• The Watchtower (2001)
  • The New World Translation Appreciated by Millions Worldwide

Stand Complete and With Firm Conviction

The New World Translation Appreciated by Millions Worldwide

IT TOOK 12 years, 3 months, and 11 days of painstaking work. On March 13, 1960, however, the final segment of text for a new Bible translation was completed. It was called the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

One year later, Jehovah’s Witnesses published this translation in a single volume. That edition in 1961 had a printing of one million copies. Today, the number of printed copies has passed the one hundred million mark, making the New World Translation one of the most widely distributed Bibles. What, though, prompted the Witnesses to prepare this translation?

Why a New Bible Translation?

In order to understand and proclaim the message of the Holy Scriptures, Jehovah’s Witnesses have over the years used many different English Bible translations. While these versions have their points of merit, they are often colored by religious traditions and the creeds of Christendom. (Matthew 15:6) Jehovah’s Witnesses therefore recognized the need for a Bible translation that faithfully presented what is in the original inspired writings.

The first step toward filling this need was taken in October 1946 when Nathan H. Knorr, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, proposed the production of a new Bible translation. On December 2, 1947, the New World Bible Translation Committee set out to prepare a translation that would be faithful to the original text, would embody the latest scholarly findings gleaned from newly discovered Bible manuscripts, and would use language readily understood by today’s readers.

With the publication of the first installment—the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures—in 1950, it became evident that the translators had met their objectives. Bible texts that had previously been only dimly understood became dramatically clear. For instance, consider the perplexing text at Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (King James Version) It was rendered: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” The apostle Paul’s admonition rendered “be careful for nothing” (King James Version) was translated: “Do not be anxious over anything.” (Philippians 4:6) And the apostle John’s reference to “the concupiscence of the flesh” (Douay Version) reads, “the desire of the flesh.” (1 John 2:16) Clearly, the New World Translation opened up a new world of understanding.

Various scholars were impressed. For example, British Bible scholar Alexander Thomson noted that the New World Translation is outstanding in accurately rendering the Greek present tense. To illustrate: Ephesians 5:25 reads “Husbands, continue loving your wives” instead of saying merely “Husbands, love your wife.” (King James Version) “No other version appears to have exhibited this fine feature with such fulness and frequency,” said Thomson regarding the New World Translation.

Another outstanding feature of the New World Translation is its use of God’s personal name, Jehovah, in both the Hebrew and the Greek portions of the Scriptures. Since the Hebrew name for God appears nearly 7,000 times in the so-called Old Testament alone, it is clear that our Creator wants his worshipers to use his name and to know him as a person. (Exodus 34:6, 7) The New World Translation has helped millions of people to do so.

The New World Translation Goes Multilingual

Ever since it appeared in English, Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world longed to receive the New World Translation in their native tongue—and for good reason. In some countries, it was difficult to obtain translations in local languages because representatives of the Bible Societies distributing them were not pleased to see their stock of Bibles end up in the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Moreover, such vernacular Bibles often conceal vital teachings. A typical example is a version in a southern European tongue that hides an important reference to God’s name by replacing Jesus’ words “Let your name be sanctified” with “May you be honored by people.”—Matthew 6:9.

Already in 1961, translators began rendering the English text of the New World Translation into other languages. Just two years later, the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was completed in six additional languages. By then, 3 out of every 4 Witnesses worldwide could read this Bible in their own language. Yet, much more work had to be done if Jehovah’s Witnesses were to get a copy of this Bible into the hands of many millions of people.

In 1989 that goal came closer with the setting up of Translation Services at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. That department developed a method of translation that combined Biblical word study with computer technology. Using this system has made it possible to translate the Christian Greek Scriptures into some other languages in one year and the Hebrew Scriptures in two years—a fraction of the time normally required for a Bible translation project. Since this method was developed, 29 editions of the New World Translation have been translated from English and released in languages spoken by over two billion people. Work is now under way in 12 other languages. To date, the English New World Translation has been translated, in whole or in part, into 41 other languages.

Over 50 years have now passed since the first part of the New World Translation was released on August 3, 1950, at the Theocracy’s Increase Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York City. On that occasion, Nathan H. Knorr urged the conventioners: “Take this translation. Read it through, a thing that will be done with enjoyment. Study it, for it will help you to better your understanding of God’s Word. Put it in the hands of others.” We encourage you to read the Bible daily, for its message can help you to “stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God.”—Colossians 4:12.

[Graph/Pictures on page 8, 9]

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“New World Translation Releases”

First released in English, the New World Translation is now available in whole or in part in 41 additional languages

                Christian Greek Scriptures     Complete Bible

1950                        1

1960-69                     6                         5

1970-79                     4                         2

1980-89                     2                         2

1990-Present               29                        19