1:1 and the new world translation:
what do the greek scholars really say?
A. T. Robertson: "So in Jo. 1:1 theos en ho logos the meaning has to be the
Logos was God, not God was the Logos." A New Short Grammar of the Greek
Testament, by A. T. Robertson and W. Hersey Davis (Baker Book House, 1977), p.
E. M. Sidebottom: "...the tendency to write 'the Word was divine' for theos en
ho logos springs from a reticence to attribute the full Christian position to
John." The Christ of the Fourth Gospel (S. P. C. K., 1961), p. 461.
E. C. Colwell: "...predicate nouns preceding the verb cannot be regarded as
indefinite or qualitative simply because they lack the article; it could be
regarded as indefinite or qualitative only if this is demanded by the context
and in the case of John 1:1c this is not so." "A Definite Rule for the Use of
the Article in the Greek New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, 52
(1933), p. 20.
C. K. Barrett: "The absence of the article indicates that the Word is God, but
is not the only being of whom this is true; if ho theos had been written it
would have implied that no divine being existed outside the second person of the
Trinity." The Gospel According to St. John (S.P.C.K., 1955), p.76.
C. H. Dodd: "On this analogy, the meaning of theos en ho logos will be that the
ousia of ho logos, that which it truly is, is rightly denominated theos...That
this is the ousia of ho theos (the personal God of Abraham, the Father) goes
without saying. In fact, the Nicene homoousios to patri is a perfect paraphrase.
"New Testament Translation Problems II," The Bible Translator, 28, 1 (Jan.
1977), p. 104.
Randolph O. Yeager: "Only sophomores in Greek grammar are going to translate
'...and the Word was a God.' The article with logos, shows that logos is the
subject of the verb en and the fact that theos is without the article designates
it as the predicate nominative. The emphatic position of theos demands that we
translate '...and the Word was God.' John is not saying as Jehovah's Witnesses
are fond of teaching that Jesus was only one of many Gods. He is saying
precisely the opposite." The Renaissance New Testament, Vol. 4 (Renaissance
Press, 1980), p.4.
James Moffatt: "'The Word was God...And the Word became flesh,' simply means
"The word was divine...And the Word became human.' The Nicene faith, in the
Chalcedon definition, was intended to conserve both of these truths against
theories that failed to present Jesus as truly God and truly man..." Jesus
Christ the Same (Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1945), p.61.
Philip B. Harner: "Perhaps the clause could be translated, 'the Word had the
same nature as God." This would be one way of representing John's thought, which
is, as I understand it, that ho logos, no less than ho theos, had the nature of
theos." "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1,"
Journal of Biblical Literature, 92, 1 (March 1973, p. 87.
Henry Alford: "Theos must then be taken as implying God, in substance and
essence,--not ho theos, 'the Father,' in person. It does not = theios, nor is it
to be rendered a God--but, as in sarx egeneto, sarx expresses that state into
which the Divine Word entered by a definite act, so in theos en, theos expresses
that essence which was His en arche:--that He was very God. So that this first
verse might be connected thus: the Logos was from eternity,--was with God (the
Father),--and was Himself God." Alford's Greek Testament: An Exegetical and
Critical Commentary, Vol. I, Part II (Guardian Press, 1975; originally published
1871), p. 681.
Donald Guthrie: "The absence of the article with Theos has misled some into
thinking that the correct understanding of the statement would be that 'the word
was a God' (or divine), but this is grammatically indefensible since Theos is a
predicate." New Testament Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1981), p. 327.
Bruce Metzger: "It must be stated quite frankly that, if the Jehovah's Witnesses
take this translation seriously, they are polytheists... As a matter of solid
fact, however, such a rendering is a frightful mistranslation." "The Jehovah's
Witnesses and Jesus Christ," Theology Today (April 1953), p. 75.
Julius R. Mantey: "Since Colwell's and Harner's article in JBL, especially that
of Harner, it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 "The
Word was a god." Word-order has made obsolete and incorrect such a rendering...
In view of the preceding facts, especially because you have been quoting me out
of context, I herewith request you not to quote the Manual Grammar of the Greek
New Testament again, which you have been doing for 24 years." Letter from Mantey
to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. "A Grossly Misleading Translation...
John 1:1, which reads 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.' is shockingly mistranslated, "Originally the Word was,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god,' in a New World Translation
of the Christian Greek Scriptures, published under the auspices of Jehovah's
Witnesses." Statement by J. R. Mantey, published in various sources.
B. F. Westcott: "The predicate (God) stands emphatically first, as in v.24. It
is necessarily without the article (theos not ho theos) inasmuch as it describes
the nature of the Word and does not identify His Person... No idea of
inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply
affirms the true deity of the Word." The Gospel According to St. John (Eerdmans,
1958 reprint), p. 3.
Who are these scholars? Many of them are world-renowned Greek scholars whose
works the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves have quoted in their publications,
notably Robertson, Harner, and Mantey, in defense of their "a god" translation
of John 1:1! Westcott is the Greek scholar who with Hort edited the Greek text
of the New Testament used by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Yeager is a professor of
Greek and the star pupil of Julius Mantey. Metzger is the world's leading
scholar on the textual criticism of the Greek New Testament. It is scholars of
this caliber who insist that the words of John 1:1 cannot be taken to mean
anything less than that the Word is the one true Almighty God.
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