Sunday, November 28, 2010

1 Peter 3:15 (Refuting Countess' Accusations Against the NWT)

The following is a reply to a major accusation made by Robert H. Countess in his book defaming the Bible translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses: "The Jehovah's Witnesses' New Testament - A Critical Analysis of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures [NWT]," Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1982 (2nd ed. 1987).

Countess attacks the NWT's usage of "Jehovah" in many places in the New Testament (NT). But more important to him is the NWT's "dishonest" non-usage of "Jehovah" in certain places in the NT! His three primary targets (1 Pet. 2:3 [pp. 34-35]; 1 Pet. 3:15a [pp. 36-37]; and Zech. 12:10/John 19:37 [pp. 37-38]) were chosen by him simply because the NWT translates these three scriptures in a way that denies some standard trinitarian "proofs" that Jesus is Jehovah. As he admits on p. 33, this is "The Real Issue: The Identification of Jesus with Jehovah"!

1 Peter 3:15

"But in your hearts sanctify [hagiasate] Christ as Lord." - 1 Pet. 3:15a, NRSV.

"Sanctify [hagiasate] ye the Lord [Jehovah] himself" - Is. 8:13, Septuagint.

Mr. Countess' attack continues with a similar charge made about 1 Peter 3:15a in the NWT. He claims the NWT translators are being dishonest by not replacing "Lord" with "Jehovah" at this verse since it is another place where "the Apostle Peter quotes the Old Testament .... (Isa. 8:13)" and it would show that Jesus is Jehovah.

The answer to Mr. Countess' charge is basically the same as that for 1 Pet. 2:3 above. Many, if not most, of trinitarian scholars and translators themselves do not consider 1 Pet. 3:15a to be a quote from the OT !

The NT text of the United Bible Societies (3rd ed.) does not indicate a quote from the OT here (as it does at 1 Pet. 2:6, 7, 8, 9, and 22, for example). And many trinitarian Bible translators and editors also do not believe this to be a quote from the OT: NKJV; RSV; NRSV; NAB (1991); NAB (1970); REB; NASB; NIV; MLB. (A few of them, however, consider a portion of 1 Pet. 3:14 to be a quote from the OT: NKJV; NAB (1970); NASB; NIV.) Only JB; NJB; Moffatt; and Beck consider 1 Pet 3:15a to be a quote from the OT.

Of the only two Hebrew New Testaments that I have, the trinitarian United Bible Societies' 1983 edition uses "Jehovah" (Yhwh) twice in 1 Pet. 3:12 which shows the translators' belief that it is a quotation by Peter from the OT. But at 1 Peter 3:15 it does not use "Jehovah" but instead uses "Lord" (adon)!

The other Hebrew New Testament in my possession, the Trinitarian Bible Society's 1981 edition of Lutheran Delitzsch's Hebrew New Testament, does use "Jehovah" at 1 Pet. 3:15, which may indicate a quote from the OT. However, what it says is: "Sanctify Jehovah God [not `Christ'] in your heart."

The reason for this translation by trinitarian Delitzsch is the NT Greek text he used. He used the Received Text, the very same one that the KJV (and KJIIV and NKJV and Young's Literal Translation) is based on. This text was made by using the majority of existing NT Greek manuscripts without weighing the value of the very oldest manuscripts. As a result it does not use "Christ" at 1 Pet. 3:15a at all, but says "sanctify the Lord God in your heart." (Also note how these modern trinitarian Bibles based on modern trinitarian-developed texts render 1 Pet. 3:15 - "concentrate on being completely devoted to Christ in your hearts" - Phillips; "have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and make him your Lord" - TEV [3rd ed., 1971]; "trust yourself to Christ your Lord" - Living Bible.)

Yes, even the KJV itself does not say what Countess wants it to say! If the NWT had used the same Greek text that the KJV did, it could have said "Sanctify Jehovah God in your hearts" (since the phrase "Lord God" in the Septuagint usually means "Jehovah God" as found in the Hebrew OT)! But since it used a more accurate text (based on the oldest NT manuscripts still in existence), it properly says: "Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts."

But in either case there is no evidence here for Jesus being called "Jehovah"! Many trinitarian scholars indicate that it is not a quote from the OT, and some even use a Greek NT text which does not use "Christ" here in the first place!

So when you have a better look at the facts, how can any honest person insist that the NWT is being dishonest here? If the majority of trinitarian Bible translators do not consider 1 Pet. 3:15a to be a quote from the OT, why in the world should the NWT translators be called dishonest for doing exactly the same thing?

[Incidentally, it is incredibly strange that this "critical analysis" which "was successfully defended for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in New Testament Text" in 1966, carefully reviewed and published in 1982, carefully reviewed again and printed as a second edition in 1987, has so many glaring errors. In this section (1 Peter 3:15a, p. 36), for example, Countess has stated that the NWT footnote for 1 Pet. 3:15 lists 7 "medieval" Hebrew translations for one of several alternate translations.

But medieval times (or the Middle Ages) extended from the fall of the Roman Empire to "about the year 1550" (Americana) or up to "the close of the 15th century [1500 A.D.]" (Universal Standard Encyclopedia). Some authorities choose 1400 A.D. as the approximate date for the end of the medieval period (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary), but I don't believe any historian extends the Middle Ages up into the 1600's! And yet here are the dates of the "Medieval Hebrew translations" that Countess (and apparently all the many scholarly reviewers, including the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.) has downgraded: 1599; 1661; 1831; 1838; 1846; 1866; and 1877! Undoubtedly the word "medieval" was chosen by Countess because it generally connotes an older, less scholarly, more ignorant era. But to keep using such an obviously erroneous label through many revisions over 21 years strictly for propaganda reasons is unacceptable! We should also note that the respected United Bible Societies published its Hebrew New Testament in 1982 and also uses "adonai" ("lord") rather than YHWH at 1 Peter 3:15!

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