Series of Letters to Pierre Oddon:
December 17, 1997
Diffusion de l'Evangile 70, rue de la Gardiette 13013 Marseille France
I am in possession of your book entitled LES SAINTES ECRITURES TRADUCTION DU MONDE NOUVEAU - UNE FALSIFICATION. Though raised in the Baptist tradition with a distinct dislike for Jehovah's Witnesses, I am now one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Needless to say, that is the reason for this correspondence. Since I am a teacher of Hebrew at a local community college and since I have some training in Koine Greek, I felt that it put me in position academically to make some comments about your criticisms of the New World Translation. I should mention that an Italian Witness friend of mine alerted me to your publication. I trust that you will find the time to carry on an exchange centering on the issues that you have raised in your book. A number of Witness academics are currently engaged in similar exchanges with individuals similar to you; many of the areas of controversy are the same. With your permission, let us do the same.
I should mention that I do not expect that you will ever receive a reply to your inquiries from our regional or national offices because the central responsibility of our community is to comply with the command of Christ Jesus at Matthew 24:14 which clearly obliges it to preach and teach the 'good news of the Kingdom of God by Christ', not busy itself with the myriad attacks from opponents around the world. Whether you accept that or not is no concern of mine. Your job will be to deal with me.
I have no objection to you involving other persons sympathetic
to your position. I will require that the Bible be the final judge of the issues
raised. You will not find me harsh or narrow minded, but you will find me open
to consider your views and logical. You will see that I am not impressed by
credentials - I have them too - but I am impressed by evidence.
The foregoing comments were crafted only to give you a sense of Hal Flemings, one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and King; I have accepted his Father as the Benefactor who sent his Son into the world to die for my sins and yours. No works nor deeds can save me only Jesus' blood which he poured out for you and I. It is in that spirit that I am engaging in the dialogue that follows.
My second letter should be on your desk shortly.
December 25, 1997
Diffusion de 1'Evangile
70, rue de la Gardiette
13013 Marseille France
I shall begin my response to your brochure on the New World Translation by commenting on your short chapter entitled "Edition anglaise."
You represented that Witnesses think, "Que cette traduction ait ete acceptee d l'unanimite, cela ressort du fait que 3 662 400 exemplaires d'edition revise en un seul volume ont ete imprimes depuis sa date de parution en juin 1961 jusqu'en 1963." You are mistaken in this statement. Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that the New World Translation has been unanimously accepted. Indeed, most individuals familiar with the history of Bible translations and versions are aware that rarely is ANY Bible translation or version unanimously accepted. There is invariably some scholar or researcher who finds fault with all.
Next, you quote Professor Towley: "Its font profession d'offrir une traduction en anglais moderne qui est aussi fiddle que possible. En fait, le jargon qu'ils utilisent est a peine anglais et rien ne rappelle autant les debuts laborieux d'un ecolier pour traduire le latin en anglais. La traduction est marquee par un litteralisme rude qui ne fera qu'exasperer tout lecteur intelligent - si celle-ci en trouve - et au lieu du respect pour la Bible que les traducteurs professent elle est une insulte a la parole de Dieu." The problem with this criticism is that there are other scholars who disagree. Let me introduce a few:
The translation of the New Testament is evidence of the presence in the movement of scholars qualified to deal intelligently with the many problems of Biblical translation." - Robert M. McCoy, The Andover Newton Quarterly, "Jehovah's Witnesses and their New Testament", January 1963, Vol. 3, Number 3, p.31
Just when the infidel universities of this land thought they had laughed out of court the very Name Jehovah up ... surges ... Jehovah's Witnesses ...And with considerable scholarship they get out their own New Testament and lo and behold, they put 'Jehovah' into the New Testament two or three hundred times... It ought to be there many times." --William Carey Taylor [Baptist scholar], The New Bible - Pro and Con [a critique of the Revised Standard Version], 1955, p.75
In 1950 the Jehovah's Witnesses published their New World Translation of the New Testament, and the preparation of the New World translation was made by a committee ...that possessed an unusual competence in Greek."--S. MacLean Gilmore, The Andover Newton Quarterly, September 1966, Vol.7, Number 1, pp25,26
More comments like these are available, if you wish to see them. I should make clear that these individuals making favorable comments about the New World Translation are not Jehovah's Witnesses. As a Hebrew language instructor, I can voice my appreciation for the New World Translation in English; it mirrors the Hebrew text quite well. However, since I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses, that probably will not register well with you. May I suggest that if you consider yourself a Christian that you indicate in a revision to your brochure that there are nonWitness scholars who feel that the translators of the New World Translation were competent and produced a fine work. That would be the Christian thing to do. I challenge you to do the works of a Christian on this matter.
Continuing, you quoted Anthony Hoekema who wrote:
La T.M.N n'est pas une traduction objective de la Bible en anglaise moderne,
mais une traduction falsifiee dans laquelle beaucoup des enseignments de la
Societe Watch Tower ont ete frauduleusement introduits." Though they are not her
specified, I am familiar with Hoekema's particular criticisms and I feel that
they are unwarranted and unscholarly. If you would like for me to discuss them
individually with you, I am willing and able.
Finally, we have Henry Heydt's comments: "Nous la considerons comme un gros echec de ce que devrait etre une traduction et un travestissment volontaire de la sainte parole de Dieu." Again, all we have here is an accusation. Yes, we know how Heydt feels but this alone tells us nothing of substance. I am interested in particulars, as you will see.
There was little in this section to analyze since it simply quoted individuals who did not like the New World Translation without supplying details.
My next letter will move to your chapter entitled "Edition francaise".
December 31, 1997
Diffusion de 1'Evangile
70, rue de la Gardiette
13013 Marseille France
This is my third letter to you centered on comments of yours found in your brochure entitled LES SAINTES ECRITURES TRADUCTION DU MONDE NOUVEAU - UNE FALSIFICATION. In this letter I will be examining your chapter with the heading "Edition frangaise".
You quoted Dr. J.M. Nicole who apparently commented: "Sa caracteristique essentielle est de presenter une TRADUCTION ALTEREE de certains passages bibliques, surtout de ceux qui affirment la divinite du Christ, de facon a les adapter a la theologie russelliste." This assertion is misleading. Jehovah's Witnesses DO affirm the divinity of Christ but also affirm that he is not Jehovah. Note these quotes from the New World Translation in French that establish that we have translated texts correctly that relate to his divinity:
Isaie 9:6 "Car un enfant nous est ne, un fils nous a ate donna; et la domination princiere sera sur son epaule. Et on l'appellera du nom de Conseiller merveilleux, Dieu fort. Pere eternel, Prince de paix."
Jean 1:18 "Aucun homme n'a jamais vu Dieu; le dieu unique-engendre qui est dans le sein du Pere c'est lu qui l'a explique."
Jean 1:1 "Au commencement la Parole etait, et la Parole etait avec Dieu, et la
Parole etait un
Nicole has not been completely fair in his assessment as the above quotes clearly demonstrate. Now, if he had certain other texts in mind, then that should have been balanced against the testimony shown above in order to be just. It also demonstrates that you, Pierre, had not done your homework before you composed this brochure.
Next, you quoted Loie Serge who said, "En utilisant la T.M.N., nous constaterons que le sens de certains passages est ATTENUE ou DEFORME...la T.M.N. n'est PAS FIDELE aux textes originaux." Here, again, we have the opinion of some person who does not feel that the New World Translation was faithful to the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. But, the problem remains: there are other non-Witness scholars who feel just the opposite. Let me present you with one more testimony. Recently, Dr. Jason BeDuhn, a scholar who teaches for the Religious Studies Department of Indiana University in the United States, said the following about THE KINGDOM INTERLINEAR TRANSLATION OF THE GREEK SCRIPTURES which is the New World Translation next to an interlinear translation: "I have just completed teaching a course for the Religious Studies Department of Indiana University, Bloomington,...This is primarily a course in the Gospels. Your help came in the form of copies of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures which my students used as one of the textbooks for the class. These small volumes were invaluable to the course and very popular with my students... Simply put, it is the best interlinear New Testament available. I am a trained scholar of the Bible, familiar with the texts and tools in use in modern biblical studies, and, by the way, not a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. But I know a quality publication when I see one, and your 'New World Bible Translation Committee' has done its job well. Your interlinear English rendering is accurate and consistent to an extreme that forces the reader to come to terms with the linguistic, cultural, and conceptual gaps between the Greek speaking world and our own. Your 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." The question now before you is: Will you now behave as a Christian and publish both sides? Or, will-you let the biased position stand unchallenged in your publication?'
Next, you quoted F. Gonin: "Aucune traduction biblique n'est aussi TENDANCIEUSE...elle inflechit les expressions de la Parole de Dieu dans le sens des doctrines de la Societe, sans le moindre scrupule pour le texte." Once more you are quoting mere accusations. If you wanted your readers to learn something here, all you have conveyed is someone's judgment absent anything to examine. So far, this is a waste of my time but we shall continue. Shall I hand you one more testimony to the contrary? In his book THE FAITH MEN LIVE BY, published by Ace Books, 1954, Charles Francis Potter on page 239 made this statement about the New World Translation: "the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures...the anonymous translators have certainly rendered the best manuscript texts...with scholarly ability and acumen."
The remaining quotes in the chapter entitled Edition francaise simply repeat the same charges without supporting data. In the next letter, we will move to your next chapter.
January 25, 1998
Diffusion de l'Evangile
70, rue de la Gardiette
13013 Marseille France
Merci pour votre lettre de janvier 7, 1998. Ce n'etait pas possible lire votre lettre parce que votre ecriture est difficile a lire. Si vous avez une probleme avec l'anglais, je peut essayer a communiquer avec vous en la francais.
Je suis familier avec l'affirmation que les temoins de Jehovah sont faux prophetes. Ce n'est pas difficile a demontrer que cette affirmation est sans fondement--si la Bible est l'autorite. J'espere a discuter cette affirmation avec vous bientot.
S'il vous plait, je veux une reponse.
Un temoin de Jehovah,