Occult Spiritist Supports New World Translation

Tommy Dorsett

The Watchtower Society is quite familiar with Pastor Johannes Greber and his translation of The New Testament. They have quoted him at least nine times in their publications dating from 1956 to 1983.

Seven of the quotations were of a positive nature and were used to support the Society's translation of certain biblical passages (such as John 1:1).

The other two were negative in that they exposed Greber as a spiritist who relied on the spirit world to help him translate his New Testament.

In typical Watchtower fashion, the Society got as much mileage out of Greber as possible and when their hand was exposed, they sanctimoniously tossed him aside.

It all began in 1956 in the Watchtower. Greber was revealed as a spiritist who translated the New Testament with help from God's spirits. The article says, in part:

"Says Johannes Greber in the introduction of this translation of the New Testament, copyrighted in 1937: `I myself was a Catholic priest, and until I was forty-eight years old had never as much as believed in the possibility of communicating with the world of God's spirits. The day came, however, when I involuntarily took my first step toward such communication and experienced things that shake me to the depths of my soul...'

"In keeping with his Roman Catholic extraction Greber's translation is bound with a gold-leaf cross on its stiff front cover...Very plainly the spirits in which ex-priest Greber believes helped him in his translation" (15 February).

Exposing Greber as a spiritist was certainly the right thing to do and, in fact, was consistent with the Society's teaching on spiritism over the years.

In the 1965 edition of the book, Make Sure Of All Things, Hold Fast To What Is Fine, they say, "Practice of any form of spiritism brings divine disapproval" (p. 469) and, "Destroy objects related to spiritistic practices" (p. 470).

In the 1968 book The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life, they say, "One of the ways that wicked spirits mislead men and women is through spiritism...The Bible warns us to keep from every practice associated with spiritism... God condemns every kind of spiritism" (p. 61).

Finally, in the 1978 booklet Unseen Spirits, Do They Help Us? or Do They Harm Us? they write, "In ancient Israel God commanded that anyone who practices spiritism was to be stoned to death" (p. 30); and, "According to his inspired Word, Jehovah God hates all such practices no matter what form they take or on what continent they are found" (p. 31).

And finally, "If we want Jehovah's friendship and protection, we must break all connections and associations with spiritism in its many forms. That includes disposing of any objects that relate to spiritism" (p. 41).

It is obvious that they know the dangers of spiritism. But as indicated earlier, that is not the whole story.

Just six years after exposing Greber as a spiritist, the Society acts as if they never did such a thing and, instead, they reveal Greber as a biblical scholar ( a much needed biblical scholar) in support of their own New World Translation (NWT) rendering of John 1:1.

It was 1962 when the Society introduced a new booklet entitled The Word, Who Is He? According to John. They quote Greber's translation of John 1:1. as "and the Word was a god" (p. 5) instead of "and the Word was God."

The footnote reads, "The New Testament - A New Translation and Explanation. Based on the oldest manuscripts, by Johannes Greber...edition of 1937, the front of this bound translation being stamped with a golden cross."

So there is no mistake about it, both the 1956 Watchtower article and this booklet are using the same edition of Greber's New Testament (1937 edition with the gold cross on the front cover).

In the 1956 article, Greber is a spiritist, but from this point on they are off and running with their newly found biblical scholar, Johannes Greber. In fact, 1962 was a very good year for the Society to quote Greber, the biblical scholar, as they also quoted him in the September 15 Watchtower (p. 554).

He is then quoted in the 1965 edition of Make Sure... (p. 489), the same book in which they warn against practicing spiritism.

Then at two places in their reference work Aid to Bible Understanding (1971, p. 1134 and 1669) and, in two later editions of the Watchtower (15 October 1975, p. 640 and 15 April 1976, p. 231).

This continuous inconsistency was brought to the public's attention in the early 1980's as cult researchers discovered who Greber really was.

Various individuals began to write to the Society asking where they might obtain a copy of Greber's New Testament. Even though the Society knew the address of the Johannes Greber Memorial Foundation as indicated by a letter dated 20 December 1980 from the Society to the Foundation, they gave bogus addresses and sources for his New Testament.

In a letter from the Society in December 1981, they gave one inquirer the address of a building that was no longer in existence. In a letter to this writer in September 1982, they suggested inquiring of the American Bible Society in New York.

It was obvious the Society was involved in a cover-up. They did not want their readers to know who Greber really was.

In a certified letter dated 6 October 1982 (received by the Society on 12 October 1982 according to the return receipt) this writer informed the Society of the Foundation's address for future reference. Therefore, it is not surprising to find in the Watchtower under "Questions from Readers" the following:

"`Why, in recent years, has the Watchtower not made use of the translation by the former Catholic priest, Johannes Greber?'

"...as indicated in a forward to the 1980 edition of The New Testament by Johannes Greber, this translation relied on `God's Spirit World,' to clarify for him how he should translate difficult passages. It is stated: `His wife, a medium of God's Spirit world was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God's Messengers to Pastor Greber.' The Watchtower has deemed it improper to make use of a translation that has such a close rapport with spiritism." (1 April 1983)

The Society knew all along that they were dealing with a spiritist, but being desperate for sources that supported their own NWT, his translation became a valuable asset to the Society, giving birth to the cover-up.

According to this answer, the Society did not realize Greber was a spiritist until they obtained the 1980 edition of his New Testament and read about it in the forward. In essence, they are saying that the 1937 edition did not reveal this information about Greber.

Their tampering with the truth can be demonstrated by comparing this answer with what they wrote about Greber in the 1956 Watchtower.

In addition to what the Society revealed about Greber in that article, the introduction to the 1937 edition states: "Whoever, then, seeks to know what is true and what is untrue in the Bible as we have it today, can find out only in the way in which all God-fearing people in the past have sought the truth, namely by communicating with God's spirit world.

"In the rare instance in which a text pronounced correct by the divine spirits can be found in none of the manuscripts available today, I have used the text as it was given to me by those spirits."

Obviously, the Society had at their disposal enough information to determine that Greber was a spiritist and they said as much in the 1956 article.

Could it be that the Watchtower Society has been dishonest?
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