Thursday, September 17, 2009

NWT - Jn 17:3 - "Taking in Knowledge"

Jn 17:3 - "Taking in Knowledge"

I have had more than one acquaintance tell me about the NWT "mistranslation" of John 17:3. They object strongly to the translation of ginosko as "taking in knowledge." They don't like the idea that it is a continuing process of gaining knowledge of God. They tell me that it is improper and dishonest to translate ginosko in this manner, and that, instead, ginosko means to be in an "intimate relationship" with someone.

We need to understand that there are two NT Greek words that are translated "know," "knowledge," and "knowing": ginosko and oida. Whether there is any real difference between the meanings of them is debatable.

For what it's worth here is what one trinitarian NT Greek authority has to say about these two words:

"I. GINOSKO signifies to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand" - p. 627.

"The same idea of appreciation [which implies behaving or living in accord with that knowledge - RDB] as well as knowledge underlies several statements concerning the knowledge of God and His truth on the part of believers, e.g. John...17:3".

And, "The differences between ginosko [Jn 17:3] and oida [2 Thess. 1:8] demand consideration: (a) ginosko frequently suggests inception or progress in knowledge, while oida suggests fulness of knowledge, e.g., John 8:55, `Ye have not known him' (ginosko), i.e., begun to know [take in knowledge - RDB], `but I know Him' (oida), i.e. `know him perfectly.' [John] 13:7, `what I do thou knowest not now,' i.e. Peter did not yet [fully, completely] perceive (oida) its significance, `but thou shalt understand,' i.e., `get to know [learn gradually, progressively - RDB] (ginosko), hereafter'". - p. 628, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The NWT is perfectly in harmony with this trinitarian NT Greek expert's views of ginosko. Whether there really is a difference between the intended meaning of ginosko and oida, however, is a matter of interpretation. The verses cited above by Vine could just as easily be evidence showing that the two words can be used interchangeably. And furthering that understanding would be a comparison of John 17:3 (ginosko) with 2 Thess. 1:8 (oida), Jeremiah 10:25 Greek Septuagint (oida), and 1 John 5:20 ("the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know [ginosko] him who is true" - NIV).

Yes, if you actually examine all the uses of oida and ginosko, it appears that there was often very little, if any, distinction between the two words. Heb. 8:11 and Gal. 4:8, 9, and John 14:7 all use both ginosko and oida. Can you tell which is which without looking at an interlinear or concordance - simply from context? Also 1 John 2:3 uses ginosko twice - compare the two usages!

Other scriptures where ginosko does not have to mean "intimate personal relationship" - Jn 7:17; Jn 8:31, 32; Jn 8:52; Jn 10:38; Jn 13:12; Jn 13:35; Jn 15:18; Jn 17:23; Jn 19:4; 1 Jn 2:18; 1 Jn 2:29; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 3:3.

Not only is the NWT not dishonestly translating ginosko at John 17:3, but it is possibly the only translation that renders it in accord with the respected trinitarian NT Greek expert, W. E. Vine's, definition: "Ginosko signifies to be TAKING IN KNOWLEDGE"! - (Updated information in March 1, 1992, WT, p. 23.)

Also see:

John 17:3 (Bible Translation and Study; 2nd Scriptural listing on page)