reprint of the Nov/Dec 1988 and Jan/Feb 1989 Bethel Ministries Newsletter
Review of the Watchtower Publication:
INSIGHT ON THE SCRIPTURES
by Randall Watters
The following is a review of the Watchtower's latest achievement in refining their doctrines and compiling their beliefs-the product of 110 years of flip-flops in doctrine, false prophecies and dabbling in the occult.
An attractive new Bible Dictionary has been released this year by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society called Insight on the Scriptures, in two volumes, which is designed to replace the former Bible dictionary (1969, 1971) entitled Aid To Bible Understanding. While much of the text of this new publication has been taken verbatim from the Aid book, there are several new features to take note of: (1) larger, more readable type, (2) full color illustrations, (3) an index at the end of Vol. II, (4) "new light" embodied in the text where doctrines have been explained differently or modified, and (5) new arguments against critics of the Watchtower, though subtle in nature so as not to identify the critics or draw attention to them.
The following review is arranged in the same alphabetical order as the Insight books, discussing only the topics in which the Watchtower is either using new arguments, quotes newer sources, or is otherwise clarifying a more recent development in their theology. This is helpful to the Jehovah's Witness as well as the ex-Jehovah's Witness (and those in ministry to them) so as to keep up with the "new light" of Watchtower teachings. Special attention is given to their new emphasis on quoting scholars in an attempt to lend credibility to their theology.
While this review may not cover all changes or newer explanations, it will at least give the reader a good overview of the latest in Watchtower thinking.
WT: "The prefix `arch,' meaning `chief' or `principal,' implies that there is only one archangel, the chief angel; in the Scriptures, `archangel' is never found in the plural."
Comments: `Arch' as a prefix does not imply only one, contrary to what they say. An example is in the Catholic Church, where there are many archbishops. Just because the word `archangel' is only mentioned twice in the Bible, and in the singular, does not mean there is only one. Gabriel is referred to by name in the Bible and is obviously a chief angel. Daniel 10:13 refers to a demonic chief prince of Persia and then identifies Michael as "one of the chief princes." The Watchtower teaches that Michael (their preexistent Jesus) was the only archangel, yet there may have been several, some evil and some good.
Their subheading Those Known as Early Christians quotes several sources that speak of the early Christians as loath to go to war, and that until the time of Marcus Aurelius [121-180 C.E.], "no Christian became a soldier; and no soldier, after becoming a Christian, remained in military service." Also, "In reviewing the records of the early church fathers up to about 170 A.D., no mention is made of Christians being enrolled in the military."
Comments: Of course, no mention is made up until the time of Tertullian (A.D. 145-220) that it was wrong to serve in the military, either. Christians apparently refrained from military service for a number of obvious reasons. The most significant was the fact that the Romans often persecuted Christians, thusly offering them no encouragement to become a Roman soldier! The Roman government was not only corrupt but required a soldier to take an oath of allegiance to the emperor as his god. It would be rare, indeed, for a Christian to even desire to enlist in the Roman army under such conditions. Additionally, there was no universal conscription into the army, no pressure to serve; so citizens had a choice to join or not.
WT: "It is only during the second and third centuries C.E. that some paintings and sculptures appear in the catacombs attributed to nominal Christians."
Comments: Because of the Watchtower's loathing of symbols like the cross and the fish, they attribute any appearance of these or other traditionally "Christian" symbols in archaeological finds to apostates.
WT: "It is certain that at an early date Christians were gathering together the inspired Christian writings." As an example of these early Christians that establish this certainty, the Watchtower cites Clement, bishop of Rome (30?-100? C.E.), Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (late 1st and early 2nd centuries C.E.) and Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (69?-155? C.E.) as well as Justin Martyr (died 165 C.E.). Also mentioned as authoritative on the Scriptures are Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. Of course, their reasoning on this is valid, and these early authorities were prominent in establishing the authenticity of the books we now call Scripture.
Comments: What the Watchtower fails to mention, however, is that these early voices believed in a simple Trinity. Ignatius often mentions the threefold formula of Father, Son and Spirit, and he calls Jesus God the Word. Justin Martyr speaks of the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and the person of the Spirit as being separate from the person of the Father. Irenaeus speaks of the threefold formula and calls Jesus "our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King...", and speaks of the Spirit as a person. Irenaeus writes that all the Christian churches throughout the world agree on the basic doctrines. Other doctrines held by these early Christians in the first and second centuries were, the bodily resurrection of Christ, eternal punishment, the existence of the soul and hell, etc. There is simply no evidence anywhere that the early church, or even part of it, believed anything like what the Watchtower teaches!
While much of the text from the Aid book has been retained under this topic, including the charts, a few changes should be noted that reveal the Watchtower has been keeping up with its critics, notably Carl Olof Jonsson (The Gentile Times Reconsidered, 1983, Atlanta: Commentary Press). In keeping up with their tradition, they do not mention their critics, but only indirectly attempt to counter their arguments.
Most of the first half of CHRONOLOGY is preoccupied with undermining any credibility whatsoever in historical records and archaeological finds. Everything from Berossus and Ptolemy to astronomical calculations and archaeological dating is written off as inaccurate and unreliable, when compared to their own method of reckoning the rule of certain kings, and finally with the date of the destruction of Jerusalem. While Jonsson did a remarkable job of comparing and harmonizing all the secular data available with the Bible's record, the Watchtower is forced to discard almost all historical data in order to support their erroneous chronology, citing only those sources that harmonize with their dates.
The Watchtower emphasizes that there is only one 70-year period mentioned in relation to the time of the first destruction of Jerusalem, when in reality there were two 70-year periods: (1) The prophetic 70 years of Jeremiah 25:10-12, 29:10 concerns Judah and the surrounding nations' servitude to Babylon. The period of `servitude' to Babylon began in 609 and ended with Babylon's fall in 539, for it is obvious that there could be no servitude to Babylon after Babylonian power ended. (2) Zechariah records seventy years of `indignation,' `wrath,' or `denouncement' of Judah alone; its cities, Jerusalem and the temple; and it began at the time of siege and destruction of Jerusalem. By counting back 70 years from Zechariah's writing in Zech. 1:7, 12, we come to 589 BCE, the year Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. (For further information, see the Mar/Apr 1988 Bethel Ministries Newsletter, and The Gentile Times Reconsidered, available through Bethel Ministries.)
Finally, the Watchtower reckons we are in the year 6012 as dated from the creation of Adam, which according to the latest "light" means that we are over 12 years overdue for Armageddon and the Millennium, supposedly held back only by the interval of time between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve. (See The Watchtower, May 1, 1975, p. 285.)
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible is here quoted as saying, "it is natural that death should sometimes be represented as the disappearance of this nephesh (Gen. 35:18; I Kings 17:21; Jer. 15:9; Jonah 4:3). The `departure' of the nephesh must be viewed as a figure of speech, for it does not continue to exist independently of the body, but dies with it (Num. 31:19; Judg. 16:30; Ezek. 13:19). No biblical text authorizes the statement that the `soul' is separated from the body at the moment of death."
The Watchtower occasionally finds reference works that back up their position, though the vast majority of scholars do not. Just because a reference book makes a statement such as the above, does not mean that the author is reliable or recognized in their field of scholarship. In this particular case, scriptures such as Gen. 35:18 and I Kings 17:21 are cited as proof that the soul disappears, while the text says departed (Heb. yatsa) or gone away. While the Interpreter's Dictionary brushes this off as a "figure of speech," there are many passages in the Bible indicating that the soul goes somewhere to wait for the resurrection, such as Rev. 6:911, 20:4. Additionally, the eight occurrences of the Hebrew rephaim in the Old Testament (Job 26:5; Psalm 88:10; Prov. 2:18, 9:18, 21:16; Isa. 14:9, 26:14, 19; compare Ezek. 32:21) reveal some measure of consciousness in Sheol. Rephaim is commonly translated as "departed spirits" or "shades." Paul knew that the moment he died it was a shedding of his tent (2 Cor. 5:18; Phil. 1:22-24; compare 2 Pet. 1:13,14) to be with the Lord. This was not the same as the resurrection.
The Watchtower here restates their recent emphasis on being declared "relatively" righteous. Those of the "other sheep" are not declared righteous for life until the end of the 1000 years of Christ's reign. They are not yet worthy of the right to everlasting life on earth. Like Abraham, they are counted as friends of God but not as sons of God. When the Bible seems to call them "righteous," it is only in a relative, inferior sense to the position of the "anointed."
Jehovah is "the Father of spirit-begotten Christians." Though those of the "other sheep" can call him Father, he is only intimately referred to as abba (like "pappa") by the anointed ones.
WT: "The firstborn is primarily the oldest son of a father (rather than the firstborn of the mother), the beginning of the father's regenerative power (De 21:17); also, the initial male offspring of animals, at times designated as `firstlings.'"
Comments: The rest of the article fails to clearly explain the secondary meaning of prototokos, namely, the foremost or preeminent one, which secondary meaning may apply in conjunction with the primary meaning or separate from it.
For example, Ephraim was called the firstborn (secondary meaning) while his brother Manasseh was the firstborn (primary meaning). Jesus was the firstborn from the dead (secondary meaning, i.e., the preeminent cause of the resurrection) but he was not the first one to be raised from the dead. Jesus is called the "firstborn of all creation, because by means of Him all things were created," (Col. 1:15, 16) but he was not a creation as the Watchtower claims. He existed before time began and himself created all things together with the Father (John 1:1) and he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and is called God. (Rev. 22:13) In him dwells the fullness of the Godhead (Col. 2:9).
The Watchtower has herein come closer to telling the truth regarding the usage of the word flesh in the New Testament. They seem to be leaning more towards an understanding of an "alternate organism" for the resurrected body of the "anointed," rather than "immaterial bodies," as they have previously stressed. They have previously claimed that spirits, and even Jehovah, have bodies, but of an immaterial kind. But since the Greek soma indicates "body" to be material as opposed to immaterial, this is probably an effort to appear more consistent. They refer to the anointed as experiencing a "change of organism" at their death and resurrection, for "flesh and blood cannot inherit God's kingdom..."
The Watchtower has traditionally used this passage (1 Cor. 15:50) to prove that those in heaven don't have another kind of flesh (compare Luke 24:39). Yet they admit that "`Flesh' is often used in the Bible to represent man in his imperfect state, `conceived in sin' as an offspring of rebellious Adam." ( Vol. I, p. 841)
WT: "...is God's exercise of foreknowledge selective and discretionary, so that whatever he chooses to foresee and foreknow, he does, but what he does not choose to foresee or foreknow, he does not? And, instead of preceding their existence, does God's determination of his creatures' eternal destiny await his judgment of their course of life and of their proved attitude under test?" (Vol. I, p. 852)
Comments: The Watchtower answer is, of course, yes! The Jehovah of the Watchtower cannot know the future without somehow being held responsible for it, so he must blind himself to the outcome. Since no one can really be spoken of as "saved" until their life is over, no individual is predestined after all; only the number 144,000. (Compare Ps. 139:13-16; Rom. 8:28-39)
WT: "Therefore, the Biblical evidence concerning Gehenna generally parallels the traditional view presented by rabbinic and other sources."
Comments: While that is certainly true, they have not disclosed the rabbinic view of Gehenna! Instead, they speak of the Valley of Hinnom as a garbage dump, and fail to make a distinction between this valley and the ancient usage of the Greek gehenna. What do the rabbinical sources say of Gehenna? Note these extracts from The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Appendix XIX):
"...the first rabbinic utterances come to us from the time immediately before that of Christ, from the schools of Shammai and Hillel (Rosh haSh. 16 b last four lines, and 17 a.) ...The careful reader will notice...belief in Eternal Punishment on the part of the School of Shammai....
Substantially the same, as regards Eternity of Punishment, is the view of the School of Hillel (u. s. 17 a). However, therefore, the school of Hillel might accentuate the mercy of God, or limit the number of those who would suffer Eternal Punishment, it did teach Eternal Punishment in the case of some. And this is the point in question.
But, since the Schools of Shammai and Hillel represented the theological teachings in the time of Christ and His Apostles, it follows, that the doctrine of Eternal Punishment was that held in the days of our Lord, however it may afterwards have been modified.
The writings of the early church fathers also bears witness to their view of Gehenna. Note what Clement wrote (A.D. 153-217):
Clement's Second Letter
Yes, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest, but if not, nothing will save us from eternal punishment, if we fail to heed his commands (6:6,7).
For the Lord said, I am coming to gather together all people, clans and tongues. This refers to the day of his appearing, when he will come to redeem us, each according to his deeds. And unbelievers will see his glory . . . and their worms will not die and their fire will not be quenched, and they will be a spectacle to all flesh. He refers to that day of judgment when men will see those who were ungodly among us and who perverted the commands of Jesus Christ . . . being punished with dreadful torments and undying fire (17:47).
Justin Martyr (A.D. 110165) writes:
For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings. And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold. (The First Apology of Justin, Chap. XXVIII)
"The true God is not omnipresent, for he is spoken of as having a location." (Vol. I, p. 969) In other words, he sends forth his messengers and his `holy spirit' to keep tabs on his creation, as these are his `eyes.' (see FOREKNOWLEDGE)
GODS AND GODDESSES
One would have thought Jesus would have been listed under "GOD" at least as a secondary god, "a god" as the Watchtower prefers, but this was not the case. They merely make mention of Jesus being called "the Mighty God." Since they teach the existence of a secondary god, one should be able to look under "GOD" to find a description of as well as the attributes of secondary gods. Not so! No description was found of gods which are not false gods, but neither true gods. Perhaps future editions will define this hybrid for us.
WT: "It is, in fact, because of the way that the word `hell' is understood today that it is such an unsatisfactory translation of these original Bible words. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, under `Hell' says: `fr[om]...helan to conceal.' The word `hell' thus originally conveyed no thought of heat or torment but simply of a `covered over or concealed place.' In the Old English dialect the expression `helling potatoes' meant, not to roast them, but simply to place the potatoes in the ground or in a cellar."
Comments: Several errors can be observed here. (1) They fail to give the dictionary's actual primary definition of hell, which agrees with the Bible and traditional Christianity. (2) While the root word for hell may be "to conceal," its usage in the form of sheol (its OT equivalent) and as Hades in NT times, as well as descriptions in the Bible, really determine what the word conveys. In the OT sheol is not the literal grave, but the abode of the dead (see DEATH). In the NT, hades bears the same meaning of the abode of the dead, but takes on new dimensions. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus speaks of hades as being a place of torment, at least for some. In saying this, Jesus was agreeing with the rabbis of his day.
Paradise was the alternative for the righteous souls, and up until the resurrection of Christ, paradise was believed to be another part of Sheol (hades). Thereafter paradise was equated with heaven, or the presence of God. Since hades is a temporary place, gehenna is the permanent place of torment for the incorrigibly wicked.
The Watchtower intentionally distorts the point made in The Encyclopedia Americana (1956, Vol. XIV, p. 81) in quoting the following,
"Much confusion has been caused through the early translators of the Bible persistently rendering the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades and Gehenna by the word hell. The simple transliteration of these words by the translators of the revised editions of the Bible has not sufficed to appreciably clear up this confusion and misconception."
The confusion, of course, is because the words have different shades of meaning, not that they do not symbolize torment. The Hebrew concept of Sheol was vague and simplistic in the Bible, with little clarification. The Greek hades took on more descriptive terms in the New Testament, adding fire and punishment to the picture, as well as a separation of the realm of the dead into two compartments. Gehenna, on the other hand, was the more permanent abode of the dead, but is still a place of torment, only eternal as opposed to temporary. When the Watchtower makes the claim that Christians confuse hades with gehenna they are at best only partially correct, for both are still described as granting torment for some. 2 Peter 2:9 even says that God keeps "the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment."
Nothing new is revealed in their treatment of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Rather than acknowledging the obvious historical meaning of the story, the Watchtower opts for a vague spiritualization, saying that the rich man represents the Pharisees, who had now lost God's favor and died spiritually, and Lazarus represents the common people, who were then enjoying God's favor. Typical of their logic is the statement:
"That it cannot be concluded from this parable that Hades itself is a place of blazing fire is made clear at Revelation 20:14, where death and Hades are described as being hurled into `the lake of fire.' The death of the rich man and his being in Hades must therefore be figurative, figurative death being mentioned elsewhere in the Scriptures."
Comments: Since Hades is a temporary place, it must pass away somehow. How fitting for it to be consumed (as well as its inhabitants) by the lake of fire, or gehenna. No need to put a bizarre interpretation to it.
The Watchtower gives a nice history of how criminals were often impaled on stakes in various pagan cultures, then without flinching, carries over into the "impalement" of Jesus as if it were done on the same type of instrument. No mention is made of Justus Lipsius' descriptions of the different ways persons were impaled and crucified, or that there is even a possibility that Jesus might have hung on a cross. Formerly, in both editions of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, they made use of Lipsius' materials. But since a translation of Lipsius reveals he said Jesus died on a cross, they very well may stop using him as a reference, much as they have stopped using Johannes Greber's translation of John 1:1 to prove that Jesus is "a god."
The Watchtower says, "As in the case of Jesus, nailing the hands (and likely the feet also) of the accused to a stake was customary among the Romans." They fail to mention that modern archaeologists believe almost unanimously that the Romans in Jesus' time nailed or tied criminals to a crosspiece, which was then mounted on an upright stake fixed permanently in the ground. (See "Cross" in Defending The Faith, Bethel Ministries, 1987, and the Bethel Ministries Newsletter, March/April 1986.) If the arms were draped over the crosspiece for support, the actual hands could be nailed, rather than the wrists as the Watchtower claims (which would be necessary on an upright stake). No mention at all is made of the Bible's description of their being more than one nail in his hands (they always picture one nail through both of Jesus' hands-see John 20:25).
The Watchtower then belabors the point that the Greek word stauros is used in the New Testament, which has the meaning of an upright stake or pole. They make the statement, "Stauros in both the classical Greek and Koine carries no thought of a `cross' made of two timbers. It means only an upright stake, pale, pile or pole, as might be used for a fence, stockade, or palisade." This is a partial or half-truth. Stauros does primarily mean stake. But historically, it was used to describe the cross as well! Similarly, a truck is an automobile primarily, and a truck secondarily. But trucks are often classed as cars in our country. There is no common word for the cross (upright stake plus crosspiece) in the Greek, as crux is Latin and would not have been used in a Greek manuscript. Stauros could just as easily be interpreted as a cross during the Roman era, and was so interpreted at times.
The Watchtower quotes Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words in an attempt to discredit the cross. Though Vine criticizes the early church for adopting the cross as a symbol of the faith, he still refers to it as a cross: "The method of execution was borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians. The stauros denotes (a) the cross, or stake itself, e.g., Matt. 27:32; (b) the crucifixion suffered...." (Vine's An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 1966 edition, Sec. I, p. 256)
Finally, they quote from The Non-Christian Cross, a book published in 1896, that says there is no evidence Jesus died on a cross. The very fact they had to go back so far indicates that no recent works acquainted with archaeology makes such claims.
Although a full refutation cannot be given here of all the points made under this topic, I recommend to the reader The Jehovah's Witnesses New Testament by Robert Countess for a fuller consideration. Quotes herein are from this source unless otherwise identified.
Several erroneous conclusions are drawn by the Watchtower under this subheading: (1) "More ancient copies [of the Septuagint], though in fragmentary form, have been discovered that prove that the earliest copies of the Septuagint did contain the divine name." This is a hypothesis and has not been sufficiently demonstrated. All of the more complete Greek manuscripts do not use the divine name; only some of the older fragments of the Septuagint do so, and they are not consistent with each other at any rate. Regardless of whether the earliest copies did contain the tetragram, these were translations by Jews and for Jews, and do not represent translations of the Septuagint used by the early Christians.
(2) The Watchtower refers to page 24 of Everyman's Talmud to emphasize the importance the ancient Jews put on the NAME of an individual, especially the divine name. Interestingly, however, they fail to quote from page 25 of the same book which says,
In the last stage of the Temple's existence, there was reluctance to give a clear enunciation of the tetragrammaton...Behind the care not to give explicit utterance to the Name may be detected a lowering in the moral standard of the priests. The Talmud declares: `At first the High Priest used to proclaim the Name in a loud voice; but when dissolute men multiplied, he proclaimed it in a low tone' (p. Joma 40d).
On the other hand, there was a time when the free and open use of the Name even by the layman was advocated. The Mishnah teaches: `It was ordained that a man should greet his friends by mentioning the Name' (Ber. IX.5). It has been suggested that the recommendation was based on the desire to distinguish the Israelite from the Samaritan, who referred to God as `the Name' and not as JHVH, or the Rabbinite Jew from the Jewish-Christian.
This custom, however, was soon discontinued, and among those who are excluded from a share in the World to Come is `he who pronounces the Name according to its letters' (Sanh. X. I). A third-century Rabbi taught: `Whoever explicitly pronounces the Name is guilty of a capital offense' (Pesikta 148a).
Instead of JHVH the Name was pronounced Adonai (my Lord) in the Synagogue service; but there is a tradition that the original pronunciation was transmitted by the Sages to their disciples periodically - once or twice every seven years (kid. 71a). Even that practice ceased after a while, and the method of pronouncing the Name is no longer known with certainty.
Typical of Watchtower scholarship, they intentionally bypass anything not favorable to their position, yet freely quote from the same author as if they agreed with them. The point of Everyman's Talmud is that the Jews thought of reinstituting the use of the Name to distinguish them from the Christians, who did not! As critic Doug Mason says,
"As is demonstrated through the quotations of the Hebrew text in the New Testament, the Christians promptly adopted the Greek translation of the Hebrew text. They used it with such devastation against the Jews that they repudiated it, finally producing their own Greek translations of the text. These were designed to counter the argumentation used by the Christians.
The Christian Church adopted the Septuagint as its own book of the Old Covenant....The result of this appropriation of the Septuagint by the Christian Church was that the Jews cast it off....In the second century of our era this repudiation took form in the production of rival versions (of Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures). Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, p. 56.
"On page 12 of the Foreword [to the Kingdom Interlinear] the Translation Committee cites one of these rival translations of the Jews, since it contained the Tetragram. As with the other Greek translations brought out by the Jews, this one by Aquila rendered passages so as to blunt the Christians' arguments. On all accounts it is a very poor translation. When Aquila employed the Tetragram in his Greek translation of the (Hebrew) Scriptures, he used the very ancient Hebrew script that had, even by his time, long ceased being used. In doing so, Aquila appears to be reaching back into the roots of Judaism, in opposition to the contemporary terminology being used by his opponents which, on the evidence of the NT manuscripts available, consisted of translation into Greek of the Hebrew surrogates (Lord; God) and of the use of Nomina Sacra.
"To call upon the support of a rival translation of the OT as the WT has done, one that was NOT used by Christians, and a very poor translation at that, and to use it in argumentation for support of supposed action taken by Christians when they wrote the NT in the prior century, demonstrates how feeble the WT's arguments really are." (Mason, Jehovah in the New World Translation, p.31, Bethel Ministries, out of print)
The evidence is that the early Christians, starting with the Jewish Christians, began to substitute the divine name in the OT with the Nomina Sacra, the special abbreviated forms of words.
"There is most strong evidence that the Christian community consciously and deliberately developed its own system of rendering the sacred names. These names, termed NOMINA SACRA, were presented as special abbreviations, sometimes with lines drawn above them as an indicator to the reader.
"`The early Christian writings contain "a strictly limited number of words, at most fifteen, the sacral character of which...is emphasized by abbreviation....A horizontal line is placed above the abbreviation as a warning that the word cannot be pronounced as written." ' Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt, C.H. Roberts, p. 26.
"`The words in question are certain proper names and some other terms...(such as) "IESOUS, CHRISTOS, KURIOS, THEOS...PNEUMA, ANTHROPOS, STAUROS." ' ibid., p. 27.
"Not only were these NOMINA SACRA (e.g. KS for KURIOS; IS for Jesus, etc.) produced deliberately, likely by the Jerusalem community around 50 AD, but they do not owe their origin in any way to the procedures adopted by the Hebrews with their Scriptures." Mason, p. 40
(3) The Watchtower comments, "it seems most unusual to find that the extant manuscript copies of the original text of the Christian Greek Scriptures do not contain the divine name in its full form." (Vol. II, p. 9) Yet this presents no mystery to the Christian, who, like the first century Christians, recognized the name of Jesus as the name above all names rather than the Old Testament name of God. (Acts 4:10-12; Phil. 2:9-11)
(4) The Watchtower quotes The Cairo Geniza, "It was the Christians who replaced the Tetragrammaton by kyrios, when the divine name written in Hebrew letters was not understood any more." (p. 222) What they don't mention is that they were apparently the Jewish Christians who originated this practice in Jerusalem, not later "apostate" Gentiles, as the Watchtower suggests: "The so-called Christians, then, who `replaced the Tetragrammaton by kyrios' in the Septuagint copies, were not the early disciples of Jesus. They were persons of later centuries, when the foretold apostasy was well developed and had corrupted the purity of Christian teachings." (Vol. II, p. 10)
Yet the evidence does not fit their presuppositions. In order to prove their doctrinal positions, the Watchtower always claims there was a great apostasy in the third and fourth centuries, and that the earlier Christians believed and acted as the Watchtower (using the divine name, Jesus was not God, no soul, hell, etc.). Yet since they cannot demonstrate this historically, they make a supposition and argue from it, as if the reader will just accept it as fact.
What about the nomina sacra? Were they a product of a later "apostasy"? First of all, they have a Jewish theological background; typical words treated in this special manner include Israel and David but excluded Pauline and Johannine words such as Logos and Sophia (Wisdom). Additionally, world renown scholar C.H. Roberts says that the system of nomina sacra "antedates the full development of Christian scholarship in Alexandria." (Manuscript, p. 37) Evidence indicates that the nomina sacra "originated outside Egypt and go back to the first century" (i.e. before 100 C.E.). (ibid., p. 43) Roberts says, "The nomina sacra may be plausibly viewed as the creation of the primitive Christian community, representing... the embryonic creed of the first church... They would thus belong to the oldest stratum of the Christian faith and may well be contemporary with the first authorized or authoritative Christian writing." (ibid., p. 46) Also, "Everything would fall into place were we to assume that the guidelines for the treatment of the sacred names had been laid down by the Church at Jerusalem probably before AD 70; they would carry the authority of the leaders of the church as the first Gospels must have done." (ibid., p. 46.)
Finally, (5) the Watchtower comments on various Jewish translations of the New Testament from the 14th century on which took the liberty to introduce the divine name into the NT where it quotes from the OT. All of this proves nothing with regards to the original or early text and the practices of the early Christians.
Not much new to be found here, but attention should be drawn to a trick used more frequently of late by the Watchtower: The statement "some scholars" often followed by a reference to a Watchtower publication (obviously indicating that they are the scholars meant). Note the following quote as an example:
"On the occasion of Jesus' appearance to Thomas and the other apostles, which had removed Thomas' doubts of Jesus' resurrection, the now-convinced Thomas exclaimed to Jesus: `My Lord and my God! [literally, `The Lord of me and the God (ho Theos) of me'].' (Joh 20:24-29) Some scholars have viewed this expression as an explanation of astonishment spoken to Jesus but actually directed to God, his Father. However, others claim the original Greek requires that the words be viewed as being directed to Jesus. Even if this is so, the expression `My Lord and my God' would still have to harmonize with the rest of the inspired Scriptures....
"So Thomas may have addressed Jesus as `my God' in the sense of Jesus' being `a god' though not the Almighty God, not `the only true God,' to whom Thomas had often heard Jesus pray." (Vol. II, p. 55)
Since the Watchtower can find no recognized scholars to agree with them on this point, they recognize themselves as scholars. Furthermore, they acknowledge the wording of John 20:28 in the Greek where Thomas calls Jesus ho Theos, the true God, but then claim it really means that Jesus was "a god." This is comparable to a statement in a recent Watchtower magazine article where they say the same thing, but add a little blooper at the end:
"Trinitarians also cite John 20:28 to support their claims. There Thomas said to Jesus: `My Lord and my God!' As shown above, there is no objection to Thomas' referring to Jesus as a god. Such would be in harmony with the fact that Jesus, in his pre-human existence, certainly was a god, that is, a powerful, divine person...
"...So there was nothing improper about Thomas' referring to Jesus in that way. Thomas was saying that Jesus was a god to him, a divine, powerful one. But he was not saying that Jesus was Jehovah, which is why Thomas said, `my' God and not `the' God." (Watchtower, 6/1/88 p. 17-19)
Note the last sentence, where they deny Thomas was calling Jesus "the" God! Yet Insight (Vol. II, p. 55) says it is saying he is THE GOD (ho Theos).
Additionally, though not a new point, the Watchtower still emphasizes that Jesus only became the Messiah, or the Christ, at his baptism (Vol. II, p. 59).
Although just published this year, Insight on the Scriptures already contains "old light" in this department. It quotes Matt. 10:15 and comments, "This projected the matter into the future and naturally suggested that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah would then be alive by means of resurrection." (Vol. II, p. 137) Yet in the June 1, 1988 Watchtower, which was probably being sold to the public during the time the Insight books were being released, they are now saying,
"A reexamination of Matthew 11:20-24, though, has brought into question whether Jesus was there discussing eternal judgment and resurrection.
"Hence, Jesus' saying that it `would be more endurable on Judgment Day for Tyre or Sodom' did not necessarily mean that those people will be present on Judgment Day. He could simply have been stressing how unresponsive and culpable were most in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum." (WT, 6/1/88 p. 30, 31)
In actuality, they have gone back and forth twice on this issue, in response to whether the men of Sodom and Gomorrah would have a resurrection:
WT July 1879, p. 8 (yes)
WT June 1, 1952, p. 338 (no)
WT Aug. 1, 1965, p. 479 (yes)
Insight on the Scriptures, released June 1988, p. 137 (yes)
WT June 1, 1988, p. 31 (no)
It is important to note that the Watchtower does not view the "judgment day" as a literal day, but equates it with the 1000 years of Christ's reign. Contrary to the idea that men only live once and are judged according to their life on judgment day (Heb. 10:27), the Watchtower teaches that most men live twice (now and in the new system) and will be judged, not on the basis of the first life, but of the second. (Vol. II, p. 138)
LAKE OF FIRE
WT: "[The Lake of fire] has been used by some persons to support the belief in a literal place of fire and torment. Revelation 20:10 has been appealed to, because it speaks of the Devil, the wild beast, and the false prophet as being `tormented day and night forever and ever' in the lake of fire. However, this cannot refer to actual conscious torment....
"In the Scriptures fiery torment is associated with destruction and death. For example, in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures the word for torment (basanos) is several times used with reference to punishment by death....
...The related Greek word basanistes is translated `jailer' in Matthew 18:34. (RS, NW, ED; compare vs 30.) Thus those hurled into the lake of fire will be held under restraint, or `jailed,' in death throughout eternity." (Vol. II, p. 190)
Comments: The Watchtower is here presenting a half-truth in order to draw attention away from the meaning of the Greek basanizo. The only reason this word is connected with "jailer" in Matt. 18:34 is that a jailer would torture the prisoners! Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament refers to basanistes in Matt. 18:34 and says "it does not occur in the NT in the original sense of a `tester' but it is found once in Mt. 18:34 in the sense of a `tormentor,'" and equates it with the use of the rack, an instrument of torture. Speaking of the related basanos, Kittel says "The rack is the means of showing the true state of affairs. In its proper sense it is a means of testing and proving, though also of punishment. Finally, even this special meaning was weakened and only the general element of torture remained." (Kittel, Vol. I, p. 562)
Similarly, Vine's An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says of basanistes: "properly, a torturer (akin to basanizo, see TORMENT, B), one who elicits information by torture, is used of jailers, Matt. 18:34." (Vine's, 1966 Ed., section 4, p. 145).
Along with Vine's, another book which the Watchtower likes to quote (when it suits them) is The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. It also gives a definition of all the related words: "basanos, torture, torment; basanizo, to torture, torment; basanismos, torturing, torment; basanistes, torturer." It then proceeds to say that "it signifies originally a means of testing; then torture, as a means of examination; and finally, torment generally." (1978 Edition, Vol. III, p. 855)
Finally, the Watchtower is assuming that death in the Scriptures is synonymous with annihilation, which is proved false by a thorough examination of the usage of the Greek thanatos (death) in the NT. (See chapters on DEATH in Refuting Jehovah's Witnesses, Bethel Ministries, 1987.)
LORD'S EVENING MEAL
The Watchtower's determination of how one knows if they are of the "anointed" class has always been a rather mystical and vague explanation. All they can offer is, "The Scriptures say that God will provide, through his holy spirit, evidence and assurance to those qualified to partake of the emblems as `heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ,' that they are God's sons." (Vol. II, p. 270) In actuality, however, the cutting off point for the choosing of the anointed was 1935, with a few making the claim to be anointed since then due to some who have lost their seat in the Watchtower's elite ruling class.
The Watchtower merely reemphasizes their longstanding position that Christ is not the mediator for all men (as the Bible says in 1 Tim. 2:6), but states,
"While Jesus' mediatorship operates solely toward those in the new covenant, he is also God's High Priest and the Seed of Abraham. In fulfilling his duties in these latter two positions, he will bring blessings to others of mankind, for all the nations are to be blessed by means of Abraham's seed. Those in the new covenant are first blessed by Christ, the primary Seed (Gal. 3:16, 29), being brought in as associate members of the seed. Being made kings and priests by reason of the new covenant that he mediated, they will share in administering the blessings of Jesus' sacrifice and of his Kingdom rule to all the nations of the earth. Christ's mediatorship, having accomplished its purpose by bringing `the Israel of God' into this position, thus results in benefits and blessings to all mankind." (Insight, Vol. II, p. 362363)
Two aspects of Watchtower half-truths and misrepresentations need to be addressed here, as they resort to quoting authorities to prove their point again. The first aspect is in their interpretation of Luke 23:43, where Jesus said to the criminal hanging beside him, "Truly I tell you, TODAY you will be with me in paradise." The Watchtower argues that since in the original Greek there were no commas, the comma in this text could just as easily be placed after today rather than as it traditionally is (before today). Their objection to this is due to their belief that the dead are entirely nonexistent, so the criminal couldn't possibly be with Jesus anywhere until his resurrection three days later. This, of course, is contrary to the view of death and Hades current at the time, and will be considered shortly.
The second aspect deserving consideration is their quote from Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, where they are attempting to prove that the Jews of Jesus' day really didn't believe in a intermediate "paradise" as spoken of in Luke 16:22 (Abraham's bosom), that their views were uncertain, and that they were a later corruption of doctrine by Cabalistic Judaism. This is nothing other than a clever play on the quote from Hastings. The point Hastings and other scholars of rabbinic theology would make is that (1) the Old Testament is vague in its description of Sheol and its compartmentalization, (2) the rabbinical schools of Shammai and Hillel differed on their view as to who would end up in either paradise or punishment as well as exactly where Sheol was supposed to be, but they agreed that there was an intermediate state called paradise for the righteous, and a place of punishment or holding for the unrighteous and wicked. They believed that one day the souls or shades in Paradise would experience a resurrection back into physical bodies, but they were unclear as to whether this was heaven or earth. They did not believe as the Watchtower, that you cease to exist when you die. Paradise was clearly the reward of the righteous Jew, according to all the writings of the Pharisees.
Under the subheading SHEOL, the same Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible states: "Though the ancient Israelites had not doctrine of a future life, they did not think of death as extinction. Like the Semites generally, they believed that the dead passed into Sheol, where they continued to pursue a conscious, but pale and inactive existence." (1963 Edition, p. 906)
Since the Watchtower claims to be "uninspired prophets," requiring full obedience from their flocks but without accountability for false predictions or changes of doctrine, they again promote this idea by saying, "However, in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he shows that the miraculous gifts, including that of inspired prophesying, were due to be done away with." (Vol. II, p. 693)
In the past, the Watchtower has often equated prophesying with telling out the judgments of God from door-to-door, primarily by the anointed. But the real meaning of prophecy carries with it some form of inspiration, which is why even the Watchtower equates prophecy with "inspired expressions." While not calling themselves prophets under this heading, they have repeatedly done so over the years. (See The Watchtower, Oct. 1, 1982, p. 26,27; or Thus Saith... p.6) What is the source of their inspiration, if they have made so many false predictions and changes in doctrine? Yet they boldly state, "...it is reasonable that correct understanding of prophecy would still be made available by God through the congregation, particularly in the foretold `time of the end,' not miraculously, but as the result of their diligent investigation and study and comparison of prophecy with circumstances and events taking place." (Insight, Vol. II, p. 694)
Oddly enough, they give the criterion for determining who is a false prophet under PROPHET, even listing Deut. 18:20-22 as a reference, showing that if a prophet predicts something and it doesn't come true, they are a false prophet! (Vol. II, p. 696)
WT: "Sometimes it clearly applies, not to a specific people, but to those who are dead. Linking the word to a root meaning `drop down, relax,' some scholars conclude that it means `sunken, powerless ones.' In texts where it has this sense, the New World Translation renders it `those impotent in death,' and many other translations use renderings such as `dead things,' `deceased,' and `dead.'Job 26:5; Ps 88:10; Pr. 2:18; 9:18; 21:16; Isa. 14:9; 26:14, 19."
Ironically, by reading the passages cited, one gets the impression that the "dead" or the rephaim are semiconscious in the state of death. More appropriately, the New American Standard Bible renders rephaim as "departed spirits" or "shades."
Dr. Robert Morey, author of Death and the Afterlife, comments on Sheol:
1. At death man becomes a rephaim, i.e., a "ghost," "shade," or "disembodied spirit" according to Job 26:5; Ps. 88:10; Prov. 2:18; 9:18; 21:16; Isa. 14:9; 26:14,19. Instead of describing man as passing into nonexistence, the Old Testament states that man becomes a disembodied spirit. The usage of the word rephaim irrefutably establishes this truth. Langenscheidt's Hebrew-English Dictionary to the Old Testament (p. 324) defines rephaim as referring to the "departed spirits, shades." Brown, Driver and Briggs (p. 952) define rephaim as "shades, ghosts . . . name of dead in Sheol." Keil and Delitzsch define rephaim as referring to "those who are bodiless in the state after death."
This concept is carried on into the New Testament in such places as Luke 24:37-39. A belief in "ghosts" necessarily entails a belief that man survives the death of the body.
2. Those in Sheol are pictured as conversing with each other and even making moral judgments on the lifestyle of new arrivals (Isa. 14:9-20; 44:23; Ezek. 32:21). They are thus conscious entities while in Sheol.
3. Once in Sheol, all experiences related exclusively to physical life are no longer possible. Those in Sheol do not marry and procreate children because they do not have bodies. Neither do they plan and execute business transactions. Once in Sheol, they cannot attend public worship in the temple and give sacrifices and praise. There are no bodily pleasures such as eating or drinking. Those in Sheol do not have any wisdom or knowledge about what is happening in the land of the living. They are cut off from the living. They have entered a new dimension of reality with its own kind of existence (Ps. 6:5; Eccles. 9:10, etc.). Death and the Afterlife, Minn.: Bethany House, 1984, p. 78-80.
The Watchtower makes no mention of the historical usage of rephaim with regard to the dead, and what it was commonly understood to be.
Rather than accepting the historical view of the resurrection, that the soul is reunited with a new, glorified body, the Watchtower teaches that when a person dies they become nonexistent in any form, and that God has to recreate a clone of them, with the same memory, personality, etc.; there is no transition from the old person of flesh to the new, as explained in 1 Cor. 15:36-44. The Watchtower says, "If scientific principles established by God can be used by scientists to preserve and later reconstruct a visible and audible scene by means of videotape, how easy it is for the great Universal Sovereign and Creator to resurrect a person by re-patterning the same personality in a newly formed body." (Insight, Vol. II, p. 784)
Similarly, they fail to understand the point Paul is making regarding the body of flesh vs. the spiritual body: A body has substance, and is not immaterial, or it would not be called a body; Paul is arguing for the changing of the old body into a new, glorified one, not an annihilation of the old and a creating of something altogether foreign to it. Appropriately, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, under the heading of RESURRECTION, says,
"It is always in the sense of the resurrection of the body; it is never a mere continuation of being, or a reawakening of the soul. As such, it was the real point of opposition to the proclamation of the gospel. It was rejected by the Sadducees (Matt. 22:23), who held that only the Torah, the OT law, was authoritative, and they claimed that the resurrection was not taught there (cf. Matt. 22:31 f.) It was equally rejected by the Greeks, because the teaching was too materialistic for their spiritualized thinking (Acts 17:18, 32; 1 Cor. 15:12). Faith in a resurrection linked with judgment (cf. Heb. 6:2) belongs to the fundamental elements of faith (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10; Lk. 14:14; Heb. 11:35)." (Vol. 3, p. 277, 1978 Edition)
A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament comments on the new body as compared with the old in 1 Cor. 15:42:
"The resurrection body has undergone a complete change as compared with the body of flesh like the plant from the seed. It is related to it, but it is a different body of glory."
"...certainly [Paul] means to say that the `spiritual body' has some kind of germinal connection with the `natural body,' though the development is glorious beyond our comprehension though not beyond the power of Christ to perform (Phil. 3:21)." (Vol. IV, p. 196-197, 1931)
Yet the Watchtower makes the statement, "it is not the body that is resurrected, but rather, he likens their experience to the planting and sprouting of a seed, in that `God gives it a body just as it has pleased him.' (1 Co 15:35-40). It is the soul, the person, that is resurrected, with a body to suit the environment into which God resurrects him." (Insight, Vol. II, p. 786)
They also repeat their emphasis that the people of Sodom would be on hand for the resurrection, which has already been superseded by "newer light" (see JUDGMENT DAY).
Defined as "the common receptacle or region of the dead," "Sheol is the place (not a condition) that asks for or demands all without distinction, as it receives the dead of mankind within it." (Insight, Vol. II, p. 922) How can Sheol be a place, and yet not a place? The Bible indeed refers to Sheol as a place, where even conversation may take place among the departed spirits (Isa. 14:9-11). Would God speak of "nonexistence" as a place, a place of rest, and even where conversation took place?
They then quote Collier's Encyclopedia as saying that the Old Testament Sheol "referred simply to the abode of the dead and suggested no moral distinctions," and that "the word `hell,' as understood today, is not a happy translation." They then cleverly omit the following line from Collier's: "The realm of the dead in the Old Testament was a gloomy region under the earth and was entered through gates; there the souls of the departed lingered in a shadowy existence, apart from men and God, although a few men of faith did dare to express hopes for more than this in the life to come, as may be seen in Job xix:25-27, Ps xvi:8-11 and xvii:15, and elsewhere." The point made earlier about the translation is that gehenna is a better word for the judgment to come than hell, whereas hades is more appropriate left untranslated.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (1971 Edition) is appealed to in much the same manner, to convey the idea that the righteous and the wicked both ended up in Sheol, and that "all slept together without awareness of one another." Yet the 1986 The New Encyclopedia Britannica (Macropaedia) Vol. 16, p. 1037 also states,
"Sheol itself became compartmentalized...(in later writings). The real Ge Hinnom (`Valley of Hinnom'), where the early Israelites were said to have sacrificed their children to Moloch (and in which later biblical generations incinerated Jerusalem's municipal rubbish), was transmuted into the notion of Gehenna, a vast camp designed for torturing the wicked by fire. This was a clear precursor of things to come - the Christian and Islamic versions of hell." (Compare Luke 16:19-31)
See JUDGMENT DAY for "newer light" on this.
SON(S) OF GOD
Only the anointed are really "sons of God," as they say, "the revelation of the sons of God in glory opens the way for others of the human family to enter into a relationship of actual sonship with God and to enjoy the freedom that accompanies such relationship." (Vol. II, p. 999) Members of the "other sheep" will only be "sons of God" at the end of the 100 years (see DECLARE RIGHTEOUS).
WT: "Not until the fourth century C.E. did the teaching that the holy spirit was a person and part of the `Godhead' become official church dogma. Early church `fathers' did not so teach; Justin Martyr of the second century C.E. taught that the holy spirit was an `influence or mode of operation of the Deity'; Hippolytus likewise ascribed no personality to the holy spirit."
The Watchtower makes no reference to Justin Martyr's writings, they just make a statement. I am not yet aware of any such statement. On the contrary, judge for yourselves the words of Justin regarding the Holy Spirit:
"Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove." (The First Apology of Justin, Chap. XIII)
"And the Holy Spirit, either from the person of His Father, or from His own person, answers them, `The Lord of hosts, He is this King of glory.'" (Dialogue of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr with Trypho, A Jew, Chap. XXXVI)
Hippolytus, a disciple of Irenaeus, made no reference at all to the Holy Spirit as far as could be found, so this appears somewhat irrelevant to mention on the part of the Watchtower. However, Hippolytus' mentor, Irenaeus, said this about the Trinity:
Thus also did Rahab the harlot, while condemning herself, inasmuch as she was a Gentile, guilty of all sins, nevertheless receive the three spies, who were spying out all the land, and hid them at her home; [which three were] doubtless [a type of] the Father and the Son, together with the Holy Spirit. Irenaeus Against Heresies, book IV, chapter xx.12.
The Watchtower then proceeds to use their standard argument against the Holy Spirit being a person, saying that "personification does not prove personality," and citing Prov. 1:2033 and 8:136 as an example, where wisdom is personified. Yet what is incredible is that the Watchtower actually teaches that this wisdom was none other than Jesus Christ! They thereby invalidate their argument, at least with respect to wisdom. One might wonder how the Watchtower would counter the argument that Satan is not a real person, but a "personified force" in the universe! They further state,
"...if the `holy spirit' were a person, there should reasonably be given some means in the Scriptures to distinguish and identify such spirit person from all these other `holy spirits.' It would be expected that, at the very least, the definite article would be used with it in all cases where it is not called `God's holy spirit' or is not modified by some similar expression. This would at least distinguish it as THE Holy Spirit. But, on the contrary, in a large number of cases the expression `holy spirit' appears in the original Greek without the article, thus indicating its lack of personality." (Vol. II, p. 1019)
By that line of reasoning, we could assume that one would not find references to God in the New Testament without the definite article, when it refers to "Jehovah," but this is not the case. There are a number of instances where theos is applied to Jehovah in the NT without the definite article! (2 Cor. 5:19; Gal. 6:7; 2 Thes. 1:8)
The Watchtower really sets out to confuse you with regards to Saul visiting the witch of Endor. They refer to The Commentary on the Old Testament by Keil and Delitzsch (Vol. II, First Samuel, p. 265) where the author makes the point that "This narrative, when read without prejudice, makes at once and throughout the impression conveyed by the Septuagint at 1 Chron. x. 13..." (which passage indicated that it was really Samuel who appeared). The author is merely stating that the passage is very plain and easy to read, and that the additional verse in the Septuagint agrees with it, nothing more. Yet the Watchtower says, "The Commentary supports the view that it implied by these uninspired words in the Septuagint," as if the Commentary was relying on this passage for their support! They then proceed to quote from the Commentary where it mentions that most of the church fathers throughout the ages considered the witch to have merely created a conjuring trick. They then omit the following statement by the commentary:
"...the view held by the early church does not do justice to the scriptural narrative; and hence the more modern orthodox commentators are unanimous in the opinion that the departed prophet did really appear and announce the destruction of Saul, not, however, in consequence of the magical arts of the witch, but through a miracle wrought by the omnipotence of God. This is most decidedly favored by the fact, that the prophetic historian speaks throughout of the appearance, not of a ghost, but of Samuel himself....his announcement contains so distinct a prophecy of the death of Saul and his sons, that it is impossible to imagine that it can have proceeded from the mouth of an impostor, or have been an inspiration of Satan." (p. 266-267)
What is the point? The Watchtower must make a lengthy explanation to avoid the implications of 1 Sam. 28:8-25, that the spirits of the dead are in Sheol, and that Samuel was "sleeping" there, and was roused up in order to prophecy to Saul. Since the Watchtower teaches that the dead are nonexistent, they must resort to an alternative explanation.
Defined by the Watchtower as "a prison-like, abased condition into which God cast disobedient angels in Noah's day." Since different pictorial descriptions are given of the fate of the wicked angels, such as their being "in heavenly places" and in "pits of dense darkness," their argument is that it cannot be a real place but a "condition." Perhaps it escapes them that God's throne is described with all sorts of imagery that sometimes appears inconsistent, yet they still believe that Jehovah resides in a literal place (Rutherford said it was in the Pleiades!)
The word Tartarus is only elsewhere used in Greek mythology that predated the writing of 2 Peter 2:4, and there is nothing to indicate any significant difference in meaning. Homer represented Tartarus as an underground prison for wicked spirit beings, and so does Peter. If Peter disagrees in principle with this definition, why does he use a word that could only be understood in this light, as it does not appear to be used in any other way?
The Watchtower herein repeats their quote from the 92-year old book, The Non-Christian Cross for lack of anything better. See IMPALEMENT, as this section contains nothing new.
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