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Two Jehovah’s Witnesses stood on our doorstep with a flier. With some hesitation, they accepted my invitation to come in. We had a pleasant visit and exchanged telephone numbers as they agreed to return so that we might talk some more. A cell-phone call from their car set the time for the next meeting. It became apparent on this second visit that they had understood me to be a potential convert, which I am not. To their credit, they nevertheless stayed for the rest of the discussion, and one of them, the one who led it, even promised to return, “I will come”. I confess I had my doubts I’d ever see him again, since it had become somewhat evident that I was familiar with Watchtower doctrine and history.
When I made a phone call to set the time for the promised meeting, he declined. We talked a while on the phone and he told me that scholars commend the Watchtower’s New World Translation (hereafter NWT). I happened to refer to The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (hereafter the KIT). To my great surprise this man, in his mid-twenties and a third generation Jehovah’s Witness, did not know what I was talking about, did not recognize the title. Though wary, his curiosity piqued when I described the interlinear translation for him: The left hand column is in Greek [the Wescott and Hort manuscript] with a direct English translation under each word. The right hand column is the Watchtower’s own translation (the NWT). The first edition of the KIT, published in 1969, is purple, and the second edition published in 1985, is dark blue. I own both of these editions. Still not quite convinced I was telling the truth, he asked me to read the front page of the books. I read it:
by Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
First Edition: 500,000 copies
Publishers: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. International Bible Students Association.
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
The second edition [printed 1985] has this additional information:
Total printing to 1985 of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures: 800,000 copies.
He was finally satisfied that these books were indeed published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. I offered to show him the two copies, but he declined, saying he would look for them in the Kingdom Hall. Kingdom Halls usually have sizable libraries of Watchtower publications. Though I was curious as to why this man was not aware of these prized books, I expected he would find them in the library, as interlinear New Testaments are not the kind of books that go out of date.
After some weeks passed I called him again. I asked if he had found the interlinear and he said, without any explanation, that they were not in the library. This young man who was extremely polite and friendly on his first visit in our home and a little less so at the end of our second visit, was now cold and reluctant to talk, ending our conversation with, “I’m going to go now”, and hanging up on me.
If the KIT has gone out of circulation in the whole WT organization, not just in our community, I am indeed curious as to how the WT explained this move. (For further comment on the availability of the KIT, see Part 3). I’m not surprised if it has been removed, however, since it has, in my experience, been an embarrassment to Jehovah’s Witnesses many times over. That was not what the Watchtower had in mind, no doubt, when they published it. It was intended, no doubt, to impress the public and to give confidence to followers. We quote from page 5 of the 1985 edition of the KIT, under By Way of Explanation:
“Sincere seekers for eternal, life-giving truth desire an accurate understanding of the faith-inspiring Greek Scriptures, an understanding that is fortified by the knowledge of what the original language says and means. The purpose behind the publishing of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is to aid such seekers of truth and life. Its literal interlinear English translation is especially designed to open up to the student of the Sacred Scriptures what the original koine Greek basically or literally says.” [bold added]
SoundWitness invites “seekers of truth and life” to examine what the koine Greek “basically and literally says”, in order to compare the New World Translation with it.
Our companion article, The New World Translation on Trial, will compare some passages in the NWT to the original Greek. May we be like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”.
Jump to Part 2
To download or purchase a copy of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, click here.
Written by Greta Olsoe