JEHOVAH-BIBLE Oct-30-2008 (400 words) xxxi
Vatican newspaper: Biblical illiteracy can lead to easy manipulation
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A lack of biblical literacy can make people, even Catholics, more susceptible to believing the distortions and falsifications in biblical texts published by the Brooklyn-based Watch Tower Society, said an article in the Vatican newspaper.
While secularism "poses serious problems also for the preaching of Jehovah's Witnesses," the article said, the religious illiteracy that comes with secularism also can create fertile terrain for creating new converts.
L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published an article called "Jehovah's Witnesses: Just Incredible!" in its Oct. 29 weekly edition in English. The article, written by author Valerio Polidori, first appeared in the paper's daily Italian edition July 25.
"Poor knowledge of the sacred texts favors the spread of garish and awkward manipulations" of the Bible, it said.
It said the Watch Tower Society's "The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures" contains text that has been manipulated by translators making "completely arbitrary additions or subtractions."
The most important differences with other translations of the Bible concern "the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the immortality of the soul," it said.
It said Jehovah's Witnesses promote the revival of "an Arian type of Christology" which believes Christ was fully human but not divine.
In the society's 1987 translation of a verse from the Gospel of John, Jesus is not God but "a god," an intermediary between the creator and the created, it said.
Also the society inserted "Jehovah" in the Bible about 6,000 times to replace the words "God" and "lord," especially when "lord" was referring to Jesus, it said.
The article said this causes confusion for people who read the society's materials with no strong biblical knowledge.
More must be done to promote basic biblical literacy, especially of young people, to help counteract the slow but steady decline of biblical culture in the Western world, it said.
The article said the church must reach out to those who have been cut off from the Witnesses and help them "rebuild a spiritual life." The Catholic community also must become more aware of how the society works and operates, "which is the only true vaccine to prevent people from becoming enmeshed in the Brooklyn movement and in the subsequent mental reconditioning that can result," it said.
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millennialist religious body founded in Pittsburgh in 1872.
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