The dispute on Jn.1:1
Jn.1:1 En arche en ho logos, kai ho logos en pros ton theon, kai theos en ho logos
"In the beginning (origin) was the Word and the Word was with God (face to face -toward) and the word was God."
Since the Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Jesus is God in the flesh they must change John 1:1 NWT. The NWT renders John 1:1 as: "In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." That is NOT what the Greek text actually says! It states "the word was God." Let's take a look at what authentic New Testament Greek scholars say about this verse.
Dr. Julius R. Mantey (who is even recognized by the Watchtower as a Greek scholar since they quote his book on page 1158 of their Kingdom Interlinear Translation): calls the Watchtower translation of John 1:1 "A grossly misleading translation. It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John l:1 'the Word was a god. 'But of all the scholars in the world, so far as we know, none have translated this verse as Jehovah's Witnesses have done." "I was disturbed because they (the Watchtower) had misquoted me in support of their translation. I called their attention to the fact that the whole body of the New Testament was against their view. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is glorified and magnified--yet here they were denigrating Him and making Him into a little god of pagan concept . . .1 believe it's a terrible thing for a person to be deceived and go into eternity lost, forever lost because somebody deliberately misled him by distorting the Scripture!. . . Ninety-nine percent of the scholars of the world who know Greek and who have helped translate the Bible are in disagreement with the Jehovah's Witnesses. People who are looking for the truth ought to know what the majority of the scholars really believe. They should not allow themselves to be misled by the Jehovah's Witnesses and end up in hell." (Ron Rhodes "Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses" p.103-105)
In order to present the appearance of scholarly backing for their translation of this verse, the Society had to intentionally misquote Dr. Julius R. Mantey and H.E. Dana's Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Both Dana and Mantey firmly held to the historic Christian belief in the Triune God as is evident throughout their Grammar. The late Dr. Mantey had on several occasions issued statements concerning the misquotation of his statements by the Witnesses, even writing a letter to the Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn demanding references and quotes from his book to be removed from their publications. They ignored his request!
They have also misquoted Philip B. Harner: Not only does Harner's article in the Journal of Biblical Literature not support the Watchtower's rendering of John 1:1, he emphatically argues against it! "Because of the word order used by John, the verse can only be interpreted to mean that the Word (Jesus) was God in the same sense as the Father."( Ron Rhodes Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses p.103-105)
Misquoting John L. McKenzie: Still another scholar quoted out of context by the translators of the New World Translation is John L. McKenzie. By citing McKenzie out of context and by quoting only a portion of his article, he is made to appear to teach that the Word (Jesus) is less than Jehovah because he said "the word was a divine personal being'." He is less than Jehovah. However, as apologist Robert M. Bowman correctly notes, "On the same page McKenzie calls Yahweh (Jehovah) 'a divine personal thing'; McKenzie also states that Jesus is called 'God' in both John 20:28 and Titus 2:13 and that John 1:1-18 expresses 'an identity between God and Jesus Christ.; So McKenzie's words actually argue against the Watchtower position."(Ron Rhodes Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah's Witnesses p.103-105)
The title page of the Watchtower Bible states, "Presenting a literal word-for-word translation into English under the Greek text as set out in 'The New Testament in the Original Greek--The Text Revised by Brooke Foss Westcott D.D. and Fenton John Anthony D.D. (1948 Reprint). They considered him to be scholar but he was not out of reach of their tampering.
The Watchtower misrepresented Dr. Westcott using his credentials and the reprinted Greek text of Dr. Westcott. Westcott identified the Word in John 1:1 with...No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the true deity of the Word... in the third clause 'the Word' is declared to be 'God' and so included in the unity of the Godhead." (The Bible Collector, July-December, 1971, p. 12).
Dr. Robert H. Countess (Univ. of Tenn. and author of an excellent critical analysis of the NWT called The Jehovah's Witnesses' New Testament): "There are 282 places in the New Testament where, according to the NWT translation principle, the NWT should have translated 'a god' but in fact they follow their own rules of 'a god' translation only 6% of the time. To be ninety-four percent unfaithful hardly commends a translation to careful readers!"
Omission of the article with "Theos" does not mean the word is "a god." If we examine the passages where the article is not used with "Theos" we see the rendering "a god" makes no sense (Mt 5:9, 6:24; Lk 1:35, 78; 2:40; Jn 1:6, 12, 13, 18; 3:2, 21; 9:16, 33; Ro 1:7, 17, 18; 1 Co 1:30; 15:10; Phil 2:11, 13; Titus 1:1). The "a god" position would have the Jehovah's Witnesses translate every instance where the article is absent. As "a god (nominative), of a god (genitive), to or for a god (dative)." But they do not! "Theou" is the genitive case of the SAME noun "Theos" which they translate as "a god" in John 1:1. But they do not change "Theou" "of God" (Jehovah), in Matthew 5:9, Luke 1:35, 78; and John 1:6. The J.W.s are not consistent in their biblical hermeneutics they have a bias which is clearly seen throughout their bible.
Other examples-In Jn.4:24 "God is Spirit, not a spirit. In 1 Jn .4:16 "God is love, we dont translate this a love. In 1 Jn.1:5 "God is light" he is not a light or a lesser light.
WHAT DO GREEK SCHOLARS THINK ABOUT JEHOVAH'S WITNESS TRANSLATION OF JOHN 1:1?
Dr. J. J. Griesback: "So numerous and clear are the arguments and testimonies of Scriptures in favor of the true Deity of Christ, that I can hardly imagine how, upon the admission of the Divine authority of Scripture, and with regard to fair rules of interpretation, this doctrine can by any man be called in doubt. Especially the passage John 1:1 is so clear and so superior to all exception, that by no daring efforts of either commentators or critics can it be snatched out of the hands of the defenders of the truth."
Dr. Eugene A. Nida (Head of the Translation Department of the American Bible Society Translators of the GOOD NEWS BIBLE): "With regard to John 1:1 there is, of course, a complication simply because the NEW WORLD TRANSLATION was apparently done by persons who did not take seriously the syntax of the Greek". ( Bill and Joan Cetnar Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses "who love the truth" p..55
Dr. William Barclay (University of Glasgow, Scotland): "The deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in their New Testament translations. John 1:1 translated:'. . . the Word was a god'.a translation which is grammatically impossible. it is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest. THE EXPOSITORY TIMES Nov, 1985
Dr. B. F. Westcott (Whose Greek text is used in JW KINGDOM INTERLINEAR): "The predicate (God) stands emphatically first, as in 4:24. It is necessarily without the article . . . No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the true Deity of the Word . . . in the third clause `the Word' is declared to be `God' and so included in the unity of the Godhead." The Gospel According to St. John (Eerdmans,1953- reprint) p. 3, (The Bible Collector, July-December, 1971, p. 12.)
Dr. Anthony Hoekema, commented: Their New World Translation of the Bible is by no means an objective rendering of the sacred text into Modern English, but is a biased translation in which many of the peculiar teachings of the Watchtower Society are smuggled into the text of the Bible itself (The Four Major Cults, pp. 238, 239].
Dr. Ernest C. Colwell (University of Chicago): "A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb; . . .this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession of Thomas. `My Lord and my God.' " John 20:28
Dr. F. F. Bruce (University of Manchester, England): "Much is made by Arian amateur grammarians of the omission of the definite article with `God' in the phrase `And the Word was God'. Such an omission is common with nouns in a predicate construction. `a god' would be totally indefensible."
Dr. Paul L. Kaufman (Portland OR.): "The Jehovah's Witness people evidence an abysmal ignorance of the basic tenets of Greek grammar in their mistranslation of John 1:1."
Dr. Charles L. Feinberg (La Mirada CA.): "I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah's Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar."
Dr. Robert Countess, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on the Greek text of the New World Translation, concluded that the The Christ of the New World 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 "78 No wonder British scholar H.H. Rowley asserted, "From beginning to end this volume is a shining example of how the Bible should not be translated."79 Indeed, Rowley said, this translation is "an insult to the Word of God."
Dr. Harry A. Sturz: (Dr. Sturz is Chairman of the Language Department and Professor of Greek at Biola College) "Therefore, the NWT rendering: "the Word was a god" is not a "literal" but an ungrammatical and tendential translation. A literal translation in English can be nothing other than: "the word was God." THE BIBLE COLLECTOR July - December, 1971 p. 12
Dr. J. Johnson of California State University, Long Beach. When asked to comment on the Greek, said, "No justification whatsoever for translating theos en ho logos as 'the Word was a god'. There is no syntactical parallel to Acts 23:6 where there is a statement in indirect discourse. Jn.1:1 is direct.. I am neither a Christian nor a Trinitarian.
DO ANY REPUTABLE GREEK SCHOLARS AGREE WITH THE NEW WORLD TRANSLATION OF JOHN 1:1?
A. T. Robertson: "So in John 1:1 theos en ho logos the meaning has to be the Logos was God, -not God was the Logos." A New short Grammar of the Greek Testament, AT. Robertson and W. Hersey Davis (Baker Book House, p. 279.
E. M. Sidebottom:"...the tendency to write 'the Word was divine' for theos en ho Iogos springs from a reticence to attribute the full Christian position to john. The Christ of the Fourth Gospel (S.P.C.K., 1961), p. 461.
C. K. Barrett: "The absence of the article indicates that the Word is God, but is not the only being of whom this is true; if ho theos had been written it would have implied that no divine being existed outside the second person of the Trinity." The Gospel According to St. John (S.P.C.K., 1955), p. 76.
C. H. Dodd: "On this analogy, the meaning of _theos en ho logos will be that the ousia of ho logos, that which it truly is, is rightly denominated theos... That is the ousia of ho theos (the personal God of Abraham,) the Father goes without saying. In fact, the Nicene homoousios to patri is a perfect paraphrase." "New Testament Translation Problems the bible Translator, 28, 1 (Jan. 1977), P. 104.
Randolph 0. Yeager: "Only sophomores in Greek grammar are going to translate ..and the Word was a God.' The article with logos, shows that to logos is thesubject of the verb en and the fact that theos is without the article designates it as the predicate nominative. The emphatic position of theos demands that we translate '...and the Word was God.' John is not saying as Jehovah's Witnesses are fond of teaching that Jesus was only one of many Gods. He is saying precisely the opposite." The Renaissance New Testament, Vol. 4 (Renaissance Press, 1980), P. 4.
Henry Alford: "Theos must then be taken as implying God, in substance and essence,--not ho theos, 'the Father,' in person. It noes not = theios; nor is it to be rendered a God--but, as in sarx engeneto, sarx expresses that state into which the Divine Word entered by a-definite act, so in theos en, theos expresses that essence which was His en arche:--that He was very God . So that this first verse must be connected thus: the Logos was from eternity,--was with God (the Father),--and was Himself God." (Alford's Greek Testament: An Exegetical and Critical Commentary, Vol. I, Part II Guardian 'press 1976 ; originally published 1871). p. 681.
Donald Guthrie: "The absence of the article with Theos has misled some into t inking teat the correct understanding of the statement would be that 'the word was a God' (or divine), but this is grammatically indefensible since Theos is a predicate." New Testament Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1981), p. 327.
Bruce M. Metzger, Professor of New Testament Language and literature at Princeton Theological Seminary said: "Far more pernicious in this same verse is the rendering, . . . `and the Word was a god,' with the following footnotes: " `A god,' In contrast with `the God' ". It must be stated quite frankly that, if the Jehovah's Witnesses take this translation seriously, they are polytheists. In view of the additional light which is available during this age of Grace, such a representation is even more reprehensible than were the heathenish, polytheistic errors into which ancient Israel was so prone to fall. As a matter of solid fact, however, such a rendering is a frightful mistranslation." "The Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus Christ," Theology Today (April 1953), p. 75.
James Moffatt: "'The Word was God . . .And the Word became flesh,' simply means he Word was divine . . . . And the Word became human.' The Nicene faith, in the Chalcedon definition, was intended to conserve both of these truths against theories that failed to present Jesus as truly God and truly man ...." Jesus Christ the Same (Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1945), p. 61.
E. C. Colwell: "...predicate nouns preceding the verb cannot be regarded as indefinite -or qualitative simply because they lack the article; it could be regarded as indefinite or qualitative only if this is demanded by the context,and in the case of John l:l this is not so." A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, 52 (1933), p. 20.
Philip B. Harner: "Perhaps the clause could be translated, 'the Word had the same nature as God.' This would be one way of representing John's thought, which is, as I understand it,"that ho logos, no less than ho theos, had the nature of theos.""(Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns Mark 15:39 and John 1:1," journal of Biblical Literature, 92, 1 (March 1973), p. 87.
Philip Harner states in the Journal of Biblical Literature, 92, 1 (March 1973) on Jn.1:1 "In vs. 1c the Johannine hymn is bordering on the usage of 'God' for the Son, but by omitting the article it avoids any suggestion of personal identification of the Word with the Father. And for Gentile readers the line also avoids any suggestion that the Word was a second God in any Hellenistic sense." (pg. 86. Harner notes the source of this quote: Brown, John I-XII, 24)
Julius R. Mantey; "Since Colwell's and Harner's article in JBL, especially that of Harner, it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 'The Word was a god.' Word-order has made obsolete and incorrect such a rendering .... In view of the preceding facts, especially because you have been quoting me out of context, I herewith request you not to quote the Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament again, which you have been doing for 24 years." Letter from Mantey to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. "A Grossly Misleading Translation .... John 1:1, which reads 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God,' is shockingly mistranslated, 'Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god,' in a New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, published under the auspices o Jehovah's Witnesses." Statement JR Mantey, published in various sources.
Many of these Greek scholars are world-renowned whose works the Jehovah's Witnesses have quoted in their publications to help them look reputable. Westcott is the Greek scholar who with Hort edited the Greek text of the New Testament used by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Yeager is a professor of Greek and the star pupil of Julius Mantey. Metzger is the world's leading scholar on the-textual criticism of the Greek New Testament. It is scholars of this quality who insist that John l: l cannot be taken to mean anything less than that the Word is the one true Almighty God.
I do want to say that there are some scholars that translate the word was a God or divine but they are in the very low percentages. If they were ever in a discussion with the scholars afore mentioned it would be clear they would not be able to hold a candle to their understanding. Yet JWs and a few other groups do run to these men's opinions to prop up their teaching.
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS WHICH STATE THAT "THE WORD WAS GOD"
Douay - "and the Word was God".
Rotherham - "and the Word was God".
King James Version - "the Word was God".
Jerusalem Bible - "and the Word was God".
The New Life Testament - "the Word was God".
The Berkley Version - "and the Word was God".
New Translation (Darby) - "the Word was God".
Modern King James Version - "the Word was God".
Revised Standard Version - "and the Word was God".
American Standard Version - "and the Word was God".
The New International Version - "the Word was God".
Numeric English New Testament - "the Word was God".
The New American Standard Bible - "and the Word was God".
The New Testament in Basic English - "and the Word was God".
Young's Literal Translation of the Bible - "and the Word was God".
The New Testament in Modern Speech (Weymouth) - "and the Word was God".
The New Testament in Modern English (Montgomer) - "and the Word was God".
The New Testament in Modern English (Phillips "that word, was with God, and was God".
The text of the Emphatic Diaglott (published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)
English Bible - "and what God was, the Word was". "and the Logos was God". Today's English Version - "and he was the same as God". New Translation of the Bible (Moffatt) - "the Logos was divine".
Complete Bible---An American Translation (Smith & Goodspeed) - "the Word was divine".
The NWT has deliberately distorted, changed, added to and taken away key Bible passages that do not agree with what they already believe.
Jehovah's Witnesses in 1969 Kingdom published their interlinear translation of the Greek Scriptures. The Watchtower has literally painted themselves in a corner with its distortion in the New World Translation of John 1:1. In their "New Kingdom Interlinear Translation" of John 1:1, they render the Greek text on the left side of the page more accurately: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward the God and god was the Word." However across the page in the right column, the "New World Translation" has, "In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God and the Word was A god." So they say the Greek states it this way, but we translate it another way. They subtly attempt to demote Christ to some kind of demigod, with a little g. (mighty and Jehovah the almighty). Isaiah 45:22, "For I am God and there is no other." The existing manuscripts of the New Testament were all written in capital letters (uncials) so there are no distinctions in this lettering and no reason to change to what they have in the NWT.