Jesus Is God!
by Harry L. Lewis
It seems rather superfluous for a gospel preacher to even have to make a statement like our headline, but if I am to believe what I read, there are those who profess to be Christians who do not believe it. This is even true, I am told, of some who are members of the churches of Christ. The truth is, however, the group which most actively contends for the doctrine is still the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has taught for years that Jesus is a created being, an angel, and never was to be looked upon as God. I don't believe it, and I never have, nor will I ever, believe it, no matter what a few of those kind mentioned in John 7:51 say I believe.
Those who like to tell others what a man believes when he doesn't are more like the Jehovah's Witnesses than I.
Take, for instance, the controversy Julius R. Mantey, who, along with H. E. Dana, wrote A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament had with the Watchtower people in July of 1974. It seems they had come to the conclusion that Mr. Mantey believed what they did about Jesus' deity, and began to crow about him being on their side in the controversy. He wrote them the following letter dated July 11, 1974.
I have a copy of your letter addressed to Caris in Santa Ana, California, and I am writing to express my disagreement with statements made in that letter, as well as in quotations you have made from the Dana-Mantey Greek Grammar.
(1) Your statement: 'their work allows for the rendering found in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures at John 1:1.' There is no statement in our grammar that was ever meant to imply that 'a god' was a permissible translation in John 1:1.
A. We had no 'rule' to argue in support of the trinity.
B. Neither did we state that we did have such intention. We were simply delineating the facts inherent in Biblical language.
C. Your quotation from p. 148 (3) was in a paragraph under the heading: 'With the subject in a Copulative sentence.' Two examples occur there to illustrate that 'the article points out the subject in these examples.' But we made no statement in this paragraph about the predicate except that, 'as it stands the other persons of the trinity may be implied in theos.' And isn't that the opposite of what your translation 'a god' infers? You quoted me out of context. On pages 139 and 140 (VI) in our grammar we stated: 'without the article theos signifies divine essence ... theos en ho logos emphasizes Christ's participation in the essence of the divine nature.' Our interpretation is in agreement with that in NEB and the TEV: 'What God was, the word was'; and with that of Barclay: 'The nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God', which you quoted in your letter to Caris.
(2) Since Colewell's and Harner's articles in JBL, especially that of Harner, it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 'The Word was a god'. Word-order has made obsolete and incorrect such a rendering.
(3) Your quotation of Colwell's rule is inadequate because it quotes only a part of his findings. You did not quote this strong assertion: 'A predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as an indefinite or a qualitative noun solely because of the absence of the article.'
(4) Prof. Harner, vol. 92:1 (1973) in JBL, has gone beyond Colewell's research and has discovered that anarthrous predicate nouns preceding the verb function primarily to express the nature or character of the subject. He found this true in 53 passages in the Gospel of John and 8 in the Gospel of Mark. Both scholars wrote that when indefiniteness was intended the gospel writers regularly placed the predicate noun after the verb, and both Colwell and Harner have stated that theos in John 1:1 is not indefinite and should not be translated 'a god.' Watchtower writers appear to be the only ones advocation such a mistranslation now. The evidence appears to be 99% against them.
(5) Your statement in your letter that the sacred text itself should guide one and 'not just someone's rule book'. We agree with you. But our study proves that Jehovah's Witnesses do the opposite of that whenever the 'sacred text' differs with their heretical beliefs. For example the translation of kolasis as cutting off when punishment is the only meaning cited in the lexicons for it. The mistranslation of ego eimi as `I have been' in John 8:58. The addition of `for all time' in Heb. 9:27 when nothing in the Greek New Testament supports it. The attempt to belittle Christ by mistranslating arche tes ktiseos 'beginning of the creation' when he is magnified as 'the creator of all things' (John 1:2) and as 'equal with God' (Phil. 2:6) before he humbled himself and lived in a human body here on earth. Your quotation of 'The Father is greater than I am '(John 14:28) to prove that Jesus was not equal to God overlooks the fact stated in Phil. 2:6-8. When Jesus said that he was still in his voluntary state of humiliation. That state ended when he ascended to heaven. Why the attempt to deliberately deceived people by mispunctuation by placing a comma after 'today' in Luke 23:43 when the Greek, Latin, German and all English translations except yours, even in the Greek in your KIT, the comma occurs after lego (I say)?-'Today you will be with me in Paradise'. II Cor. 5:8, 'to be out of the body and at home with the Lord'. These passages teach that the redeemed go immediately to heaven after death, which does not agree with your teachings that death ends all life until the resurrection. Cf. Ps. 23:6 and Heb. 1:10.
The above are only a few examples of Watchtower mistranslations and perversions of God's Word.
In view of the preceding facts, especially because you have been quoting me out of context, I herewith request you not to quote the Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament again, which you have been doing for 24 years. Also that you not quote it in any of your publications from this time on.
Also that you publicly and immediately apologize in the Watchtower magazine, since my words had no relevance to the absence of the article before theos in John 1:1. And please write to Cans and state that you misused and misquoted my 'rule'.
On the page before the Preface in the grammar are these words: 'All rights reserved -- no part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher.'
If you have such permission, please send me a photo-copy of it.
If you do not heed these requests you will suffer the consequences.
J. R. Mantey