• This is full of more or less common fallacies, such as appealing to authority and attacks on the person or position, rather than giving scholarly information why something is inaccurate. For example, in chapter 1 instead of criticizing content, he questions the unrevealed committee. However, it is not brought out that all of the publications by Witnesses of Jehova do not have names on them and this translation is no different. We can and should base this version not on any appeal to authority or appeal to titles but based on the quality of the version. The King James Version (KJV) is an example of a version that very few know who the translators were but that should not matter as much as the quality of the translation. Millions of English-speaking people read the KJV, study it but have no clue who the translators were. Issues like this again are common fallacy arguments and not scholarly. There is no question that Witnesses of Jehovah know languages very well, as their literature is translated in over 1,000 languages. Indeed, they know much about translation and have professionals in that field. Actually, their website is the world’s most translated site so to even go do this road is silly. The emphasis should be on accuracy not on identity or manner it was written. Next, the criticism that is offer is on the NWT is based on theology not really accuracy in translation. Theology will often play a major part in how to translate a given text. For example, the genitive "faith of Jesus." Whether one views it as subjective or objective is debatable, but these are not issues of accuracy unless it can be proven by context which is correct. However, scholars continue to debate this. Another example is how many English translations call the “Holy Spirit” an “it” at places like Romans 8.16,26. ¬¬ ¿Why? Because of following the grammatical gender of the Greek. While it can be argued that theologically this is not proper, linguistically it agrees with the gender of the noun. ¿Does one follow the so-called natural gender (strictly based only on theology) or grammatical gender based on language? These are the decisions translator’s make and we may not like. So, to reduce certain translation choices of the NWT to “inaccurate” or “false” is not accurate when it is an issue of theology and grammar allows for a different rendering. Their theology goes one way and others may go another way but often language allows for different interpretations. They certainly can be criticized, but Eugenio does not present the full picture but only one side, his side. This is not just another fallacy but is misleading. Any criticism should be based on grammatical facts not because it doesn’t agree with our own personal theology. Attacks are fine but let’s play fair and base it on true scholarly evidence. Also, criticism is offered that this is not a direct translation from the Greek and Hebrew. However, much of the work of Bible translation organizations are also not direct either. Back translations are often used too that help determine the reader friendliness of a version. Again, this is more or less an ad hominem attack instead of being based on the quality of the translation. All translations should stand based on their quality not the title of the person, nor the school that the person attended, nor the country he or she was raised, nor the faith they have. Obviously, this is not a full review but to attack a religion or their works is fine, but let’s do it in a scholarly way and endeavor to present the full picture. Sad to say, that is not the case with Eugenio’s publication.
    1. I agree somewhat to much of what is stated here except on a few select points. First is that an appeal to authority is not in fact a logical fallacy. It may be bad form or a weak argument, but it is not logically incoherent or discount the argument just because it disagrees based on authority. Appeals to authority have their place. Their place is just not usually in a scholarly debate UNLESS the two parties have agreed upon the value and trustworthiness of said authority. The Bible itself is an authority and in theological debates it is almost exclusively referred to in an authority position to make the argument that one position is correct and another incorrect. You rarely hear people accuse someone of an appeal to authority by quoting the Bible as evidence for their argument unless you're debating an atheist, Buddhist, or other person who does not agree that the Bible is a proper authority on the matter. That doesn't mean we don't debate about what that authority actually says or doesn't say, but the authority itself, as long as the we agree it is the authority to refer to, is valid. The time when appeals to authority are inappropriate and weak arguments is when the two parties either can't agree that a source is either AN authority, or the HIGHEST authority on the topic. You might sometimes find this a problem in say a debate between a protestant and a catholic, or in this case between Jehovah's Witness and other groups. So, I agree in this context that an appeal to authority is probably not warranted because there is dispute as to which authority is acceptable, good, or supreme. Nevertheless be careful about thinking that appeals to authority are logical fallacies or are always inappropriate. There is a difference between what is debatable in the meaning of a text from another language and 2000 years in between, and whether there was originally ambiguity in a text. Its a distinction without a difference for us I suppose, but it isn't necessarily true that the context to a native speaker allows for different interpretations. Certainly in much of the case the human and/or divine author has something specific in mind and the inefficiency of language leads to misunderstanding. Other times ambiguity may indeed be the goal. However, we are presumptuous to assert that a text CAN mean something just because it is grammatically permissible to interpret it as such. It is true that many translations are not directly from the Greek or Hebrew, at least in the way you're defining direct, but I have 3 bones to pick with that statement. First is your use of back translations as a defense that they're not translated from Greek or Hebrew. Back translations are a tool for checking the quality of a translation for consultants to easily access the receptor language. They are not used for the actual translation process. In fact it is only once the translation is in some form complete a back translation can then be produced. It is irrelevant whether the back translation is English, Tok Pisin, Greek, Hebrew, Mandarin, or Martian. The back translation has no bearing on the source text that a translator uses to translate. Second, what does it mean to directly translate from a source text? Do we define it as the Hebrew or Greek are the ONLY source texts we use at all? What if I use a Lexicon while reading the text? What about a person who does an initial reading of the passage in a language of wider communication to get a general idea of the meaning and then gets down to specifics in Greek & Hebrew? Are you directly translating from the text? What about someone who translates first from say English and then meticulously compares what they've done with the Greek & Hebrew? What about someone who doesn't study the Greek or Hebrew doing the translation but those involved in the checking process do, what do we say about that? My point isn't to argue any one of these is direct translation, but to point out that any of them COULD be considered direct translation from Greek & Hebrew. There is room for debate here and "direct translation" is a much fuzzier statement than it immediately seems. Third, from the way you represent the author(I admit I have not read it and don't intend to, not being particularly fluent in spanish) it appears you have misrepresented his argument. Your assertion is that his criticism of the Watchtower translation that it is not directly translated from the Greek and Hebrew is an ad hominem attack. To be sure, it very well COULD be an ad hominem attack, but you make no argument that it actually is. He is arguing that ideally a translation(do you agree or disagree?) should be made from the most original source texts we have available and that the Watchtower society did not do this. This is only an ad hominem attack if it is not true, or if the standard of translation from Greek & Hebrew is an unreasonable one. You do not argue either of these and interestingly and ironically it seems your accusation of ad hominem is in fact itself an ad hominem attack on his argument. I agree that we should, to the best of our ability evaluate translations based on their merits, but part of that process is to evaluate the acumen of its translators. Often times their reputation is all we have to go on. I am a translator with SIL and you have almost no information on my ability to translate the Bible. Yet, you have some idea of the reputation of SIL and can at least make a cursory judgment about the quality of our translation work based on that reputation until you receive more reliable information if it is even worth your while to seek that information. Titles, accolades, or anything of the sort are reputation markers and should be taken somewhat skeptically simply because they are in essence appeals to authority, whether the authority of an organization like SIL or a university or any other human organization. Yet reputation does play a role because since we can't possibly gain deep knowledge about every single person on the planet and we must rely on second, third, or even lower order reputation information to base our decisions since it is impossible to know anything at all otherwise. So though I agree a person or group's title or reputation should not be the end point of inquiry it is where we must start.
    2. To clarify on one statement, "Often times their reputation is all we have to go on." is in the context of people we don't know, though I thought it should be clear I'd like to make this explicit that it is not ideal for reputation to be all we have to go on, but as an outside observer oftentimes that is all we have to go on.
  • The Good: Very easy to listen to. (So easy that I can use 2x speed within Logos) Great explanations of ideas that could be new for some. Nice point that the “Hebrew Grammar View” doesn’t contradict the modern view that says the earth is millions of years old. (Genesis 1.1-3) He stresses the needed reminder to not filter the Bible through modern day lenses. (Acts 2 discussion) It is also great that he highlights various views on a given text and doesn’t just present his own as the final authority. The Bad: (well... questionable) 2 Samuel 13.1: Heiser says that 30 was inserted in the LXX from the parallel account. However, it is possible that the LXX drew on a different Hebrew text. Quaram has verified that differences exist. The whole LXX issue is debatable but he doesn’t present an alternative view. Gen 9:20-27: While Heiser view is possible it also raises serious questions. Why is the account sandwiched with Noah’s intoxication if it is really about Noah’s wife? If his nakedness is actually his wife’s what about the other masculine pronouns in the context? What does it mean when it says Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his son did “to him”? Everything in the context seems to center on Noah and not his wife. (of course doing something to his wife could be considered as doing it to Noah) In addition, If Canaan was the incestuous offspring from this act how is is possible that when he woke up Noah cursed a zygote? (It is possible that the account could look back and insert the name which the zygote was given later.) Deuteronomy 32.8: Heiser is strong on translating it “sons of God.” He has done much research on this and that has no doubt contributed to his stand. (Bib Sacra 158 52-74) However, there are other factors in addition to the Masoretic text saying “sons of Israel” not “sons of God.” (Peshitta agrees with MT) Gen 42:1-4 speaks of “Jacob” (though in Chapter 32 he is named Israel) and his sons. However, in verse 5 the expression “Sons of Israel” is used. This is in connection with going to Egypt where Israel on coming out of Egypt become a mighty nation. See also Gen 35.10-12; 36:31 where it mentions “nations” and kings ruling over the “Sons of Israel.” Thus Deuteronomy could very well be a prophetic indication of this future “nation.” The Ugly: Heiser unfortunately gives information that amounts to a straw man while discussing the position of Jehovah’s Witnesses on John 1.1. (Especially the 5 minute section “The Definite Article” under “The Word Was God”) While, to a degree, this is understandable since he no doubt relied on Wallace and Wallace stated in GGBB that he relied on Robert Countess. It should be made clear that the JW’s have not and do not teach that the “a” is added solely because theos lacks the article. What they have written is easy to find and can be used to verify that what Heiser says is not a position and argument that the JW’s have taken. They have stated context and syntax comes into play with John 1.1. One can read it here: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1001060096 This particular article is more than 30 years old. Also Heiser comes very close to sabellianism when he says Jesus was “the God”. Usually “the God” is “the trinity” (or Father by default) and surely Heiser doesn’t mean to say that Jesus is the trinity (or is the Father) but it sounds that way many times. PS I think it is actually about a 3.75 not 4 but hey either 3 or 4 so rounded up.
    1. While I have both books, this is only a review of Merkle’s as I have not started the Hebrew one. The Good: 35 concise chapters with Scriptural examples to illustrate the point under discussion. I like that he draws on Runge/Levinshohn not just in the chapter on discourse but in at least one other chapter too. Also, many recent studies are referenced in the footnotes indicating he is keeping up with the latest scholarship on the subjects. In addition, he does not repeat the same error that Metzger did in using Colwell as proof to how John 1.1 should be rendered. He correctly notes in chapter 10 that, “the context must determine whether the predicate nominative is definite.” The Bad- well the questionable: At times, no doubt due to the concise manner in which the book is written, it comes across as dogmatic. For example, Merkle writes that “there are three main families of manuscripts.”- (chapter 2) It would have been better if he used scare quotes or had a footnote or something to alert the reader to the controversy that exists in dividing MSS into specific families with specific boundaries. In discussing the genitive case he says that in most instances it is easy to figure out a genitive. - (chapter 5) Such a comment gives the impression that ambiguous exceptions are few and far between which is not true at all. The genitive often allows for a great variety even if only a “few” examples are highlighted over and over again as being ambiguous. (righteousness of God; love of God). What does the revelation of Jesus mean as stated at Rev 1.1? From Jesus? Or about Jesus? Opinions vary, but these examples can be stated over and over again. The fact is, context often allows for different understandings and one can easily get lost in the different terms used in describing the types of genitives. Also, to add to the complexity is the fact that often these relationships involve abstract nouns or figure of speeches. In a very recent review published in “The Expository Times” 131(2) the reviewer highlights the weakness he found in chapter 23 on participles. Chapter 23 is entitled “Periphrastic Participles” and Merkle uses Mathew 18.18 as his example. The reviewer noted that the author did not engage “in a close study of similar periphrastic construction in wider koine Greek” thus not examining all the evidence but only a narrow sample and then picking a conclusion that was based on his own theological beliefs not on sound linguistical principles. The ugly: Chapter 3 has many errors that should not go without comment. Merkle clearly realizes that syntax/context is a key to John 1.1c. He states, "only the context determines whether the noun should be considered indefinite" but then he goes on to accuse another translation of "demonstrating its inconsistency" when they do the exact same thing (use context to come up with their rendering) but arrive at a very different theological conclusion. Most ironically, he does not allow the New World Translation (NWT) to use syntax even though they have publicly stated over and over this is why they have translated it differently than most. With little effort, this information could have been readily found online. Instead, Merkle relies on a faulty study in which Robert Countess makes up a rule that the NWT must not consider context/syntax but always translate nouns (theos) that are not articulate in the same way. This is pure non-sense! (Dan Wallace also makes this same grave error because of relying on the faulty “study” of Countess) The point that syntax matters in translating John 1.1 has been clearly made for decades within the NWT and online for some time. https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1001060096 While the NWT can certainly be criticized, to make a straw man argument is not scholarly to say the least. His conclusion is that, "the Greek use of the predicate nominative is qualitative." This is the exact same conclusion that Jehovah's Witnesses make in regards to John 1.1! If this is correct, then adding "a" or "an" is the general way you would show that a noun is "qualitative." (eg. “she is an angel.” The exceptions that I can think of, would be when it is clear you are talking about a quality) To translate this clause as "God" can easily cause one to jump into the pan of Sabellianism, hiding the very distinction that the Greek makes and that is lacking in the traditional English rendering. 99.9% of the readers of John do think "God" is a noun of identity (as opposed to a qualitative noun) and do indeed equate Logos with God. Thus, if John 1.1 is "qualitative" then you would expect something similar or the same, as the NWT and not what the NIV, NASB, KJV, etc. has that reads as if this were a definite noun. Therefore, if this is a qualitative noun then why not show this in translation? In conclusion, context is king for all translations, even for the ones whose theology we might not agree with. So, while the scholarly world no longer uses Colwell for proof on John 1.1c, it appears that, sad to say, there are other errors that will continue for some time based on faulty chapters like this one.
      1. Overall, the course was very easy to follow and was logical. He had a good pattern for new vocabulary, practice and reading. In addition, his interval review throughout it was very good. I would recommend it. However, I have one big issue with it, as he promotes human tradition over reading the text as God had it is recorded. Does he know better than God? My big issue is with his justification of why he does not read the tetragram (Ha shem/shem meforash) in any form. See the vocabulary in unit 9 where he spends almost 4 minutes explaining (justifying?) it. Throughout the rest of the course, he always reads it as adonai. In justifying this, he says he is following the tradition of the Jews. I wonder if he also follows the traditional Jewish view of Jesus? It is ridiculous to hear a scholar say the best way not to misuse (or abuse) it not to use it. Should we also not use the title “God” since many misuse that also? Is it better not to use the Bible because we might misunderstand it? The divine name appears 6,828 times and thus God clearly wanted us to know and use it. Had God wanted us to read and say adonai he would have written that under inspiration and not YHWH as he did. Many of the Biblical names have either El or Y/Jah in them too. If we are consistent should we not remove all the theophoric names such as “Jesus?” If we are to follow the tradition of the Jews where do we stop? Many Jews today don’t even write out “God” so are we to stop writing or saying that too? However you roll the dice, his presentation was not entirely accurate. Why? At least 4 reasons. 1) The Jews did not stop using it but curbed the use. At least once a year the high priest would use it on Yom Kippur -the day of atonement. (cf. Mishnah Yoma 6:2) Also the priests did when they recited the Priestly Blessings (Sot. 7:6) The scholarly consensuses is that Masoretes were Karaites not Rabbanites Jews. Why is that important? Because they did not take the same stand as the Rabbanites but varied with some continuing to speak it. Thus it is pure conjecture that the Karaites would have not been using the name (audible) when they wrote the MT. It is possible that some even rebuke the Jews who substituted a different word. So, one size does not fit all. 2) The Jews never removed the tetragram as modern English Bibles often do. He says the Jewish tradition is a reason why modern Bibles removal the tetragram. However, the Jews did not remove YHWH but did not pronounce it. If we wish to follow their tradition then we should keep a form of the divine name (Jehovah/Yehovah/Yahweh or YHWH) and when reading orally substitute a different word. The point? The Jews did not remove the name from Scripture so it has no justification in removing it today. 3) In addition, the vowels in YHWH are not the same as adonai as clearly shown by the sheva in the beginning and not a qamets or hataf patah as “lord” has. If the Masoretes wanted to substitute the vowel points from “lord” why did they use a sheva instead? ( As one writer highlighted this all “undermines any notion of the Tetragrammaton’s vowels being a ketiv-kere, for every other Masoretic ketiv-kere substitutes the kere-vowels unchanged, even when the result is an impossible fit to the ketiv-consonants” besides there is absolutely no indication of any ketiv-qere for the Tetragram but only conjecture.) Also, sometimes the divine name in the MS text does not have the holam either- so there is not 100% consistency on the spelling of the 6,828 occurrences. He fails to mention this, but again goes with the traditional understanding. On the other hand, this is one of many points that Karaite Nehemia Gordon highlights that is wrong with this “traditional” understanding. 4) It is also an anachronistic argument to say that how the NT quotes the OT is evidence for substituting “lord.” Why? Because The LXX did not have kyrios in the first century AD or BC but a form of the divine name. Later nomina scara were used and not the a plene kyrios. It was not until around the 2nd century that nomina sacra were used in LXX/OG. - See Tov  SCRIBAL PRACTICES AND APPROACHES p.288. Online: http://www.emanueltov.info/docs/books/scribal-practices1.publ.books.pdf?v=1.0 Why all this on one issue? Because over and over YHWH comes up and he continues to misread it. Ps. I am glad he highlights that he doubts that “Yahweh” is the correct pronunciation. (Hebrew scholars for years have know that Yahweh is probably not correct) The scholarly evidence is for a 3 syllable pronunciation not two. I often hear ones who use Yahweh say that “Jehovah” is not correct but such ones need to learn that Yahweh is also not considered accurate either. “The avoidance of pronouncing the name YHWH is generally ascribed to a sense of reverence. More precisely, it was caused by a misunderstanding of the Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Deut. 5:11)” - ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 7 p. 675.
        1. Dear Kenneth, Thank you for taking the time to response. I apologize if I came across as judgmental against a person that was not my intent. (Matt 7:1) My judgment is really aimed at the content given and the human tradition presented. Mark's qualities and his salvation were never an issue. The issue is - why isn't a proper name used instead of a totally different substituted word? This is not done with any other name and there is no valid scholarly reason to avoid using it. In addition, all Biblical names could be considered "mispronunciations" because they are not how they were original said in Hebrew when one reads it in English. For example, "Jesus" (Joshua is better but still not the same) is not even close to how Mary called her Son. However, that doesn't stop Bible translations and people from readily saying "Jesus" or "Jeremiah" etc. in English. PS I agree the videos were great.
        2. I'm glad to see some info about the actual course here as I generally wonder when there are only "star" reviews about the content itself. My thought on the original question as to why the Adonai... perhaps the instructor was being sensitive to those of different backgrounds to which another pronunciation may have been a stumbling block.
        3. just to be clear, was this course money well spent? I am considering doing one of the language courses.