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Mars Hill Apologetic Discussions
Greg Stafford Responds to the Julius Mantey's Letter to the WTB&TS
Mr. Stafford's Comments are in red text
I have a copy of your letter addressed to CARIS in Santa Ana, California, and I am writing to express my disagreement with statements made in that letter, as well as in quotations you have made from the Dana-Mantey Greek Grammar.
(1) Your statement: "their work allows for the rendering found in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures at John 1:1." There is no statement in our grammar that was ever meant to imply that "a god" was a permissible translation in John 1:1.
[[Note Mantey's confusion: The WTB&TS is not commenting on whether or not they MEANT to imply that "'a god' was a permissible translation in John 1:1,' but that what the grammar did say 'allowed for it.' What's the difference? The difference is one has to do with the grammatical basis presented for a particular translation, and the other has to do with the grammarians INTENT. We believe that Dana and Mantey provided evidence that lends credibility to the "a god" translation; whether they INTENDED to do so or not is another matter entirely.
Of course, we hardly need their grammar to justify what is really a rather obvious translation. Still, when they referred to Xenophon's Anabasis 1:4:6 EMPORION D' HN TO XWRION ("the place was a market") and then say "we have a parallel case to what we have in John 1:1" (Dana and Mantey, 148) the foundation is laid, grammatically, for a parallel translation. But, of course, the theology of the grammarians overrides their good grammatical judgment, as is evident by their Trinitarian coloring of this verse on page 140 of the Manual Grammar.]]
A. We had no "rule" to argue in suppport of the trinity. B. Neither did we state that we did have such intention. We were simply delineating the facts inherent in Biblical language.
[[Where, then, might we ask, do "the facts inherent in Biblical language" distinguish between the "person" (as distinct from "being") of Christ and the "person of the Father," which the grammar discusses on page 140? How does PROS TON THEON (John 1:1b) "point to" such a distinction, which is what the grammar claims?]]
C. Your quotation from page 148(3) was in a paragraph under the heading: "With the subject in a copulative sentence." Two examples occur there to illustrate that "the article points out the subject in these examples." But we made no statement in this paragraph about the predicate except that, "as it stands the other persons of the trinity may be implied in 'theos'." And isn't that the opposite of what of what your translation "a god" infers?
[[Most certainly, but the work of Lane McGaughy has shown that in equative clauses where both the subject and the predicate nominative have the article, the first one is the subject and the second is the predicate, thus, there would have been no confusion about such matters, had John used the article for THEOS in reference to HO LOGOS. The grammar's statement about "the persons of the trinity" clearly reveals that theology, not grammar, is the basis for their translation, and a post-biblical theology at that. Nowhere does the Bible say anything about a triune God, and nowhere does it mention anything about how one can be a separate "person" without also being a separate BEING. Trinitarians created this distinction long after the Bible was written, and have been reading it back into the text ever since, unfortunately.]]
You quoted me out of context. On pages 139 and 149(VI) in our grammar we stated "without the article, 'theos' signifies divine essence......'theos en ho logos' emphasizes Christ's participation in the essence of the divine nature." Our interpretation is in agreement with that in the NEB and the TEV: "What God was the Word was" an with that of Barclay: "The nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God", which you quoted in your letter to CARIS.
[[No, there was no out-of-context quotation, for the NWT is merely contradicting the once-popular view that THEOS in 1:1c is definite, which view resulted from a misreading and subsequent mishandling of Colwell's rule. Thus, while NWT's and Mantey's understanding of the qualitativeness differs, NWT is merely building on the common ground that THEOS is in fact qualitative. Nothing more should be read into their citation of the Manual Grammar.]]
(2) Since Colwell's amd Harners's articles in JBL (Journal of Biblical Literature), especially that of Harner, it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 The Word was a god." Word order has made obsolete and incorrect such a rendering.
[[This statement is quite ridiculous. Colwell's article presented a misconception of what the article signified in such instances, and Harner tried to correct it by highlighting the qualitativeness of the noun in such constructions, but neither one could accept the simple fact that the Word is not the with whom he existed, and is therefore "a god." THEOS is a count noun, and in this case different from the hO THEOS the Word is with. It is really an easy verse to translate, when you are not hindered by Trinitarian presuppositions, that make any type of rendering nonsensical.]]
(3) Your quotation of Colwell's rule is inadequate because it quotes only a part of his findings. You did not quote this strong assertion: "A predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as a indefinite or a 'qualitative' noun solely because of the absence of the article."
[[There are MANY instances in NWT, including the first 10 verse of John 1, where THEOS is not rendered with an indefinite article in English, even though it lacks it in Greek. So, obviously (and Mantey should have known this, if he has bothered to check it out), they looked at more than the use or nonuse of the article in determining when to translate the Greek THEOS (or any anarthrous noun) with the indefinite article, namely, the context.]]
(4)Prof. Harner, vol. 92:1 (1973) in JBL, has gone beyond Colwell's research and has discovered that anarthrous predicate nouns preceding the verb function primarily to express the nature or character of the subject.
[[And this is precisely the position taken by NWT in their appendix to John 1:1. Our understanding of what it means for Christ to have a divine nature will differ, of course, from that of Harner and Mantey, but, nonetheless, the reason we quote their works is because they agree with us, against Colwell, that THEOS in John 1:1 is not definite, but primarily qualitative. The indefinite sense is also quite obvious, as the Word is PROS TON THEON.]]
He found this true in 53 passages in the gospel of John and 8 in the gospel of Mark. Both scholars wrote that when indefiniteness was intended the gospel writers regularly placed the predicate noun after the verb, and both Colwell and Harner have stated that 'theos' in John 1:1 is not indefinate and should not be translated "a god". Watchtower writers appear to be the only ones advocating such a translation now. The evidence appears to be 99% against them.
[[Such a view is almost comical. The fact is, again, we quote the aforementioned works of Harner and Mantey because we agree with them that the sense of the predicate in 1:1c is primarily qualitative. However, Mantey and Harner import a post-biblical distinction between "person" and "being" into the text in order to make it fit with their trinitarian theology. The redefine hO THEOS in 1:1b as "the Father" so they can then proceed with making an uncalled for distinction between hO THEOS as "the person of the Father" and the Word, who shares the same "nature" (that is, the nature of the "Triune God") as the Father, but who remains "personally" distinct. The Bible does not support a distinction between "person" and "being" that trintiarians make. In the Bible, a different "person" IS a different "being," which is why John distinguished the Word from hO THEOS; he did not use the term "Father," but "God," showing that the Word is not only a different PERSON than the Father, but a different THEOS, also. Our view is based squarely on what the text says, and requires little, if any, qualifying explanation. The trinitarian view is practically impossible to translate without making an extended paraphrase and adding all sorts of words to the text, but even more difficult, impossible, in fact, to explain to readers, for it uses words in, such as THEOS, in contradictory senses, which is why they will always redefine hO THEOS as "the Father" prior to any extended commentary on the passage.]]
(5) Your statement on your letter that the sacred text itself should guide one and "not just someone's rule book". We agree with you. But our study proves that Jehovah's Witnesses do the opposite of that whenever "the sacred text" differs with their heretical beliefs.
[[So far we have seen that the trinitarian interpretation of John 1:1 is heavily dependent upon extra-biblical theology, and definitions and distinctions that are made up and subsequently imported into the text. Jehovah's Witnesses simply read the text and convey the same distinction John made: The Word is a god, and is with the God, thus distinct from him in terms of THEOS. The Prologue further supports this view, as the Father is not MONOGENES THEOS.]]
For example the translation of 'kolasis' as 'cutting off' when 'punishment' is the only meaning cited in the lexicons for it.
[[Really? I wonder why the Greek English Lexicon by Edward Robinson lists (on page 405) "a curtailing, pruning" for KOLASIS?
Also, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament by E. W. Bullinger (page 612) says, "KOLAZW, to curtail, dock, prune . . . KOLASIS, a pruning; henc, gen. Punishment."
Then we have the authoritative Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell and Scott, which, under KOLASIS on page 971, lists "checking the growth of trees . . . 2. chastisement, correction."
Finally, there is Robert Young's Concise Commentary on the Holy Bible (Baker, page 171), which says about KOLASIS, "lit. cut off, mutilated, restrained."
Apparently Mantey was not very familiar with the different lexical works available to him.]]
The mistranslation of 'ego eimi' as 'I have been' in John 8:58.
[[This one is very interesting. First, it should be noted the that first several editions of the NASB contained the marginal reading, "Or, I have been." But, more important to this discussion is the translation given by Charles B. Williams. In the Introduction to this translation, Dr. Mantey states the following about the translation of his former Greek teacher: "Williams' translation, considering all the factors, is the most accurate and illuminating translation in the English language." And just how does the "most accurate" translation render John 8:58? As follows: "I existed before Abraham was born"!
The addition of 'for all time' in Heb. 9:27 when nothing in the Greek New Testament supports it.
[[This one is particularly incredible, for it truly shows Mantey's bias toward NWT or his complete ignorance on the subejct at hand.
Vines Dictionary (page 819) states: "HAPAX denotes (a) once, one time . . . (b) once for all, of what is of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition, Heb. 6:4; 9:28."
Barclay Newman's Greek Dictionary (page 18) published by the United Bible Society, on page 18, says that HAPAX means "once, one time, once for all time."
The previously mentioned Greek Lexicon by E. W. Bullinger, on page 552, defines HAPAX as "once, one time, once for all."
No wonder the Jerusalem Bible reads "once and for all," William Barclay reads "once and for all," and The New Century Version (1993) reads "only once and for all time" in Hebrews 9:28. Again, Mantey appears to be making this up as he goes along.]]
The attempt to belittle Christ by mistranslating 'arche tes ktiseos' 'beginning of the creation' when He is magnified as 'the Creator of all things' (John 1:2) and as 'equal with God (Phil.2:6) before He humbled Himself and lived in a human body here on earth.
[[ John 1:2 says nothing about Christ being the "Creator of all things"; rather, it attributes a mediatorial role to Christ, like we see in 1 Cor. 8:6 and Hebrews 1:2. An active sense is not given to Christ when it comes to creation, but a passive sense is clearly seen in Scripture, particularly the use of EKTISTHE in Col. 1:16. Philippians 2:6 says nothing about Jesus being "equal" with God, but how he gave up his divine form and took on humanity, INSTEAD OF seeking equality with his God (Rev. 3:12), which is the course taken by Satan.]]
Your quotation of "The Father is greater than I am" (John 14:28)to prove that Jesus was not equal to God overlooks the fact stated in Phil. 2:6-8, when Jesus said that He was still in His voluntary state of humiliation. That state ended when He ascended to heaven.
[[Funny, Jesus did not limit his words to his human nature. Whatever the case, this text, and many others (such as Heb 2:9) show that Jesus was not a God- man, but did indeed "empty" himself of his divinity and took on full humanity, as is taught in Philippians 2:6-8. That is why his God exalted him to a superior position, according to verse 11.]]
Why the attempt to deliberately deceive people by mispunctuation by placing a comma after "today" in Luke 23:43 when in the Greek, Latin, German and all English translations except yours, even in the Greek in your KIT, the comma occurs after 'lego' (I say)- "Today you will be with me in paradise."
[[Again, Mantey is misinformed. First of all, one of the greatest, if not THE greatest witness to the New Testament, Codex B, Vacticanus, has the equivalent to a comma right after SEMERON ("today")! Also, Rotherham, Lamsa, the Concordant Literal and the Riverside NT do not put the comma after "I say to you." The appendix article (#173) in the popular Companion Bible supports NWT's use of the comma 100%. ]]
Also 2 Cor 5:8, "to be out of the body and at home with the Lord." These passages teach that the redeemded go immediately to heaven after death, which does not agree with your teachings that death ends all life until the resurrection. Cf. Ps. 23:6 and Heb. 1:10.
[[Not one of these texts teach with Mantey claims. The Bible leaves no room for about the condition of the dead.-Eccl. 9:5-10.]]
The above are only a few examples of Watchtower mistranslations and perversions of God's Word.
[[Actually, Mantey has given us a complete picture of shoddy scholarship and misuse of texts to support a preferred theology, and mislead others in the process. He has also shown that he has little knowledge of reference works and translations, which support NWT's translations.]]
In view of the preceding facts, especially because you have been quoting me out of context, I herewith request you not to quote the 'Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament' again, which you have been doing for 24 years. Also that you not quote it or me in any of your publications from this time on.
[[Mantey here shows that he is also unaware of the fair use law governing quotations of another's material. He has no right to make such demands, and no action was ever taken on his part to prevent further use of his material.]]
Also that you publicly and immediately apologize in the Watchtower magazine, since my words had no relevance to the absence of the article before 'theos' in John 1:1. And please write to CARIS and state that you misused and misquoted my "rule".
[[Of course, the Society never complied with this absurd request, since their use of the Manual Grammar was quite legitimate. The problem was the Grammar's statement about the parallel with the statement in Xenophon's Anabasis, which I am sure Mantey regrets, and the fact that Mantey completely misunderstands the purpose of our use of his grammar, namely, to show that THEOS in John 1:1 is not definite, as so many trinitarians claimed for many years, again misleading themselves and others in the process.]]
On the page before the Preface in the grammar are these words "All rights reserved - no part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher."
If you have such permission, please send me a photocopy of it.
If you do not heed these requests you will suffer the consequences.
[[A very empty and impotent threat indeed. The only one who suffered the consequences of Mantey's words in the above letter, was Mantey himself, for he made terribly inaccurate statements, claims without any basis at all, and rant and rave about matters he apparently did not clearly understand. The only thing more unfortunate is that so many Mantey and Martin followers blindly accept the claims made in the letter, and subsequently repeat them to others, without really knowing the truth of the matter, but instead being blinded by their submission to the credentials of another, as if they somehow guaranteed honesty.]]
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