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New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is a translation of the Bible based on the Westcott-Hort Greek text and the Biblia Hebraica text of Rudolf Kittel. It is published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York Inc. Jehovah's Witnesses use it as their primary translation and have published numerous defenses of its renderings of various passages.

The original English-language New World Translation was commissioned in the mid twentieth century to provide an accurate Bible in modern English and replace use of the archaic King James Version. Jehovah's Witnesses felt that the King James text had approximately 50,000 variances from either modern English, or the currently available Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. (Source: "Awake!" volume XXXVIII, number 17, Sept. 8, 1957). The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society[?] has never disclosed the names of the people who were on the translating committee, as its members requested to remain anonymous, even after their deaths.

A significant characteristic of the 'New World Translation' is its literalness. To a very great extent, one English word has been selected for each Greek or Hebrew word and effort has been made to adhere to this rendering, context allowing. The result is a translation that may sound unnatural in places, but is at least consistent and has the advantage of being free from archaic expressions.

Since the original New World Translation was published in 1950, it has been retranslated into many other languages. Currently the whole Bible is available in 28 languages, and the New Testament (referred to as the 'Christian Greek Scriptures') in another 13.

Although no other denomination has adopted it as its main translation (and this was almost certainly not the translators' intention in any case), millions of persons of a variety of religious backgrounds have acquired and read the New World Translation. This is evidenced by the total printing of the New World Translation - 106,400,000 copies over the last fifty years. (For comparison, Jehovah's Witnesses and associates number around 15,000,000.)

Some critics charge that the New World Translation is a rewriting of the Bible to conform to Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrines, as it does not support some of the key traditions characteristic of mainstream Christianity, such as belief in hellfire, and the Trinity doctrine.

Other reviewers have expressed appreciation for the translation. Dr Jason deBuhn, Associate Professor and chair, Department of Humanities, Arts, and Religion, Northern Arizona University commented: "[The] ‘New World Translation’ is a high quality, literal translation that avoids traditional glosses in its faithfulness to the Greek. It is, in many ways, superior to the most successful translations in use today."

Benjamin Kedar, Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote: "This kind of work reflects an honest endeavor to achieve an understanding of the text that is as accurate as possible. Giving evidence of a broad command of the original language, it renders the original words into a second language understandably without deviating unnecessarily from the specific structure of the Hebrew....Every statement of language allows for a certain latitude in interpreting or translating. So the linguistic solution in any given case may be open to debate. But I have never discovered in the New World Translation any biased intent to read something into the text that it does not contain."

The Witness publication 'Reasoning from the Scriptures' invites readers to examine manuscript support cited in footnotes of the Reference edition of the New World Translation, read explanations given in the appendix, and compare the rendering with a variety of other translations. The book further points out that they will generally find that some other translators have also seen the need to express the matter in a similar manner.

In 1998, Rolf Furuli, one of Jehovah's Witnesses and lecturer in Semitic Languages at the University of Oslo, published 'The Role of Theology and Bias in Bible Translation: With a special look at the New World Translation of Jehovah's Witnesses', in which he defends the literalness of the NWT. [1] (http://www.elihubooks.com)

A number of Jehovah's Witnesses have entered into online debates or published web sites in defence of the 'New World Translation'. One such site is Jehovah's Witnesses United [2] (http://jehovah.to/exegesis/translation/index.htm).

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