This mention generated a number of comments from at least three defenders of the NWT. I have enjoyed the interaction with them, and have found them generally courteous and gracious. In that regard, our discussion has been much better than some I've had with evangelicals with whom I have had differences of opinion.
While I'm at it, I might also mention that I find among Jehovah's Witnesses some very bright folks and some thoughtful writings. Two issues of their AWAKE! magazine come particularly to mind, one (September 2007) whose lead article was "Is God Responsible for Natural Disasters?" and another (from a few months earlier) on creation. Each of these articles was quite well-written and the difficult issues in question were addressed with intelligence, insight, and scriptural integrity that far surpassed much of the evangelical writing I have seen on these same subjects.
Nonetheless, I and the Jehovah's Witnesses will always have significant disagreements, areas in which clear reasoning seems impotent in moving them from the beliefs they have been taught by the Watchtower Society. The central such issue is, of course, the question of Christ's deity or divinity. And it is on this very issue that their NWT can be seen to be biased.
So when I say that the NWT is recognized as biased by Greek experts from across the theological spectrum, I am not suggesting that the entire translation is flawed or even that its anonymous editors made more mistakes (wrong choices) in translation than did the editors of other English versions. Rather, what I am claiming is that it is easily seen that its editors systematically mistranslated many of the passages that in the Greek most clearly proclaim Jesus' deity.
It might be worthwhile to note here that the JW denial of Jesus' divinity does not come from, but precedes the NWT. For years, they promulgated that denial from door to door even when carrying the King James Version as their Bible. But far too many folks were conversant enough with the Bible to point out any number of passages that (in the KJV or other modern English version) explicitly claim divinity for Jesus. So the NWT, produced first in 1951, translated many (though not all) of such passages in ways that changed, hid, or softened the very high Christology of the Greek. This, of course, is why the charge of biased translation has always stuck like glue to the NWT. (I'll share some of those passages in an upcoming post.)
But here we find ourselves at an impasse. Christians--those who accept the deity of Christ and acknowledge the Trinitarian view of God found throughout the New Testament--ridicule the NWT as biased. Jehovah's Witnesses, for their part, claim that the bias is the other way around--that the editors of all the other English versions (and the critics of the NWT) have had a Trinitarian and Christological bias that prevents them from seeing what the Scriptures actually say about God and Christ. As one of those commenting on a previous post wrote,
As for the scholars who condemn the NWT, they are almost, if not entirely, Trinitarian in their own outlook, presupposition, and bias, and the verses they find fault with are mostly the ones that bear on the Trinity. So, how really objective are such scholars?But this argument misses the very specific point of my original claim and ignores a good deal of available evidence. So my original point again was this...
There is one very good reason that we can be confident that almost all modern English translations are unbiased and that the NWT of the JWs is, in fact, biased. And that is because objective Greek scholars from across the theological spectrum--including especially those who have no particular stake or interest in the theological debates about Jesus' divinty--recognize in the NWT (and in no other modern English version) a sytematic misrendering of the Greek into English in the passages most clearly addressing the identity of Jesus.