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Mars Hill Apologetic Discussions
On Open Letter to Greg Stafford on the Julius Mantey's Letter to the WTB&TS
Below, please find my response to your reply to Dr. Mantey’s letter
to the WTB&TS. Dr. Mantey’s original comments appear as BLACK
normal text. Your replies are BLUE
set off by [[ ]], mine are RED
set off by >> <<.
Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
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.
>> Dr. Mantey is hardly confused. He is not drawing a fine distinction in terms between “allows for” and “imply.” He is simply saying his Grammar cannot legitimately be used in support of the WT’s rendition of John 1:1. He is well aware of what the WT intends by quoting his Grammar. It seeks to support its translation by citing relevant scholarship. Unfortunately, it has chosen to do so through the use of selective quotation. The accepted standards for scholarly citation are well-known – simply put, one must quote accurately and must include or summarize enough context so that the reader can easily discern the quoted writer’s meaning. It is considered unethical to quote an author in such as way as to mislead the reader into thinking that he is saying something he is not. Only JW’s seem to be of the opinion that the WT has quoted the Manual Grammar in accordance with these standards. <<
[[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
>> If you hardly need the Grammar to support this “obvious” translation, why did the WT bother quoting it in the first place? It is, indeed, an obvious translation. Dr. Mantey translates it as follows: “The Word was deity.” As should go without saying, and as Dr. Mantey makes clear in his letter to the WTB&TS, by “deity,” he means the One True God, not a secondary, lesser “god” as the WT implies in the appendix of the 1971 NWT. In support of his translation, Dr. Mantey could easily cite hundreds of ancient and modern grammarians, commentators, and theologians with impeccable credentials. The WT, on the other hand, has used such leading lights as the Unitarian Benjamin Wilson (who had no credentials as a Greek scholar), Johannes Greber (a notorious occultist), and the anonymous NWT Translation Committee.
>> "The ground is laid grammatically for a parallel translation?" Tell me, Mr. Stafford, what is the context of the quoted passage from Xenophon in Dr. Mantey’s Grammar? What is he attempting to demonstrate? Is he writing about the meaning of the anarthrous predicate or the articular subject?
>> As the passage occurs in a section entitled, "With the subject in a copulative sentence,” the answer should be obvious. The context is the use of the article to distinguish the subject in a copulative sentence, not the function of the anarthrous predicate. Since, in its letter to CARIS, the WT has not made this context clear in their citation, but rather has used it to support their translation of the predicate of John 1:1c, it has violated accepted standards of scholarly citation. More careful in print, perhaps, the WT at least pays passing reference to the context when citing Dr. Mantey in the appendix of the 1971 NWT. But even here the WT immediately shifts to the meaning of the predicate: “Instead of translating John 1:1 AND THE WORD WAS DEITY, this Grammar could have translated it AND THE WORD WAS A GOD, to run more in parallel with Xenophon’s statement AND THE PLACE WAS A MARKET” (p. 1362). The lack of sufficient context allows readers to assume that by "deity," Dr. Mantey means something less than the One True God. The words “could have” suggests that the Grammar provides a basis for rendering the predicate “a god,” which it emphatically does not – Mantey’s very point in writing his letter in the first place.
>> What of the fact that the Grammar translates “market” as an indefinite noun? Does that “allow for" an indefinite rendering of the “parallel” predicate noun in John 1:1c? Not at all. As Dr. Mantey was well aware, while the use of the article to determine the subject and avoid a convertible proposition may be “parallel” from one Greek sentence to another, the function of an anarthrous predicate nominative is a far more complex issue. Pre-verbal, anarthrous predicate nominatives in copulative sentences can exhibit a range of semantic forces. Dr. Mantey also knew that Xenophon wrote in Attic Greek, making the semantic force of emporion even less useful as a "parallel" with a predicate nominative in John's usage. Statistical analyses have shown that in the Koine Greek of the NT (and, more specifically of the fourth Gospel), preverbal anarthrous predicate nominatives in copulative sentences are rarely indefinite (Harner, Wallace, and Dixon). Thus, the WT is either being naïve or deceptive by suggesting that an indefinite predicate nominative in one Greek sentence (in an older dialect, no less) should be grammatical grounds for rendering a predicate nominative indefinite in another. <<
A. We had no "rule" to argue in suppport of the trinity.
[[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?]]
>> Nowhere does Dr. Mantey argue that John 1:1 contains a full definition of the essential Trinity. He merely says that theos in John 1:1c must be translated “God,” not “a god.” According to what Dr. Mantey says are the “facts inherent in Biblical language,” theos in John 1:1c means that the Logos was from all eternity, absolute Deity. In Dr. Mantey’s view, if there is only One God, and Word is fully God (as it is here and elsewhere proclaimed), the Word must be God. However, Dr. Mantey does not believe the grammar of John 1:1c implies modalism. For the definite theon in John 1:1b points (as all definite personal nouns do) to a specific person, while the qualitative theos in John 1:1c points to the essential nature of the Word (without specifying a particular person). Thus, the persons of the Trinity are “implied,” (not fully delineated) as Mantey says on page 149 of his Grammar; the person of the Father is not the same person as the Word (as would be the case if John had used the article with theos in John 1:1c). Yet, if we fully engage the whole counsel of Scripture regarding the Unity of God, if we fully accept the claims made in the surrounding context of John’s Gospel, if we apply the grammatical term "qualitative" properly, these two Persons must be One God, for they share the same Nature and attributes. Now, you may argue that the Bible does not portray God as multi-personal, but that is a different argument than saying the grammar of John 1:1 does not “imply” a personal distinction, while maintaining an ontological unity.
>> We might ask, Mr. Stafford, if you demand that Trinitarians prove their view of God from the grammar of a single verse, where do we find the notion of the inferiority of the Word in the grammar of John 1:1? After all, Mormons are quite happy to admit the Word is “a God,” while denying that the Word is in any way inferior to God the Father. How can you demonstrate, from the grammar alone, that the Word is a created being, even if He is “a god”? You see, Mr. Stafford, you must import your theological suppositions that “a god” is the same as “an angel,” and angels are not co-equal with God but were created by Him. While you may believe your suppositions are more Biblical than those of Trinitarians, it is disingenuous to accuse Trinitarians like Dr. Mantey of somehow engaging in an exegetical practice less sound than your own. <<
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
>> “Most certainly?” Then you admit the WT’s inference is deceptive. Thank you for at least honestly admitting this point. However, your comments with regard to McGaughty are hardly relevant. McGaughty wrote his dissertation in 1972. Dr. Mantey’s letter was written just 2 years later. There is no evidence he was aware of McGaughty’s study. Even if he was, it has no bearing on what was written in the Manual Grammar, which was published some 47 years earlier. Dr. Mantey’s point, as is plain to all but the most willfully blind WT apologist, is that the WT cited the Grammar out of context, for the context is the use of the article to establish the subject of the sentence, not the definiteness or indefiniteness of the predicate. Further, as the Grammar also states on page 149, had John used the article with both theos and logos, he would have made the two a “convertible proposition,” that is, interchangeable. Thus, as the Grammar points out, the anarthrous theos in John 1:1c is significant beyond merely distinguishing it as the predicate.
>> Dr. Mantey’s assertion that “the place was not the only market,” which the WT has jumped on in support of its translation, has nothing to do with the indefiniteness of the noun emporion, but rather that the “place” and the “market” are not one in the same – are not, in other words, ‘convertible.’ The WT’s confusion regarding the concept of a convertible proposition is further manifest on page 1363 of the 1971 NWT: “The proposition “The Word was a god” is a convertible one.” This statement is nonsense: a convertible proposition relates to two definite nouns (Mantey, p. 149; Wallace, p. 42; etc.). The WT thus inadvertantly endorses Colwell's reading of theos as definite, the inevitable conclusion if the subject and predicate nominative in John 1:1c are convertible.
>> The Bible says nothing directly about the pre-incarnate Jesus being the Angel Michael. You must resort to a series of alleged associations, such as Jesus having the “voice of an archangel,” being the “Bright Morning Star,” etc., to make such an assertion. Why, then, do you insist that Trinitarians play by different rules? The Bible says there is only one God (Deut 6:4). Jehovah says he knows of no other gods (Is 44:8). The Bible clearly teaches that the Father and the Son are called God. Even most WT apologists do not dispute this. You claim that many beings may be rightly called “gods,” and the Son is one of them. Trinitarians claim no one may be rightly called God but Jehovah (all others are false gods). This letter is not the place to engage these matters in detail. The point is that Trinitarians believe they stand on a firm Biblical foundation for proclaiming the Trinity. For if the Bible declares that God is One, and if no others may rightly be called God, then Jesus, who is rightly called God, must – in some way – be that One God, together with the Father.
>> Finally, I feel I must address your sweeping statements about “post-Biblical theology.” The fact is you cannot demonstrate from the historical record that the Trinity is post-Biblical. For to do so, you would have to prove that first Century Jews were henotheists as opposed to monotheists, and this you cannot do, for they held no such beliefs. In fact, the historical record – from the Targums, from the works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, from Roman records, from the Bible itself – is clear. Jews and early Christians were fiercely monotheistic; yet early Christians believed that Jesus was God and worshipped Him as such. The only way to resolve a Father and a Son, both of whom are One God, is to accept the multi-personal nature of that One God, or begin redefining terms like One and God. Sadly, you have chosen the latter, following the path of every heretic since Marcion.
>> Think about it, Mr. Stafford: one of the first great heresies in the early Church was Monarchism. Monarchism could only have arisen if early Christians held both to monotheism and the full divinity of the Father and the Son. For, to committed henotheists who read the “easily translated” John 1:1c as “The Word was a god,” the notion that the Father and the Son were one person (Monarchism or modalism) would be impossible, as would be the idea that the Word was equal to the Father in His essential nature. Historian Harold Brown writes: “The fact that Gnosticism and adoptionism could not hold their own in the face of orthodoxy, and that orthodoxy itself came under attack from modalism at the other end of the theological spectrum, is another evidence of the fact that the early church simply could not deal with the evidence of the New Testament and its own experience of Christ except in terms of acknowledging his deity. It was easier to slip into modalism and confuse Christ with the Father than to say with Gnosticism that he was a mere lesser aeon; or with adoptionism that he was only a man” (Heresies, p. 101).
>> So, Mr. Stafford, what historical evidence can you show that accounts for the rise of the peculiar notion of Christ’s full divinity, if early Christians were henotheists with a clear understanding of the Biblical passages that – according to you – mandate Christ as a secondary deity? <<
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.]]
>> “Nothing more should be read into their citation?” Perhaps if the WT had stated its position clearly or quoted to demonstrate context, Dr. Mantey would not have felt obliged to write his letter to the WTB&TS in the first place. Clearly, Dr. Mantey and a great many others have indeed “read more” into the citation, and not without good reason. Why? Because the quotes regarding the use of the article to demonstrate the subject of a sentence and avoid a convertible proposition were taken out of context to favor a rendering of the predicate as indefinite. <<
(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.]]
>> The statement is only ridiculous if one misunderstands or purposely redefines what Harner meant by qualitative. The WT has done so repeatedly, e.g.: “As Harner shows there is the qualitative force possible, hence, warranting 'a god,' meaning quality of Godlikeness or a mighty one” (Watchtower letter to David Henke, October 24, 1975). The WT obviously believes (or wants its readers to believe) a qualitative reading of theos in John 1:1c “warrants” the indefinite force
>> Harner, in fact, defines qualitative theos quite clearly in his article as follows: “This would be one way of representing John's thought, which is, as I understand it, that ho logos (the Word), no less than ho theos (the God), had the nature of theos (God)” (JBL, Vol. 92, 1973, p. 87). Harner’s words “as I understand it” do not suggest that Harner’s theology is in view here (as WT apologists have repeatedly alleged), but rather – as is quite clear when his comments are read in context – his understanding of Greek grammar, and the meaning of a qualitative noun.
>> The “simple fact” that the Word is not the God with whom He existed disproves modalism, not Trinitarianism. Please refrain from attacking strawmen, Mr. Stafford. With regard to count nouns, are you suggesting a count noun in Colwell’s Construction cannot have a purely qualitative force? A recent study by Hartley demonstrates that the indefinite force is the least likely in Colwell constructions in John’s Gospel, even for count nouns. Dan Wallace cites only one possible case of an indefinite anarthrous PN in the entire NT. It therefore is very unlikely, statistically, that John intended the indefinite force in John 1:1c. <<
(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.]]
>> Dr. Mantey’s point has nothing to do with how other verses are rendered, nor does the WT’s citation of Colwell. He is simply making the point that the WT’s citation is selective at best, as Colwell’s most relevant assertion regarding the correct translation of John 1:1 was omitted.
>> Context, is it? To which “context” are you referring? The context that includes John 1:1a (In the Beginning, the Word already existed)? John 1:3 (By Him, all things came into existence)? John 1:18 (The one and only God)? John makes it clear the Word has always been (en) intimately with (pros) the Father. The works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers make it abundantly clear that early Christians understood John to be saying that The Word was eternal – not one early Father (not even Origen after he succumbed to the Lucian heresy) wrote of the Son as a created being. If the Word is eternal and uncreated, and has always been in an intimate relationship with the Father, He must be God. Thus, if one truly comes to grip with the Greek semantics and grammar, the context demands the purely qualitative force of theos – “the Word was in His essence, absolute Deity” (Wuest’s translation).
>> Further, with regard to context, the Prologue celebrates the uniqueness of the Word. He alone has been eternally with the Father; through Him alone all created things came into existence; He alone became flesh to bring light into the world; He alone declares the Father; he is monogenes. If John’s purpose is to celebrate the uniqueness of the Word, why would he conclude the majestic prose of his opening verse with the anti-climax: A GOD was the Word? If the Word merely possessed the nature of “a god-like one,” a nature far from unique among the countless angels of Heaven, surely John would not have emphasized theos by placing it first in the clause. For by doing so, he would have undermined the very point he was making: the one of a kind (monogenes) nature of the Word. <<
(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.]]
>> If the WT’s understanding of “divine nature” differs from Mantey’s and Harner’s, then citing them AS THOUGH THEY AGREE WITH THE WT’S UNDERSTANDING is unethical. Further, the WT’s “understanding” of Christ having “a” divine nature is certainly not derived from a qualitative reading of theos in John 1:1c. Universally, modern grammarians echo Dan Wallace’s definition of qualitative: “A qualitative noun places the stress on quality, nature, or essence” (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 244). Qualitative nouns do not signify “similar” nature or “some but not all” qualities or attributes. Qualitative nouns do not “merely tell about a certain quality” (NWT 1971, p. 1362). They embrace the entire essence, the complete nature, all qualities. To reference a passage not even you will dispute (1 John 4:8), God’s nature is love. Love is pre-verbal and anarthrous. It is qualitative. There are no qualities of love not present in God. Yes, Mr. Stafford, I’m aware that ‘love’ is a mass noun, and ‘God’ is a count noun. My point here is to demonstrate what grammarians mean by a ‘qualitative noun.’ Thus, if one accepts the qualitative force of theos in John 1:1c, one must conclude that the Word possesses all the qualities possessed by God. The Word has the same nature as God. He is Eternal, Un-created, Self-Existent. This is not Trinitarian theology “read into” the text, but rather the definition of “qualitative” as defined by those whose credentials speak for themselves (including Dr. Mantey).
>> Forgive me, but your assertion that the WT quotes Mantey and Harner merely to counter Colwell sounds a bit like revisionist history. The passages previously quoted from the appendix of the 1971 NWT and the WT letter to David Henke make it clear that the WT equated "qualitative" with "indefinite." Citing Mantey and Harner in defense of a “qualitative, not definite” force does nothing to further the WT's cause, of course, for qualitative does not equate or mandate indefiniteness, as I’m sure you’ll agree (even if the WT does not). While Harner does state that qualitative nouns “may” be translated with the indefinite article, the indefinite force is not mandated; indeed, it is the least likely force for pre-verbal PNs in the NT. (Interestingly, it is the most likely force for post-verbal PNs, a construction John had at his disposal, had he wished to convey the indefinite sense, as you insist). Your argument for an indefinite reading inevitably must appeal to “context,” which you confine to John 1:1b. As previously stated, John 1:1b is “against Sabellius” (in Luther’s colorful phrase). It does not disprove the Trinity, for Trinitarians readily acknowledge a person cannot be the person he is with. Nor does it provide sufficient proof to deny the statistically most probable reading of theos as purely qualitative. <<
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.]]
>> What is comical is seeing how you dance around the point at hand. Dr. Mantey states that WT writers are out of step with 99% of relevant scholarship. Someone with the obvious rhetorical skill you possess should be able to refute this statement rather simply. Please provide a list of reputable scholars and translations that support the NWT translation. Notice I didn’t say provide a list of scholars who argue for a qualitative reading of theos in John 1:1c. Notice I didn’t ask for selective quotations from Trinitarians. Notice I didn’t ask for translations of obscure German liberals who deny Biblical inspiration, or of unnamed Unitarian committees. No, I simply want a list of scholars whose credentials we can verify, who actually support the NWT rendering of John 1:1.
>> With regard to ho theos being “redefined” as the Father, please tell me, who is the Word with in verse 1? Who is He with in verse 18? Now, all John 1:1 says is this: In the Beginning (the same Beginning described in Genesis 1:1), the Word already existed. The Word was (continually) with God, and the Word was (continually) God. If the whole of Scripture declares monotheism (which it does), we are left with only one conclusion: The Son and the Father are distinct in some way, and yet, both are God. You wish the distinction to be in terms of theos, but the qualitative force of theos in John 1:1c militates against that view. The Word cannot be distinct in terms of theos if the Word is fully God by nature (the meaning of qualitative theos). The qualitative reading is further supported by undiluted monotheism of 1st Century Judaism.
>> Do the words person or hypostasis adequately describe the nature of God? Assuredly not. Since God’s ways are not mine, His thoughts not my thoughts, I have no problem accepting that God’s ontological nature may be beyond my complete comprehension. However, God has revealed something of His nature in his word, sufficient for our understanding in regard to our relationship with Him and the salvation offered by His Son. He has revealed his Unity. God is one. He has also revealed that He and His Son are both distinct as persons, yet share the Divine Nature. If we are to accept the Bible for what it says and not resort to redefining ‘One’ or ‘God,’ we must conclude the Father and Son together are the One God.
>> Perhaps if you could demonstrate that 1st Century Jews practiced a form of henotheism, we might grant at least the possibility that John distinguished the Word as a “different theos.” I implore you, Mr. Stafford, if you are correct and 1st Century Jews were accustomed to believing in many who are rightly called god, over whom is God the Father, please demonstrate for us the contemporary Jewish writing that proves this. If historic Judaism was henotheistic, if early Christians inherited the belief in many gods, the evidence should be abundant. Where is it? <<
(5) Your statement on your letter that the sacred text itself should guide one and "not just someone's rulebook". 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.]]
>> So far we have seen no such thing. The Trinitarian interpretation of John 1:1 is dependent on Biblically mandated monotheism and the grammatical definition of a qualitative noun. Again, unless you can demonstrate from ancient Jewish sources that Judaism was henotheistic in or before the 1st Century, you are the one reading “extra-Biblical theology” into the text.
>> If Judaism and early Christianity were firmly monotheistic, monogenes theos is nothing less than an absolute declaration of Christ as God. The Father is the Only True God (John 17:3); The Son is God, One and Only. One God (Deut 6:4; Is 44:8). Two called God. Both are the One God. <<
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.]]
>> As Dr. Mantey well knew, kolasis had the meaning “cut off” in Attic Greek. In Koine, it meant “punishment.” This fact is readily apparent to anyone willing to spend some time in the lexicons, even those you cite. (Liddell and Scott, “authoritative” as a classic Greek lexicon, demonstrates that even in Attic Greek, the definition “chastisement” has become common by the time of Plato.) If we consult lexicons that delineate definitions in Koine, we find kolasis is universally defined as “punishment” (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, Moulton and Milligan, Vine, Thayer, Kittel, Louw and Nida, etc.). In all 107 known uses of the word in first century writings, all have the meaning "punishment," not "cutting off," while the word did have that meaning some centuries earlier. <<
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"!
>> John 8:58 is a claim to eternal existence. Williams’ translation confirms this. The contrast is between genesthai (Abraham was born or came into existence) and eimi (am, exist). ‘Before Abraham was created, I existed.’ Jesus did NOT say: ‘Before Abraham came into existence, I came into existence.’ The NWT translation obscures this distinction. The reaction of the Jews in verse 59 makes it clear that they understood Jesus’ claim to be blasphemous. What is blasphemous about simply claiming to be older than Abraham?
>> It is difficult to take any WT apologist seriously regarding this verse. Over the years, the WT and its defenders have attempted several apologetics for its translation. First, we were told that ego eimi was in the “perfect indefinite tense” (a tense not existing in Greek; it is an obscure tense in English [recorded in two old Grammars] and not in any way applicable to this passage). Then we were told it was an “historical present” (which only occurs in narrative discourse, which this passage is decidedly not). Now, WT apologists are arguing for “present of past action” (a tense which places stress on the present action [Wallace, p. 519], and therefore is incompatible with the context). One wonders how much careful Biblical exegesis is going on at the WT, when its translations require so many completely different justifications. <<
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.]]
>> You are either confused or are being deceptive. Your citations from Vine, NCV, and JB, all refer to verse 28. Dr. Mantey is commenting on the previous verse, 27. How does the NCV and the JB translate verse 27, Mr. Stafford? How does Vine translate hapax in verse 27? How does Thayer? How do Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich? Rogers and Rogers? Vincent? The lexicons are clear: While hapax can, at times, carry the meaning "once for all,” it most commonly means simply “once, one time.” Dr. Mantey is correct. There is nothing in the NT that suggests we “die once for all time” in the sense that the WT means it. <<
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.]]
>> John 1:3 states that ALL THINGS (panta) came into being BY or THOUGH (dia) the Word, and without him NOT EVEN ONE THING (oude en) came into existence. There could not be a clearer declaration that the Word is uncreated, but rather is the architect or source of all created things. Yes, the Father works through the Son. You tell me the Son is a created being; the Bible says ALL THINGS THAT WERE CREATED were created by or through the Son. Whom should I believe?
>> Your interpretation of Philippians 2:6 appears to rest solely on the meaning of harpagmos, which occurs only once in the NT, the meaning of which is debatable. A sounder exegesis derives from the grammar and meaning of the rest of the verse and surrounding context. First, the verb hyparchon (being, subsisting) is in the present tense, active voice, signifying continuous existence. Second, Moulton and Milligan (quoting Kennedy with approval) define “form” as follows: “[morphe] always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it.” Vine, Thayer, Vincent, Robertson, Kittel, and a host of others support these two points. Thus, Jesus is (continuously) in the form (or essence) of God. He, therefore, does not “seek equality with his God,” for He already possesses it. As N.T. Wright posits convincingly, the phrase “did not think it robbery,” was idiomatic in the 1st Century, it “clearly assumes that the object in question – in this case equality with God – is already possessed” (Wright, “arpagmos and The Meaning of Philippians 2:5-11,” The Best in Theology, 2:101). This is not theology read into the text, but theology read out of the facts of Biblical language. <<
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.]]
>> Whatever else the Hebrews passage may reveal about Christ’s nature, it clearly teaches that Jesus was not a created Angel in either His pre- or post-incarnate state (Heb 1:13; 2:5). The WT’s view of the Philippians passage fails to fully grapple with the grammar of the present active hyparchon and the meaning of morphe. This verse and many others (such as Col 2:9) make it clear that Jesus was, indeed, in the words of Tertullian, “True God and True Man.” <<
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%. ]]
>> I thought the WT justified its misplaced comma by appealing to the notoriously corrupt Curetonianus Syriac manuscript (NWT 1984, p. 1279 note). When did the WT begin citing Codex Vaticanus? Another ‘completely different justification,’ I see. No matter, Vaticanus will serve them no better than the paraphrased Syriac of Curetonianus. I notice you didn’t bother to respond to Dr. Mantey’s comments regarding the KIT. Where is the comma in the Greek text in the KIT? Why didn’t Westcott and Hort place the comma after semeron, if Codex B placed it there? Perhaps they knew (as A.T. Robertson makes clear on p. 242 of his Grammar) that there is no way of knowing with any certainty how or even if the NT writers used punctuation. The ‘high point’ is indeed termed a “comma-equivalent” by many scholars, but there are no instances of the high point in early NT manuscripts at the end of an introductory clause. Thus, one cannot be dogmatic (or even posit a reasonable theory) that simply because in English we would place a comma after “Surely I tell you (today),” that John would have done so. Even if you are correct about Vaticanus, one witness among literally thousands is hardly persuasive evidence, regardless of its greatness.
>> A more reasonable approach to punctuation would be to consider how we might logically punctuate similar phrases in the NT. Amen soi lego (truly I tell you) was a common introductory phrase used by Jesus in the four Gospels. It occurs 77 times, and in all those cases (except Luke 23:43), the NWT properly places a break after “you.” How suspicious that in the one case where the placement of the comma might threaten WT theology, it is moved.
>> Lamsa? His translation is from the Aramaic, not the Greek, and is highly controversial. To quote Bruce Metzger, arguably the most knowledgeable scholar of early Bible manuscripts alive today: “George Lamsa, L-A-M-S-A, who in the 1940s persuaded a reputable publisher of the Bible in Philadelphia, the Winston Publishing Company, to issue his absolute fraud, of 'the Bible translated from the original Aramaic.' Absolutely a money getter, and nothing else. He said that 'the whole of the New Testament was written in Aramaic,' and he 'translates it from the Aramaic,' but he never would show anybody the manuscripts that he translated from. Secondly, why would Paul write in Aramaic, let us say, to the people of Galatia? They didn't know any more Aramaic than people in Charlestown or Princeton know Aramaic.”
>> The others you mention (including the notes to the Companion Bible) are the works of individuals, not committees, and are thus are highly susceptible to theological bias (Knoch was a Universalist; Rotherham an evangelist for the Churches of Christ). These obscure works hardly refute Dr. Mantey’s point. <<
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.]]
>> Each of these texts teaches precisely what Dr. Mantey claims. The Bible leaves no room for doubt about the condition of the dead – Eccl. 12:6-7 (as well as the verses cited by Dr. Mantey and many others). <<
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.]]
>> The pot is calling the kettle black. Actually, Dr. Mantey’s letter demonstrates the WT’s lack of scholarship and misuse of the Divine Text to support their preferred theology. The tactics of out-of-context quotation and ‘creative’ ellipses are well known to any whom have studied WT literature in any detail. It is sad that someone of your obvious intelligence and education would defend such tactics by using them yourself. <<
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.]]
>> It is possible to be legally correct and morally bankrupt. If citing Trinitarian scholars out of context, if pillaging the works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers and historical references through misuse of ellipses to cloud the original author’s intent (e.g., Should You Believe in the Trinity tract), if selectively quoting grammarians is legal, it is certainly neither moral nor credible. <<
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.]]
>> The problem was indeed the Xenophon passage, and you repeat the WT’s error here. Dr. Mantey used Anabasis as a ‘parallel’ with regard to distinguishing the subject of a copulative sentence, not to demonstrate the definiteness or indefiniteness of the predicate. Suggesting that an indefinite predicate nominative in one case could in any way demand a 'parallel' indefinite nuance in another (particularly when one is in Attic Greek and the other in Koine), merely demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the relevant grammar. The appendix of the 1971 NWT states: "this Grammar could have translated it AND THE WORD WAS A GOD, to run more in parallel with Xenophon’s statement." Clearly, there is more to the Society's citation of the Manual Grammar than demonstrating a non-definite force to theos in John 1:1c. <<
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.]]
>> Dr. Mantey’s reputation speaks for itself, and is unsullied by your ‘response.’ You have demonstrated nothing new here, save the gall to employ a sarcastic ad-hominem against a man who, being dead, is in no position to defend himself. For someone outside of “God’s Visible Organization,” the tactics employed by the WT and its defenders appear questionable, at best. Ridiculing Dr. Mantey and questioning his honesty does nothing to further the argument, let alone convincing us that the WT is the “sole conduit of communication” from the One True God. It appears you are the one “blinded” by submission your authorities, to the point where you cannot adequately discern who is honest and who is not.
>> I pray this will not always be the case.
Robert Hommel <<
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