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Self Quoting: Unitarian

Thayer, like Jehovah's Witnesses, was a Unitarian who believed Jesus was a creature. The quote is from a handwritten note in a book that was supposed to be Thayer's personal copy in his library.

Thayer, Joseph Henry: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
(Grimm's lexicon translated by Thayer, with Thayer's personal commented added)

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How the quote appears in "Should you believe in the Trinity", Watchtower, JW's booklet.

"In the same way, since John 1:1 shows that the Word was with God, he could not be God but was "a god," or "divine." Joseph Henry Thayer, a theologian and scholar who worked on the American Standard Version, stated simply: "The Logos was divine, not the divine Being himself." ("Joseph Henry Thayer's personal copy of Griesbach's Greek New Testament text, 1809, with Thayer's handwritten comments on John 1:1 interleaved." Watchtower organization's own words as to the source)

What they fail to tell you about the quote

After a long and tedious effort to make the Watchtower disclose the source of the quote, they replied: "Joseph Henry Thayer's personal copy of Griesbach's Greek New Testament text, 1809, with Thayer's handwritten comments on John 1:1 interleaved." (Watchtower organization's own words)

Here is a portion of Grimm's comments on THEOS in his Lexicon which Thayer translated.

"2. Whether Christ is called God must be determined from Jn. i. 1 ; xx. 28 ; I Jn. v. 20; Ro. ix. 5; Tit. ii. 13; Heb. i. 8 sq., etc.; the matter is still in dispute among theologians; cf. Grimm, Institutio theologiae dogmaticae, ed. 2, p. 228 sqq. [and the discussion (on Ro. ix. 5) by Professors Dwight and Abbot in Journ. Soc. Bib. Lit. etc. u. s., esp. pp. 42 sqq. 113 sqq.]. 3. spoken of the only and true GOD: with the article, Mt. iii. 9; Mk. xiii. 19; Lk. ii. 13; Acts ii. 11" (Joseph Henry Thayer: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, THEOS)

  1. Actually Grimm should be spanked for making such irresponsible comments. No one disputes whether the Greek word "THEOS" (and the corresponding English translation: GOD) applies to Jesus. The question is the "theological meaning" of theos/god as it applies to Jesus.
  2. Even Jehovah's witnesses believe that THEOS/GOD is applied to Jesus because they openly call Jesus "A GOD" (Jn 1:1), "GOD" (Jn 20:28), "MIGHTY GOD". (Isa 9:6) If you don't believe us, this is exactly how the New World Translation renders the phrases, with various squabbles over whether it should be "A GOD" or "a god". (As if it makes any difference.) So both Trinitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses stand together in opposing Grimm's own comments, because even JW's agree that Jn 1:1 calls Jesus "a god".
  3. Thayer didn't offer his OWN opinion on the subject, and Grimm only said that there was a dispute. Yet even here no one disputes that "theos" is applied to Jesus in John 1:1. Did you hear that? NO ONE, not even Jehovah's Witnesses disputes the Jesus is called GOD or THEOS in John 1:1!
  4. Interesting that Thayer could have added a personal comment here, but did not! However, he did add a reference to another famous Unitarian's article by Abbot!

Proof Thayer was Unitarian

  1. Some challenge whether Thayer was Unitarian, saying, he was instead Congregationalist. We simply quote the "Publishers Introduction" to Thayer's famous lexicon:
  2. "A word of caution is necessary. Thayer was a Unitarian, and the errors of this sect occasionally come through in the explanatory notes. The reader should be alert for both subtle and blatant denials of such doctrines as the Trinity (Thayer regarded Christ as a mere man and the Holy Spirit as an impersonal force emanating from God), the inherent and total depravity of fallen human nature, the eternal punishment of the wicked, and Biblical inerrancy." (Joseph Henry Thayer: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Publishers Introduction, page VII, Baker Book House)
  3. "The Greek word for equal is ison,' which according to Thayer's Greek Lexicon (p. 307), an acknowledged authority, means equal in quality as in quantity, to claim for oneself, the nature, rank, authority, which belong to God' (John 5:18). Dr. Thayer, Jehovah's Witnesses might take notice, was a Unitarian who denied Christ's Deity even as they themselves do; yet, being honest, he gave the true meaning of the Biblical terms even they contradicted his views." (Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin. p 67)
  4. "The late Dr. Joseph F. Thayer, a Unitarian scholar, author of one of the best lexicons of the Greek New Testament (who, incidentally, denied the visible second coming of Christ), said on page 490 of that work, when speaking of parousia': ... a return (Phillipians 1:26)... In the New Testament especially of the Advent, i.e., the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the Kingdom of God.' (Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin. p 81)
  5. Dr. Thayer, it might be mentioned, was honest enough to say what the New Testament Greek taught, even though he didn't believe it." (Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin. p 81)

Deception Exposed:

  1. The Watchtower fails to tell you that Thayer is not a Trinitarian, but a Unitarian who believed Jesus was a creature.
  2. No wonder nobody could find where Thayer said the quote in the Watchtower booklet! Now stop and think about this for a moment. We will grant that the book was Thayer's and even that the comment was in his own handwriting! (How could anyone really confirm this for sure?) But a marginal note may or may not represent what he personally believed! He may have written it there to express another's view as a reminder.
  3. Thayer's most famous work, "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament" is Thayer's translation of Grimm's work. Thayer often makes his own personal comments in addition to Grimm's words in this lexicon. Thayer's words are always denoted with square brackets [Thayer's comments] in Grimm's lexicon. (We flagged them in blue above.)
  4. We wonder what value there is in even quoting Thayer's handwritten note (if it is even his handwriting) since the official choice of translation used by Jehovah's Witnesses is different from what Thayer said. It was the Watchtower that chose not to translate Jn 1:1 "and the word was divine". But Jehovah's Witnesses will quote any translation of Jn 1:1 that might indicate Jesus was a creature, even it is a translation they disagree with.
  5. And one final note. Even though Thayer was theologically close to Jehovah's Witnesses in their view of Jesus, his footnote really doesn't help them. Thayer's comment: "The Logos was divine, not the divine Being himself." Is easily agreeable to any Trinitarian. Who is divine, but uncreated God? The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are all uncreated God and are all equally divine, yet they differ from one another, or as Thayer put it: "The Logos [Jesus] was divine, not the divine Being himself [the Father mentioned in Jn 1:1b].

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When a Jehovah's Witness reads this top ten list, they either conclude the Watchtower organization engages is satanic quoting practices, or become dishonest themselves!

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Written By Steve Rudd, Used by permission at:

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