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Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@teaminfocus.com.au.

9 Comments

  1. avatar

    Edward Andrews

    Jason:

    Jason wrote: The most controversial aspect of this book is not just BeDuhn’s decision to include the JW New World Bible in his analysis, but his conclusion that in many passages the NW translation is less biased than mainstream translations such as the NIV or NASB.

    Response: This comment within itself expresses a measure of bias. If you had simply worded it: ‘surprising,’ instead of “most controversial.”

    Jason wrote: However, he deals almost exclusively (seven out of nine chapters) with passages surrounding the deity of Jesus Christ. Is this the only doctrine which might be subject to bias in Scripture? Further, several of the passages he cites are passages which are consistent with the deity of Christ, but would not be used to prove the deity of Christ.

    Response: While bias is not entirely focus around verses that woulf be used for the Trinity, they are the ones that draw the most ferver. If you look at the doctrinal statement of most conservative seminaries, it is the Trinity that will disallow one from studying there. The Trinity is the only doctrine that brings heat on the Witnesses, leaving them out of the big boy’s club: Christianity. The rest of their doctrinal positions are held by one form of Christianity, or another. So, to make bias stand had quite readily, BeDuhn did quite well in focusing on this area. Also, you are quite mistaken about the texts that he chose, they are used widely to establish the Deity of Christ, and proof texts for the Trinity. I am not certain what you are reading?

    Jason Wrote: BeDuhn seems to operate under the impression that he has avoided all bias in his analysis. At no point in the book does he reveal his own personal theological biases (not even to the point where you could confidently nail him as an evangelical). Yet I would argue that it is impossible for him not to have theological biases. He could have engendered a much higher level of trust with his readership had he admitted his position and biases early on in the book. If I had to peg him based on what little he gives away about himself, I would suspect he is a theological Liberal.

    Response: I appreciated his conceealing his position. And I am certain that he is well aware that all are bias. Your selection of him as a liberal is based on his being honest in translation. I noticed that you failed to overturn his arguments, to deal criticially with the book, and have tried the character attack. Interesting.

    Jason Wrote: I felt that BeDuhn’s understanding and awareness of the modern debate on translations, at least within Christian Fundamentalism, was lacking. This revealed itself in a lot of ways, but once in particular where he made a statement which seemed to indicate that he hadn’t studied the preface of the 1611 publication of the Authorised Version though trying to make a point about that edition.

    Response: You write the above, and then you say the following about yourself: “I wouldn’t claim to have done significant in-depth consideration of this book, but I did want to record my impressions after a quick perusal.” Really?

    Truly,

    Edward Andrews

    Reply
  2. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Edward Andrews,

    Thanks for your response.

    1) True. I am biased. I believe the JW’s are a cult of Christianity and I believe the NWT, while having many good qualities as a translation, has been deliberately manipulated to defend the doctrinal deviance of the JW’s.

    2) You seem to equate the trinity with the deity of Jesus Christ. They are separate, though connected, doctrines. I disagree about the trinity being the main point of controversy between JW’s and Christianity. There are a range of Christian doctrines that the JW’s reject altogether. Still, the point is moot because BeDuhn does not claim to be addressing the differences between JW’s and Christianity. Instead, he presents himself as if he were a Christian theologian addressing matters of translation without bias. The trinity may be controversial for JW’s, but it is not controversial within Christianity.

    3) I was not debating his points. I was attempting to give an overview of the book and my points of concern. That said, I did not attack his character at all. I made a guess as to his theological position.

    4) I do not see any hypocrisy in my statement. The primary meaning of the word peruse is “to read or examine with care.” That is the sense in which I used it.

    I was just pointing out that he did not seem to have a good understanding of one of the significant debates touching the topic on which he published a book. Additionally, that he didn’t seem to have read a key historical document. That is something that concerned me and I felt the reader should be aware of.

    Reply
  3. avatar

    Chris

    I’ve read quite a lot of this book myself, and in fact Jehovah’s Witnesses directly quote from it in one of their publications (‘Bearing Thorough Witness About God’s Kingdom’, published in 2009, I believe) as proof that unbiased individuals consider JWs as ‘basing their beliefs on the Bible’.

    BeDuhn comments as much, yet paradoxically he spends an entire appendix demolishing the JWs’ justification for using the divine name JHVH in the New Testament. He says that they engaged in ‘conjectural emendation’ and did not obey the most basic rule of translation in remaining faithful to the original text. This is obvious in that they do not substitute ‘Jehovah’ for ‘Lord’ in all the cases where ‘Lord’ appears, even when Old Testament scriptures are being quoted by New Testament writers, because it would create problems for their personal beliefs. Not to mention that they substitute ‘Jehovah’ for ‘Lord’ in many cases where no Old Testament verse is being quoted at all, despite the original Greek text making no mention of ‘Jehovah’.

    Also, BeDuhn seems to express a complete ignorance of the origins of JWs–their connection to the Second Adventists and how much of the theological structure is (or was) at least influenced by them. But BeDuhn states that they approach the Bible ‘with a kind of innocence’ rather than putting their own preconceived ideas into it. How one arrives at Jesus’ invisible presence starting in the year 1914, or teaching that Jesus is only Mediator for 144,000 people, or how Matthew 24:45-47 refers to a group of men appointed by Jesus in 1919 to provide spiritual food to everyone else, without having a preconceived idea or two, is beyond me.

    The New World Translation cannot realistically be judged as superior simply on the basis of a handful of verses, even if they rendered them without bias (which would be a good thing, if it were true). JW literature is filled with numerous statements from scholars that are taken out of context and used to support their theology. That’s called dishonest scholarship. There are more subtle changes in the New World Translation that were definitely made to support their doctrine and that actually have no basis at all in the original languages. Revelation 20:4 (“Yes, I saw the souls of those” instead of “And I saw the souls of those”) and Jeremiah 29:10 (“at Babylon” instead of “for Babylon”) are good examples of where one word was changed and thus altered the whole meaning of the verse, but without legitimate basis in the original languages for doing so. Given their long record of dishonest statements and dubious reasoning, and the considerable lack of credentials amongst their ‘anonymous’ translation committee, it would be hard to conclude that the New World Translation is the best overall translation.

    Revealing my own bias, I am a former JW myself, but I have done considerable research and study on these matters and wouldn’t just say that to take a jab at Jehovah’s Witnesses, as I do agree with them on certain things, even the Trinity issue, for example. Still, there is considerable factual data to support my assertions. I just don’t think this work is sufficient to address the real problems in the New World Translation, so it has led a lot of people to accept BeDuhn’s conclusions without sufficient scrutiny.

    Reply
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  5. avatar

    Bruce Barnard

    Jason, you wrote:
    “BeDuhn develops a serious credibility leak in his dealing with several established Greek grammar rules. Particularly, he addresses Colwell’s Rule …… Instead of merely critiquing [it]and offering adjustments or developments to [it],…. he simply says [it is] wrong and should be ignored.”

    Dear Jason. Recent kione Greek scholarship is now of the opinion, and on sound grounds, that Colwell’s Rule 2b is indeed irelevant to deciding the definitness of the anarthrous QEOS of John 1.1 and indeed any anarthrous noun in the type of construct. I would refer you to Paul Dixon who stated “No longer
    should Colwell’s rule mislead us into thinking that an anarthrous
    predicate nominative preceding the verb is just as definite as the
    articular predicate nominative following the verb and that “there need be
    no doctrinal significance in the dropping of the article, for it is
    simply a matter of word-order…….Finally, we may conclude three things about John 1:1. First,
    Colwell’s rule cannot be applied to the verse as an argument for
    definiteness. Colwell’s rule says that definite predicate nominatives
    preceding the verb usually are anarthrous. The rule asserts nothing
    about definiteness. It does not say that anarthrous predicate
    nominatives preceding the verb usually are definite. This is the
    converse of the rule, and as such is not
    cessarily valid.” Some scholars in the past, such as Metzger and Barclay both misunderstood this rule and then miused used it to malign the NWT’s “a god” translation. In this they erred seriously. This then shows that this particular criticism of Beduhn’s work by you can now be retracted. Beduhn is right re Colwell!

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jason Harris

      Bruce Barnard,

      Thanks for the comment. I would point out that you did not dismiss the rule. Nor did Dixon. To argue that the rule does not apply in John 1:1c is something different all together. Since I don’t have a copy of the book on hand, I can’t go back and verify what he said exactly, but your comment doesn’t seem to contradict anything I’ve said in the review.

      Best regards.

  6. avatar

    Doug C.

    Jason,

    Thank you for taking your time to express your thought on BeDuhn’s book. It can be enlightening to hear other people’s perspective. However, as an ardent student of the Bible, and one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I thought it was a shame that you resorted to name calling i.e. “I believe J.W.’s are a cult of Christianity.” I do not follow any man but base my beliefs on what I see for myself in God’s Word. I believe that it is incumbent upon all of us to honestly and certainly prayerfully study the Scriptures. I may not agree with someone, but I do appreciate their opinions.

    You also made the statement that, “The trinity might be controversial for J.W.s but it is not among Christianity.” I have been actively involved in the ministry for over 40 yrs. And, from first hand experience, I can testify that many many people do not accept the concept of the trinity. For those that do, they tend to get defensive sometimes even angry. I will discuss the Bible, but I will not argue. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. However, I believe the answer is found in the Bible. Honest prayerful study is the only way to find the truth.

    Many seems to put much stock in the idea of ‘mainstream Christianity’. It seems as if the feeling is, “If everyone believes this, then it must be true!” ie. Perception is reality. Just because many teach something doesn’t make it true. Jesus took exceptions to the religeous leaders of the time that had been influenced by worldly ideals. How violent they became in attacking the first century congregation! The religeous leader’s perception of the truth was wrong. They did not have the truth. The Bible states in 1 Timothy 4:1 states that “some will drop out of the faith”. Byington Jesus also stated that by their fruits you will know them. What was the fruit of a lot of relgious leaders back then? Violence. Such is the case in many religions today. It is easy to get angry over debates, which the Bible discourages.

    As you take exception to Jehovah’s Witnesses, their being a cult, I wanted to share something with you. As a young boy, my parents went to the Baptist Church. Later, they studied with and became Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I got a little older I began to research its teachings. What I found touched me deeply. The Baptist Church along with the Catholic and most Protestant chuches, will go to war. They will do this even to the point of killing people of their own faith! Yet, what did Jesus say in John 13:34,34? He said that he was giving them a new commandment. That command was to love one another. It was to be the identifying mark of his disciplies. No matter what doctrinal points that we might discuss, how much will it matter if we break Jesus’ command by killing each other? How do we say we have the truth if we will be part of the world and kill one another? Jesus also said that his disciples would be not be part of the world in John 17:14. And yet, many ‘Christians’ will get involved in politics to change the world. The Kingdom that we pray for is the catalyst to bring peace to the earth. (Ps. 37:10,11,29) The Bible sanctifies our loving God, Jehovah and is a message of hope.

    I know of no other religion that invests as much time and effort in studying the Bible with individuals. Our lives are wrapped around preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. Matt. 24:14. Jesus’ last command in Matt. 28:19,20 was to go forth and makes disciples, teaching them to observe the things he commanded. That has been and continues to be the main focus of my life.

    You might enjoy prayerfully considering the book, “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” with whatever Bible you are personally comfortable with.

    I wish you the best in your spiritual journey.

    With Sincerity,

    Douglas R. Crosby

    Reply
    1. avatar

      jackiehorner

      Douglas, thank you for that, and I see Jason Harris has nothing to refute, because how could he? You nailed it with your response. I too have been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, second generation, for 30 years, and having once been Catholic, and having studied many religions and religious ideas, without a doubt, Jehovah’s witnesses not only display the love that Christ said true followers would have, but they also have picked up where Jesus left off in the proclaiming of his Father’s Kingdom as the only hope for mankind on earth. Teaching in all lands, in 700 languages. The trinity is a pagan, man-promoted teaching, whose concept is not even found in the Bible, and Jesus never alluded to it. The pharisees of the time accused Jesus of making himself “God”, and Jesus’ reply was “are you going to stone me because I said I am God’s Son”? Trinitarians’ actions today are very much the same as the pharisees of Jesus’ day in that they claim Jesus made himself out to be God, when in reality, he clearly said he is “God’s son”. It’s no doubt that most of so-called Christianity believes in the Trinity, because “broad and spacious is he road leading to destruction and it is cramped with people…but narrow is the road to life, and few are finding it…” I would expect the true religion to be small in comparison to the many on the broad road. Just something to think about.

    2. avatar

      Jason Harris

      Hey Doug, Thanks for the note.
      First, I don’t do name calling. The JWs are a cult. I’m not using that in the sense of a “compound” cult, but rather in the theological sense of the word which has an objective meaning. A cult of Christianity, in that sense, is a group that is based on the historic Christian faith, but does not accept the deity of the Christ after which Christianity is named. Which JWs don’t.
      Second, the doctrine of the Trinity is fundamental to the Christian faith and has been since the early church.
      Third, I’m not what I am because it is “mainstream.” I am what I am because it is biblical. The JWs teach a works gospel. Jesus Christ plus. That’s the problem. When JWs get off their side issues (e.g. pacifism) and start preaching salvation by grace through faith without works, it will be different.
      Fourth, I’ve been to my local “Kingdom Hall” for some of that “Bible study” you speak of. It’s not Bible study at all. It’s indoctrination. When I do Bible study, I don’t give the people a magazine that conditions them to see what I want them to see in the Bible. I tell them to open their Bible and then I take them through it word by word. That’s Bible study.

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