Questions From Readers
■ Why, in recent years, has The Watchtower not made use of the translation by the former Catholic priest, Johannes Greber?
This translation was used occasionally in support of renderings of Matthew 27:52, 53 and John 1:1, as given in the New World Translation and other authoritative Bible versions. But as indicated in a foreword to the 1980 edition of The New Testament by Johannes Greber, this translator relied on “God’s Spirit World” to clarify for him how he should translate difficult passages. It is stated: “His wife, a medium of God’s Spiritworld was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber.” The Watchtower has deemed it improper to make use of a translation that has such a close rapport with spiritism. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) The scholarship that forms the basis for the rendering of the above-cited texts in the New World Translation is sound and for this reason does not depend at all on Greber’s translation for authority. Nothing is lost, therefore, by ceasing to use his New Testament.
■ What does Hebrews 1:7 mean when it says that God “makes his angels spirits, and his public servants a flame of fire”?
Since all angels are spirit creatures without fleshly bodies, it seems that when the verses say that God “makes his angels spirits” they are not referring to the type of organism that angels have. Rather, the understanding involves the underlying meaning of “spirit.” The original words rendered “spirit” (Hebrew, ruahh; Greek, pneuma) have the basic meaning of “to breathe or blow.” Depending on the context, they can be rendered “wind” or “active force.” Hence, the point of Hebrews 1:7 and Psalm 104:4 evidently is that God makes his invisible angels to be spirit forces or powerful forces in his service. He also can use them as “a flame of fire,” or, “a devouring fire,” when employing them to carry out his fiery judgments.