What is the Charge?
The Watchtower Society has produced a booklet called The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever. In this booklet the Society levels a very serious charge that the early church removed God's name from the New Testament. We would like to test the Watchtower's theory and verify the outcome of such a serious charge. On pages 23 & 24 of the booklet the Society admits that we do not have the original manuscripts of the New Testament but we have thousands of copies of the originals. Those who have studied the transmission of the New Testament are familiar with the fact that when an original Biblical letter from sent from the author, the church receiving the document duplicated it and sent the copies to other churches. These churches in turn made additional copies and distributed these. Through the years thousands of copies of the original manuscript were made and dispersed widely throughout the known world. Keep in mind these were not translations of the Bible, but were copies of the original Greek.
What do the manuscripts show?
Now let us consider the Watchtower's admission on page 23 of the booklet that, "no ancient Greek manuscript that we possess today of the books from Matthew to Revelation contains God's name in full." Just think of that - no copy of the original Greek manuscript contains God's name in full! The Watchtower's logic says that because some editions of the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew) had replaced Jehovah's name with God and Lord that theoretically the early church must have taken it upon themselves to remove God's name from the original Greek New Testament. Although the Watchtower does admit that the original copies of the Hebrew Old Testament are faithful in retaining YHWH as the name of God, their teaching allows for a group of men the power to be able to remove Jehovah's name from every New Testament manuscript.
Was Jehovah unable to protect his name?
How did a group of men manage to remove Jehovah's name from all of the available manuscripts of the original Greek new testament? To do this they would have had to seize and change every single copy that was floating around throughout all of the known world, since the Watchtower admits that there is not a single copy of the Greek manuscripts that contain Jehovah's full name. These men would have had to go from door to door and confiscate every single copy of every single new testament book. How is it that Jehovah God faithfully protected his Old Testament word throughout thousands of years when men tried to destroy it, yet was powerless to protect the new testament manuscripts from corruption for even a few hundred years? And if Jehovah was powerless to protect even his name, what else did these unscrupulous men remove? Once you admit that it is possible to tamper with all of the available manuscripts, the reliability of the new testament is shattered. In contrast, the faithfulness of Jehovah God to protect all of his sovereign word is evident. The faithfulness of the original Greek text can be verified by comparing copies produced at different times from different original copies and made by different copyists. In addition Jehovah God caused so many copies of his word to remain that any human error incorporated into the text is evident by comparing the copies.
The question still remains, if Jehovah God is Sovereign over his inspired word and faithfully protected its transmission to us today, why doesn't the Greek manuscripts contain God's name? We will be discussing this question in part two.