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Friday, August 12, 2011

The New World Translation and the use of "Other" at Col. 1:16

"Other" at Col. 1:16:

"For through [Jesus] all things were created in heaven and on earth" - MLB.

"by means of [Jesus] all [other] things were created" - NWT.

The use of the word "other" by the New World Translation at Col. 1:16 makes many trinitarian "scholars" very upset. The accusation is perfectly clear: they are claiming that the NWT has dishonestly added to God's Word. But what is the truth about words added to the original text?

Well, the KJV also adds words at many places in the scriptures and frequently signifies these additions by italicizing such added words. In fact all Bible translations add words to make the intended meaning of the original language clear to the readers of another language. The NWT usually indicates added words with brackets [ ] and does so at Col. 1:16, 17 with ["other"]!

Yes, all Bible translators supply needed words in accordance with their own under-standing of what meaning the Bible writer actually intended. Any serious Bible student knows this elementary fact. You can see that the KJV translators (and NIV, NKJV, TEV/GNB, Beck, etc.) added the word "other" at Acts 5:29 (and rightly so) even though it is not actually written in the original text (also compare KJV at Job 24:24). Were they, then, dishonestly, blasphemously adding to God's Word? Of course not!

The Bible writers very often excluded the subject (and others) when using the term "all" (and "every"). This is a common usage even today. For example, the police sergeant making an arrest of a criminal group might say: "Everyone in this room is under arrest!" Obviously the sergeant does not include himself (nor his captain who is with him) even though he says "everyone"! Or "the criminal tied up everyone in the room before stealing the gems."

Here is the most recent example that just presented itself a few minutes after I was re-reviewing this study paper in 2004:

Jun 5, 5:47 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Ronald Reagan, the cheerful crusader who devoted his presidency to winning the Cold War, trying to scale back government and making people believe it was "morning again in America," died Saturday after a long twilight struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93.


"Reagan lived longer than any U.S. President, ...."

But to be accurate we must remember that Reagan was one of those U.S. Presidents! Obviously the AP writer did not mean to imply that Reagan hadn't ever been President. We all understand that what he meant was "Reagan lived longer than any other President." [added 5 June 2004, emphasis added.]

This also applies to the word "all" as used in the early Greek manuscripts of the Bible. For example, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Kittel and Friedrich (abridged in one volume by G.W. Bromiley) tells us of this word in the ancient Greek translation of the OT (the Septuagint): "In many passages, of course, the use is rhetorical". And in the NT this esteemed work tells us of the word "all" that it is often "used in the NT simply to denote a great number," not literally "all." -pp. 796, 797, Eerdmans, 1992 reprint.

And Dr. Young wrote in the foreword ("Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation") of his well-known Bible Concordance:

"Some particles such as ALL, are frequently used for SOME or MOST, e.g., Matt. 3:5; 26:52 [even King David?]; 1 Cor. 6:12; Col. 3:22" Young's Analytical Concordance of the Bible, Eerdmans, 1978 reprint.

(Also see p. 97, vol.1, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Eerdmans, 1984; examine Isaiah 44:24)

The highly regarded NASB (and NEB; REB; NIV; JB; NJB; NKJV; ETRV; BBE; NLV; MKJV; MLB; Darby; Beck; and Young's) translate Is. 45:14 - "There is no other God." The word "other" is not in the Hebrew OT manuscripts and has been added by the translators (and rightly so)! The NWT renders it "there is no [other] God." RSV and NRSV have also added "other" and also another, similar phrase: "there is no other, no god besides him."

And we find NEB; REB; NJB; NAB ('91); GNB; and LB (for example) have honestly added "other" at Ezek. 31:5 to show that a certain tree towered above "all other trees" whereas KJV, NASB, RSV (for example) have it towering "above all trees." Since it does not tower above itself, the Bible writer obviously excluded it from the phrase "all trees" (even though it is also a tree itself and a part of "all trees") just as Col. 1:16 excludes Jesus from all other things.

In Matthew 10:22, Jesus tells his followers: "and you will be hated by all because of my name." - NRSV. Certainly, Jesus didn't mean that his true followers would be hated by Jesus himself or God. And most certainly he didn't mean they would be hated by themselves! (Remember, the subject - as in 1 Cor. 1:16 - is most often understood to be excluded from the "all" statements.)

The Moffatt translation, An American Translation, The Common Bible, The Amplified Bible, and translations by C. B. Williams, and Beck all add "other" after "all" at 1 Cor. 15:24 (e.g. "when he will put an end to all other government, authority, and power" - C. B. Williams, The New Testament in the Language of the People, Moody Press, 1963). Although the NWT does not happen to add "other" at that scripture, its translators (as well as every other Jehovah's Witness on earth) would whole-heartedly agree that those who have added "other" there have done so properly and that the original Bible writer so intended the meaning! And conversely, at Jn 2:10 the NWT has added "other," and, although most [other] translations do not add it, I'm sure most people would agree that, whether actually written in the scripture or not, context demands such an understanding: "Every other man puts out the fine wine first..."

Again, at 1 Cor. 6:18 the respected trinitarian Bibles NIV, NASB, NEB, REB, AT, GNB, TEV, JB, NJB (among others) have added "other" to the text. And the NWT agrees whole-heartedly! And at Matt. 6:33 JB, AT, GNB, TEV, and Beck (Lutheran scholar) have added "other" (NEB has added "the rest"), and, again, the NWT agrees. Or how about Luke 13:2:

"all the other Galileans" - NIV, Luke 13:2

"all other Galileans" - NASB

"all other Galileans" - NAB ('91)

"all other Galileans" - NRSV

"all other Galileans" - NKJV

"all the other Galileans" - RSV

"anyone else in Galilee" - NEB and REB

"than any other Galileans" - JB

"than all other Galileans" - NJB

"any other Galileans" - AT

"everyone else in Galilee" - CEV.

"all other Galileans" - TEV.

"all other Galilaeans" - BBE

"other people from Galilee" - GodsWord

"all the other Galileans" - ISV NT

"the rest of the Galileans" - Moffatt

When Gen. 3:20 tells us that Eve "was the mother of all living," does that really make her the mother of Adam? of all animals? of all plants? of angels? of God? So, although the literal Hebrew says "all," we know from the teachings of the rest of the Bible that this is a severely qualified "all," and it would be perfectly honest to add some qualifying word or phrase ("all other humans" - after all, she, although the subject, wasn't her own mother, or Adam's).

Notice also God's words to Noah at Gen. 6:17, "I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens" - NIV. Since the rest of the Bible shows that Noah did not die in that flood, this scripture could honestly be rendered "to destroy all [other] life." Noah knew God was using a qualified "all" which did not apply to himself and so should we!

When the angel of Jehovah told his mother about Ishmael that "His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand will be against him," She did not think by this that Ishmael's own hand would be against himself. As usual the "every" or "all" excepted the one who was the subject.

Another good example of honest adding can be seen in reference to another too literal interpretation of "all." Romans 3:23 says literally, "All have sinned" -- but, obviously, Jesus, the Father, and myriads of faithful angels have not sinned! So some Bibles (including TEV and NAB [1970 ed.]) have honestly qualified this "all" by adding to this scripture and translated it "All men have sinned." You may notice also that they haven't even bothered to indicate that the word "men" has been added.

Also in Romans we find the very same words used by Paul in Col. 1:16 (ta panta) - "He [God] didn't spare His own Son but gave him up for all of us - He will certainly with Him give us everything [ta panta]." - Ro. 8:32, Beck (Lutheran). Obviously, the "everything" that is given to Christians does not include God or Jesus, or even fellow created Christians. It certainly would not be improper to translate this as: "He will ... give us all [other] things." In fact, notice these trinitarian Bible translations:

"... how can he fail to lavish every other gift upon us?" - REB.

" ... will he not with him also give us everything else?" - NRSV

"... won't he also surely give us everything else?" - Living Bible.

"... will he not also give us everything else along with him?" - NAB ('91)

"... will He not with Him graciously give us everything else?" - CBW.

Since ta panta does not include all created things in this scripture, it certainly does not have to mean all created things in Col. 1:16!

Even the Seventh-day Adventists themselves admit: "It is also very clear that in Genesis 9:3 the word 'every' tacitly excludes the unclean animals and those whose flesh might be poison to man, as some creatures are today." - Signs of the Times, Feb. 1976, p. 28. Here they admit that "every" (or "all") must sometimes be qualified! But if the NWT does something similar it has "obscured" or "mutilated" God's Word!

Yes, Col. 1:16, 17 needs a qualified "all" as the teaching of the rest of the Bible testifies. It is similar to Hebrews 2:8 in this respect.

At Heb. 2:8 we read: "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him." However, it would certainly be honest and proper for a translator familiar with the teachings of the rest of the Bible (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:27) to add the qualifying words to this scripture that were understood and intended by the original writer. E.g., "Thou hast put all [other] things in subjection...;" or even, "Thou hast put all things [except the Father and yourself] in subjection..." - see 1 Cor. 15:27.

Similarly, we find Paul saying at Phil. 2:9 that God exalted Jesus and "bestowed on him the name above all names." - NEB. But, obviously, his name is not above the name of the God who exalted him. Nor can it be above his [Jesus'] own name. Therefore, it is not wrong to add "other" and render this as "God ... gave him the name which is above all other names" as did the translators of JB; NJB; NAB (1970); AT; GNB/TEV; LB; CBW; Beck (NT); ETRV; and NLV.

Paul continues in Phil. 2:10, "So that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth...." But, obviously, the Father in heaven does not bend his knee, and Jesus certainly does not bend his knee to himself! This, too, should be a qualified "every knee"! (And analyze 1 Pet. 4:7)

So how accurate is Martin when he says the translators of the NWT have made a "dishonest rendering of Col. 1:16, 17, and 19 by the insertion of the word "other"?

Well, let's look at Col. 1:17 itself: "And he is before all things." - KJV. This is the literal wording and what Martin wants.

But look at what these (other) trinitarian translations have added to this verse:

"He is before all else that is..." - NAB ('70).

"He was before all else began..." - LB.

"Before anything was created, he existed" - JB.

"Christ was there before anything was made." - ETRV.

Since it is obvious that Christ did not exist before himself, nor before the Father, these two, at least, have to be excluded from "all things." Therefore, the very trinitarian NAB and LB above have properly added "else" to this scripture. This is the same thing as writing "before every [other] thing"!

And the trinitarian Jerusalem Bible has added "created" and the trinitarian ETRV has added "was made" for the very same reason.

Certainly it is not wrong from a grammatical viewpoint (nor is it a "dishonest rendering") to add "other" as the NWT has done at Col. 1:16, 17 (and the LB and the NAB have done with "else" at Col. 1:17) and so many trinitarian translators have done in other similar situations. Whether it is doctrinally correct as Rev. 3:14, Prov. 8:22-30, 1 John 4:9 ("only-begotten"), and Col. 1:15 ("firstborn of all creation") suggest is a matter for all honest-hearted persons to discover but not a reason for falsely accusing someone of dishonestly rendering God's Word!

[If above reasoning is refused, consider John 10:29: "My greater than all" -KJV.

Then the Father is greater than the Son and greater than the Holy Spirit and "greater even than Himself???"

The Living Bible says, My Father "is more powerful than anyone else," which still means He is greater than the Son and greater than the Holy Spirit [if it were really a person], but, of course, shows He is not greater than Himself. The NRSV also uses "else" here.]

[[Note to self: analyze the following:

Eph. 3:9 "... God who created all things." - NRSV, NASB, etc.  (Obviously he didn't create Himself).

(NKJV) Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things [panta] is God.

(NASB) Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things [panta] is God.

And, Rev. 4:11 "For you [the Father seated on the throne] created everything" - CBW. (But, literally, panta -"all" or "all things" - would have to include the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!).]

For more, see:

Does the New World Translation Add Words to Colossians 1:16, 17? (Bible Translation and Study)

Why does the New World Translation employ the word "other" in verses 16, 17 and 20? (IN Defense of the NWT)

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