Bible Translation and Study 

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation and the Deception of "MacGregor Ministries"

 

Colossians 2:9

Colossians 2:9 reads in the New World Translation: 

because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily

Concerning this verse, MacGregor asks in what can only be termed a rant:

"divine quality"?? Where is that found in the Greek! Nowhere! It is a Watchtower invention. In the KIT, under the Greek text, in the purple edition (1969) , the word is translated "godship" (Wescott & Hort's correct translation) but in the navy blue edition (1985) the same Greek word becomes "divinity". How dare they take the liberty of altering Greek meanings from edition to edition, when they have no Greek Scholars?   

First of all, as we've already pointed out, we do have Greek scholars.  The existence and quality of the New World Translation are ample testimony to that.

Now, about the expressions "divinity," "godship," "divine quality".  Is there a major differencetheotes between them?  All of them basically refer to the state or quality of being either God or a god, as is demonstrated on this page

In fact, "godship" is not the 'correct translation' of Westcott & Hort, as though no other translation were correct.  Many respected Greek lexicons have words like godship, divinity, and deity to define the Greek θεότης, theotes.  The word 'divinity' is defined in authoritative English dictionaries such as Webster's as 'the quality of being divine' - which is just another way of saying 'divine quality'.  Thus, the NWT translators have not 'taken the liberty of altering Greek meanings', as MacGregor accuses.  In fact, it is MacGregor Ministries that have taken the liberty of falsely bearing witness against the NWT committee without any proof.

A further discussion of Colossians 2:9 can be found on the page The "Fullness of the Divine Quality" in Colossians 2:9

 

Revelation 5:10 - over the earth (επι της γης, epi tes ges)

Revelation 5:10 in the New World Translation reads:

and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”

MacGregor comments:

In the Greek text we find this group reigning UPON the earth, but by the time the "translation" makes it to the NWT side of the page, suddenly they are reigning OVER the earth, not UPON it! How come in other places they left the word "upon" as it was? (Rev. 5:13 etc. etc.) It takes another Greek word entirely to mean "OVER". Why the blatant deception?

Again, MacGregor Ministries are overstating their case.  It's true that the Greek word επί (epi) epi tes gesoften does mean 'on,' so 'epi tes ges' could mean 'on (the) earth'.  That is why the term appears in the Kingdom Interlinear at this place.  But that is not the only meaning for the preposition.  Let's examine how some lexicons define επί, epi:

 

Friberg LexiconFriberg Lexicon: preposition with a basic meaning on, but with a wide range of meanings according to the context; I. with the genitive emphasizing contact; (1) in answer to "where?" on (LU 2.14); (2) with verbs of motion answering "to what place? where?" on, in (HE 6.7); (3) expressing immediate proximity at, by, near (JN 21.1); (4) in legal procedures in the presence of, before an official court (AC 25.10); (5) figuratively, related to rule and authority over (RO 9.5); (6) figuratively; (a) as giving a basis on the basis or evidence of (1T 5.19); (b) based on, in view of (LU 4.25); (7) as relating in historical timing in the time of, under (the rule of) (MK 2.26); 

Liddell & Scott:   over, of persons in authority, ο επι των οπλιτων ( ο επι των ιππεων Dem.; ο επι της διοικησεως the paymaster

So, MacGregor's statement that "it takes another Greek word entirely to mean OVER" has been proved to be entirely false.

This is borne out by even the most cursory examination of some verses in the Greek Septuagint and the Christian Greek Scriptures where the word επι, epi, is used in connection with the verb βασιλευω, basileuo:

2 Kings 11:3 και Γοθολια βασιλευουσα επι της γης (LXX)
And Athaliah did reign over the land (KJV)
1 Samuel 8:7 εμε εξουδενωκασιν του μη βασιλευειν επ' αυτων (LXX)
they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them (KJV)
1 Samuel 16:1 καγω εξουδενωκα αυτον μη βασιλευειν επι Ισραηλ (LXX)
I have rejected him from reigning over Israel (KJV)
Luke 19:14 ου θελουμεν τουτον βασιλευσαι εφ' ημας (WH)
We will not have this man to reign over us (KJV)

It is apparent from these and numerous other cases that epi can be used after basileuo with the meaning of "rule over" or "reign over". 

Professor Carl Conrad, moderator of the B-Greek scholarly discussion list, has also acknowledged that 'rule over the earth' is a possibility for epi tes ges at Revelation 5:10.  He states: "EPI is a preposition that has somewhat different meanings depending upon what case it is used with. It basically means 'upon' or 'onto.'  With a dative it can even mean 'on top of (x)' in the sense of 'in
addition to (x).' With a genitive it tends to mean 'on,' 'upon,' 'over' the area coextensive with the noun in the genitive case: 'And they will be kings upon the surface of the (whole) earth' = 'And they will exercise kingship over the (whole) earth.'
" See http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2000-May/011575.html

Next, consider some cases where επί is translated in this way in the King James Version.

Matthew 24:45

over all his household

Acts 6:3

over this business

Acts 8:27

had the charge of

Romans 9:5

over all

Ephesians 4:6

above all

Revelation 11:6

power over waters

Finally, we can examine how a number of other translations have rendered the phrase epi tes ges in Revelation 5:10.

Greek

επι της γης (epi tes ges)

Amplified Bible

over the earth

J. N. Darby

over the earth

Elberfelder Bible (German)

über die Erde (over the earth)

Goodspeed

over the earth

Green's Literal Translation

over the earth

The Message

over the earth

Weymouth

over the earth

Vulgate (Latin)

super terram (over the earth)[15]

 

The falsity of MacGregor's claims can be seen, then, from three points of view:

1.     Lexicons give 'over' as an acceptable meaning of epi.

2.     The King James Version itself frequently translates epi as 'over' in contexts relating to authority.

3.     Numerous highly respected translations have the same expression as the New World Translation at Revelation 5:10.

 

"Worship" or "Obeisance" to Jesus Christ?

Now let us consider MacGregor's assertion that:

The Watchtower's invented term "did obeisance" was given a definition by them, namely,

"...act of bowing, kneeling, prostrating the body, or making some other gesture to betoken submission; or simply the paying of respect. It adequately translates the Hebrew hishta-chawah' and the Greek pro-sky-ne'o in many cases." (Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, page 523).

Trouble is, they have no backing by Greek scholars for this invented definition.

Is it true that "did obeisance" is a term 'invented' by the Watch Tower Society, or is this another case of MacGregor Ministries inventing accusations to try to mislead us?

Below we reproduce the definitions of proskyneo from a number of Greek lexicons.  Judge forproskuneo yourself whether MacGregor is telling the truth.  Any further comment is, frankly, superfluous.

The United Bible Societies (UBS) Lexicon gives the following definitions for proskuneo:

worship; fall down and worship, kneel, bow low, fall at another's feet

The Friberg Lexicon states:

(1) from a basic sense bow down to kiss someone's feet, garment hem, or the ground in front of him; (2) in the NT of worship or veneration of a divine or supposedly divine object, expressed concretely with falling face down in front of someone worship, venerate, do obeisance to

Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon says:

Plut.:-to make obeisance to the gods, fall down and worship, to worship, adore, ...

2. of the Oriental fashion of making the salam or prostrating oneself before kings and superiors,

The renowned  Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, by Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich, 3rd edition, (BDAG) gives the following definition:

Freq. used to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before persons and kissing their feet or the hem of their garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or someth. holy.) to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure, (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully.

It adds that such respect is paid:

to human beings, but by this act they are to be recognized as belonging to a superhuman realm ... —Jesus, who is rendered homage as Messianic king and helper.

By now, you may have noticed a difference between what respected lexicographers say about proskyneo and what MacGregor is saying.

However, MacGregor does not stop there.  The site adds:

Second problem for them is that many dictionaries list "obeisance" as a definition of "worship"!

Which dictionaries?  Perhaps they would have been more convincing had they stated their sources.  Here are the definitions of 'worship' and 'obeisance' according to four well-known English dictionaries, two American and two British.

Dictionary

 

Defines Worship Defines Obeisance
Merriam Webster

 

2 : reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence
3 : a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
1 : a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission : BOW
2 : DEFERENCE, HOMAGE
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

 

1a. The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object. b. The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed. 2. Ardent devotion; adoration. 1. A gesture or movement of the body, such as a curtsy, that expresses deference or homage. 2. An attitude of deference or homage.
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

1 [T] to have or show a strong feeling of respect and admiration for God or a god:

2 [I] to go to a religious ceremony:

obedience and respect, or something you do which expresses this:
One by one the noblemen made their obeisances (= bent at the waist) to the Queen.
Shorter Oxford Dictionary

(not available online)

1. To honour or revere as a supernatural being or power or as a holy thing; to adore with appropriate acts, rites, or ceremonies. ...

2. To honour; to regard or treat with honour or respect; to salute, bow down to.

 

a respectful salutation; a bow or curtsy

It seems clear from this sampling of dictionaries that worship and obeisance are separate and distinct concepts.

Plumbing the depths of poor taste and publicizing their ignorance even further, MacGregor Ministries resort to ridicule:

Sometimes the Society just can't keep their deceptions straight with each other! Such an example is Hebrews 1:6 in the Purple KIT. Here they put "obeisance" on the Greek/English side and "worship" on the NWT side! What a hoot! If you're going to mistranslate, at least try to be consistent! They had to scramble around and correct their boo-boo in the 1985 navy-blue edition where they hastily did away with the worship of Jesus.

Thus, MacGregor Ministries apparently feel that the Watch Tower Society simply didn't notice that the left column said obeisance and the right-hand column worship - hardly likely in view of the doctrinal significance of the term.  The Watch Tower Society has long recognized the range of meaning of both the Greek verb proskuneo and the English verb worship, which itself historically meant to bow down.  The Society has nothing to hide and to this day has the alternative reading "worship him" in the New World Translation Reference Bible - With Footnotes.  Unlike MacGregor Ministries, the Watch Tower Society has humbly and reasonable acknowledged that the verb can have more than one meaning.  Explaining how that is the case, The Watchtower of 15 January 1992 commented:

If one prefers the rendering “worship,” such worship is relative, for Jesus told Satan: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship [form of pro·sky·ne´o], and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.”—Matthew 4:8-10.

MacGregor Ministries accuse the Watch Tower Society of deception, but in fact, it is McGregor who is being deceptive.  Scholarly knowledge is easily available to everyone in our time through lexicons, grammars, commentaries and computer software, often free of charge at public library facilities.  There is really no excuse for making such wild accusations without checking them out first.

For a further discussion of the meaning of proskuneo, please see Worship or Obeisance?.

  Part 1   -   Part 2   -   Part 3

"Yet these men are abusive in matters of which they know nothing" -
Jude 10, Weymouth.


 

[15] "On (the) earth" in Latin is usually "in terra" (See Matthew 6:10, Vulgate). 








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