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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.

50 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.

    3. avatar

      Robert

      Jason. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not preach salvation by works. A person cannot legitimately consider himself reasonable if he has to invent or interpret another person’s beliefs in a way that suits his own argument. Yes, you’re free to draw your own conclusions, but your premise needs to be accurate if you want anyone to take your conclusions seriously.

      However, we believe what the bible explicitly says at James 2:17 – that faith without works is dead. It seems to me that the context of that verse (14-26) doesn’t really leave much room for interpretative debate. In particular, it explains WHY it would be hypocritical to say you have faith but not have works.

      So let’s say I make the statement that “I accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.” What is it that I’m saying? Simply that I believe in him? Reading the verses I just mentioned should disavow you of that notion. I’m sure you know as well as I do that being a Christian means being a follower of Christ. If, in turn, you are a follower of Christ, that means that you seek to take seriously the things he took seriously, you try to view God as Jesus viewed Him and, rather obviously, you do your best to obey any instructions he has given you to follow. If you think that’s not correct, then can you really say you are a Christian?

      So where does that leave us on the works issue. Well that depends on whether Jesus has given us any work to do. Happily, we are not left in the dark about this. Matthew 28:19 tells us what that work is. And, in a parable in Matthew 25, Jesus speaks frankly about his feelings about those who do not want to do his work.

      So is it a contradiction to say faith is what saves you, but works are important? No. Let’s say you are homeless and penniless and Jesus has offered to buy you a house that is worth trillions of dollars. He says that you need to show appreciation be taking good care of it. All that remains to do is accept his offer.

      So you accept his offer and you start a routine of gardening and internal maintenance to keep the house in good condition. After a lifetime in that house would you argue that you earned it? Would you be able to calculate the hours you’d spent working on the house and apply an hourly rate and realistically say “I’ve paid for this now”? No, if you did you’d be showing a lack of appreciation for the gift.

      So it is with faith and works. I do not believe that I can come remotely close to earning my salvation. No Jehovah’s Witnesses do. But I think if I don’t work hard and do my best to obey my Lord and my God, then I’m showing a lack of appreciation for the gift he’s given me. And I would also be showing that my faith was not genuine.

    4. avatar

      Robert

      Jason, your use of the word “Pacifism” makes it easier for you to relegate the idea it conveys to a political side issue. But “not killing your brothers” is certainly not a minor point. And if you can’t see why Christendom’s approval of killing might raise a huge red flag to those who are searching for God, then I feel sorry for you. 1 John 4:20; Matthew 26:42

    5. avatar

      Jason Harris

      Robert,

      “Preach” might indeed be too strong a word. “Hold to” is not. The JW faith does not and cannot affirm the five solas. It typically takes some digging around to get to the point where a JW will admit it, but usually it comes out in discussion of the atonement and what the cross truly means or in questions about what one may do to lose his salvation, but it is there in the very DNA of JW doctrine. Salvation by works.

    6. avatar

      Robert

      Jason

      If you want to believe that you know better than me about what I think and believe, go ahead and believe it. There is only so much a person can do to try to help another understand.

      But, once more for the record: I believe that were it not for the ransom sacrifice of Christ I would be a condemned man. I believe Jesus paid the price for my sin, ultimately dying instead of me. I believe what Ephesians 2 says regarding faith: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”. Salvation is not a RESULT of works. I believe that.

      I believe James 2:17: “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
      But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” So, if there are no works, that means your faith is dead. If your faith is dead then there is no salvation because salvation is through faith. Dead faith is not faith. I believe that too. There is no contradiction with the two scriptures. I believe that.

      These are my beliefs. You say they’re not. I guess there’s nothing more I can say on the matter.

      I wish you well, and trust you won’t be offended when I say I hope you take the time to listen more to Jehovah’s Witnesses about our beliefs rather than what others say about them. Then, I believe, you will find the Truth. I don’t mean it in a patronising way because I know that you would have the same wish for me.

      Take care and thanks for taking the time to reply.

    7. avatar

      Jason Harris

      Robert,

      Not letting this slip by. Of course I have no idea what YOU believe. But my comments were not about YOUR beliefs, but the JW beliefs. Try to pay attention.

      If you do not believe in salvation by works, then you can happily affirm the five solas. If you can’t, then explain to me exactly why and we’ll know where works comes into your gospel. As for the JWs, they do not affirm the five solas and for good reason.

      And btw, almost everything I know about JWs I learned from JWs. I don’t read anti-JW literature.

    8. avatar

      Robert

      Jason

      Regarding your false claim that you speak for Jehovah’s Witnesses, you are demonstrating publicly that you are not a reasonable man. Your readers will understand why I stated “my beliefs” as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses even if it escaped you. Of course, I’m sure it didn’t escape you, because you are not stupid—unreasonable and perhaps dishonest in this particular instance—but not stupid. So your “pay attention” comment, as though I was the one who misunderstood you, was childish.

      For the benefit of the readers of this site. I hope that this exchange demonstrates at least one thing: When people make claims about Jehovah’s Witnesses, sometimes those claims are false. That’s ok, because people make mistakes. But you have to start asking questions about motives when someone insists on telling falsehoods to the public even after he’s been corrected by a member of the religion he is libelling.

      I have read some of Jason’s other posts and he seems to be a thoughtful and intelligent man. But time and again, when church members turn their attention to Jehovah’s Witnesses they seem to take leave of their day-to-day personalities and engage in this puzzling form of intellectual dishonesty. I’m sure they sincerely believe that their own religion is true (as I believe mine is) so perhaps they feel any and all tactics are fair game if it results in tearing down the reputation of a ‘false religion’. But dishonesty is not a Christian trait (John 8:44)

      Jason’s OPINION may be that Jehovah’s Witnesses put too much emphasis on works. We say works are important because the Bible says they are. I’m sure if Jason were helping a fellow member of his religion rather than engaging with a Jehovah’s Witness he would have no problem agreeing with me. How could he not? If he follows the Bible he will not ignore 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Timothy 4:5, Matthew 7:21-27, Ephesians 2:10, James 1:27, James 4:4 etc. All these scriptures indicate that actions (or works) are important and are related to salvation in that they demonstrate that faith is alive in that person. But do those works “buy” your salvation? No! Salvation is a gift bestowed on those who demonstrate faith – James 2:24-26.

      Another thing: I will not try to justify my beliefs according to human requirements. If Jason can show the scriptural basis for the “five solas”, and explain why he thinks my explanation of the relationship between faith, works and salvation is in discord with these scriptures, fair enough. At least I’ll have an opportunity to answer.

      What he cannot continue to do is misrepresent our position in order to disprove it. It’s not fair, and it’s certainly not Christian behaviour.

      Jason claims that his understanding of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs comes from JWs themselves, and not from anti-JW literature. This is hard to believe – precisely because Witnesses DON’T believe what he says they do, whereas anti-JW literature often make this claim. I have my suspicions, but I cannot KNOW why Jason is saying what he’s saying. What I do KNOW is that he’s wrong.

      Ironically Jason has implied that I’m the one who has misrepresented the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses (he said: “my comments were not about YOUR beliefs, but the JW beliefs.”) Perhaps the following quotes from our literature will help:

      *** it-2 p. 1205 Work ***
      Faith and Works.
      Works of the Mosaic Law, which included such things as sacrificial offerings, purifications, and circumcision, did not make a person righteous. (Ro 3:20; 4:1-10; Ga 3:2) Yet, the disciple James—who is not discussing works of Mosaic Law—says “a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone” (Jas 2:24), for there must be practical works that demonstrate one’s faith, giving proof of it. (Compare Mt 7:21-27; Eph 2:8-10; Jas 1:27; 2:14-17; 4:4.)”

      *** gm chap. 7 pp. 91-92 pars. 11-14 Does the Bible Contradict Itself? ***
      …Our considering the context also helps us to understand what some have claimed is a disagreement between the apostle Paul and James. At Ephesians 2:8, 9, Paul says that Christians are saved by faith, not by works. He says: “You have been saved through faith . . . not owing to works.” James, however, insists on the importance of works. He writes: “As the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) How can these two statements be reconciled?

      Considering the context of Paul’s words, we find that one statement complements the other. The apostle Paul is referring to the efforts of the Jews to keep the Mosaic Law. They believed that if they kept the Law in all its details, they would be righteous. Paul pointed out that this was impossible. We can never become righteous—and thus deserve salvation—by our own works, for we are inherently sinful. We can only be saved by faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—Romans 5:18.

      James, however, adds the vital point that faith in itself is valueless if not supported by actions. A person who claims to have faith in Jesus should prove it by what he does. An inactive faith is a dead faith and will not lead to salvation.

      The apostle Paul was in full agreement with this, and he often mentions the kinds of works that Christians should engage in to demonstrate their faith. For example, to the Romans he wrote: “With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” Making a “public declaration”—sharing our faith with others—is vital for salvation. (Romans 10:10; see also 1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 5:15, 21-33; 6:15; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 10:23-25.) No work, however, that a Christian can do, and certainly no effort to fulfill the Law of Moses, will earn him the right to everlasting life. This is “the gift God gives” to those who exercise faith.—Romans 6:23; John 3:16″

      ***End of quotes***

      Sincerely

      Robert

  7. avatar

    Paul

    Jason you would probably be interested to know that DeBuhn is quoted by the Watchtower on their website JW.org in order to authenticate their NWT. I would suspect that if I begin digging into the other commentators I will find similar such concerns. You may want to go a little further into who DeBuhn actually is, if you can.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jason Harris

      Thanks for the comment Paul. Yes, I was originally introduced to the book by JWs. Of course this doesn’t invalidate anything, but it does highlight the need to think critically in reading the book.

  8. avatar

    Fred Hamlet

    Opportunity missed; sad.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Michael Davenport

      Jason BeDuhn explains in the preface (iirc) that he is not associated with any church or religious organization. He is a professor of comparitive religions and his interest is not in promoting any particular theological position because he has none of his own. I don’t think he would identify himself as a Christian at all.

      While some would consider this as reason to dismiss everything he says, I’m inclined to see this as a positive thing, at least in regard to the nature of the book.

      BeDuhn is an excellent scholar and probably unaffected by the usual biases that most (all?) scholars are going to have.

      The book actually grew from discussions with his students who asked questions about their perceived errors in the New World Translation, expecting BeDuhn to agree with them. But, in most cases, he did not. Instead, he explained why he agreed with the NWT in disputed verses.

      I had a roommate who was in Beduhn’s class for nine months. He did not agree with BeDuhn on everything, but he did say that he is very smart and perceptive.
      I met him twice, the last time at Northern AZ University when he did a program on the restoration and translation of a very old Manichean papyrus document. He is a respect authority on Manichaeism as well as on Christian religion.

  9. avatar

    Robert

    In the book you are reviewing, Beduhn answers many of the concerns you raised in points 2-5 by saying

    “When there is no way to resolve rival possible meanings, we really can ‘t blame translators for following the one that corresponds with their beliefs. But they owe it to their readers to make a note of the uncertainty. In passing judgment on how well or poorly translators have done in avoiding bias, we have to give them the benefit of the doubt. If the translation given is at least within the realm of possibility for the meaning of the Greek, we must grant that fact and not be too hard on the translators for preferring one possible meaning over another. But if they stretch beyond that rather generous range and reach for the truly novel, rare, or unlikely sense of the Greek, we must be very suspicious of their motives. We have to wonder why they couldn’t let the Bible say what it has to say, why they had to put some other idea there in place of the more likely, obvious meaning of the original biblical text.”

    Regarding your fourth point you ask “But is it not also necessary to understand the overall interpretive/theological context as well?”. Debuhn addresses this point in certain online blogs and in the book (if my memory serves me well) His argument is that our theology must come from what the Bible says not the other way around. So it’s Bible first, theology second. Whilst theological bias might is bound to play a part sometimes, it should be avoided whenever and wherever possible in the translation work.

    Regarding point 7, I’m not entirely sure what you’re arguing for, so forgive me if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. You seem to be suggesting that it’s not fair to criticise a translation if a rendering is possible, the problem only arises if the chosen rendering tries to prove a theological point. If I’ve represented your argument correctly, I would argue that your chosen example falls into the latter category, and thus why it was chosen as an example of inappropriate bias. For example, humor me here and let’s just suppose that we Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct in our understanding of who Jesus is. That would mean the translation “did obeisance to” was correct in the contentious places. But “did obeisance to” does not put you into an awkward position as a trinitarian. However, rendering the word as “worship” could cause problems for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now I appreciate that Bible Translators aren’t going about their tasks worrying that they might make life difficult for minority religions. But when you consider that Jehovah’s Witnesses are frequently accused of choosing renderings that suit our beliefs, it puts things into perspective. It’s perfectly acceptable when mainstream Bibles are translated according to religious biases, but heresy when Jehovah’s Witnesses do it.

    The fact is that when a Witness shows a verse that is rendered “did obeisance to” in the NWT but “worship” in the householder’s bible, the most common assumption is to assume that we bent the rules of Greek to fit our beliefs. Beduhn shows that “did obeisance to” is culturally, historically, and linguistically more likely the intended meaningful the word when it is used in reference to Jesus. Yet we will still be seen as the dishonest ones because people trust their translations.

    Regarding your 8th point I believe your assessment of Beduhn is inaccurate. You say he doesn’t critique Colwell’s rule but simply says it is wrong and should be ignored. But the discussion of Colwell’s rule begins on page 117. There are 5 pages devoted to how we know the rule is wrong, and how it has been misapplied in an attempt to prove that John 1:1c MUST be translated “the Word was God”. You say words to the effect of how silly it is to show exceptions to disprove a rule. But he explains why this is true in the case of Colwell’s rule.

    And again with Granville Sharp. His discussion of Sharp’s rule begins on page 92. He explains what the rule is, on p93 he explains how other scholars have demonstrated the flaw in Sharp’s conclusion and then attempts to explain how Sharp came to that wrong conclusion.
    Having said all of the above, I applaud you for leaving a positive review in spite of your misgivings, but, unless I misread all your comments, I felt your misgivings were not justified.

    Reply
  10. avatar

    Russell M

    I was really hoping that Jason would address the points made by Doug C. when he said the following:

    “Baptist Church along with the Catholic and most Protestant churches, will go to war. They will do this even to the point of killing people of their own faith! ”

    As someone who keeps searching for the truth, that question really concerns me since according to my KJV Jesus said at John 13:35 that “By this shall all men [that includes me] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to the other”

    If indeed Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrate that love then it would be worth it to investigate that religion. From what I’ve heard about them, they certainly are not loved by the majority of those professing ‘Christianity’. But most of the people who I have heard riled against them lead hypocritical and debauched lives. I would like to hear Jason’s response to the points made by Doug C. regarding ‘Christians’ killing ‘Christians’. Since Jesus said that love would be the identifying mark of his disciples I think the next time Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking on my door I will be asking them regarding this matter of not killing fellow JWs. I think they should not only not kill fellow JWs but not kill people of any religion. From my standpoint all these mainstream religions ARE part of the world that Jesus said regarding his disciples:
    “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are no part of the world, even as I am not of the world.” – John 17:14
    “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” – John 17:16
    I will be asking my God to make the truth known to me, even if it comes via the unloved Jehovah’s Witnesses who may be the very ones that Jesus was talking about when he said: “the world hath hated them”. I hope I can keep an open mind and not let the rather negative portrayal of these people by the majority of ‘Christians’ cause me to have a veil when I speak with them. I wonder if they are upright like the apostles and other disciples of the dawn of Christianity were or are they hypocritical like the VAST majority of mainstream ‘Christians’. As Jesus said “wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them [the wolves is sheep’s covering]”.
    For those of you that are still searching for the truth, I hope that my comments herein will help you to keep searching for the truth and see if it’s the JWs or some other religion that demonstrates the love Jesus spoke about that should be evident among HIS disciples and not those who are part of the world.
    Jason how about addressing what Doug C. stated about obeying Jesus words at John 13:34, 35.

    Sincerely.
    Russell M

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jason Harris

      Russell M,

      Thanks for the comment. Passivism is not a matter of doctrine for Christians since Scripture does not address it directly. Each Christian is free to follow his own conscience in such matters.

      Let me point out the two fallacies that many lean on in this question. First, the fallacy that killing is murder. Second, the fallacy that love is niceness.

      First, killing is not always murder. We know this because God authorises war on a number of occasions in Scripture as well as instituting capital punishment in ancient Israel. This doesn’t mean modern societies must do these things necessarily, but it does mean that killing is not always inherently wrong. You’ll find that most translations make this distinction in the giving of the Ten Commandments: “You shall do no murder.”

      Second, love is not always nice. When the choice is between protecting the innocent and killing, love for the former requires the practice of the latter. Obviously few scenarios are that black and white, but the point remains. Which means that John 13:34-35 doesn’t necessarily forbid killing in every circumstance. Nor is that what the context of Jesus’ statement addresses. Rather, it addresses the way Christians will generally be known within society. It is disingenuous to ignore the context and focus on what is clearly an exception to the normal interactions of society (i.e. war).

      If your primary test of a church is what you perceive to be love, you will never settle in a church because the church is, by definition, full of sinners. Failures of love are the norm in such bodies of sinners. The distinction is that Christians admit the failures (repent) and seek reconciliation and make things right. This gospel process of repenting and forgiving is the distinctive of the church. In short, we are to be known by the love that drives this gospel process.

  11. avatar

    Russell M

    Jason I have been a Bible reader and student for many many years (over 50 years). So cheap statements are not going to be influential to me or anyone who is an avid student of the Bible. First, your last statement “If your primary test of a church is what you perceive to be love, you will never settle in a church because the church is, by definition, full of sinners” is not scripturally logical. It was JESUS the founder of Christianity that said that others will be able to tell his disciples by the love they would have: “By this shall ALL men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to the other”. (John 13:35) Your statement is directly opposite to Jesus statement. It seems to assume that Jesus would not be able to have such a group of genuine disciples. I believe he does HAVE such a church and that it is my responsibility to find that church. Therefore, I will try to follow what my Lord and Savior stated as to what to look for in the church that would make up true Christians and not allow specious statements by ANYONE to sidetrack me from my quest to be among those to whom my Lord will say “Well done, good and faithful servant….enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

    Your statements fail to address the real issue that causes the conflicts among professed Christians. Jesus said that HIS followers will be no part of the world and THIS is the real issue that causes Baptists to kill fellow baptists, to kill Catholics, Adventists, Pentecostals, Methodists, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox……. and the list goes on. So your statements do not hold water when Jesus standard for his followers is lined up against the practices of mainstream Christian religions. Why, it has been my experience that even locally they have feuds among themselves, racially, politically, economically…. Regarding these I think my Lord will say: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:23

    I tell you if those Jehovah’s Witnesses can demonstrate to me that they are no part of the world as Jesus said regarding his follows as well demonstrate that they have genuine love among themselves, they will go a long, long way in showing me that they are teaching the truth from God’s Word the Bible. Your statements have served to provide me with a greater determination to hear out these maligned Jehovah’s Witnesses. If they could demonstrate to me that they follow those 2 statements by Jesus, namely: “they are no part of the world” and “ye have love one to the other” I will be most satisfied that I have found the genuine disciples of Jesus.

    Addressing the first point your made. I agree that killing is not always wrong. That is why the apostle Paul said with regard to the governmental authorities that it “beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to EXECUTE wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Romans 13:4.

    But I believe that there is a need to balance Paul’s statement (the State’s use for force) with the statements of Jesus. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Also, after instructing his disciples to buy swords (Luke 22:36) he demonstrated that fighting for the greatest cause there ever could be, namely, ‘the protection of Jesus, himself’ was not allowed among HIS disciples: “Put up again thy sword into his place, for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword”. (Matthew 26:52) So Jesus thereby demonstrated that his disciples (who were to be “no part of the world”) were not to involve themselves in the conflicts of the world even if it were to adversely affect Christians, even the arrest and execution of their Lord, Jesus. There could be no greater cause than that. So the excuses propounded by those who ARE “part of the world” to try and show that it is okay for a Christian to take up arms against fellow Christians, even to defend local Christians ring real hollow. Why not be honest and admit that mainstream Christians have made themselves a part of the world that Jesus said he and his disciples were no part of?

    History tells us that early Christians refused to be involved in the secular conflicts and the army of the Romans; even when they were attacked. Note the following overwhelming historical statements regarding the first Christians:

    “The first Christians thought it was wrong to fight, and would not serve in the army even when the Empire needed soldiers.”—The New World’s Foundations in the Old, by R. and W. M. West

    “In the second century, Christianity . . . had affirmed the incompatibility of military service with Christianity.”—A Short History of Rome, by G. Ferrero and C. Barbagallo

    “The behavior of the Christians was very different from that of the Romans. ”
    “Since Christ had preached peace, they refused to become soldiers.”—Our World Through the Ages, by N. Platt and M. J. Drummond

    “It will be seen presently that the evidence for the existence of a single Christian soldier between 60 and about 165 A.D. is exceedingly slight.”
    “Up to the reign of Marcus Aurelius at least, no Christian would become a soldier after his baptism.”—The Early Church and the World, by C. J. Cadoux

    “While they inculcated the maxims of passive obedience, they refused to take any active part in the civil administration or the military defense of the empire. ”
    “It was impossible that the Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes.”—The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

    Christ followers “refused to engage in [war]; whatever were the consequences, whether reproach, or imprisonment, or death.”—Jonathan Dymond

    “Until the time of Marcus Aurelius no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service.”—The Rise of Christianity, by E. W. Barnes

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jason Harris

      Russell,

      You’ve commented here under the pretense of being non-JW (e.g. “I think the next time Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking on my door I will be asking them…”). In reality, you’re quoting the NWT and copy/pasting large sections from the Watchtower.

      I’m happy to debate a JW on the odd occasion, but you’ve been disingenuous from the get go so the benefits are almost certainly nil in this situation.

      My advice to you is this:

      First, stop obsessing over pet issues. Pacifism is one among a million minor issues you could obsess over. Get to the core doctrines of the Christian faith and if they are right, commit to the Christian faith no matter what smaller issues you might have with this or that group or person.

      Second, stop playing with conspiracy theories. Yes, one out of ten might have some basis in truth, but if you continue to obsess over them, you will feed the arrogance that is letting you explore a cult that denies basic Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the deity of Jesus because they feed your unhealthy desire to be smarter than the people who are falling for these “conspiracies.” Walk away. This thinking will destroy your soul.

      Third, walk away from any group that has their own exclusive Bible translation. There is no legitimate form of Christianity that rejects the mainstream Christian translations of Scripture.

      Fourth, learn to think for yourself. Copy/paste is a sure sign that you’re not. When you go to the assemblies, do they speak directly from Scripture? Or does the magazine guide the study of Scripture? I know the answer in our local assembly. If it’s the same there, don’t kid yourself that that is Bible study.

      Fifth, stop confusing niceness with love.

      Sixth, focus on the centre or you will live on the peripheral. Your last comment actually categorises the people who will be accepted by God, based on their membership in a church with certain views on Pacifism! That is sad and lame and will damn your soul if you don’t get back to the centre. What is the centre? God. Through Jesus Christ. Crucified. In your place.

  12. avatar

    M. Reynoldson

    I accidently came across your website while looking for information on the New World translation. Stopped to read all the comments. Two things bothered me in your comments. You repeatedly supported the trinity but never shared any scriptures to prove it. You said Christians believe the trinity. However in the places I have lived and had businesses, i have known people in various religions that do not. In the comments you received, the people shared many scriptures why they believed….but you sidestepped their scriptures with some kind of philosophies. So what scriptures can you share with me to prove a trinity??? I am pretty familiar with the Bible so I would like to see your point of view. Also I bought the book “Truth and Bias in Translation” and I studied it carefully with the various 20 translations I have…and I think more research would benefit you. Secondly, you made the comment to those witnesses that war was a minor thing. Jesus didn’t agree with you. What makes it necessary to kill anyone. Self-defence? Then it would be stop them without killing them like police officers are supposed to do. If those Jehovah’s witnesses are right….and all people were their religion, there wouldn’t be any war would there be??? In Isaiah 2:2 it sets the time frame as “the final part of the days”. And in Isaiah 2:4 it tell us that the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning shears and they will learn war no more. And Jesus said at Matthew 26:52 that those living by sword will die by the sword. Now if you believe Jesus is part of a trinity making him a god, why do you disagree with him….saying its a minor thing. My last comment…… In Hebrews 5: 7-9 it says Jesus learned obedience from the things he suffered and after he had been made perfect, he became responsible for everlasting salvation. My question– if he was part of a trinity; a god….why he have to suffer and be made perfect? Thank you for your time

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jason Harris

      M. Reynoldson,

      First, your attempt to get me to prove the Trinity from Scripture is a classic JW trope designed to make the Trinity look unbiblical. If you actually want to understand, walk into any Christian bookstore, pick up any mainstream systematic theology text and see the thorough and comprehensive explanation of this fundamental doctrine. Or pick up any of the dozens of books/articles/papers written on the topic all throughout church history. If you’re sincere and really do want to understand, I’m more than happy to talk via email. But in my experience, that’s not what JWs want to do.

      I’ve yet to meet a JW who understands what the Trinity is. You are no exception. There is no Christian/trinitarian anywhere on the planet who thinks that Jesus was “a god.” Christianity is monotheistic. Either Jesus is THE one and only God, or he is no god at all.

      The Trinity is simple: One God; three persons. Get this.

      Second, I didn’t say “war was a minor thing.” What I said was “Pacifism is one among a million minor issues you could obsess over. Get to the core doctrines of the Christian faith and if they are right, commit to the Christian faith no matter what smaller issues you might have with this or that group or person.”

      Jesus never taught against war. You just said he did and then couldn’t come up with a text that actually says that. War may be wrong. Participating in a war might be wrong. These points may be argued. But pacifism was never taught by Jesus as the means of ending war. What Jesus taught would end war is JESUS! And he said he’d do it by winning a war! So again, I’ll put it to you: Stop obsessing about minor things. Have your convictions, sure. But stop making them a test of faith for others.

      Third, there are various ways to understand that passage. My best guess is that it means that in order to be “the founder of their salvation,” he needed to be “for a little while… made lower than the angels” so he would be perfected for the work of redemption. If you’d look at Hebrews 2, you’ll see that these are the words immediately surrounding the phrase you’re trying to twist. In other words, Jesus’ incarnation was a necessary part of rescuing us. He came to earn our righteousness, and he did it by living our lives vicariously through his life. It’s basic Christian theology really. Again, you’ll find it in any mainstream systematic theology.

  13. avatar

    Rod

    http://www.jw.org explicitly teaches this: “Most people think that they are serving God acceptably, but the Bible says that Satan is ‘misleading the entire inhabited earth.’ Millions of people believe that they are worshiping God, but they are really serving Satan the Devil! People today face a choice: They must serve either Jehovah, “the God of truth,” or Satan, “the father of the lie.”

    So, let’s cut to the chase. JW’s believe they are the only true Christians and no one else is. And we don’t believe you are Christians, but are deceived yourselves, regarding the person of Christ. I have studied the NWT and it is dishonest when it wants to be. Also, JW’s minimize grace (it is mentioned) and emphasize faith or Christ plus works. Adding to Christ’s work is not grace. It is the Galatian heresy. It is another gospel and is not Christianity. It is hell-based, hell-bound cultic doctrine. If you do not believe that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit is a person (rather than a power like electricity), then you do not believe in the Trinity. You are Arian and a heretic. And if you do not believe in the deity of Christ, then you have no reason to believe that a human being (or a man, as wonderful as you might describe him) could provide an efficacious death for the sins of the world. One man (or “a god”) cannot provide the required sacrifice for the atonement of the world. His would not be a worthy sacrifice. Only an infinite sacrifice would have that worth (in order to appease an infinitely holy God.) He could not say, “It is finished.” You deny the hypostatic union, which is also not a word from the Bible, but is clearly displayed in Jesus’s works of deity and his life of humanity. He is the God-man and must be worshiped as such. John Owen, one of the premier scholarly, but very godly, Puritans writes, “Do you love him [Jesus] because he was, and is, so full of grace and so full of holiness because in him there was an all-fulness of the graces of the Spirit of God? You are often pressed to direct your love to the person of Christ… but this you cannot do without a distinct notion and knowledge of him. There are, therefore, three things in general that you are to consider for this purpose – 1. The blessed union of his two natures in the same person… 2. The uncreated glories of his divine nature, whence our love hath the same object with that which we owe unto God absolutely. 3. That perfection and fulness of grace which dwelleth in his human nature, as communicated unto him by the Holy Spirit…if we love the person of Christ, it must be upon these considerations.” (Owen, “Works: The Holy Spirit,” Banner of Truth reprint. Vol. III, 187-188).

    If you do not love Jesus as the eternal, uncreated God-man, you are not a Christ-follower and you do not honor the Son as you honor the Father (John 5:21-24). He is the fullness of God!

    Let’s face it – you “believe” in Jesus, but he’s not the same Jesus that historic, orthodox Christianity has claimed, honored and taught. We do not see Jesus not treat him as lowly as you do. Charles Taze Russell came up with a new doctrine to appease people’s fear of hell and to excite their “end times” curiosities and then much later an anonymous “translation team” created a Bible that affirms their position, one with many dishonest renderings, despite Beduhn’s endorsement (by the way, teaching comparative religions is a sure way to invoke the “bias of neutrality,” thus biasing your entire perspective, often while stroking your own ego. That is an observation, not an accusation. I don’t know the man.)

    “Born again” – there’s another false definition of the JW’s, along with the denial of personhood as being both body and soul. I’ve read the materials and heard the answers (and lack of answers.)

    Jesus is God and I worship all three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Enough said.

    May you cast your life before his eternal throne and praise the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for the great things they have done!

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Rod

      “We do not see Jesus nor treat him as lowly as you do.”

  14. avatar

    Rod

    Clarification: “We do not see Jesus nor treat him as lowly as you do.”

    Reply
  15. avatar

    Bjorn Rasmussen

    If the trinity is mono-theistic belief, then why is it called a THREE-nity?

    Please take the following in the right spirit, just trying to stimulate thinking and at least take it on the chin with a smile.

    I wonder…?

    If John wanted to state a trinity in John 1:1, then he must have forgotten by the time he got to the part that we call Chapter 20 and verse 17.

    Jesus said [to Mary Magdelene], “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” NIV

    So here Jesus has been resurrected. Mary thinks he is the gardener, until he calls her affectionately “Mary” as if he is saying “don’t you realise it is me.”

    What Jesus then says to her is so clear and obvious that no Bible translation can get it wrong:

    “Tell my brothers…”

    Jesus identifies himself as a “brother” having “brothers.

    Does the trinity have “brothers”?

    If Jesus is their “brother” and they are his “brothers” – would that not mean that the Father in Heaven is their common Father? We are not left in any doubt about that:

    “Tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father…”

    Oh dear!

    It gets better, or worse, if you know what I mean, as Jesus adds next:

    “I am ascending to… to my God and your God.”

    I mean, how can the trinity survive those words straight of the one who should know the truth, Jesus Christ!

    It is pretty clear that John thought of himself as a “brother” of Jesus. He wrote this himself.

    Hence in no way could John have believed in a THREE-nity.

    The Holy Spirit, hmmm. All those scriptures ‘proving’ the Trinity and the Holy Spirit gets left out. Hence those scriptures cannot be used as real proof re… ahem… any THREE-nity.

    And didn’t Jesus tell the Devil that he only worshipped God?

    Does God worship himself?

    “And he [the Devil] said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

    No surprises that Jesus worshipped his Father and his God, as any loving and REAL Son would.

    But then again the trinity denies that Jesus is a REAL Son.

    A Son who is not a Son? Is not a Son at all?

    Why would Jesus call himself a Son if he was not a son?

    A Father gives life. A Son receives life. Is that not unambiguous?

    Oh yeah, already explained that, because he called his disciples “brothers” and on several occasions.

    Yep, all covered. Jesus is the Son of God – as real as his “brothers” were!

    Job called the angels “sons of God” too. Ohhh?

    Paul called Satan the “God of this World.”

    Jesus called Jesus the “ruler of this world” and didn’t deny when the Devil claimed he ruled the world “because it is mine to give to anyone I please.”

    Wow! Please explain?

    God himself said to Moses that he would make him a God unto Pharaoh.

    So does that mean the greater Moses is also a God unto us and the unfaithful world that will suffer the same fate as Egypt?

    And why did God call the Israelites “gods” which Jesus quoted in John 10:35 and Psalm 82:1, 82

    “God takes his place in the divine assembly [of Israelites], In the middle of gods he judges.”

    “I have said “You are gods, All of you are sons of the Most High.”

    SO: It is possible to be both a “god” and a “son” – the Israelites were, the angels are, and why should not John say the same about his “brother” Jesus?

    He surely was!

    Hallelujah!

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jason Harris

      @Bjorn Rasmussen,

      Your post is off topic entirely. But I’ll respond briefly.

      The Christian doctrine of the trinity is necessarily monotheistic. Without monotheism, there can be no trinity for the trinity is one God in three persons. ONE God. Three persons. Until you have understood this, you cannot possibly mount a coherent argument against it.

      Of all the places you might go to try to disprove the trinity, John’s gospel is the worst. John is very clear on who Jesus is. If you are surprised to see God the Son (Jesus) calling the disciples his brothers, you must not be familiar with the Christian doctrine of adoption introduced in John 1:12 “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He [God the Father] gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His [Jesus’] name.” Adopted sons of Jesus’ Father are by definition brothers of Jesus. This doctrine is taught explicitly in Galatians 4:5 and Romans 8:15-17 and in v. 29 where Paul says “…in order that he [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brothers.” If you’ve missed this doctrine in Scripture, you’re missing a major Christian doctrine. But of course there is nothing about this doctrine which in any way undermines the doctrine of the trinity. Indeed, God the Father insists that Jesus is the only way to the Father thus indicating that God the Son is entirely other than us (the doctrine of God’s transcendence). So there is nothing in John 20:17 that in any way undermines the doctrine of the trinity.

      After that argument your arguments get thinner and less coherent. Is Jesus’ sonship real? Of course. Is sonship primarily about procreation? I pity your children if you think it is. Does God even have a body to procreate with? No. Is Jesus created? John could not have been more emphatic in saying no. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Is the Holy Spirit spoken of consistently as a person in Scripture? Yes. Is there some sense in which angels/demons and humans can be referred to as gods? Of course. Is this the sense that Jesus means when he says in John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I am”? Absolutely not.

      What you have been taught is absolute heresy. You blaspheme God when you deny the trinity. And you reject an essential doctrine of the Christian faith. Whatever you may be, your doctrine and any church that holds it is not Christian.

  16. avatar

    Michael R. Davenport

    Jason said: “You blaspheme God when you deny the trinity.” I’m sorry, but this is just ignorant rambling. The Trinity doctrine developed gradually in the early years of the Church, and it was not until the Council of Constantinople in 381 that the Roman Catholic Church finally issued a formal doctrinal statement on the Trinity, but it took another 500 years before the Church as a whole adopted it.

    The 1967 New Catholic Encyclopedia has much to say about the long battle to create the Trinity doctrine. Here’s a small sampling:

    “Question of Continuity and Elemental Trinitarianism.
    From what has been seen thus far, the impression could arise that the Trinitarian dogma Is in the last analysis a late 4th-century invention. In a sense, this is true; but it implies an extremely strict interpretation of the words, Trinitarian and dogma.”

    “Triadic Consciousness in the Primitive Revelation.
    The formulation, ‘one God in three persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century.

    Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective; among the 2d-century Apologists, little more than a focusing of the problem as that of plurality within the unique Godhead.”

    If you read the 2nd century church ‘fathers’ like Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, you will not find anything even remotely resembling the Trinity doctrine. What they taught was very much like what JWs teach today. But what the Protestant churches teach is warmed over Roman Catholicism. The Reformation didn’t go far enough!

    Reply
  17. avatar

    Michael R Davenport

    Jason asked: “Is this the sense that Jesus means when he says in John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I am”?

    Interesting that you don’t capitalize the word ‘am.’ Yet you appeal to it as if it were a title. If it were a title, it would be capitalized.

    There was a lengthy on-line debate between Rob Bowman and Jason BeDuhn on John 8:58/Ex 3:14. I assume it’s still accessible online. Try searching “BeDuhn vs. Bowman.” It gets pretty intense, but Bowman struggles to deflect the damage inflicted by BeDuhn, who simply has a much better knowledge of the Greek.

    Historically, the earliest writer to connect John 8:58 with Ex. 3:14 was a Gnostic writer, Marcellus of Ancyrana, who lived in the 4th century*. He was known to Athanasius who argued that Jesus was homoousias to the Father at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, but no one has ever shown that Athanasius used this argument to make his case. Marcellus was excommunicated from the Church for his apostasy, by the way, although he was, in his later years, accepted back, but never given and position of authority. Personally, I wonder if any Christian writer before the 1800s ever connected the two passages. The lack of capitalization of the word, ‘am’ in Jn 8:58 in the KJV would suggest that the KJV translators were ignorant of this argument for the Trinity. I’d be interested to see any evidence to the contrary.
    * See the Patristic Lexicon by Lampe.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jason Harris

      [1 of 2]

      @Michael R. Davenport,

      The notion that the trinity was invented centuries after Christ is a fundamental misunderstanding of what theology is and does. Jesus and the Apostles believed in the Trinity which the New Testament makes clear. No, it was not always perfectly clear exactly how that worked and yes, the church spent several centuries clarifying and formulising the precise demarcations of that doctrine, but it is entirely inaccurate to represent this process as you have.

      You do indeed blaspheme God when you deny the trinity. You are a false teacher.

    2. avatar

      Jason Harris

      [2 of 2]

      @Michael R. Davenport,

      Considering that Greek was written entirely in minuscules for several centuries, you will understand that the capitalisation of words in the new testament MSS contributes nothing to our interpretation of their meaning. This line of reasoning, therefore, collapses entirely.

      Historical theology notwithstanding, Jesus Christ is clearly, in context, arguing that before Abraham was, Jesus is. A present tense being verb makes no sense any other way. The awkwardness of that being the name of God as well is for you to explain away. Or you can accept the clear and decisive teaching of Scripture throughout as to the full deity of Jesus Christ. This is a simple matter of obedience for you. You will submit to Jesus Christ as God whether in glorification or damnation. May it be the former.

    3. avatar

      Michael R. Davenport

      Jason said: “you will understand that the capitalisation of words in the new testament MSS contributes nothing to our interpretation of their meaning.”

      Me: As far as I know, NT manuscripts were written either in all miniscules or all ‘capitals’ (Is that magiscules?), but I was referring to the use of capitals in our English translations – not in the Greek texts. It is noteworthy, I think, that the KJV translators did not capitalize the words ‘I am” at John 8:58, as many more modern versions do. I suspect that they didn’t capitalize the word ‘am’ because the argument for Jesus’ words being a claim to be Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh from Ex 3:14 had not been proposed yet in 1611 when the KJV was first published.

      You said: ” Jesus Christ is clearly, in context, arguing that before Abraham was, Jesus is.”

      Me: I don’t disagree. This is what is called a PPA in Greek grammar. It is the Present tense of Past Action. It describes action that begins at some point in the past and which continues up into the present. A perfect example of this may be found at Psalm 90:2″: “Before the mountains were brought forth . . . thou art God.” (KJV. I’d quote from the Septuagint if I had it here)

      The Pharisees had just asked Jesus how he could have seen Abraham, given that he was not even 50 years old. And his reply was that he had been in existence before Abraham was.

      You said: “The awkwardness of that being the name of God as well is for you to explain away.”

      Me: The problem here is that you appeal to your interpretation as proof of your interpretation. Your entire argument is based upon an unproven premise: You assume that the Greek words ‘ego eimi’ were recognized in 1st century Palestine as a divine title – the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh at Ex 3:14. Where in Jewish Greek literature contemporaneous to the first century do you find the words, ‘ego eimi’ being used as a divine title? Not in Josephus nor Philo, and not in the Septuagint. Realistically, the word, ‘eimi’ is exceedingly common. In the Septuagint, eimi is used 6,469 times, and in the NT: 2,462 times, for a total of 8,931 times. I doubt you could find a single example where eimi is used as a divine title. .

      Eimi has become a divine title only because the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus for saying that he existed before Abraham.

      But the Hebrew word, ehyeh, which occurs 51 times in the Hebrew text of the Bible is an imperfect aspect verb which describes future action – which is why it is often translated as “I will be” in the KJV – 25 times iirc. It is so translated at Exodus 3:12 in the KJV, so why is it “I am” two verses later?

      You said: “Or you can accept the clear and decisive teaching of Scripture throughout as to the full deity of Jesus Christ.”

      Me: I have no issue with saying that Jesus is deity. But this is not a word that comes from the Greek of the Bible. It comes from the Latin deitas. You are appealing now to Roman Catholic doctrine. This does not make it true or false necessarily, but it is a doctrine that developed long after the NT was written. I’d prefer to stick with the NT writings, thank you.

      Jason said: “You will submit to Jesus Christ as God whether in glorification or damnation.”

      I have already submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, my Messiah and Savior. It is sad that the KJV translators mistranslated the Greek word, ‘krisis’ in a small number of passages. Krisis does not mean ‘damnation.’ It means to make a decision, or, to take to trial. In many examples from the Septuagint, it is used for the restoration to people who have been victimized that which was taken from them unjustly. Yes, sometimes the decision will be condemnatory, but that does not mean eternal conscious torment. I can post my study on this word if you’d be interested.

    4. avatar

      Jason Harris

      @Michael R. Davenport,

      Re: Capitalisation. I don’t think it is noteworthy. None of the key translations capitalise the translation of ego eimi. Not the ESV, NIV, KJV, NASB, ASV, etc. The only reasonably formal translations that do are the NKJV, D-R, and NLT. And they shouldn’t. Capitalisation in this case is a matter of interpretation, not translation. And interpretation should be left to the reader as often as possible.

      Again, the fact that an argument was not made historically is not an argument for or against that argument.

      Re: Greek grammar. I’m no Greek grammarian, but I’m afraid you’re wrong on this. Greek does not have a present perfect tense per se. There is present and there is perfect, and a number of nuanced formed between, but not a straight up present perfect (cf. Wallace). In fact, eimi is a present tense verb. An incredibly common one at that.

      Re: ego eimi as a divine title. No, I don’t think it’s a divine title. I never said I did. And of course it’s not. It is, however, the exact Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “I Am” statement in Exodus 3:14 which the LXX translates as ego eimi.

      Re: the deity of Jesus. You’re playing dishonest word games when you say you accept the deity of Jesus Christ. There is one God. And Jesus is God. You do not affirm that. Be straight with me.

      Re: Submission to Jesus. No, Jesus is not your Saviour. A Jesus who is no more God than Zeus is has no power to save. And God the Son, Jesus Christ, will not save those who blaspheme him.

      Re: “Krisis.” To simplify a complex topic, Jesus will indeed both judge (krisis) AND condemn (katakrisis) those who reject him as you do.

    5. avatar

      Michael R. Davenport

      Jason said: “Greek does not have a present perfect tense per se.”

      Me: So you are disputing that there is a present tense of past action? Here’s what grammarians say: “A Grammar of the idiom of the New Testament” by G.B. Winer 7th ed. 1897, p.267

      “Sometimes the Present includes also a past tense, viz, when the verb expresses a state which commenced at an earlier period but still continues

      Dana & Mantey’s “Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament”

      Pg. 178 “The important element of tense in Greek is KIND of ACTION. The chief function of Greek tense is thus not to denote time, but progress . . . The character of an action may be defined of either of three points of view; it may be continuous, it may be complete; or it may be regarded simply as occurring without reference to the question of progress.”

      Page 183 “Sometimes the progressive present is retroactive in its application, denoting that which has begun in the past and continues into the present. For the want of a better name, we may call it the present of duration.”

      “ap arches met emou este – You HAVE BEEN with me from the beginning – John 15:27. See also Luke 13:7; 2 Cor. 12:9”

      (“For three years now, I HAVE COME in search of fruit on this fig tree and HAVE FOUND no fruit.” – Luke 13:7 NAB. I wasn’t sure about 2 Cor 12:9. Verse 8 seems more likely. It might have been a typo in D&M)

      D & M quote Moulton: “Here the present tense gathers up past and present time into one phase.”

      A Grammar of New Testament Greek by J.H. Moulton, Vol III, by Nigel Turner, 1963, p. 62

      “The Present which indicates the continuance of an action during the past and up to the moment of speaking is virtually the same as the Perfective, the only difference being that the action is conceived as still in progress. It is frequent in the NT: Lk 2:48; 13:7; 15:29, Jn 5:6; 8:58;15:27; Ac 15:21; 26:21; 2 Cor 12:19; 2 Ti 3:15; 2 Pt 3:4; 1 Jn 2:9; 3:8.”
      (Note that Moulton includes Jn 8:58 in his list)

  18. avatar

    Michael R. Davenport

    In John 8:58, we have eimi being used as a PPA. It describes existence that goes back before Abraham’s time, and continues to the present when Jesus spoke the words – and beyond, of course.. The presence of the phrase, ‘prin Abraam genesthai” (Before Abraham existed”) modifies the present tense of the verb, eimi by taking it back to an unspecified time before Abraham

    In the Greek Septuagint, we have a similar example of a PPA being used at Psalm 90:2

    It reads: “Before the mountains existed, and before the earth and the world were formed . . . thou art.”

    SO here is a present tense “Be” verb being used to indicate existence from before the mountains and the earth were formed. The Greek is “pro (a form of prin) tou (article) ore (mountains) genethenai (a form of genesthai – “came into existence.”) -. . . su (you), ei (a form of eimi, present tense – to exist)

    Obviously, God’s existence was from before the mountains came into existence, and obviously he was still in existence when the Psalm was written – and beyond.

    I think that this nicely demonstrates the syntax of John 8:58. The “be”–verb is a PPA because of the modifying phrase, “before the mountains existed” which takes the action of the present tense verb back into the past.

    Here are two more examples of PPAs from the Septuagint:

    Genesis 31:38 It is twenty years now that I HAVE BEEN (ego eimi) under you:

    Judges 16:17 “Then he [Samson] told her [Delilah] all his heart, and he said to her, A razor has not come upon my head because I HAVE BEEN a holy one of God from my mother’s womb

    Here are some more examples of present tense “Be”-verbs being used as PPAs: (“present tense of past action) from the Christian Greek Scriptures: (Citations from the Revised English Bible)

    Luke 2:48 (This is the account where 12-year-old Jesus was accidentally left behind in Jerusalem, and Mary asked: “My Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I HAVE BEEN anxiously searching for you?
    (ho pater sou kai ego dunomenoi zetoumen)

    Luke 13:7 “So he said to the vine-dresser, ‘For the last three years I HAVE come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any.”
    (erchomai zeton)

    Luke 15:29 From the parable of the Prodigal Son: “You know how I HAVE slaved for you all these years . . . “
    (douleuo –present tense)

    John 5:6 “Jesus saw him lying there, and knowing that he HAD BEEN ill a long time he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’”
    (gnous hoti polun edechronon ekei)

    John 14:9: “Jesus answered, HAVE I BEEN all this time with you, Phillip, and still you do not know me?”
    (tosouton chronon meth humon eimi)

    John 15:27 “And you also are my witnesses, because you HAVE BEEN with me from the first.”
    (ap arches met emou este)

    Acts 15:21 “For Moses HAS BEEN preached in every city from the earliest times” (NIV)

    Acts 26:22 “I HAVE HAD God’s help to this very day.”

    2 Corinthians 12:19 “Perhaps you HAVE BEEN thinking all this time that it is to you we are addressing our defence.”
    (palai dokeite – “from long ago” – “you are thinking” present tense )

    2 Timothy 3:15 “Remember that from early childhood you HAVE BEEN familiar with the sacred writings.”

    2 Peter 3:4 “Our fathers HAVE BEEN laid to rest, but still everything goes on exactly as it always has done since the world began.”
    (panta houtos diamenai ap arches ktiseos)

    1 John 3:8 “For the devil HAS BEEN a sinner from the first . . .”
    (ap arches . . . diabolos hamartonei – present tense)

    Here’s another example of a PPA that parallels John 8:58 , this time from a non-biblical writer:

    Menander Dyscolus 516

    “I have been (eimi) a friend to you before (prin) I knew you.”

    Reply
  19. avatar

    Michael R. Davenport

    Jason said: “ego eimi as a divine title. No, I don’t think it’s a divine title. I never said I did. And of course it’s not. It is, however, the exact Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “I Am” statement in Exodus 3:14 which the LXX translates as ego eimi.”

    Me: It appears that you haven’t actually looked at the Septuagint. It does NOT use ego eimi to translate the Hebrew, ‘ehyeh asher eimi.’ used at Ex 3:14 When Moses asked God who he should say had sent him, “God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING (ho on); and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING (ho on) has sent me to you.” (Capitalization as per Bagster’s LXX)

    If Jesus had been claiming to be the One speaking in Exodus 3:14 in the Septuagint, he would have said, “Before Abraham was, I was THE BEING.” or “I was Ho On.”

    Maybe Jesus was quoting from the King James Version?

    Another big issue is that the Hebrew word ehyeh is usually translated as “I will be.” Look at Ex 3:12 – just two verses before, where God says, “I will be (ehyeh) with thee.”

    Ehyeh is used in the Hebrew text of the Bible only 51 times, and only 6 times as “I am”

    Here are the verses: Ehyeh in the JPS Tanakh
    Categorized by translation, sorted according to frequency of rendering

    “Will Be” – 26 times
    Gen 26:3 “I WILL BE with thee”
    Gen 31:3 “I WILL BE with thee”
    Exod 3:12 “I WILL BE with thee”
    Exod 4:12 Now therefore go, and I WILL BE with thy mouth and teach ye what thou shalt say
    Exod 4:15 and I WILL BE with thy mouth
    Deut 31:23 I sware unto them: and I WILL BE with them
    Joshua 1:5 as I was with Moses, so I WILL BE with thee
    Joshua 3:7 as I was with Moses, so I WILL BE with thee
    Judges 6:16 surely I WILL BE with thee [Gideon], and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”
    2 Sam 7:14 I WILL BE a father to him, and he shall be a son to Me. When he does wrong, I will chastise him with the rod of men and the affliction of mortals;
    2 Sam 15:34 But if you go back to the city and say to Absalom, `I WILL BE your servant, O king; I was your father’s servant formerly, and now I will be yours,’ then you can nullify Ahithophel’s counsel for me.
    2 Sam 16:19 Furthermore, whom should I serve, if not David’s son? As I was in your father’s service, so I WILL BE in yours.”
    Isa 3:7 The other will thereupon protest, “I WILL not be a dresser of wounds, With no food or clothing in my own house. You shall not make me chief of a people!”
    Jer 24:7 And I will give them the understanding to acknowledge Me, for I am the LORD. And they shall be My people and I WILL BE their God, when they turn back to Me with all their heart.
    Jer 30:22 You shall be My people, And I WILL BE your God.
    Jer 31:1 At that time – declares the LORD – I WILL BE God to all the clans of Israel, and they SHALL BE My people.
    Jer 32:38 They shall be My people, and I WILL BE their God.
    Ezek 11:20 that they may follow My laws and faithfully observe My rules. Then they shall be My people and I WILL BE their God.
    Ezek 14:11 so that the House of Israel may never again stray from Me and defile itself with all its transgressions. Then they shall be My people and I WILL BE their God – declares the Lord GOD.
    Ezek 36:28 Then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people and I WILL BE your God.
    Ezek 37:23 Nor shall they ever again defile themselves by their fetishes and their abhorrent things, and by their other transgressions. I will save them in all their settlements where they sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I WILL BE their God.
    Hos 1:9 Then He said, “Name him Lo-ammi; for you are not My people, and I WILL not BE your God.”
    Hos 14:6 I WILL BE to Israel like dew; He shall blossom like the lily, He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree.
    Zech 2:9 And I Myself – declares the LORD – WILL BE a wall of fire all around it, and I WILL BE a glory inside it.
    Zech 8:8 and I will bring them home to dwell in Jerusalem. They shall be My people, and I WILL BE their God – in truth and sincerity.
    1 Chr 28:6 He said to me, `It will be your son Solomon who will build My House and My courts, for I have chosen him to be a son to Me, and I WILL BE a father to him.

    ”I am” – 6 times
    Exod 3:14 And God said unto Moses, “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Ehyeh used 3 times in this verse).
    Ps 102:8 I lie awake; I AM like a lone bird upon a roof. (This is verse 7 in the KJV)
    Ruth 2:13 She answered, “You are most kind, my lord, to comfort me and to speak gently to your maidservant – though I AM not so much as one of your maidservants.”
    2 Sam 16:18 “Not at all!” Hushai replied. “I AM for the one whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen, and I will stay with him. (The KJV translates here as “WILL I BE”)

    “Shall be” – 5 times
    Judges 11:9 Jephthah, to the elders of Gilead: “if ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon and the LORD deliver them before me, SHALL I BE your head?.”
    1 Samuel 23:17 and thou shalt be king over Israel and I SHALL BE next unto thee.
    Isa 47:7 You thought, “I SHALL always BE The mistress still.” You did not take these things to heart, You gave no thought to the end of it.
    Ezek 34:24 I the LORD will be their God, and My servant David SHALL BE a ruler among them – I the LORD have spoken.
    1 Chr 17:13 I will be a father to him, and he SHALL BE a son to Me, but I will never withdraw My favor from him as I withdrew it from your predecessor.

    ”Have been” – 4 times
    2 Sam 22:24 I HAVE BEEN blameless before Him, And have guarded myself against sinning –
    Job 10:19 Had I been as though I never was, Had I BEEN carried from the womb to the grave. (KJV: “I SHOULD HAVE BEEN.”)
    Job 12:4 I HAVE BECOME a laughingstock to my friend – “One who calls to God and
    Job 17:6 He made me a byword among people; I HAVE BECOME like Tophet of old.
    1 Chr 17:8 and I HAVE BEEN with you wherever you went, and have cut down all your enemies before you. Moreover, I will give you renown like that of the greatest men on earth.

    ”I was” – 3 times
    Ps 50:21 If I failed to act when you did these things, you would fancy that I WAS like you; so I censure you and confront you with charges. (KJV: “I WAS”)
    Job 3:16 Or why WAS I not like a buried stillbirth, Like babies who never saw the light?
    Prov 8:30 I WAS with Him as a confidant, A source of delight every day, Rejoicing before Him at all times. (There are two occurrences of ehyeh in the passage. The second is more apparent in the KJV: “I WAS daily his delight.”

    “I have” – 3 times
    2 Samuel 7:6 Whereas I HAVE not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel”
    2 Sam 7:9 I HAVE made thee a great name. like unto the name of the great men
    Isa 3:7 The other will thereupon protest, “I Will not be a dresser of wounds, With no food or clothing in my own house. You SHALL not make me chief of a people!”
    1 Chr 17:5 From the day that I brought out Israel to this day, I HAVE not dwelt in a house, but have gone from tent to tent and from one Tabernacle to another.

    ”be”
    Song of Solomon 1:7 Tell me, you whom I love so well; Where do you pasture your sheep? Where do you rest them at noon? Let me not BE as one who strays Beside the flocks of your fellows. (KJV: “Why SHOULD I BE?”)

    “I Should be”
    1 Samuel 18:18 David, to Saul, “Who am I . . . that I SHOULD BE son-in-law to the king?”

    ”I May be”
    Jer 11:4 which I enjoined upon your fathers when I freed them from the land of Egypt, the iron crucible, saying, `Obey Me and observe them, just as I command you, that you may be My people and I MAY BE your God’ –

    ”I Seemed [to be]”
    Hos 11:4 I drew them with human ties, With cords of love; But I SEEMED to them as one Who imposed a yoke on their jaws, Though I was offering them food. (KJV: “I WAS”)

    Untranslated
    Job 7:20 If I have sinned, what have I done to You, Watcher of men? Why make of me Your target, And a burden to myself? (The Tanakh does not render ehyeh into the English text. Compare the KJV: “I AM a burden to myself.”)

    “Will Be” – 26 times
    ”I am” – 6 times (3 in Ex. 3:14)
    “Shall be” – 5 times
    ”Have been” – 4 times
    ”I was” – 3 times
    “I have” – 2 times
    ”be” – 1 time
    “I Should be ” – 1 time
    ”I May be” – 1 time
    ”I Seemed [to be]” – 1 Time

    Reply
  20. avatar

    Michael R. Davenport

    Jason said: “Re: the deity of Jesus. You’re playing dishonest word games when you say you accept the deity of Jesus Christ. There is one God. And Jesus is God. You do not affirm that. Be straight with me.”

    Me: I said I have no issue with saying that Jesus is deity, but I go by the definition in Webster’s. You go by Roman Catholic definition. That’s ok if you’re Roman Catholic, but I’m not. The word, ‘deity’ is not limited to Almighty God alone. And the Bible says that there are many gods. Even the angels are called ‘gods’ in Scripture.

    See Young’s Concordance under “Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation,” a two-page section found at the front of earlier editions of Young’s Concordance.

    Heading: “God”

    “God – is used of anyone (professedly) mighty, whether truly so or not, and is applied not only to the true God, but to false gods, magistrates, judges, angels, prophets, and c., e.g. – Exodus 7:1; 15:11; 21:6; 22:8,9; 32:8, 22, 31; Deuteronomy 10:17; Judges 8:33; 9:9. 13; 13:21,22; 16:23; 1 Sam 2:25 (23?); 28:13; 1 Kings 11:33; 2 Kings 1:2,3; 19:37; Psalm 8:5; 45:6; 82:1, 6; 97:7, 9; 136:2; Matthew 1:21; John1:1; 10:33-35; 20:28; Acts 7:40, 43, 59; 12:22; 14:11; 17:18, 23; 19:26; 20:28; 28:6; Romans 9:5; 1 Corinthians 8:5; Philippians 3:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 3:10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 3:16; 5:20.”

    Reply
  21. avatar

    Michael R. Davenport

    (Oops – accidental duplication. No way to edit.)

    Not sure when I’ll get back here. Heading to Phoenix today and not sure if I’ll have computer access down there.

    Reply
  22. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Michael R. Davenport,

    Re: The LXX reading at Exodus 3:14. Actually, I looked it up in Swete’s LXX and it does indeed have the “ego eimi ho on” reading there. I’ve now also looked at the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 1979 LXX and it is “ego eimi ho on” there as well. So I’m not sure what LXX you’re (mis?)reading but “ego eimi” is definitely how the Hebrew is translated in the LXX.

    But I think I understand your argument more clearly now. It seems you’re arguing that I AM is not the name God gives himself in Exodus 3:14 based on the LXX. I think you’ll find that the Hebrew is clear on the point. God is indeed calling himself I AM in the Hebrew and as the LXX shows, “ego eimi” is an appropriate translation of the Hebrew for I AM. You can’t use a translation (the LXX) to correct the original (the Hebrew). So for Jesus to use ego eimi in so stark a syntactical setting is indeed a solid reference to the OT name of God. And the context being about Abraham only makes this point stronger.

    Re: the Hebrew translation of Exodus 3:14. “Biblical Hebrew does not have tense like English or Greek (time of action is conveyed by context)” (Heiser, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology). Your argument here seems to be that the way it was translated in one place somehow affects how it should be translated in another place. Which suggests that you don’t understand how language works. Or perhaps more accurately, your church-approved sources don’t understand how language works (or are counting on their readers not knowing). But you’re accidentally right that the tense is unspecified and therefore this name I AM involves the full spectrum of past, present, and future and is sometimes, to make this point, translated “I always will be what I always have been” or similarly.

    Bottom line is you don’t seem to know what you’re talking about when you address language issues. But you speak with confidence. Which makes me wonder who/what your sources are. And why they are misleading you. And why you trust them.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Michael Davenport

      Is Jesus deity?

      I believe that he is deity, but what does this word mean? Many people assume that there is only one deity: God Himself, but is this true? How about if we use a dictionary to define the word, ‘deity’?

      Deity according to Funk and Wagnalls:

      “Deity 1. A god, goddess, or divine person. 2. Divine nature or status; Godhead: divinity.”

      “Divinity 1. The state or quality of being divine; especially the state or quality of being God or a god: Godhead 2. A godlike character or attribute, especially extreme excellence. 3. A god or goddess; deity.”

      “Divine 1. Of or pertaining to God or a god; 2 given by or derived from God or a god, a divine vision 3. Directed by or devoted to God, or a god. Sacred; religious, divine worship. 4. Reflecting the attributes or suggestive of God or a god: godlike. 5. Extraordinarily perfect. Excellent to the highest degree.”

      Obviously, the word, ‘deity’ is a description not reserved for God alone.

      Technically, the word, ‘deity’ is not found in the Greek New Testament because it comes from the Latin word, deitas, which is used in the Latin Vulgate to translate the Greek word, theotetos at Colossians 2:9, The Latin Vulgate, of course, is a Roman Catholic translation.

    2. avatar

      Michael Davenport

      The Gospel of John – Volume 1, Daily Bible Study Series, pg. 39
      William Barclay

      “Finally, John says that the Word was God. This is a difficult saying for us to understand, and it is difficult because Greek, in which John wrote, had a different way of saying things from the way in which English speaks. When Greek uses a noun it almost always uses the definite article with it. The Greek for God is theos and the definite article is ho. When Greek speaks about God it does not simply say theos; it says ho theos. Now when Greek does not use the definite article with a noun, that noun becomes much more like an adjective.. John does not say that the Word was ho theos; that would have been to say that the Word was identical with God. He said that the Word was theos – without the definite article – which means that the Word was, we might say, of the very same character and quality and essence and being as God. When John said that the Word was God he was not saying that the Word was identical with God; he was saying that Jesus was so perfectly the same as God in mind, in heart, in being, that in him we perfectly see what God is like.”

  23. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Michael R. Davenport,

    Re: The deity of Jesus. Why obfuscate about the word deity? Jesus is the one true God, YHWH. That is my claim.

    Re: The present perfect tense. No I’m not disputing that there is a present tense that involves past action. What I said is “Greek does not have a present perfect tense per se.” Which is true. And which leads me to question the competence of whatever source you are relying on. And to question your integrity for apparently rehashing/relaying arguments you don’t actually understand. How can I take you seriously if you refer to a tense that doesn’t actually exist per se in Greek?

    As far as the translation itself, there is no present tense in Greek that satisfies non-JW scholars as being a possible use in this case. In other words, scholars (Moulton included according to your own quotation) accept that this is a present tense verb and should be translated as such. Attempts to twist it otherwise are contrived and imposed upon the context.

    The bottom line here is that you have nothing to gain by this point. If Jesus began in the past and continues to the present, the only possible theological benefit you could get would be the notion of Jesus having a beginning (vs. being eternal), which would be a misunderstanding of the meaning of a present tense verb which involved past time.

    It’s really bizarre that you are trying to demonstrate points of Greek grammar based on the Greek translation of the Hebrew text. You’re clearly conflating the authority of the Hebrew text with the non-authority of the translation to justify imposing Hebrew grammar on Greek phrases.

    And again, you don’t seem to actually understand the arguments you’re making. Do you know Greek? Do you know Hebrew? What is the source of your arguments?

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Michael Davenport

      Hello, Jason. I just recently got my personal computer back up and running, although I’m not sure for how long.

      You asked who my sources were for the information I’ve posted. The JW Org has not published anything of depth on these doctrinal issues in many decades. Most of my info comes from my own personal research with lexicons and concordances, and occasionally, from some of the Greek grammars I own.
      I learned a lot from reading BeDuhn’s online debate with Bowman, but that was focused primarily on Jn 8:58.
      But my theology comes mostly from the Bible.
      Back in 1981, I studied with a man who had been a staunch Trinitarian – Foursquare Pentecostal – but he began to question his own beliefs after he put away his Pentecostal literature and simply read the Bible. He highlighted in yellow every verse that had something to say about Jesus and his relationship with the Father, and by the time he finished reading the NT, he had serious doubts about the Trinity. He had questions on a few verses – like John 1:1 and 8:58, and Hebrews 1:6, and we both did some research on them and found the answers. It was he who found in his own personal library a commentary on the Book of John by William Barclay. After he read just one paragraph in Barclay on Jn 1:1, he said, “OK, now I understand.” That was one of the things that motivated me to start digging deeper into the Greek – including the Bagster’s LXX. In the 38 years since then, I’ve spent thousands of hours researching the usage and meaning of Greek words in the LXX and NT. I know a lot, but I’ll have to admit that there’s a lot I don’t know. And no one knows everything.

      On John 8:58/Ex 3:14, I challenge you to produce any comments from any Christian writer who appeals to your argument from up to the time the KJV was written. I’m not aware of any, but if you can find any such source, I’d love to see it.

  24. avatar

    Michael R. Davenport

    Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible on Exodus 3:14:

    In verse 12, God tells Moses, “I will be [ehyeh] with thee, and this to thee [shall be] the sign that I have sent thee, – when thou bringest forth the people out of Egypt ye shall do service unto God, upon this mountain.”

    13. And Moses said unto God –
    Lo! as surely as I go in unto the sons of Israel, and say unto them, The God of your forefathers hath sent me unto you, so surely will they say unto me, What is his name? What shall I say to them?
    14 And God said unto Moses –
    I Will Become (ehyeh] whatsoever I please
    And he said –
    Thus shalt thou say to the sons of Israel,
    I Will Become [Ehyeh] hath sent me unto you
    15 And God said further unto Moses –
    Thus shalt thou say unto the sons of Israel,
    Yahweh, God of your fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob hath sent me unto you.”
    This is my name to times age-abiding
    And this my memorial to generation after generation.”

    Footnote, Quoting the Hastings Bible Dictionary: “To follow the weighty explanation subjoined, it should be borne in mind that the Hebrew in verse 14 is, second line, ehyeh asher ehyeh, then in the fifth line ;ehyeh’ only ; then that Yahweh takes up the strain in verse ver. 15. ‘Hayah [the word rendered above ‘become’ does not mean ‘to be’ essentially or ontologically, but phenomenally, . . . it seems evident that in the view of the writer ‘ehyeh’ and ‘Yahweh’ are the same ; that God is ‘ehyeh, ‘I will be,’ when speaking of Himself, and Yahweh, ‘He will be,’ when spoken of by others. What he will be is left unexpressed – He will be with them, helper, strengthener, deliverer.”

    – Professor A.B. Davidson, in Hastings Bible Dictionary, Vol II., 199.
    [It will be seen by the discriminating that the above brief exposition of the meaning of the Divine Name [Yahweh] is in essential accord with that offered in chapter IV,. In the introduction to this Bible.”

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  25. avatar

    Michael Davenport

    It’s not surprising that people confuse Jesus with Jehovah – given that most Bibles have removed the divine Name from their pages. In Messianic prophecy, however, there is a clear distinction made between Jehovah, and the Messiah whom Jehovah sent. Consider this example:

    Isaiah 53:1 “Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed? 2. For he [the Messiah] grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness: and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3. He was despised, and rejected of men. . . 6. and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . 10. Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. 11. By the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many. ”And he shall bear their iniquities. 12. Therefore, I will divide him a portion with the great.” (Isa 52:13–53:12 – selected verses)

    There are several more examples like this one.

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  26. avatar

    Michael Davenport

    Today’s Trinitarians maintain that Jesus and the Apostles were also Trinitarians. They assume that their beliefs were revealed by Jesus and accepted by his followers in the first century, and that there was an unbroken line of Trinitarian believers from the first century down until today. The facts of history, however, do not support this conclusion.

    Consider the comments by the Church Fathers on relationship between Jesus and the Father

    Theophilus (116-181 C.E)
    “But when God wished to make all that he determined to do, he begat this Word, uttered, “the firstborn of all creation.” – Ante-Nicene Fathers 2, p.103

    “God, then, having his own Logos internal within His own bowels, begot Him, emitting Him along with His own wisdom before all things. He had the Word as a helper in the things that were created by Him.” – ANF 1, p.98

    Tertullian (160-230 C.E.)
    “He [God the Father] has not always been Father and judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son.” – Against Hermogenes ch 3.

    Justin Martyr
    “The Scripture has declared that this Offspring was begotten by the Father before all things created; and that that which is begotten is numerically distinct from that which begets, any one will admit.” – ANF 1. p.264

    “I say that there is, and is said to be, another God and Lord, subject to the Maker of all things, who is also called an Angel, because he announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things – above whom there is no other God – wishes to announce to them. . . . He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from him who made all things – numerically I mean, not in will.” – ANF 1, p.223

    Irenaeus of Lyon (Born ca. 130)
    “There is one God Almighty who created all things by His Word. . . “Then, referring to the Word, Irenaeus cites John 1:3: “’All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made’. Yea, not one of all was excepted, but the Father made all by him’ . . . He who molded man, He is the God of Abraham. . . Isaac . . . Jacob, above whom is no other God. . . He is the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” – Iren. Bk 1 ch 22. para 11

    In the above reference, we see that the Father is called the Creator, and the language Irenaeus uses indicates that the Father used Jesus to make all things. This does not suggest that Jesus was a co-creator, but rather, an instrument used by God to carry out His work. This thought is reinforced in the following quote:

    “He being the only Lord, the only God and the only Creator and the only Father and alone upholding all things, and Himself giving to all things their existence.” – Iren. Bk 2 ch 1.1.

    “But the one only God is our Creator. He who is above all principality, and power and dominion, and virtue: He is the Father, He God. He Founder, He Maker, and His Wisdom. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Word, Who is His Son. – Bk 2.ch 30.9

    “One God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, announced by the Law and Prophets; and one Christ, the Son of God,; – Iren. Bk 3, ch 1.2.

    “Which tradition proclaims, One God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth,’ and goes on, ‘That he is set forth by the Churches as the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” – Bk 3 ch 3.3.

    “I therefore call on Thee, O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Who art the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; . . . Who hast made heaven and earth, Who art Lord of all, who art the Only and True God, over Whom there is no other God: – by our Lord Jesus Christ do Thou bestow the command.” –Bk 3 Ch. 6.4

    “That neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in His own person, confessed any other God, but him Who in the primary sense is God and Lord; the prophets first and the apostles confessing the Father and the Son, but naming no other as God, nor confessing Him as Lord; and the Lord Himself afterwards delivering to the disciples the Father only as God and Lord, Him alone is God and Sovereign of all.” – Bk 3 ch 8.3

    “One God, the Maker of the Universe. . . as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Bk 3 ch11.7

    “Their maker, Who is God alone, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Bk 3 ch 25.7

    “In respect of His greatness, then, one cannot know God, for it is impossible to measure the Father.” – Bk4. ch 20.1

    “There is, therefore, One God, Who by his Word and Wisdom made and arranged all things; and this is the Creator.” Bk 4 ch 20.4

    “Man. . . comes to be in the image and likeness of the unoriginate God: the Father, approving and commanding, the Son performing and creating.” – Bk 4.38.3

    “There is one God, the Father. . . Who in the last days sent His Son.” – Bk 4 ch 41.4

    “No one by the apostles in their own person is called God, but Him who is truly God, the Father of our Lord. –Bk 5 ch 25..2

    In second-century orthodoxy, we see Jesus assigned a subordinate position in relation to the Father – the one “who is truly God.” We see the title, ‘Creator’ applied to the Father’, but not to the Son, although the Father used the Son in the work of creation. And we see that Christ confessed the Father alone as God.

    These excerpts are not inspired Scripture, but they do give us a clear picture of the thinking of the second century ‘fathers’ in regard to the relationship between Jesus and the father.

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