John 1:1  What do scholars say?

Following are comments by some of the experts in the field of Biblical languages:

Dr. J. R. Mantey (who is quoted on pages 1158-1159) of the Witnesses own Kingdom Interlinear TransIation): "A shocking mistranslation. "Obsolete and incorrect." It is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1 :1 "The Word was a god.'

Dr. B. F. Westcott (whose Greek text not the English part is used in the Kingdom InterIinear Translation): "The predicate (God) stands emphatically first, as in iv. 24. It is necessarily without the article. . . . No idea of inferiority of nature is suggested by the form of expression, which simply affirms the true deity of the Word. . . . in the third clause "the Word" is declared to be "GOD." and so included in the unity of the Godhead."

Dr. Bruce M. Metzger of Princeton (Professor of New Testament Language and Literature): "A frightful mistranslation." "Erroneous" and "pernicious" "Irepre-hensible" , " If the Jehovah's Witnesses take this translation seriously, they are polytheists."

Dr. Samuel J. Mikolaski of Zurich, Switzerland: "This anarthrous (used without the article) construction does not mean what the indefinite article "a'" means in English. It is monstrous to translate the phrase "the Word was a god."

Dr. Paul L. Kaufman of Portland, Oregon: "The Jehovah's Witnesses people evidence an abysmal ignorance of the basic tenets of Greek grammar In their mistranslation of John 1 :1 "

Dr. Charles L. Feinberg of La Mirada, California: "I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah's Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar" .

Dr. James L. Boyer of Winona Lake, Indiana: "I have never heard of , or read of any Greek Scholar who would agree to the interpretation of this verse insisted upon by the Jehovah's Witnesses . . . I have never encountered one of them who had any knowledge of the Greek language."

Dr. Walter Martin (late): "The translation "a god" instead of "GOD' is erroneous and unsupported by any good Greek scholarship, ancient or contemporary and is a translation rejected by all recognized scholars of the Greek language many of whom are not even Christ-ians, and cannot fairly be said to be biased in favor of the orthodox contention." ..

Dr. William Barclay of the University of Glasgow , Scotland: "The deliberate distortion of truth by this sect is seen in their New testament translations John 1:1 is translated: ". . the Word was a god," a translation which is grammatically impossible. . . . It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest."

Dr. F. F. Bruce of the University of Manchester, England: "Much is made by Arian amateur grammarians of the omission of the definite article with "God" in the phrase "And the Word was God." Such an omission is common with nouns in a predicative construction. . . . "a god" would be totally indefensible".
(Barclay and Bruce are generaIIy regarded as Great Britain's Ieading Greek scholars. Both have New Testament translations in print!)

Dr . Ernest C. Colwell of the University of Chicago; "A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb. . . this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession of Thomas. "My Lord and my God." - John 20; 28.".

Dr. Philip B. Harner of Heidelberg College: "The verb preceding an anarthrous predicate, would probably mean that the Iogos was "a god" or a divine being of some kind, belonging to the general category of theos but as a distinct being from ho theos. In the form that John actually uses, the word "theos" is placed at the beginning for emphasis."

Dr. J. Johnson of California State University, Long Beach: "No Justification whatsoever for translating theos en ho logos as "the Word was a god." There is no syntactical parallel to Acts 23:6 where there is a statement in indirect discourse; John 1:1 is direct. . . I am neither a Christian nor a trinitarian."

Dr. Eugene A. Nida, head of Translations Department, American Bible Society: "With regard to John. 1 .1 , there is of course a complication simply because the New World Translation was apparently done by persons who did not take seriously the syntax of the Greek." (Responsible for the Good News Bible- The committee worked under him.)

Dr. J. J. Griesbach (whose Greek text, not the English parts used in the Emphatic Diaglott ):
"So numerous, and clear are the arguments and testimonies of Scriptures in favor of the true Deity of Christ, that I can hardly imagine how, upon the admission of the Divine authority of Scripture, and with regard to fair rules of interpretation, this doctrine can by any man be called in doubt. Especially the passage, John 1: 1-3, is so clear and so superior to all exception, that by no daring efforts of either commentators or critics can it be snatched out of the hands of the defenders of the truth".

Other scriptures without the definite article

The following passages, as with John 1:1, also identified the word "God" in the Greek scriptures without the use of the definite article as in John 1:1. Yet, if you will see the NWT, the Watchtower does not translate these passages as "a god"  as they did in John 1:1! The following are quoted directly from the 1984 New World Translation.

John 1:6       There arose a man sent forth as a representative of God, his name was John.       (no definite article)

John 1:13       and they were born, not from blood, or from a fleshly will, or from man's will, but from God.       (no definite article)

John 1:18       No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten god, who is in the bosom with the Father is the one that has explained him.            (no definite article)

John 8:54       Jesus answered, If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing: it is my Father that glorifies me; he who YOU say is YOUR God.            (no definite article Noun/Nominative case as in John 1:1)

Each of the above scriptures, clearly speaking of God the Father, could NOT be translated by the Watchtower as "a god" without creating suspicion by their followers. Yet, each of these passages are written in the Greek, without the definite article, as in John 1:1!  

Scholars' explination for the "missing" definite article!

John 1:1
And the Word was God (kai theos e¯n ho logos). By exact and careful language John denied Sabellianism by not saying ho theos e¯n ho logos. That would mean that all of God was expressed in ho logos  and the terms would be interchangeable, each having the article. The subject is made plain by the article (ho logos) and the predicate without it (theos) just as in Joh_4:24 pneuma ho theos  can only mean "God is spirit," not "spirit is God." So in 1Jo_4:16 ho theos agape¯ estin can only mean "God is love," not "love is God" as a so-called Christian scientist would confusedly say. For the article with the predicate see Robertson, Grammar, pp. 767f. So in Joh_1:14 ho Logos sarx egeneto, "the Word became flesh," not "the flesh became Word." Luther argues that here John disposes of Arianism also because the Logos was eternally God, fellowship of Father and Son, what Origen called the Eternal Generation of the Son (each necessary to the other). Thus in the Trinity we see personal fellowship on an equality.  (Robertson's Word Pictures)

And the Word was God (kai theos e¯n ho logos)
In the Greek order, and God was the Word, which is followed by Anglo-Saxon, Wyc., and Tynd. But Theos, God, is the predicate and not the subject of the proposition. The subject must be the Word; for John is not trying to show who is God, but who is the Word. Notice that Theos is without the article, which could not have been omitted if he had meant to designate the word as God; because, in that event, Theos would have been ambiguous; perhaps a God.  (Vincent's Word Studies)

The notable Greek scholars agree, by proper Greek grammer, the reason that the article is omitted here in John 1:1, is because John was defining who the "Word" was, not who "God" was! To include the article in John 1:1, would change the entire structure and meaning of the verse to be defining who "God" was, instead of defining who the "Word" was! Instead of saying "and the Word was God," by including the article it would say "and God was the Word" which was not the intent of John!

No doubt the Watchtower is aware of this fact, but has hidden it from their flock. If they were to reveal this truth to their subjects, their followers would realize they are lying about their false teachings about the Christ and this anti-christ group would cease to exist. Since John 1:1 is a key scripture identifying that Jesus is God, it is most vital for them to continue to hide the truth! Thomas knew the truth, and declared the deity of Christ when he finally believed:

John 20:28-29     And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

If you came to this page from the study Is Jesus "a" god?  click here to return to the same place!

Armageddon   |   Blood   |   Cross   |   Death   |   Earth   |   Heaven   |   Interfaith   |   Jehovah God   |   Jehovah's Witness   |   Lord's Meal   |   Return of Christ   |   Salvation   |   Eternal Life   |   Trinity   |   John 1:1  What do scholars say?   |   Where are the Dead?   |   Wisdom   |   Former J.W's.   |   Subliminal Images