Re: Temple and New world translation of holy scriptures?

From: dan-ake mattsson (
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 04:10:57 EST

>To: Solomon Landers,
><< I would not call it "speculative" reconstruction. ... We do not have
>the original of Matthew's gospel, in either Hebrew (as some early church
>writers mentioned) or Greek. Any Hebrew version would be expected to
>contain the tetragrammaton. In view of the practice of certain
>pre-Christian copiers of the LXX of including the tetragrammaton in Hebrew
>amidst the Greek, I do not consider such a reconstruction to be
>"speculative." It is a restoration clearly plausible in light of the
>original text in quotation. >>
>Even if one accepted such an analysis as weighty, a textual critical would
>consider such a suggestion as at best a "conjectural emendation." And that
>is by definition "speculative"! Furthermore, I would note that there is
>one scholarly edition of the Greek New Testament which takes such a
>conjectural emendation seriously. Indeed, it is not taken serious enough
>even appear in any scholarly Greek New Testament's textual apparatus.
>And given this fact, and it is a fact (!), it is absolutely clear that
>the New World Translation translates KURIOS or QEOS in the NT as
>it is not faithfully translating any scholarly Greek text of the New
>Testament. That too is a fact. You might consider such facts to be
>irrelevant or moot, but that does not make them any less true.
>-Steven Craig Miller


Your words above contain several true observations, yet they are somewhat
tricky and can mislead the unaware reader. To apply the principles you are
stressing to the writing of theses at a university, you say in effect that
no person should write a thesis with conclusions that are different from
the standard view. Regardless of new discoveries and strong evidence, a
deviation from the standard view is tantamount to "conjectural emendation"
and are "speculative". this is not good science!

Let me illustrate the case: How would you translate KURIOS in the scholarly
Greek texts of the LXX? I am not aware of any such text " which
takes such a conjectural emendation /as YHWH/ seriously", yet all the
evidence shows that the divine name occurred in the LXX down to the second
century CE. Good translators do not only use "scholarly texts" but try to
come as close as possible to the autographs.

The NWT used Westcott and Hort's Greek text. When the translators have
followed other readings they bound themselves to show that in a footnote.
Based on a thorough philological study they concluded that there were
strong evidence suggesting that a form of the divine name originally was
present in the NT autographs and that KURIOS was a later addition. One may
disagree with this conclusion, but it is difficult to claim that the
conclusion is not the result of a scholarly evaluation of the data. The
form "Jehovah" is found 237 times in the NT, and there are rich
explanations in the footnotes and in an Appendix, giving the reason for the
choice of form. It is misleading for two reasons when you say that the
inclusion of "Jehovah" "is not faithfully translating any scholarly Greek
text of the New Testament": (1) Most, if not all translations will at least
in a few instances use nother readings than their main text has, and (2)
any scholarly text is just a reconstruction of the original text that
translators strive to find.

Let me use another illustration. I agree it is important for a translator
to be faithful toward his or her Vorlage. But as you know, translation is
much more than mechanically to move words from one language to another. Let
me point to a problem that face all translators, and where the translators'
decision is not a matter of what the text says or does not say, but rather
is a matter of their understanding of the theology of the text.

The words PNEUMA hAGION occur about 50 times in the NT without the article
and about 40 times with the article. Since there is no capital letters in
the Greek text, the translators have to make two "theological" decisions,
either to use capital letters (the Holy Spirit) in all instances, only in
the instances with the article, or to use small letters in all cases.
they have to decide whether to use the English article in all cases or just
in the cases where the article occurs.

How will their choices affect the readers? Capital letters and article in
all cases would suggest to the reader that the reference allways is to God
the Holy Spirit. Capital letters only in those instances where the article
occurs would suggest that something less then God the Holy Spirit was meant
in the cases where "holy spirit" was used. And small letters in all
instances (as "the holy spirit", and "holy spirit") would suggest that
something other than God the Holy Spirit was referred to. This example can
illustrate that whether or not to use a rendering of the Hebrew YHWH in
the NT is not only a matter of text, but a philological and theological
matter as well. So the real question is whether there is philological
support for incorporating the divine name in the NT, and sorry to say, many
students of the Greek text are not updated regarding this question. I will
mention three philological points below:

(1) There is evidence that KURIOS in the NT represents at least two
different Hebrew or Aramaic words*.

Let us look at Luke 1:46 where we find the clause MEGALUNEI hH YUCH MOU TON
KURION. There can be little doubt that the one refered to is God. But what
did Mary say when Luke used the words TON KURION? There are two
possibilities (1) she could have used the Hebrew 'ADONAY or Aramaic MARI
(which would correspond
to KURIOS) or (2) she could have pronounced YHWH**.
Let us turn to John 21:7 where we find the clause hO KURIOS ESTIN. When
Peter spoke these words, what did he say? The reference her is Jesus, so
Peter could hardly say "It is YHWH". But could he have said "It is
'ADONAY?" Hardly! If 'ADONAY was a substitute for YHWH, such an expression
would be equivalent to "It is YHWH.", and even if 'ADONAY was not a
substitution for YHWH, Peter would have said "It is YHWH", bacause 'ADONAY
was exclusively used as a title for God.
This means that the original words translated as hO KURIOS in Luke 1:46
must have been different from the words translated so in John 21:7. This
alone casts some doubt about the correctness of the occurrences of KURIOS
in the NT.

(2) The rendering KURIOS in the NT cannot be traced back to a Hebrew or
Aramaic antecedent that was used as a substitute for YHWH.

There are no proofs that the man in the street did not pronounce YHWH in
the days of Jesus, although some groups in Palestine evidently did not. A
most important matter to legitimate the word KURIOS in the NT and the
English rendering "The Lord", is to show that a Hebrew or Aramaic word with
this meaning was used as a substitute for YHWH. But such evidence is
lacking (J Fitzmyer has tried to find such evidence, with little success.
See "Paul and the Dead Sea Scrolls" in "The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty
Years", 1999, P.W. Flint and J. C. Vanderkam.). At Qumran they used 'EL
("God") as a substitute. This also gives us some uneasiness as to the place
and role of KURIOS in the NT.

(3) There is evidence that the way the divine designations in the NT were
changed between 75 and 125 CE.

In all the fragments of LXX-manuscripts down to the second century CE, the
divine name occur in some form. However, in LXX manuscripts from the second
century onward we find nomina sacra (the abbreviations QS and KS for QEOS
and KURIOS respectively). We therefore have proof that the divine
designations were changed. In NT manuscripts from the second century onward
we also find the same abbreviations QS and KS. This is, as in the case of
the LXX, evidence that the divine designations were changed in the NT as
well because nobody would suggest that the autographs contained those
abbreviations. What then was they changed from? We cannot know for sure,
but in the case of the LXX, the divine name was the original and KS the
substitute. Because of this, and because we know that both the Hebrew and
Greek Scriptures used by Jesus and his disciples contained the divine name,
it is not unlikely that the original gospels also contained the divine
name. In any case should the question be asked: Why should not Jesus and
his followers use the divine name? All the old arguments against this have
gradually vanished. Are there any new ones?

As a conclusion I will say that to translate all instances of KURIOS in
the NT by "the Lord" cases much confusion as to who is refered to, and this
is a more pressing question than those related to PNEUMA hAGION. One can
disagree with the NWT's choice of "Jehovah", but to say that such a choice
violates good translation principles or is not faithful to the Greek text
is quite tendentious.

Dan Mattsson

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