In this episode of “Offending the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” our response to DefendingJehovahsWitnesses.Blogspot.com, we are going to cover their “translation” of Luke 23:43.
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:
Addressing this issue, the late Dr. Julius Mantey, noted NT Greek scholar and strong trinitarian, allegedly wrote a powerful attack against the honesty and accuracy of the NWT. He complained of the NWT’s “attempt to deliberately deceive people by mispunctuation by placing a comma after `today’ in Luke 23:43,” when he knows better than anyone that none of the earliest manuscripts (up to the 9th century A.D.) originally had capitalization or punctuation! Later copyists have added punctuation wherever they felt it should be!
Just because a modern text writer decides where he wants the punctuation and capital-ization to be in his interpretation of the original text (as Westcott and Hort did for the text that is used by the NWT and Nestle did in the text used by the NASB, etc.) does not mean that is how the original Bible writer intended the meaning – as explained in the Kingdom Interlinear footnote for this verse…Yes, there is no reason to deny the rendering of Luke 23:43 as, “I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”
As we can see “Elijah Daniels” mischaracterizes Dr. Mantey’s argument as disingenuously implying Greek originally had punctuation. However, Mantey says nothing of the sort. Rather, he is saying that anyone who understands Greek would have not understood the passage as Christ emphasizing the word “today” the way it is portrayed in the NWT.
For example, the NWT renders Luke 23:43 as, “I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
Every single other respectable translation says something along the lines of “And He [Jesus] said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'”
Why do most people take the latter interpretation?
First, it reads better from the literal rendering of the Greek:
καὶ [And] εἶπεν [he said] αὐτῷ [to him] Ἀμήν [Truly] σοι [to you] λέγω [I say] σήμερον [today] μετ [with] ἐμοῦ [me] ἔσῃ [you will be] ἐν [in] τῷ [the] Παραδείσῳ [Paradise]
As we can see, the Greek says without reversing word order, “Truly to you I say today with me you will be in Paradise.”
Second, this rendering not only makes the most sense to the modern translators (and literal rendering of the Greek), it also makes the most sense to ancient translators as well.
Saint Jerome, an expert of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin understood the Greek as follows:
I feel confident that my words are true: conversion can never be too late. The words to the dying robber are a pledge of this: Verily I say unto you, today shall you be with me in paradise (Jerome, To Paula, Letter 39:1).
As we can see, Jerome understands what Christ said to the thief on the cross to mean that Christ affirmed the thief’s salvation. The NWT rendering, that Jesus merely uses the word “today” as a figure of speech, would have made no sense to Jerome.
Third, to a speaker conversant in Koine Greek from the fourth century AD, the NWT rending also did not occur to him:
In which humanity He was crucified and died for us, and rose from the dead, and was taken up into the heavens, having been created as the beginning of ways for us (Proverbs 8:22), when on earth He showed us light from out of darkness, salvation from error, life from the dead, an entrance to paradise, from which Adam was cast out, and into which he again entered by means of the thief, as the Lord said, ‘This day shall you be with Me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43), into which Paul also once entered (Athanasius, Statement of Faith, Chapter 1).
As we can see, Saint Athanasius (an enemy to JWs and a defender of the doctrine of the Trinity) understood the verse to mean that the thief had already “entered” Paradise.
How does “Elijah Daniels” expect to be taken seriously when 1. All the modern Greek experts disagree with the NWT, 2. Ancient translators disagreed with the NWT, and 3. Someone who spoke Koine Greek understood the verse as the latter two parties did?
I guess that’s why the Watchtower will disfellowship you for merely using your mind. Thinking is a dangerous thing when someone wants you to accept false teaching.