“Walk in the Name of Jehovah Our God for Ever”
With the following speech the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society released Volume I of the “New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures” to the New World Society Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses at Yankee Stadium, New York city, N. Y., Wednesday afternoon, July 22, 1953.
“For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god; and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever.”—Mic. 4:5, AS and Da.
1. The “latter days” were foretold to be a time for making what, and how may one know one is right when making it?
THE “latter days” or final days of this old world were foretold to be a time of most important decision. This decision will affect the eternal destiny of each individual. It will prove whether he is worthy of eternal life in a righteous new world or not. How can a person know that his decision is the right one? He can know this unmistakably by his choice of the right God to worship. That is what makes the decision the most important one to make. The choice of the God who has promised and who can be depended upon to fulfill his promise to create a warless new world makes a person’s decision the right one. That there would be many gods among whom to choose and that some would choose the God who offers lasting peace, security and prosperity, the inspired prophecy indicated when it said:
2. How does Micah 4:1-5 indicate some would choose the right God?
2 “But in the latter days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow unto it. And many nations shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem; and he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken it. For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god; and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever.”—Mic. 4:1-5, AS.
3. Which people today is walking in the name of Jehovah as God, and how is this shown?
3 Both heavenly and human events since A.D. 1914 mark our days as the “latter days” or final days of this old world. (Matt. 24:3-39) Therefore, let everyone who reads Micah’s prophecy and looks for its fulfillment now ask himself, Who of all the peoples is it that is walking in the name of Jehovah as God? Is it the recently established republic of Israel or is it the Jewish people as a whole through whose faithful ancestors we have received the sacred Hebrew Scriptures? The answer must be No; for during the past nineteen centuries the name of the living and true God has not come to be known to mankind through such natural Jews. Who, then, by authentic records in law courts of the land, not excepting the United States Supreme Court, and by the reports in the newspapers, magazines, bulletins and books, both secular and religious, both friendly and hostile, yes, who by these records are indisputably shown to be the people that have chosen to walk in the name of Jehovah as their God for ever and ever? The honest, unbiased answer must be, Jehovah’s witnesses. Moreover, the enormous amount of literature that these people have distributed and the hundreds of thousands of public lectures that they have given in these latter days give answer to the same effect. Even the enemies are obliged to admit that in such witnesses of Jehovah alone this prophecy of Micah finds its fulfillment today.
4. How has the endeavor been made to remove all basis for the name by which these Christian witnesses are known?
4 For this reason in the last two decades the name of the Most High God has come under a great deal of discussion, and their foes claim that the witnesses do not have the correct name, although this name has been appearing in Bible translations for hundreds of years. Recently an endeavor was made to remove all basis for the name by which these Christian witnesses are known. How? By taking the very name of the Most High God out of the Bible translation. This was the case in the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, published in 1952 and the publication of which was commercially advertised as the “greatest Bible news in 341 years”.
5. What most important decision did the translators of the Revised Standard Version have to make, and especially in view of what previous statement?
5 The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and common Greek originally; and in the Hebrew Scriptures the divine name is written as a Tetragrammaton or four Hebrew consonants, which correspond, in Latin, with JHVH, and in English, with YHWH. For centuries the name has been pronounced “Jehovah”, but within the last century Bible scholars have preferred the pronunciation “Yahweh” as more correct. The translators of the Revised Standard Version, being an American committee and succeeding to the committee that had produced the American Standard Version of 1901, had a most important decision to make regarding their translation, and that was with respect to the name of the Most High God. This was in view of paragraph 8 of the Preface of the American Standard Version, which reads:
I. The change first proposed in the Appendix [of the English Revised Version]—that which substitutes “Jehovah” for “LORD” and “GOD” (printed in small capitals)—is one which will be unwelcome to many, because of the frequency and familiarity of the terms displaced. But the American Revisers, after a careful consideration, were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the Old Testament, as it fortunately does not in the numerous versions made by modern missionaries. This Memorial Name, explained in Ex. iii. 14, 15, and emphasized as such over and over in the original text of the Old Testament, designates God as the personal God, as the covenant God, the God of revelation, the Deliverer the Friend of his people;—not merely the abstractly “Eternal One” of many French translations, but the ever living Helper of those who are in trouble. This personal name, with its wealth of sacred associations, is now restored to the place in the sacred text to which it has an unquestionable claim.
6. What action toward the divine name did the translation committee of the Revised Standard Version take, and for what stated reasons?
6 With the much heralded and widely celebrated release of the Revised Standard Version on September 30, 1952, the translation committee made known its decision to the world: the divine name had been denied its “unquestionable claim” to a place in the sacred text and had been ruled out completely. In paragraph seventeen of the preface of this new 1952 version the committee explains its reason for this decision, and in what it says it makes complete fools out of the American Standard Version committee regarding the divine name. Paragraph seventeen reads:
A major departure from the practice of the American Standard Version is the rendering of the Divine Name, the “Tetragrammaton.” The American Standard Version used the term “Jehovah”; the King James Version had employed this in four places, but everywhere else, except in three cases where it was employed as part of a proper name, used the English word LORD (or in certain cases GOD) printed in capitals. The present revision returns to the procedure of the King James Version, which follows the precedent of the ancient Greek and Latin translators and the long established practice in the reading of the Hebrew scriptures in the synagogue. While it is almost if not quite certain that the Name was originally pronounced “Yahweh,” this pronunciation was not indicated when the Masorétes added vowel signs to the consonantal Hebrew text. . . . For two reasons the Committee has returned to the more familiar usage of the King James Version: (1) the word “Jehovah” does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew; and (2) the use of any proper name for the one and only God, as though there were other gods from whom he had to be distinguished, was discontinued in Judaism before the Christian era and is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church.
7. What question regarding this was put to the Christian conventioners at Yankee Stadium by the speaker?
7 You thousands of conventioners here at Yankee Stadium, who are baptized followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and who therefore represent a considerable portion of what is called “the Christian Church”, does that Revised Standard Version’s Preface speak for YOU? Do you agree that the “use of any proper name for the one and only God, as though there were other gods from whom he had to be distinguished, . . . is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church”?
8. What did the apostle Paul say pertinent to this, and so how would he reply to the above statement?
8 How would the apostle Paul reply to that statement? He said: “Although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Cor. 8:5, 6, RS) The apostle Paul here stated that there are many creatures in heaven and on earth that are called either “gods” or “lords”. So, amid all the rival claims to godship, was it necessary for Paul’s God to be distinguished by a name to make him exclusive as the “one God”? We Christians confess that there is but the one God; yet his being the one God is disputed and denied by others, and there are a billion and a half people today who are worshiping countless other gods and to whom these gods are just as real as the one true God is to Bible Christians. It is therefore most appropriate for the Christian God to be distinguished by a name. Also, in the universe there are many that are called “lords”, although there is only one real Lord for Christians, and hence, too, it is appropriate and necessary for Christians to identify who their Lord is by the name Jesus Christ.
THE BIG POINT OF CRITICISM
9. How has the Revised Standard Version been criticized by some clergymen, and how with regard to its treatment of God’s name?
9 There have been quite a number of criticisms of the Revised Standard Version, some clergymen calling it “this modernist Bible”, “this new Bible of modernism.” But among the many critics of that version how many have shown appreciation for God’s name and have criticized it for barring his name out and hiding it from readers? We have at least one such criticism here as published in the New York newspaper Daily Compass, of October 28, 1952, and it comes from a Jewish editor. Here is part of what he writes on the Revised Standard Version: “The 32 Protestant scholars may have attempted to revise the Scriptures in the ‘clearest, most accurate English of our time,’ but in so doing, they actually obscured the original meanings. Moreover, by rendering some original Hebrew names, such as ‘Jehovah’ into English words that never convey the original meaning (’Jehovah’ is a compound of three tenses ‘I Was, I Am, I Will Be’), the translators have greatly transgressed and committed grievous sin. For by using the word ‘Lord’ for ‘Jehovah’ they only add confusion to the readers who will now not know when [the reference is to] Jehovah, the Creator of all, or to the accepted Christian Son who is so referred to throughout the evangelical works. ‘Lord,’ moreover, has several common meanings.”
10. How did the Catholic Confraternity’s Volume I of its Bible translation treat the name and what comment did it make as to it?
10 Two days before the release of the Revised Standard Version the Roman Catholic Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in America released Volume I of its edition of The Holy Bible, containing its first eight books, from Genesis to Ruth, inclusive. But this new American Catholic version follows the Douay Version, and the Douay Version never did use the name “Jehovah” in its main text. Hence we make no comment in this connection, except to quote from its footnote on Exodus 3:14 as to God’s name represented in the Hebrew text by the Tetragrammaton: “Out of reverence for this name, the term Adonai, ‘my Lord,’ was later used as a substitute. The word LORD in the present version represents this traditional usage. The word ‘Jehovah’ arose from a false reading of this name as it is written in the current Hebrew text.”
11. Has comment been properly expected from Jehovah’s witnesses regarding the Revised Standard Version, and with respect to what?
11 However, some comment as to the Revised Standard Version has properly been expected from Jehovah’s witnesses. Those who have been aware of the omission of the sacred name from that version have watched to see what the witnesses would say about it. They have expected us to get into something of a furore over it. We have here the prediction of the religious magazine The Christian Century of three years ago, June 28, 1950, which says of the Revised Standard Version that was to come: “But Jehovah’s Witnesses have a way of holding their beliefs with passionate conviction. If the new version appears with the name of the Old Testament deity in any other form than ‘Jehovah,’ its translators can look forward to being under hot fire from the day the first copy comes off the press.” Five days after the new version was released, a religious clergyman published an article entitled “Revised, Easier to Read Version of the Bible” in the Chicago Sunday Tribune of October 5, 1952. In paragraph six he said this: “There are more than 300 words, the R.S.V. preface points out, that have entirely different meanings today than in the 17th century. The name Jehovah, for Lord or God, a purely manufactured word which appeared a few times in the King James version, is not used. [Jehovah’s Witnesses are greatly upset by this omission.]”
12. Why are we not upset by the name’s omission, and what do we feel justified in criticizing?
12 Here in the presence of this tremendous international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses in Yankee Stadium, with representatives of 91 lands on hand, we feel it is the proper occasion for us to say something in behalf of Jehovah’s witnesses, and so we do. If we were one of the 29 religious denominations that are members of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, which has “authorized” the Revised Standard Version and holds the copyright for it, we should have valid reason to be upset greatly by the divine name’s omission. But we are glad we are not a member of that National Council. We do not criticize the Council for producing a new and modern version of the Bible. That is a commendable effort and work, and we expect to find it useful, making quotations out of it from time to time in the Watch Tower publications. What we do feel justified in criticizing is the great indignity that the translation committee has rendered to the grandest and most worthy name in the universe and the motives, stated and unstated, that prompted them to do this.
13. Why do we continue using the form “Jehovah”, and what is the basis for our criticism of the Revised Standard Version, to the shame of its Protestant translators?
13 If in the Revised Standard Version they had chosen to use the form of the name “Yahweh” instead of “Jehovah”, there would have been no room for criticism. We ourselves think the form “Yahweh” is nearer the true pronunciation. But as no one today knows the exact pronunciation due to an ancient false reverence in not pronouncing the holy name, we keep on using the form “Jehovah” for present purposes, until the divine Owner of the name himself reveals its correct pronunciation, be that by resurrecting the prophet Moses to whom he himself pronounced the name or otherwise. So the basis for our criticism of the Revised Standard Version is, not the disuse of the form “Jehovah”, but the omission of God’s name in any form whatever at all the 6,823 times where it occurs in the Hebrew text and instead the using of a confusing and undistinctive title, namely, “the LORD.” The procedure would stand to the shame of any translators that pretend to be Christian. Still more it stands to the great depreciation of the translation committee that claims to be Protestant when many modern versions that have recently come out or are still in process of coming out in English and other languages by Roman Catholic translators use the name “Jehovah” or other forms, such as Yahvé, Yahweh, Iahvē, Yahveh, Yavē, and Javé. We could name five such French Roman Catholic translations, two Spanish, and two British.a
14. What did an executive director of the National Council say in defense of the name’s omission?
14 Said an executive director of the copyright-holding National Council of Churches in defense of the omission: “We can never agree on the use of the name of God, so there is no need to discuss it. When I say ‘the Lord’, it automatically means God. It depends on what you wish to stress. God is God. He needs no name for me. I feel very near to Him and call Him my Father. I would never call my earthly father by his name—only those who don’t know him like I do need to do that—to distinguish him from other earthly fathers—there is only one God!”—October 8, 1952.
15. If it was enough for Jesus to address God as “My Father” and “Lord”, what do we ask regarding Jesus’ prayers?
15 In reply to this we say, Jesus Christ was closer to God than this executive director is and he too called God “My Father”. But if it was enough for Jesus Christ and his followers to call God “My Father”, then why did Jesus the Son of God in his sermon on the mount teach us to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name”? Jesus also called his heavenly Father “Lord”, saying, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” (Matt. 6:9; 11:25, RS) But if that was sufficient, why then did Jesus pray with his apostles the last night he was with them as a man and say: “I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; . . . Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in thy name which thou hast given me; . . . I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known”? Why, some days earlier, did he pray: “Father, glorify thy name,” in answer to which there was a voice from heaven, saying: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again”? (John 17:6, 11, 12, 26; 12:28, RS) Why all this?
16. Why did Jesus pray such things, and what does it denote to call our heavenly Father of his personal name?
16 It was because Jesus knew his Father had a distinctive name. As the Prophet Greater than Moses he said he had come in his Father’s name and not in his own name, and he wanted his followers to know the Father’s name. That is why in The Revelation he pictured his genuine, faithful followers as “having his Father’s name written in their foreheads”. (John 5:43; Rev. 14:1) There being only one God does not deny he has a name. Nor does he forbid his sons on earth to call him by his personal name, for to call him by his unique name does not denote undue familiarity and disrespect. Contrariwise, it denotes greater respect, awe and worship, more so than the childlike expression “Our Father” does.
A GOD-HONORING BIBLE VERSION
17. What is the position of children toward their father’s name, and how did James comment when God began bringing uncircumcised Gentiles into the congregation?
17 The afore-referred-to executive director of the National Council appears to be ashamed of the name of his god, the god whom he calls “Father”. If he is not ashamed of it, then why does he not want other people to know the name of his Father? It would be a big convenience to know it, for then when people who worship other gods with personal names wanted to talk about this director’s Father they could definitely mention his name instead of awkwardly saying, “Mr. T————’s God.” True sons of a father are not ashamed of his name. Rather than want to hide it from others who are not sons and who may reproach, abuse and misrepresent it or take it in vain, they are glad to stand up in defense of it and heap honor upon it. They show they are not illegitimate children by being able to give the name of their Father. The true congregation or church of the living God are spiritual sons of his. When God began to take believers out from the uncircumcised Gentiles and make them a part of the Christian congregation, the disciple James saw that the prophecy of Amos 9:11, 12 was fulfilled. So he said to the special conference of apostles and other older disciples in Jerusalem: “Symeon [Peter] has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; . . . that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.’”—Quoting Acts 15:13-18 from the RS.
18, 19. (a) How would that prophecy be meaningless, and yet how has God provided proof of the prophecy’s fulfillment today? (b) How has Jehovah made his people independent as to the basis for their name, and what did the convention speaker release in evidence of this?
18 If God had no name, then it would be meaningless for him to predict that the uncircumcised Gentiles would be called by his name and that he would take them out from the nations to be a “people for his name”, not for the name of Jesus, mind you! The prophecy could not fail. God promised to take out of all nations a people for his own name, and, whether men in or outside of Christendom like it or not, he does unmistakably have a name-people today, Jehovah’s witnesses! The divine name for which they stand and to which they bear witness cannot be wiped out by omitting it from any modern translations of the Bible. If the English-speaking witnesses of Jehovah were dependent upon the 1952 English translations of the Bible for the way they are named to have a Scriptural basis, it would be something to be greatly upset about. But the Almighty God Jehovah has made his people independent of all translators that choose to obscure his name. Not only has he provided a translation that rightly puts his name in the Christian Greek Scriptures but also now he is having a translation made that sets forth his holy name in the Hebrew Scriptures.
19 In evidence of this I am overjoyed to release to this 91-nation assembly the New World Translation of the Octateuch, the first eight books of the Bible, translated directly from the original Hebrew text. This volume sets out in modern English nearly a third of the Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures or the books from Genesis to Ruth, inclusive. To Jehovah God we give our heartfelt thanks through Jesus Christ for providing this much of his Word in present-day English through the New World Bible Translation Committee. We shall expect the rest later.
20, 21. (a) How was it that God was called by the name and how has his being called such been vindicated today? (b) What is his attitude toward his name, and so how would we bring down indignation upon ourselves?
20 The New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures dignifies and honors the worthy name of the Most High God, who gave us his written Word to make himself known to us. What he is called is not what man has made up and called him; it is what he called himself when his prophet Moses asked who he should say had sent him to the sons of Israel enslaved in Egypt. (Ex. 3:13-16, AS) Now, in these “latter days” before the universal war of Armageddon, God has vindicated what he then called himself by now producing a name-people for himself just as he did in the days of the apostles.
21 He has restored this people for his name’s sake, as his prophecy for these latter days declared: “Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Now will I bring back the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for my holy name. . . . And they shall know that I am Jehovah their God.” (Ezek. 39:25-28, AS; Da) The everliving God is jealous in this respect, as Exodus 34:14 (Fenton’s translation) further emphasizes, Jehovah there saying: “You shall not worship another god, for the EVERLIVING iS jealous of HIS NAME; He is a jealous God.” Or, as the New World Translation renders this Ex 34 verse 14: “For you must not bow down to another god, because Jehovah is exclusively devoted to his name. He is a God exacting exclusive devotion.” Since he is jealous of his name or exclusively devoted to it and will tolerate no rivalry by the name of another god among his people, then it would surely bring down upon us divine indignation if we gave prominence to the names of false gods and of notable men and women and at the same time scorned the name of the true God who is jealous for it, exclusively devoted to it.
22. How does the New World Translation render the Tetragrammaton in the Masoretic Hebrew text, and how does it handle the changes that were made by the Sopherim, and with what result?
22 We may, therefore, with safety to ourselves and to God’s pleasure, use this New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. With due respect for the Jealous God, the God exacting exclusive devotion, it renders every occurrence of the sacred Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Octateuch by its acceptable English equivalent, Jehovah. This procedure guarantees the proper rendering of the rest of the 6,823 occurrences of the Tetragrammaton in the best Masoretic Hebrew text of the Bible. But not only that, the New World Translation takes note of the 134 cases where the ancient Hebrew Sopherim or Bible copyists changed the original Hebrew text from the Tetragrammaton or “Jehovah” to read Adonayʹ or “the Lord”, and also some other cases where they changed it to Elohimʹ or “God”. In the Hebrew Octateuch there are seventeen cases of this, and all these have been restored to their original reading “Jehovah”. As a result, when the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures is finally completed in three volumes, by divine favor, it should contain considerably more occurrences of “Jehovah” than the current Hebrew Masoretic text has.—See Genesis 18:3, footnotea
23. For following whose example are we glad to have the New World Translation, and how do we show reverence for the sacred name?
23 Thus we are most happy to have a Bible translation that did not copy the example of the Protestant translation that “returns to the procedure of the King James Version, which follows the precedent of the ancient Greek and Latin translators and the long-established practice in the reading of the Hebrew scriptures in the synagogue”. Thank God that, instead of following the long-established practice of the Jewish synagogue that rejected Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles and other disciples, the New World Bible Translation Committee follows the example of the Chief Vindicator of Jehovah God, his Son Jesus Christ, and thus comes out for the vindication of God’s name. We show reverence for that sacred name, not by superstitiously refusing to pronounce it and using a weak and confusing substitute; no, but by pronouncing and making known the name, never mentioning or taking it in a worthless way, but showing all the wonderful and glorious things that are associated with that name, all the things that have been said, written and done in that name, all the precious promises that have been made in that name and that are being fulfilled in our very day or will be fulfilled in the blessed future, thus magnifying that name and building up men’s respect for it and their faith in it.
24. How does Deuteronomy 10:17 show Jehovah worthy of distinction, and what special rendering by the New World Translation gives it to him?
24 In our new version Deuteronomy 10:17 reads: “For Jehovah your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, mighty and fear-inspiring God.” Thus Jehovah is worthy of distinction, and our new version affords him distinction in a special rendering in numbers of places. At Genesis 1:1, the opening verse of the Bible, we read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” There, as the Bible footnote shows, the Hebrew word for “God” is El·o·himʹ, and it is without the definite article ha meaning “the”. However, there are numerous places in the Hebrew text where El·o·himʹ is preceded by the definite article. In many places the New World Translation has seen it to be proper and effective to translate this definite article ha before El·o·himʹ into English.
25. What does the Bible footnote say on the first two cases of ha-El·o·himʹ, why could it have been rendered even more strongly, and what does it emphasize as fitting for God?
25 The first cases of this are at Genesis 5:22-24 concerning the faithful prophet Enoch, which reads: “And after his producing Methuselah Enoch went on walking with the God three hundred years. Meanwhile he became father to sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch amounted to three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch kept walking with the God. Then he was no more, for God took him.” On the expression “the God” the Bible footnote says: “Here we have the first and second instances where the Hebrew term El·o·himʹ is preceded by the definite article ha. Use of the article here is deliberate, doubtless because of the move toward false worship indicated shortly before this at Genesis 4:26. Hence it is here emphasized that Enoch walked with the true God. So we feel justified in using the definite article ‘the’ here for emphasis and identification.” The New World Translation could have rendered the expression even stronger than the literal rendering “the God”, for the noted Hebrew grammarian Wilhelm Gesénius renders ha-El·o·himʹ by the words “the one true God”. At Deuteronomy 4:35 (NW) Moses says to the Israelites: “You—you have been shown so as to know that Jehovah is the God; there is no other besides him.” This expression “the God” emphasizes that Jehovah is to be distinguished from other gods; hence the fitness of his taking a name to himself.
26, 27. How does the trinitarian argument on the literal meaning of El·o·himʹ recoil against trinitarians, and how do the footnotes on Genesis 1:1 and Judges 16:23, 24 knock the ground from under them?
26 One thing is sure: the religious clergy who believe in the pagan doctrine of a trinity will not like the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. The trinitarian clergy point out that the title El·o·himʹ, as applied to the Creator, is in the plural number and literally means “Gods”. They claim that this is a proof of the teaching of a trinity in the Hebrew Scriptures, namely, that there are “three Persons” in one God. But their own argument recoils against them in disproof, for, as they themselves point out, El·o·himʹ means “Gods”, and not “Persons”. So, to follow through with their own argument, the title El·o·himʹ would teach that there are two or more Gods in one, instead of “three Persons in one God”. Thus the trinitarians would be guilty of arguing that there is a multiplicity of gods, contrary to their insistence that there are not three Gods, but only one God, except that this one God has three Persons in himself. Right at the start the footnote of the New World Translation at Genesis 1:1 knocks the ground from under the trinity champions by saying: “The form of the title El·o·himʹ is plural, the plural of excellence or majesty and not to denote a multiple personality. The Greek LXX [Septuagint] renders El·o·himʹ as ho The·osʹ, showing that it means an individual ‘God’. Compare Judges 16:23, 24, footnotea.”
27 This latter footnote shows that El·o·himʹ does not mean a plurality of gods or persons, because at Judges 16:23, 24, el·o·himʹ is applied to the false god Dagon, just one false god, not many, and hence the title el·o·himʹ must be in the plural of excellence or majesty. Also, el·o·himʹ is followed by a singular verb, showing only one god is meant. In fact, when Micah 4:5 (AS) says, “All the peoples walk every one in the name of his god,” the Hebrew word translated “god” is this el·o·himʹ in the plural of excellence or majesty.
28. How is the New World Translation noteworthy regarding faith?
28 Another noteworthy thing: The New World Translation magnifies faith in God. The apostle Paul, in Hebrews, chapter eleven, states that the faithful witnesses of Jehovah from the first martyr Abel onward distinguished themselves by their faith in God. In the King James Version, however, the word “faith” occurs only twice in its entire “Old Testament” (Deut. 32:20; Hab. 2:4), and only twice in the American Standard Version (Isa. 26:2; Hab. 2:4). But the New World Translation, in the Octateuch, or first eight books of the Bible, makes faith prominent before the reader by using the word seven appropriate times. For example, concerning Abraham, whom Paul calls the “father of all those having faith”, we read, at Genesis 15:6 (NW): “And he put faith in Jehovah, and he proceeded to count it to him as righteousness.” Concerning the Israelites at their passing through the Red Sea dryshod we read, at Exodus 14:31 (NW): “Israel also got to see the great hand that Jehovah put in action against the Egyptians, and the people began to fear Jehovah and to put faith in Jehovah and in Moses his servant.” Judging by the seven occurrences of “faith” in the Octateuch,b we may expect the word to have due place in the rest of the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.
29, 30. How is a precise meaning given to the Hebrew word ‘o·lamʹ, and how is this shown to be appropriate with the types of the Jewish system of things?
29 Another precise rendering is that of the Hebrew word ‘o·lamʹ, which the King James Version renders as “forever”, “perpetual,” “everlasting,” “ever,” “evermore,” “always,” “lasting,” “of old,” etc. The word really means “concealed time”, and so refers to time the limit of which is concealed, indefinite time in the past or in the future, which may, of course, be forever. So it is interesting to see the word at times rendered “to time indefinite”, especially in connection with the temporary, typical things of the ancient Jewish system of things.
30 The apostle Paul says those things were mere shadows of better things to come, hence they were not everlasting or eternal but were temporary. However, the time when they were to end and give place to the realities was not known to man and hence was in the indefinite future. (Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17) The weekly sabbath of the Jews passed away at the terminating of their Law covenant with God on the day of Pentecost A.D. 33, when the holy spirit was poured out and Christ’s disciples entered into God’s great sabbath by faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice. How appropriate, then, the New World Translation’s rendering of Exodus 31:16, 17: “And the sons of Israel must keep the sabbath, so as to carry out the sabbath during their generations. It is a covenant to time indefinite. Between me and the sons of Israel it is a sign to time indefinite, because in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day he rested and proceeded to refresh himself”! How appropriate, too, the rendering of Exodus 40:15 concerning the priesthood of Aaron’s family which was to pass away and be superseded by that of Christ: “So they must act as priests to me, and their anointing must serve continually for them as a priesthood to time indefinite during their generations”!
31. How does the New World Translation treat the Hebrew word Sheolʹ?
31 The New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures promises to put the teachers of eternal torment of the human soul after death into great difficulty. The Hebrew word Sheolʹ, which the Catholic Douay Version translates mainly as “hell” and which the King James Version translates “grave” and “pit” as well as “hell”, occurs seven times in the Octateuch. Each time, however, the New World Translation transliterates the Hebrew word into English and renders it uniformly as “Sheʹol”. For example, in the first occurrence of the word, at Genesis 37:35, the words of Jacob, bereaved of his beloved son Joseph, are translated as saying: “I shall go down mourning to my son into Sheʹol!” An article in the Appendix gives valuable information regarding the Hebrew word Sheolʹ and says: “It is in the earth and is always associated with the dead, and plainly means the common grave of all mankind, or gravedom, or the earthly (not sea) region of the dead; in contrast with the Hebrew word qebʹer, which means an individual grave or burial place. (Genesis 23:4, 6, 9, 20)” This information and this rendering of the Hebrew word will be of much comfort to those who have cruelly been taught that hell is a place of fiendish torment for human souls after death, to the reproach of Jehovah God, who is love.—1 John 4:8, 16; John 3:16.
32. How have modern translators left their readers ignorant as to the real meaning of the soul, for instance, at Genesis 2:7?
32 We know, too, from what the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the Christian Greek Scriptures teach regarding the soul, that eternal torture of human souls after death is an impossibility and a foul defamation of God’s name. Certainly the human soul could not be tormented forever in an invisible world if the human soul is not immortal, but is destructible, mortal. Modern translators confuse their readers and leave them ignorant as to what a soul is, thus leaving them exposed to the pagan doctrines on the soul and to the perils of spiritism. The Hebrew word translated “soul” by all the translators is nephʹesh. God’s Word teaches that man is a nephʹesh, a soul, and does not have a soul breathed into his body as a thing separate and distinct. But how are Bible readers to know that fact when the 1952 Catholic Confraternity translation of the Bible’s first eight books renders Genesis 2:7: “Then the LORD God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being”? The 1952 Revised Standard Version likewise reads: “and man became a living being.” The Hebrew word there rendered “being” is nephʹesh; and the inspired apostle Paul, when quoting Genesis 2:7, writes: “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.”—1 Cor. 15:45, Cath. Confrat.
33. How do modern translators hide the fact that lower animals are souls and that the human soul dies?
33 God’s Word teaches that animals lower than man are souls; but how would Bible readers ever know it when the Revised Standard Version renders Genesis 1:20, 21, 24: “And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, . . . ’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, . . . And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds’”? The Hebrew word there rendered “creature” is nephʹesh, the same word as applied to the first man. When a lower animal dies, a soul or creature dies. So, too, when man dies a human soul dies and ceases to be. But how would Bible readers learn that fact when the Revised Standard Version makes the prophet Balaam say, at Numbers 23:10: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his!” and makes Samson say, at Judges 16:30: “Let me die with the Philistines”? In each case the pronoun “me” is used to translate the Hebrew expression naph·shiʹ, which literally means “my soul”.
34. Why must we let God’s Word talk in its own language about the soul?
34 Thus when a Bible student with his mind already filled with popular pagan theories on the human soul reads such modern Bible versions, he receives no correction of his understanding of this vital subject. The false teaching about the soul is left standing and the Bible versions provide no adequate means for him to refute the pagan falsehoods. Jehovah God, the Creator of the human soul, knows more about it than Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, “Saint” Augustine, or any modern religious clergyman or spiritist ever did. So to learn the truth about the soul we have to let God’s Word talk in its own inspired language. That way a Bible translator does not hide the complete, satisfying solution to the so-called mystery about the soul, and the reader will be enabled to grasp the most scientific teaching there is on this doctrine that affects his proper understanding of other vital Bible teachings, such as immortality, punishment for sin, man’s destiny, the ransom sacrifice, the resurrection, the destiny of Satan the Devil, etc.
35. What did the New World Bible Translation Committee succeed in doing regarding nephʹesh, and how is this shown to be nothing primitive?
35 Here, then, is where a special feature of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures figures in. In its Volume I, containing the Octateuch, or first eight books of the Bible, the translation committee succeeded in understandably translating every one of the 231 occurrences of the Hebrew word nephʹesh as “soul”. Each such rendering of nephʹesh makes good English and good sense even in this twentieth century. The way the first eight books of the Bible describe the soul is not something crude, something primitive that was dropped later on and revised when the pagan Grecian philosophy was developed and came in contact with the Hebrews. Instead, it is something fundamental, stable and unchangeably correct, and is in complete harmony with the teachings of Jesus and his disciples who wrote the Christian Greek Scriptures. This can be demonstrated by comparing the Appendix of the Octateuch on “soul” with that of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures released at this same Yankee Stadium during the International Assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses in 1950.
36. What facts about the soul does the New World Translation Appendix list scriptures to show?
36 For the Octateuch alone the Appendix lists 14 Scripture instances to show that lower animals are souls according to the Bible; 57 instances to show that a living person or individual is a soul and does not have a separable Platonic soul inside him; 49 instances to show that the creature soul is mortal, destructible; 12 instances to show that a corpse or carcass is a “dead soul”; 50 instances to show that one’s life as an intelligent creature or animal is called “soul” and thus the soul is said to be in the blood, because our life is dependent upon that fluid in our blood vessels; and 48 instances where a person speaks of himself or is spoken to or spoken about as a soul. There are also three cases in the Octateuch where God speaks of himself this way, as if he had soul.
37. How is this consistent rendering of the Hebrew word nephʹesh of invaluable service?
37 This consistent rendering of the Hebrew word nephʹesh does not become archaic, clumsy or unintelligible in any Bible verse, but it becomes invaluable in restoring correct Bible speech about the soul and explodes man-made, Devil-inspired philosophy about it. On this score Christendom’s clergy need badly to get away from paganism and back to the Bible; and psychologists, psychoanalysts and psychiatrists could learn solid principles about the soul in the Bible and know how the “soul” should be effectively treated.
KNOWN TO BE CALLED BY THAT NAME
38. Where do we look for a properly authorized version of the Bible, and why?
38 Much more could be said about the special features of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, but enough has already been said to reveal in what way other translations have come short and why searchers for life-giving Bible truth need the New World Translation. The religious clergy of Christendom and of Jewry in general will not approve of this Bible version, but we do not look to them to pronounce this an “authorized version”. Who is it that gives the real authorization to any Bible version? Religious denominations and religious heads and potentates can only authorize Bible versions for use in their respective churches or synagogues; and religious clergymen may be expected to forbid their congregations to read or use the New World Translation or will recommend to them to avoid it. But we do not look for a Bible version authorized by religionists of this world. We look for one authorized by the Bible’s Creator, Jehovah God. He used men who were his witnesses to write the Bible; and he authorizes men who are now his witnesses and who belong to the ‘people taken out of the nations for his name’ to provide us a translation that upholds the honor of his name. (Acts 15:14) It is upon such people for his name that he pours out his holy spirit, and it is to this name-people that his commandment applies to preach “this good news of the kingdom” in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations. This pair of facts constitutes a higher and more valid authorization to produce a modern-language version of his Holy Word than any religious sect, potentate or hierarchy can confer.
39. To correspond with the first century, in what kind of language is the New World Translation published today, and what are our hopes for it respecting Armageddon?
39 Jehovah’s New World society will be very glad to use this New World Translation of the Scriptures and gratefully accept it from him and lovingly thank him for it. After reading it they will be impelled to recommend it to the people. In the days of the apostles the Christian Greek Scriptures were written by the inspired disciples in the international language of the first century, the koiʹne or common Greek. Today the New World Translation is first published in the universal or international language of the twentieth century, English. We trust that this Bible translation will survive the coming war of Armageddon with other good Bible translations in English, besides all useful ones in other languages used by the New World society, for at least the temporary use of the Armageddon survivors of various languages.
40. What is it reasonable to await under God’s kingdom as to a Bible translation, and why?
40 It is reasonable, though, to await under God’s kingdom a uniform translation of all the Holy Scriptures, based on the most authentic manuscripts, in the one universal language that will be created by God and taught to all earth’s inhabitants. Thus all may get the proper rendering of the Scriptures in that one language to convey the exact sense of God’s miraculous Book produced in vindication of his word, which endures forever. Certainly all the living will want for once to have a perfect Bible and understand every word of it. Certainly, too, all those of mankind in general who will be resurrected from the memorial tombs will be quite uninformed about much or all of the Bible and will want to learn what the Bible teaches and what God said in it and how accurately he said it. The Bible should not become a “dead book” at any future time. Forever it will be a testimony to his praise, a memorial of his, an imperishable document for all those of humankind who gain eternal life in the righteous new world.
41. What did Jehovah say at Deuteronomy 28:9, 10 to his covenant people, and concerning whom was this to be true today?
41 Jehovah’s name-people who centuries ago were in a covenant with him under the law of Moses were typical. They prophetically pictured those today whom God has taken out of all nations to be a “people for his name”, the spiritual Israelites. To his ancient people he said by the lips of Moses: “Jehovah will establish you as a holy people to himself, just as he swore to you, because you continue to keep the commandments of Jehovah your God and you have walked in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth will have to see that Jehovah’s name has been called upon you and they will indeed be afraid of you.” (Deut. 28:9, 10, NW) This foreshadows a fact that is to be true of the spiritual Israelites who today are in the new covenant with God through the Mediator Jesus Christ. The natural Israelites having rejected God’s name nineteen centuries ago, these spiritual Israelites have become his name-people.
42. By their course of action what are various peoples proclaiming today, but what did God’s Word foretell regarding a remnant?
42 Now we are in the crucial “latter days” of this world. The time of the judgment of the nations is here when all peoples must seal their destiny by deciding in the name of which god to walk or to order their lives. By their course of action the various peoples are eloquently proclaiming the god in whose name they have decided to walk. Their chosen gods will fail them in the fiery day when true godship will be put to the test and the false gods will prove impotent to help the people and will perish. But Jehovah in his prophetic Word foretold the restoration of the remnant of his name-people to his favor in the latter days and said: “And they shall walk up and down in his name, saith Jehovah.”—Zech. 10:12, AS.
43. What has been the decision of the remnant, and with what effect upon all the peoples of the earth, and why?
43 Exactly so, his name-people of today have made their decision, a choice different from that of the peoples of the world, and they have taken up the words of Micah 4:5 (AS) and say: “We will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever.” They are striving to prove themselves his people indeed by keeping his commandments and walking in his ways and heralding abroad his kingdom of the new world. As a result all the peoples of the earth, even the enemies, have come to see that Jehovah’s name has been called upon them and they are afraid of them. No, not afraid of them because of being so mighty in number, for they are comparatively few and they are not politically popular or commercially wealthy or militarily strong with any carnal weapons of bloodshed; but because of the invincible message that they have drawn from God’s Holy Word and because of the omnipotent power that has manifestly displayed itself from heaven in their behalf.
44. What do those who develop a wise fear do, and what does walking now and always in Jehovah’s name mean for those doing so?
44 Those of the nations who develop a wise fear learn to fear the God by whose name his people are called. They associate themselves with his witnesses and become part of the New World society that is now forming, and they too make the decision to walk in the name of Jehovah as their God forever and ever. And, indeed, in that name they will walk everlastingly, for their God will cover them in the shadow of his hand and bring them through into his new world without end. Walking now and always in the name of Jehovah our God means life forevermore through Jesus Christ our Lord.
a The Foreword of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures says, on page 21, in its footnoteb:
The French translation now being made under the direction of l’École Biblique de Jérusalem uses the form Yahvé. (1948- )
The French translation by A. Crampon uses Yahweh. (1939)
The French translation by Cardinal Lienart uses Yahweh. (1951)
The French translation by Edouard Dhorme (le Père Paul Dhorme des Frères Précheurs) uses Iahve. (1910-1946)
The French translation by the monks of Maredsous uses Yahweh. (1949)
The Spanish translation by Bover-Cantera uses Yahveh. (1947)
The Spanish translation by Nacar-Colunga uses Yave. (1944)
The English Westminster Version of the Sacred Scriptures by C. Lattey, S.J., uses Jehovah. (1934- )