Zondervan, the respected trinitarian publishing, company prints a book which examines most twentieth century English versions of the Bible: So Many Versions? (SMV), by trinitarian Bible scholars Dr. S. Kubo and Dr. W. Albrecht. They have published this book since 1975. I purchased my copy new in 1991 from a "Christian" book store. So, for over 15 years this popular trinitarian publishing company has been printing the following criticisms of the NWT. We will examine them in the order they appear in my copy of this book (1983 revised edition.).
"Jehovah" in the New Testament
It is readily admitted by the Watchtower Society that, except as part of proper names and the "Hallelujah's" at Rev. 19, the still-existing NT manuscripts do not use the name "Jehovah" where one would expect to find it. Knowledge of this apparent discrepancy and support for the inclusion of God's Name at certain places in the NT portion of the NWT are found in many places in Watchtower literature over the last 40 years. All Jehovah's Witnesses should be familiar with this information and willing to share it with others.
SMV, however, insists (p. 98) that
"There is absolutely no basis for the translation of the Greek original [in the NT] by the word `Jehovah.'" But not only do the NWT translators give a good basis for using the Divine Name here, they also give many examples of Bible translators (even trinitarian translators like famed Lutheran scholar Delitzsch and the highly-respected United Bible Societies) who also use the Divine Name at these places in their translations of the New Testament into other languages.
SMV adds that,
"The NWT translators arbitrarily decide when the word `Lord' in the Greek should be rendered `Jehovah' and when it should be left as `Lord'."
It has been clearly and repeatedly explained by the NWT translators and commentators that when "Lord" is found in the NT Greek in an obvious quote from (or commonly used expression in) the OT we must see if the OT manuscripts actually used "Lord" or "Jehovah" there and translate accordingly. This is squarely in line with the trinitarian New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology which also tells us that there are:
"… numerous quotations from the OT [found in present-day NT manuscripts] in which kyrios [`Lord'] stands for Yahweh [Jehovah]" - Vol. 2, p. 513, Zondervan, 1986.
The examples SMV gives of this "arbitrariness," of course, are verses where the "Lord/Jehovah" confusion is used by some trinitarians to "prove" that Jesus is Jehovah. These include 1 Cor. 12:3 and 2 Cor. 4:5 and Acts 19:20. But even the two NT translations I have in my possession by the noted Lutheran scholar Delitzsch and the United Bible Societies (UBS) use "Lord" ("Adon") instead of Jehovah at 1 Cor. 12:3 and 2 Cor. 4:5 exactly as the NWT does! And Delitzsch also uses the Divine Name (YHWH or "Jehovah") at Acts 19:20 exactly as the NWT does! (Both Delitzsch and the UBS also use "YHWH" ["Jehovah"] at John 6:45 exactly as the NWT does, in spite of SMV's criticism on p. 101.) Apparently SMV believes these respected, scholarly trinitarian works are "arbitrary" in this respect also! (See NWT-B study paper)
We even find the King James Version (KJV); the New King James Version (NKJV); the Modern King James Version (MKJV); and the Modern Language Bible (MLB), which actually substitute "LORD" (ALL CAPITALS) for "Jehovah" in the Old Testament, also sometimes use "LORD" (meaning "Jehovah") in the New Testament as well: Acts 2:34 (KJV; MKJV; & NKJV, most printings); Matthew 22:44 (MLB; NKJV; MKJV; and KJV); 2 Cor. 5:8 (MLB); 2 Cor. 6:18 (NKJV); etc. !
Walter Martin has also selected this subject as one of five "outstanding examples of fraud and deceit from the New World Translation." - p. 72, KOTC. On pp. 74-75 of that book Martin tells us that there is ONLY ONE manuscript of the ancient Greek Septuagint Bible to substantiate the Watchtower claim that this ancient Bible translation originally used the name "Jehovah" for hundreds of years until sometime around the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. when all copies of the Septuagint began replacing this personal name of God with the title "Lord." If this happened, as all evidence shows, with this ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, it isn't surprising that it would also happen to the copies of the New Testament Greek manuscripts at this same time.
Martin claims that only one copy of the Septuagint uses "Jehovah" and hundreds of others do not, therefore the Witnesses are frauds, cheats, liars, etc. to claim this as evidence. The truth is, however, that all the many manuscripts that Martin refers to are 4th century A.D. and newer. And all the manuscripts found that are older than 300 A.D. actually use the proper name of God, "Jehovah," NOT "Lord"!! The highly-praised trinitarian reference work The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology confirms this - Vol. 2, p. 512, Zondervan, copyright 1976 and 1986. This information and data about 6 different Septuagint manuscripts older than 300 A.D., all of which use the personal name of God, was available to Martin long before this 1985 revised edition of his KOTC was published.
For more information on this important subject, see pp. 23-27 in The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever brochure, 1984; pp. 1133-1138 in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, 1985 ed.; and pp. 1562-1566 in the Appendix of the Large-print Reference edition of the NWT, 1984 ed. (Also see the NWT-B study paper.)
But even without considering the Septuagint there is further strong evidence showing the original use of the divine name in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The ancient Jewish religious work, the Babylonian Talmud, when speaking of rules governing conduct during the Sabbath, discusses whether one may properly save a Bible manuscript from a fire on the Sabbath. Then the following passage apparently discusses whether the writings of the first Christians should also be saved. "Said Rabbi Tarfon: May I bury my sons! If (these books) would come into my hand, I would burn them along with their TETRAGRAMATA [actual uses of God's Divine Name: `Jehovah' or `Yahweh']." - see November 1, 1993 Watchtower, pp. 30,31. This seems to confirm that the first Christian writings did use the name "Jehovah"!
What is most significant here is something scarcely even referred to by SMV and most "orthodox" trinitarian Bible scholars: The only personal Name of God, "Jehovah" in customary English form (or "Yahweh" in probable ancient Hebrew form), has been removed in "orthodox" translations from all (or nearly all) the 7000 places it actually occurs in the original manuscripts of the Old Testament! Indeed, this has been done in every instance in SMV's highest-rated Bible translations (RSV, NIV, NASB) where "Jehovah" ("Yahweh") has been removed and "LORD" added in its place to follow the usual KJV tradition! - Compare Ps. 83:18 in KJV with NIV, RSV, or NASB, for example.
Reasons for such God-dishonoring "pollution" of his only personal name (Ezek. 39:7, KJV) include: manufactured trinity "evidence" ("special pleading"?); desire for popularity; literary "beauty;" economic considerations; and the traditions of men. One of the few respected "orthodox" scholars honest enough to admit this was Dr. Palmer.
Yes, the late Edwin H. Palmer, Executive Secretary of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation; Coordinator of all translation work on the NIV; and General Editor of The NIV Study Bible by Zondervan (see "Tribute to Edwin H. Palmer", p. v., The NIV Study Bible, 1985), wrote the following reply to an inquiry about why the NIV did not use God's personal name (Jehovah) as found nearly 7000 times in all the ancient Bible manuscripts of the Old Testament:
"Here is why we did not: You are right that Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. But we put 2 1/4 million dollars into this translation and a sure way of throwing that down the drain is to translate, for example, Psalm 23 as, `Yahweh [or Jehovah] is my shepherd.' Immediately, we would have translated for nothing. Nobody would have used it. Oh, maybe you and a handful [of] others. But a Christian has to be also wise and practical. We are the victims of 350 years of the King James tradition. It is far better to get two million to read it - that is how many have bought it to date - and to follow the King James [`LORD'] , than to have two thousand buy it and have the CORRECT translation of Yahweh - RDB].... It was a hard decision, and many of our translators agree with you." - Quoted in 15 July 1979 The Watchtower. (My emphasis added).
Notice how two of the most-respected, "orthodox," trinitarian Bible study publications address this extremely important issue:
"Of primary significance is the name of Yahweh [or Jehovah] which he himself made known in his revelation (Gen. 17:1; Exod. 3:14 [and 3:15]; 6:2...). One of the most fundamental and essential features of the biblical revelation is the fact that God is not without a name: he has a personal name [Jehovah or Yahweh], by which he can, and is to be, invoked." - p. 649, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, Zondervan, 1986.
And the New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House Publ., 1984, after telling us on p. 812 that God changed his previously `external' relationship with mankind by revealing his PERSONAL NAME to his people and thereby established with them "the highly personal relationship to a God who has given his people the liberty to call him by name [Yahweh or Jehovah]," further states:
"The name of God is described as his `holy name' more often than all other adjectival qualifications [titles, descriptions, etc.] taken together. It was this sense of the sacredness of the name that finally led to the obtuse [stupid] refusal to use `Yahweh', leading as it has done to a deeploss of the sense of the divine name in [English-language Bibles]." - p. 813, section d.
Also, the trinitarian Today's Dictionary of the Bible (Bethany House, 1982) says:
"Jeho'vah, the special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord [or God]) by which God revealed himself .... The Hebrew name `Jehovah' is generally translated [in most English Bibles] by the word `LORD' printed in small capitals to distinguish it from the [honest] rendering of the Hebrew Adonai and the Greek Kurios, which are also rendered `Lord,' but in the usual type." - p. 330.
Even trinitarian translator and scholar Jay P. Green writes in the Preface of his The Interlinear Bible:
"The only personal name of God that belongs to Him alone was rendered Jehovah or, in its shortened form, Jah. We preferred the transliteration JHWH (thus Jehovah over YHWH (or Yahweh because this is established English usage for Bible names beginning with this letter (e.g., Jacob and Joseph). - p. v, Baker Book House, 1982.))
(Remember how even the KJV itself – and others - admits, in effect, that "Jehovah" should be used in the New Testament: most editions of the KJV use "LORD" - which is recognized by all knowledgeable Bible scholars as the "code" for "Jehovah" in the KJV and most other versions - at Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34.)
So, rather than "have the correct translation of Yahweh [or Jehovah]," as Dr. Palmer admits, nearly all Bible translations have incorrectly translated this extremely important Name of God as "LORD"! And SMV happily endorses them!
"How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal [`Lord']?" - Jer. 23:26-27, RSV. "Our fathers have inherited nought but lies, .... they shall know that my name is the LORD." - Jer. 16:19,21, RSV.
"God said further to Moses, You tell the Israelites: JEHOVAH ... has sent me to you. This is My name forever and by this I am to be remembered through all generations." - Ex. 3:15, MLB (Cf. NEB, LB, ASV, KJIIV).
"Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, [O Jehovah - ASV] .... That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth." - Ps. 83:16, 18, KJV, LB.
"HALLELUJAH [`Praise JEHOVAH']! O servants of Jehovah, praise his name.
Blessed is his name forever and forever." - Ps. 113:1, 2 - Living Bible.
"And now, O priests, this command (is) to you. If you will not hear, and if you will not set on (your) heart to give glory to My name, says Jehovah of hosts, then I will send the curse on you, .... and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Jehovah, and those esteeming His name." - Malachi 2:2; 3:16, KJIIV, 1982.
"And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah . And my holy name will I make known in the midst of my people Israel; neither will I suffer my holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah." - Ezekiel 39:6, 7, American Standard Version.
Also see Deut. 6:4; Ps. 79:5, 6; Is. 45:5-7; Jer. 33:2 in the Living Bible (LB). For more information on the importance of this only personal name of God and the incredibly tragic rejection of that name by most Bible translations and "Christian" churches and organizations today see The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever brochure printed by the Watchtower Society, 1984.
For much more, see:
"Jehovah" in The New Testament (SFBT)
"Jehovah" 50 or 237 places in the New Testament? (Examining Countess' list) (Defending the NWT)
On the Form of the Divine Name "Jehovah" (INDNWT)
Should God's name “Jehovah" appear in the New Testament? (SFBT)
YHWH in the New Testament (Jehovah's Witnesses United)