Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Utter Desperation: Watchtower Style
06/12/2007 - James WhiteTwo months ago I posted a response to Greg Stafford illustrating, once again, why Christians down through the ages have believed what the Watchtower denies: that Jesus Christ is identified as hwhy (Yahweh) by the New Testament writers. Over the past two months folks have sent me notes indicating that Stafford was working on a reply. Given how long it was taking, I predicted, to those same folks, a lengthy tome filled with all sorts of irrelevant material (aka, dust and smoke) all designed to "solidify the base" in essence, but not to provide much in the way of substantive interaction. And glancing over what has been posted, I must say my predictions were spot-on.
I confess, replying to Stafford is becoming as unpleasant as dealing with anything said by Dave Armstrong. You know that no matter what you say, or how you say it, your words will be subject to interminable spinning and death by a thousand qualifications. The "cheap shot" quotient is high indeed, and every opportunity to impugn my intentions and character is taken in full. Now, as there has been even more promised, I will not invest much time as yet (given it took him 60 days to respond to my posts, I figure I have a proportional amount of time to reply to his much lengthier tomes) in the current posts, but as I was saving the texts to my drive, my eyes fell upon this paragraph:
 Here White does it again! He completely misrepresents the text by saying that “it’s very clear” that in John 12:41 John is “quoting from the Septuagint there”! “Quoting from the Septuagint”? These claims are simply outrageous and go far beyond what is “very clear.” Again, White can argue, as can I, that there is a context in Isaiah which uses the terms forming the expression used by John, though he does not use the exact same expression, but this is then, for either side, not a case where John is “quoting from” the text of either Isaiah 6 or Isaiah 52/53, that is, when John says Isaiah “saw his glory and spoke about him.” White would have his followers and everyone else believe that John is actually, “very clearly,” “quoting from the Septuagint there”! He is not. In John 12:41 John may be borrowing language or using terms from Isaiah 6 or from Isaiah 52/53, but John is not “quoting from the Septuagint there.”
If this is representative of the rest of it, this will be an exercise in futility. I made it plain what I meant by "quoting," as my original statements demonstrate:
Let's remember that the Greek speaking audience of this Gospel would have possessed and read the Greek Septuagint, the LXX. I have asserted that John is plainly making reference to Isaiah 6:1 when he says Isaiah "said these things" because Isaiah saw His glory and spoke of Him. Stafford cannot allow this because, of course, he's one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and he cannot allow anything that would violate the central, definitional doctrine of the Watchtower. Let's compare. Here is Stafford's proposed reading:
Isaiah Source John's Reading kai. doxasqh,setai sfo,dra ei=den th.n do,xan auvtou/
Now compare mine:
Isaiah Source John's Reading ei=don to.n ku,rion ... plh,rhj o` oi=koj th/j do,xhj auvtou/ ei=den th.n do,xan auvtou/
The linguistic parallels are overwhelmingly clear. Finding a verbal form (doxasqh,setai) in 52:13, while ignoring the direct parallel found in 6:1, using the same verb (ei=don is the first person singular aorist form, "I saw," while John uses the third person singular, ei=den, "he saw," since he is referring to Isaiah) and the same noun (th/j do,xhj auvtou/, genitive form, vs. John's th.n do,xan auvtou/, accusative as the direct object of the verb) is a classic example of eisegesis created by external authorities. It is also important to note that the LXX differs from the Massoretic text at this point, so, John's focus upon the glory is all the more important and significant. There is only one reference to what Isaiah "saw" in these texts, and one reference to "his glory" as well, and it is in the introduction to Isaiah's temple vision. Given that John makes the direct connection of the one whose glory Isaiah saw with Jesus, you can see why Stafford cannot, presuppositionally, "see" the direct linguistic parallel.
Keep your eye on the ball, so to speak, for I can guarantee you, it is Stafford's goal to throw such a mass of "data" around as to obscure the actual issue (this is a long time modus operandi of Stafford, the replies and counter-replies that become so huge, so daunting, as to keep the discussion from having any impact). How would John's original audience have understood his words? Would the original audience of this gospel have made the connection to Isa. 6:1 given the forms used by John? Or would they go elsewhere for the background to John's words? Whose interpretation fits naturally, and whose is forced upon them by an external authority? We shall see.