Wednesday, November 24, 2010

John 1:1 - A Number of Trinitaran Translations and Scholars Admit "a god"

Is John 1:1 really a Bible text where "Jesus is definitely called God" as Bowman declares? Or, in other words, do JW's purposely mistranslate and misinterpret this scripture while only certain trinitarians translate them in an honest, unbiased manner? Let's see:

John 1:1 - The NWT translates: "And the Word was a god."

The RSV translates: "And the Word was God." (& most other trinitarian Bibles)

It has been seen here (also see the BOWGOD study) that "a god" may be used as a scripturally accurate title for angels, kings, judges and others who were appointed to represent God.

A number of respected trinitarian scholars have admitted that the literal translation of Jn 1:1c is actually "And the Word was a god":

W. E. Vine - "a god was the Word" - p. 490, An Expository Dictionary of the New Testament.

C. H. Dodd - "The Word was a god" - Technical Papers for the Bible Translator, Jan., 1977.

Murray J. Harris - "the Word was a god" - p. 60, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992.

Robert Young - "and a God (i.e. a Divine Being) was the Word" - Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary.

W. E. Vine, Prof. C. H. Dodd (Director of the New English Bible project), and Murray J. Harris admit that this ("the Word was a god") is the literal translation, but, being trinitarians, they insist that it be interpreted and translated as "and the Word was God." Why? Because of a trinitarian bias only!

Grammar and context actually verify the "a god" rendering (see DEF, HARNER, and PRIMER study papers.)

Despite pressure from other trinitarians to the contrary, even some translations by trinitarians render this verse in such a way as to cast doubt on the traditional translation:

GNB - "and he was the same as God"

NEB "and what God was, the Word was"

Mo - "the Logos [Word] was divine"

DoB - "and the word was a divine being" - John J. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, 1965.

The first two, of course, are still leaning toward a trinitarian interpretation but, nevertheless, show some hesitation toward fully accepting the usual trinitarian translation. The last two by Moffatt ("probably the greatest Biblical scholar of our day") and McKenzie actually imply a non-trinitarian understanding of this particular verse.

You see, "divine" and "divine beings" apply to many persons, including God's angels!

The highly-respected trinitarian New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977 ed. tells us, for example, in a footnote for Gen. 18:2-8 that the angels are "divine beings"!

The trinitarian Nelson's Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament calls an angel a "divine being." - p. 159.

And trinitarian Cairns explains the difference between "divine" and "deity" by admitting that strong anti-trinitarian Arius (who believed Jesus was not God) "believed that Christ was a being, created out of nothing, subordinate to the Father .... To Arius he was divine but not deity [God]." - p. 143, Christianity Through the Centuries, Zondervan,1977.

And Moffatt himself translates the literal word for "gods" at Ps. 8:5 as "divine." Here it refers to the angels! So when he again translates the word which literally means "a god" at Jn 1:1 as "divine," it should be no surprise that it can indicate another person who is a heavenly being, but not God himself!

And the Encyclopedia Britannica said about John 1:1, the Word (Logos), and "divine":

The Logos [the Word] which having been in the beginning, and with God, and "divine," had entered human life and history as the Word 'made flesh'.... But the identification of Jesus with the Logos was not tantamount to recognizing him as "God." Neither the "Word of God" in Hebrew nomenclature nor the Logos in Greek speculation was "God" though it was definitely "divine." - p. 25, Vol. 13, 14th ed.

So, how does Dr. Goodspeed, the trinitarian expert endorsed by Bowman himself, translate John 1:1? :

"And the Word was divine." - An American Translation, 19th impr., 1975.

If even respected trinitarian scholars can render Jn 1:1 "and the Word was divine," the NWT should be able to translate it even more literally as "and the Word was a god."!

For much more about John 1:1, see:
John 1:1

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