In this episode of “Offending the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” our response to DefendingJehovahsWitnesses.Blogspot.com, we are going to cover their “explanation” of John 1:1.
DefendingJehovahsWitnesses.Blogspot.com is a front of JW.org, the official website of the Watchtower Society. Instead of being honest and admitting that the Governing Body is purposely trying to respond to criticisms of their organization, the website is hosted by “Elijah Daniels” who otherwise cannot be found on Google or contacted. Their website does not allow comments, so we respond here as a means to make people aware of the lies taught by the Governing Body of the organization.
For those unaware of the NWT translation of the verse and the immediate context of the article here it is:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God [Greek, ton the·on′], and the Word was God [the·os′].”…Greek grammar and the context strongly indicate that the New World Translation rendering is correct and that “the Word” should not be identified as the “God” referred to earlier in the verse…Bible verses in the Greek language that have a construction similar to that of John 1:1 use the expression “a god.” For example, when referring to Herod Agrippa I, the crowds shouted: ‘It is a god speaking.’ And when Paul survived a bite by a poisonous snake, the people said: “He is a god.” (Acts 12:22; 28:3-6) It is in harmony with both Greek grammar and Bible teaching to speak of the Word as, not God, but “a god.”—John 1:1.
Now, unlike “Elijah Daniels” who is a pretend Greek expert, my expertise of Greek is beyond limited. However, I am not a functional illiterate, so I have that going for me.
The key to all of this is the word “καὶ” in the Greek which means “and.”
Let’s settle John 1:1 once and for all. Here is the sentence in Greek:
θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ
“God, and the Word was a god”
…or more literally from the Greek, “God, and ‘a god’ was [the] word.”
There is only one other instance of “καὶ θεὸς” with the same word order in the Greek in the whole Bible. Let’s turn to 2 Cor 1:3.
οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως
“Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3, NWT 2013).
So, “kai theos” means “and a god [was the Word]” in John 1:1 according to the NWT while “kai theos” in 2 Cor 1:3 means “and the God [of all comfort]” according to the same NWT “translation committee” (for all we know just one dude translated the 2013 version.)
Let it be known that neither passage has the definite article in front of them in the Greek. Further, Greek does not have an indefinite article. So, a translator that actually knows Greek (unlike me) adds the word “the” either when the definite article demands it, or if they infer that they should add one that was not there. The same goes for the indefinite article “a.” It is purely at the discretion of the interpreter.
“Elijah Daniels” pretends he knows Greek and says that a translator is compelled to say that “kai theos” means “and a God.” However, he better go tell the NWT translators that they conveniently forgot there own Greek rules in 2 Cor 1:3. The proper reading would supposedly be that the Father is “a god of all comfort.”
Sorry JWs, you can’t have it both ways!
Of course, atheist, liberal Christian, and conservative Christian scholars all universally disagree with “Elijah Daniels'” view of the Greek language. Heck, who can blame them, even the NWT translation committee disagrees with themselves and adds the definite article in 2 Cor 1:3! However, that does not prevent “Daniels” from quoting a bunch of “authorities” that agree with them.
1808: “and the word was a god.” The New Testament in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome’s New Translation: With a Corrected Text.
1864: “and a god was the word.” The Emphatic Diaglott, interlinear reading, by Benjamin Wilson.
1928: “and the Word was a divine being.” La Bible du Centenaire, L’Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel.
Did you notice what all of the above have in common? You never heard of them. They come from individual translators that just so happen to be Unitarian heretics.
If making up Greek as you go and quoting questionable authorities is par for the course, why not totally misrepresent history while you are at it?
Even Origen, the most knowledgeable of the early Christian Greek-speaking scholars, tells us that John 1:1c actually means “the Word [logos] was a god”. – “Origen’s Commentary on John,” Book I, ch. 42 – Bk II, ch.3.
Origen’s Commentary on John is “the first great work of Christian interpretation.” Origen was certainly the most knowledgeable about NT (koine) Greek of any scholar. He studied it from early childhood and even taught it professionally from his teens onward. And this was during a time when it was a living language and, of course, well understood. – The Ante-Nicene Fathers, pp. 291-294, vol. X, Eerdmans Publ., 1990 printing.
This one surprised even me, because it was so easily falsifiable it simply makes the Watchtower look like deliberate liars instead of simply misinformed.
Origen’s Commentary on John is for free online, so it is easy to find. Does he say “a god?” No.
For one, he does not even quote John 1:1 in chapter 3 of Book II. He only mentions the verse in chapters 1 and 4 of Book II. Click control F and search for “was God” for yourself.
Second, being that Origen wrote in Greek, whenever He wrote “kai theos” it would mean “and God,” not “and a god.” However, if you used the Watchtower’s made up rules of Greek, of course they will find him quoting John 1:1 as agreeing with themselves. Sadly for Origen, being that He actually talked and wrote the language, He had no other means to communicate “kai theos” then actually saying “kai theos.” Being that the JWs like to translate “kai theos” inconsistently, why not translate Origen inconsistently? Quite frankly, if you read the other chapter in question, you see Origen never implies that Jesus is some sort of lesser deity or angel. It is foreign from his thought.
In fact, in Book II, Chapter 2 of Origen’s Commentary on John he specifically denounces the JW’s reasoning from the Greek 1800 years in advance!
We next notice John’s use of the article in these sentences. He does not write without care in this respect, nor is he unfamiliar with the niceties of the Greek tongue. In some cases he uses the article, and in some he omits it. He adds the article to the Logos, but to the name of God he adds it sometimes only. He uses the article, when the name of God refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named God…But the archetypal image, again, of all these images is the Word of God, who was in the beginning, and who by being with God is at all times God, not possessing that of Himself, but by His being with the Father, and not continuing to be God, if we should think of this, except by remaining always in uninterrupted contemplation of the depths of the Father.
For the record, Origen is considered to have held several heterodox opinions, so to quote him as an authority is disingenuous at best. Even still, if you are going to quote his wrong opinions, quote them correctly…
P.S. Tertullian, a North African Church Father who wrote about the year 200 AD, wrote in both Latin and Koine Greek. Here’s what he wrote about John 1:1 in Against Praxaes, Chapter 7: “Is that Word of God, then, a void and empty thing, which is called the Son, who Himself is designated God?
The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”