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Related articles: Shadow, Image, Servants and Children

The "image" is... the "substance" (!!!)

One glaring example of the ignorance and the sloppiness of the New World Translation (in English and in Greek), and solid proof of the Watchtower's irreverence towards the sacred text of the Holy Bible:

Hebrews, 10:1


Original Greek Text New King James translation Watchtower's New World Translation
Σκιάν γαρ έχων ο νόμος τών μελλόντων αγαθών - ουκ αυτήν  την εικόνα τών πραγμάτων - κατ' ενιαυτόν ταις αυταίς θυσίαις, ας προσφέρουσιν εις το διηνεκές, ουδέποτε δύναται τους προσερχομένους τελειώσαι.


For the law , having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things - can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year - make those who approach perfect.


For since the Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things, [men] can never - with the same sacrifices from year to year which they offer continually - make those who approach perfect.


Observations:  Amazing! The Watchtower Society here informs us that the (Greek) word "εικόνα" (=icon) as found in the original, Greek text of the Bible, apparently translates as "substance" (which in Greek = ουσία) !!  So, if someone says: "I painted an image/icon of myself", they would be saying "I painted my substance".  Or, if they say "we have a human essence" (=we are humans), it would be like saying "we have a human image" (=we resemble humans).

Alongside the above, we have also noticed that in the Greek version of the NWT the word "αυτήν" has been translated as "the same as" (instead of "the very" as it should be, in English). One might say that this seems like an insignificant difference. And yet, it isn't!   The word "αυτήν" in Greek usage indicates something that is present and existent, at the moment it is mentioned - which is not necessarily what the expression "the same as" implies.  Thus, when the Gospel text says "αυτήν", indicating "the very" (and not some other)  image of things, it is clearly implying that the "image" of things was already existent! 

In other words, it is speaking of the New Testament - which, as "image", had replaced the "shadow" that is the Old Testament!  If the text had been composed with the words "ου την αυτήν", then grammatically, with the insertion of the article "την" (=the) before the word "αυτήν", it could have signified "not the same one".  But the article "την" is placed AFTER the "αυτήν", and as such, the Greek NWT translation is incorrect - which is understandable, given that the Watchtower Organization is lacking in basic translation skills.

We have to wonder: what was the reason the Watchtower Society chose to insert this falsification? Was it simply a case of sloppiness? Was it perhaps an attempt to demote the word "substance", which is used by Christians in Theology? Was it so that the verse doesn't imply that the  New Testament is only an "image" of the Things to come? Or maybe it was to avoid acknowledging that the New Testament era is the ...era of "images" (icons ?)

A Watchtower follower might ask us: "Come on now! One tiny word - even if it's wrongly translated - what problem could it possibly create?  What could possibly be altered, on account of something so small?"

And yet, within that tiny word is hidden an extremely serious dimension of the Christian Gospel. It is in fact the one dimension of the New Testament itself, because : THE SUBSTANCE OF THINGS IS ONE THING, AND THE IMAGE THEREOF IS ANOTHER.  THE "SUBSTANCE" OF THINGS IMPLIES THOSE ACTUAL THINGS. THE TERM "IMAGE" IS SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT - it implies something that is deficient.  

This specific verse is the one that clarifies for us in what sense the Old Testament differs from the New Testament, and also from the "good Things to come".  It clarifies for us that: just as the Old Testament  -when compared to the New Testament- is deficient (a "shadow", by comparison), likewise, the New Testament -when compared to the Things to come-  is also deficient (an "image", by comparison). However, an "image" is still far more superior than a "shadow"...

With this falsification, the truth of the Gospel is lost and perverted, and the New Testament is presented as being the per se substance of the Things to come.  Most probably the translators of the NWT did not realize this, for the reason that they do not understand the Greek language. Otherwise, they would have to explain: How is it possible for the substance of the "Good Things" to already be in the New Testament, if they are referred to -in there- as things that are "to come"

Given the above, the Watchtower followers should not only be allowed to venerate images (icons), but also to worship them, because, by venerating images they would be venerating the "substance" of God!

(The reader who wishes to see the serious extension of this verse - as regards the comprehension of the Holy Bible's coherence and how this tiny word relates to the basic truth that our God is revealed in the New Testament as "Father" - we would invite him to read a more detailed study relative to this verse.)

Not only are there discrepancies in the Greek NWT as pointed out above (when the NKJV coincides correctly with the original Greek text), but there are also discrepancies in the English NWT translation in this same verse (where again the NKJV coincides correctly with the original Greek text).

Here is the other "tiny" but equally significant detail in this same verse: 

Where the original Greek AND the NKJV texts clearly state that the Law can never make perfect those who strive to approach the good things to come, the NWT has arbitrarily inserted in brackets a word that does not exist in the original Greek text, nor in the NKJV translation: it is the word [men]!!!  This arbitrary addition has enabled them to imply that men - not the Law - "can never make perfect those who approach" !!  

To elaborate:

The form of the Greek verb "δύναται" - as used in the original text - pertains to a subject that should be in the singular;  and indeed it is: the subject is the Law (ο Νόμος....δύναται). 

If the verb had pertained to something in the plural, then its Greek form would have been "δύνανται" and it would have to match a subject that is in the plural. In this case, the subject (which was arbitrarily inserted by the NWT) is the word "men" (=plural)!  What the NWT translators carelessly overlooked was that the form of the verb in the original Greek text did NOT comply with a subject in the plural. As mentioned above, the verb "δύναται" relates to a subject in the singular:  "the Law"...

Unlike the precision of Greek grammar, the equivalent English verb "can" is the same in both the singular and the plural, and as such, is easily utilized to accommodate falsifications like the present NWT example.

English                              Greek

I can                                    εγώ δύναμαι
you can                               εσύ δύνασαι
he/she/it can                       αυτός/αυτή/αυτό δύναται
we can                                 εμείς δυνάμεθα
you can                               εσείς δύνασθε
they can                              αυτοί/αυτές/αυτά δύνανται


Dear "Jehovah's Witnesses", after seeing this display of irreverence and irresponsibility towards the Holy Bible, do you seriously trust this organization to lead you to salvation?



Translation by K.N.

Article published in English on: 9-2-2012.

Last update: 9-2-2012.