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Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation

“It Is the Best Interlinear New Testament Available”

THAT is how Dr. Jason BeDuhn describes The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. He explains:

“I have just completed teaching a course for the Religious Studies Department of Indiana University, Bloomington, [U.S.A.] . . . This is primarily a course in the Gospels. Your help came in the form of copies of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures which my students used as one of the textbooks for the class. These small volumes were invaluable to the course and very popular with my students.”

Why does Dr. BeDuhn use the Kingdom Interlinear translation in his college courses? He answers:

“Simply put, it is the best interlinear New Testament available. I am a trained scholar of the Bible, familiar with the texts and tools in use in modern biblical studies, and, by the way, not a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I know a quality publication when I see one, and your ‘New World Bible Translation Committee’ has done its job well. Your interlinear English rendering is accurate and consistent to an extreme that forces the reader to come to terms with the linguistic, cultural, and conceptual gaps between the Greek-speaking world and our own. Your ‘New World Translation’ is a high quality, literal translation that avoids traditional glosses in its faithfulness to the Greek. It is, in many ways, superior to the most successful translations in use today.”

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures is published by Jehovah’s Witnesses to help lovers of God’s Word get acquainted with the original Greek text of the Bible. It contains The New Testament in the Original Greek on the left-hand side of the page (compiled by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort). A literal word-for-word English translation is found under the lines of Greek text. In the narrow right-hand column is the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, which allows you to compare the interlinear translation with a modern English translation of the Bible.

- February 1, 1998 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Additioanl Reading:


And now, in this year 1969 at the “Peace on Earth” International Assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is released to the reading public The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. This is a clothbound book of 1,184 pages. The Greek text that it uses is that prepared and published by Westcott and Hort in 1881. Underneath this is printed a literal word-for-word translation. In the right-hand column alongside on each page is presented the modern-day translation as found in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in a revised edition. However, in the interlinear literal translation of the Greek the English words are not taken bodily or directly from the New World Translation and placed under the appropriate Greek word. No! But under each Greek word is placed its basic meaning, according to its grammatical construction, whether this agrees literally with the New World Translation or not. What we as Bible students should want is what the original Greek text says. Only by getting this basic meaning can we determine whether the New World Translation or any other Bible translation is right or not.

For example, in Matthew 8:5 the New World Translation uses the expression “army officer” but in the interlinear translation under the Greek word you read “centurion,” because that is what the Greek text literally calls this army man. In Mark 6:21 the words “military commanders” are found, but under the Greek word you read “chiliarchs,” meaning a commander of a thousand soldiers, for that is what the Greek word literally calls this army officer. In Acts 19:41 the New World Translation has the word “assembly,” but the interlinear reading says “ecclesia,” like the Greek. In this particular verse it does not mean a “church” or “congregation,” as the word does elsewhere. Thus we learn more specific details.

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation contains and preserves for us both the Foreword and the Appendix as found in the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, as published in the year 1950. These two features are very vital, because The Kingdom Interlinear Translation contains footnotes that refer the reader to such Foreword and Appendix and also to an Explanation of the Symbols Used in the Marginal References. For instance, those footnotes will refer you to the Foreword in order that you may learn why, in the New World Translation, the divine name Jehovah appears in its translation of the Greek Scriptures.

Of course, the Westcott and Hort text does not contain God’s name Jehovah or Yahweh by itself. But in Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6 the Greek text does contain the word Hallelouiá and beneath this Greek word each time the interlinear translation renders it literally “Hallelujah.” This is really a Hebrew phrase and it means “Praise YOU Jah,” this word “Jah” being an abbreviation for Jehovah. Hence the New World Translation in the right-hand column renders it, “Praise Jah, YOU people!” In other places where the New World Translation uses the divine name Jehovah, the interlinear literal translation puts “God,” or “Lord,” or “the Lord,” under the corresponding words in the Westcott and Hort Greek text. But the footnotes show where Hebrew translations of the inspired Greek Scriptures use God’s name Jehovah in those places. The footnotes also show where even The Emphatic Diaglott uses the name Jehovah in a number of places in its modern-day translation, but not in the interlinear.

The English word “soul” is much misunderstood, most religious people thinking the Bible’s use of the word makes it mean that man has an immortal, invisible soul inside him that departs from the human body at death. With The Kingdom Interlinear Translation you can find out that this is not true, for the interlinear reading shows “soul” under wherever the Greek word psy‧khe′ occurs. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 15:44, 46 and elsewhere you will find in the interlinear the adjective form “soulical,” for the Greek word above is psy‧khy‧kos′, which the New World Translation renders as “physical,” not “psychic.” Matthew 10:28 speaks of the soul or psyche as being destroyed, and Revelation 16:3 speaks of the soul or psyche as dying. The human soul is not immortal.

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation plainly shows that the common Greek in which Jesus’ disciples wrote the inspired Greek Scriptures did not contain the indefinite articles “a” and “an.” How so? Because nowhere in the interlinear English translation will you find those indefinite articles. This is very important, for these indefinite articles can make a difference in meaning. For instance, there can be a difference between “God” and “a god,” can there not? Especially so in cases where the Greek uses the definite article “the” before the title “God.” In such cases, the interlinear will read “the God” (or “the god”). But in cases where the Greek expression “the God” refers to the one whom Trinitarians call “God the Father,” the interlinear readings of the translations produced by Samuel Bagster and Sons, Limited, omit the definite article “the” even though the Greek definite article is there in the text. The Emphatic Diaglott does not hesitate to put the word “the” under the Greek definite article when it occurs before the title “God.”

In this connection, let us take those controversial verses of John 1:1, 2, which the clergymen of Christendom resort to in order to prove their doctrine of a Trinity or One God in Three Persons, as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In these verses the Greek term Logos means “Word.” So the Diaglott’s interlinear wording reads: “In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word. This was in a beginning with the God.” However, in its modern-language reading it drops the article “the” before “God” and puts the title “GOD” in all capital letters. Also, it drops the article “a” from before “beginning” and from before “god” and puts “the” before “beginning” and puts “god” with an initial “G,” thus, “God.” This way the modern-language rendering reads: “In the Beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with GOD, and the LOGOS was God. This was in the Beginning with GOD.” So, only the kind of type used shows the difference between “the God” and “a god.”

Other Bible translations drop all use of the indefinite article “a” and insert the definite article before the word “beginning” and drop the definite article “the” before God. For example, the King James or Authorized Version reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”—John 1:1, 2.

However, in its interlinear word-for-word rendering, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation reads: “In beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward the God, and god was the Word. This (one) was in beginning toward the God.” From this literal reading it is apparent that the writer, the apostle John, is speaking of two individuals and is showing that the one who was with the Other is different from that Other One. Hence the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures endeavors to show this difference and, with grammatical correctness and doctrinal correctness, it reads: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in [the] beginning with God.” To avoid saying “a, god,” other Bible translations like An American Translation and the one by Dr. James Moffatt say “divine”; and The New English Bible—New Testament says “what God was,” that is to say, “what God was, the Word was.” Thus even these Bible translations cannot be used to prove the Trinity doctrine.

Trinitarians have no grounds for complaining against this use of “a” before “god,” because all other Bible translations use the indefinite articles “a” and “an” hundreds of times before words although they are nowhere found in the original Greek text. Not only that, but those translations repeatedly insert the definite article “the” before certain words where it does not occur in the Greek. Take, for example, many cases of the word “spirit” or the words “holy spirit.” There are cases in the Greek text where the definite article “the” does not occur before those words. But the Trinitarian translators will slant their translation by inserting a “the” before “spirit” or “holy spirit,” to make it read “the spirit” and “the holy spirit.” In such cases they will also capitalize the word “Spirit” in order to give the reader the impression that it refers to some intelligent person, the Third Person of some Trinity.

In such cases The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, in its word-for-word translation, shows that there is no “the” there, and the New World Translation does not there insert a “the” or capitalize the word “spirit,” but lets it read plain “spirit,” and “holy spirit.” So, in Acts 6:3, the apostles say to the Jerusalem congregation: “Search out for yourselves seven certified men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom.” Then, in Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist says concerning the coming Jesus Christ: “That one will baptize you people with holy spirit and with fire.” This rendering of the Greek text agrees with the Bible truth that God’s spirit is his invisible active force that is used for a holy purpose, in a holy manner.

By means of his holy spirit God inspired the writing of all the Holy Scriptures. In 2Timothy 3:16 we read: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.” But, instead of the words “inspired of God,” the interlinear word-for-word reading shows that the one Greek word here used means literally “God-breathed,” that is, breathed by God. As it were, God breathed upon the men whom he inspired to write the Holy Bible.

Back in the apostles’ days there were not too many handwritten copies of the Holy Scriptures at hand, neither were there books written about the Bible and in explanation of it. Hence much instruction in the Bible had to be done by reading Bible verses out loud to students and with explanations by word of mouth. So, in Galatians 6:6 we read: “Moreover, let anyone who is being orally taught the word share in all good things with the one who gives such oral teaching.” But the interlinear reading brings out the basic sense of the Greek words used respecting oral teaching by using the expressions “the (one) being sounded down to” and “the (one) sounding down.” This vividly shows that the sound of the teacher’s voice went down into the ears of his Bible student. This made the course of instruction one of oral teaching.


Many other cases could be here treated to show how The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures brings out the precise meaning in its word-for-word translation under the Greek text. Bible students who have the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, besides English, will particularly be able to appreciate these points. They will appreciate how the New World Translation has endeavored to put God’s Word as contained in the original Greek into these languages with the “correct words of truth” in each language. No claim of divine inspiration is made for these translations in modern-day language. The translators had to do what even the inspired Bible writer, “the congregator,” King Solomon, had to do, and that is, search to “find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.” (Eccl. 12:10) Nevertheless, in all this searching they have trusted in the guidance, not inspiration, of God’s holy spirit. Solomon indeed wrote his books in the Bible with “delightful words.” The translators tried to imitate him.

Because of digging down into the literal meaning of the original Bible language The Kingdom Interlinear Translation can serve as a safeguard against error in these days when many religious leaders are teaching twisted things, even twisting the written Word of God. Religious clergymen of Christendom come along and try to overawe sincere Bible students by claiming to know the original Bible language and therefore knowing what it actually says. But by going to The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, a student can go to the original Bible text and consult the interlinear literal translation of that language. Thus he can check as to whether what such domineering clergymen may say is true or not. In this way the student can be helped to put up a defense argument and safeguard himself against being misled from the Bible truth.

Although readers in English will get the most benefit from The Kingdom Interlinear Translation in a direct way, yet this new Bible help will be used by the owners, the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, in preparing its magazines, books, booklets, and other publications. Thus those not reading English will indirectly get the benefit thereof in those languages in which the Society’s literature is published. So all lovers of God’s written Word can thank him for this new Bible-study aid.

- November 15, 1969 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Excerpts: these segments are taken from a larger work. Read the full story in the March 22, 1987 Awake, pg. 10 -14, WTB&TS

How Knowing Greek Led Me to Know God

From Phillips Academy I went on to college, to Princeton. In my senior year I decided I wanted to teach, and after graduating, I did start at an Episcopal boys’ school, St. Paul’s, in New Hampshire. This was consistent with my background. Growing up, I was a longtime choirboy at the local Episcopal Church. In my area the respectable people were either Unitarian or Episcopalian. So I’d been steeped in the very High Church Episcopalianism but exposed to very little Biblical or spiritual understanding. The Bible was swallowed up in church formalism. Now at St. Paul’s I was immersed in it once again. Everybody—faculty and students—had to go to chapel every weekday and twice on Sunday.

I taught Latin and Greek there for four years. After my first year I got married to a young lady named Suzanne. The next three summers I studied for and got my master’s degree in Latin and Greek. While considering going for my doctoral degree, I received a letter from my old Greek mentor at Phillips Academy, Dr. Chase. “I’ve just had an opening in Andover,” he wrote. “I know you want to go to graduate school. But would you please come down and talk to us?” I did, and wound up teaching Greek there. I’ve taught there ever since . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

By this time I had started going to Witness meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Next I went from door to door with Arthur. One woman, a Baptist, gave me one of these little tracts about the Witnesses, supposedly exposing their errors. In several places it referred to the Greek. So I was curious: Just how knowledgeable were they in Greek. Within a few weeks I had acquired several more similar tracts to examine.

Most of them revolved around the Trinity. They assumed the Trinity to be true, then carefully selected their scholarly authorities to prove it. In fact, the attacks on Witness teachings often focused on the Trinity and on their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. In Greek, as in English, some words can mean different things in different contexts. The English word “bow,” for instance, can be a courteous bow, a bow of ribbon, or a bow with which to shoot arrows.

In Bible study, however, you look not only at the context but also at other scriptures to see how the word is used in different settings. So you check to see whether you’re leaning on your assumptions or on the evidence. I noticed that these tract writers frequently manipulate the evidence, misrepresent it. On the other hand, the Society was quite honest in looking at all the evidence, all the possibilities, offering their conclusions, but then telling you to decide. After a careful examination of the points of controversy, I saw that the Society was right.

In some places the Trinitarians clearly manipulate the evidence. The classic example of this is, I guess, John 8:58. There Jesus said: “Before Abraham was, I am.” (King James Version) The Trinitarians pick up Jesus’ use of “I am” here and relate it to Jehovah’s statement to Moses in Exodus 3:14 (KJ), “I am that I am.” Because both Jesus and Jehovah used “I am,” they argue that this makes Jesus and Jehovah one. And the Greek root does say am in the present tense at John 8:58.

However, even their own theological grammar books acknowledge that where an expression of past time appears in the sentence, the present tense verb can sometimes be translated as if it has begun in past time and continues up to the present. This is also true in French and it is true in Latin. Hence, when the New World Translation says “I have been” instead of “I am,” it is translating the Greek correctly. (John 8:58) Yet the Trinitarians act as if ‘No, that’s not even possible!’ So I began to notice this misrepresentation of the evidence on the part of the detractors of the Society.

‘Well, since the Society’s scholarship is credible in the Greek,’ I reasoned, ‘must it not also be in its other writings?’ It was this that led me to study in earnest, which in turn led me to baptism in 1970.

The year before this, a publication was released by the Watch Tower Society entitled
The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. It proved to be crucial for me. Perhaps more than any other single thing, it was instrumental in causing me to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the left-hand column on each page is the original koine Greek text, and under each line is a literal translation of the Greek. In the right-hand column of each page, in modern-day English, is the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures.

Incidentally, right at the time when this publication came out, I was assigned to teach at Phillips Academy a course in New Testament Greek. Since I did not learn Greek from a theologian who was teaching New Testament Greek, I was probably much more objective about it. I could look at the words with fresh eyes, free of the traditional, doctrinal notions.

Such preconceptions can really give you eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear because if, as you do your research, you’re looking for something to confirm what you already believe, that’s all your eyes and ears will see or hear. Instead of looking to see ‘Well, what’s the whole case?’ they see only what can be used, or misused, to support their preconceptions.

Incidentally, most theologians that I’ve met are not strong in Greek. The quality of Greek scholarship in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, however, is very good. It’s the kind of thing that a person who really wants to work with the Greek, even though not knowing much Greek, can do a lot with. I feel it’s one of the greatly underappreciated jewels of the Watch Tower Society’s publications. - As told by, Nicholas Kip

BA, Princeton, MA, Trinity College, teaches at Phillips Academy


Coptic John 1:1c: What Conclusions Can Be Drawn?

Relative to Coptic John 1:1c, what conclusions can be drawn from a multi-year study of the Sahidic Coptic language, including a detailed study of the entire Sahidic Coptic New Testament?

1- That the translation of Coptic neunoute pe pSaje into standard English as "the Word was a god" is literal, accurate, and unassailable. It is simple, but not simplistic. It is what the Coptic text actually says and literally conveys. Any other translation of it amounts to interpretation or paraphrase.

2- That rendering a Sahidic Coptic common ("count") noun, like noute, god, when bound to the Coptic indefinite article, ou, into English as "a" + noun is so prevalent, as for example in Coptic scholar George Horner's 1911 English translation of the Sahidic Coptic New Testament, that this is beyond dispute.

As just the nearest example of this, after John 1:1c itself, is John 1:6. Here we have the Coptic indefinite article, ou, bound to the Coptic common noun rwme, man: aFSwpe nCi ourwme eautnnoouF ebol Hitm pnoute . In Horner's English translation we read: "There was a man having been sent from God." That is the simple, literal, and accurate translation. Likewise, "a god" is the simple, literal, and accurate translation of ou.noute at John 1:1c, the same Coptic indefinite article + common noun construction as found in John 1:6 and elsewhere. Only with respect to Coptic "mass" or abstract nouns is there no need to translate the indefinite article into English, but this is not the situation at Coptic John 1:1c, because noute, god, is a Coptic common or "count" noun.

3 - That, whereas some Coptic grammarians hold that ou.noute may also be translated into English adjectivally as "divine," they give no examples favoring this usage in the Sahidic Coptic New Testament itself. Coptic ou.noute is not used adjectivally or "qualitatively" in the Sahidic Coptic New Testament. The published works of these scholars have been heavily invested in the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Coptic "gospels" like Thomas, Philip, and Judas. Perhaps translating ou.noute as "divine" fits the esoteric or philosophical context of the Gnostic "gospels." But there are no examples in the canonical Coptic New Testament that justify an adjectival translation of ou.noute as "divine," whereas a literal translation of ou.noute as "a god" works just fine. Although "divine" is not altogether objectionable, since a god is divine by definition, a paraphrase is unnecessary when an adequate, understandable literal translation is available.

4- That all the primarily Trinitarian-based objections to translating ou.noute as "a god" at Coptic John 1:1c amount to little more than presupposition or special pleading. Though such faulty, superficial objections have been cut and pasted frequently on the Internet, they are poorly researched and often misleading.

In one such apologetic, promising full disclosure of what some Coptic scholars "really said," the conclusion about ou.noute at John 1:1 remains the same, i.e., "it might mean was a god, was divine, was an instance of 'god', was one god (not two, three, etc.)"; "In Coptic, "ounoute" can mean "a god" or "one with divine nature"; "So literally, the Sahidic and Bohairic texts say "a god" in the extant mss. ... A rather clumsy reading might be: The Logos was in the beginning. The Logos was with God. The Logos was like God (or godlike, or divine) with the emphasis on his nature; not his person."

Not ONE of the scholars appealed to by Trinitarian apologists said that Coptic John 1:1 should be translated to say "The Word was God." Not one. Not one said that "a god" was incorrect. In fact, the interlinear reading for Sahidic Coptic John 1:1c in scholar Bentley Layton's Coptic in 20 Lessons specifically reads "a-god is the-Word."

The Coptic text of John 1:1c was made prior to the adoption of the Trinity doctrine by Egyptian and other churches, and it is poor scholarship to attempt to "read back" a translation such as "the Word was God" into any exegesis of the Coptic text. Such a rendering is foreign to Coptic John 1:1c, which clearly and literally says, "the Word was a god."

5- That, stated succinctly, translating Sahidic Coptic's neunoute pe pSaje literally into standard English as "the Word was a god" stands on solid grammatical and contextual ground. -


Was the Word “God” or “a god”?

Also See:

THAT question has to be considered when Bible translators handle the first verse of the Gospel of John. In the New World Translation, the verse is rendered: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (John 1:1) Some other translations render the last part of the verse to convey the thought that the Word was “divine,” or something similar. (A New Translation of the Bible, by James Moffatt; The New English Bible) Many translations, however, render the last part of John 1:1: “And the Word was God.”—The Holy Bible—New International Version; The Jerusalem Bible.

Greek grammar and the context strongly indicate that the New World Translation rendering is correct and that “the Word” should not be identified as the “God” referred to earlier in the verse. Nevertheless, the fact that the Greek language of the first century did not have an indefinite article (“a” or “an”) leaves the matter open to question in some minds. It is for this reason that a Bible translation in a language that was spoken in the earliest centuries of our Common Era is very interesting.

The language is the Sahidic dialect of Coptic. The Coptic language was spoken in Egypt in the centuries immediately following Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the Sahidic dialect was an early literary form of the language. Regarding the earliest Coptic translations of the Bible, The Anchor Bible Dictionary says: “Since the [Septuagint] and the [Christian Greek Scriptures] were being translated into Coptic during the 3d century C.E., the Coptic version is based on [Greek manuscripts] which are significantly older than the vast majority of extant witnesses.”

The Sahidic Coptic text is especially interesting for two reasons. First, as indicated above, it reflects an understanding of Scripture dating from before the fourth century, which was when the Trinity became official doctrine. Second, Coptic grammar is relatively close to English grammar in one important aspect. The earliest translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures were into Syriac, Latin, and Coptic. Syriac and Latin, like the Greek of those days, do not have an indefinite article. Coptic, however, does. Moreover, scholar Thomas O. Lambdin, in his work Introduction to Sahidic Coptic, says: “The use of the Coptic articles, both definite and indefinite, corresponds closely to the use of the articles in English.”

Hence, the Coptic translation supplies interesting evidence as to how John 1:1 would have been understood back then. What do we find? The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word “god” in the final part of John 1:1. Thus, when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: “And the Word was a god.” Evidently, those ancient translators realized that John’s words recorded at John 1:1 did not mean that Jesus was to be identified as Almighty God. The Word was a god, not Almighty God.

- November 1, 2008 Watchtower, WTB&TS