Jehovah`s Witness/Luke 2:27-34
Hello again Brenton
I would like you to reply to this question please
Derrick in his reply says he “want to give a JW the opportunity to explain the logic behind this "translation" and I would like to know as well. Is there any legitimate reason for calling Jesus an it
Thank you for writing and asking that question. and I am pleased to be able to offer an explanation. Please note... This explanation is mine and not from the NWT translating committee. It is formulated on what I know and understand about the Greek language
First of all I have cut and copied Luke 2:27-34 from both the NWT and the King James Bible. In both cases I have put in bold the “offending” word (it) in the NWT and he corresponding word (him) in the the King James.
Luke 2:27-34 NWT (1984)
Under the power of the spirit he now came into the temple; and as the parents brought the young child Jesus in to do for it
according to the customary practice of the law, 28 he himself received it
into his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go free in peace according to your declaration; 30 because my eyes have seen your means of saving 31 that you have made ready in the sight of all the peoples, 32 a light for removing the veil from the nations and a glory of your people Israel.” 33 And its
father and mother continued wondering at the things being spoken about it
. 34 Also, Simeon blessed them, but said to Mary its
mother: “Look! This one is laid for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel and for a sign to be talked against
Luke 2:27-34 King James
“27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him
after the custom of the law, 28 Then took him
him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his
mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him
. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary him
mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;”
The NWT, generally, is a literal rendering of the original Greek. It strives
to keep to the correct “gender” of pronouns. When the Greek uses masculine, feminine or neuter pronouns the NWT will render those pronouns in that gender into English. Some personal pronouns can apply to any gender. It is the nouns that that are attached to (or refer to) in the context that detrmis what gender they are.
There are 2 words involved in this text that directly relate to the discussion.
The first word used at Luke 2:27-34 is a noun “παιδίον” English = paidion You can look this up in Strongs Greek Lexicon word number 3813. It says “3813. παιδιον paidion; neuter
; a childling (of either sex), i.e. (properly,) an infant, or (by extension) a half-grown boy or girl; figuratively, an immature Christian: — (little, young) child, damsel.”
Notice what I have in Bold the word neuter
. This word is always
neuter as it can be used for either a male child or a female child.
The second word involved here is Strongs Greek pronoun, word number 846 which says “αυτος autos ow-tos’; from the particle αυ au ; the reflexive pronoun self, used of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons: — her, it(-self), one, the other, (mine) own, said, ([self-], the) same, ([him-, my-, thy-])self, [your-]selves, she, that, their(-s), them([-selves]), there[-at, by, in, into, of, on, with], they, (these) things, this (man), those, together, very, which.”
This pronoun can be masculine, feminine or neuter depending on the context
and/or the word it relates back to. It takes on the gender of the noun it refers to.
Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon says “reflexive Pron., self
, Lat. ipse:-in the oblique cases simply for the personal Pron., him, her, it
:” - Italics original
Some comments from Thayers Greek English lexicon on the word “αυτος”
In itself it signifies nothing more than again, applied to what has either been previously mentioned or, when the whole discourse is looked at, must necessarily be supplied...self, as used (in all persons, genders, numbers) to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence
When we look at “the whole discourse” of Luke 2:27-34, the word “αυτος” (autos) is applied to a previously mentioned “person” or “thing” to give to give him (it) emphatic prominence. In the text (“the whole discourse” ) in question, the word “auto” refers back to the “παιδίον” (young child) in verse 27 which is in the neuter gender. There is nothing wrong with using the masculine he/ him her, Whoever the NWT translators decided to kept the neuter gender (it) when rendering “αυτος” throughout the passage, because of its relationship with the neuter word rendered “young child”
in line with the context
What about Luke 2:40 where the NWT renders autos is him?
Yes it does. What needs to be taken into consideration is the context
. In verses 27-34, the “young child is only 8 days old. (The noun that “αυτος” refers to is neuter.) The parents are going to the temple as per the custom and law.
Verse 40 we need to read in context with verse41 - 43 the NWT reads.
“ 40 And the young child
continued growing and getting strong, being filled with wisdom, and God’s favor continued upon him
41 Now his parents were accustomed to go from year to year to Jerusalem for the festival of the passover. 42And when he became twelve years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival 43and completed the days. But when they were returning, the boy
Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, and his parents did not notice it”
is no longer a baby a few days old, but the child is growing and the account takes up again when he is 12 years of age.
There are two distinctly different words here. The words young child
are the same as in Verse 27 , and the word boy
( the child in the KJV) is a different Greek word. This Greek noun here is the word “pais” Strongs word number 3816. “παις pais perhaps from 3817; a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy,) a girl, and (genitive case) a child; specifically, a slave or servant (especially a minister to a king; and by eminence to God): — child, maid(-en), (man) servant, son, young man. “
So now we have 2 nouns that the “αυτος” could be referring too. One is neuter, and the other is masculine. So the context is important.
has moved away from Jesus being a baby (described by a neuter
noun) to being a child described by a masculine
noun). The word “autos” in context now is referring to the boy.
Now do we get upset at the KJV for using the grammatically wrong words (the child) when it translates “ “παις pais“ ? No we don't because the context still gives the same meaning the words are not grammatical correct but the reader knows what is meant. There is NO theological teaching in those verses
In verses 27-34 does the use of the word “it” by the NWT change anything of the meaning? I will leave that to you to decide for yourself, as for me it makes no difference to the meaning. Perhaps it is the culture where I live but it is not unusual for a very young child
to be refereed to as an “it”.