A problem faced by the Watchtower past and present has been their doctrines being at odds with all known existing and accepted versions of the Scriptures.
The production of their own bible by the Watchtower – ‘The New World translation’, some years ago gave them a publication that could be used by their visiting teams on the doorstep to more accurately reflect their own particular doctrines.
In producing the publication a number of key verses were changed from existing established and accepted versions; in particular many of those referring to the divinity of Christ, to bring the reading into a greater conformity to the Watchtower teaching that Jesus is a created being.
Probably, the most controversial change was that of John 1:1, where the concluding part of this verse has been translated
….and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god; changed from the recognised translation of scholars …… the Word was God.
In their NWT appendix on John 1:1, the Watchtower present what is intended as justification for the change by appealing to Greek grammar. However the translation is roundly condemned by world class scholars. Also listed is what are claimed to be publications supporting their translation. These are:-
1) The New Testament, an ‘ improved’ version on the basis of Archbishop Newcombe’s New Translation with a ‘corrected text’.
This ‘improved’ version is reported to have been published by “a Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Practice of Virtue, by the Distribution of Books Unitarian”, with the alterations being made by a Mr. Thomas Belsham after Archbishop Newcome’s death. It is inconceivable that Archbishop Newcome would have said the word was ‘a god’.
2) The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson
(Apparently a Christadelphian whose views would have had some similarity with the Watchtower)
3) The Bible – An American Translation by JMP Smith and EJ Goodspeed . (These two simply use the word divine for the word God.)
4) 3 different German authors who it would appear each produced a Gospel of John.
The following points need to be made on the Watchtower’s “a god” in John 1:1.
1) On page 12 of their publication “Should You Believe in the Trinity” the Watchtower speaks of false gods i.e. Dagon and Baal etc. (as opposed to the true God), and on page 29 the statement is made that Jesus in heaven can be properly called a god. The question that the Watchtower has to answer then is – Is their “a god” of John 1:1 a true god or a false god? If their answer is that the god is a true god, then they have two true deities, which contradicts the statement of faith by the Watchtower Organisation. If it is said that this is a false god then the Watchtower would be saying in effect that the true God had a false god with Him, which would be inconceivable. “A god” has to be either true or false, there is no middle ground !
2) The Scriptures leave us in no doubt however that there is no god with God, in clear contradiction of the Watchtower’s translation, as follows:-Isaiah 44;6….Beside me there is no God- Isaiah 45:5&6…There is no God beside Me – Isaiah 43:10 & 11 …beside Me there is no saviour. – Deut 32:39..there is no God beside Me; ( The word ELOHIM is used here. The word means GOD, gods, or any object(s) of worship of any category, position or rank – including the Watchtower’s “a god”.)
3) The Apostle John was not a polytheist. The author and writer of the book of John was a true Jew and as such could not believe in two Gods.
4) The Watchtower’s “a god” insertion in this passage is in contradiction of the great weight of Scripture from which it can be easily shown the divinity of Christ.
The position of the Watchtower on their translation of John 1:1 therefore remains untenable, in the light of the clear evidence against it.