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"For Ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven"
By Jason Barker
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any
twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents
of the heart.1
Pseudo-Christian groups are particularly cognizant of this passage.
Because the Bible is the unchanging Word of the unchanging God, groups
whose doctrines are not in tune with biblical truth are forced to somehow
alleviate the problems caused by the discrepancy. Many groups, such as
the Christian Science church, will use
their publications (e.g., Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)
to reinterpret the biblical passages that contradict their distinctive
teachings. As we shall see, however, other groups go so far as to change
the Bible itself in order to uphold their teachings.
The New World Translation
Perhaps the best known revision of the Bible is the New World
Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT), published by the Watchtower
Bible and Tract Society. As of 1988, the Watchtower Society had printed
53,500,000 copies of the NWT.2
The Society's widely published rationale for issuing the NWT is that
pagan religious traditions had influenced the previous English-language
translations of the Bible. For example, in the Forward to the original
1950 edition of the NWT, the Society wrote, "Religious traditions, hoary
with age, have been taken for granted and gone unchallenged and uninvestigated.
These have been interwoven into the translations to color the thought.
In support of a preferred religious view, an inconsistency and unreasonableness
have been insinuated into the teachings of the inspired writings." In a
later reiteration of this accusation, the Society claims that "some modern
translators have completely eliminated the personal name of God from their
works. Others have wrongly translated the word Gehenna as "hell fire."3
Ironically, considering what readers shall see regarding the integrity
of the NWT, the Society states regarding non-Witness Bible translators,
"If someone deliberately changes or omits part of the contents of the Bible,
he is on dangerous ground."4 The article concludes
by asserting the superiority of the NWT: "On the point of translator bias
'the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses can survive the scrutiny
of criticism.'"5 Unfortunately, this claim
is not accurate.
The NWT inserts the name Jehovah 237 times into the New Testament when,
in fact, the name does not appear once in any significant Greek manuscripts.
The name does not even appear in the 1948 Hort and Westcott critical Greek
text, which is the Greek text published by the Society itself in its Kingdom
Interlinear Translation. The additions were clearly given to support the
Watchtower claim that Witnesses must continually use the divine name in
order to be saved.
Even more significant than these additions are the substantive changes
the Society has made to detract from the deity of Christ. The most widely
known change in the NWT is in John 1:1, where the NWT reads, "In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." This
is in direct contradiction to the Greek texts, which uniformly read (transliterated),
"En archee een ho Logos, kai ho Logos een pros ton Theon, kai Theos
een ho Logos," or "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and God was the Word." The Society clearly added the article
"a" to make John 1:1 support their belief that Jesus Christ is not truly
Interestingly, the Society has supported its revision of John 1:1 by
referring to an identical alteration in Johannes Greber's 1917 The New
Testament - A New Translation and Explanation.6
This is highly problematic for the Society, however, because the Watchtower
Society has, at various times, admitted that Greber was a spiritist who
received his New Testament as it was revealed to him by unseen spirits.7
These brief examples show that, contrary to the claims of the Watchtower
Society, the NWT cannot withstand scrutiny.
Joseph Smith Translation
Less familiar to many people, but just as egregious in its alterations
of the Bible, is the version created by Joseph Smith from October 1830
- July 1833. Smith changed at least 3,410 verses in the Bible in order
to make Scripture support his developing theology.8
The eighth Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, written by Joseph Smith, states the reason for Smith's revisions:
"We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated
correctly." Smith elaborates elsewhere upon his understanding of translation
by saying, "I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of
the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing
and corrupt priests have committed many errors."9
In other words, by "translation" Smith actually means "transmission:" because
errors occurred in the transmission of the Bible, he needed to create a
new version that would return altered passages and themes.
The Bible was, according Smith and his previously written Book of Mormon,
missing many "plain and precious" things that were removed by clerical
scribes.10 In fact, only fourteen books remain
unchanged after Smith completed his revisions, and only three of these
(Philemon and 2 and 3 John) were in the New Testament. He deleted entirely
the Song of Solomon as being uninspired. The fact that there are major
doctrinal changes between the original Bible and the JST thus cannot be
One of the most dramatic changes in the JST are the changes that it
makes in Genesis 1-8 to teach that Adam, Enoch, and Noah all accepted and
taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also notable is the fact that the patriarchs
received the Holy Ghost, something the unaltered Bible teaches did not
happen until Pentecost.
The JST also adds several sentences to the end of Matthew 2: "And it
came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and
waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come. And he served
under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught;
for he needed not that any man should teach him. And after many years,
the hour of his ministry drew nigh."11 It
further alters the passage in which Jesus appears in the temple for his
bar mitzvah from teaching that Jesus "sitting in the midst of the doctors,
both hearing them, and asking them questions," to "they were hearing him,
and asking him questions."12 The passage clearly
alters the relationships that Jesus had with his family and religious teachers
as depicted in the Bible.
Another significant change in the JST (and there are many others besides
the ones covered here) appears in the Lord's Prayer, which the JST changes
from "lead us not into temptation" to "suffer us not to be led into temptation."13
This change, in which Joseph Smith attempts to answer what some people
see to be a problematic passage, accounts for many of his textual changes.
For example, to prevent his readers from believing that God personally
causes His followers to be tempted, Smith changed his translation of Isaiah
63:17 from "O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened
our heart?" to "O Lord, why hast thou suffered us to err,.and to harden
It is particularly interesting to note that the LDS
Church does not accept the JST as one of their Standard Works. They
instead continue to use the King James Version that Joseph Smith found
to be entirely inadequate (the LDS Church does, however, include footnotes
in its KJV to indicate approximately 700 of Smith's 1,150 alterations14).
The Book of Yahweh
Much like the Watchtower Society, Yisrael Hawkins and the House of Yahweh
believe that God's name was deleted from the biblical manuscripts. In fact,
Hawkins criticizes the Watchtower Society for acknowledging that Yahweh
is the Hebrew pronunciation of the divine name, but nonetheless deciding
to use Jehovah.15 Hawkins extends his criticism
to the anglicizing of Hebrew names: "By changing Yeremyah, which means,
'May Yahweh lift up,' to Jeremiah, which means nothing, the later translators
effectively hid the Name of Yahweh; therefore, not even a hint of Yahweh's
Name remains in this name."16
In order to rectify this perceived sacrilege, Hawkins created The
Book of Yahweh (BOY), a new Bible with the sacred name allegedly restored
to the Scripture. Hawkins states regarding the goal for the translation:
Hawkins is emphatic the changes he made in his version of the Bible restore
the Bible to its original textual purity:
It has been our purpose and goal to go far beyond all other conscientious
Scholars. We who have worked on this Translation have purposed, not only
to replace Yahweh's Name in all the Scriptures in which it was inspired
to be written, but we have also purposed to replace Yahweh's wonderful
Name in each of the hundreds of places where it was used in compound with
place names, and within personal names. As you read these Scriptures, you
will see how many times the Name of Yahweh was honored by our forefathers.
and [sic] how many times the translators HID this wonderful Name.17
"However, the Scriptures themselves have been thoroughly studied, compared,
and critiqued; every Scripture that has been changed from the King James
Version can be PROVEN beyond any shadow of doubt; thereby building your
faith and trust in Yahweh our Heavenly Father, and Creator of the universe.
We have purposed to REPLACE the many vital words which were
deliberately left UNTRANSLATED in today's modern English versions; words
which, untranslated, disguised the true message which Yahweh inspired to
be written, or else perpetuated the many 'traditions of men'--not according
to the Scriptures--but rampant in this world!
To summarize Hawkins' actions: he deleted some of the biblical passages,
added others, and rewrote still others so that their meanings are clear
to his followers. Unfortunately, the impact of such changes is highly detrimental
to his stated goals.
We have also purposed to remove all words and WHOLE VERSES that have
been ADDED to the original Scriptures (such as the 'footnotes' that became
'inspired' Scriptures, as a later copyist included them in the Holy Writings).
Most of the time, these added words change, hide, or contradict the
original message of Yahweh; effectively confusing the reader, who is in
search of the Truth of Yahweh. We have not omitted these Scriptures arbitrarily;
indeed, the commentaries of the Religious Scholars themselves have stated
these Scriptural facts. We, only, have acted upon the facts presented.
We have purposed, as well, to clearly translate the many verses that
have been left unclear, and not understandable, in other translations.
The Book of Yahweh is written in modern English; yet, at the same time
with the thought of presenting all the truth of Yahweh. One of the most
frequently heard complaints about the translations today, is against the
hundreds of unintelligible verses they contain.18
A particularly vivid example of the changes Hawkins made in the BOY
is his alteration of Zechariah 5:5-11. Below is the passage from the KJV:
Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto
me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. And
I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He
said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. And, behold,
there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth
in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast
it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the
mouth thereof. Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there
came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings
like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth
and the heaven. Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do
these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, To build it an house in the
land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own
Note the dramatic additions in Zecharyah from the BOY (all emphases and
errors are in the original):
Then the malak who was speaking with me came forward, and said
to me: Lift up your eyes now, and understand that which is sent by commandment.
The revisions are clearly intended to support Hawkins' unique theology.
The passage from Zechariah becomes, through Hawkins' theological filter,
a prophecy of the founding of the House of Yahweh by Yisrael and Yaaqob
[a.k.a. Buffalo Bill and J.G.] Hawkins. Particularly interesting, considering
Hawkins' highly misogynistic worldview that resulted in his first wife
leaving him, is that he changed the two women in verse nine into two witnesses,
representing his brother and himself. Despite Hawkins' claims to the contrary,
the only support for such revisions is in his theology.
And I asked: What is it? And he answered: This is the ephah; The Standard
of Perfection, which is sent by Yahweh's Law. Then he added: This is honor,
knowledge, and understanding throughout the whole earth.
And behold, the sum total of the heaviest cover; of deception and delusion,
was taken. And there was the First Woman; The First Era of the House of
Yahweh, established in the midst of the ephah; The Standard of Perfection
which is sent by Yahweh's Laws.
And this is the wickedness: And Satan overthrew The House of Yahweh
within the midst of the ephah; The Standard of Perfection sent by Yahweh's
Laws - by casting the same weight of lead; cover of deception, against
her mouth;successfully suppressing the Word of Yahweh (the Law and the
Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold: Two women; The Last
Two Eras of The House of Yahweh, sent with commandment. The Spirit of Yahweh
came to overspread them; and they were covered with the covering of saints.
And they exalted, magnified, and extolled the ephah; the Standard of Perfection
sent by Yahweh's Laws, separatingthe of the world from the Way of Yahweh
Then I said to the malak who was speaking with me: Where are they; The
Two Witnesses, going with the ephah?
And he said to me: To build The House of Yahweh according to The Standard
of Perfection sent by Yahweh's Laws, in a Babylonish land which does not
yet exist. And it will be established at that time; when The Two Witnesses
are called out to their work; as the Established Place; the Habitation
of Yahweh; THE HOUSE OF YAHWEH.
The Psalmist wrote, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."19
The eternality of God's Holy Scripture is ultimately the bane of pseudo-Christian
groups; they must attempt to change the Bible in order to claim the Bible's
support for their doctrine and practices. Unfortunately, the same Scripture
that they alter is the on by which they will ultimately be judged.
1 Hebrews 4:12.
2 Information in frontispiece of 1988 printing of the
New World Translation (1984 edition).
3 "Insight on the News," The Watchtower, October
15 (1985), p. 21.
6 See The Word, Who is He? According to John
(New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1962), p. 5.
7 See The Watchtower, February 15 (1956).
8 "Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible," [Online].
9 The Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327.
10 1 Nephi 13:21-41.
11 Matthew 2:24-26.
12 Luke 2:46.
13 Matthew 6:13 in the KJV; Matthew 6:14 in the JST.
14 Sharon Lindbloom, "The Bible: Restored and Revised,"
[Online]. URL http://www.answeringlds.org/awisBibleResRev.html.
15 "The Book of Yahweh," [Online]. URL http://www.yahweh.com/pages/bookad/boy.shtml.
17 Ibid. Emphasis in original.
19 Psalm 119:89.
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