What Do Greek Scholars Think of the Watchtower Society's New World Translation of the Bible?

In their small book The Facts on Jehovah's Witnesses, authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon contend that "Greek scholars, Christian and non-Christian universally reject..."1 the New World Translation (NWT) of the Bible used by Jehovah's Witnesses.

One such example they offer is the late Dr. Julius Mantey.  As the authors explain:

"Mantey was one of the leading Greek scholars in the world.  He was author of the Hellenistic Greek Reader and coauthor, with H.E. Dana, of A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament.  Not only did he reject the NWT, he publicly demanded that the Society stop misquoting his Grammar to support it."2

Mantey wrote:

"I have never read any New Testament so badly translated as The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures.  In fact, it is not their translation at all.  Rather, it is a distortion of the New Testament.  The translators used what J.B. Rotherham has translated in 1893, in modern speech, and changed the readings in scores of passages to state what Jehovah's Witnesses believe and teach.  That is distortion, not translation."3

Bruce Metzger, another well-known scholar of New Testament stated, "The Jehovah's Witnesses have incorporated in their translations of the New Testament several quite erroneous renderings of the Greek."

Also, Dr. Robert Countess, who wrote his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Greek on the NWT, concluded that the translation:

"...has been sharply unsuccessful in keeping doctrinal considerations from influencing the actual translation...It must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work.  At some points it is actually dishonest.  At others it is neither modern nor scholarly.  And interwoven throughout its fabric is inconsistent application of its own principles enunciated in the Foreword and Appendix."5

As if that were not enough. British scholar H.H. Rowley actually called the NWT "an insult to the Word of God."6

So, according to both Christian and non-Christian Greek scholars, the NWT is biased, dishonest and wrong.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. John Ankerberg and John Weldon, The Facts on Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 31.
2. Ibid., 32.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.

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Marcus Ampe said…
Clearly this gives only a biased one sided negative point of view. There are also many scholars who have found it not such a bad translation at all. You best compare it with the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) and yiu shall find out it has given a very contemporary translation for several languages: a.o. Dutch, English, French and German. (For other languages I do not know enough those other languages, but the Italian and Spanish fragments I came in contact with seemed also very good.)
Chad said…
Hello Marcus,

Thank you for taking the time to comment and I hope you are well. The point of this post is to give a brief sampling of both Christian and non-Christian Greek scholars who have concluded that the NWT is poorly done.

For a more comprehensive look at what scholars say about the New World Translation, go here.

Unknown said…
Do Jehovah witnesses believe in Christ?
I hope this question is propriete
Chad said…
Hello Getrude,

Thank you for your question and of course it is appropriate!

Jehovah's Witnesses reject the deity of Christ. They believe he was/is a "lesser god." JWs believe that Jesus is the first thing Jehovah created. Interestingly, they believe that before Jesus lived here on earth, he was Michael the archangel. Jehovah made the universe through him.

They believe that while Jesus was on earth he lived a perfect life. After dying on a stake (not a cross), he was resurrected as a spirit; his body was destroyed.

According to the Watchtower, Jesus is not coming again, but he already returned invisibly in 1914 in spirit.

Unknown said…
the jw's have updated the NWT 3 times since 1970,the last time being 2015 they call the newer one "the silver sword"a proper hatchet job done on the Bible.they do it so they can shoe horn their false doctrine into it.
Malcolm Haynes said…
You said, “There are also many scholars who have found it not such a bad translation at all.” Please could you show your evidence? Who are they and what do they say?
Malcolm Haynes said…
Lost in Translation

In the Greek NT there is no mention of the name "Jehovah" that it is always the Greek word "κύριος (Lord)" that is used, even when quoting OT verses that use the word "יהוה (YHWH)."

Now if you look at the front of their Bible you find out more info:

“Recognised Bible translators have used God’s name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Some of these translators did so long before the New World Translation was produced. These translators and their works include: A Literal Translation of the New Testament . . . From the Text of the Vatican Manuscript, by Herman Heinfetter (1863); The Emphatic Diaglott, by Benjamin Wilson (1864); The Epistles of Paul in Modern English, by George Barker Stevens (1898); St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, by W. G. Rutherford (1900); The New Testament Letters, by J.W.C. Wand, Bishop of London (1946). In addition, in a Spanish translation in the early 20th century, translator Pablo Besson used “Jehová” at Luke 2:15 and Jude 14, and over 100 times in his translation footnotes, he suggested the divine name as a likely rendering. Long before those translations, Hebrew versions of the Christian Greek Scriptures from the 16th century onward used the Tetragrammaton in many passages. In the German language alone, at least 11 versions use “Jehovah” (or the transliteration of the Hebrew “Yahweh”) in the Christian Greek Scriptures, while four translators add the name in parentheses after “Lord.” More than 70 German translations use the divine name in footnotes or commentaries.”

In the first section it mentions what they call, "recognised Bible Scholars" such as, Herman Heinfetter and Benjamin Wilson. So I did some research on Herman Heinfetter and discovered that this was a pseudonym for Frederick Parker, who was an animal charcoal manufacturer. He had no scholarly studies to commend his translations. He was influenced by George Storrs an Adventist and already had weird theological leanings, where there are connections with the Christadelphians.

Parker (Heinfetter) sent his translation to every Christian group in his day, and they were soundly rejected as useless. Until the JWs found them in an old library, showing some alignment with their belief's, and they simply say he was a scholar because he falsely translated sections of the Greek NT in a way that agrees with JW theology. The JW research, is all smoke and mirrors.
Anonymous said…
Answer is obvious and unlike Julius Mantey very transparent. He has a degree in theology. He is a very biased man/source. Jesus was not Greek. He was Jewish. The Greek scriptures are clearly not his message.