I recently got a hold of the New World Translation Bible by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. My Witness neighbor offered it to me, and I couldn’t resist comparing it to my King James Version.
Later, I invited him to my home to discuss some questions I had about the Jehovah’s Witness Bible. Our detailed conversation helped me understand the differences between the two translations.
So, let’s look at Jehovah’s Witness Bible vs. King James.
The main difference between the New World Translation (NWT) and the King James Version (KJV) is their definition of God. They also differ in their interpretations of certain scriptures. Additionally, each version was released in a different century. The KJV was first released in 1611, while the first NWT came out in 1950. Therefore, the language and approach used in each translation is unique.
In this article, we will discuss the differences between the New World Translation and the King James Version.
Read along to learn if there are similarities between these wildly different Bible translations.
What are the differences between Jehovah’s Witness Bible and King James Bible?
There are numerous differences between the King James version and the New World Translation (NWT). For starters, The New World Translation is colourful and incredibly easy to read.
Many people have reported having an easier time reading the NWT. This is a sharp contrast to the King James Version (KJV), which most people struggle to understand.
That’s because it uses archaic English. This is largely because the KJV came out in the 1600s while the NWT was published in the 1900s.
Another difference is in the translation of key scriptures talking about the deity of Jesus. In John 8:58 (KJV), the Bible says the following, “Before Abraham was, I am”.
The NWT writes the same scripture as “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been”. “I am” is a term that God uses to refer to himself in Exodus 3:14: “And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.”
Theology scholars suggest that Jesus used this term to remind us that he, too, is God. Witnesses firmly dispute this in their doctrines.
The Jehovah’s Witness Bible introduced the word Jehovah to replace “Lord” in several places in the New Testament.
The majority of Christian denominations have openly opposed this, citing that it throws off the original meaning of scripture. Take Romans 10:9.
The KJV states that “if you confess that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved“. That means that mainstream Christianity views Jesus as Lord.
Though the NWT doesn’t change this particular Lord to Jehovah, it contradicts the idea that claims that Jesus is not God.
Are there similarities between King James and Jehovah’s Witness Bible?
Yes, both translations acknowledge that Jesus is the son of God. The King James version and the New World Translation teach that Jesus’ divine ministry was to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Consequently, The KJV and NWT agree that Jesus is the redeemer of mankind from sin. That is why Witnesses observe the Passover feasts during Jewish Passover.
Can a Jehovah’s Witness use the King James Bible?
No, Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to strictly adhere to the New World Translation of the Bible.
After the release of the translation of the Holy Scriptures, the Watchtower decided that all Jehovah’s Witnesses would only use that version.
Witnesses denounce the Holy Trinity and the idea that one can pray in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
Reading the King James version would contradict all the teachings espoused in the New World Translation.
Having said that, it is worth mentioning that before getting a hold of the New World Translation, the Jehovah’s Witnesses used the King James Version of the Bible.
Is the Jehovah’s Witness Bible more accurate than the King James Bible?
Not necessarily. For the most part, the information in both versions is similar. However, The New World Translation expresses some ideologies uniquely.
For instance, in John 1:1, the King James Version says that “the word was God“. The New World Translations says that “the word was a god”.
Having said that, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the 1611 King James version was produced from relatively new and “less accurate” manuscripts that were likely to have been altered over the years.
Witnesses insist that the New World Translation was translated from ancient manuscripts whose information was still intact. That is why this Christian group believes that they are the only people practicing true Christianity.
According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Bible should be taken literally. They forbid any form of paraphrasing. Other translations of the Bible might do some paraphrasing to cater to the modern-day reader.
Witnesses do not believe in concepts like the Holy Trinity. That is why they do not pray to Jesus. They cite 1 Corinthians 8:6 as their belief that God alone is God: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
Did Jehovah’s Witness rewrite the Bible?
No, Jehovah’s Witnesses created a new Bible translation from established versions like the King James Bible. Witnesses call this version the “translation of the Holy Scriptures”.
The founders of this religion felt that mainstream versions of the Bible use archaic language, which is difficult for the modern Christian to comprehend.
In 1947, Jehovah’s Witnesses formed a New World Bible Translation Committee made up of Witness elders from different parts of the world.
This committee aimed to come up with a biblical translation that aligned with what they considered to be the truth.
The members who participated in this process have tried to remain anonymous. According to them, taking credit would be a since all the glory should be accorded to Jehovah.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses released the inaugural edition of the New World Translation in 1950. Over the years, anonymous sources have revealed several people who are believed to have been a part of the translation process.
These people include Nathan H. Knorr, Raymond Franz, Milton G Henschel, Albert D. Schroeder and George G. Gangas.
The Watchtower maintains that these individuals spent years studying and praying to find the correct interpretations of every scripture in the Bible.
Evangelists like Walter Ralston Martín propose that none of the individuals studied theology or spoke fluent Hebrew or Greek.
This has triggered a lot of doubt about the legitimacy of the New World Translation Bible. Despite the scepticism from other Christian denominations, Witnesses continue to follow the teachings in their New World Translation version.
As a Christian, I have always been passionate about sharing God’s word with young people. This inspired me to pursue a Certificate in Christian Education, an Undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, and a Graduate degree in Theology. My knowledge in school and experience from dealing with the youth made me an expert at discussing Christian-related topics. I feel privileged working as the Coordinator of the Christian Youth Ministry at Christian Faith Guide. You can read more about me on the about us page.