Jehovah's Witnesses: Why do you translate John 1:1 as "a god"?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    Several Bibles translate John 1:1 in a manner compatible with the phrase "the Word was a god". The Bible plainly teaches that Jesus is a god (John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:18). This biblical concept does not trouble any Christian, whether he be trinitarian or nontrinitarian. Yet, for centuries, trinitarians have tended to reject any alternate translation of John 1:1.

    Trinitarians must recognize that it was three or four hundred years after Christ's impalement that a minority of self-described "Christians" decided that Jesus was the only god, God Almighty (Jehovah). By the time the King James Version translated John 1:1 into English as "the Word was God", the year was 1611. How interesting it would be to see a translation from Greek (which contained no indefinite article "a") into English (with its indefinite articles "a", "an") performed by early Christians, perhaps the children or grandchildren of those who walked with the apostles!

    We do have such a translation, but into the Coptic language, which uses indefinite articles as English does. How do the Coptic manuscripts word John 1:1?

    "...and the Word was a God."

    http://jehovah.to/exe/translation/coptic.pdf

    http://depts.washington.edu/cartah/text_archive/co...

    The Bible makes perfect sense when it is being read honestly. John 1:1 is perfectly harmonious with the rest of the Bible, which teaches plainly that Jesus Christ the Son is a distinct person from Jehovah God the Father. The Scriptures teach that the Almighty created Jesus as His firstborn son.

    .. ..(Colossians 1:15) the firstborn of all creation

    .. ..(Mark 10:18) Jesus said to him: 'Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God.

    .. ..(Revelation 3:14) the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God

    .. ..(Philippians 2:5-6) Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God's form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God

    .. ..(John 8:42) Neither have I come of my own initiative at all, but that One sent me forth

    .. ..(John 12:49) I have not spoken out of my own impulse, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to tell and what to speak

    .. ..(John 14:28) I am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am

    .. ..(1 Corinthians 15:28) But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him

    .. ..(Matthew 20:23) this sitting down at my right hand and at my left is not mine to give, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father

    .. ..(1 Corinthians 11:3) I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; ...in turn the head of the Christ is God

    .. ..(John 20:17) I am ascending to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God.

    .. ..(Deuteronomy 6:4) Jehovah our God is one Jehovah

    .. ..(1 Corinthians 8:4-6) There is no God but one. For even though there are those who are called "gods," whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many "gods" and many "lords," there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him

    Thanks again for an opportunity to share what the Bible actually says about the distinct persons of Jesus Christ the Son and Jehovah God the Father!

  • 4 years ago

    First of all, the NWT is NOT the only Bible translation to render John 1:1 in that manner. NUMEROUS Bible translations that have nothing to do with Jehovah's Witnesses render that scripture in a way that shows that Jesus possess a divine quality, but is NOT the same as Almighty God. For some reason, unthinking individuals have it burnt into their minds that just because the King James Version renders John 1:1 in a way that suggests Jesus is God, then it must be so. These people who accept that are unthinking because they refuse to acknowledge or see that the KJV is a very unreliable, inaccurate Bible translation. In fact, it is a commonly held FACT within the circles of Bible scholars the the translators of the KJV injected their own personal views (or that of King James) into the translation in order to bolster support for teachings such as the "trinity". A classic example of this is how the KJV renders 1 John 5:7,8. The KJV blatantly added words to the scripture to make it seem like there's support for the trinity. The unthinking ones also somehow blind themselves to reading the exact wording of the verse in John 1:1, specifically where it says that Word "was with God". Now if I'm "with" another person in a room, how could that possibly mean that I and that other person are the same person? It couldn't possibly, and the idea of that being true is absurd and defies all logic. The Bible as a whole must be examined in context with who Jesus Christ is. The scriptures clearly show in passages such as Colossians 1:15 and Revelation 3:14 that Jesus Christ came into existence by means of God. In other words, God is the one who created Jesus. Logically therefore, Jesus CANNOT be God.

  • 1 decade ago

    The New World Translation is unique in one thing – it is the first intentional systematic effort at producing a complete version of the Bible that is edited and revised for the specific purpose of agreeing with a group's doctrine. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society realized that their beliefs contradicted Scripture. So, rather than conforming their beliefs to Scripture, they altered Scripture to agree with their beliefs. The “New World Bible Translation Committee” went through the Bible and changed any Scripture that did not agree with Jehovah’s Witness’ theology. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as new editions to the New World Translation were published, additional changes were made to the biblical text. As biblical Christians continued to point out, Scriptures that clearly argue for the deity of Christ (for example), the Watchtower Society would publish a new edition of the New World Translation with those Scriptures changed. Following are some of the more prominent examples of intentional revisions.

    The New World Translation renders the Greek term word "staurós" ("cross") as "torture stake" because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus was crucified on a cross. The New World Translation does not translate the Greek words “sheol,” "hades,” "gehenna," and "tartarus," as "hell” because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in hell. The NWT gives the translation "presence" instead of “coming” for the Greek word “parousia” because JW’s believe that Christ has already returned in the early 1900’s. In Colossians 1:16, the NWT inserts the word “other” despite it being completely absent from the original Greek text. It does this to give the view that “all other things” were created by Christ, instead of what the text says, “all things were created by Christ.” This is to go along with their belief that Christ is a created being, which they believe because they deny the Trinity.

    The most well known of all the New World Translation perversions is John 1:1. The original Greek text reads, “the Word was God.” The NWT renders it has “the word was a god.” This is not a matter of correct translation, but of reading one's preconceived theology into the text, rather than allowing the text to speak for itself. There is no indefinite article in Greek (in English - "a" or "an"). So any use of an indefinite article in the English translation must be added in by the translator. This is grammatically acceptable in English, so long as it does not change the meaning of the text.

    There is a perfectly good explanation for why "theos" has no definite article in John 1:1 that does denies the New World Translation rendering. There are three general rules we need to understand to see why.

    1. In Greek, word order does not determine word usage like it does in English. In English, a sentence is structured according to word order: Subject - Verb - Predicate. Thus, "Harry called the dog" is not equivalent to, "The dog called Harry." But in Greek, a word's function is determined by the case ending found attached to the word's root. In this verse, there are two case endings for the root "theo" . . . one is "s" (theos), the other is "n" (theon). The "s" ending normally identifies a noun as being the subject of a sentence, while the "n" ending normally identifies a noun as the direct object.

    2. When a noun is functioning as a predicate nominative (in English a noun that follows a "being" verb such as "is") its case ending must match the noun's case that it modifies, so that the reader will know which noun it is describing. Therefore, "theo" must take the "s" ending because it is modifying "logos." Therefore, John 1:1 transliterates to: "kai theos en ho logos." Is "theos" the subject or is "logos"? Both have the "s" ending. The answer is found in the next rule.

    3. In cases where two nouns appear, and both take the same case endings, the author will often add the definite article to the word that is the subject in order to avoid confusion. John put the definite article on "logos" (the Word) instead of "theos." So "logos" is the subject, and "theos" is the predicate nominative. In English, this results in John 1:1 being read as: "and the Word was God," (instead of "and God was the word").

    THE MOST REVEALING EVIDENCE OF THE WATCHTOWER'S BIAS IS THEIR INCONSITENT TRANSLATION TECHNIQUE. Throughout the Gospel of John, the Greek word “theon” occurs without a definite article. The New World Translation renders none of these as “a god.” Just 3 verses after John 1:1, the New World Translation translates another case of "theos" without the indefinite article as "God." Even more inconsistent, in John 1:18, the NWT translates the same term as both "God" and "god" in the very same sentence.

    The Watchtower, therefore, has no hard textual grounds for their translation—only their own theological bias. While New World Translation defenders might succeed in showing that John 1:1 can be translated as they have done, they cannot show that it is the proper translation. Nor can they explain the fact that that the NWT does not translate the exact same Greek phrases elsewhere in the Gospel of John the same way. It is only the pre-conceived heretical rejection of the deity of Christ that forces the Watchtower Society to inconsistently translate the Greek text, thus allowing their error to gain some semblance of legitimacy to those ignorant of the facts.

    It is only the Watchtower's pre-conceived heretical beliefs that are behind the dishonest and inconsistent translation that is the New World Translation. The New World Translation is most definitely not a valid version of God’s Word. There are minor differences between all the major English translations of the Bible. No English translation is perfect. However, while other Bible translators make minor mistakes in the rendering of the Hebrew and Greek text into English; the NWT intentionally changes the rendering of the text to conform to Jehovah’s Witness’ theology. The New World Translation is a perversion, not a version, of the Bible.

  • 1 decade ago

    The rendering of John 1:1 has to do with just what is the nature of Jehovah and Jesus. They are spirit creatures.

    However Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus and Jehovah God belong to a trinity.

    In the bible book of John after Jesus was resurrected he told Mary the Magdalene that he was going away to her God and His God John 20:17

    Psalms 110 King David said The utterance of Jehovah to my lord is, sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.

    It would not make sense if it said the utterance of my lord to my lord is.

    Acts chapter 2:29-36 says Jesus is the one to sit at Jehovah's right hand (verse 34).

    So really there were no indefinite articles in the Greek language so when the predicate noun is not preceded by the definite article, it may be indefinite, depending on the context, thus at John 1:1 "a god."

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  • 1 decade ago

    This question has been asked and answered SO many times here that it has just become boring. If you really want to know the answer why not do a search of the site? I'm sure you will find many good explanations, as well as a bunch of people bashing Jehovah's Witnesses (which is what many people really want when they ask this and other questions anyway).

    The simple reason is that it is good grammer to translate to English the way English is spoken.

    For instance in Greek if you were telling someone you were a physician you would say "I am doctor". In English you would say "I am a doctor". There are many places in the Bible where this sort of translation happens again and again, because the context and the words make it clear that this would be the correct way to translate to proper grammer in English.

    Only trinitarians and those who are trying to obscure the true meaning of the text at John 1:1 would translate it without the "a" in there. It really is dishonest if they would do it any other place and ONLY here do not since they are trying to make Jesus into God.

    After all, can you be WITH someone and also BE that someone? I am with my husband. Am I my husband? No. The fact of being "with" someone indicates that there are two people not one. So John 1:1 is properly translated as "is a god" not "is God."

  • 1 decade ago

    Notice, too, how other translations render this part of the verse:

    1808: "and the word was a god." The New Testament in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome's New Translation: With a Corrected Text.

    1864: "and a god was the word." The Emphatic Diaglott, interlinear reading, by Benjamin Wilson.

    1928: "and the Word was a divine being." La Bible du Centenaire, L'Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel.

    1935: "and the Word was divine." The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed.

    1946: "and of a divine kind was the Word." Das Neue Testament, by Ludwig Thimme.

    1950: "and the Word was a god." New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures.

    1958: "and the Word was a God." The New Testament, by James L. Tomanek.

    1975: "and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz.

    1978: "and godlike kind was the Logos." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider.

    Since your question is addressed to JWs, to answer you question fully, you may visit the link below:

    http://www.watchtower.org/e/ti/index.htm

    Good day!

  • 1 decade ago

    Even the most knowledgeable of the early Christian Greek-speaking scholars, Origen (died 254 A.D.), tells us that John 1:1c actually means "the Word [logos] was a god". - "Origen's Commentary on John," Book I, ch. 42 - Bk II, ch.3.

    In many Bibles, the first part of Jn 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word,"

    Regarding John 1:18 ,

    The word “god” is defined in www.m-w.com as

    capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe

    So notice, that if it refers to the Almighty God, the Creator, the word “God” is capitalized, whether or not it has a definite article “the” or not.

    Jesus said “My God” so he basically says “My creator and ruler of the universe, My Supreme being”

    Notice how other translations render the text as well :

    Notice, too, how other translations render this part of the verse:

    1808: “and the word was a god.” The New Testament in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation: With a Corrected Text.

    1864: “and a god was the word.” The Emphatic Diaglott, interlinear reading, by Benjamin Wilson.

    1928: “and the Word was a divine being.” La Bible du Centenaire, L’Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel.

    1935: “and the Word was divine.” The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed.

    1946: “and of a divine kind was the Word.” Das Neue Testament, by Ludwig Thimme.

    1950: “and the Word was a god.” New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures.

    1958: “and the Word was a God.” The New Testament, by James L. Tomanek.

    1975: “and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word.” Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz.

    1978: “and godlike kind was the Logos.” Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider.

    John 10:33 – Jesus was being stoned because the Jews were MISTAKEN. The Jews MISUNDERSTOOD Jesus. As Jesus said “You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son?”

    34 Jesus answered them: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said: “YOU are gods”’? 35 If he called ‘gods’ those against whom the word of God came

    Notice Jesus defence in John 10:34 to prove that he is a god, he told the Jews “You are gods” Not Gods. So if the Jews can be said that they are “gods” then also the Son of God, can be called

    “god” as well.

    Jehovah is called 'God of gods" "Elohim of elohim", Jesus is an elohim, whose God is the Elohim, Jehovah. Deut 10:17 . The term "God of gods" doesn;t mean 'GOD of ALL FALSE gods" otherwise you are making Jehovah like Satan. So "gods" exist, just like other kings and lords exist. (King of kings, Lord of lords)

  • 1 decade ago

    John 1:1, RS: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [also KJ, JB, Dy, Kx, NAB].” NE reads “what God was, the Word was.” Mo says “the Logos was divine.” AT and Sd tell us “the Word was divine.” The interlinear rendering of ED is “a god was the Word.” NW reads “the Word was a god”; NTIV uses the same wording.

    What is it that these translators are seeing in the Greek text that moves some of them to refrain from saying “the Word was God”? The definite article (the) appears before the first occurrence of the·os′ (God) but not before the second. The articular (when the article appears) construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous (without the article) predicate noun before the verb (as the sentence is constructed in Greek) points to a quality about someone. So the text is not saying that the Word (Jesus) was the same as the God with whom he was but, rather, that the Word was godlike, divine, a god. (See 1984 Reference edition of NW, p. 1579.)

    What did the apostle John mean when he wrote John 1:1? Did he mean that Jesus is himself God or perhaps that Jesus is one God with the Father? In the same chapter, verse 18, John wrote: “No one [“no man,” KJ, Dy] has ever seen God; the only Son [“the only-begotten god,” NW], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (RS) Had any human seen Jesus Christ, the Son? Of course! So, then, was John saying that Jesus was God? Obviously not. Toward the end of his Gospel, John summarized matters, saying: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, [not God, but] the Son of God.”—John 20:31, RS.

    Source(s): Reasoning from the Scriptures (1989)
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    If you look at the writings of the Apostle John, you will note that he spelled the word "god" four different ways in Greek. The never used the same spelling of the word in reference to "The Word" (Christ), and to his Father. He does use the same spelling in reference to "The Word", Satan, and men, as what? God or a god? Is Satan also God?

    Buy an Interlinear Greek Translation of the NT and check it.

  • 1 decade ago

    John 1:1 is one of those texts where a translator must be care-full not to let theological bias get in the way.

    Others have already shown that the NWT is not alone in its rendering. That is because rules of Greek grammar are being followed in those translations.

    Bibles that say "and the Word was God" are doing so because of religious theological bias toward the trinity.

    for a more detailed discussion see

    http://users.picknowl.com.au/~hepburn/nwt.htm

    http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/newworldtransl...

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