Jehovah`s Witness/Robert Countess



I know you have a lot of information about John 1:1. In a recent post by Richard he quoted a Greek scholar  by the name of Robert Countess who evidently  looked up all occurrences in the NT (theos without the definite article) and checked the NWT.  He discovered that the WTS only followed their stated rule 6% of the time. 94% of the time, they translated it "God" anyway! What do you make of this

G'day Gordon,

Nice to hear from you again.

To be very blunt, the  statics of Dr Countess ARE MISSLEADING

You know, Dr Countess is both right and wrong.  He said “…of 282 occurrences of the anarthrous Θeὀς  NWT sixteen times has either “a god,  god, gods, or godly.” The translators were, therefore only 6% faithful to their canons” (as sourced from the internet).  . What does that actually mean.

In English we use both the definite article (the word “the”) and an indefinite article (the word “a”)  Here  is a brief explanation for readers to show the difference.

When you enter the room sit in THE chair on the right at the front ”  - That is being definite as to which chair you are to sit on

When you enter the room just sit on A chair ” - That is saying that there is no particular' chair you can sit on just sit on one of many. It is indefinite

Now in Greek they do not have an indefinite article only the definite article. That means that in English we have to add the indefinite article when it is called for.

The argument of Dr countess is that there are some 282 times where the Greek word for God is used without the definite article.  He is assuming that because at John 1:1  does not have an indefinite article the NWT committee decided that was the reason for rendering it as “and the Word was a god”

Here is a quote where someone else quotes from  Dr. Countess, that  I found on the internet. (Area in Bold is  a quote from the 1950 NWT appendix.  Area underlined is supposed to be Dr Countess's understanding of that quote)


Discussing the appendix in the NWT, Mr. Countess  comments: “The appendix is not slow to give reasons. Referring to The  Complete Bible and to Moffatt,” the NWT appendix argues:  

The reason for their rendering the Greek word “divine,” and not “God,” is that it is the  Greek noun theos without the definite article, hence an anarthrous theos. The God with  whom the Word or Logos was originally is designated here by the Greek expression ὸ Θeὀς,  theos preceded by the definite article ho, hence an articular theos. Careful translators recognize that the articular construction points to an identity, a personality, whereas an anarthrous construction points to a quality about someone.

Based upon this statement in the NWT appendix, Dr. Countess identifies the principles followed by the Watchtower Bible translators:  

Thus NWT derives a translation principle which may be stated as follows: anarthrous  Θeὀς equals “a god”; arthrous  Θeὀς equals “God.” The anarthrous is qualitative; the arthrous is quantitative. An incidental criticism at this point is necessary.  NWT has “a god,” clearly a quantitative rendering! The translators, to be consistent with their principle, should have followed Moffatt and The Complete Bible, both reading “divine.”

end quote

So his opinion of the NWT committee is that  that they “formed a rule” that when the deifinate article is used before God then that must refer to GOD, but when there is no definatee article then it can not refer to God. So on that basis the NWT rendered John 1:1 as they have done.

That reasoning by Dr Countess is not correct.  The book that he wrote is dated 1982.  The quote he used is from the 1950 New Testament portion only NWT.  (The NWT was released in stages over a period of about ten years) The completed NWT Bible was released in 1961. None of the editions I have after 1950 have an appendix on John 1:1 until 1984. (The new 2013 Revised NWT does not have this verse as part of its appendix.)  The wording was slightly changed to reflect more accurately the Greek gramma of John 1:1 The revised 1984 appendix reads

QUOTE  (The  MAIN difference is highlighted in bold and underline  – italics original)

These translations use such words as “a god,” “divine” or “godlike” because the Greek word θεός (the·os′ ) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article. This is an anarthrous the·os′ . The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally is designated here by the Greek expression ὁ θεός, that is, the·os′ preceded by the definite article ho. This is an articular the·os′ . Careful translators recognize that the articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone. Therefore, John’s statement that the Word or Logos was “a god” or “divine” or “godlike” does not mean that he was the God with whom he was. It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God himself.

End quote

The main point in the above is this “whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone” > Now that is not a rule that the translation committee of the NWT came up with.  It is one that has been understood for a long time.  In 1935  , Greek scholar  E C Colwell made this rule clear.  Dr Countess  should have been well aware of this aspect of Greek grammar.

In John chapter 1, the word God appears 6 times with the definite article (the) before it and 4 times without the definite article.  Of those 4 times the NWT renders the word God only once as “a god” The other three times the word is "God"

So why are they not being inconstant? Because of the GRAMMAR.  Only in John 1:1c is the word god a predicate noun preceding the verb .  A predicate noun in the Greek is in the nominative case – that is referring to the the subject of the sentence.  In the other instances of the word god without a definite article the grammar is different.

In Verse 6 we have the word θεού (notice it looks different to John 1:1c  θεός ) Here the word for God does not come before a verb,  </b>is not</b> in the  nominative case,  but the Genitive case – it generally denote possession.

In verse 13 the word again is  θεού  (= Theou)  in the  Genitive case.  It does come before a verb ... but ...  is not relating to the subject (nominative case) so is not describing a  “quality”

The final occurrence of the word God without the indefinite article is at verse 18.  Here the  Greek word is Θeὀν (= Theon) in the accusative case ( "The accusative measures an idea as to its content, scope, direction" )  

So Greek grammar has a great deal to do with the way words from Greek are rendered  into English.  

Here is an example to ponder as to how you would render this into correct English. I will use the grammar of John 1 but take theology out of the context. First line is John 1 second is my example


Now to correctly render that into English it would look like this

In the beginning was the child  and the child was with the man and the child was a man.

The last part of that “child was a man” is telling us something about the boy. He was of the same gender or class OR nature as the person he was with. Some people will say that Jesus is of the same nature as God and that is correct. Jesus and God both belong to a group of beings that are called spirits.  Even angels are called gods.

Now when the same rules discussed above is seen in texts where there is no theology involved as in the ample I gave of the child,  translators have no problem inserting the word “a” which shows a quality.  If you would like examples of that please ask.

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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.

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