Is the New World Translation Accurate? What do Bible scholars say?

Jehovah’s Witnesses make several bold claims, such as that they are the only true religion, that they are God’s sole channel of communication to mankind, and that they are the only ones teaching absolute truth today, according to scriptures. But is their New World Translation of the Scriptures as accurate as they claim?

Highly respected scholars do not accept the New World Translation of the bible as accurate. They identified many instances of deliberately distorted Bible passages to suit Jehovah’s Witness teachings and where they “violate accuracy in favor of denominationally preferred expressions.

Let’s look at what respected scholars have to say about they New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

What does Dr. JR Mantey say about the New World Translation Bible?

I have never found any so-called translation that goes so far away from what the scripture actually teaches, as these books published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are so far away from what there is in the original Hebrew and the original greek… You cant follow theirs [Bible] because it’s biased and it’s deceptive because they deliberately changed words in the passage of scripture to make it fit into their doctrine. They distorted the scripture, in many passages. Scores and scores of passages in the new testament, dealing in the deity of Christ especially.

Dr. JR Mantey

What does Jason David BeDuhn say about the New World Translation Bible?

On the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the organization partially quotes Jason David Beduhn, in a way that he appears to support the translation as a whole. This is what was quoted in their article titled “Is the New World Translation Accurate?”: “The NW [New World Translation] emerges as the most accurate of the translations compared.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses very quickly reject any scholar who doesn’t share their viewpoint but are quick to quote so-called “worldly” references when they say anything positive about the organization. However, these quotes are often cherry-picked and negative statements made by the same person are conveniently ignored.

In this example is the reference to Jason David BeDuhn, associate professor of religious studies, where he mentions the Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible, the New World Translation in his book, Truth in Translation.

Hi is quoted by the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses saying: “The NW emerges as the most accurate of the translations compared.” But the organization fails to quote him in the same book where he disagrees with how the Bible was translated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Here’s a quote from the same book that clearly points out that accuracy was impaired in the New World Translation, because of the “commitments of the translators”.

“I have identified a handful of examples of bias in the N[ew] W[orld Translation], where in my opinion accuracy was impaired by the commitments of the translators…The NW and NAB are not bias free, and they are not perfect translations. “

Truth in Translation, Page 165

Furthermore, Beduhn outright challenges the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ use of the word “Jehovah” in the New Testament at all. And saying that the translator ventured from the bedrock of the text to the “shifting sands of opinion” in the New World Translation. This is the biggest “Claim to Fame” of the New World Translation: That they are “Restoring the Devine Name in the Holy Scriptures”

By moving beyond translation of the Greek to an interpretation, the translator ventures from the bedrock of the text to the shifting sands of opinion–and that’s a risky move to make…For the NW to gain wider acceptance and prove its worth over its competitors, its translators will have to rethink the handling of these verses, and they may find that that rethinking needs to extend to the use of “Jehovah” in the New Testament at all.

Jason David BeDuhn – Truth in Translation, Page 175,176

Beduhn went on to devote an entire appendix denying the appropriateness of using “Jehovah” in the new testament in the first place.

“The Watch Tower Society will want to selectively quote BeDuhn’s book because he compliments portions of the New World Translation. On the other hand, considering what Truth in Translation also says about the New World Translation in areas of its weakness, the Watch Tower Society will need to proceed cautiously when quoting Truth in Translation. BeDuhn devoted an entire appendix (The Use of “Jehovah”) to the 237 occurrences of “Jehovah” in the New World Translation Greek Scriptures (New Testament). In that appendix he essentially denies the most prominent feature of the New World Translation’s Greek Scriptures when he disputes the appropriateness of using Jehovah in the New Testament. – Truth in Translation

And after all, if Jason Beduhn was so convinced that The New World Translation is the most accurate, why is he not a Jehovah’s Witness? Furthermore, if the New World Translation of the New Testament was so accurate, why did Beduhn publish his own translation of the New Testament, instead of just using the New World Translation?

Because JW.ORG cited Jason David BeDuhn, I will use a few of his quotes to sum up in a short paragraph and let you decide if David BeDuhn thinks that the NWT is truly accurate as JW.ORG claims.

In the NWT (New World Translation), accuracy was impaired by the commitments of the translators and is not free of bias. In the New Testament, with the inconsistent use of the Name of Jehovah in the place of Lord, the translator ventures from the bedrock of the text to the shifting sands of opinion. The introduction of the Name Jehovah in the New Testament is not accurate translation by the most basic principle of accuracy.

Professor Allen Wikgren

In the article “Is the New World Translation Accurate?”, the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses stated that “Professor Allen Wikgren of the University of Chicago cited the New World Translation as an example of a modern speech version that rather than being derived from other translations, often has “independent readings of merit.”​—The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume I, page 99.”

What they do not tell you is that Professor Allen Wikgren was an ordained minister in the American Baptist Convention and was a member of the Revised Standard Version RSV Bible committee.

Just because Professor Allen had a few good lines to say about the New World Translation Bible, doesn’t mean it is accurate. In fact, I can personally say that there are some positive aspects of the New World Translation, but that does not mean that I believe it to be accurate at all.

What do other Bible scholars say about the New World Translation?

William Barclay, who was a theologian and Professor at the University of Glasgow, stated that “the deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in the New Testament translation. … It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest.”

Robert H. Countess, was a college professor, and held a Ph.D. in New Testament Greek said that the New World Translation “must be viewed as a radically biased piece of work.” He also authored the book “The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament“, an in-depth review about the accuracy of the New World Translation.

Anthony A. Hoekema, an associate professor, said that “Their New World Translation of the Bible is by no means an objective rendering of the sacred text into modern English, but is a biased translation in which many of the peculiar teachings of the Watchtower Society are smuggled into the text of the Bible itself.” [1]

Harold Henry Rowley, a highly respected Old Testament scholar and Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages at University College, Bangor, said that “From beginning to end this [first] volume is a shining example of how the Bible should not be translated.” [2]


[1] Anthony A. Hoekema, The Four Major Cults, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism, William B. Eerdmans, 1963, ISBN 0802831176, pp. 208–209
[2] H.H. Rowley, How Not To Translate the Bible, The Expository Times, 1953; 65; 41

7 Replies to “Is the New World Translation Accurate? What do Bible scholars say?”

  1. Your references are nothing if not biased against the NWT. You didn’t bother to quote scholars who say the NWT is completely accurate. Are you associated with Fox News?

      1. You couldn’t find any outside Jehovah’s Witnesses because anyone who recognizes that the NWT is truly accurate, is instantly labeled as biased. As a counter point, one of the scholars quoted said that the NWT does not support the diety of Christ. That’s a trinitarian teaching which no Bible acknowledges. The hangup is a mistranslation of John 1:1. Jesus is a God, not the God. The God is the one Jesus acknowledges is his Father, Jehovah.

        1. From experience, those who have been raised with the “concept” of the Trinity are almost never willing to listen to logical explanations concerning its origin and the lack of proof in the scriptures. Plant the seed if you can and then move on. The future life prospects of that one are now in God’s hands. 🙂

  2. Just a quick point here. The Trinity is a “concept” and was not brought into the so-called Christian religions until the 3rd or 4th century. (Constantine’s time) It is thus a man-made “concept” and speaking with Trinity believers for many years, I find that they weave this “concept” into scriptures that don’t even come close to proving the Trinity. John 10:30 states, “I and the Father are one”. That’s two… where’s the third? In the same book of John, Jesus tells us that the apostles are one just as he and his Father are one. Again, no mention of the third member of the Trinity. Wait a minute!!! Holy dozen Batman! Does this mean that the twelve apostles are one? Goodness me! Let me do some research on that one! hahaha!!!

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