adho.nay’ and ‘Elo.him’ with the four consonants of the Tetragrammaton the pronunciations ‘Yeho.wah’ and ‘Yehowih’ were formed. The first of these provided the basis for the Latinized form “Jehova(h).” The first recorded use of this form dates from the thirteenth century C.E. Raymundus Martini, a Spanish monk of the Dominican Order, used it in his book Pugeo Fidei of the year 1270. Hebrew scholars generally favor “Yahweh” as the most likely pronunciation.”
–Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 884, 885.

3.

“Why, then, does this translation use the form “Jehovah”? Because that form of the divine name has a long history in the English language. The ?rst rendering of God’s personal name in an English Bible appeared in 1530 in William Tyndale’s translation of the Pentateuch…
Explaining why he used “Jehovah” instead of “Yahweh” in his 1911 work Studies in the Psalms, respected Bible scholar Joseph Bryant Rotherham said that he wanted to employ a “form of the name more familiar (while perfectly acceptable) to the general Bible-reading public.”

— New World Translation, 2013 ed., Appendix A4, pp. 1734-1735

 

4.

“Because the entire race of Adam was in him when he was sentenced, it was condemned with him; and during the six thousand years since, it has been unable, on account of weakness, frailty, sin, to extricate itself from this divine condemnation. God has provided the Redeemer for the very purpose of lifting the death-penalty upon mankind because of the disobedience of Adam, in order that as condemnation has passed upon all because of the disobedience of one, so justification to life, through the obedience of one, might pass upon all.–Romans 5:18, 19.”

Watchtower, May 15, 1913 p. 151

5.

“Also, it is to the spirit-anointed Christians who will rule in that kingdom that most of the Christian Greek Scriptures is directed, including the promises of everlasting life.”

— Watchtower 1974, June 15 p.376 (emphasis added)

See also: WT Quotes on the Bible being predominately for the anointed.

6.

“Some scholars see contact with religious dualism in Babylon, and early Zoroastrianism in particular, as having influenced Second Temple period Judaism, and consequently early Christianity. Subsequent development of Satan as a “deceiver” has parallels with the evil spirit in Zoroastrianism, known as the Lie, who directs forces of darkness.”

Wikipedia: Satan

7.

“and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.”

Deut. 7:2 (NIV)

 

“For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.”

Joshua 11:20 (NIV)

 

“Whoever is found will be pierced through, And whoever is caught will fall by the sword.  Their children will be dashed to pieces before their eyes, Their houses will be looted, And their wives will be raped.  Here I am raising up against them the Medes, Who regard silver as nothing And who take no delight in gold.  Their bows will shatter young men; They will show no pity on the fruit of the womb Nor mercy to children.”

Isa:13:15-18 (NWT, 2013 ed.)

 

“The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.”

Hosea 13:16 (NIV)

8. (Please see Dispensing with the Hebrew Scriptures.)

9.

“Be quick to settle matters with your legal opponent, while you are with him on the way there, so that somehow the opponent may not turn you over to the judge, and the judge to the court attendant, and you get thrown into prison. However, I say to you: Do not resist the one who is wicked, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him. And if a person wants to take you to court and get possession of your inner garment, let him also have your outer garment; and if someone in authority compels you into service for a mile, go with him two miles.”

Mt 5:25;39-42 (NWT, 2013 ed.)

10.

“When David would attack the land, he preserved neither man nor woman alive, but he took the flocks, herds, donkeys, camels, and clothing, after which he would return to Achish”

1 Sam 27:9

11.

“Then Achish would ask: “Where did you make a raid today?” David would reply: “Against the south of Judah” or “Against the south of the Jerahmeelites” or “Against the south of the Kenites.” David did not spare alive any man or woman to be brought to Gath, saying: “That they may not tell them about us and say, ‘This is what David did.'” (And that was his practice the whole time he lived in the countryside of the Philistines.) So Achish believed David, saying to himself: ‘He has certainly become a stench among his people Israel, so he will always be my servant.'”
1 Sam. 27:10-12

12.

“David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.”

2 Sam. 5:13

13.

“At that [King David] said: “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”  They said to the king: “The man who exterminated us and schemed to annihilate us from living anywhere in the territory of Israel— let seven of his sons be given to us. We will hang their dead bodies before Jehovah in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen one of Jehovah.” The king then said: “I will hand them over.” … So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah whom she bore to Saul, and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. Then he handed them over to the Gibeonites, and they hung their dead bodies on the mountain before Jehovah.”

— 2 Sam 21:4-9

Michal had been the wife of King David (having paid her father the princely sum of 200 Philistines’ foreskins for her hand: 1 Sam. 18:25-27). So killing five of her children (fathered by Adriel) would have been killing his own step-sons. All of this despite the fact that the Bible elsewhere assures us: “So Saul’s daughter Michal had no children down to the day of her death.” (2 Sam. 6:23) –Just the sort of thing we should expect from the world’s most self-contradictory book.

14.

“And he brought out the people who were in it and put them to work at sawing stones, at working with sharp iron instruments and with iron axes, and at brickmaking. That was what he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Finally David and all the troops returned to Jerusalem.”

2 Sam. 12:31

One thought on “The new New World Translation: a Tarnished Sword”

  1. William • 4 years ago
    The problem is not with God and the Bible, but with wrong views of God and the Bible. The New Atheist-like negative comments are not defensible anymore than the NWT twisting of Scripture, especially as relating to the Deity of Christ. There are many credible translations done by qualified translation committees, but NWT did not have credible scholarship and any revisions are cosmetic that still leave a sectarian, biased perversion on too many points.

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    smmcroberts William • 4 years ago
    I’ll bet I can defend atheist-like comments till the cows come home, William. Not that I expect you’ll believe me, anymore than you’d expect me to believe your defending the notion that god had a son who was god.
    I think we all realize that there are more credible translations (some of which I quoted.) But a credible translation does not render the content credible.

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    William smmcroberts • 4 years ago
    We should establish a credible translation even if we are an atheist. We should also interpret this good translation properly. I agree we do not have to accept the Bible as the Word of God, but we should at least not misunderstand/misrepresent it like JWs do. We agree that JWs are deceived, but disagree as to the reality/truth of God. Fine.

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    smmcroberts William • 4 years ago
    William,

    I will happily second that “Fine;” I am in complete agreement with your last post.
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    Jaymes Payten Head Heathen smmcroberts • 4 years ago
    Hear hear.
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    Guest • 4 years ago
    The other day, I noticed some fellow students on my Homeschool’s forum talking about this particular subject. I thought about interjecting with my own opinion, but I would’ve probably gotten suspended if I had said anything. Not surprisingly,there seems to be a whole bunch JWs who use the same homeschooling program as I do,and they’re all ludicrously report happy. Go figure.
    As for me,I wish I were at all surprised by this nonsense. I think I might inspect my mothers new copy later for the lolz.

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