Seeds of Doubt for Jehovah’s Witnesses: The Name Jehovah # 2

Recently, a very good friend, knowing my background, asked me this question:

What would be a good thing to say to Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come to the door?  I don’t want to engage them, but I don’t want to offend them either . . .

I replied along these lines:

I guess that depends on what your goal is. If you don’t want to engage
them, then a polite and kind “no thank you” is sufficient.

However, if you want to plant a seed of doubt but don’t really want to get into discussions with them, you could ask something along this line:

“I really don’t have much time to discuss now. But, I do have a question that I’d like to ask. Perhaps we could discuss it briefly now or we could discus it at another time. My question, however, relates to your name: Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I understand that you guys believe that Christians are identified by using the name “Jehovah.”

[They might give a simple agreement to this statement or a more elaborate answer. It is imperative that you don’t allow the conversation to get side-tracked here. You still need to ask your question.]

“I’ve read the New Testament and I’m curious: I’ve never seen the name “Jehovah” in it. I understand that your translation has the name “Jehovah” in the New Testament but from what I’ve read there are no Greek manuscripts of the New Testament which have the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” in them.”

[Here is where you can ask your question. It is essential that you don’t go down other rabbit trails in discussing this topic. Stick to the question as it’s one that there really is no satisfactory answer for:]

Romans chapter 14 from the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (published by Jehovah's Witnesses)

“My question is: Is that true? Does the name “Jehovah” appear in any of the New Testament Greek manuscripts?”

[Now, it’s possible the conversation could take a few turns here. You’ll want to stay focused on your question and come back to it if the conversation strays. Some background: Witness leaders realize the liability of admitting that the name “Jehovah” does not appear in any of the Greek manuscripts. So, they have developed an elaborate theory that the name “Jehovah” was originally in the Greek New Testament but was removed. Did they find early New Testament Greek manuscripts with the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” to prove their claim? No, they did not. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and not one contains “Jehovah” or “Yahweh.” This is your main line of evidence. Keep coming back to the New Testament Greek manuscript evidence. All the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament have either “Lord” or “God” where the Witnesses’ Bible has inserted “Jehovah.”]

[If the Witness at your door declines to discuss this further, let them go and let them ponder your question. If they continue the discussion or return later with some answer, always come to the New Testament Greek manuscript evidence that shows there was no use of “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” in the Greek New Testament. They may show you photocopies of Greek Old Testament (from the Septuagint version) with the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh.” That doesn’t answer your question about the Greek New Testament. Yes, there are a few Old Testament fragments of the Greek Septuagint which have “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” (YHWH) in them. The name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” occurs thousands of times in the Old Testament. That’s not related to the question you asked. You are asking about the Greek New Testament. The Greek New Testament, with over 5,000 manuscripts to establish its text, has no record of “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” in it.]

[If you’ve decided to continue discussions on this subject: ask the Witness if they have an interlinear Greek-English New Testament. Most of them do and you can use it to your advantage. A sample page from their Interlinear is shown above. On the left is a standard Greek New Testament text with a word-for-word English translation underneath. On the right is their Bible version with the name “Jehovah” inserted. You can ask them:]

“What does the Greek text say? Does it say “Jehovah” or “Lord”?”

[Clearly it says “Lord.” Ask them if the name “Jehovah” appears anywhere in the Greek text of their Interlinear. It doesn’t. It only appears in the right hand column, which is their Bible version which has replaced “Lord” with “Jehovah.” They may possibly try to cite some later Hebrew versions of the New Testament for support of using “Jehovah” in the New Testament. You can see them listed in the footnotes of the page above, with the letter J. These are translations into Hebrew from the Greek New Testament and are only a few hundred years old. These Hebrew translations have no antiquity that compares with the Greek New Testament. Again, keep your topic narrowly focused to discussing the Greek New Testament and the Witness will have no substantial answer they can give. Many of them probably have never realized the liability or the implications of this. Additional questions you can ask:]

“So, we’re agreed that of the over 5,000 Greek New Testament manuscripts we have available there are none that contain the name “Jehovah”?”

“If we accept the evidence as it exists, then don’t we have to admit that the early Christians did not emphasize the name “Jehovah” since it does not appear in any Greek New Testament manuscript?”

If you claim the name “Jehovah” was removed from the New Testament, do you have any evidence of New Testament Greek manuscripts that contain the name “Jehovah”?

“Which New Testament version would be more accurate: one which follows the Greek New Testament manuscripts or one that doesn’t?”

“How essential is it that Christians use the name “Jehovah”? If it doesn’t appear in the Greek New Testament manuscripts and since there are no early manuscripts of the New Testament with the name “Jehovah” in them, then is it really that important?”

If you refuse to get side-tracked onto other issues you will succeed in establishing an important contradiction to the Witness at your door. There are few issues more central to their belief system as emphasizing the name “Jehovah.” You will have shown that there is absolutely no New Testament Greek manuscript evidence that supports their contention that the early Christians used the name “Jehovah.” Instead, their explanations to counter this rely on a hoped for new manuscript find, a veritable “missing link,” which will finally vindicate their theory the name “Jehovah” was there in the New Testament, but was later removed.

Don’t expect the Witness to admit defeat in your presence. Instead, be content to have planted a seed of doubt about one of their most basic and distinguishing doctrines. If you want to continue discussions with them, there are some links below to suggest other similar contradictions you can point out in their teachings. But, having made your point that the early Christians did not emphasize the name “Jehovah,” you can stop there and pray that the seed you’ve planted may come to fruition someday.

For further reading:

Seeds of Doubt for Jehovah’s Witnesses — The Name Jehovah # 1

Jesus/Yahweh: The Name Above Every Name

Seeds of Doubt for Jehovah’s Witnesses — The 144,000 — Part One

Seeds of Doubt for Jehovah’s Witnesses — The 144,000 — Part Two

What’s Wrong With the Witnesses

A Memorial to a False Prophecy

Reading Recommendations re: Jehovah’s Witnesses

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12 Responses to Seeds of Doubt for Jehovah’s Witnesses: The Name Jehovah # 2

  1. The *biggie*-The Watchtower Jehovahs Witnesses hierarchy is structured like a corporation.The lawyers have run the show since ca 1990.
    Their *spiritual credentials* are also illegitimate the governing body claim to have become *spirit annointed* in 1919,based on the 3 1/2 year post 1914 and the dating for this is falsified on William Millers end times apocalyptic algorithm.–Danny Haszard

  2. Anam Cara says:

    I always, ALWAYS will spend time talking to any member of a “Christian” cult who comes to my door. If the time right then is inconvenient, I will make an appointment for them to come back at another time. I figure at the very least, while they are in my house they aren’t proselytizing others.
    I have had some wonderful conversations with Jehovah’s witnesses.

    One young woman after many questions from me that she couldn’t answer, brought me a blue book they use for difficult question so I could look it up myself. It wasn’t answered there, either. We always stuck to using the KJV since the JW’s use that translation. I felt that if I brought in an NIV or NASB, she might want to use the NWT and I certainly didn’t want that!

    She always let me pray and I tried to pray evangelically – thanking God for sending his only son Jesus, who is from everlasting to everlasting, who died on the cross to save us from our sins, etc. I prayed with my eyes open and if they (they always come in pairs) would begin to look up or look at some book, I would throw in, “Father Jehovah God” at which point their heads would be bowed again. I figured it might be the only times they would hear the Gospel preached.

    After many sessions, she came alone one night – not a scheduled meeting – and she said she wanted to talk to me about what I believed, but she had to go right then. I never saw her again. And none of her friends came either. I sometimes wonder what happened to her.

    • kenny says:

      Awesome! If it wasn’t for people like you, I would never have escaped the ORG. I would never have heard the power of the Gospel that brought me to Christ>

      Thank you! God bless you!

  3. impendere says:

    As a former JW, thank you for the concern and practical help you offer to try to help those still trapped in the cult.

    May I ask you a question about the name Yahweh (which I prefer to Jehovah)? You acknowledge that Yahweh appears thousands of times in the Old Testament, so is this Yahweh the same as the ‘Father’ in the New Testament? If so, why did the early Christians stop using his name? What importance did the Father have in early Christian worship? Or was he simply ignored, abandoned, as a relic from a previous era?

    • orthocath says:

      I gave an answer to that in the article “Jesus/Yahweh: The Name Above Every Name.” (It’s linked at the bottom of the post.) Basically, the early Christians identified Christ with the LORD/Yahweh of the Old Testament.

  4. The doctrine of the “last generation” has been changed so many times that now 1914 has become meaningless. The only members that are left are those that are computer illiterate. How can you give your life to serve an organization when the organizations own words contradict themselves? They said the world would end in 1975 then they changed the meaning of a “generation” in 1996. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t know what their own beliefs are anymore.

  5. As far as I’m concerned it’s a great question, one that Jehovah’s Witnesses are very open about. You act as though it’s some dark secret. You must know the rationale behind their inclusion of the name, even if you don’t agree with it.

    http://tinyurl.com/83sa9fh

    The subject is discussed quite openly in the appendix of the NWT, Large Print w References

    • orthocath says:

      Thanks, Tom, for stopping by and for providing the JW response at your link.

      Certainly, the JW response is no dark secret as you say.

      I have found that many Witnesses really don’t realize there is absolutely no Greek New Testament manuscript support for the name “Jehovah” in the New Testament. Following what their leaders have said since 1950 (before then they admitted it wasn’t in the New Testament), they argue that it was there originally but has since been removed. This post is an attempt to isolate the main flaw with the theory that the name was removed: there’s no evidence for it. The main line of evidence is the over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament — none of which have the name “Jehovah” in them.

      So, Tom, the question is:

      Is there even one New Testament Greek manuscript that shows that the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” was there originally?

      If yes, please share it with us.

      If no, then why not accept the facts the way they are instead of making up a theory of gross tampering with the New Testament text to fit your theology?

  6. I acknowledged the move was “bold.” But I also pointed out the incontestible evidence behind it.

    Look, writing of the scriptures was inspired. But the copying and recopying down through the centuries, plus the discovering in modern times….that’s just librarianship and archeology. Surely those are not also inspired so that a translator cannot draw obvious conclusions from the what the early Septuagint reveals.

    Early (not later) Septuagint sources that NT writers drew from do contain the divine name. So it’s hardly unjustifiable not to let one’s modern translation reflect that.

    • orthocath says:

      “Incontestible evidence”? The Septuagint evidence you are citing is of some fragment of the the Greek translation of the *Old* Testament, not the New Testament.

      Yes, it would be proper to translate “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” in the Old Testament. There’s plenty of manuscript evidence (such as these Septuagint fragments you cite) for that.

      We’re talking about the New Testament here, not the Old Testament. We don’t know if the Septuagint copies the Apostles had contained the name “Jehovah” in them or not. We do know that they did not write Jehovah in the New Testament texts. Why? Because, NOT ONE of the over 5,500 + Greek manuscripts of the NT we have contain it.

      You base your “incontestible evidence” on a few Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament. I think it’s fair to ask you if you have incontestible evidence of the name Jehovah in any Greek New Testament manuscripts?

      You and I both know the answer, Tom. There is absolutely no real evidence that the New Testament authors wrote the name “Jehovah” in the NT.

      Instead, Witness leaders have latched onto a theory that it was there but removed. Until some evidence is found (such as a Greek NT manuscript with the name “Jehovah” in it), it’s only a theory.

      If we go by the facts (the Greek manuscripts of the NT we have), we have to admit that the name “Jehovah” does not appear in the NT text.

  7. Reasons for inclusion of the name in the New World NT are included in my post.

    Yes, it’s a theory. Based upon those early Septuagint fragments dated from when the NT writers would have made their OT quotes. Based upon the manifest emphasis given the name, appearing several times in the NT, for example, the Our Father prayer. Based upon the 5500+ Greek manuscripts being, in almost all cases, hundreds of years removed from the original NT writing. It’s a theory for which there is solid evidence. But it is a theory, no one disputes that.

    Since the twentieth century’s beginning, there has appeared about one new English translation of the Bible per year. Why should that be? Why shouldn’t there just be one? Because all translators bring something new to the table. All have pet theories. All have unique grasps of language and context. Many disagree with the renderings of other translators. Catholic Bibles have entire books whose authenticity is rejected by everyone else.

    The Bible writers were inspired. The translators were not. That includes those translators of the NWT. No one’s ever said differently. Were we to travel back in a time machine, we’d be able to tell who’s spot on and who’s all wet. Probably praise and criticism to spread all around, I imagine. Until then, lots of theories lie behind lots of translations. It is sufficient for the translators, whenever straying off the beaten path, to clearly outline the scholarship behind their doing so. This the NWT translators have done.

    • orthocath says:

      Tom, you give these reasons:

      “Based upon those early Septuagint fragments dated from when the NT writers would have made their OT quotes.”

      Tom, only some of the Greek Septuagint manuscripts from the pre-Christian period have the Tetragrammaton (“Jehovah” or “Yahweh”) in them. See:

      http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rak//earlylxx/jewishpap.html#3

      Some do not contain the Tetragrammaton. The author of the above survey states:

      “It seems unlikely that the practice of representing the tetragrammaton in special letters (paleo-Hebrew, square Hebrew) goes back to the original translations, since that would make it difficult to explain the variety of approaches to this situation in the extant manuscripts. Rather, I suspect that the older Greek usage, probably KURIOS (possibly IAW) came under fire from archaizing tendencies in Jewish circles from at least the 2nd century BCE onward — as seems also true of the transmission of Hebrew MSS in that period.” [See above link]

      So, Greek Old Testament manuscripts of what is known as the Septuagint or LXX did not all have the Hebrew “Jehovah” in the text. Some did. Some didn’t. So, when the New Testament writers quoted from the Greek Septugaint Old Testament translation, which ones did they have? One with the Tetragrammaton in them or ones that did not have the Tetragrammaton? We don’t know.

      You also state:

      “Based upon the manifest emphasis given the name, appearing several times in the NT, for example, the Our Father prayer.”

      Tom, can you cite me one prayer of Jesus where he used the name “Jehovah”? The name “Jehovah” does not appear in ANY prayer of Jesus, even in the New World Translation. Where is the evidence of “emphasis given to the name”? I wrote about this earlier:

      http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/seeds-of-doubt-for-jehovahs-witnesses-the-name-jehovah-1/

      You state next:

      “Based upon the 5500+ Greek manuscripts being, in almost all cases, hundreds of years removed from the original NT writing.”

      Tom, that’s not true. You can read the evidence (and see many reproductions of the papyrus manuscripts) here:

      http://books.google.com/books/about/The_text_of_the_earliest_New_Testament_G.html?id=JqlprHsZ-gMC

      Click on “Preview this book” to see for yourself. Many of the fragments are now dated as being from the second century (the 100s). For example, one manuscript (known as P4) is dated to be the latter half of the second century (150-200 AD). You can see a transcription of Luke 1:76 here on page 56 of the above book:

      http://books.google.com/books?id=JqlprHsZ-gMC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA56#v=onepage&q&f=false

      The abbreviation for the Greek word “Kurios” can clearly be seen. Here is one of the places where the New World Translation has replaced “Lord” with “Jehovah.” This Greek manuscript from the second century (the 100s) uses “Lord,” not “Jehovah.”

      For comparison, the Greek text of Luke 1 (Westcott & Hort) can be seen here:

      http://whdc.biblos.com/luke/1.htm

      Another volume that contains more similar documentary evidence of the early Greek New Testament manuscripts is here — much of it can be previewed online:

      http://books.google.com/books?id=nPVHbSscCwYC&dq=nomina+sacra+kurios&source=gbs_navlinks_s

      You also state:

      “It’s a theory for which there is solid evidence.”

      Let’s review the “solid evidence”:

      1) No Greek manuscript of the New Testament (many from the 100s and 200s) contain the name “Jehovah.”

      2) When we check some of the earliest New Testament Greek manuscripts (from the 100s and 200s) we clearly see the use of “Kurios” (Lord).

      3) As to Greek translations of the Old Testament: some have the name “Jehovah,” but some do not. So we have no idea whether the copies of the Septuagint used by New Testament writers had the name “Jehovah” in them. It is quite likely that the copies of the Septuagint used by the New Testament writers did not have the name “Jehovah” in them.

      4) Textual evidence is based upon actual manuscripts (as the above links graphically show). It is extremely poor scholarship to reject the entire New Testament Greek manuscript collection in favor of a theory with no documentary evidence.

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