Greek Scholars and the Watchtower

I have written on the books written by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, specifically their rendering of John 1:1c, “the word was a god” when all English translations have “the Word was God” or similar. One hundred percent of the Greek scholars who publish grammar texts disagree with the Watchtower.

In a response, one commenter on this blog said the following:

I shared your point with Rolf Furuli, who has exams in Greek and Latin and has taught University courses in Akkadian, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, Phoenician, Syriac, and Ugaritic. He had this to say:

“I think the writer has missed something here. As a scholar who has taught Semitic languages for many years, and who has University exams in Greek and Latin as well, I would say that the translation “a god” in John 1:1c is the most natural one. The reason why “God” is chosen, is theology and not linguistics. Where is the Greek scholar who, on the basis of Greek lexicon, grammar, and syntax, has shown that “a god” in John 1:1c is a WRONG translation? I would think that almost all Greek scholars would agree that on the basis of linguistics “a god” is a perfectly legitimate rendering.

Such a statement is amazing in that it is so incorrect. However, when one becomes familiar with how the Watchtower has misused quotes in the past, it becomes not so surprising.

If you are not interested in the details, now would be the time to skip down to the Conclusion.

In this post I will quote several Greek grammar texts specifically. Before I do, I must repeat the following relevant points to the Greek translation issue:

  • I do not claim any scholarship in languages. I know the rudiments of the language, enough to know how to read the grammar texts and lexicons. Therefore I never make statements of my own authority, but merely quote those who are the scholars. We would have less confusion if everyone did this.
  • To make solid points of language, the scholarly sources are those who have published a Greek grammar book, a Greek lexicon, or Greek text that is used in an accredited school to teach Greek. The reason we can only accept these authors is because anyone can publish a book, use big words, and sound authoritative. Merely publishing a book or teaching in a college somewhere does not make one authoritative. In this particular issue, many people have published comments on each side of the question. One person publishes one thing, another publishes another, and since the average reader does not normally deal in the technical grammar terms, they get confused. So since the Greek grammars, lexicons, and texts are the definition of the language, anyone who disagrees is disagreeing with the language itself and is not on firm ground. (For an example of how a high-level university professor can be factually incorrect, see here)

Here are the quotes from the authors of Greek grammar texts that I own or have found in local libraries:

A New Short Grammar of the Greek Testament, Robertson, A. T., and Davis, W. Hershey (New York: Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1931):

As a rule the article is not used with the predicate noun even if the subject is definite. The article with one and not with the other means that the articular noun is the subject. Thus ό θεός άγάπε έστιν can only mean God is love, not love is God.  So in Jo. 1:1 θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος the meaning has to be the Logos was God, not God was the Logos. If the article occurs with both predicate and subject they are interchangeable as in 1 Jo. 3:4, ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία sin is lawlessness and also lawlessness is sin (a needed lesson for our day). (279)

The Minister and His Greek New Testament, Robertson, A. T. (Grand Rapids: Baker):

A word should be said concerning the use and non-use of the article in John 1:1, where a narrow path is safely followed by the author. “The Word was God.” If both God and Word were articular, they would be coextensive and equally distributed and so interchangeable. But the separate personality of the Logos is affirmed by the construction used and Sabelianism is denied. If God were articular and Logos non-articular, the affirmation would be that God was Logos, but not that the Logos was God. As it is, John asserts that in the Pre-incarnate state the Logos was God, though the father was greater than the Son (John 14:28). (67-68)

The Watchtower insists that if Jesus were to be God Almighty, the text would have to have said, in effect, “the word was the God.” Here, Robertson is saying that if the Greek were to say “the word was the God”, then it would say that the Father and Jesus are one and the same person with no distinction in any way whatsoever, a heresy taught by Sabelius and continued today by Oneness Pentecostals.

 

A Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament, rev. & improved ed., Religious Tract Society (Piccadilly: n.p.):

206. Hence arises the general rule, that in the simple sentence Subject takes the article, the Predicate omits it. . . John i:1: θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, the Word was God.

 

Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics – Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament by Daniel B. Wallace (Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1996):

 If θεός were indefinite, we would translate it “a god” (as is done in the New World Translation [NWT]). If so, the theological implication would be some form of polytheism, perhaps suggesting that the Word was merely a secondary god in a pantheon of deities.

The grammatical argument that the PN here is indefinite is weak. Often, those who argue for such a view (in particular, the translators of the NWT) do so on the sole basis that the term is anarthrous. Yet they are inconsistent, as R. H. Countess pointed out:

“In the New Testament there are 282 occurrences of the anarthrous θεός. At sixteen places NWT has either a god, god, gods, or godly. Sixteen out of 282 means that the translators were faithful to their translation principle only six percent of the time. …”

The first section of John-1:1–18-furnishes a lucid example of NWT arbitrary dogmatism. Θεός occurs eight times-verses 1, 2, 6, 12, 13, 18-and has the article only twice-verses 1, 2. Yet NWT six times translated “God,” once “a god,” and once “the god.”

If we expand the discussion to other anarthrous terms in the Johannine Prologue, we notice other inconsistencies in the NWT: It is interesting that the New World Translation renders θεός as “a god” on the simplistic grounds that it lacks the article. This is surely an insufficient basis. Following the “anarthrous = indefinite” principle would mean that ἀρχῇ should be “a beginning” (1:1, 2), ζωὴ should be “a life” (1:4), παρὰ θεοῦ should be “from a god” (1:6), Ἰωάννης should be “a John” (1:6), θεόν should be “a god” (1:18), etc. Yet none of these other anarthrous nouns is rendered with an indefinite article. One can only suspect strong theological bias in such a translation.

According to Dixon’s study, if θεός were indefinite in John 1:1, it would be the only anarthrous pre-verbal PN in John’s Gospel to be so. Although we have argued that this is somewhat overstated, the general point is valid: The indefinite notion is the most poorly attested for anarthrous pre-verbal predicate nominatives. Thus, grammatically such a meaning is improbable. Also, the context suggests that such is not likely, for the Word already existed in the beginning. Thus, contextually and grammatically, it is highly improbable that the Logos could be “a god” according to John (266-267)

 

A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Dana, H. E., and Mantey, Julius R., (New York: Macmillan):

“The use of the articular and anarthrous construction of θεὸς is highly instructive. A study of the uses of the term is given in Moulton and Geden’s Concordance convinces one that without the article θεὸς signifies divine essence, while with the article divine personality is chiefly in view.” (139-140)

 * * *

“The use of θεὸς in Jn. 1:1 is a good example. πρὸς τὸν θεόν points to Christ’s fellowship with the person of the Father; θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος emphasizes Christ’s participation in the essence of the divine nature. The former clearly applies to personality, while the latter applies to character. This distinction is in line with the general force of the article. (140)

 * * *

(3) With the Subject in a Copulative Sentence. The article sometimes distinguishes the subject from the predicate in a copulative sentence. In Xenophon’s Anabasis, 1:4:6, έμπόριον δ ην τό χωρίον, and the place was a market, we have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1, θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, and the word was deity. The article points out the subject in these examples. Neither was the place the only market, nor was the word all of God, as it would mean if the article were also used with θεὸς. As it stands, the other persons of the Trinity may be implied in θεὸς. In a convertible proposition, where the subject and predicate are regarded as interchangeable, both have the article (cf. 1 Cor. 15:56). If the subject is a proper name, or a personal demonstrative pronoun, it may be anarthrous while the predicate has the article (cf. Jn. 6:51; Ac. 4:11; 1 Jn. 4:15). (148-149)

 * * *

It is instructive to observe that the anarthrous noun occurs in many prepositional phrases. This is no mere accident, for there are no accidents in the growth of a language:  each idiom has its reason. Nor is it because the noun is sufficiently definite without the article, which is true, as Greek nouns have an intrinsic definiteness. But that is not the reason for not using the article. A prepositional phrase usually implies some idea of quality or kind. Ἐν ἀρχῇ in Jn. 1:1 characterizes Christ as preexistent, thus defining the nature of his person. (150)

 

This grammar by Dana and Mantey is especially noteworthy, because the passage abover from their p.148 was cited years ago in a Watchtower publication in support of their “the word was a god” rendering. The commenter on this blog even used the same passage in Mantey’s grammar to try to support the “a god” rendering. Therefore a bit of explanation is in order.

The citation in question is the sentence on p.148 where Dana and Mantey rend a sentence from Xenophon as “the place was a market” calling it “a parallel case.” The Watchtower is wrong for the following reasons.

First, note that the paragraph is talking about “the subject in a copulative sentence.” The subject in the passage in question is the Word, while God is the predicate. So Mantey is making a point about logos, not theos.  Second, saying “the place was market” is not typically meaningful in English, while “the word was God” is a meaningful sentence. Third, the paragraph is making a point about “the other persons of the Trinity is implied in theos” which is in direct disagreement to the Watchtower. Fourth, the rest of the quotes from Mantey’s grammar show that the book disagrees with the Watchtower.

Fifth, Mantey clarified exactly what he meant in his letter to the Watchtower:

Your quotation from p.148 (3) was in a paragraph under the heading: “With the Subject in a Copulative sentence.” Two examples occur there to illustrate that “the article points out the subject in these examples.” But we made no statement in the paragraph about the predicate except that , “as it stands the other persons of the trinity may be implied in theos.” And isn’t that the opposite of what your translation “a god” infers? You quoted me out of context. On pages 139 and 140 (VI) in our grammar we stated: “without the article theos signifies divine essence . . . theos en ho logos emphasizes Christ’s participation in the essence of the divine nature.” Our interpretation is in agreement with that in NEB and the TEV: “What God was, the Word was”; and with that of Barclay: “The nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God. 

For the complete letter, see here. 

Sixth, lest there be any doubt about what Julius Mantey meant about the Greek grammar of John 1:1, he was interviewed by Walter Martin and said this:

MARTIN: In John 1:1, the New World Translation (NWT) says that “the Word was a god,” referring to Jesus Christ. How would you respond to that?

MANTEY: The Jehovah’s Witnesses have forgotten entirely what the order of the sentence indicates – that the “Logos” has the same substance, nature, or essence as the Father. To indicate that Jesus was just “a god,” the JWs would have to use a completely different construction in the Greek.

MARTIN: You once had a little difference of opinion with the Watchtower about this and wrote them a letter. What was their response to your letter?

MANTEY: Well, as a backdrop, I was disturbed because they had misquoted me in support of their translation. I called their attention to the fact that the whole body of the New Testament was against their view. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is glorified and magnified – yet here they were denigrating Him and making Him into a little god of a pagan concept.

MARTIN: What was their response to what you said?

MANTEY: They said I could have my opinion and they would retain theirs. What I wrote didn’t faze them a bit.

MARTIN: I don’t know whether you’re aware of it, but there is not a single Greek scholar in the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I did everything I could to find out the names of the translating committee of the NWT, and the Watchtower wouldn’t tell me a thing. Finally, an ex-JW who knew the committee members personally told me who they were, and the men on that committee could not read New Testament Greek; nor could they read Hebrew; nor did they have any knowledge of systematic theology – except what they had learned from the Watchtower. Only one of them had been to college, and he had dropped out after a year. He briefly studied the biblical languages while there.

MANTEY: He was born in Greece, wasn’t he?

MARTIN: Yes, he read modern Greek, and I met him when I visited the Watchtower. I asked him to read John 1:1 in the Greek and then said, “How would you translate it?” He said: “Well, ‘the word was a god.”‘ I said: “What is the subject of the sentence?” He just looked at me. So I repeated, “What is the subject of the sentence?” He didn’t know. This was the only person in the Watchtower to read Greek and he didn’t know the subject of the sentence in John 1:1. And these were the people who wrote back to you and said their opinion was as good as yours.

MANTEY: That’s right.

 

Therefore it is quite clear what Dana and Mantey’s Grammar meant about definite and indefinite articles in Greek, and it disagrees with the Watchtower.

Walter Martin claimed he met former members of the Watchtower who give him five known members of the Watchtower committee that wrote the New World Translation. They were Nathan H. Knorr, F. W. Franz, George D. Gangas, Milton G. Herschell, and A. D. Schroeder (Jehovah of the Watchtower, Martin and Klann (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1974), 176.

 

English Translations

The following are all the English translations I currently have, excepting loose paraphrase versions.

NET Bible:       “the Word was fully God.”
Darby Bible:    “the Word was God.”
Lexham:          “the Word was God.”
NCV:                “the Word was God.”
KJV:                  “the Word was God.”
NKJV:               “the Word was God.”
ISV:                  “the Word was God”
Douay-Rheims:  “the Word was God.”
Young’s:           “the Word was God.”
TNIV:               “the Word was God.”
NIV (1984):      “the Word was God.”
NIrV:                “the Word was God.”
HCSB:              “the Word was God.”
NRSV:              “the Word was God.”
NASB:              “the Word was God.”
ASV:                 “the Word was God.”
ESV:                 “the Word was God”
NJB:                 “the Word was God.”
WUESTNT:       “the Word was as to His essence absolute deity”
CEV:                 “The Word was with God and was truly God.”

This shows twenty versions, most translated by many language scholars on a committee, which all agree. I have found no English versions outside of Watchtower publications that hold to their rendering of John 1:1. Even if we toss out the few that are not common, the remaining represent the bulk of language scholarship for the modern era.

 

Conclusion

We can solidly make the following conclusions:

  • No Greek grammar supports the Watchtower.
  • The community of language scholars is against the Watchtower. Quote their obscure sources as they may, the scholarship is against them.
  • The Watchtower has quoted no Greek grammar text that supports their view of John 1:1 because there are none.
  • The quote used by the Watchtower from p.148 of Dana and Mantey’s grammar was in a paragraph talking about the subject of John 1:1c, which is the Word. It was not talking about the predicate, God. Mantey clarified his meaning elsewhere in the book and in later published statements.
  • Again, my commenter quoted one professor who made the following statement: “Where is the Greek scholar who, on the basis of Greek lexicon, grammar, and syntax, has shown that “a god” in John 1:1c is a WRONG translation? I would think that almost all Greek scholars would agree that on the basis of linguistics “a god” is a perfectly legitimate rendering.”
  • That anyone in the language community would even ask such a question, or make such a statement, shows a level of bias so strong as to allow us to dismiss their statements. They are clearly and broadly wrong, and have no sources to support their view. All of the Greek grammar texts disagree, every last one.

Since the Watchtower tends to play games with quotations, there is a good summary of statements by various authors that they sometimes quote. You can find it here.

The discerning Bible student will do well to steer clear of Watchtower teachings and publications.

About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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6 Responses to Greek Scholars and the Watchtower

  1. Pingback: Greek Scholars and the Watchtower | A disciple's study

  2. NickHawaii says:

    I am the commenter you are referring to. There are so many misinformed statements ‘Thomistic Bent’ has made and I will address the first one today.

    ‘Thomistic Bent’: “No Greek grammar supports the Watchtower.”

    This comment is not as “solid” as claimed.

    “The Translator’s New Testament” (1973), which was published by the British and Foreign Society to help Bible translators in different countries with their translations, says regarding John 1:1 (p. 451):

    “There is a distinction in the Greek here between ‘with God’ and ‘God.’ In the first instance the article is used and this makes the reference specific. In the second instance there is no article and it is difficult to believe that the omission is not significant. In effect it gives and adjectival quality to the second use of Theos (God) so the phrase means ‘The Word was divine’.”

    The quotes supplied are from scholars who believe in the trinity. For instance, you quoted Daniel Wallace. It is surprising that a grammarian can use the arguments that Wallace does. But evidently, he is more a theologian than grammarian. Wallace never says that the translation “a god” is wrong, but argues against it.

    1) That the rendering “a god” indicate polytheism (henotheism) is nonsensical, because the angels are called “gods.”(Psalm 8:5) Moreover, henotheism means that there is on high god and below him lesser gods, that all are worshipped. Only Jehovah is worshipped and not the angels, so henotheism is excluded.

    2) It is elementary knowledge of Greek students that θεὸς (THEOS/God) with and without the article can refer to the eternal God, just as in Hebrew. The important point in the use or nonuse of the article is the context of the clauses of a verse. As The Translator’s New Testament says, when θεὸς one time in the same verse has the article and another time not, that is significant. The argument of men like Countess and Wallace that the NWT (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures) is inconsistent are invalid.

    3) Because the context must decide definiteness and indefiniteness, there is nothing arbitrary in the NWT in John 1:1-18.

    4) The next argument of Wallace regarding ἀρχῇ is strange. Before ἀρχῇ there is a preposition, and in such cases the following noun may be definite, also when the article is lacking. The word ζωὴ is an abstract noun, where the article normally is not used with such sound—we do not speak of “a love.”

    5) If I remember correctly, Dixon argues that θεὸς in John 1:1 is not indefinite but qualitative. This suggests the translation “the word was divine.” But Wallace does not tell that. The theological conclusion of Wallace is that “a god” is “highly improbable.” But he does not say that it is wrong.

    A number of respected trinitarian scholars have admitted that the literal translation of John 1:1c can indeed be “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.

    They are Trinitarians so they insist that “the Word was God” but they openly and honestly admit that grammatically John 1:1c can be translated “the Word was a god.” Something that ‘Thomistic Bent’ does not do.

    Greek grammar can support the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures translation, “the Word was a god” or as seen in its footnote, “was divine.”

  3. NickHawaii says:

    If there is no grammatical basis for rendering the last clause “and the Word was a god” one wonders why there are a good number of translations that render the last clause “and the Word was a god.”? Some of these were translated by Greek scholars, some of whom were members of Trinitarian churches.

    Furthermore, when one says ‘there are no grammar books’ that support that rendition, it assumes the person making such a statement has surveyed the hundreds of NT grammars that have been written around the world. If that person has not surveyed those hundreds of grammars, he or she has to know that more wind is being blown than solid facts.

    J.W. Wenham writes that grammatically, the translation “a god” cannot be faulted. He sees problems with it on theological, not scholastic grounds:

    “In ancient manuscripts which did not differentiate between capital and small letters, there would be no way of distinguishing between QEOS (‘God’) and QEOS (‘god’). Therefore as far as grammar alone is concerned, such a sentence could be printed: QEOS ESTIN HO LOGOS, which would mean either, ‘The Word is a god’, or ‘The Word is the God’ (The Elements of NT Greek, p. 35).

    C. H. Dodd does not favor “the Word was a god,” but he writes: “If translation were a matter of substituting words, a possible translation of [the Greek of John 1:1c] would be, ‘The Word was a god’. As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted, and to pagan Greeks who heard early Christian language, [this Greek wording] might have seemed a perfectly sensible statement, . . .’ – Dodd, Charles Harold (b.1884-d.1973), British Congregational Pastor and New Testament Professor at Oxford, Manchester and Cambridge.

    “As mentioned in the NOTE on [John 1:1c], the Prologue’s ‘The Word was God’ offers a difficulty because there is no article before QEOS. Does this imply that ‘God’ means less when predicated of the Word than it does when used as a name for the Father? Once again the reader must divest himself of a post-Nicene understanding of the vocabulary involved. There are two considerations” (The Anchor Bible, Vol. 29, John I-XII, Raymond Brown, p. 24).

    I want to make it clear that Brown thinks John 1:1c calls Jesus “God,” but he allows for the possibility that something else might be meant.

    “The rule holds whenever the subject has the article and the predicate [noun] does not. The subject is then definite and distributed, the predicate indefinite and undistributed.” (A.T. Robertson , A GRAMMAR OF THE GREEK OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORICAL RESEARCH, fourth edition, 1934, page 767).

    “The predicate [noun] commonly refers not to an individual or individuals as such, but to the class to which the subject belongs, to the nature or quality predicated of the subject. e.g John 1:1 [kai theos en ho logos], which attributes the divine nature.” (Maximilian Zerwick, S.J. Biblical Greek, Rome, Scriptua Pontificii Instituti Biblici, page 55).

    Here we have Trinitarian scholars holding that the kind of grammar that we find in the last clause of John 1:1 asserts that the subject of the clause belongs to a particular class or holds the nature of a particular class. Interesting to me is that if the argument is submitted that if the Logos is divine he must be the God he is with, then since 2 Peter 1: 4 shows that those humans going to heaven will also have the divine nature, to be consistent, we must argue that they become God as well and the Trinity now become a Polynity.

    If the argument is proposed that since the Logos belongs to the class of “God” so he must be God, then we submit that since the holy angels are also called “gods” [see the Hebrew of Psalm 8;5 or Psalm 136:2] and certain human representatives of Jehovah are called “gods” at Psalm 82:1-8, then they must be included in the “Godhead”, and again we are moved from a Trinity to a Polynity.

  4. NickHawaii says:

    Even though it is true that A.T. Robertson and Dana-Mantey do not agree with the religious beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they have admitted in the past that the article in Greek is not simply a haphazard use of speech.

    While we have to be careful about placing too much emphasis on the absence or presence of the definite article in Greek, I would NOT say that the occurrence of the article in Greek is essentially irrelevant to the meaning of the word THEOS.

    “The vital thing is to see the matter from the Greek point of view and find the reason for the use of the article” (Robertson- A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research; p. 756).

    “It may be observed that in Homer ‘the article marks contrast and not mere definiteness’ ” (Robertson- A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research; p. 755).

    “The articular construction emphasizes identity; the anarthrous construction emphasizes character . . . It is certain that one engaged in exegesis cannot afford to disregard the article. The New Testament justifies the observation of Bultmann that ‘the use of the article has everywhere its positive reason’ ” (Dana/Mantey- A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament; p. 140).

    “Surely when Robertson says that QEOS, as to the article, ‘is treated like a proper name and may have it or not have it’ (R. 761), he does not mean to intimate that the presence or absence of the article with QEOS has no special significance. We construe him to mean that there is no definite rule governing the use of the article with QEOS, so that sometimes the writer’s viewpoint is difficult to detect, which is entirely true” (Dana/Mantey p. 140).

    Koine Greek Professor Jason BeDuhn had this to say: “This brings us back to John 1:1. Harner points out that if John had wanted to say “The Word was God,” he could have written ho logos sn ho theos. But he didn’t. If he wanted to say “The Word was a god,” he could have written ho logos en theos. But he didn’t. Instead John took the anarthrous predicate noun and placed it before the verb, which to Harner suggests that John was not interested in definiteness or indefiniteness, but in character and quality.”

    A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Dana, H. E., and Mantey, Julius R., tells us: “The use of the articular and anarthrous construction of θεὸς is highly instructive. A study of the uses of the term is given in Moulton and Geden’s Concordance convinces one that without the article θεὸς signifies divine essence, while with the article divine personality is chiefly in view.” (139-140)

    “The use of θεὸς in Jn. 1:1 is a good example. πρὸς τὸν θεόν points to Christ’s fellowship with the person of the Father; θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος emphasizes Christ’s participation in the essence of the divine nature. The former clearly applies to personality, while the latter applies to character. This distinction is in line with the general force of the article. (140)

    Here is the actual quote the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society referred to:

    “(3) With the Subject in a Copulative Sentence. The article sometimes distinguishes the subject from the predicate in a copulative sentence. In Xenephon’s Anabisis 1:4 :6. emporium h=n to xwriovn,, and the place was a market. We have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1, kai. qeo.j h=n o` lo,goj, and the word was deity. Neither was the place the only market, nor was the word all of God, as it would mean if the article were also used with theos. As it stands the other persons of the Trinity may be implied in theos.”

    As to grammar, Mantey sees the reality, but as to theology he can’t admit it. To a Trinitarian, Jesus is also not just a part of God (“Nor was the word all of God”).

    Then he really shows the theological bias by saying it “may be implied”. That is NOT grammar.

    Note what ‘the Watchtower’ ACTUALLY says in the NWT Reference Bible on page 1579, 6A Jesus—A Godlike One; Divine:

    “These translations use such words as “a god,” “divine” or “godlike” because the Greek word θεός (the·os′) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article. This is an anarthrous the·os′. The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally is designated here by the Greek expression ὁ θεός, that is, the·os′ preceded by the definite article ho. This is an articular the·os′. Careful translators recognize that the articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone. Therefore, John’s statement that the Word or Logos was “a god” or “divine” or “godlike” does not mean that he was the God with whom he was. It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God himself.”

    Did you catch that?

    “Careful translators recognize that the articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone.”

    Greek Scholars agree:

    “There is no basis for regarding the predicate theos as definite…In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate [noun] is so prominent that the noun cannot be regarded as definite.” (Philip Harner, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92:1, pp. 85, 7).

    “There is a distinction in the Greek here between ‘with God’ and ‘God’. In the first instance the article is used and this makes the reference specific. In the second instance there in no article and it is difficult to believe that the omission is not significant. In effect it gives an adjectival quality to the second use of Theos so the phrase means ‘The Word was divine’.” (The Translator’s New Testament, p. 451).

    The late Dr. William Temple in His Readings in St. John’s Gospel page 4 says, “‘The term “God” is fully substantival [shows identity, who, or what, ‘the God’, the Father, is] in the first clause pros ton then [“with the God”, both “the” (ton) and “God” (Theon) being spelled accusative case endings] it is predicative and not far from being adjectival in the second – kai theos en ho logos [“and (a) god was the Word”]” (R.H. Strachan, The Forth Gospel (3rd edition).

    “The rule holds wherever the subject has the article and the predicate does not. The subject is then definite and distributed, the predicate indefinite and undistributed. (A.T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, fourth edition, p. 767).

    “This principle may best be precisely summarized in the form of a definition. A qualitative noun is a noun (in Greek always anarthrous) whose function in the sentence is not primarily or solely to designate by assignment to a class but to describe by the attribution of quality, i.e., of the quality or qualities that are the marks of the class designated by the noun. The effect is to ascribe to that which is modified the characteristics or qualities of a class and not merely to ascribe to it membership in that class. It is connotive rather than the denotive sense that emerges. In the sentence “Frederick is a prince” the word “prince” is either designative, marking Frederick as a member of a class, a son of a monarch, or qualitative, describing Frederick as the possessor of the superior character presumed to distinguish the son of a king” (Arthur W. Slaten (Qualitative Nouns in the Pauline Epistles and Their Translation in the Revised Version; p. 5-7).

    They agree that it is not identifying the Word AS God, rather having the qualities of God, being like God.

  5. humblesmith says:

    I have given you ample space to give your lengthy views here on my blog. In it, I see some things that have been answered many times already. I would also say the following:

    –you seem to have said several times that even though, by your own admission, the scholars do not agree with the Watchtower, their writings somehow support the Watchtower. As the post specifically points out, they disagree.

    –To suggest that those who write the grammar books do not know grammar is unacceptable for the reasons given in the post.

    –Most of the quotes you give have already either been dealt with by the post or the full context of the writers are given at the link I gave in the post, which is here: http://www.forananswer.org/Top_JW/Scholars%20and%20NWT.htm
    As is the usual pattern, most of the quotes given by the Watchtower are misleading and not what the authors say in the full context.

    –I see only a few statements that I will like to look up. But I really do not have much confidence that they will turn out to be accurate. Watchtower publications and its representatives have a habit of misquoting authors. As evidence, compare this post, and see the full context of the W. E. Vine quote you gave, and the ones published in the booklet “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” which is explained elsewhere on this blog.

    –the comments make several points about qualitative aspects of nouns, Jesus having a divine nature, and references to gods elsewhere in the Bible, such as Psalm 82. These comments are incorrect, and have been answered specifically elsewhere in this blog. The reader can search for the posts so they will not be repeated here.

    Anyone who takes the time to merely read the authors will see that the statements in this post holds true. As a personal note to anyone in the Watchtower, I would merely suggest that you should read the New Testament and these author’s books for yourself, without the lense of the Watchtower, and without copying and pasting quotes they gave you. You should at least read for yourself what they are actually saying.

    Again, I have given you ample room to give lengthy statements. No repetion please.

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