Watchtower’s Alleged Scriptural Distortions on the NT Restoration of the Holy Name

While we do not support the New World Translation any more than any other translation, we do believe they did a better job of restoring the name than most other translations or versions that have attempted to do so. Overall, we believe that the New World Translators were too conservative in restoring the name, for, in examining many scriptures that contain the Greek words often transliterated as theos, dunamis, and some other words, it appears that they did not give any indication that any of these words could have originally been the holy name. (Please note that we are not saying that the holy name should be used in every instance where forms of kurios, theos, or any other word appears, but only in those instances where, by comparison with the context as well as by comparison to Old Testament references, such would be indicated.)

We are here addressing a reproduction of Walter Martin’s claimed Watchtower Scriptural Distortions as presented on a blogsite. Byfocusing on the JWs’ usage of the alleged earlier fragments of the Septuagint, and the works of Aquila and Origen, the more obvious evidence of the scriptures is ignored. It is a self-evident fact that in the NT manuscripts — as we have them — the holy name has been changed to forms of kurios and theos, as well as probably also to a few other words, as for instance, forms of the word dunamis. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has never authorized anyone to change the eternal holy name (Exodus 3:14,15; Psalm 135:13; Hosea 12:5; Micah 4:5), and the prophecy was that Jesus was to come in, in the authority of, that holy name. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) If he did not come in that name, then we should, in accordance with the command of Yahweh, denounce Jesus as being an imposter. While we do not fully agree with the New World Translation, we do believe that the translators of that version did a better job than most others who have sought to restore the holy name in the NT.

For more information, see:
The Holy Name in the New Testament

The statement is made: “It can be shown from literally thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament that not once does the tetragrammaton appear, not even in Matthew, which was possibly written in Hebrew or Aramaic originally, therefore making it more prone than all the rest to have traces of the divine name in it—yet it does not!” This is misleading since it disregards the fact that it is self-evident that the holy name — the divine name — has been changed in those copies of the New Testament, which is a self-evident fact. If the holy name has not been changed, then the holy name — probably in some Greek form — would be found in those manuscripts of the New Testament. And yet the Bible does not reveal, or record any authority being given to anyone to change that eternal holy name, and by the fact that the Bible does testify that the name is eternal, we have reason to believe that Jesus and the NT writers would not have joined with the disobedient Jews in disobedience by changing the holy name. If Jesus and the NT writers did indeed change the holy name to forms of Kurios, Theos, Dunamis and Megalosune, then they were in disobedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and logically, we should disregard their entire testimony.  The statement at the beginning of this paragraph is also misleading since all that these thousands of copies prove is that the holy name is changed to other words in those thousands of copies, which is self-evident; none of those ‘copies’ are the original, nor are they even from the first century, thus, these thousands of copies do not necessarily mean that the original autographs of the New Testament also changed the holy name to other words. Nevertheless, the DuTillet Hebrew manuscript, as well as some other Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew do provide evidence that Matthew did originally use the holy name.

The idea is presented that the JWs have arrogantly claimed to have restored the holy name as “Jehovah.” It is stated: “Since only the Hebrew consonants appear without vowels, pronunciation is at best uncertain, and dogmatically to settle on Jehovah is straining at the bounds of good linguistics.” This is, of course, directed toward the JWs; we agree with this statement, but also point out that this is true of each and every Hebrew word and name, including the Hebrew form of the Savior’s name. What the argument does is, evidently based on human assumption, that the Holy Name, unless it actually written in English with the sound of the original Hebrew, then it is not the Holy Name. However, we have never read anywhere in the JW literature where they, either dogmatically or otherwise, claim that Jehovah is the original Hebrew pronunciation of the holy name. As best we can determine, that pronunciation is presented in the JW literature as the most common English pronunciation, not the original Hebrew pronunciation. Jehovah is an English linguistic form of the Holy Name, and thus is, in English, the Holy Name, just as much as “Jesus”, in English, is the name of God’s Son. The idea that because the English pronunciation is thought to be different than the original Hebrew pronunication, that it is not God’s name, is of man’s assumptions, not something that we find in the Bible.

Nevertheless, since it is self-evident that the name has been changed in the New Testament manuscripts as we have them, and since the scriptures do not authorize anyone to change the holy name, and since the Bible declares God’s holy name to be eternal (Exodus 3:15), and since we are to prophesied to walk forever in that name (Micah 4:5; Acts 9:31; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 4:1), no one needs any authority to restore that which no one had any authority to change in the first place.

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2 comments to Watchtower’s Alleged Scriptural Distortions on the NT Restoration of the Holy Name

  • Mariana

    As regards your nest to last paragraph:

    “…this is true of each and every Hebrew word and name, including the Hebrew form of the Savior’s name”

    Actually, no where in the bible did Jesus indicate that his own name was to be revered. In is indeed a fact that he diverted all honor to his Father. Only Yahweh himself indicated the sacredness of his name and demanded that it be preserved and that it be honored. Therefore, I don’t see the importance of preserving the pronunciation of other names throughout the bible. There is no mandate from the creator that translations should maintain the integrity of names and that different languages and tongues would not morph those names into syllables more easily pronounced by their native language.

    Yahweh made reference to his name thousands of times throughout the bible. Many of those times, in changing the actual tetragrameton to a title name, such as “lord,” it changes the whole import of the scripture and what the scripture is trying to convey as to His holiness and superiority over all creation. Clearly, translations have skewed the preserving of the actual name and the importance of using it, honoring it, and addressing our Father in the way he finds acceptable and respectable.

    I do agree that there is nothing wrong with addressing him with the various titles in certain instances, but I believe we are missing the boat in thinking there is no reason to address him by his personal name. Even Yahweh himself spoke of there being many Gods and many lords…indicating that these names, while reverent are not denoting the most holy form of reverence and ONLY his name, preserved in the original texts more than any other name, gives him the honor and glory that are reserved for the ONE TRUE GOD.

  • Christine L

    Jesus may have deferred all honor to God the Father, but God in turn stated very clearly several times that Jesus’ name will be honored above every other name – Heb 1:4,6; 2:8; Phil 2:9-11 among others.

    As far as the article is concerned, the author states: “This is misleading since it disregards the fact that it is self-evident that the holy name — the divine name — has been changed in those copies of the New Testament, which is a self-evident fact.” From where do you get this knowledge or fact? Because no other Greek scholar can find the information that you apparently are privy to.