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November 2008
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The New International Version and the Tetragrammaton

The world’s most popular Bible translation today is The New International Version. It does not even once mention God’s distinctive name Jehovah. Edwin H Palmer, Executive Secretary for the NIV committee, was asked about that.

“Here is why we did not,” he replied. “You are right that Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. But we put 2 1/4 million dollars into this translation and a sure way of throwing that down the drain is to translate, for example, Psalm 23 as, ‘Yahweh is my shepherd.’ Immediately, we would have translated for nothing. Nobody would have used it. Oh, maybe you and a handful [of] others. But a Christian has to be also wise and practical. We are the victims of 350 years of the King James tradition. It is far better to get two million to read it—that is how many have bought it to date—and to follow the King James [which does include the name in four places], than to have two thousand buy it and have the correct translation of Yahweh. . . . It was a hard decision, and many of our translators agree with you.”    (2nd set of brackets mine)

Who can’t empathize with this fellow? Do you want your new Bible translation to be read by everybody or by nobody? All you need do to ensure the former is remove the feature people loathe so much that its inclusion would send sales into the toilet. Yes, you must be “wise and practical.” As Jesus said, “the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way toward their own generation than the sons of the light are.” (Luke 16:8) So the sons of this system of things remove God’s name from their Bibles and sales go through the roof, whereas the dopey and pious sons of the light won’t compromise an inch and sell a thousand copies of theirs.

What can one say when you have to pull the author’s name from his own book in order to get anyone to read it? This might not be a big deal if the original text featured that name a half dozen times or so, but it appears in the Hebrew almost 7000 times!  [the tetragrammaton: YHWH] You don’t think that if God includes his own name 7000 times, he must consider it important, perhaps the most important aspect of the scriptures? After all, the Son’s name, Jesus, appears only 1000 times and you can just imagine the furor if some translator saw fit to take that out! And yet the sons of this system of things pull God’s name, and consider themselves “wise and practical” in doing so.

Over the years, some have pointed outwhat a blunder that is. For instance...."the most common "error" made by most translators in the last 3500 their elimination of heaven's revealed Name of the Most High, Yahweh (Jehovah)" - A. B. Traina; in the Preface of the Holy Name Bible

and    "The substitution of the word "Lord" is most unhappy; in NO WAY represents the meaning of the sacred name (Jehovah)..." - The 1872 edition of Smith's Bible Dictionary



Various sons of the light through the years have produced some translations that consistently translate the tetragrammaton as “Jehovah:”  such as the American Standard Bible of 1901, or the Bible in Living English (Stephen Byington - 1972), or the Holy Name Bible (1963). Have you heard of any of them? True to Mr. Palmer’s prophesy, they have all slipped into obscurity. Alas, there would appear to be no way to highlight the name of the Bible’s author!

But there is a way, and the sons of the light have proved themselves less dopey than they may at first appear. The key is to dispense with commercial distribution channels and not try to run Christianity as a popularity contest. There is one translation today that both faithfully publishes the divine name Jehovah and enjoys widespread circulation: the New World Translation. It is both translated, published, and distributed by faithful servants of Jehovah. Jehovah’s Witnesses are organized as a separate Bible society in no way beholden to the commercial interests Dr. Palmer felt held hostage to. The translators were free to focus on accurate translating, unconcerned with any popular or commercial verdict, feeling no need to come up with familiar and favored renderings lest money-conscious executives turn thumbs down.

It’s master text in Greek is Westcott and Hort, the same as the Revised Standard Version (1946), the Emphasized Bible (1902), An American Translation (1923) and others…..and in Hebrew, the Masoretic Text, same as most versions. Again, it is by no means the first Bible ever to incorporate God’s name throughout. Many others have done so. It is merely the first such Bible to receive widespread distribution. It’s success lies in the fact that distribution depends upon the efforts of dedicated Christians, and not upon the world’s commercial interests.

If the churches in general reject use of God’s name, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not as put out about it as one might expect. Instead, they have suggested [strongly] that the situation is of God’s doing:

God’s name Jehovah is hated so badly that the clergy of Christendom…. have denied it as being the Creator’s name, have removed it from their modern translations of the Bible, have said it is not the name of the God of Christians and thereby have left Jehovah’s witnesses alone to bear the distinguished divine Name. Little do they know that this is a maneuvering of God, for he respects his sacred name, and has arranged it so that only those devoted to him may bear it.              Watchtower 1966, pg 634


The parable giving rise to the expressions sons of this system of things and sons of the light is an odd one. Several of Jesus’ illustrations are downright quirky…..not at all the syrupy drivel you get at church…and the reader isn’t entirely sure who to root for:

“A certain man was rich and he had a steward, and this one was accused to him as handling his goods wastefully. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Hand in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer manage the house.’ Then the steward said to himself, ‘What am I to do, seeing that my master will take the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, I am ashamed to beg. Ah! I know what I shall do, so that, when I am put out of the stewardship, people will receive me into their homes.’ And calling to him each one of the debtors of his master he proceeded to say to the first, ‘How much are you owing my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred bath measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your written agreement back and sit down and quickly write fifty.’ Next, he said to another one, ‘Now you, how much are you owing?’ He said, ‘A hundred cor measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your written agreement back and write eighty.’ And his master commended the steward, though unrighteous, because he acted with practical wisdom; for the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way toward their own generation than the sons of the light are.     Luke 16:2-8

Ain't that the truth.


Tom Irregardless and Me       No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash


Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

Cabinets of Curiosities, Solomon, and the Bombardier Beetle

If you threw a party back in Bible times, there was one person you just had to invite: Solomon. He was absolutely essential. You only have to read what 1 Kings 4:33 says about him:

And he would speak about the trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that is coming forth on the wall; and he would speak about the beasts and about the flying creatures and about the moving things and about the fishes.

I mean, could this guy liven up things, or what? What more can you ask for at your party than someone who tells you all there is to know about warthogs?

Tempting though it may be to write Solomon off as a insufferable bore, upon inspection it is clear that most generations throughout history would consider his remarks fascinating. It’s only in the last hundred years or so that we’ve come to substitute football, horsepower, entertainment, and babes as talking points. Well, probably “babes” has always been around, but before our modern age of soft porn TV and hard porn internet, even they could hardly have been the obsession they are today. Just like Solomon, the average Joe of the nineteenth century figured you could do no better than rattle on about the trees and beasts and flying creatures and moving things and fishes.

There used to be a permanent exhibit at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, first floor, entitled Cabinets of Curiosities. Alas, it has been replaced with wiz-bang Jurassic Park dinosaurs. I mean, dinosaurs are okay, but who doesn’t have them? Cabinets, though much more modest in scale, offered unique insight. The exhibit was a vast collection of stuffed birds, insects, mammals, shells, minerals, plants, leaves, rocks, and so forth. Explaining it all was a sign:

“Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, Nature was seen as evidence of God’s work and people believed that studying it would bring them closer to the Creator. Darwin’s evolutionary theory, which replaced God’s role in creating species with natural selection, shook society to it’s foundations.”

So people collected these things….showed them off….studied them. They were part of the Book of Nature; they revealed things about God. Prominent scientists of the age: Newton and Kepler, Faraday and Hertz, thought of their work in much the same light. But people gradually adjusted to Darwinian thinking…..and little by little….natural things lost their appeal. One might as well collect hub caps.

So Solomon’s cherished topics of conversation and those of the nineteenth century are pretty much the same. It is we who can’t imagine what people could possibly find intriguing about “trees and beasts and flying creatures and fishes.“ Our times are the aberration, not those of Solomon.

Lately, though, the Awake! magazine has started talking up trees and beasts and flying creatures and moving things and fishes, highlighting one brief (too brief) example every issue. There’s more to these creatures than most people know.

For example, the bombardier beetle (December 2008) defends itself by spraying boiling, stinking liquid from its rear, sending spiders, birds and frogs running for cover. I mean, the liquid is actually boiling, it’s 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Built-in reactive chambers and release mechanism are potent enough to change speed, direction, and consistency of its toxic spray. Scientists try to learn from it, try to adapt it to various modern gadgets. “Andy McIntosh of the University of Leeds, England, says ‘Nobody had studied the beetle from a physics and engineering perspective as we did - and we didn’t appreciate how much we would learn from it.’”

The article concludes (as they always do) with “What do you think? Did (whatever the subject under consideration) develop by chance? Or was it designed?”

I can picture modern day devotees of reason and logic….the ones who idolize science as even scientists themselves do not….frothing livid at the question. You can‘t just ask that question point blank, they fume, first you must explain the ground rules concerning admissible evidence and the scientific method, otherwise people may come to conclusions you don’t want them to come to. But I see nothing wrong with the question. In fact, it seems foolish not to ask it.

The impetus behind the evolution model today applied to all living things is mutation, an “error” in replicating of this or that gene. The driver of the theory is natural selection. Errors, just like when you screw up something at home or in your workplace, are almost always bad. But every once in a while your bungling improves matters….we all know that can happen. And so it is with gene replication. There’s zillions of bad errors, and because they are bad they die out or get lost in the shuffle. But the one good error gives its recipient a leg up in the “fight for survival.“ Thus, natural selection sees to it that the good error is preserved for succeeding generations, while the bad ones disappear.

Now, nobody here has any problem applying this theory to the things Darwin observed in finches: changes of shape, color, beaks, feet, and so forth. Essentially it is animal husbandry. It’s been around forever. Everyone knows about it. But do you really, really expect us to believe that the same theory is enough to explain the bombardier beetle’s blasting butt? Just how many billions of these happy errors have to accumulate….each one nurtured by natural selection before being built upon….to equip the beetle this way?

The more successive coincidences you need, the more astronomical is the time required. If it takes you so long to flip a penny heads five times in a row, it will not take you twice as long to flip it so ten times in a row. Probability doesn’t work that way. The time required does not increase lineally, it increases geometrically. With enough needed permutations, you exceed the quantity of time supplied by even the boldest of physicists, for even time is not thought to be inexhaustible.

They are short articles, those Awake! snippets, thus frustrating those who confuse wisdom with tonnage. But Solomon would be pleased. You’d book him for after-dinner remarks and he’d regale one and all with tales of beetle flatulence.

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News But Plenty of Hogwash


Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

A Willowbrook Story, Part 2, with Geraldo Rivera


This month Chrstopher Batton turns 50 years of age, old enough to qualify for AARP membership. Our house staff plan to throw him a party. Christopher is a Willowbrook alumni. He would (I believe) like to invite Geraldo Rivera to his party.

Initiative Inc owes a lot to Geraldo, perhaps its very existence. Is not Geraldo, through his investigative reporting, grandfather to the entire group home movement in New York? Moreover, news reports assure us that New York State is in a budgetary crisis. Surely there will be pressure on all social agencies, including those that care for the disabled, to do more with less. A Geraldo visit might be a good thing. He could highlight the good that has been done in the last few decades as regards our vulnerable population.

A good itinerary might be to invite him to Christopher’s party, which would be informal, unannounced, and mostly, perhaps totally, house only. Next day he might be able to meet with Initiative execs and public relations people and say some things; maybe make public statements on the importance of our work, etc.

As for Geraldo, he is no doubt a busy guy, and probably can’t come. But he might….especially if we leave the timing up to him. Surely he must look upon the “liberation” of the disabled as a crowning achievement of his career. He might relish revisiting that time.

It seems like a good idea to me, but there will likely be corporate concerns with regards to family, privacy, publicity, and so forth. Yet by keeping Christopher’s party and all subsequent Initiative activities entirely separate, perhaps those concerns can be allayed. No one here would proceed without corporate approval. Should corporate agree to it, we’ll track him down.




Tom Whitepebble [a colleague of mine....Sheepandgoats]


Usually a guy’s crowning achievement comes at the end of his career. But with Geraldo Rivera, one might argue it came at its beginning. To thousands of developmentally disabled children….now adults….Geraldo looms as the singular most influential person for good in their lives. Alas, mentally disabled as they are, they’re not aware of it. But those who advocate for them are, and owe Mr. Rivera a debt of gratitude. In fact, most of those advocates only exist because of Mr. Rivera.

From film reviewer Dave Kehr:

'IN THE '50S, YOU DIDN'T KEEP them at home. You sent them away. Your family told you to. The priest told you to."

They were the developmentally disabled, and as one woman interviewed in Jack Fisher's documentary "Unforgotten: Twenty-five Years After Willowbrook" recalls, they weren't allowed to be seen or heard.

Instead, they were shipped off to institutions such as the one operated by the State of New York on Staten Island.

As if that policy weren't destructive enough, funding was drained from these institutions in the '60s, leading to severe reductions of staff and appalling conditions.

Robert Kennedy is seen describing Willowbrook as "a situation that borders on a snake pit" following a 1965 tour. Things had not improved six years later, when Geraldo Rivera entered Willowbrook with a stolen key and filmed residents writhing on the floor, starving, covered with filth and howling in pain.

Geraldo’s reporting provoked nationwide soul-searching. Consciences prodded. Laws passed. Policy redefined. The current policy of integrating the developmentally disabled into general society to the extent possible and placing them in small residential group homes is largely traceable to Mr. Rivera’s work. The movement began in New York, but has long since spread to other states and even countries.

Most people know Geraldo as a flamboyant news and showperson….alas, even having somewhat seedy overtones…..after all, one of his raucous talk show guests broke his nose with a thrown chair…..but I like to think of him as a Janis Joplin type: a talented & charismatic character launched by the big business people into the stratosphere, for which he was initially ill-equipped and so he careened all over the place both professionally and personally. But he’s repented of the really outlandish stuff, no longer hosting shows with themes like "Wanted: Elvis! Dead or Alive," "Drag Queens on Parade," "Exploring Satan's Black Market," "Sexual Secrets … To Tell or Not to Tell," and "Teen Lesbians and Their Moms."

From Atlantic magazine(June, 2005):

"I was sick of it," Rivera said recently of his decision in 1997 to leave the daytime talk-show format. "Maury Povich was my neighbor [in New Jersey], and he and his wife, Connie Chung, are two of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. I saw his show just a couple of days ago, and it was all paternity tests and lie-detector tests, all stuff that I pioneered, and I look at that stuff now, and I know how smart Maury is, how sensitive he is, and for him to still be doing that—humiliating all those poor trailer-trash and mostly black people, Hispanic people—I don't know how you do that, how you bear that. I could not do that no matter how much you pay me.

[They paid him a lot]

He’s signed on with Fox Network these days, a liberal balancing their prevailing conservatives. And he’s a war correspondent whenever he gets the chance, a sort of “hell for leather” one:

"That's why I said [the CNN anchor] Aaron Brown would

[ahem] shit in his pants if he had been in some of the places I was. That's true. That's absolutely true. It's the same way about all of them—every one of those Geraldo detractors. How many times have you been shot? How many times has your car been blown up? How many times have you ever been winged? How many times have you gone into it, taken a gulp, and stepped out of the airport?"

That almost reminds you of Paul, doesn’t it? Note how Paul responds to the pompous pansies of his day who wanted his title but not his work:

Are they ministers of Christ? I reply like a madman, I am more outstandingly one: in labors more plentifully, in prisons more plentifully, in blows to an excess, in near-deaths often. By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep;

and so forth. 2 Cor 11:23-25

The showmanship remains: When Fox took him aboard, he pledged to personally kill Osama bin Laden and bring his head back to the United States to be bronzed. Sheesh!

"That's the story,”

he tells Atlantic. “I can't tell you how many caves we crawled into looking for that sucker."

Um….there is that cartoon showing Jehovah’s Witnesses having located bin Laden through their door to door ministry. Ought there to be some teamwork?

Actually, that Atlantic magazine offers a good synopsis of his career. I admit he is much more larger than life than I had thought….I don’t really keep up. Would it really be a good idea to invite him to Christopher’s party? Dunno. Frankly, I can’t quite picture him sharing ranch dressing and milk cocktails with Carolyn, or flipping through all the channels roulette fashion with Doug, but perhaps I am selling him short. At any rate, we’re all grateful to him. Few persons have positively impacted a population as Geraldo has benefited the country’s developmentally disabled. He sparked a culture shift toward compassionate treatment. Were it not for him, perhaps they would yet be in dungeons like Willowbrook.


Read about life in a group home 35 years later here.

And perhaps even here.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’