An article appearing in the April 1, 1998 Watchtower has reminded me of the extreme inconsistency in the thinking of the Jehovah’s Witness leaders. This article which runs from page 10 through 20, is emphasizing the very high state of reliability of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that translators rely on when undertaking to produce reliable translations in modern languages.
On page 12, para. 9, the Society comments on the work of the “copyists” who made copies of the inspired original documents. “Not only were the copyists very skilled, but they also had a deep respect for the words they copied.”
Paragraph 10 adds:
There is, in fact, compelling evidence that the Hebrew and Greek texts on which modern translations are based represent with remarkable fidelity the words of the original writers. The evidence consists of thousands of handwritten copies of Bible manuscripts - an estimated 6,000 of all or portions of the Hebrew scriptures [O/T] and some 5,000 of the Christian scriptures in Greek [N/T] - that have survived to our day.
Commenting on the text of the Hebrew scriptures, scholar William H. Green could thus state: “It may be safely said that no other work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted.” Similar confidence can be placed in the text of the Christian Greek scriptures.
Now, my dear readers, note carefully that last remark by the Jehovah’s Witness leaders: “Similar confidence may be placed in the text of the Christian Greek scriptures.” Also, please note the assertion made at the end of para. 8: “Since humans are not perfect, did copyists’ mistakes substantially change the Bible text? The overwhelming evidence says no!”
My, oh my! The Jehovah’s Witness leaders then are fully satisfied that the New Testament Greek texts, although copied many times over the centuries, do not contain any copyists mistakes that would substantially change the Bible text (all mistakes must be minor ones).
However, when we read the “forward” to the 1985 edition of the Watchtower Society’s Kingdom Interlinear Translation we come across their excuse for inserting the word Jehovah into the New Testament text no fewer than 237 times, while our New Testaments do not have even one (see KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV):
Restoring the Divine Name, Jehovah:The evidence is that the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures has been tampered with, the same as the text of the LXX has been. (See App. 1A,B.) Sometime during the second or third centuries C.E., the Tetragrammaton (YHWH, or JHVH) was eliminated from the Greek text by copyists who did not understand or appreciate the divine name or who developed an aversion to it, possibly under the influence of anti-Semitism. Instead of YHWH (or, JHVH) they substituted the words Ky’ri*os, “Lord,” and The*os’, “God.”
One must ask how can the Society assert, “Not only were the copyists very skilled but they also had deep respect for the words they copied,” and yet at the same time insist, “The evidence is that the original text of the Christian Greek scriptures [N/T] has been tampered with.” Also, “... the tetragrammaton (YHWH, or JHVH) was eliminated from the Greek text by copyists who did not understand or appreciate the divine name, or who developed an aversion to it...”?!
We must also ask how substantially will such “tampering” change the Bible text? The answer is very substantially. Let us imagine what the situation would be if Jehovah’s Witnesses were correct in their claim that God’s O/T name actually was in the N/T writings of the apostles and had not been removed by the copyists. What effect would that have had on the church over the centuries until now?
1) There would most likely be a host of Christian denominations with titles such as “The Church of Jehovah;” “Assemblies of Jehovah;” “The Disciples of Jehovah;” “The Way of Jehovah;” etc.
2) Church hymnals would be full of praise songs to Jehovah (there would be very few songs praising Jesus).
3) Conservative Christians would be in the habit of saying, “Praise Jehovah” instead of “Praise the Lord.”
4) Pastors and evangelists everywhere would be quoting Romans 10:13 in the following manner: “For everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved” and would then go on to exhort the people to call on the word Jehovah to get saved.
The above examples are just a few of the profound changes that would have developed if the original inspired text of the New Testament had indeed contained the Hebrew language version of “Jehovah” and it had not been removed by copyists.
So, we Christians need to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses for
an explanation. Get yourselves
a copy of the April 1, 1998
Watchtower and underline the words quoted in this letter.
Then, when the Witnesses call, ask to see a copy of their KIT and
show them the statement at the bottom of page 10.
Then ask them which of the statements is true, the one in the
Watchtower or the one in the KIT
forward. If the Witnesses who
call on you don’t have a copy of KIT with them, fix a definite time for them
to return with it.
Needless to say, the correct statement is the one in the “Watchtower.” It really is true that “it may safely be said that no other work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted.” This being the case, it should be OBVIOUS to any honest-hearted person with a little common sense that “Jehovah” was not deleted from the original inspired Greek text of the New Testament simply because it was never there in the first place.
Just think of it - this April 1 Watchtower informs us that there are “some 5,000 [copies] of the Christian scriptures [N/T] in the Greek.” And NOT ONE OF THEM CONTAINS THE HEBREW FORM OF GOD’S OLD TESTAMENT NAME!
Written by Peter Barnes
Note: All italicizing and capitals are ours.