A REFUTABLE "IRREFUTABLE ARGUEMENT" ?
Below is part of a so-called "irrefutable arguement" against the New World Translation's John 1:1 "and the Word was a god," from the Greek "KAI QEOS EN HO LOGOS." The above graphic is from the critics webpage as indicating his belief that what he has written 'knocks out' the NWT rendering/understanding of John 1:1c "cold"! We shall see if this is just 'pre-fight' braggadocio ! The critic is we believe Steve Rudd. The page opens up thus:
Trinity Proof Texts
This is the title of said webpage. But of course, where is the holy spirit mention in John 1:1,2 ? Where does John 1:1,2 say that the Father "God," the "Word" and the holy spirit form a consubstantial Trinity? It does not! A "Trinity Proof Text"? How does the critic define the word "proof"? This should alert the open minded reader of the critic's webpage that his objective is to find support for a pre-concieved theological position- and he will not be deterred from this even in the face of real irrefutable evidence. It is one thing to hold to a belief one thinks is scripturely true. But it is another thing to criticise others who have a different scriptural view simply because it differs! This is what the critic is really doing. He is not being honest enough to admit the strengths in the others position.This webpage has been created primarily to 'balance things up'. To continue:
1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God."
referred to in this document:
The irrefutable argument stated:
This verse is so simple it is impossible to get it wrong. An illustrated paraphrase of the text would be:
Even adopting the Jehovah's Witnesses paraphrase, the New World Translation's, (NWT hereafter) unscholarly insertion of "a god" of the text makes no difference:
Just as "man" can refer specifically to male to the exclusion of female, So also God can refer to the Father to the exclusion of the Son. However, just as "man" can include both male and female as a class of being, (Gen 5:2 "He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man"), so too "God" can include both Father and Son as a class of being, as in John 1:1.
The first thing that must be pointed out is that the critic has given the 3 clauses found in John 1:1. But he has given them as they read in an English translation! This could be misleading. Why? Because it would have been informing his readers more fully if he were to give the clauses in the original Greek and also in a literal, word for word translation of the Greek. Then his readers would have thus read:
"(a)EN ARKHE HEN HO LOGOS (b)KAI HO LOGOS HEN PROS TON QEON(c) KAI QEOS HEN HO LOGOS"
Which literally reads into English as:
"(a)IN BEGINNING WAS THE WORD,(b) AND THE WORD WAS TOWARD THE GOD,(c) AND GOD WAS THE WORD."
Notice that the "QEOS," GOD" that the "WORD" was said to be with THE GOD(see also v.2). This is important as the critic overlooks this completely at this point in his criticism (but he does try to discuss this later on- but by then the reader of his page might not connect the two parts of his page together and hence the weakness of his arguement at this point is hidden)and hence he does not address it at all. He's off to a bad start already. But it gets worse!
The question that comes to mind with regard to the claim" "God" can include both Father and Son as a class of being, as in John 1:1." is to ask where the word QEOS ("God") ocurrs in the New Testament (Christian Greek Scriptures) that has it's reference to both the Father and the Son at the same time? The author of this "rebuttal" does not give any examples from the Greek N.T. !
We agree though that the word "GOD," (Greek "QEOS", Hebrew "ELOHIM") can apply to either the Father, the Son, to angels and even to men in the Bible. But that does not mean, of course, that all these are equal in wisdom or power or are all without a beginning. It does not mean that all are Almighty God, Jehovah(YHWH)!
Also, in the "illustrated paraphrase" given, the author seems oblivious to the fact that the word "MAN" must be two different 'men'! To show this:
In his 'paraphrase' :
" In the beginning was EVE, and EVE was with MAN, and EVE was MAN. SHE was in the beginning with MAN.",
the first ocurrence of "MAN"
must be another, a different individual than "Eve" for
"EVE" is said to be "with" this
Then, the 'paraphrase' goes on to say, that "EVE" "was MAN." He cannot believe that "MAN" here is the same "MAN" that "EVE" was said to be with can he? For that would mean that he would have to believe that "EVE" was the "MAN" she was said to be with.
And if the first ocurrence of the word "MAN" is a reference to another individual and "EVE" was then said to be "MAN" this second ocurrence of the word "MAN" must have a different meaning. Not who "EVE" was but what "EVE" was. But if the "illustrated paraphrase" had indicated that the first and third occurence of the word MAN had a "the" in front of it(as the word QEOS "GOD" has in John 1:1,2- see above as supplied by us) and the second occurence did not, the "ilustrated paraphrase" would be better put as:
"In the beginning was EVE, and EVE was with THE MAN, and EVE was MAN. SHE was in the beginning with THE MAN."
Now, this so-called "illustrated paraphrase" more accurately conveys, is a better analogous illustration of what John actually wrote!
We can see at once that "THE MAN" is referring to a specific individual who "EVE" cannot be: for she is said to be "with" this one. "EVE" is not "THE MAN." Or, to put it how John does, the Word is not the God he is said to be with. This is so simple a point "it is impossible to get it wrong." But yet it seems to have slipped the grasp of the NWT critic!
So, when the critic says: "Even adopting the Jehovah's Witnesses paraphrase, the New World Translation's, (NWT hereafter) unscholarly insertion of "a god" of the text makes no difference: "In the beginning was EVE, and EVE was with MAN, and EVE was a MAN." he is grossly wrong. It does in fact make all the difference! This rendering clearly shows what the original Greek does: that is, that there is an anarthrous("used without the Greek definite article") use of the word QEOS ("G/god) between two that are arthrous("used with the Greek definite article.")
Clearly, by "adopting" the NWT "paraphrase"( rather, the NWT's rendering is very literal !!) the critic has stepped into the ring and given himself a knock out blow!
Such an "illustrated paraphrase" "In the beginning was EVE, and EVE was with MAN, and EVE was a MAN" shows that "EVE" is not the "MAN" she is said to be with. And just as a female can be termed a "MAN" yet is not the "MAN" she is said to be with then the "Word" of John 1:1 is not the God he is said to be with! Exactly! The critic unbeknown to himself has just argued against the translation of John 1:1c as "and the Word was God." For this rendering could convey the thought to an English reader that the Word was the God he is said to be with. Why? Because in normal English usage the word "God" is a proper noun. But the critic is not, as do other trinitarians, understanding it with this connotation! So though the critic seems to accept this translation he would have to accept that it needs some explanation for it to be understood in accord with his theology. But would he and others like him be guilty of bringing his theology into John 1:1c for a preferred translation that accords with that theology rather than letting the verse say what is means first then gaining an understnding of it?
In accompanying notes below what he writes above the critic states: "..... Just as the entire first chapter of Genesis refers to God as "God" (noun/class of being, not personal proper noun/name) and it isn't until Gen 2:4 that God is referred to as "Jehovah" (the formal personal proper noun/name), so also in John 1:1-13, "God" is used in the "class of being" sense and it isn't until John 1:14 that the Father is specifically identified!" Does this mean that the critic thinks that the first occurence of QEOS in John 1:1 is not a reference to the Father? Then what is it a reference to? The Trinity? If so, the critic must believe John was saying that the "Word" was with the Trinity ! Confused? If he isn't then he should be for he is not making sense at all here!
Also, he states: "Jehovah's Witnesses
(Arians), on the other hand, define the first "theos" [God]
as a personal proper noun/name for the Father and the second
exactly like we do, as a "class of being". The
difference is that JW's define Jesus as a lessor class of being,
and we, defining the two occurrences of God identically, as an
equal class of being! Our position is irrefutably solid and the
only consistent one. Firstly, to
describe Jehovah's Witnesses as "Arians" after the
fourth century presbyter Arius is wrong. Arius, though not
accepting that Jesus was "God" did believe that the
holy spirit was a person. Jehovah's Witnesses do not.
Secondly, the critic claims that "Jehovah's Witnesses (Arians), on the other hand, define the first "theos" [God] as a personal proper noun/name". But this is misleading for others whose theology is trinitarian will also "define" the first, articular ocurrence of "God" in John 1:1 as a "proper noun/name for the Father! In fact we are unaware that trinitarian's think otherwise! Undoubtedly "HO QEOS," "the God" of John 1,2 is a reference to the person of the Father, Almighty God, Jehovah and not just to Him as a "class of being"(see the quote from Dana & Mantey re Dr. A. T. Robertson below)
We cannot see where the grounds are for the critic to assert as if it's an indisputable fact that here in John 1:1,2 we have two who are "equal" as to their 'godships. Rather, if one QEOS is the QEOS and the other one is not but is with the QEOS and this text is differentiating two individual as to their being QEOS, then surely one must be greater than the other for there is only one Almighty God? Note this:
""[In]John 1:1, however, [we are told]of something that was inexistence already in time primeval; astonishingly, it is not "God." ....In fact, for the author of the hymn, as for the Evangelist[Origen], only the Father was "God"(ho theos;cf 17:3);"the Son" was subordinate to him(cf.14:28). But that is only hinted at in this passage because here the emphais is on the proximity of the one to the other: the Logos was in "the presence of God," that is, in intimate, personal fellowship with him...."E.Haenchen, A Commentary on the Gospel of John, Chapter 1-6, pp.109-110.
This commentator notes that the Word as QEOS is in fact a "lessor class of being[QEOS](critic's)" he saying that this "is only hinted at in this passage". So despite the claim by the NWT critic that "[his] position is irrefutably solid and the only consistent one," it is rather the case of the critic that he is "irrefutably solid " in his attempt to read into this text what he wants it to say not what it is actually saying which does not support his assertion! He is "consistent" we agree. But his 'consistency' is nothing more than holding to a preferred theological "position" and coming to texts such as John 1;1,2 with the only intention of seeing that and not seeing anything else! This is disappointing for one who has taken upon himself the mantle of a 'NWT/JW critic'!
In another note he states:"Arians (JW's)
and some well meaning Trinitarians mistakenly translate it "and the word was divine". If John wanted to convey that
Jesus had divine qualities, he would have used the adjective for
"divine" [theios] as in Acts 17:29 and 2 Pe 1:3.
Instead, John used the word for God, "theos". "
Wrong again! Although Jehovah's Witnesses have brought this to the attention of those who will listen to them they themselves do not and have not ever translated the anarthrous QEOS in John 1:1 as "divine". But at least those who have favoured this rendering are right to note that there is a significance here with the lack of the Greek article before the second QEOS whilst it also is 'sandwiched' between two articular ocurrences of QEOS. That is the reason why the Jehovah's Witnesses have often quoted this translation as it shows that there may be something misleading in the time honoured translation which this particular critic prefers, to wit, "and the Word as God."
Also, in a further comment he states:
"In regard to the translation "a god", it is well documented and indisputable, that the Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witnesses has misquoted many Greek authorities with the intent to draw a conclusion opposite to what that Greek authority intended by his work. Many of the supporting authorities in the footnotes of the early versions of the NWT have been deleted as proof of this. Several of these Greek authorities have written formal repudiations of how the Watchtower deceptively misquotes them."
We have before us the 1950 edition of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. There are no "supporting authorities in the footnotes" to be found! We think the critic is referring not to the footnotes but to the appendix at the back(on .p.773)that discusses John 1:1. The New Word Translation Committee(not the "Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witnesses "!)did quote from Dana and Mantey's "A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament," S. G. Green's "Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament" and from Dr. A. T. Robertson's "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament."
Interestingly, on page 775 of the above appendix the NWT Translation Committe quotes from Dana and Mantey where they refer their readers to Robertson: "With a reference to the Grammar by Dr. Roberston the manual Grammar by Dana and Mantey, page 140 says, "Surely when Robertson says that [QEOS], as to the article, 'is treated like a proper name and may have it or not have it..."
Please note that here Robertson is stating that the articular QEOS as we have in John 1:1 is "treated like a proper name...". So this is against the critics belief that the 3 occurrences of QEOS in John 1:1,2 is as a "class of being" rather than the first and third being "as a personal proper noun/name." If the critic does not agree with Dr. A.T.Robertson then is he in a position to allege that the NWT Translation Committe misquoted him? In fact the critic himself says that "Jehovah's Witnesses (Arians), on the other hand, define the first "theos" [God] as a personal proper noun/name" which is exactly what the trinitarian scholar Dr Robertson stated in his Grammar who was quoted by the NWT Translation Committee! Dr. A. T. Robertson "deceptively misquoted"? Or is it the case that the critic is being deceptive himself?(Should he perhaps be brought close to his own "deceptormeter" ? ? )Perhaps we should be more charitable and just think he is not understanding the issues involved here and also he has not read the said appendix of the 1950 New World Translation for himself !
Note that the critic could not resist the temptation to say this: "the New World Translation's, (NWT hereafter) unscholarly insertion of "a god"..."
Is the "insertion" of the English indefinite article "a" by the NWT here "unscholarly? Not according to Trinitarian Murray J. Harris:
"Accordingly, from the point of view of grammar alone, [QEOS EN HO LOGOS] could be rendered "the Word was a god."-Jesus As God, p.60, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
So perhaps it is the critic who is showing himself to be "unscholarly"? Let's hope his 'corner' throws the towel in !!!
The rest of the webpage of this critic is devoted to showing what some scholars have said about the NWT's rendering of John 1:1c. But if you read his page he states in part "Honest and informed Jehovah's Witnesses will admit that that "a god" is possible, but not the exclusive translation." This is correct, but then why does he go on to quote those scholars who (erroneously) stated that the rendering "and the Word was a god" was "impossible" or "ungrammatical"? (For these remarks and a rebutttal of them see here) So why is it that he says that such a rendering is "unscholarly" as if it is an 'impossible' rendering grammatically? So, he is using certain scholars remarks in an attempt at showing the "unscholarly-ness" of the NWT's rendering, yet appears to admit that such a rendering is "possible"! Is the critic himself being as "honest" as those Jehovah's Witnesses he alludes to? Hardly! But it does seem the critic, by clearly contradicting himself, is rather confused as to what he is trying to establish does it not?
Then after quoting these scholars he embarks on a course that tries to show that the use of the indefinite article by the NWT Translation Committee does nothing to show that Jesus, the Word, is not THE God. But the whole of his arguement is seriously flawed for he does not seem to grasp that here in John 1:1 we have a unique occurence where one QEOS is said to be with ANOTHER and that only one is the QEOS. So all of his cited examples where Jehovah is said to be "a God" or his allusion /citing of places where QEOS as referring to the Father is anarthrous (e.g. John 1:6) completely misses the point that the apostle John was making ! This is astonishingly funny if the subject matter was not so important.
Lastly, it, John 1:1, could hardly be termed a "Trinity Proof Text " as the holy spirit is not mentioned at all! Proof of the Trinity???
Steve Rudd in an e-mail stated regarding this page: "Nothing you have said on your page even addresses the arguments. You quote your authority to prove a god in Jn 1:1, but fail to quote him as saying that HE BELIEVES the other 6 places in John 1 could also be translated "a god". That is deceptive and futile."
We are in confusion as to what Rudd is trying to state! If by the quotation of the "authority," Rudd is referring to our quotation of the trinitarian M.Harris then Rudd is completely in error. Nowhere in his book does Murray state that the other occurrences in John 1 where QEOS is anarthrous can or should they be translated "a god." We believe that this must mean Rudd has not read M.Harris' book. Yet Rudd goes on to enquire of us: "You quote:"And is the "insertion" of the English indefinite article "a" by the NWT here "unscholarly? Not according to Trinitarian Murray J. Harris: "Accordingly, from the point of view of grammar alone, [QEOS EN HO LOGOS] could be rendered "the Word was a god."-Jesus As God, p.60, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan." Do you have this book?"
We replied in the positive. Rudd then stated:" Did you notice that the author says that the other 6 places in John 1 where the definite article is missing, could also be translated "A GOD". problem for you is that these other places refer to the Father. Delete the deceptive quote."
Unfortunately for Rudd the "author" says no such thing! Perhaps Rudd would cite where this "author" wrote what Rudd is claiming he did! Who then is being "deceptive"?