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Jehovah's Witnesses and Bible Versions

By Gary F. Zeolla


In the following e-mail exchange, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Subject: Powerlifter thinks he knows about Jehovah

I am surprised at the arrogance you show towards the creator of the universe. Such a stand cannot be taken lightly. To suggest that the beliefs of Jehovahs Witnesses came about at the release of the New World Translation in the 50's shows how really stupid and unreseached you are. Almost all of the beliefs of JW's were firmly established before 1920.

We have been supporters and users and authorized publishers of many versions of the Bible, including the King James version , which we almost exclusively used in the early years. All of our beliefs can be supported by any version of the Bible, however we or most of us choose the modern day language of the NWT.

Personally I have 15 different versions in different languages, as you know the Bible was not written in English. Its one thing to condemn a people but to condemn the validity of Gods word is a scary position to be in , think about what you are telling other people.


Before firing off such an anger-filler email, you really should get your facts straight. I have never said that WT doctrines originated with the NWT. What I have said is that the WT purposely mistranslated the NWT to make it fit their PRECONCEIVED beliefs. And I provide ample documentation of this claim on my site and especially in my eBook on the NWT. The eBook also demonstrates that the NWT is not a reliable translation: The New World Translation: A Reliable Bible Version?

Secondly, I have studied WT theology in depth and demonstrate that it is not Biblical both on my site and in my Scripture Workbook.

And you should note that in my writings I do not express the kind of unloving and anger-filled attitude that you are expressing towards me.

Note: When I tried sending my response to the above email, it was returned as undeliverable. So this is yet another case of an angry, misinformed email being sent to me by someone who doesn't even have the guts to use a real email address.

> Gary,

I am interested in obtaining information about JW's position on Bible translations. I could not find the information I needed on the official JW home page. I assume that JW' prefer to use the NWT translation. However, is there a common practice amongst JW's to use the NIV, RSV, King James, or other translations? Which translation do most JW's prefer to use other than the NWT?<

You are correct that the main version JWs use is the New World Translation (NWT) . At one time they used the American Standard Version, mainly because of its use of "Jehovah" in the OT. Otherwise, I would say they only quote other versions if it suits their purposes.

One point of note, JWs have pretty much had it drilled into their head that the Wescott-Hort text that the NWT NT is based on is the best type of Greek NT. It is an older version of what I call the Critical Text (CT) on my site. Moreover, they have been taught that the Textus Receptus (TR) which the KJV and NKJV are based on is "corrupt" mainly because of the inclusion of 1John 5:7. So unless you want to get into a debate about Greek text types with them, it might be best to use a version based on the CT. I, of course, disagree with their assessment here, but unless you're ready for such a debate it would be best to avoid it.

Now a point I would agree with them is a translation should be as "literal" as possible. They, of course, claim the NWT is a literal translation. It's not in many, many places, but nevertheless, the average JWs impression is that it is. So a literal, CT based version would probably be the only kind of version that a JW might accept. And among modern versions, the NASB is the only one that would fit those two criteria.

> I seek this information because I have family and friends who disagree on what JW's believe regarding Bible translations. Some say that JW's have no problems with the NIV or other modern versions but reject the King James version. Others say that JW's prefer the King James over the other modern versions. Please help me dispel rumors. Could you also tell me where I might find more information on which translations JW's prefer.

This information is very important to me. Thank-you


JWs would definitely have "problems" with almost any version other than their own, if only for the translation of John 1:1. That said, the NIV might appeal to them since it is based on the CT, but since it is not a literal version they probably wouldn't agree with it. The KJV they definitely reject, since as I said, it is based on the TR and includes 1John 5:7.

Of course, individual JWs might have differing opinions on the matter, just as Christians do. I am not sure there is an "official" JW position in this regard, except, of course, for the misguided claim that the NWT is the most accurate version.

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