An Explanation of the Unipersonality of Christ for Muslims – Footnote 6

Gerry Redman

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Bremmer, Michael. The Deity of Jesus Christ:

‘Walter Martin, in his classic, The Kingdom of the Cults, writes concerning the JW’s deceptive translation of Jn. 1.1:

“Contrary to the translations of The Emphatic Diaglott and the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, the Greek grammatical construction leaves no doubt whatsoever that this is the only possible rendering of the text. The subject of the sentence is Word (Logos), the verb, was. There can be no direct object following was since according to grammatical usage intransitive verbs take no objects but take instead predicate nominatives which refer back to the subject, in this case, Word (Logos). In fact, the late New Testament Greek scholar, Colwell, formulated a rule which clearly states that a definite predicate nominative (in this case, theos – God) never takes an article when it precedes the verb (was) as we find in John 1:1. It is therefore easy to see that no article is needed for Theos (God) and to translate it a ‘god’ is both incorrect grammar and poor Greek since Theos is the predicate nominative of was in the third sentence-clause of the verse and must refer back to the subject, Word (Logos). Christ, then, if He is the ‘Word made flesh’ (John 1:14) can be no one else except God unless the Greek text and consequently God’s Word be denied.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in their New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, on the appendix pages 773-77, attempt to discredit the Greek text on this point, for they realize that if Jesus and Jehovah are ‘One’ in nature, their theology cannot stand since they deny the unity of nature. The refutation of their arguments on this point is conclusive.

The claim is that since the definite article is used with Theon in John 1.1c and not with Theos in John 1.1d, therefore the omission is designed to show a difference; the alleged difference being that in the first case the One True God (Jehovah) is meant, while in the second ‘a god,’ other than, and inferior to, the first is meant, this latter ‘god’ being Jesus Christ.

On page 776b the claim is made that the rendering ‘a god’ is correct because ‘… all the doctrine of sacred Scriptures bears out the correctness of this rendering.’ This remark focuses attention on the fact that the whole problem involved goes far beyond this text. Scripture does in fact teach the full and equal Deity of Christ. Why then is so much made of this one verse? It is probably because of the surprise effect derived from the show of pseudo scholarship in the use of a familiar text. Omission of the article with Theos does not mean that ‘a god’ other than the one true God is meant. Let one examine these passages where the article is not used with Theos and see if the rendering ‘a god’ makes sense: Matthew 5:9; 6:24; Luke 1:35, 78; 2:40; John 1:6, 12, 13, 18; 3:2, 21; 9:16, 33; Romans 1.7, 17, 18; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 15:10; Philippians 2.11, 13; Titus 1:1 and many, many more. The ‘a god’ contention proves too weak and is inconsistent. To be consistent in this rendering of ‘a god,’ Jehovah’s Witnesses would have to translate every instance where the article is absent as a god (nominative), of a god (genitive), to or for a god (dative),etc. This they do not do in Matthew 5:9; 6:24; Luke 1:35, 78; John 1:6, 12, 13, 18; Romans 1:7, 17, etc. (See the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures and The Emphatic Diaglott at above mentioned references.)

You cannot honestly render theos ‘a god’ In John 1:1, and then theou ‘of God’ (Jehovah), in Matthew 5.9, Luke 1:35, 78; John 1:6, etc., when theou is the genitive case of the same noun (second declension), without an article and must be rendered (following Jehovah’s Witnesses’ argument) ‘of a god’ not ‘of God’ as both The Emphatic Diaglott and New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures put it. We could list at great length, but suggest consultation of the Greek New Testament by either D. Erwin Nestle or Westcott & Hort, in conjunction with The Elements of Greek by Francis Kingsley Ball (New York: Macmillian, 1948, pp. 7, 14) on noun endings, etc. So then if Jehovah’s Witnesses must persist in this fallacious ‘a god’ rendition they can at least be consistent, which they are not, and render every instance where the article is absent in the same manner. The truth of the matter is this, that Jehovah’s Witnesses use and remove the articular emphasis whenever and wherever it suits their fancy regardless of grammatical laws to the contrary. In a translation as important as God’s Word, every law must be observed. Jehovah’s Witnesses have not been consistent in their observances of those laws.

The writers of the claim have exhibited another trait common to Jehovah’s Witnesses, that of half quoting or misquoting a recognized authority to bolster their ungrammatical renditions. On page 776 of the appendix to the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures when quoting Dr. Robertson’s words, ‘among the ancient writers ho theos was used of the god of absolute religion in distinction from the mythological gods,’ they fail to note that in the second sentence following, Dr. Robertson says, ‘In the New Testament, however, while we have pros ton theon (John 1:1, 2) it is far more common to find simply theos, especially in the Epistles.’

In other words, the writers of the New Testament frequently do not use the article with theos and yet the meaning is perfectly clear in the context, namely that the One True God is intended. Let one examine the following references where in successive verses and even in the same sentence the article is used with one occurrence of theos and not with another form, and it will be absolutely clear that no such drastic inferences can be drawn from John’s usage in John 1:1, 2 (Matthew 4:3, 4; 12:28; 28:43; Luke 20:37, 38; John 3:2; 13:3; Acts 5:29, 30; Romans 1:7, 8, 17-19; 2:16, 17; 3:5, 22, 23; 4:2, 3, etc.).

The doctrine of the article is important in Greek; it is not used indiscriminately. But we are not qualified to be sure in all cases what is intended. Dr. Robertson is careful to note that it is only of recent years that a really scientific study of the article has been made (p. 755, A. T. Robertson). The facts are not all known and no such drastic conclusion, as the writers of the appendix note, should he dogmatically affirmed.

It is nonsense to say that a simple noun can be rendered ‘divine,’ and that one without the article conveys merely the idea of quality (pp. 773, 774, appendix to the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures). The authors of this note themselves later render the same noun theos as ‘a god’ not as ‘a quality.’ This is a self-contradiction in the context. In conclusion, the position of the writers of this note is made clear at page 774 of the appendix to the New World Translation. of the Christian Greek Scriptures; according to them it is ‘unreasonable’ that the Word (Christ) should be the God with whom He was (John 1:1). Their own manifestly erring reason is made the criterion for determining Scriptural truth. One need only note the obvious misuse in their quotation from Dana and Mantey (the New World Translation of the Christian. Greek Scriptures, pp. 774, 775). Mantey clearly means that the Word was Deity in accord with the overwhelming testimony of Scripture, but the writers have dragged in the interpretation ‘a god’ to suit their own purpose, which purpose is the denial of Christ’s Deity, and as a result a denial of the Word of God. The late Dr. Mantey publicly stated that he was quoted out of` context and he personally wrote the Watchtower, declaring ‘there is no statement in our grammar that was ever meant to imply that ‘a god’ was a permissible translation in John 1 :1 and it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 The Word was a god'(Michael Van Buskirk, The Scholastic Dishonesty of the Watchtower, P.O. Box 2067, Costa Mesa, CA 92626: CARIS, 1976, p. 11).” (The Kingdom of the Cults, P. 85-87)’

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