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A review of the ‘new’ New World Translation.

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New JW Bible (2013 Revision)

By John Tancock –

Known as the silver sword because of its colour, this is not an update it is a new translation. With a new translation philosophy and approach. We will look at various features of this edition and make comments from more than one perspective.

The bare facts.
Sturdy but soft grey cover, with the wording inset into the binding and not printed on it. A new WT invented font and crisp layout with even presentation. This is different to the old NWT which originally had uneven and untidy typesetting. Launched with an ‘app’  (JW app) which also includes other bibles from the watchtower, this NWT is not just a revision it is effectively a new translation.

Features of the bible
Full bible with centre references, summary (outline of contents) of each book in advance. At the front is a section of 20 questions  that people ask with colour drawings and short answers. at the rear is a concordance and a glossary of terms. following this the usual various charts and maps with two important (for the JWs) chapters on the divine name in the Hebrew and. Greek scriptures.

Differences to the ‘old’ NWT.
The most significant difference is that the translation has moved on the scale from  being like youngs literal translation to something that approximates to  the NIV or perhaps the HCSB. The old ‘one word in Greek/Hebrew  is translated as one word in English’. Has gone, although it never existed anyway (when proskuneo refers to Jehovah it was always translated as worship but when referring to Jesus was translated as ‘do obeisance ‘), the old distinction for plural second person pronouns like YOU and YOURS has also gone.

Many  words have been modernised , the use of ‘kidneys’ to translate literally the Hebrew word has now been sensibly changed to expressions like ‘ innermost feelings’, make no mistake, this is no Good news bible or NLT, it is still not flowing but is an improvement on the past.

Wherever  there is some textual uncertainty they have not been put in smaller print or footnotes or  included in any way…..they have been omitted entirely!!  That includes the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 and the endings of mark.  It is apparent that absolute certainty is what the WT requires. It is notable that there are no textual notes at all …. ‘Most early mss say…’  Or ‘ a few late mss include…’, none of that at all. If the NWT wants to be taken seriously outside of its own circles they really should include some notes reflecting the reality underneath the text. It is apparent that the organisation has spoken and that is the way it is.  All the brackets have been removed in Colossians 1 Around (other). This is a retrograde step but suits the WT purpose in reinforcing its view of the deity of Christ.

If I was a JW……
I would think that this new NWT is a big improvement on previous editions. Great helps and references and the extra colour pages are a plus. However I think many JWs will struggle getting used to the non literal approach which is a massive change to previously. The new JW app is easy to use and would disturb many JWs though as the translations included are the Old study edition of the NWT plus the ASV, Byingtons, Kingdom Interlinear, KJV and the new NWT. If a JW checks any contentious passages (Colossians 1, Php 2, John 1v1, the use of Jehovah in the NT etc) with the app, the ASV , KJV and byingtons will inevitably disagree with the NWT, so will the Interlinear part of the KIT as well (see John 14v14 as an example).

Mistake in the JW BibleMistake?
Eagle  eyed reviewers will notice a typesetting or layout mistake as well. In numbers 32:v14-16. On page 266 (see opposite). Compare the header with the reference on p267. It would be easy to think I am being picky. But for a loyal JW this small error can be unsettling and it has caused a bit of a stir in some JW circles.

Same old,same old?
All the usual errors are included in this translation. Notably the insertion of Jehovah into the pages of the NT is utterly unfounded. The article at the back of the translation shows pictures of OT passages in Hebrew and some editions of the LXX (the Greek OT). This is misleading and is a bit of a smokescreen, it also shows a page from the emphatic diaglott and an Hawaiian translation! These of course are simply no evidence at all that ‘JEHOVAH’ should be in the text of the NT. Let me repeat this…. There is not a single manuscript of the NT that has Jehovah or Yahweh (a more correct translation) or YHWH in it……zero, zip, zilch! The NWT stands utterly alone in this respect and even Jason Beduhn who in the past has made a few favourable comments about the NWT severely criticised the NWT for falsely inserting Jehovah.

Well, that is my brief review of the ‘new’ NWT,  parts of it will be translated into perhaps 300 languages by the WT, what they don’t realise is that mainstream Christians have translated the bible into 2000 languages with greater volume and distribution than the NWT. JWs will consider the NWT to be the most accurate of all translations , the evidence shows otherwise.

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