Monthly Archives: March 2013

Did Moses write the Pentateuch? [1]

Burning Bush


By Spencer D Gear

The following is an encounter I had on Christian Fellowship Forum concerning the authorship of the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch).

OZ: The biblical evidence is right before us of Mosaic authorship.

JP: Does that evidence include Moses referring to himself in the third person and writing about his death, burial and 30 days of mourning AFTER he died?

I believe it is from Moses’ time but not necessarily from his hand. (He was rather busy, you know.)

OZ: The Pentateuch claims in many places that Moses was the writer, e.g. Exodus 17:14; 24:4–7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22, 24.
JP: It also has many places where Moses is referred to in the third person. So what? That means that Moses is reported to have written portions of “the Book of Moses.” It does not require that he wrote the whole thing. (Unless you are willing to hold to his continued, post-mortem, writing.)

OZ: Many times in the rest of the Old Testament, Moses is said to have been the writer, e.g. Joshua 1:7–8

JP: “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you”
That does not say Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch. It says he commanded Israel to keep the Law.
Joshua 8:32–34 Ditto.  Judges 3:4 Ditto.
Here’s what the Bible DOES say Moses wrote:
Ex 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. (The Laws)  And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Num 33:2  Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these [are] their journeys according to their starting points:
Deu 31:9 So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.
Deu 31:22 Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel.

OZ: In the New Testament, Jesus frequently spoke of Moses’ writings or the Law of Moses,

JP: This is a very common and simplistic “proof.” The Torah was referred to as “The Book of Moses.” That name does not carry with it a statement of authorship. I have a “Webster’s Dictionary.” I have no misconception that it is a copy of what Noah Webster personally wrote.

OZ:   it seems likely that a sole author was responsible. Their exhaustive computer analysis conducted in Israel suggested an 82 percent probability that the book has just one author.

JP: I think Genesis is the work of a sole author. And a sole author can include more than one tradition and relating of the same story. It takes a great deal of skill and sophistication to do it well. I believe it was written by a sole author, most probably a contemporary of Moses and probably at the direction of Moses.

You seem to be rejecting out of hand, without consideration, the possibility that there could be more than one version of the creation and flood stories among these ancient people. That flies in the face of the existence of a variety of creation and flood stories among the ancient Mesopotamian people.

You also seem to be hung up on the idea that one author would, of necessity, have only one view to relate. That is not only unnecessary but, considering the text, it is unreasonable.

Further, you seem to assume that if I can see more than one tradition reflected in the text that I must agree with the whole of the documentary hypothesis, lock, stock and barrel. I do not. I think it is the result of over-analyzation combined with fertile imaginations and the need to publish.

I do see the two traditions, both representing valid recitals of the story of beginning from God’s creation of the heavens and earth through the dispersion. (Gen 1:1 – 11:9)

The dispersion is followed by a genealogy which connects the creation story to the story of the Hebrews who are the sons of Abraham, the descendant of Shem (SHem means “Name” and apparently refers to those who called upon Ha-Shem) the descendant of seth the son of Adam.

There is a felt need among many people that only Moses be allowed to be the author of the Pentateuch. It is an irrational need that flies in the face of the words of which Moses is demanded to be sole author. It is an imposition of man’s desire upon the word of God which detracts from it by restricting our understanding of His message to the views of one sect among God’s people.

Let my people go.

SG (added after this online discussion): I was rather naive in this interchange with JP as my understanding of authorship of a book of the Bible did not take into consideration that some revision can be made or editing done, but the work is still accounted to the original author (see below).

What about Moses’ death reported in the Pentateuch?



JP has a reasonable objection (see above):

It also has many places where Moses is referred to in the third person. So what? That means that Moses is reported to have written portions of “the Book of Moses.” It does not require that he wrote the whole thing. (Unless you are willing to hold to his continued, post-mortem, writing.)

I find this to be a satisfactory explanation:

It is probable that some works in the Bible are edited works…. We do not know what shape Moses left his works in. Did someone simply have to add an ending to Deuteronomy, or was there a need to put a number of pieces together? Probably we will never know the complete story.

The point is that a work is still an author’s work even if it has been edited, revised, updated or otherwise added to. I own a commentary on James by Martin Dibelius. I still refer to it as by Martin Dibelius although I know that Heinrich Greeven revised and edited it (and then Michael A. Williams translated it into English…. It is still accurate to refer to it as by Dibelius (and to put his name on the cover) because the basic work is by him.

We have received letters from various executives with a note “signed in his (or her) absence” at the bottom after the signature. The executive in question probably told his or her secretary to reply to our letter along thus and so lines and then left the rest to be completed and mailed while they were away. It still carries the executive’s authority, even if the exact wording is that of the secretary.

Therefore, when the Bible says that a certain work is by a given individual, it need not mean that the author is always responsible for every word or even for the general style. The author is considered responsible for the basic content.[2]

The Pentateuch and the JEDP theory

See my brief article, ‘JEDP Documentary Hypothesis refuted’. What is the JEDP, also known as the Documentary Hypothesis? Brian Davis explained:

The JEDP theory, also known as the Documentary Hypothesis or the Graf­-Wellhausen theory, essentially states that the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament) is not the work of Moses as both the Old and New Testaments claim. Rather, those books are the work of editors called redactors who compiled and wove together various myths, legends and historical events long after the time of Moses. Since Graf and Wellhausen presented it in its classic form in 1895, the theory has gained wide acceptance. The JEDP theory served as a foundation for much of the modern hyper critical views of scripture. Moreover it is taught in both liberal and secular schools with little question as to its validity….

There are many complex versions of the theory, but the basic document definitions can be outlined here. “J” represents the unknown author of a document composed from 1000 to 900 BC in South Judea. “E” represents a document composed in North Israel in 721 BC. “J” and “E” are said to have been put together and edited during the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC. “P” stands for the “priestly document” which the theocracy in Judea created for a record of worship, genealogies, dates, and measurements. “D” stands for the Deutoronomic code supposedly written for religious reform at the time of Josiah in 621 BC. These four documents were compiled and edited as the Pentateuch.[3]

This is not the place for a detailed critique of JEDP, but a few criticisms given by R. N. Whybray, who is certainly not a conservative, are in order:

1. While those espousing the documentary hypothesis assume that the biblical writers avoided repetitions, ancient literature from the same period reveled in repetitions and doublets as a mark of literary artistry.

2. The documentary hypothesis breaks up narratives into different sources thereby destroying their inherent literary and artistic qualities.

3. The source critics assume that variety in language and style is a sign of different sources, but it could just as well be a sign of differences in subject matter that carry with them their own distinctive vocabulary and style.

4. Inadequate evidence exists to argue for a sustained unique style, narrative story line, purpose and theological point of view in each of the four main documents that are thought to be the sources for the contents and message of the Pentateuch.[4]

This we know: The Pentateuch often refers to Moses as the author (eg Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:1-2; Deut. 31:9). Christ and the apostles gave unequivocal support for Moses as the author of the Torah (Law), eg John 5:46-57; 7:19; Acts 3:22 [cf. Deut. 18:15]; Rom. 10:5).

Therefore, for me, the issue is signed, sealed and delivered. The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, can confidently be affirmed as having been written by Moses as both Old and New Testaments confirm Mosaic authorship. This is with the proviso that even if it is edited or revised by somebody else, it is still regarded as Mosaic authorship of the five books of the Pentateuch.


[1] This is based on an interaction I (ozspen) had with Jim Parker on Christian Fellowship Forum, Contentious Brethren, ‘Dawkins won’t debate creationists’, FatherJimParker #41, 5 June 2012, available at: (Accessed 6 June 2012).

[2] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce & Manfred T. Brauch 1996. ‘How do we know who wrote the Bible’, in Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, p. 37.

[3] Brian Davis 2012. The J.E.D.P. theory: An explanation and refutation (online). Xenos Christian Fellowship. Available at: (Accessed 16 March 2013).

[4] Cited in Walter C. Kaiser Jr. 2001, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, p.137.
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

Queen Elizabeth II and Jesus silent on homosexuality

Elderly Elizabeth with a smile

Queen Elizabeth II (2007) [Courtesy Wikipedia]

By Spencer D Gear

It is time to bash Queen Elizabeth II in print because she did not mention homosexuals in her signing the new Commonwealth charter, which states: “We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”[1]

Journalist Patrick Strudwick made these points:

  1. ‘We extremists, who believe gay people should not be tortured or persecuted, shall be granted a new comrade: the supreme governor of the Church of England, the head of the Commonwealth, the Queen of more than a dozen countries. And then I read the detail’.
  2. ‘Fighting for gay rights? The Queen won’t even mention them. She dare not speak our name – that is, if you believe she is even referring to gay people’.
  3. ‘Jesus never mentioned homosexuality – has that dissuaded many of his followers that “love thy neighbour” does not in fact mean: “as long as his partner’s not called Steve”’?
  4. ‘No, to refrain from specification is to collude with silence, the Grand Pause that keeps lesbians and gay men invisible, suffocating in marriages of inconvenience or trapped in police cells. The hush of polite conversation is the rusty mattock of a millennium’s oppression’.
  5. ‘Of course. Stating that all humans deserve rights is “political”. How controversial it is that people should not be discriminated against. But how laughable would it be for an unelected head of state to preach equality anyway?’
  6. ‘If only the alleged intention were expressed explicitly, unequivocally. Most Commonwealth nations, injected by our colonial laws and Old Testament homophobia in the first place, need it. Desperately’.
  7. ‘Two Commonwealth countries sentence gay people to death, one tortures them with flogging, five impose life sentences and 41 of the 54 nations keep homosexuality illegal’.
  8. ‘This is why our opposition to discrimination needs spelling out’.

Let’s tackle these allegations and statements directly, according to numbers 1-8 above.

1. Gay people should not be tortured or persecuted

It is a fundamental of Christian beliefs that no people should be tortured or persecuted. All should receive this kind of love, whether gay or non-gay, no matter what the race or nation: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these”’ (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).

Christians are fallible human beings who have the Saviour living in them, but they sin and do not always follow God’s commands as He intended. For that they need to seek God’s and the people’s forgiveness and repent of their evil ways.

I can hear a secularist’s objection: ‘Your God tortured and persecuted people in the Old Testament’. No, God carried out his just judgment on the people of Israel and the nations when they violated God’s laws. This is not indiscriminate torture and persecution. There is a fundamental difference between persecution and judgment. Here are a couple of examples:

a. God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah

You can read about it in Genesis 18 and 19. Genesis 18:20 states, ‘Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave”’.

Abraham interceded for Sodom but there were not 10 righteous people he could find there (Gen. 18:32). Lot and his family escaped Sodom, but the Lord rained down judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin (Gen 18:23-29).

God brings judgment, but it is not torture and persecution from an indiscriminate, brutal, uncaring, unfair God. He is the God of absolute justice. This is a lesson for all nations of the world in the twenty-first century. God will not tolerate sinning against his holy nature. Nations and people will be punished with God’s judgment.

b. King Jeroboam of Israel built golden calves

See 1 Kings 12 and 13. Jeroboam set up gods – golden calves – one in Bethel and the other in Dan (1 Kings 12:29). Jeroboam built an altar in these places and offered sacrifices to these gods. But a man of God ‘cried against the altar by the word of the Lord’ (1 Kings 13:2) and Jeroboam’s hand dried up (1 Kings 13:4). This was enough judgment on Jeroboam to cause him to ask the man of God, ‘”Entreat now the favour of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me”. And the man of God entreated the Lord and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before’ (1 Kings 13:6-7).

But God is a just judge. The Scriptures declare in Genesis 18:25, ‘Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”’ (ESV)

Here the one God of the world, revealed in Old and New Testaments, is declared to be the God of justice. Not one single person or nation, will receive an unjust treatment from the Lord God Almighty.

Therefore, it is not an extremist position to say gay people should not be tortured or persecuted. It is a Christian position that all people should be treated fairly and ones enemies should be loved:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV).

2. It’s discriminatory to accuse the Queen of not fighting for gay rights

Isn’t it amazing how skewed the perspective can become of those who fight for equal rights (gay rights)? Surely one of the fundamentals of human rights is freedom of choice?

Eleanor Roosevelt with the Spanish version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Spanish version)

Courtesy Wikipedia

In the Preamble of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights it states:

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.


Article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes this statement: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion….’.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes this statement: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference’.

The Queen, as representative of the Commonwealth countries, has signed a document that the Commonwealth countries have approved. Surely she has the right to freedom of thought, religion, opinion and expression, based on Articles 18 and 19 (above)! But she is castigated by Strudwick for her silence on gay rights issues.

The article by Patrick Strudwick stated:

according to a Palace spokesman, the charter’s words are not even the monarch’s: “In this charter, the Queen is endorsing a decision taken by the Commonwealth… The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen’s position is apolitical”.[2]

Why can’t the Queen be granted a basic human right of freedom of speech and belief or freedom not to speak or not believe as her choice? This sounds like an awfully hypocritical stance by Strudwick, the homosexual and human rights’ advocate, who does not like the Queen’s personal silence on this issue.

Isn’t it amazing how the arguments of some advocates can be so self-defeating?

3. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. So what?

Patrick Strudwick shows his ignorance of what Jesus said. Jesus understanding of marriage was:

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together (Matthew 19:4-6).

Jesus did not need to mention homosexuality to affirm marriage was between a man and a woman. It is obvious Jesus supported heterosexual marriage.
However, Patrick’s point is valid that the call of Jesus’ followers to “love thy neighbour” does include all, including those males whose partner is called Steve. Too often Christians have excluded the biblical love of one’s neighbour, no matter who that neighbour is. I urge such Christians to repent.

There is an additional point. The Bible as a whole (Old and New Testaments) is inspired by God. Therefore, the New Testament does give God’s judgment on all sinners, including those who practice homosexuality:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous[3] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[4] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV).

Here is a statement of condemnation for all sinners – the unrighteous – they will not inherit God’s kingdom. But the good news is, ‘Such were some of you’. Yes, the heterosexually immoral, idolaters, thieves, greedy, drunkards, swindlers, etc., can be changed by the power of God through salvation in Jesus Christ. Thus, those who practice homosexuality are not practicing a genetic condition, but a sinful condition, that God says can be changed: ‘Such were some of you’.

4. To be silent is to ‘collude’

That is one possible meaning. Another possible meaning is that as head of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth countries have agreed to this charter but the Queen may not be supportive of the Commonwealth position, but she still has to sign it. I can’t read the Queen’s mind for not speaking up for ‘gay rights’, but a basic of any democracy is that the Queen has every right to say or not say what she wants regarding gay rights.

Silence does not necessarily mean collusion. It could mean an expression of her own views that she does not want to make public.

5. So it’s ‘laughable’ for the Queen to preach equality

As an unelected head or state who wants to be apolitical, why should it be ‘laughable’ for her to be silent on gay rights? So, according to Strudwick, it is controversial that people should not be discriminated against. But what does he do? He discriminates against the Queen for being silent on this occasion. That is a hypocritical and self-defeating response.

6. Explicit, unequivocal statements would oppose the Old Testament homophobia

Ah, so that is one of the issues! To speak out explicitly and unequivocally in favour of gay rights would counter the colonial laws and Old Testament homophobia – which is desperately needed. Again, this is Strudwick’s discrimination against Old Testament (and colonial) laws against homosexuality.

The Old Testament states:

Leviticus 18:22, ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination’.

Leviticus 20:13, ‘If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them’.

Homosexuality in the Old Testament was regarded as such a serious sin that it deserved capital punishment. But never let us forget that other sins also required capital punishment. See Leviticus 20:1-5; Leviticus 20:9-21;

The Christian does not live under Old Testament law, thanks to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. See Matthew 11:13; Romans 5:13-14; 6:14; 10:4; 2 Corinthians 3:11-13; Galatians 3:19; and James 2:10.

However, the unforgiven sins of the unrighteous, including unforgiven homosexuality, has the ultimate consequence of denying eternal life to the perpetrators. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

See Matt Slick’s article, ‘Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, and a “man who lies with a man”’.

7. Is it correct to execute homosexuals or make homosexuality illegal?

There are many sins mentioned in, say, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, that are criminal offences. These include theft, being drunk, revilers (slanderers), and swindlers. However, Strudwick has a point here. To execute homosexuals is an Old Testament punishment that has been abolished since Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. To torture, flog and impose life imprisonment on homosexuals is parallel to Old Testament law that has been superceded. To make homosexuality illegal has benefits when we understand some of the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle:

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (USA) reported (May 2012) on HIV among homosexual and bisexual men:

  • Gay and bisexual men are more severely affected by HIV than any other group in the United States.
  • Among all gay and bisexual men, blacks/African Americans bear the greatest disproportionate burden of HIV.
  • From 2006 to 2009, HIV infections among young black/African American gay and bisexual men increased 48%.

What about the prevalence of anal cancer among homosexual men? According to WebMD, ‘Gay and bisexual men are at significant risk for developing anal cancer, and testing them for the disease would save many lives, says a new study in the American Journal of Medicine [the year 2000]…. The number of cases of anal cancer is rising in gay men’. Physicians for Life reported that ‘a study which appears in the February [2007] issue of the International Journal of STD & AIDS, has found that “HIV-positive men who have sex with men are up to 90 times more likely than the general population to develop anal cancer”’.

8. Opposition to discrimination needs spelling out

This is an excellent point, but this article by Strudwick was also discriminatory towards Queen Elizabeth II. She has a right to silence because of her position, values, or any other reason that she accepts as a free person in a free society. To oppose the Queen’s silence and call it discrimination is self-defeating when Strudwick engages in discrimination towards the Queen because she does not line up with his gay rights beliefs.

Marriage cover photo

Courtesy Salt Shakers (Christian ministry)


[1] Patrick Strudwick, ‘The Queen defending gay rights? She can’t even say the words out loud’, The Guardian, 11 March 2013, available at: (Accessed 13 March 2013).

[2] Ibid.

[3] The ESV footnote at this point was, ‘Or wrongdoers’.

[4] The ESV footnote here as, ‘The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts’.


Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

Is the Holy Spirit God?

Hovering Dove

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

There are some who have doubts about the Holy Spirit being God, expressed in some of the blogs I visit on Christian Forums on the Internet. Here is but one example:

Also how come the Holy Spirit is never called God in any scripture? Look at John 10:30–“I and the father are one”.[1]

The following is my response.[2]

You don’t seem to want to believe that the Holy Spirit is God. Take your example:

‘Also how come the Holy Spirit is never called God in any scripture? Look at John 10:30–“I and the father are one”.

Yours is false teaching that “the Holy Spirit is never called God in any scripture”. Don’t you read the Book of Acts? This is what Acts 5:3-5 states:

3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it (ESV).

Who did Ananias lie to? The Holy Spirit and that means that Ananias lied to God. That’s Bible, but you don’t want to believe it!

I obtained the following summary of the deity of the Holy Spirit from Norman Geisler 2003. Systematic Theology: God, Creation, vol 2. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse, pp. 675-676.

The Holy Spirit is given the names of Deity
The Holy Spirit is referred to as “God” or “Lord” (Acts 5:3-4), “God’s Spirit” (1 Cor. 3:16), “Lord” (1 Cor. 12:4-6), and “eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14).

The Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of Deity
The Holy Spirit has attributes of God such as life (Rom. 8:2), truth (John 16:13), love (Rom. 15:30), holiness (Eph. 4:30), eternality (Heb. 9:14), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7), and omniscience (1 Cor. 2:11).

The Holy Spirit performs acts of deity
The divine works of the Holy Spirit include the act of Creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30), the acts of redemption (Isa. 63:10-11; Eph. 4:30; 1 Cor. 12:13), the performance of miracles (Gal. 3:2-5; Heb. 2:4), and the bestowal of supernatural gifts (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:11).

The Holy Spirit is associated with God in prayers and benedictions
Jude 1:20 exhorts readers to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” The benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14 contains all three members of the Godhead: “May the brace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God [the Father], and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (emphasis added). The baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 also contains the Holy Spirit, along with the other members of the Trinity, all under one “name” (essence).


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘Is Jesus God’, yogosans14 #242, available at: (Accessed 11 March 2013).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen #255.


Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

Blue Greek Key With Lines Border by GR8DAN - A blue greek key based border.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses wrong translation of John 1:1

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (world headquarters).jpg

International Headquarters, Watchtower, Brooklyn NY (Courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

The New World Translation of John 1:1 reads: ‘In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god’ (emphasis added).

The Greek of John 1:1 is found HERE.

The contentious translation is ‘the Word was a god’ as the transliterated Greek into English is theos aen ho logos. Word order is not important in Greek. However, the conjugations of the verbals and the declensions of the nouns, pronouns, adjectives, etc are important for determining where the word goes in the sentence.

The JWs have violated a fundamental of Greek grammar with their translation, ‘the Word was a god’. In Greek, the subject of this sentence is made plain because it has the definite article with it, ho logos. The complement (what we call it in Australia) or the predicate nominative after the verb to be, aen, is determined by dropping the article. So the meaning is ‘The Word was the God’. Technically in Greek this is known as Colwell’s Rule for determining which is the subject and which is the predicate nominative when a sentence contains a copulative such as the verb ‘to be’.

Colwell’s Rule originally appeared in 1933 in E. C. Colwell’s article, ‘A definite rule for the use of the article in the Greek New Testament’. Please understand that it is a general rule and there are a few exceptions.

Colwell’s Rule in Greek has been defined this way: ‘In sentences in which the copula [e.g. the verb ‘to be’ in John 1:1] is expressed, a definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb’.

We see this rule applied in John, with the translation of 1:49, ‘You are the King of Israel’. There is no definite article before ‘King’ in the Greek. Even the New World Translation has this translation of John 1:49, ‘You are King of Israel’. If it translated consistently with the way it translates John 1:1, it should at least have this translation, ‘You are a King of Israel’.

This has been a technical translation, but it is my attempt to explain why the NWT is not consistent with Greek grammar.

Here is a sound refutation of the JW translation of John 1:1, ‘John 1:1, “The word was a god”’.


Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear.  This document is free content.  You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the OpenContent License (OPL) version 1.0, or (at your option) any later version.  This document last updated at Date: 9 March 2013.


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