Friday, January 30, 2009

The New World Translation – Part II: The Translators

The Watchtower Society released The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in August 1950. This translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was released in five volumes covering the years of 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958, and 1960. Finally, their complete translation of the Bible, The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures was released as a single volume in 1961.

Jehovah’s Witnesses were told then, and still instructed to believe today, that this translation is the most accurate, unbiased translation available. The Watchtower Society claims that 'The New World Translation Committee’ was made up of individuals who did their best to “transmit his [God’s] thoughts and declarations as accurately as possible.”

However, when one endeavors to check into the credentials of these translators, one finds that the Watchtower Society is unwilling to release this information, stating that the Committee desires that all the glory for this translation go to Jehovah God and therefore the translators desire to remain anonymous.

The New World Translation Committee has always been extremely secretive, and, as a result, information about who was on it has only trickled out of the Brooklyn headquarters as various staff members have left and revealed what they knew. Scant information has been published, other information has leaked by word of mouth.

Nonetheless, the facts show that they were totally unqualified for the task of translation. The Watchtower Society’s Governing Body members who were on the Translation Committee had no formal training whatsoever in the Biblical languages. Here are the translators:

1. Frederick W. Franz: Main translator. He took liberal arts sequence at University of Cincinnati; 21 semester hours of classical Greek, some Latin. Partially completed a two-hour survey course in Biblical Greek in junior year; course titled "The New Testament--A course in grammar and translation." He left in spring of 1914 before completing junior year. Self-taught in Spanish, biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. He entered Brooklyn headquarters facility of Watchtower Society in 1920. It is probable he was the ghost writer for J. F. Rutherford (2nd President of Watchtower Society) from late 1920s through 1942. Franz was the Vice President of Watchtower Society from 1942 to 1977 and President from 1977 until his death in 1992 at age 99.

Franz writes in his autobiography contained in the Watchtower, May 1, 1987, page 24:

"What a blessing it was to study Bible Greek under Professor Arthur Kensella! Under Dr. Joseph Harry, an author of some Greek works, I also studied the classical Greek. I knew that if I wanted to become a Presbyterian clergyman, I had to have a command of Bible Greek. So I furiously applied myself and got passing grades"

Franz gives the impression that the bulk of his Greek studies were "Bible Greek" under "Professor Kensella" and that classical Greek was secondary under "Dr. Joseph Harry." The opposite is true. As mentioned above, Franz only took one 2-hour credit class of "Bible Greek" but 21 hours of classical Greek. According to the course catalog of 1911, Arthur Kensella was not a professor of Greek, as Franz wrote, but an "instructor in Greek." Kensella did not have a Ph.D. and he therefore taught entry-level courses.

2. Nathan H. Knorr: No training in biblical languages. Entered Brooklyn headquarters in 1923; 3rd president of Watchtower Bible and Track Society from 1942 to 1977. He died 1977 at age 72.

3. Milton G. Henschel: No training in biblical languages. He served as the private secretary and traveling companion to N. H. Knorr from the late 1940s until the early 1970s. He’s the 4th president of Watchtower Bible and Track Society from 1992 to 2000. After “stepping down”, he was followed by Don Adams as president.

4. Albert D. Schroeder: No training in biblical languages. He took 3 years of mechanical engineering, unspecified language courses in college, dropped out in 1932 and soon entered Brooklyn headquarters. He is a Registrar of "Gilead School" from 1942 to 1959.

5. Karl Klein: No training in biblical languages. Klein entered Brooklyn headquarters in 1925; member of Writing Dept. since 1950. He died 2001 at age 96.

6. George D. Gangas: No training in biblical languages. Greek-speaking Turkish national, he entered Brooklyn headquarters in 1928 as a Greek translator from English to modern Greek publications. He died 1994 at age 98.

Franz was the only man capable to perform any sort of translation work. Gangas was a native Greek speaker, but knew little of Koine Greek (Original Greek language used for the Christian Greek Scriptures), and apparently helped out with a variety of non-translation tasks including reviewing the English grammar for continuity of expression. From all information published about him personally, one readily concludes that Knorr was the business administrator for the Translation Committee. Henschel might have been on it to take care of legal/secretarial matters. Schroeder and Klein did the copious footnotes (which included textual sources) and cross references and marginal notes, which in the original six volumes of The New World Translation were more extensive than in the 1984 edition.

Franz gave this testimony under oath in the Douglas Walsh Trial in Scotland…

Tuesday, 23rd November, 1954: Frederick William Franz, Examined:
Q. Have you also made yourself familiar with Hebrew?
A. Yes....
Q. So that you have a substantial linguistic apparatus at your command?
A. Yes, for use in my biblical work.
Q. I think you are able to read and follow the Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French?
A. Yes.
Q. It is the case, is it not, that in 1950 there was prepared and issued what is called the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures?
A. Yes....
Q. I think that it was your duty, was it not, before the issue of that New World Translation by your Society to check that translation for accuracy?
A. That is true.
Q. In light of your studies and in light of your knowledge?
A. That is true.
Q. And did you do so?
A. I did so....
Q. And was it your duty on behalf of the Society to check the translation into English from the original Hebrew of that first volume of the Old Testament Scriptures?
A. Yes....
Q. In so far as translation of the Bible itself is undertaken, are you responsible for that?
A. I have been authorized to examine a translation and determine its accuracy and recommend its acceptance in the form in which it is submitted.
Q. Are the translators members of the Editorial Committee?
A. That is a question which I, as a member of the Board of Directors, am not authorized to disclose....
Q. When did you go to the University?....Did you graduate?
A. No, I did not....
Q. Had you done any Hebrew in the course of your University work?
A. No, I had not, but in the course of my editorial work, my special research work for the president of the Society, I found it was very necessary to have knowledge of Hebrew, and so I undertook a personal study of that.

Wednesday, 24th November, 1954: Frederick William Franz, Cross Continued:
Q. You, yourself, read and speak Hebrew, do you?
A. I do not speak Hebrew.
Q. You do not?
A. No.
Q. Can you, yourself, translate that into Hebrew?
A. Which?
Q. That fourth verse of the Second Chapter of Genesis?
A. You mean here?
Q. Yes?
A. No, I won’t attempt to do that.
— From Douglas Walsh Trial, Pursuer’s Proof, 1954, pages 7-9, 88, 91-92, 102-103.

This exercise which Franz was unable to do is something which the average first or second year Hebrew student could have accomplished without any difficulty. Is it any wonder the Watchtower Society refuses to publicly reveal the people who were involved in the translation of their Bible? Would you put your trust in a doctor who refused to give his credentials? Yet, this is similar to what many Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing when it comes to their trust of the Watchtower Society's The New World Translation of the Bible.

Uncover the history, understand the facts, examine the details and know "The Truth".