Perhaps, with out a doubt, in my experience, the single biggest objection that most people have to what the Witnesses believe, and the Bible translation that they use, is the way that the New World Translation translates John 1:1.
Most people are used to seeing "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Where as the NWT says "and the Word was a god". Many religionists feel, that, in rendering the text in this way, it takes the deity away from Jesus.
To start to understand why it is translated like that, lets look at how it was written in the early Greek. Below I have tried to recreate the Greek as printed in The Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson as published in 1942. The Greek work is according to Dr J.J. Greisbach with a literal rendering into English directly under each word. (I have tried to use Greek fonts)En arch hn O1 Logos cai O Logos hn proz Ton2 Qeon3 cai qeoz4 hn O Lagos5
IN BEGINNING WAS THE WORD AND THE WORD WAS WITH THE GOD AND GOD WAS THE WORD
(The English rendering above is all in capitals because the oldest Greek manuscripts are all in capitals)
The first thing to note is that in the Greek that the Bible was written in, there is no indefinite article. The indefinite article is the word "a". The definite article is the word "the". Look at the difference in the two Greek words for ‘the’. You will notice that they look different. O Ton. Even though these words are the same, they are rendered "slightly different" when translated into English because of the different ways Greek words are used to show what kind of word a word is. The ending of a word can express Gender, Tenses or one of five cases such as Nominative, Vocative, Accusative, Genitive and Dative. You will also notice the same difference in the words used for "God" Qeon, (theon) qeoz (theos)
Please note the slight differences in the table below of key words used in John 1:1.
1O Nominative case of the word "The"….. Expressing the doer
2Ton Accusative case of the word "The" …. Expressing the Object
3Qeon Accusative case of the word "God" …. Expressing the Object
4qeoz Nominative case of the word "God"….. Expressing the doer5Lagos Nominative case of the word "Word"….. Expressing the doer
To try to explain what that means, let's assume you are going to sit at a table with 8 chairs around it. Assume that everyone has been assigned a seat in which to sit, and you have been assigned the seat at the head of the table. Now you know exactly which chair you have to go to... The chair at the head of the table. Now take the same situation where nobody is assigned a chair, you now have a choice of 8 seats to go to. So, you are going to sit on a chair at the table and not just the chair at the head
So, the word "the" points to a specific item or person where as the word "a" points to one of many.
You will have noticed that the NWT inserts the letter "a". Now the problem that arises is, are they correct in doing so? I will attempt to explain this by looking at the sentence construction, as well as seeing how it fits into the context of the chapter.
Is It Grammar or Interpretation?
WHEN translating the "New Testament" from its original Greek into any modern tongue there are terms that can be rendered in more than one way. How shall the right translation be determined? In such cases, obviously something other than Greek grammar determines what wording the modern scholar will use in translating the original.
This rendering is strongly criticised by some, since it appears to make the Word (Jesus in his prehuman existence) a lesser god and not God Almighty himself. These critics often appeal to Greek grammar to try to dislodge this latter rendering.
Thus one theologian says regarding the New World Translation handling of this verse: "It overlooks entirely an established rule of Greek grammar which necessitates the rendering, ‘. . . and the Word was God.’" Another comments that the translation "a god" is "erroneous and unsupported by any good Greek scholarship . . . rejected by all recognised scholars of the Greek language." And yet another notes that it shows "ignorance of Greek grammar."—Italics added.
I found the following information that I thought was interesting, especially since it comes from a work that supports the Trinitarian way of rendering John 1:1
Regarding the use of articles, Ray Summers states on page 129 in "Essentials of New Testament Greek":
"The Greek had no indefinite article. The words tis and eis many times are close to the English use of the indefinite article "a" and "an." The Greek definite article o, h, to was much used and is tremendous importance in the interpretation of the the New Testament. ... The basic function of the Greek article is to identify. At this point an important differentiation should be observed. When the article is used with a construction, the thing emphasized is "identity"; when the article is not used, the thing emphasized is quality of character. ...The difference is clearly seen in the use of o theos and theos. o theos is used of the divine Person "God." theos is used (generally) of the divine character or essence of God. Thus "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God (ton theon) and the Word was divine (theos)" gives the sense. ... An extensive discussion of this usage is found in Dana and Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament." ( I will discuss the use of "divine" later on.)
Concerning articles, Spiros Zodhiates on pages 862 and 863 of The Complete Word Study New Testament with Parallel Greek states: (next page)
5. Anarthrous (an) refers to a word or group of words which appear without a definite article (o,e, to, the). Greek has no indefinite article "a" or "an" in English. Sometimes it is best to translate an anarthrous word by supplying "a" or "an" before it. In fact, due to reasons of English style or Greek idiom, the word "the" is even an appropriate translation in some cases. However, there are many times when supplying an article would be incorrect. Anarthrous constructions are most often intended to point out the quality of something.... See also 24. (Italics in this paragraph mine)
The Definite Article (art) in Greek is sometimes translated with the English definite article "the." However, the function of the two is quite different. In English, the definite article serves merely to particularize, to refer to a particular object. In Greek, however, it serves to emphasize, in some way, the person or thing it modifies. Hence, in most cases, the definite article in Greek serves to identify: ... The term "articular" refers to a group of words which appear with a definite article ... The is perhaps no other part of Greek grammar where the Greek idiom differs so greatly from the English. For instance, an English grammarian would never place the definite article before a proper noun (e.g., the "Thomas"), though in Greek it is very common. Recognizing the significance of the presence or absence of the definite article requires the most intimate knowledge of the Greek language. Contrast the use of articular constructions with anarthrous constructions which refers to quality. …"
I found it interesting that a person would include those quotes to support the trinitartian idea especially with these words included " The difference is clearly seen in the use of o theos and theos. o theos is used of the divine Person "God." theos is used (generally) of the divine character or essence of God. Thus "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God (ton theon) and the Word wasdivine (theos)" gives the sense. ..." and "However, there are many times when supplying an article would be incorrect. Anarthrous constructions are most often intended to point out the quality of something...." as well as "Contrast the use of articular constructions with anarthrous constructions which refers to quality. ..." This last quote says what we say, and that is that "god was the word" shows a quality or "nature" of Jesus.
In regard to this, please note the following quote from Appendix 6A in the NWT study BibleFollowing is a list of instances in the gospels of Mark and John where various translators have rendered singular anarthrous predicate nouns occurring before the verb (Just as in John 1:1) with an indefinite article to denote the indefinite and qualitative status of the subject nouns:
MARK l NWT JKV NIV AAT RSV TEV
Mr 6:49 | an apparition a spirit a ghost a ghost a ghost a ghost
Mr 11:32| a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a real prophet a prophet
Joh 4:19 | a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet
Joh 6:70 | a slanderer a devil an informer a devil a devil a devil
Joh 8:44 | a manslayer a murderer a murderer a murderer a murderer a murderer
Joh 8:44 | a liar a liar a liar a liar a liar a liar
Joh 9:17 | a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet
Joh 10:1 | a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief
Joh 10:13| a hired man an hireling a hired man a hired hand a hireling a hired man
Joh 10:33| a man a man a mere man a mere man a man a man
Joh 12:6 | a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief
Does the above table not show that other translators will use that particular grammar occurrence in the same as the NWT uses it at John 1:1. May I ask, who is being consistent?
In the experience that I have had with Trinitarians, reference has often been made to a rule of Greek grammar formulated by E. C. Colwell. There are other scholars that comment on this passage, but Colwell's rule is the one that has been shown to me on several occasions. Usually the rule that was quoted to me, comes from a Book entitled "The Kingdom of The Cults" by Walter Martin. He puts Cowells rule this way in the book. "Cowells rule clearly states that a definite predicate nominative (Theos - God) never takes an article when it precedes the verb (was) as in John 1:1" Kingdom of the cults 1975, 75. Mr Martain goes on to say, "There can be no direct object following was since according to grammatical usage intransitive verbs take no objects but take instead predicate nominatives which refer bach to the subject, in this case word (Logos)". I have had this pointed out to me to show that the "Word"(logos) is directly related to Ho Theos. Interesting to note that JWs do not say that a direct object follows was. For me that makes Mr Martins assertions invalid.
But the Question still has to be asked, Does his rule (Colwell's) really prove their point? Consider what Colwell himself has actually said.
In 1933, he published an article in the Journal of Biblical Literature entitled: "A Definite Rule for the Use of the Article in the Greek New Testament." Toward the close of his article he discusses John 1:1. The latter part of this verse reads literally in the Greek: "AND GOD WAS THE WORD." Notice that a definite article "THE" appears before "WORD," while no "THE" appears before "GOD." Colwell’s rule regarding translation of the Greek says: "A definite predicate nominative [for example, "GOD" at John 1:1] has the article ["THE"] when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb." In other words, if always true, the rule says that at John 1:1 a "THE" before "GOD" is implied in the original language and should therefore appear in modern translations.
His rule appears to be true in some places in the Greek Bible. However, Colwell himself admitted that there are exceptions to the rule, that it is not absolute. (See, for instance, an interlinear rendering of Luke 20:33; 1 Corinthians 9:1, 2.) In fact, there appear to be so many exceptions that thirty years after his rule was formed, one Greek grammar book says that the rule may only reflect a "general tendency." Well, then, what about John 1:1? Would the rule apply there?
Colwell himself answers: "The predicate ["GOD"] . . . is indefinite in this position only when the context demands it." Notice, not any inviolable "rule," but context is the crucial factor.
So in spite of the strong, assertive language on the part of some, Colwell’s "rule" of itself or other rules do not ‘necessitate’ one rendering over another at John 1:1. Rather, how the translator interprets the surrounding verses and, indeed, the rest of the Bible—this is what would determine how he translates John 1:1.
Now take notice of the context of the chapter John 1- 4 This rendering comes from the New World Translation , but take notice of the highlighted words and check them in other versions "1 In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. 2 This one was in [the] beginning with God. 3 All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence 4 by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men."
Also note John 1:18 "No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him. " All the words that are initalics and underlined, show that there was more than one individual being talked about here. (In my discussions with Trinitarians, it amazes me as to how many do not comprehend these words and their significance). This is further verified by Col 1:15-17. "15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been createdthrough him and for him. 17 Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist " (I discuss Col 1:15-17 further down the page as many people object to the insertion, even in brackets of the word [other])
The [ ] denote words inserted by the New World Translation to complete the sense of the text.
That is why those above-quoted writers are so dogmatic in their statements. To them, Jesus is God himself. One of them refers to "Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly man." Another observes that "Christ claimed equality with Jehovah." Obviously, given a choice, would they not want John 1:1 translated to give apparent support to their own views?
On the other hand, a person who accepts Jesus’ plain statement that "the Father is greater than I am" will realise that Jesus is not equal to the Almighty Jehovah. (John 14:28) Yet, this does not mean that Jesus cannot be referred to as "god" in some sense of the word. Recall Exodus 4:16; does not Jehovah there say to Mosses, "And thou shalt be to [Aaron] instead of God"? (AV) But this did not make Mosses God Almighty, did it? The term "god" is applied even to the Devil, since he is a mighty creature controlling the existing system of things. (2 Cor. 4:4) Certainly, then, Jesus, who has been exalted over all other creation and granted the exercise of great power in heaven and earth by his Father, can be referred to as "a god." Such a rendering conveys the dignity and respect Jesus is due while at the same time it avoids giving any reader the impression that Jesus is God Almighty himself.
The assumed grammatical "rule" in connection with John 1:1 is only one of many that is appealed to for apparent support of certain religious ideas. But it serves to illustrate the point: the real issue involves more than grammar.
Grammatical rules are necessary to understand a language. But they have limitations. As the Encyclopedia Americana states: "Everywhere we find grammar working upon a language already made . . . the office of grammar has been, not to fix what a language should be, or must be, but to explain what an already existing language is. Grammar is explanatory and not creative."
Accordingly, even with regard to living languages it should be remembered that, in the last analysis, their ‘grammar’ does not come from ‘grammar books.’ As a professor of English at the University of Chicago notes: "In the usage of native speakers, whatever is, is right." Those who speak a language, especially the ‘better educated’ people—not arbitrary rule makers—ultimately determine what is ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect.’
This same principle holds true with regard to the grammar of Biblical Greek. Its purpose is to explain how things are said and not to try to impose on the original language what the modern grammarian thinks should be said. Such ‘grammar’ must be drawn from what the Biblical Greek text itself actually says. Even other writings in the Greek language, but of a different age or from another part of the world, are of only limited value in arriving at an understanding of the Scriptures. As prominent Greek grammarian A. T. Robertson once put it: "What we wish to know is not what was good Greek at Athens in the days of Pericles, but what was good Greek in Syria and Palestine in the first century A.D." Yes, the Bible’s text itself in particular must reveal what is acceptable in the matter of its grammar.
Thus, the person unschooled in the original Bible languages need not be overawed by those who cite grammatical rules. No rule of grammar will contradict the overall message of the Bible. Similarly, the honest Biblical teacher knows that it is the text of the Bible that is inspired. Grammatical rule books are not, though they are helpful.
Now lets change a couple of words so as to take the text out of a Biblical setting, but leave the sentence construction the same. Note the following example:
In [the] beginning was the apprentice and the apprentice was with THE BUILDER and builder was the apprentice.
When I look at that sentence I see two individuals mentioned, the builder who is in charge and the apprentice who takes direction from the builder. The word "builder" in lower case letters is what is known as a predicate noun, it describes a quality of the apprentice, he is doing the work of a builder without being THE BUILDER.
Just as the "builder" in lower case letters is what is known as a predicate noun, it describes a quality about the apprentice, the words "a god" describes a quality of the Logos. Some Bibles render that last clause as the Word was divine or godlike.
(with the above example some people have thought I was saying Jesus was an “apprentice” god – that is not what I am saying it is for an illustration purpose only)
Another example that I use, is as follows (the first part is written in all capitals and same grammar as the oldest Greek texts – then in English according to our gramma)
IN BEGINNING WAS THE BOY AND THE BOY WAS WITH THE MAN AND BOY WAS MAN.
In (the) beginning was the boy and the boy was with the man and the boy was a man.
It does not make complete sense in English to say “the boy was man”, even if we do, we naturally understand that they are two separate and distinct individuals. Just as the boy has the same nature as the man – both are human, the Word and God have the same nature – Both are spirits – see John 4:24 “God is a Spirit” and after his resurrection we are told that Jesus “became a life-giving spirit” 1 Corinthians 15:45
Now lets take a moment to consider what the word God means. It is NOT a name but a title to describe a quality of the one with the title. Among the Hebrew words that are translated "God" is ´El, The New Strongs Concordance links EL (reference number 410) with ELOHEEM (Ref. Nu. 430) and ELOAH (Ref. Nu. 433). The base word El meaning "strength" and or "mighty". Rightly so then, the base for the words translated God means "Mighty One".
To expand on the apprentice and builder further, in the state where I live, (South Australia), when a builder is doing a job, he has to put a sign up saying who he is. Lets call this Builder "Allan Brooks Construction". Now lets assume he builds 100 homes a year. With a large building firm, the person with their name on the sign does all the organising, directing and takes responsibility for a project, but may never actually turn up on the job.. He delegates the work to his workers. Anyone walking past the construction site will see the name of Allan Brooks and will associate that project with that person. Even though Mr Brooks may never show up on that site he is totally responsible for the job. If it is good, he gets the praise, and if there are problems, he takes the responsibility for them. Anyone walking past the building site will automatically associate the job with the name on the sign.
If asked, both the workers on the building site, and THE BUILDER (in this case Mr Brooks), can rightly say (or be referred to as the one), that they built a certain house. One for actually doing the work, and the other for PLANNING and ORGANISING the project. In my knowledge of the building industry, if Mr Brook, as the one being totally responsible, was describing to someone else a job that he was responsible for, he can rightly say, that he alone with no one to help did a given project, and his listener would understand the context of his statement.
Now both the builder and his workers can say that they built a certain project. The builder for his INSTIGATING and ORGANISING the project, and the workers who actually did the work. The same principle we can apply to Jesus and his father. Jehovah INSTIGATES and ORGANISES certain actions, (creating, saving, judging) and Jesus carries these through. Both can be said to do the same action. (As a side line here, with reference to the previous paragraph, Jehovah can rightly say as he did in Is. 44:24 "I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me?" For more details on this Text see the Trinity Exposed web site)
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. XIII, No. 4, October 1951, observed: "Grammar alone cannot prove how the predicate in this verse should be translated, whether ‘God’ or ‘a god.’" And indicating propriety for the rendering "a god," The New American Bible (1970) in its section "Biblical Terms Explained" says under the word "God": "In Jn 1:1, the Word is called ‘God’ but the original Greek term used here, theos [God], is not the usual word for God, ho theos [the God]."
The truth is, just how John 1:1 should be translated cannot be definitely determined solely by rules of Greek grammar. As Divinity Professor John Martin Creed noted: "The Prologue [John 1:1] is less explicit in Greek with the anarthrous [theos without the article ho (the)] than it appears to be in English."
Thus this text alone is inconclusive in identifying whether Jesus is truly "God," or is a subordinate, lesser "god." Do the few other texts where "Jesus is, or might be, alluded to as ‘God’" prove that he is really Almighty God? Some of these will be dealt with later.
Originally, this page finished here, but, due to e-mail that I received, there were many who said that the reasoning's I had presented did not fit the context of such Scriptures as Isaiah 43:10 . Yes I must admit that context involves more than just surrounding texts. The whole Bible must be considered in order to see what God really has imparted to us, so we will consider Isaiahs words in light of what opposers have to say and try to examine the original meanings of that text. Isaiah 43: (RSV) says "Before me no God was formed, nor shall there be any after me"
Also this reasoning has been put forward as to why the way John 1:1 is treated in the NWT . The following quote comes from a paper prepared by Larry Ingram in his discussion on John 1:1 as found on the net
"….To further substantiate point 5 above, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge points out, translators and translations which choose to render this phrase `a god' or `divine' are motivated by theological, not grammatical, considerations. The phrase `a god' is particularly objectionable, because it makes Christ a lesser god, which is polytheism, and contrary to the express declaration of Scripture elsewhere (Deut. 32:39).[This text says as per NWT "SEE now that I—I am he And there are no gods together with me"] For clearly if Christ is `a god,' the he must be either a `true god' or `false god.' If `true,' we assert polytheism; if `false,' he is unworthy of credence."
Some have posted the question to me, HOW CAN JESUS CHRIST BE "a god" when even the New World Translation states, "you are my witnesses, is the utterances of Jehovah, even my servant whom [I] have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I ----- I am Jehovah and besides me there is no Savior" (Isaiah 43:10, NWT)?
Before we start to examine the CONTEXT of this verse lets see something about what the Hebrew language says about the words "god". It is important to understand the usage of these old words in translating into a modern language. It is also important to recognise the settings. The nation of Israel come out of a land full of false gods (Egypt) and were to take possession of a land where the people worshiped many gods. So the people of Israel were well accustomed to various "gods". With their exit from Egypt they experienced the might of this God of their forefathers, but they were so accustomed to the other gods that He had to keep reminding them as to who he was.
I am going to repeat something I said earlier and then build on it. Most of what is written here is not mine but sourced from other places, and rearranged.
Among the Hebrew words that are translated "God" is ´El, The New Strongs Concordance links EL (reference number 410) with ELOHEEM (Ref. Nu. 430) and ELOAH (Ref. Nu. 433). The base word El meaning "strength" and or "mighty". Rightly so then, the base for the words translated God means "Mighty One". It is used with reference to Jehovah, to other gods, and to men. It is also used extensively in the make up of proper names, such as Elisha meaning "God Is Salvation" and Michael ("Who Is Like God?"). In some places ´El appears with the definite article (ha·´El', literally, "the God") with reference to Jehovah, thereby distinguishing him from other gods.-Ge 46:3; 2Sa 22:31; see NW appendix, p. 1567. At Isaiah 9:6 Jesus Christ is prophetically called ´El Gib·bohr', "Mighty God" (not ´El Shad·dai' [God Almighty], which is applied to Jehovah at Genesis 17:1).
The plural form, ´e·lim', is used when referring to other gods, such as at Exodus 15:11 ("gods"). It is also used as the plural of majesty and excellence, as in Psalm 89:6: "Who can resemble Jehovah among the sons of God [bi·beneh' ´E·lim']?" That the plural form is used to denote a single individual here and in a number of other places is supported by the translation of ´E·lim' by the singular form The·os' in the Greek Septuagint; likewise by Deus in the Latin Vulgate.
The Hebrew word ´elo·him' (gods) appears to be from a root meaning "be strong." ´Elo·him' is the plural of ´eloh'ah (god). Sometimes this plural refers to a number of gods (Ge 31:30, 32; 35:2), but more often it is used as a plural of majesty, dignity, or excellence. ´Elo·him' is used in the Scriptures with reference to Jehovah himself, to angels, to idol gods(singular and plural), and to men.
When applying to Jehovah, ´Elo·him' is used as a plural of majesty, dignity, or excellence. (Ge 1:1) ( What does the term a plural of majesty, dignity, or excellence mean. In English we have a term that closely resembles that and that is what we call the "ROYAL WE". It was used by royalty to refer to them selves. Eg we may have seen old movies about Queen Victoria, and she would often use phrases like "We are not amused". That phrase referred to herself and not the people with her.) Regarding this, Aaron Ember wrote: "That the language of the O[ld] T[estament] has entirely given up the idea of plurality in . . . [´Elo·him'] (as applied to the God of Israel) is especially shown by the fact that it is almost invariably construed with a singular verbal predicate, and takes a singular adjectival attribute. . . . [´Elo·him'] must rather be explained as an intensive plural, denoting greatness and majesty, being equal to The Great God."-The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. XXI, 1905, p. 208.
The title ´Elo·him' draws attention to Jehovah's strength as the Creator. It appears 35 times by itself in the account of creation, and every time the verb describing what he said and did is in the singular number. (Ge 1:1-2:4) In him resides the sum and substance of infinite forces. At Psalm 8:5, the angels are also referred to as ´elo·him', as is confirmed by Paul's quotation of the passage atHebrews 2:6-8. They are called beneh' ha·´Elo·him', "sons of God" (KJ); "sons of the true God" (NW), at Genesis 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1. Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, by Koehler and Baumgartner (1958), page 134, says: "(individual) divine beings, gods." And page 51 says: "the (single) gods," and it cites Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7. Hence, at Psalm 8:5 ´elo·him' is rendered "angels" (LXX); "godlike ones" (NW).
The word ´elo·him' is also used when referring to idol gods. Sometimes this plural form means simply "gods." (Ex 12:12; 20:23) At other times it is the plural of excellence and only one god (or goddess) is referred to. However, these gods were clearly not trinities.-1Sa 5:7b (Dagon); 1Ki 11:5 ("goddess" Ashtoreth); Da 1:2b (Marduk).
At Psalm 82:1, 6, ´elo·him' is used of men, human judges in Israel. Jesus quoted from this Psalm at John 10:34, 35. They were gods in their capacity as representatives of and spokesmen for Jehovah. Similarly Moses was told that he was to serve as "God" to Aaron and to Pharaoh.-Ex 4:16
In many places in the Scriptures ´Elo·him' is also found preceded by the definite article ha. (Ge 5:22) Concerning the use of ha·´Elo·him', F. Zorell says: "In the Holy Scriptures especially the one true God, Jahve, is designated by this word; . . . 'Jahve is the [one true] God' De 4:35; 4:39; Jos 22:34; 2Sa 7:28; 1Ki 8:60 etc."-Lexicon Hebraicum Veteris Testamenti, Rome, 1984, p. 54; brackets his.
The Greek Term. The usual Greek equivalent of ´El and ´Elo·him' in the Septuagint translation and the word for "God" or "god" in the Christian Greek Scriptures is the·os'.
First, let's deal with the context of the majority of the previous chapters of Isaiah leading up to, and well past the 43 chapter of Isaiah. Upon a close study, we find that these chapters are dealing primarily with the false idol gods the nation of Israel was getting involved with, verses the one True God of Israel, namely Jehovah. Notice that Jehovah says: "....before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none [formed] "
Is it not surprising then, that Jehovah would make a statement as he did at Isaiah 43:10. Even calling the nation of Israel "witnesses" to his Godship. They witnessed marvellous acts of Jehovah on behalf of his people. Let's look at Isaiah 43:2,3 of the same chapter: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel your Savior. I have given Egypt as a ransom for you, Ethiopia and Se'ba in place of you."
Yes, from Jehovah's standpoint, all the dungy idols of the pagan nations that were surrounding Israel and being brought into the pure worship of Jehovah were something detestable to him. He consistently reminded his people to "make no graven images" before him. The gods of the nation's time after time proved powerless as compared to Jehovah's awesome demonstrations of the miraculous protection he showed to his people. Yet, Israel continued to be involved in false worship by means of making and worshipping idols.
With this having been said, how is it that ANY god could be formed before or after Jehovah? The fact is, there could NOT be any god formed before or after Jehovah because the gods being mentioned and spoken about that the nation of Israel could identify with were FALSE IDOL GODS! Yes, the "CONTEXT" IS DEALING WITH THE FALSE IDOLS THE NATION OF ISRAEL HAD BEEN INVOLVED WITH! Lets see proof of this.
Isaiah 40:18 reads: "And to whom can YOU people liken God, and what likeness can YOU put alongside him? The craftsman has cast a mere molten image, and with gold the metalworker overlays it, and silver chains he is forging. A certain tree as a contribution, a tree that is not rotten, he chooses. A skillful craftsman he searches out for himself, to prepare a carved image that may not be made to totter."
Isaiah 40:25 reads: "But to whom can YOU people liken me so that I should be made his equal?" says the Holy One."
Isaiah 41:28 reads: "And I kept seeing, and there was not a man; and out of these there was also no one that was giving counsel. And I kept asking them, that they might make a reply. Look! All of them are something nonexistent. Their works are nothing. Their molten images are wind and unreality."
Isaiah 42:17 reads: "They must be turned back, they will be very much ashamed, those who are putting trust in the carved image, those who are saying to a molten image: "YOU are our gods."
Isaiah 44:8,9,10 reads: "Do not be in dread, YOU people, and do not become stupefied. Have I not from that time on caused you individually to hear and told [it] out? And YOU are my witnesses. Does there exist a God besides me? No, there is no Rock. I have recognised none.'" "The formers of the carved image are all of them an unreality, and their darlings themselves will be of no benefit; and as their witnesses they see nothing and know nothing, in order that they may be ashamed. Who has formed a god or cast a mere molten image? Of no benefit at all has it been."
Isaiah 44:15,16,17 reads: "And it has become [something] for man to keep a fire burning. So he takes part of it that he may warm himself. In fact he builds a fire and actually bakes bread. He also works on a god to which he may bow down. He has made it into a carved image, and he prostrates himself to it. Half of it he actually burns up in a fire. Upon half of it he roasts well the flesh that he eats, and he becomes satisfied. He also warms himself and says: "Aha! I have warmed myself. I have seen the firelight. "But the remainder of it he actually makes into a god itself, into his carved image. He prostrates himself to it and bows down and prays to it and says: "Deliver me, for you are my god."
Thus we can see that the gods Jehovah is being compared to, are IDOLS formed or made by man and worshipped instead of Jehovah. Therefore NO God (that is, an idol made or formed by man) was formed BEFORE Jehovah THAT WAS REAL or ALIVE or ABLE to deliver them, and after Jehovah there continued to be none! For they never existed! Yes, the nation of Israel (along with the nations round about) made idols, but they were stone, or wood, and NOT alive or REAL or able to provide any salvation for them ever! Thus how foolish the nation was when they had a God like Jehovah to protect them.
Though some man-made idols may seem lifelike-often with a mouth, eyes, and ears-they cannot speak, see, or hear, and they can do nothing for their devotees. (Psalm 135:15-18) This was shown in the eighth century B.C.E., when God's prophet recorded at Isaiah 43:8-28 what is, in effect, a court case between Jehovah and idol-gods. In it God's people Israel were on one side, and the worldly nations on the other. Jehovah challenged the false gods of the nations to tell "the first things," to prophesy accurately. Not one could do so. Turning to his people, Jehovah said: "You are my witnesses .. . . and I am God." The nations could not prove that their gods existed ahead of Jehovah or that they could prophesy. But Jehovah foretold Babylon's ruin and the release of his captive people.
Just for interest, here is a list of other translations and the way they translate John 1:1. I sourced this list from a public forum in June 1998
* 1768 and was himself a divine person ....... Harwood * 1808 and the word was a god .....................Newcome * 1829 the Logos was a god ..........................Thompson * 1864 and a god was the Word .....................Wilson (Int) * 1939 the Word was divine ..........................Goodspeed * 1947 the Word was god ............................. Torrey * 1961 what God was,the Word was ............. New English * 1972 the Logos was divine ........................ Moffatt * 1973 The Word was with God and shared his nature .................................... Translator's NT * 1976 the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God ................ Barclay * 1978 and godlike sort was the Logos ........ Schneider * 1985 the Word was divine ......................... Schonfield * 1989 what God was, the Word was ............ Revised English * 1993 The Divine word and wisdom was there with God, and it was what God was .......Scholars Version * 1994 the Word was a divine Being ............................ Madsen * 1979 ein Gott war das Logos [a God/god was the Logos/logos] ...........................Becker * 1907 Das Wort war selbst go:ttlichen Wesens [The Word/word was itself a divine Being/being] . Stage * 1910 Es war fest mit Gott verbunden, ja selbst gttlichen Wesens [It was strongly linked to God, yes itself divine Being/being] ............................... Bhmer * 1919 Gott von Art war das Wort [God of Kind/kind was the Word/word] ............... Thimme * 1920 Gott (von Art) war der Logos [God (of Kind/kind) was the Logos/logos] ........................................... Baumgarten et.al * 1926 ein Gott war der Gedanke [a God/god was the Thought/thought] ..................Holzmann * 1938 selbst ein Gott war das Wort [itself a God/god was the Word/word] ................ Rittelmeyer * 1945 Ordet var av guddomsart [the Word was of divine kind] ........................... Lyder Brun (Norw. professor of NT theology) * 1949 war von go:ttlicher Wucht [was of divine Kind/kind] ...................................Pfa:fflin * 1957 go:ttlichen Wesen hatte das Wort [godlike Being/being had the Word/word] ….......... Albrecht * 1960 verdensordet var et guddommelig vesen [the word of the world was a divine being] ..............Smit * 1961 Gott (= go:ttlichen Wesens) war das Wort [God(=godlike Being/being) was the Word/word) .. Menge * 1980 Gott (von Art) war der Logos [God (of Kind/kind) was the Logos/logos] …......... Haenchen * 1982 r war bei Gott und in allem Gott gleich [He was with God and in all like God] ............... Die Bibel in heutigem Deutsch * 1984 divine (of the category divinity) was the Logos Haenchen ..................................... (tr. by R.Funk) * 1987 ein Gott (oder: Gott von Art) war das Wort [a God/god (or: God/god of Kind/kind) was the Word/word] ............................................. Schultz
I hope all the above has shed some light on the subject, and demonstrates that the way the NWT translates John 1:1 is DIFFERENT and not WRONG