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Friday, April 27, 2012

Why Does the New World Translation Bible Say, "God's Active Force" at Genesis 1:2?

In the New World Translation (NWT) Bible, it says at Genesis 1:2,

"Now the earth was formless and desolate, and there was darkness upon the surface of the watery deep, and God’s active force was moving about over the surface of the waters."

Yet many translations do not say "God's active force" at Genesis 1:2.

However, the New World Translation's "active force" for the Hebrew RUACH is both accurate and appropriate for Genesis 1:2 because the way that the Bible uses the term "holy spirit" indicates that it is God's active force that He uses to accomplish a variety of His purposes.

Even many trinitarian scholars will admit this:

"In the New Testament there is no direct suggestion of the Trinity. The Spirit is conceived as an impersonal power by which God effects his will through Christ." - An Encyclopedia of Religion, p. 344, Virgilius Ferm, 1945 ed.

Using Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4 and Psalm 33:6 as its basis, Swete writes about the "Spirit" in the Old Testament:

"The Spirit of God is the vital power which belongs to the Divine Being, and is seen to be operative in the world and in men. It is the Divine Energy which is the origin of all created life, especially of human existence and the faculties of human nature." Swete, The Holy Spirit in the New Testament (1909), page 2.

The commentator clearly sees the Spirit as a force, not a person in this verse.

About the translation of Genesis 1:2:

"There is little to commend "a mighty wind" (NEB, Speiser, von Rad); in the relatively few passages where "God" is used as a superlative, the context usually makes it clear. The sense is excellently given by "the power of God" (GNB)." A Bible Commentary for Today, General Editor G. C. D. Howley (1973), page 135.

Note that this Commentary states, "The sense is excellently given by "the power of God" (GNB)."

"There is apparent a development in the direction of hypostatization of the Spirit, not in the sense that it is conceived as a person but as a substantial source of force and activity. It is the creative force of Yahweh (Gn. 1:2; Jb 33:5)" Dictionary of the Bible, McKenzie (1965), page 841.

This Bible Dictionary agrees with the NWT that in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit is the "creative force of Yahweh."

"The Spirit brooding over the primeval waters (Gn. 1:2) and creating man (Gn. 2:7), the Spirit who garnishes the heavens (Jb 26:13), sustains animal life and renews the face of the earth (Ps. 54:30), is the ruah ('breath,' 'wind') of God, the outgoing divine energy and power." The New Bible Dictionary, J. D. Douglas (1962), page 531.

The ruach is not a person, the basic meaning in Genesis 1:2 (and the other scriptures quoted) is shown to be "the outgoing divine energy and power."

Additional Reading:

Genesis 1:2 New World Translation - "..and God's active force was moving to and fro..." (In Defense of the New World Translation)

Holy Spirit - Links to Information (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

The Holy Spirit—God's Active Force (Insight-2 pp. 1017-1027; Watchtower Online Library)

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