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The Watchtower Letter to Christian Apologetics: Research and Information Service


On the Citation of the Dana Mantey Greek Grammar

In Support of the NWT / KIT Translation of John 1:1

(an excerpt from the entire letter, published in The Scholarly Dishonesty of the Watchtower 1976 by Michael Van Buskirk)


Dear Friend,

We have your recent letter in which you ask why the New World Bible Translation Committee felt justified in using the quotation from A Manual Greek Grammar of the New Testament by Dana and Manty [sic] on page 1158 of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures in support of their translation of John 1:1.

Of course, for us to quote them and to show that their work allows for a certain understanding is quite different than saying that Dana and Manty [sic] personally agree with that view.  Dana and Manty [sic] may have their personal views about the trinity, but their work allows for the rendering found in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures at John 1:1.

In their grammar, Dana and Manty [sic] set out the rule.  From that rule they attempt to argue in support of the trinity.  The rule, however, that they propose is plainly and unmistakably stated in their book.  In the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures and also in the Interlinear, the same rule was taken that they used and accept for just what it says.  It was shown that it is possible to argue in favor of the fact that the Word of God was "a god" or a divine personality.  Of course, Trinitarians do not like this.  But it must be borne in mind that in quoting a person's statement or presentation of the facts, one does not have to agree with the interpretation put on those facts....We, in quoting the facts, do not oblige ourselves to agree with the conclusions or interpretations presented by the authorities we quoted.  Similarly, in quoting the "rule" set out by Dana and Manty [sic], we are not obliged to accept their interpretation of how this rule might bear on the trinity concept.  We can take the plainly stated "rule" and with it show that the rendering of John 1:1 in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is consistent and reasonable.

....Despite the claims of some that Colwell's rule is inflexible, he himself recognizes that it cannot be.  Rather, how the translator interprets the surrounding verses, and, indeed, the whole Bible, is what will determine how he translates John 1:1.

....However, Jehovah's Witnesses believe the simple, clear words of Jesus when he said: "The Father is greater than I am." (John 14:28).

....Incidentally, Bishop Westcott, co-producer of the noted Westcott & Hort Text of the Christian Scriptures said:  "It is necessarily without the article (the'os not ho the'os) inasmuch as it describes the nature of the Word and does not identify His Person." (Quoted from page 116 of An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, by Professor C.F.D. Moule, 1953 ed.)

Sincerely in Jehovah's service,

Watchtower B&T Society of New York, Inc.

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