Tetragrammaton And Jehovah’s Witnesses

Unwarrantedly Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee added “Jehovah” in 237 places in New Testament. By doing so, New World Translation (NWT), Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible, blurs many passages that depicts Christ Jesus as Lord (Kyrios) of Old Testament.

In Journal of Biblical Literature, Kurt Aland showed that the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, does not appear in any of the 5,255 known New Testament Greek manuscripts (Aland 1968: 184). The Tetragrammaton is also absent in the writing of the early Christians. For example, Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians written ca. 100 A.D quoted Joshua 2 cf. Heb. 11:31(“I[Rahab] know assuredly that the Lord(“κύριος”) your God hath given you this city […](1 Clement 12), Ezekiel 33:11  “For as I live, said the Lord (Ky′ri·os), I do not desire the death of the sinner so much as his repentance”.(1 Clement 8). NWT’s  unwarrantedly added “Jehovah” in front of “Lord”.

In the same period,  the author of the epistle of Barnabas quoted Exodus 24:18, 31:18, 32:7; Deut. 9:12.  and Isa. 42:,6-7, 61:1- 2 in just chapter fourteen and in all times he used “κύριος”(Lord) .  While years later Irenaeus  quoted Matthew 1:20; 4:10, Romans 11:34, and Acts 2: 25 in Against Heresies using “Lord” and not “Jehovah”, contrary to Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee. Both Philo and Josephus, like New Testament writers and early Christians, probably used the complete  Septuagint (LXX ) which had “κύριος”(Lord). Some of older fragments of LXX do contain the tetragrammaton while others simply had blank spaces in place of the tetragrammation (e.g. Papyrus Rylands 458 )

Even though Watch Tower Society  do know as entailed by their own question , viz., “[w]hy, then, is the name absent from the extant manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures or so-called “New Testament”?”(Watchtower 1971: 887) that the tetragammaton does not appear in any known Greek manuscripts, they, without warrant, press forward and reject the use of Kyrios (Lord) in 5000+ Greek manuscripts dating from 2rd century and early Christians’ writings as corrupted. Watch Tower Society found their support, that New Testament must have had tetragammation, in 25 Hebrew J Versions of the Bible  and 2 non-version (J1 to J27),  the translations of New Testaments into Hebrew , which came to scene earliest  late 14th century onwards

New World Translation translators should be commend for restoring the tetragrammation in Hebrews Scriptures(Old Testament) but I think from their own reasoning which is in a form of a question and answer, namely:

How is a modern translator to know or determine when to render the Greek words κύριος and θεός into the divine name in his version? By determining where the inspired Christian writers have quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. Then he must refer back to the original to locate whether the divine name appears there.(Watchtower 1969: 18-19)

With the use of Lord and not YHWH (tetragrammaton) in all known copies of copies of originals (since historians have no surviving original or copies of originals) of New Testaments Greek manuscripts, contrary to Watch Tower’s Society, adding of the tetragrammaton in New Testament would not be restoration of God’s name but distorting and blurring the author’s meaning.

Blurring of 1 Corinthians 10:9: Who Is Put To The Test?

One of the passage which I believe Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee blurs with this maneuver  is 1 Corinthians 10:9: “Neither let us put Jehovah to the test, as some of them put [him] to the test, only to perish by the serpents.”(NWT). With this move  Jehovah’s Witnesses are led to believe that it is Jehovah the Father that the Israelites put to test and not Christ Jesus who is the rock to which Israelites drank a spiritual drink (v4).

Faithfully Watchtower Society’s traslators added a footnote in their translation of this verse. They explained that “Jehovah” appears in Hebrews J Versions of the Bible 18, 22 and 23, while Codex Sinaiticus(א), and Vatican ms 1209(B)  both of 4th century and Codex Ephraemi rescriptus(C) of 5th century have ton Ky′ri·on (Lord), Papyrus 46 of 3rd century and Bezae Codices(D) of 5th and 6th century have “the Christ” and last Codex Alexandrinus(A), of 5th century has “God.”

“On closer examination,” The NET Bible Bible First Edition Notes explained, “the variants appear to be intentional changed.”

Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.”(Biblical Studies Press 2006)

They argued that scribes were likely “to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages”.

The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen.(ibid)

If The NET Bible First Edition Notes is correct, which I believe it is, then Watch Tower Bible translators blurred 1 Cor. 10:9 that depicts Christ Jesus as the Yahweh of the Old Testament by selectively embracing a late 14th century J version of the Bible when convenient. Watch Tower Society ignored places in J versions, for example  J14’s reading of 1 Corinthians 12:3, “[…] no one can say “Jesus is Lord Jehovah, except by the Holy Spirit.” and  J7 and J8’s reading of Hebrew 1:10;  J13 , J14 and J20’s  reading of 1 Peter 2:3 which all applied the tetragrammaton to Jesus.

Question To Jehovah’s Witnesses: If the name “Jehovah” was changed to “Lord” in all 5000+ Greek manuscripts ranging from 2nd century, why don’t we have even a single early manuscripts with “Jehovah” nor do the early Christians make use of it?

Note: A free PDF for further study: The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scripture: A Comprehensive Study of the Divine Name In the Original Writings of the Christian Greek Scriptures. To know more about  NT Greek Manuscripts,  here is a table with a name of a manuscript, its branch, category, content and location arranged by date.

Bibliography:

Aland, Kurt (1968). Greek New Testament: its present and future editions. Journal of Biblical Literature 87.2: 179-186.

Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (1 Co 10:9). Biblical Studies Press.

Watchtower Society (1969) Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

____________________ (1971) Aid To Bible Understanding. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

_____________________ (1984) New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures – With References. Rendered from the Original Languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

______________________ (1989) Reasoning From the Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Brooklyn, New York.

Cover Photo Credit: Pre 1971 Board of Directors. Jehovahs-Witnesses.net

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How is Christ Jesus the Firstborn?

In Watchtower’s What Does The Bible Really Teach? page 41, Who is Jesus Christ? Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that:

Jesus is Jehovah’s most precious Son—and for good reason. He is called “the firstborn of all creation,” for he was God’s first creation. (Colossians 1:15) There is something else that makes this Son special. He is the “only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16) This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. Jesus is also the only one whom God used when He created all other things. (Colossians 1:16) Then, too, Jesus is called “the Word.” (John 1:14) This tells us that he spoke for God, no doubt delivering messages and instructions to the Father’s other sons, both spirit and human.(2005)

Is this true? Are Jehovah’s Witnesses correct in their reasoning that Jesus is called prōtotokos (firstborn) because he is first created creature? I do not think so. In this article I would show both the understanding of the Greek term prōtotokos and how it does not follow that preexistent Christ Jesus(Logos) is a creature regardless of which understanding of term “firstborn” one holds.

Understanding πρωτότοκος, ον(prōtotokos, firstborn)

The Greek word prōtotokos(firstborn) is found 8 times in the New Testament, mainly with reference to Christ Jesus, 131 times in LXX and 4 times in Apostolic Fathers writings. By and large this term carries two prevailing meanings, which could be divided into three sets.

Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains expound πρωτότοκος, ον(prōtotokos) as:
a. Firstborn:

πρωτότοκοςa, ον: pertaining to being a firstborn child (normally in contexts speaking of people but also used in reference to domestic animals)—‘firstborn.’ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον ‘she gave birth to her firstborn son’ Lk 2:7.
In Jewish society the rights and responsibilities of being a firstborn son resulted in considerable prestige and status. The firstborn son, for example, received twice as much in inheritance as any other offspring.

The use of πρωτότοκος ‘firstborn’ does not imply in Greek that other children were also born to a woman, though in a number of languages one would never use ‘firstborn’ unless other children followed. Such an individual would be spoken of merely as ‘the only child.’ It is also frequently necessary to employ an appropriate qualifier for ‘firstborn’ in order to mark clearly the fact that it is ‘a firstborn son’ rather than ‘a firstborn daughter.’
The figurative meaning of πρωτότοκος in the messianic title πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως ‘firstborn of all creation’ (Col 1:1 may be interpreted as ‘existing before all creation’ (see [b]) or ‘existing superior to all creation’(see [c])

b. Existing before:

πρωτότοκοςb, ον: pertaining to existing prior to something else—‘existing first, existing before.’ πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως ‘existing before all creation’ or ‘existing before anything was created’ Col 1:15. It is possible to understand πρωτότοκος in Col 1:15 as ‘superior in status’ (see [c]). See also discussion at [a].

c. Superior:

πρωτότοκοςc, ον: pertaining to existing superior to all else of the same or related class—‘superior to, above all.’ πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως ‘existing superior to all creation’ Col 1:15. For another interpretation of πρωτότοκος in Col 1:15, see [b]; see also discussion at [a].

Newman’s A Concise Greek-English dictionary of the New Testament agrees with the three sets:

πρωτότοκος , ον first-born, first; first-born Son (of Christ); π. πάσης κτίσεως existing before all creation or superior to all creation (Col 1:15)

In the Old Testament, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint helps us see how prōtotokos(πρωτότοκος,-ος,-ον) is used in LXX:

firstborn (of pers.) Gn 10,15 (mostly rendition of בכר); id. (of Israel in a transferred sense, expressing a close relationship to the Lord) Ex 4,22; id. (of anim.) Gn 4,4; highest in rank, chief (of Israel’s king) Ps 88 (89),28; τὰ πρωτότοκα the firstborn (as well of pers. as of anim.) Nm 18,15
*1 Chr 8,38 πρωτότοκος αὐτοῦ his firstborn-בְּכֹרוֹ for MT בֹּכְרוּ Bocheru, see also 9,44; *1 Chr 26,6 τοῦ πρωτοτόκου (Ρωσαι) of his firstborn (Rosai) transl. of הממשׁלים? (followed by translit. of its syn. ראשׁי (not in MT) heads of) for MT הממשׁלים chiefs

And last, Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained adds: ““Firstborn” can also be used figuratively to denote the most or best of something. For example, the expression “firstborn of the poor,” (Isa. 14:30, NRSV) means one who is supremely poor, or the poorest of the poor.”

From this we can draw to a close two prevailing meaning of the Greek term πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos):

  1. first in order of time, as a first born child(e.g. Luke 2:7) and
  2. first in order of place,[as preeminent in rank/supreme/dearness (e.g. Davidic king in Ps 88:28 LXX (=Ps 89:27 ESV), Israel (Exodus 4:22); Ephraim(Jer. 31:9))].

How does Paul use the term in Colossians 1:15-20 & Romans 8:28-30?

I believe that the contexts to which “firstborn” is used lean more towards first in order of place than first in order of time because this passages deals with Christ Jesus’ preeminence and supremacy over all.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before[firstborn of] all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.(Col 1:15–20, ESV emps added).

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Ro 8:28–30, ESV emps added)

Paul shows that Christ Jesus is the most exalted promised Davidic king, the one in Ps 89:27 “I will also appoint him my firstborn (πρωτότοκον), the most exalted of the kings of the earth,” the Lord of all creation because all things were created through him and for him. All the passage leads us to the conclusion that “he[Christ Jesus] might be preeminent“. The Lord of all, the living and the dead(firstborn of the dead cf. Rev 1:5). Everything is his/ “for him”.

Moreover over, if we collect John 1:3 “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” and Paul’s Col 1:16: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” and Rom 11:33-36 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”, we can conclude that Christ Jesus is a co-participant in the creation and not among the created beings.

It’s for these reasons I believe that Paul used the Greek term πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos) in Davidic messianic sense viz. Christ Jesus’ kingdom, first in order of place.

What if it “first in time”? Would it then make preexistent Christ Jesus a first created creature?

Even if we accept that Christ Jesus is firstborn in the sense of time, we are not warranted to conclude that preexistent Christ Jesus (Logos) is first created creature. From Ps 89:27 “I will also appoint him my firstborn (πρωτότοκον), the most exalted of the kings of the earth,” we can see that God the Father’s Messiah is appointed firstborn.

It correct to deduce that πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos) applies to the Son of God taking on flesh (John 1:14), Logos in morphē theos(in form of God) became God the Father’s appointed firstborn by pouring out (kenoō) himself through taking morphē doulos (in form of servant, Phil 2:6-7) . Therefore, the term firstborn, if used in a sense of time, has to do with Logos in flesh, in form of men and not in his form of God(theos). This understand make sense in light of “the firstborn from the dead”(Col 1:18 and Rev 1:5) and “the firstborn among many brothers.”(Rom 8:29 cf Hebrew 12:23)

So even if we accept Jehovah’s Witnesses understanding of firstborn, we are not warranted to conclude that preexistent Christ Jesus is a first created creature.

N.B: NWT unwarrantably add “other(allos)” in Col 1:15-20 because they assume the chronological sense of “firstborn”. Moreover the idea of “a god” and “the God”, is not found in Jewish monotheism, they had “false gods” and “true God”. The devil, Baal, idols et cetera were in group of false gods(adonai).

Sources:

Newman, B. M. (1993). A Concise Greek-English dictionary of the New Testament. (157). Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies.
Lust, J., Eynikel, E., & Hauspie, K. (2003). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint : Revised Edition. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart.

Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (281). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (214). New York: United Bible Societies.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

12 Questions I Found Useful Asking Jehovah’s Witnesses

  1. Why did Jehovah’s Witnesses properly worshiped Christ Jesus until 1954?
  2. If all that was made was made through Logos(John 1:3) and for him( Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36), why add word “other/s” in Col 1:15-17?
  3. Was Jehovah God without wisdom before creating him(Proverbs 8:22-31) ?
  4. If firstborn means first created, then what does firstborn of the dead mean?( or what does Israel(Exo. 4:22) and Ephraim(Jer. 31:9) being firstborn mean?) Could not Paul use firstborn in Messianic sense? (Ps 89:27 “I will also appoint him my firstborn (πρωτότοκον), the most exalted of the kings of the earth,”
  5. Why is Christ Jesus calling himself the first and the last?(Revelation 1:17-18)
  6. Was early Christians’  understanding of Jesus as God, from A. D. 30-250, wrong?
  7. If Jesus is a lesser god because he is only Might God(Isaiah 9:6), would that not make Jehovah God also lesser god since his  is also called Might God(Isaiah 10:20-21)?
  8. If Only-begotten(John 3:16) means Jesus was Jehovah’s first creation, how then do we explain Isaac(Hebrews 11:17) being the only-begotten of Abraham and not Ishmael?
  9. Why did God, in Genesis 1:26, said let us make man in our image(God’s image, not angel + God)?
  10. Could you explain how “Jehovah made it rain sulphur from Jehovah” Genesis 19:24 NWT?
  11. Why did Thomas say to Christ Jesus “the Lord of me, and the God of me”(John 20:28 cf. Psalm 35:23)?
  12. Why does historical documents show that the first Christians and Apostolic Fathers prayed and worshiped Christ Jesus as God?

5 Simple Arguments Showing Jesus is God

Is Jesus God? Outlined arguments for Deity of Jesus from His Deeds

I. Salvation Argument For Deity of Christ Jesus(Adopted from Athanasius)

1. No creature can redeem another creature.
2. According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ is a creature.
3. Therefore, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ cannot redeem humanity.
4. It is not true that Jesus Christ cannot redeem humanity.
5. Therefore it is not true that Jesus Christ is a creature.

Simpler Form

1. Only God and God alone can save.
2. Jesus Christ saves.
3. Therefore Jesus Christ is God.

II. Creation Argument For Deity of Christ Jesus

1. Only God and God alone created all things that were created.
2. Jesus Christ created all things that were created.
3. Therefore Jesus Christ is God.

III. Ultimate Judge Argument For Deity of Christ Jesus

1. Only God and God alone is the Ultimate Judge of all people.
2. Jesus Christ is the Ultimate Judge of all people.
3. Therefore Jesus Christ is God.

VI. Omni-X Argument For Deity of Christ Jesus

1. Only God and God alone is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient and Morally Perfect.
2. Jesus Christ is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient and Morally Perfect.
3. Therefore Jesus Christ is God

V. Forgiveness of Sin Authority Argument For Deity of Christ

1. Only God and God alone has authority to forgive all sins.
2. Jesus Christ has authority to forgive all sins.
3. Therefore Jesus Christ is God.

Note: The term God stands for Jehovah, Yahweh(OT Septuagint: Kyrios, Lord) and Save stands for breaking of the power of sin and giving eternal life.

“Through Jesus” Common Objection on Creation Argument, Compare John 1.1-3(through Jesus) with Romans 11:33-36 (through God)

A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism


By Prayson Daniel


“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

A growing list of signatures signed by world wide scientists with Ph.D. in a scientific field such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, computer science, or other natural sciences; or  holding  M.D. and serve as professor of medicine refusing Darwinian theory.

Dissent From Darwin: What is it about:

During recent decades, new scientific evidence from many scientific disciplines such as cosmology, physics, biology, “artificial intelligence” research, and others have caused scientists to begin questioning Darwinism’s central tenet of natural selection and studying the evidence supporting it in greater detail.

Yet public TV programs, educational policy statements, and science textbooks have asserted that Darwin’s theory of evolution fully explains the complexity of living things. The public has been assured that all known evidence supports Darwinism and that virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.

The scientists on this list dispute the first claim and stand as living testimony in contradiction to the second. Since Discovery Institute launched this list in 2001, hundreds of scientists have courageously stepped forward to sign their names. Continue reading

Refuting Who Designed The Designer?


By Prayson Daniel


In “Dangerous Richard Dawkins’ Ideas?” I explained how Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion central argument is fallacious namely charged with Non sequitur(Latin “it does not follow.”) Fallacy, that is even if we grant Richard Dawkins’ premises to be true, the conclusion does not follow from them.

In this article, I will go through Richard Dawkins’ statement(premise) three. It is the objection I countless receive in  my blog comments: Who Designed The Designer?(The God Delusion p. 157-8)

  1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.
  2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.
  3. The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

Flaw in Statement 3

[I]n order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn’t have an explanation of the explanation. This is an elementary point concerning inference to the best explanation as practiced in the philosophy of science. Continue reading

The Meaningless Life Of Atheism

Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936) an English classical scholar and poet captured
the meaningless of life in a naturalist worldview in this brilliant poem :.


Tell me not here, it needs not saying

Tell me not here, it needs not saying,
  What tune the enchantress plays
In aftermaths of soft September
  Or under blanching mays,
For she and I were long acquainted
  And I knew all her ways. Continue reading