A & J, husband-and-wife Jehovah’s Witnesses, have been coming to talk with me on Saturday mornings for three weeks now. They are lovely people, trying to follow Jesus, and that alone makes them friends. This past week they left me a little booklet, What Does the Bible Really Teach, and I have started to read it.

Offhand, I can think of three reasons for doing this: First, these are nice people, fellow Christians, deserving of a hearing and worthy of respect. Second, they make me, as a Catholic, rethink what I believe and why. Third, as a person who can’t remember chapters and verses, it helps me become more familiar with what is in my Bible. We will probably all learn something from this encounter.

Today I ran into why the Jehovah’s witnesses call themselves by that name. It is true, as they say, that the Hebrew scriptures use Jehovah as the proper name of God 7000 times, but it is many times translated as Lord. Though the King James bible most often translates the tetragrammaton as “LORD”, Psalm 83:18 is one of the several occurrences in which it is translated as “JEHOVAH”.
Wikipedia lists 7 biblical translations of this verse, five of which translate the tetragrammaton as Jehovah or Yahweh; the remainder (as well as my Douay version) use Lord. The Geneva bible, 1560, uses a form of Jehovah.
The tetragrammaton is the four Hebrew letters corresponding to YHWH (see below):

According to Jewish Orthodox tradition, the Sacred Name is not to be uttered and accordingly, the form “G-d ” is used in writing or printing. In place of pronouncing the Sacred Name in prayer, worship and discussion, the form “Adonai” (the Hebrew for ‘Lord’) is used.

Reading just a few pages of their little booket assures me that Jehovah’s Witness believe many of the things that we Catholics believe, but there are important differences, some I have discovered already, and some in later pages yet unread. It disturbs me that Jesus’ last prayer (KJ version, John 17:21) reads: That all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

What I hope to learn in these meetings is why the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses decided to take scriptures which were declared inspired by the Catholic Church and start yet another church – why the Witnesses think that their interpretation of the Bible is more accurate, true, believable, than that of the early church fathers and current Catholic scholars. I understand, too, that Jehovah’s witnesses have their own translation of the Bible and I hope to learn something of the qualifications of those who rendered that translation.

However, it is fine with the me if they want to call God, the Father, Jehovah. I might even do it myself occasionally – when I’m not using his other Hebrew name, Abba.

Keep tuned for further thoughts and insights on Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Months later:

Alas, after a number of very interesting sessions with my JW couple, they were transferred to another area. I miss them a lot and enjoyed them very much. Rather than delete all the material I have accumulated over these weeks, I have decided to put it all in one post so I (or anyone else) can find them easily.

BIBLICAL QUOTES TO DISPROVE THE BELIEFS OF THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
by Christine McCabe on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 10:02pm

THE DIVINITY OF JESUS
1. In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. (Jn 1:1)
2. He spoke of God as His own Father, and so made Himself God’s equal. (Jn 5:18)
3. “I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham ever was, I Am.” (Jn 8:58).  (“This,” he added, “is what you must say to the sons of Israel: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’) (Ex 3:14)
4. “The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:30)
5. “If you know Me, you know My Father too. From this moment you know Him and have seen Him.: (Jn 14:7)
6. “Doubt no longer but believe.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28)
7. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of His nature, sustaining the universe by His powerful command. (Heb 1:3)
8. He makes His angels winds and His servants flames of fire, but to His Son He says: “God, your throne shall last for ever and ever.” (Heb 1:8)
9. While we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. (Titus 2:13)
10. His state was divine, yet He did not cling to His equality with God…  (Phil 2:6)
11. In His body lives the fullness of divinity… (Col 2:9)
12. For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Is 9:6)
13. A voice cries, “Prepare in the wilderness a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. (Is 40:3)
14. “Before me every knee shall bend, by me every tongue shall swear,…”  (Is 45:23)
15. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord… (Phil 2:9-11)

THE GLORY OF GOD/JESUS
1. “My name is Yahweh, I will not yield my glory to another… (Is 42:8)
2. “Never will I yield My glory to another.” (Is 48:11)
Although God has said He will not yield His glory to another, read the following:
3. “Now, Father, it is time to glorify me with that glory I had with you
before the world ever was.” (Jn 5:5)
4. “Go on growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory, in time and in eternity.” (2Peter 3:18)  Therefore, Jesus must also be God as well.

JESUS AND GOD THE SAVIOR

1. “I, I am Yahweh, there is no other savior but Me.” (Is 43:11)
2. “Yet I am Yahweh, your God since the days in the land of Egypt; you know no God but Me, there is no other savior.”
3. “He does not lie and so, at the appointed time, he revealed His decision, and, by the command of God our savior, I have been commissioned to proclaim it.” (Titus 1:3)
4. “To Titus, true child of mine in the faith that we share, wishing you grace and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Savior.”  (Titus 1:4)
5. “But when the kindness and love of God our savior for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over
us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)
6. “From Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ; to all who treasure the same faith as ourselves, given through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 1:1)

THE JUDGE
1. “For the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgment to the Son.”  (Jn 5:22)
2. “Fear God and praise him, for the time has come for him to sit in judgment; worship the maker of heaven and earth and sea and every water spring.”  (Rev 14:7)

THE WORSHIP OF GOD/JESUS
1. “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone.” (Mt 4:10)
2. And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  (Mt 14:33)
3. When He brings the First-born into the world, He says: “Let all the angels  of God worship him.” (Heb 1:6)
4. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Sir,” the man replied, “tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.” The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and worshipped him.” (Jn 9:38)

THE FIRST AND THE LAST
1. Thus says Israel’s king and his redeemer, Yahweh Sabaoth: I am the first and the last; there is no other God besides me. (Is 44:6)
2. “Listen to me, Jacob, Israel whom I have called: I am the first, I am also the last.” (Is 48:12)
3. He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid: it is I, the First and the Last; I am the Living One, I was dead and now I am to live for ever, and I hold the keys of death and of the underworld.” (Rev 1:17)i
4. “Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna and say, ‘Here is the message of the First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life again;  (Rev 2:8)
5. “Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

GOD/JESUS CREATOR

1. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. (Eph 3:9)
2. “I, myself, Yahweh, made all things, I alone spread out the heavens.”  ( Is 44:24)
3. “My hand laid the foundations of earth and my right hand spread out the heavens.” (Is 48:13)
4. “He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him.” (Jn 1:2-3)

THE TRINITY
1. God said, Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves…  (Gen 1:26)
2. “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Mt 28:19)
3. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor 13:13)

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

Jehovah’s Witness teach that the Holy Spirit is a force. They deny that He is alive, that He is a person, just as they deny the whole Trinity. If the Holy Spirit is simply a force then…
1. Why is He called God?
“Ananias,” Peter said, “how can Satan have so possessed you that you should lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the money from the land? While you still owned the land, wasn’t it yours to keep, and after you had sold it wasn’t the money yours to do with as you liked? What put this scheme into your mind? It is not to men that you have lied, but to God.”  (Acts 5:3-5)
2. How is it that He can teach?
“… but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.  (Jn 14:26)
3. How can He be blasphemed?  “And so I tell you, every one of men’s sins and blasphemies will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  (Mt 12:31,32)
4. How is it possible for Him to speak?  Paul had one last thing to say to them, “How aptly the Holy Spirit spoke when He told your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah:…” (Acts 28:25)
5. How can He be grieved?
“Let your words be for the improvement of others, as occasion offers, and do good to your listeners, otherwise you will only be grieving the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal for you to be set free when the day comes.”
6. How can He help us in our weakness?
“The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pay properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words… (Rom 8:30)

THE RESURRECTION – HIS/OURS

1. He said to them, “Peace be with you,” and showed them his hands and his side. (Jn 20:20)
2. “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me you hand; put them into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.” (Jn 20:27)
3. Jesus answered, “Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.”  The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this… (Jn 2:20-22)
4. “Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts?  Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took, and ate before their eyes.
5. If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ himself cannot have been raised, and if Christ has not been raised then our perching is useless and your believing is useless; (1 Cor 15:13-14)
6. “For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the Savior we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. (Phil 3:21)

THE SOUL

1. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Mt 10:28)
2. “I saw the souls of all who had been beheaded for having witnessed for Jesus
and for having preached God’s word…” (Rev 20:4)

ETERNAL HELL
1. In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom… “for I am in agony in these flames.”  (Lk 16:23,25)
2. Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. (Dan 12:2)
3. “He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.” (Mt 3:12)
4. “It is better for you to enter into life cripple or lame, then to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.” (Mt 18:8)
5. “All those who worship the beast and his statue, or have had themselves branded on the hand or forehead, will be made to drink the wine of God’s fury which is ready, undiluted, in his cup of anger; in fire and brimstone they will be tortured in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb, and the smoke of their torture will go up for ever and ever. There will be no respite, night or day,…

PURGATORY

1. “I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last  penny.” (Mt 5:26)
2. “And anyone who says a word against the Holy Spirit and he will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next.” (Mt 12:32)
3. For if he had not expected the fallen to rise again it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead… (2 Macc 12:44)

“You study the scriptures, believing that in them you have eternal life; now these same scriptures testify to me, and yet you refuse to come to me for life!” (Jn 5:39)

My thanks to Christine McCabe who did the thorough and scholarly bible search above.
(emphasis mine).