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Dr. Walter Martin Interviews Dr. Julius R. Mantey

The NWT and John 1:1


Words From The Founder


Dr. Julius R. Mantey was a first rate scholar who studied Greek for more than 65 years. He was well known for A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, which he co-authored with Dr. H.E. Dana. The following is a discussion that took place between Dr. Martin and Dr. Mantey on the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation.

DR. MARTIN: In John 1:1, the New World Translation (NWT) says that "the Word was a god," referring to Jesus Christ. How would you respond to that?

DR. MANTEY: The Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) have forgotten entirely what the order of the sentence indicates - that the "Logos" has the same substance, nature, or essence as the Father. To indicate that Jesus was just "a god," the JWs would have to use a completely different construction in the Greek.

DR. MARTIN: You once had a little difference of opinion with the Watchtower about this and wrote them a letter. What was their response to your letter?

DR. MANTEY: Well, as a backdrop, I was disturbed because they had misquoted me in support of their translation. I called their attention to the fact that the whole body of the New Testament was against their view. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is glorified and magnified - yet here they were denigrating Him and making Him into a little god of a pagan concept.

DR. MARTIN: What was their response to what you said?

DR. MANTEY: They said I could have my opinion and they would retain theirs. What I wrote didn't phase them a bit.

DR. MARTIN: I don't know whether you're aware of it, but there is not a single Greek scholar in the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I did everything I could to find out the names of the translating committee of the NWT, and the Watchtower wouldn't tell me a thing. Finally, an ex-JW who knew the committee members personally told me who they were, and the men on that committee could not read New Testament Greek; nor could they read Hebrew; nor did they have any knowledge of systematic theology - except what they had learned from the Watchtower. Only one of them had been to college, and he had dropped out after a year. He briefly studied the biblical languages while there.

DR. MANTEY: He was born in Greece, wasn't he?

DR. MARTIN: Yes, he read modern Greek, and I met him when I visited the Watchtower. I asked him to read John 1:1 in the Greek and then said, "How would you translate it?" He said: "Well, 'the word was a god."' I said: "What is the subject of the sentence?" He just looked at me. So I repeated, "What is the subject of the sentence?" He didn't know. This was the only person in the Watchtower to read Greek and he didn't know, the subject of the sentence in John 1:1. And these were the people who wrote back to you and said their opinion was as good as yours.

DR. MANTEY: That's right.

DR. MARTIN: Often we find JW publications quoting scholars. Do they quote these people in context?

DR. MANTEY: No. They use this device to fool people into thinking that scholars agree with the JWs. Out of all the Greek professors, grammarians, and commentators they have quoted, only one (a Unitarian) agreed that "the word was a god."

DR. MARTIN: You have been quoted as saying that the translators of the NWT are diabolical deceivers."

DR. MANTEY: Yes. The translation is deceptive, and I believe it's a terrible thing for a person to be deceived and go into eternity lost, forever lost because somebody deliberately misled him by distorting the Scripture!

DR. MARTIN: What would you say to a JW who was looking for the truth?

DR. MANTEY: I would advise him to get a translation other than the NWT, because ninety-nine percent of the scholars of the world who know Greek and who have helped translate the Bible are in disagreement with the JWs. People who are looking for the truth ought to know what the majority of the scholars really believe. They should not allow themselves to be misled by the JWs and end up in hell.

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