Who Is The Kurios Of The New World Translation?

In 1950 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WT) released their translation of the Bible named, The New World Translation (NWT). This translation drew the criticism of many Greek scholars because of its incorrect and irresponsible scholarship. One of the major differences between this translation and reliable translations is the insertion of the word “Jehovah” in the New Testament (NT).

The WT reasons that the writers of the N.T. used what JW’s believe to be the divine name, “Jehovah,” in their original writings. This name, according to the WT, was eliminated by copyist from any new copies of the scriptures. The copyists supposedly used the words “Theos,” (God) and “Kurios” (Lord) instead. The WT reasons that since the divine name was taken out, then the modern translator has the responsibility to insert it back into the text. One of their rules for this process was to use, “the divine name as an equivalent of those two Greek words, that is, at places where the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures quote verses, passages, and expressions from the Hebrew Scriptures or from the LXX where the divine name occurs.” (Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT) p.11)

The KIT also goes on to say, “How may modern translators determine when to render the Greek words Kyrios and Theos as the divine name? By determining where the inspired Christian writers have quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. Then they must refer back to the Hebrew text to locate whether the divine name appears there. In this way they can determine the identity to be given to Kyrios and Theos, and make appropriate use of the personal name.”(Ibid. p11-12)

An example of this practice is found in the NWT of Romans 14:11- “for it is written: “’As I live,’ says Jehovah, ‘to me every knee will bend down, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God.’” This is a quotation of Isaiah 45:23-24- “By my own self I have sworn- out of my own mouth in righteousness the word has gone forth, so that it will not return- that to me every knee will bend down, every tongue will swear, saying, Surely in Jehovah there are full righteousness and strength.” In the two places above where the word “Jehovah” is used, other translations use the word “Lord.” The WT claims that they have rightfully reinserted the divine name back into the text.

While this may seem like a fair practice, it is interesting to note that the WT is inconsistent with it’s own rule. We will look at a couple of passages where the WT cannot afford to follow this rule because it would be confirming the Deity of Christ, which the WT denies.

 

Philippians 2: 10-11 in the NWT states, “so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on the earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.” Obviously this is a quotation of Isaiah 45:23-24, just like Romans 14:11. However, there is one difference between these verses. The word “Kurios” in Romans 14 is translated “Jehovah” while the same word, “Kurios” in Philippians 2 is translated as “Lord.” Why would the WT refrain from following their rule in this case? If the WT were to be consistent, then the end of Philippians 2:11 would read, “every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Jehovah to the glory of God the Father!”

The same Paul that wrote Romans also wrote the book of Philippians. Why would he use the same Old Testament passage and apply it to Jehovah in Romans 14, and then apply that same passage to Jesus in Philippians 2 unless he believed that Jesus is Jehovah? It would be blasphemy for a monotheistic Jew to apply an Old Testament passage that specifically speaks of Jehovah to anyone other than Jehovah.

Another verse that is troubling to the WT is Hebrews 1:10- “And: “You at [the] beginning, O Lord, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands.” Notice the word “Lord” in this verse. This is the Greek word “Kurios.” According to the WT, if this OT verse is speaking of God and is quoted in the NT, then the divine name, “Jehovah,” should be inserted back into the NT.

Hebrews 1:10 is a quotation of Psalm 102:24-25- “I proceeded to say: “O my God, Do not take me off at the half of my days; Your years are throughout all generations. Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, And the heavens are the work of your hands.” The context in verse 24 shows that God is the one spoken of in Psalm 102, but the context of Hebrews 1 shows that the actions of “laying the foundations of the earth” was accomplished by Jesus the Son (Vs.8).

Why would the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews apply this verse to Jesus if the OT verse declares that these actions were accomplished by God? If the WT were consistent, then the reason would be perfectly clear to any sincere JW because Hebrews 1:8-10 in the NWT would read, “But with reference to the Son: “God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness. 9 You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with [the] oil of exultation more than your partners.” 10 And: “You at [the] beginning, O Jehovah, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands.”

The result of consistency would be a direct application of the divine name to Jesus Christ. God the Father (Jehovah) would be calling His Son, Jesus Christ, by the divine name, Jehovah.

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