The Translation ΘΕΟΣ In The New World Translation -- By: Robert H. Countess
BETS 10:3 (Summer 1967) p. 153
The Translation ΘΕΟΣ In The
New World Translation
The volume chosen as the basis of this paper is the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures published in 1950 and revised May 1, 1951, by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Brooklyn. The 1961 appearance of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—the entire Bible—left the former edition of the New Testament essentially intact. Furthermore, the 1951 edition was selected because it contains a Foreword and appendices which shed much light on the translation.
There is no issue taken with NWT regarding the meaning of Θεός, for seldom does it mean anything other than “God.” The issue arises at first glance out of the arthrous or anarthrous status of this word; but this paper shall endeavor to demonstrate that the issue arises out of a prior “preferred religious view” 1 on the part of the Witnesses, so that one may see that the arthrous or anarthrous status of Θεός became simply a grammatical means to a doctrinal end.
Since the position of NWT is stated so precisely in an appendix to John 1:1, the first portion of this paper will present that appendix and its significations. Thereupon will follow a discussion of the Greek article. Lastly, there will be a discussion of the more than 1,300 occurrences of Θεός and the NWT rendering of them.
Appendix to John 1:1—“a god”
The appendix to John 1: occupies nearly four pages of NWT. 2 It commences by presenting two modern English versions: The Complete Bible and James Moffatt’s A New Translation of the Bible. Both render Θεός at John 1:1 “divine.” Immediately following is this statement:
Every honest person will have to admit that John’s saying the Word or Logos “was divine” is not saying that he was the God with whom he was. It merely tells of a certain quality about the Word or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God. 3
The NWT rendering of John 1:1 bears out this testimony which “every honest person will have to admit.” It runs: “Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”
BETS 10:3 (Summer 1967) p. 154
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