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Why did it take Jehovah's Witnesses until 1954 to figure out that Jesus shouldn't be worshiped?

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Why did it take Jehovah's Witnesses until 1954 to figure out that Jesus shouldn't be worshiped?

Postby kenner » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:08 pm

Most Hebrew and Greek words that can denote worship can also be applied to acts other than worship. The context determines in what way the respective words are to be understood. Please see: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200004630?q=Hebrew+and+Greek+Terms&p=par

For instance, the act described by proskuneo (or shachah) was of bowing or kneeling, and it generally indicated an act of *respect* and a display of one's willingness to submit to or serve another person who occupied a superior position, regardless of his nature (somewhat similar to a salute in the military today).

The Hebrew word most often translated "worship" is shachah, and it is usually rendered as proskuneo in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Unger and White say of this word: "Shachah ... 'to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down.'" And, "The act of bowing down in homage done before a superior [in rank] or a ruler. Thus David 'bowed' himself [shachah] before Saul (1 Sam. 24:8). Sometimes it is a social or economic superior to whom one bows, as when Ruth 'bowed' [shachah] to the ground before Boaz (Ruth 2:10)." - Nelson's Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, 1980, Thomas Nelson Publ., p. 482.

Even the extremely trinitarian W. E. Vine writes in his An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 1247:

"PROSKUNEO ... to make obeisance, do reverence to (from pros, towards, and kuneo, to kiss), is the most frequent word rendered 'to worship'. It is used for an act of homage or reverence (a) to God ...; (b) to Christ ...; (c) to a MAN, Matt. 18:26." ("Obeisance," of course, shows "respect, submission, or reverence" - Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1961.)

It was done, of course, IN IT'S VERY HIGHEST SENSE TO GOD ALONE, *but* it was also done, IN A LOWER SENSE of the same word, to kings, angels, prophets, etc. That is why proskuneo is translated "prostrated himself before" at Matt. 18:26 NASB, even though the KJV uses "worship" there. Notice how other trinitarian translations render that verse (RSV and NIV for example) where a servant "worships" [proskuneo] his master. And that is why, in the account of the man blind from birth whom Jesus healed, we see that man giving proskuneo to Jesus at John 9:38. The ASV, in a footnote for John 9:38, says,

"The Greek word [proskuneo] denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to a creature, as here [Jesus], or to the Creator."

Notice the following excerpt from the Insight on the Scriptures under the heading OBEISANCE:

"While some translators use the word “worship” in the majority of cases where pro·sky·ne?o describes persons’ actions toward Jesus, the evidence does not warrant one’s reading too much into this rendering. Rather, the circumstances that evoked the obeisance correspond very closely to those producing obeisance to the earlier prophets and kings. (Compare Mt 8:2; 9:18; 15:25; 20:20 with 1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37.) The very expressions of those involved often reveal that, while they clearly recognized Jesus as God’s representative, they rendered obeisance to him, not as to God or a deity, but as “God’s Son,” the foretold “Son of man,” the Messiah with divine authority. On many occasions their obeisance expressed a gratitude for divine revelation or evidence of favor like that expressed in earlier times.—Mt 14:32, 33; 28:5-10, 16-18; Lu 24:50-52; Joh 9:35, 38." - http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200003293
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Why did it take Jehovah's Witnesses until 1954 to figure out that Jesus shouldn't be worshiped?

Postby king » Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:15 pm

It can lead to a significant degree of confusion when people who are familiar only with the modern day use of words attempt to criticize material written decades ago.

JWs have never taught that Jesus should be "worshiped" in the same sense that Almighty God is worshiped. The worship given to Jesus has always been in a relative sense. There was no change in teaching. They just revised the rendering because the word "worship" had undergone a change in meaning in English.

"Worship" comes from the Old English "weorthscipe", which means the condition of being worthy of respect or dignity. So for many centuries, the term simply meant ascribing honor, worth, or excellence to someone. In other words, giving honor appropriate to office, not only the honor appropriate to God.

In Scripture, the term "worship" was similarly broad in meaning. It was used the same way in the Bible that it used to be used in English. It could cover both the worship given to God alone and the honor that is to be shown to certain human beings. For example: Genesis 37:7–9; 49:2-27; Exodus 18:7. None of these passages are discussing the kind of worship given to God.

Sometime about the mid 20th Century, the English term "worship" narrowed in scope to indicate only the supreme form of reverence that is due God. JWs revised their terminology accordingly. They did not modify their view of worship given to Jesus.

Hope that helps.
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