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Friday, September 16, 2011

Luke 23:43 - Punctuation and the New World Translation; "Truly I tell you today,..."

On occasion, opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses attempt to attack the scholarship and honesty of the translators of the New World Translation Bible. One passage that is cited by them is Luke 23:43 and the issue concerns punctuation.

Addressing this issue, the late Dr. Julius Mantey, noted NT Greek scholar and strong trinitarian, allegedly wrote a powerful attack against the honesty and accuracy of the NWT. He complained of the NWT's "attempt to deliberately deceive people by mispunctuation by placing a comma after `today' in Luke 23:43," when he knows better than anyone that none of the earliest manuscripts (up to the 9th century A.D.) originally had capitalization or punctuation! Later copyists have added punctuation wherever they felt it should be!

Just because a modern text writer decides where he wants the punctuation and capital-ization to be in his interpretation of the original text (as Westcott and Hort did for the text that is used by the NWT and Nestle did in the text used by the NASB, etc.) does not mean that is how the original Bible writer intended the meaning - as explained in the Kingdom Interlinear footnote for this verse.

For example, at John 8:58, most (if not all) text writers have left ego eimi uncapitalized. However, some respected trinitarian Bibles (such as NASB, TEV, and Phillips) have ignored the text writer's preference and used capitalization here in an attempt to make this verb appear to be a Name: "I AM."

Are these popular trinitarian Bibles also guilty of "deliberately deceiving," then, by miscapitalization?

Clearly, for Dr. Mantey to even hint that punctuation can be precisely determined at Luke 23:43 is totally dishonest. We see The Emphasized Bible by Joseph B. Rotherham also punctuating this scripture to produce the meaning found in the NWT:

"Verily I say unto thee this day: With me shalt thou be in Paradise."

And the footnote for Luke 23:43 in Lamsa's translation admits:

"Ancient texts were not punctuated. The comma could come before or after today."

The Concordant Literal New Testament renders it: "43 And Jesus said to him, 'Verily, to you am I saying today, with Me shall you be in paradise.'"

2001 Translation – An American English Bible: 43 And [Jesus] replied, `I tell you this today; you will be with me in Paradise.'

A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament by E.W. Bullinger, DD., page 811 says:
"'And Jesus said to him, Verily, to thee I say this day, with Me shalt thou be in the Paradise.' The words today being made solemn and emphatic. Thus, instead of a remembrance, when He shall come in...His kingdom, He promises a presence in association (meta, 'with') Himself. And this promise he makes on that very day when he was dying.... Thus we are saved (1) the trouble of explaining why Jesus did not answer the question on its own terms; and (2) the inconvenience of endorsing the punctuation of the [KJV] as inspired; and we also place this passage in harmony with numberless passages in the O.T., such as 'Verily I say unto you this day,' etc.; 'I testify unto you this day.' etc.; vii.1; x.13; xi.8;,13,23; xii.13; xix.9; xxvii.4; xxxi.2, etc., where the Septuagint corresponds to Luke xxii.43."

Yes, there is no reason to deny the rendering of Luke 23:43 as, "I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise."


A couple examples from the Hebrew Scriptures of the OT in modern Bibles:

(NKJV) Deuteronomy 30:18 "I announce to you today that you shall surely perish"

(NASB) Deuteronomy 30:18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish.

(RSV) Deuteronomy 30:18 "I declare to you this day, that you shall perish"

(God's Word) Deuteronomy 30:18 "If you do, I tell you today that you will certainly be destroyed"

(MKJV (Green)) Deuteronomy 30:18 "I declare to you today that you shall surely perish"


(NASB) Zechariah 9:12 "Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you."

(KJV) "even to day do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee;" (TEV) "Now I tell you that I will repay you twice over"

(RSV) "today I declare that I will restore to you double."

(JPS) "even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee"

(BBE) "today I say to you that I will give you back twice as much"

(God'sWord) "Today I tell you that I will return to you double blessings."

(CEV) "because today I will reward you with twice what you had."

(NJB) "This very day, I vow, I shall make it up to you twice over."

(NAB) "This very day, I will return you double for your exile."

[Also compare Deut. 5:1 and 6:6]

For much more, see:

LUKE 23:43-"Truly I tell you today,You will be with me in Paradise"(NWT)- Where should the comma be placed? (INDNWT)

Luke 23:43 and the New World Translation (SFBT)

The Coptic Version and Theological Questions (Luke 23:43) (Sahidic Coptic Insight on NT Verses)

What About...Luke 23:43? (From God's Word)

Luke 23:43 (JWQ&A)

Jesus with the evildoer in Paradise (jwitness forum)
Luke 23:43 (Jehovah's Witnesses United; Scroll Down to Second Letter)  
Luke 23:43 - The Greek adverb which is rendered in English “today” in relation to its verb in Biblical Greek when found in Direct Discourse (Scriptural Truths)

Jehovah's Witnesses: Is It True That You Place Punctuation In Your NWT To Support Your Own Teachings? (Y/A)