Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Russell, Hell and the NWT
One has asked the question: Was it Russel who didn't like the Bible's teachings about hell so he re-wrote it himself, leaving out the doctrine of hell, which is now known as the New World Testament [sic]?
Actually Russell stayed very close to what the Bible says about hell, and for that reason he rejected the traditional teachings of eternal torment of the supposed immortal souls of unbelievers. He was not the first to do this, as many had done the same long before Russell began his study of the Bible. Nevertheless, we do not accept every detail of his explanations on sheol, hades, gehenna, tataroo, etc., but we are in general agreement concerning the basic ideas he presented. We have written many things on these topics, and much of what we have written can be found online at:
Russell had nothing to do with producing the New World Translation, which was published by the WTS for use by the Jehovah's Witnesses many years after Russell's death. We understand that the principle translator of the NWT was Frederick Franz. Russell, however, was never a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and his views on many Biblical topics were quite different from that of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The NWT translation does sometimes reflect the view held by the leadership of the Jehovah's Witnesses. We know from Russell's writings that there is much Russell would have disagreed with about the NWT.
As far as transliterating the Hebrew and Greek words for hell, many translations do that; not just the NWT. We believe that the NWT translation, like any other translation, is not 100% accurate, but as a whole we do find it more in accord with many of the suggested translations of various Bible scriptures as offered by Paul S. L. Johnson (a Hebrew and Greek Bible scholar who was a private secretary to Russell) than most other translations. Brother Johnson himself recommended Rotherham's Emphasized Bible translation for overall accuracy. Brother Johnson died in the same year that the first section of the New World Translation was published, so we doubt that he ever saw this translation at all.