Is the New World Translation of the Bible credible?

This article is from Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book—Collector’s Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008)
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Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the New World Translation (NWT) is the “work of competent scholars.” Conversely, they contend that other Bible translations are corrupted by religious traditions that are rooted in paganism. In reality, the NWT is the work of a Bible Translation Committee with no working knowledge of biblical languages. Their bias is so blatant that Dr. Bruce Metzger, professor of New Testament at Princeton, not only characterized the NWT as a “frightful mistranslation” but as “erroneous,” “pernicious,” and “reprehensible.”

First, the NWT mistranslates the Greek Scriptures in order to expunge the deity of Jesus Christ. Against all credible scholarship, Jesus is downgraded from God to “a” god in John 1 and demoted from the Creator of all things to a mere creature who created all other things in Colossians 1. According to the translation committee of the Watchtower Society, Jesus was created by God as the archangel Michael, during his earthly sojourn was merely human, and after his crucifixion was recreated an immaterial spirit creature.

Furthermore, the Translation Committee has sought to conform the NWT to their religious traditions by replacing the cross of Christ with a torture stake. Matthew 10:38, for example, has been altered to read, “And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me.” In Watchtower lore, the cross is a pagan symbol adopted by an apostate Christianity when Satan took control of the early church. Jehovah’s Witnesses view wearing a cross as a blatant act of idolatry. Conversely, Christians wear crosses as a reminder of what was at once the most brutal and beautiful act in redemptive history.

Finally, the Watchtower Society claims that the Christian Scriptures have “been tampered with” in order to eliminate the name Jehovah from the text. In reality, it is the Translation Committee of the NWT that can rightly be accused of tampering. In well over two hundred cases the name Jehovah has been gratuitously inserted into the New Testament text. In passages such as Romans 10:13 this is done to obscure the unique deity of Christ. In other passages, it is done under the pretext that referring to God as Lord rather than Jehovah is patently pagan. Ironically, in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, Watchtower translators themselves fall into this “pagan” practice by translating the Greek word kurios as Lord even in cases where it specifically refers to the Father.

For these and a host of other reasons, Greek scholars across the board denounce the NWT. Dr. Julius Mantey, author of A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, called the NWT a “shocking mistranslation,” and Dr. William Barclay characterized the translators themselves as “intellectually dishonest.”

For further study, see David A. Reed, Answering Jehovah‘s Witnesses: Subject by Subject (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996).


“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy
of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God
will add to him the plagues described in this book.
And if anyone takes words away from this book
of prophecy, God will take away from him
his share in the tree of life and in the holy city,
which are described in this book.”

Revelation 22:18–19
(See also Deuteronomy 4:2)

More Bible Answers with Hank

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Will Adam and Eve Receive Brand-New Bodies in Eternity?

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Why Did Heliocentrism Triumph over Geocentrism?

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