Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jehovah's Witnesses and John 1:1

Most Christians can say this verse by heart: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In their New World Translation of the Bible and polemics, Jehovah's Witnesses change the last phrase to "and the word was a god."

Their justification for that change is that theos, the Greek word for "god," has no article in that phrase. And in that, they are correct. However, the problem comes when they go on to say that the absence of the definite article (Greek having no indefinite article) means that "god" here should be taken indefinitely.

But that is wrong.

While it is true that that would be the significance of the lack of an article (called anarthrous in formal grammar) in some places, it is not its significance here. What makes this funny is that "beginning" in this verse is also anarthrous, but the Watchtower doesn't make any quibble about it there. Also, in Mark 1:1, the Greek for "Son of God," "uiou theou," contains no article before theos. So, is Jesus the Son of "a god"? Zeus perhaps? Or Ganesh? Oddly enough, the New World Translation translates Mark 1:1 as "Son of God" with capitals.

Greek (and we are talking about ancient Greek; the modern language may be different) doesn't depend on word order in the way English does. Rather, grammar is determined by variations in the form of the words themselves. Instead, word order determines emphasis. Furthermore, in a predicate nominative, as in the phrase before us, since both the subject and the predicate are in the nominative case, the article is used to distinguish the subject.

So, the grammar here is properly explained thusly: the use of the article with "Word" indicates that it, and not "God," is to be taken as the subject of the sentence. In addition, "God" placed before "Word" is to be taken for emphasis, as if John were shaking us by the shoulders and yelling it in our faces to make sure that we get his point: the Word, i. e., Jesus, is the very God of the universe! In other words, the Greek grammar is intended to express the exact opposite of the meaning that Jehovah's Witnesses force upon it!

Thus, "and the Word was God" is the proper translation of the Greek, not as it is misrepresented by the Jehovah's Witnesses. And, since this is Greek 101, so to speak, I don't for a second believe that the leadership of the Watchtower Society doesn't know this. In addition, as can be seen with Mark 1:1 above, the Watchtower has no problem translating an anarthrous theos as "God" when they have nothing to gain from it. That is why I consider the Watchtower Society to be a cult, and the average Jehovah's Witness a victim of deception. It is also why I am posting this here, in the hope that some sincere Witness will see it and be set free from the bondage of the Watchtower.

Please, to any Witness reading this: The Watchtower Society is lying to you about the teachings of the Bible regarding Jesus. I beg of you to take the step, as scary as it surely is, to free yourself from that deception, and ask the real Jesus to reveal Himself to you.