Jehovah`s Witness/Bible


Why do Jehovah Witnesses have their own Bible? It seems odd that they would need a different Bible than everyone else. Also, could you provide the background and credentials of the ones that compiled your version of the Bible. Thank you. Abby

Hello Abigal

Thank you for your question  

This is not an easy question to answer without knowing something about the old manuscripts. Basically, when the NWT was produced, many Bibles in English still used “old” English words  such as “thy” and “thou”.  Many Bibles were based on what is considered by the majority of scholars as inferior “Master Texts” of the old manuscripts.  The vast majority of manuscripts date from about the 10 century.  These are known by a couple of different names,  Some people simply call them the “Majority Text” while their more “official name is the Byzantine Texts.  Because these are by far the majority of all the texts found some scholars say that these should the ones that are used.  However, there are a few manuscripts that go back to the second to fourth century.  There are some minor differences in these texts, mainly in spelling.  There are some added words and verses as well  in the 10 century texts that are not in the the older ones. So some scholars say that the older texts should be the ones used as there is less likely for scribble (coppiest) errors

Not many people seem to know that there are difference groups of ancient  Biblical manuscripts. They are classed as “families of texts”  that is, often  a group of texts found in a given  geographic area  examples are

  Syrian, or Byzantine Texts   (see )
The Texus Receputs  (see )
The Western
Alexandrian Type

The NWT was  releases in sections, The first part  (the NT) was released  on August 2, 1950,  At that time (in about 1946) there was a need  for an accurate and dependable translation of the Bible produced with modern English speech in mind, to be just as understandable to the present-day readers, as the original writings of Christ’s disciples were understandable to the simple, lowly readers of their day. It is not a revision of any previous work, but is a new rendering from the original Greek text, The primarily the standard text of Westcott and Hort. (W&H) Master Greek Text. To insure accuracy the translation is as literal as modern English usage permits.

W&H Master Greek text is a comparison of many of the different oldest manuscript to find minor errors and inconsistencies.  By doing this comparison they produced a “Master Greek Text”
An article on the New Testament Greek text says this about W&H


All critical editions published after Westcott and Hort closely follow the text of The New Testament in the Original Greek with the exception of the text edited by  Hermann von Soden. Soden's edition stands much closer to the text of  Tischendorf  than to the text of Westcott and Hort. All editions of  Nestle-Aland  remain close in textual character to the text WH.  Aland  reports that, while NA25 text shows, for example, 2,047 differences from von Soden, 1,996 from Vogels, 1,268 from Tischendorf, 1,161 from Bover, and 770 from Merk, it contains only 558 differences from WH text.
According to  Bruce M. Metzger, "the general validity of their critical principles and procedures is widely acknowledged by scholars today."  In 1981 Metzger said:

“The international committee that produced the  United Bible Societies  Greek New Testament, not only adopted the Westcott and Hort edition as its basic text, but followed their methodology in giving attention to both external and internal consideration”.

Philip Comfort  gave this opinion:
The text produced by Westcott and Hort is still to this day, even with so many more manuscript discoveries, a very close reproduction of the primitive text of the New Testament. Of course, I think they gave too much  weight  to Codex Vaticanus alone, and this needs to be tempered. This criticism aside, the Westcott and Hort text is extremely reliable. (...) In many instances where I would disagree with the working in the Nestle / UBS text in favor of a particular variant reading, I would later check with the Westcott and Hort text and realize that they had often come to the same decision. (...) Of course, the manuscript discoveries of the past one hundred years have changed things, but it is remarkable how often they have affirmed the decisions of Westcott and Hort

end quote   ( )

Besides using the W&H Master text the NWT committee compared  a long list of other manuscripts (a list is provided at the end)

There are Scholars  (particularly those that adhere to the KJV) who will disagree with the W&H .   The King James Bible was produced from a text known as the “Textus Receptus “  (  ) This was a “Master Greek Text” put together in 1550  by Robert Stephanus  (also known as Robert Estienne ). He  was a printer. He  had edited the works Desiderius Erasmus (or simply  Erasmus ).  and produced his own Greek text.   The basses for the Textus Receptus is the Majority Text ( Byzantine Texts)

The NWT Committee have taken the view of many scholars that the older manuscripts are more reliable and so went down that path.

Who were the committee?  Their names were never released, although there is speculation from many people who they were, but, it remains speculation.  Why do we not know 100% who they are?

The principal reason why members of the New World Bible Translation Committee, choose to remain anonymous is because “It is the truth rather than its servant that should be honored and proclaimed. there is too much disposition to credit truth to the preacher, forgetful that all truth is of God, who uses one or another servant in its proclamation as it may please him.”

Just after the NT portion of the NWT was released the  The Watchtower of September  15, 1950, said:  “Therefore the men who compose the translation committee have indicated their desire to the Society’s boards of directors to remain anonymous, and specifically do not want their names to be published while they are in life or after death. The purpose of the translation is to exalt the name of the living, true God.”

The NWT committee are not the only ones who remain anonymous

The Lockman Foundation states in the preface to their  New  American  Standard  Bible: "no work will ever be personalized." (And the jacket of the 1971 Reference Edition of the  NASB  states even more clearly: "We have not used  any  scholar's name for reference or recommendations because it is our belief God's Word shouldstand on its merits.")

Why did they ot say who the translators are?   Because, as they write in their preface: "They shall give to the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place, the place which the Word gives Him, and no work will ever be personalized."

There are  mixed reviews about the NWT.  Many scholars say things similar to this  by Dr. William Barclay  (University of Glasgow, Scotland) in The Expository Times, Nov, 1985: “The deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in their New Testament translations. John 1:1 translated:'. . . the Word was a god'…a translation which is grammatically impossible. It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest.”

Yet  in 2004, another scholar,  Dr. Jason BeDuhn, in his book “Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament” (where he examines 9 popular different Bibles) states of the NWT that its “translation of John 1:1 is superior to” the other translations he considered. He continues, “It may well be that the NW translators came to the task of translating John 1:1 with as much bias as the other translators did. It just so happens that their bias corresponds in this case to a more accurate translation of the Greek . ... The NW translation of John 1:1 is superior to that of the other eight translations we are comparing. I do not think it is the best possible translation for a modern English reader; but at least it breaks with the KJV tradition followed by all the others, and it does so in the right direction by paying attention to how Greek grammar and syntax actually work
Overall Dr BeDuhn said ““Most of the differences are due to the greater accuracy of the NW as a literal, conservative translation .”  While BeDuhn disagrees with certain renderings of the New World Translation, he says that “it emerges as the most accurate of the translations compared ,” calling it a “remarkably good” translation. (The nine Bibles examined are the  King James,  the Amplified Bible, the Living Bible, the New American Bible, the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, the New Revised Standard Version, the New World Translation, and Today's English Version. )

In 1952 Hebrew and Greek scholar Alexander Thomson wrote: regarding the NT portion of the NWT  “The translation is evidently the work of skilled and clever scholars, who have sought to bring out as much of the true sense of the Greek text as the English language is capable of expressing.”—The Differentiator, April 1952, pages 52-7

In 1964 Dr.  Bruce Metzger  stated for the  NWT of the Greek Scriptures  that "on the whole, one gains a tolerably good impression of the scholarly equipment of the translators.” - The Bible Translator 15/3 (July 1964), p. 151. However, in the same article Metzger also cites NWT renderings as instances of translating to support doctrine, stating, "the Jehovah's Witnesses have incorporated in their translation of the New Testament several quite erroneous renderings of the Greek."  ( Other scholars disagree with his conclusions of theological bias)

In 1989, Professor Benjamin Kedar  (Professor of History at  Hebrew Univrsuty)  of Israel said: “In my linguistic research in connection with the Hebrew Bible and translations, I often refer to the English edition of what is known as the New World Translation. In so doing, I find my feeling repeatedly confirmed that this work reflects an honest endeavor to achieve an understanding of the text that is as accurate as possible. Giving evidence of a broad command of the original language, it renders the original words into a second language understandably without deviating unnecessarily from the specific structure of the Hebrew. . . . Every statement of language allows for a certain latitude in interpreting or translating. So the linguistic solution in any given case may be open to debate. But I have never discovered in the New World Translation any biased intent to read something into the text that it does not contain.”

 “The translation of the New Testament is evidence of the presence in the movement of scholars qualified to deal intelligently with the many problems of Biblical translation.”—Andover Newton Quarterly, January 1963.

 “The New Testament translation was made by a committee whose membership has never been revealed—a committee that possessed an unusual competence in Greek.”—Andover Newton Quarterly, September 1966

Personally I use about 20 different English Bibles, and when they vary I will look at the Hebrew and Greek texts that I have to see what word was used and then compare up to 4 different Hebrew and Greek Lexicons for word meaning and usage.  In doing that I have found the NWT generally better than the other Bibles I have. I also have copies of Hebrew and Greek Master manuscripts

Sources for the Text of the New World Translation—Hebrew Scriptures Original Hebrew Writings and Early Copies
   Aramaic Targums
   Dead Sea Scrolls
   Samaritan Pentateuch
   Greek Septuagint
       Old Latin
       Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian
   Hebrew Consonantal Text
         Latin Vulgate
         Greek Versions—Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus
         Syriac Peshitta
       Masoretic Text
         Cairo Codex
         Petersburg Codex of the Prophets
         Aleppo Codex
         Ginsburg’s Hebrew Text
         Codex Leningrad B 19 A
         Biblia Hebraica (BHK), Biblia Hebraica
         Stuttgartensia (BHS)

Sources for the Text of the New World Translation—Christian Greek Scriptures Original Greek Writings and Early Copies
   Armenian Version
   Coptic Versions
   Syriac Versions—Curetonian, Philoxenian, Harclean,
    Palestinian, Sinaitic, Peshitta
   Old Latin
       Latin Vulgate
         Sixtine and Clementine Revised Latin Texts
   Greek Cursive MSS.
       Erasmus Text
       Stephanus Text
         Textus Receptus
         Griesbach Greek Text
         Emphatic Diaglott
   Papyri—(e.g., Chester Beatty P45, P46, P47; Bodmer P66, P74,
   Early Greek Uncial MSS.— Vatican 1209 (B), Sinaitic (א),
    Alexandrine (A), Ephraemi Syri rescriptus (C), Bezae (D)
       Westcott and Hort Greek Text
       Bover Greek Text
       Merk Greek Text
       Nestle-Aland Greek Text
       United Bible Societies Greek Text
       23 Hebrew Versions (14th-20th centuries), translated
        either from the Greek or from the Latin Vulgate, using
        Tetragrammaton for divine name

The NWT can be read on line at

Jehovah`s Witness

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Brenton Hepburn


I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .


I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

©2016 All rights reserved.