Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at the Watchtower booklet “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” Tonight, we’re going to look at the rather lengthy section that they have on “The Word was God.”
Those who know about the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses know that they translate this as “The Word was a god.” Of course, I think if they do take that seriously, then they are indeed polytheists, as has been said before. On the other hand, there is a sense I could allow the translation and I would still not have a problem. It could be valid to say Jesus is a god in the way that Wisdom would be considered divine.
The Watchtower makes it a point to say that if the Word was with another person, it cannot be that other person. They quote the Journal of Biblical Literature where Jesuit Joseph A. Fitzmyer says if the latter part were rendered “the God” it would contradict the preceding clause that says the Word was with God.
The reality however is that this is exactly what Trinitarians argue! We do argue that if it said “The God” then that would mean that it was saying that Jesus was the God he was with and that he and the Father would be identical in person. The Watchtower has taken what Trinitarians argue and replaced it with a straw man. It’s a fine argument against modalism, but it does nothing to Trinitarianism.
The Watchtower then goes to a long list of translators that did not translate it the way most do today. Considering my response yesterday, things have not changed. A long list of English translations that agree does not justify that translation. It could still be wrong. Yes Watchtower. Thirty million Frenchmen can indeed be wrong. After all, I can show even more translations that say otherwise. That does not mean I win the translation war.
The Watchtower tells us that there’s two uses of Theos in the text. The first refers to Almighty God, which is the start of the question-begging. For them, Almighty God is one person and thus if anyone is with Almighty God, then by definition, that person cannot be Almighty God.
Now it is true that there was no indefinite article in Greek, but that does not mean that every noun that does not have the definite article before it should have “a” before it. For instance, should we read John 1:6 as saying that a man was sent from “a god.” In fact, John 1:1 says “In the beginning” but there is no definite article before “beginning.”
The reasoning usually given by commentators is that John 1:1 is a predicate normative. There are two nouns in the normative case and when a case as this one described shows up, the second use of the word Theos would be to describe the nature of the subject under question. In other words, God can be predicated of the Word.
Again, there is nothing new here really and the Watchtower has a case that I daresay they would have a hard time finding a scholar of Greek who would defend it.
We shall continue next time.