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John T. Sekel wrote:

John,

I was recently visited by a Jehovah's Witness.

My question involves his claim that the correct rendering of John 1:1 says the

"Word was a god" versus the traditional "was God".

He explained that it had to be that way, due to the Greek language and the lack of an indefinite article or something. Since I do not speak or understand Greek, I was not able to refute his claim. He also named several other translations that supposedly agree with the Jehovah Witness rendering. I would love it, if you could shed some light on the issue.

Thanks for your time and have a great new year.

John Sekel

  { Can you explain the proper rendering of John 1:1 and the Jehovah Witness' interpretation? }

John replied:

John,

This is a favorite ploy of the Jehovah Witness' (JW's). The fact is, their founder knew enough Greek to be dangerous. It is true that there is no indefinite article in Greek, but the fact is that Greek grammar does not require an definite article when we are dealing with two nouns of the nominative case when they are linked by any form of the verb "to be". Usually the second of the two nouns receives the article.

The Greek reads: "kai Theos en ho Logos" or God was the Word because (in Greek) the noun declensions determine whether a word is (the subject or an object) in a sentence rather then the order of the words in a sentence.

The order is not material. In this case, one definite article was needed. The sentence, in Greek, could be scrambled in a any order such as:

Kai Logos en ho Theos = and Word was the God

Kai ho Theos en Logos = and the Word was God

Any other combination thereof, the reader would have understood the meaning. Usually the article is dropped before the noun, which comes before the verb!!

Having said that, the early Church outside of Jerusalem spoke and read Greek.

The documents of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. were all written in Greek. This was the Council which defined the Trinity and excommunicated Arius. Arius like the JW's, believed and taught that Jesus was not eternal God, but a created demi-god.

All these people understood Greek; they would not have gotten this part wrong. The Greek Orthodox still read the same text in Greek today. None of them understand it to mean:

"the Word was a God"

Beyond that there is the weight of the rest of Scripture. Here are a just a few texts.

16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:16

8 But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom".

Hebrews 1:8

9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Colossians 2:9

But the JW's have a habit of trying to play with the Greek. In their 1956 version of the New World Translation, the footnotes for one verse went so far as to invent a new tense. They do, this of course, because they simply can't get around the text. Once they were called on the carpet for this, they changed the footnote.

They build their Christology on a few select verse. For example:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Colossians 1:15

They then pasted it into to their theology, without the benefit of Sacred Tradition and ignoring the rest of Scripture. Even the Old Testament prophesies need to be twisted by them in order to make it fit their Christology.

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Further, they make the same fatal flaw our Protestant brothers do. They try and use the Bible, which is collection of books that the Catholic Church discerned to be inspired, in order to condemn the teachings of the Church.

The JW's insist that the Church fell into apostasy by the second century, but the Bible was not canonized as we know it until the fourth century, so they are claiming to use as inspired a text which was declared inspired by what they call an apostate Church. This is doesn't make sense on any philosophical level whatsoever.

Well, I hope this helps.

God Bless you and Happy New Year,

John DiMascio

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