Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Watchtower's Prohibition Against Non-Food Uses of Blood

In my section “Uses of Blood” in my Chapter 9 of the Third Edition of Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, on pages 574-575 I show when and why the Watchtower Society transformed its blood policy in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It has changed in more ways since then, but the fundamental flaw in the Watchtower’s view of uses of blood and the Bible remains. The result is in part that some people loyal to the Watchtower Society continue to die likely without understanding what is truly involved with the Society’s policy, a policy put forth by men who govern the teachings and the activities of the Watchtower Society or organization.

For example, in “Questions from Readers,” The Watchtower, September 15, 1958, on page 575, we find one important place where the Watchtower’s unfortunate, blood transfusion = blood eating error took root. Here the Society responds to a question about whether the injection of serums and blood fractions (such as gamma globulin) for the purpose of building up resistance to disease is the same as drinking or transfusing blood or blood plasma. Consider the Society’s answer (with my underlining added):

No, it does not seem necessary that we put the two in the same category, although we have done so in times past. Each time the prohibition of blood is mentioned in the Scriptures it is in connection with taking it as food, and so it is as a nutrient that we are concerned with in its being forbidden. ... The injection of antibodies into the blood in a vehicle of blood serum or the use of blood fractions to create such antibodies is not the same as taking blood, either by mouth or by transfusion, as a nutrient to build up the body’s vital forces. While God did not intend for man to contaminate his blood stream by vaccines, serums or [the use of] blood fractions, doing so does not seem to be included in God’s expressed will forbidding blood as food. It would [now, late in 1958,] therefore be a matter of individual judgment whether one accepted such types of medication or not.

Then in 1961 the Watchtower Society radically changed its blood policy to the following position but which still relied on the false equation of eating blood as a food with transfusing blood as blood:

God’s law definitely says that the soul of man is in his blood [see Lev 17:11]. Hence the receiver of the blood transfusion is feeding upon a God-given soul as contained in the blood vehicle of a fellow man or of fellow men. This is a violation of God’s commands to Christians, the seriousness of which should not be minimized by any passing over of it lightly as being an optional matter for the conscience of any individual to decide upon. [“Questions from Readers,” The Watchtower, January 15, 1961, page 64.]

Transfused blood is not usable as “food” or as “nourishment,” but only as blood which may then “carry nourishment … to the tissues” (Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Clayton L. Thomas, ed., 16th edition [Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company, 1989], page 223, under Blood). The transfused blood itself is not consumed as a “food,” the way it would be if it were eaten or drank through the mouth and then broken down like other foods through the digestion process. This is why when a person is starving to death a transfusion of blood does not provide any “nourishment” for the body, that is, unless actual “food” or nourishment is next added to the body and the transfused blood carries it “to the tissues.” 

It is similar with organ transplants, which is what a blood transfusion is, really, in that the organs are not ‘eaten’ by the body once they have been transplanted, and neither do the transplanted organs serve as “food” or as “nourishment.” Organs, including blood, have specific purposes and functions created and designed by Jah God. Transfusing blood is one way for blood to continue to function according to its designed purpose, while eating blood or organs as "food" does not permit any of them to continue working in the body according to their intended purpose(s).

Here is another look at how the Watchtower Society blurs this distinction between eaten blood and transfused blood, and how in the process it further misapplies the biblical prohibition concerning uses of blood:

Q. Why did Octávio Corrêa refuse the blood transfusion?

A. Basically because of the Bible’s prohibition as to the use of blood for nourishment or to prolong life. The Great Encyclopedia Delta Larousse (Portuguese) says: “Blood is living tissue that runs in the circulatory system and whose main functions are: 1) to carry needed nutritive substances and oxygen to all tissues in the body; 2) to collect and take residues, useless or dangerous to the cellular activity, to the excretory organs (kidneys, lungs, skin, etc.).” (P. 6079) Thus, blood nourishes and cleans the body. Jehovah God, who knows more about blood than anyone else, prohibited the eating of blood. His Word, the Bible, states: “Only do not eat flesh with its life in it, that is, the blood.”—Gen. 9:4, Pontifical Bible Institute, Rome, Paulinas Editions, Brazil. [“Freedom of Worship Triumphant,” Awake! August 8, 1977, page 7 (underlining added).]

The Watchtower publication Awake! here quotes a source which speaks of blood as ‘carrying needed nutritive substances.’ But the Society then equates “the eating of blood” with transfusing blood! The Society has failed to note the evident differences between eaten blood and transfused blood, even when it quotes a publication which makes the differences plain! In this same light, consider these more recent claims from The Watchtower:

Decades ago Jehovah’s Witnesses made their stand clear. For example, they supplied an article to The Journal of the American Medical Association (November 27, 1981; reprinted in How Can Blood Save Your Life? pages 27-9). That article quoted from [1] Genesis, Leviticus, and Acts. It said: “While these verses are not stated in medical terms, Witnesses view them as ruling out transfusion of whole blood, packed RBCs [red blood cells], and plasma, as well as WBC [white blood cell] and platelet administration.” [2] The 2001 textbook Emergency Care, under “Composition of the Blood,” stated: “The blood is made up of several components: plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets.” [3] Thus, in line with medical facts, Witnesses refuse transfusions of whole blood or of any of its four primary components. [“Be Guided by the Living God,” The Watchtower, June 15, 2004, pages 21-22, par. 11 (underlined and bracketed numbers have been added).]

I have added the underlined and bracketed numbers, similar to what I presented in my “Uses of Blood” section. These numbers correspond to the following comments concerning the subject statements in the above quoted Watchtower:

[1]: Genesis, Leviticus, and Acts … [rule] out transfusion[s] of whole blood, packed [red blood cells], and plasma, as well as [white blood cells] and platelet administration.

Comment: Not one text in any of the three biblical books referenced by The Watchtower says or even implies anything about using blood for medical transfusions and where the blood continues to serve as blood, not as food or “nourishment” in the human body. Further, not one of the three biblical books cited explicitly teaches or implies anything about uses of blood’s major “components” (red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma), as if they should under any circumstance be viewed differently from uses of blood’s “fractions.”

[2]: The 2001 textbook Emergency Care, under “Composition of the Blood,” stated: “The blood is made up of several components: plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets.”

Comment: The Society here quotes a textbook definition for “blood” which makes it plain that blood is “made up of several components,” namely, “plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets.” After noting this textbook’s definition, The Watchtower concludes:

[3]: Thus, in line with medical facts, Witnesses refuse transfusions of whole blood or of any of its four primary components.

Comment: The only ‘fact’ from The Watchtower’s quote from Emergency Care is that blood is “made up of several components”! In stating this, the medical textbook is not claiming that any one of these four components of blood is blood or should be considered as blood. Indeed, the textbook’s definition shows that all four are necessary for “blood.” Thus, none of them are “blood” individually. So there is no ‘medical fact’ with which the Society is here “in line with” as it relates to its policy of refusing “transfusions of whole blood or of any of its four primary components,” though this is the stated reason for why the Society quotes Emergency Care’s definition of “blood” in the first place!

The definition of “blood” from Emergency Care and which is quoted with approval in The Watchtower, actually supports the position of those who reject the Society’s view that these four components of blood should be viewed individually as “blood.” Simply quoting a medical textbook’s definition for “blood” which shows that blood has four primary components (from which components blood fractions are then derived) does not provide any “medical facts” which support the Society’s view that these components should be rejected as blood. This is a logical fallacy committed by The Watchtower, as shown in note 53 on page 586 of my “Uses of Blood” section.

In citing the 2001 textbook Emergency Care, the Watchtower Society has not only misapplied the textbook’s own expressed definition as support for its own unique view of blood’s components, but the Society does this using a definition which contradicts the Society’s own expressed view of blood’s four primary components! The definition for blood in Emergency Care clearly shows that the components of blood are not blood, individually, since blood is “made up of” all four primary components, collectively.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and its followers have not put forth any medical, scientific, or biblical good reasons for claiming that eating blood as a food is the same thing as transfusing blood to serve as blood (but not as a food) in the human body during a life-threatening emergency. Further, the Society has no basis in medical science or in biblical teaching to claim that blood’s components are or should be considered the same as blood where it concerns the Bible’s prohibition. The only effort the Watchtower Society has expended to try and document its unique view of blood’s components is to misquote a medical textbook’s definition which, in fact, contradicts the Society’s own expressed understanding and use of that very same 2001 medical textbook.

The Watchtower Society, its Governors, and its followers have misapplied biblical texts which prohibit the use of blood as a “food” to medical transfusions of blood which do not themselves ‘feed’ the body, but which can save a person’s life. For these and for other reasons, I no longer support the work of the Watchtower Society or its views and teachings on the subject of uses of blood.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"See That You Are Not Terrified"

Jesus of Nazareth told his earliest followers the words forming the title of this Blog, as recorded in Matthew 24:6. Just moments earlier, Jesus taught that many would come in his name to mislead others, in part (as the complementing account in Luke's historical record states) by stirring up people's fears about the time of the end. Note:

Then [Jesus] said to [his disciples], "You must see to it that you are not misled. For many will come using my name and saying, 'I am [the Christ/Messiah],' and, 'The defined/appointed time has drawn near.' Do not go after them."

For a further discussion of Luke 21:8 and how those whom Jesus warned his followers about clearly applies to the activities and proclamations of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, see my Blog, "'Do Not Go After Them' (Unless . . .)."

Apart from Jesus' warning about false teachers who would come in his name and proclaim, "The appointed time is near," in the opening part of Matthew 24 Jesus also warned that his people would "hear of wars and reports of wars." Yet, right after this Jesus tells them, "See that you are not terrified." Why? Because according to Jesus these wars "must take place, but the end is not yet" (verse 6). Then come verses 7-8:

For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.

It is clear that the first part of the above quoted texts is a re-statement of the end of verse 6. "Nation" rising against "nation" and "kingdom" rising against "kingdom" has nothing specifically or explicitly to do with an entire world at war,  as in 1914. Of course, the events of World War I are consistent with Jesus' words, as would be true of any other 'rising against' which takes place between "kingdoms" and "nations." But Christians (those who trust in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth) are not to be "terrified" of these things, even though "wars and reports of wars" are an unfortunate part of the reality many of us face.--Matthew 24:6.

Then it is said that there will be "food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another." These, too, while frightening for anyone, should not 'terrify' anyone putting his or her faith in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. We are not scared or worried about the "end," whether it is our own personal end or the one we hope for in connection with the Christ, that is, the end of "Wickedness" (compare  Zechariah 5:8). For we  believe for good reasons that Jesus will "come as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:1), and that he and his Father Jah, the Eternal Life who who gave life to life, will judge each of us according to what we do (Revelation 2:23; 20:11-13). It is  right, therefore, that those who gave us life, those who know us best, are the ones who will deal with us.--Compare Isaiah 11:1-9; 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Before that time, and until that time, "earthquakes" are something we will hear more and more about. Regardless of how these or any other "signs" given by Jesus may be fulfilled now or in years to come, whether all these things take place while we're alive or after we're dead, we should set an example now for others by helping those in need,  by teaching them the good news about Jah God and about Jesus of Nazareth, showing them the history of their dealings according to the Bible, and by remaining strong, by 'straightening up and raising your heads,' whether your "redemption is drawing near," or not.--Luke 21:28.

Do not "weaken in [your] faith" (Romans 4:19). Rather, "strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die" (Revelation 3:2). Give people hope, and help them build their faith on the best available reasons, some of which can be found here, but not on the promises or false teachings of men (Galatians 1:6, 10-12). Do not "yield by way of submission, no, not for an hour" to "the false brothers brought in quietly," this so "the truth of the good news might continue with you."--Galatians 2:4-5.

Where it concerns the events and affairs of men which Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24 and elsewhere in the Bible, specifically, in verses which discuss or which predict real concerns involving the affairs of the world, its nations and its peoples, and where it concerns the earth itself, "see that you are not terrified."--Matthew 24:6.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Origin of Life Is Life (or Something or Someone Already Alive)

Life exists. It is all around us. We are alive, or living beings, creatures, either intentionally (intelligently) made/designed or the product of time, a lot of time and chance, and unintentional in design and in purpose or function. But we're alive! Even the most ardent skeptic must accept this. So how does that help us, or answer the question, What is the origin of life?

Here is an argument which I believe demonstrates sufficiently the origin of life is life, and therefore life must ultimately be eternal, since we are alive now. According to how we generally consider a matter to be "scientific," that is, by having sufficiently demonstrable results according to a repeated and testable process, I believe this argument fits the requirements for being accepted as the best available means of reliably explaining the origin of life:
1) Life exists.
2) Based on all known, shared, and/or otherwise available scientific study and information life can only come from something or from someone already alive or living.
3) Therefore, since based on all known, shared, and/or otherwise available scientific study and information life can only come from something or from someone already alive or living, the origin of life must be life, or something or someone already alive.

4) Further, and based on the above, namely, all known, shared, and/or otherwise available scientific study and information shows us without exception life can only come from something or from someone already alive or living, life must be considered eternal (without any beginning or start from non-life) because life is here now.
I also believe the above argument sufficiently responds to any argument which claims not to be able to account for the origin of life as life itself, or as something or someone already alive or living. This also means it is scientific to say life is eternal. This provides a basis for claiming it is scientific to believe "God" or some other superhuman being or alien is also eternal.

Whether this demonstrably and logically eternal origin of life is personal and intelligent, or impersonal or simply unintelligent, I will consider separately.

New World Translation Footnotes to John 8:58

In the New Testament (NT) Jesus of Nazareth is presented to us as a preexistent Son of God who “stepped out of heaven” to do only the God Jah’s will (John 3:13; 7:16-18; 8:47, 54: 12:49). Jesus’ real, personal preexistence can be seen in his identity as “the Word” and “Wisdom” of God according to the Bible (Proverbs 8:22-31; Micah 5:1-2; John 1:1; Revelation 19:3; see also my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics [Murrieta, CA: Elihu Books, 2009], Chapter 4, pages 308-316, and Chapter 5, pages 406-418). This teaching is also consistent with what Jesus is recorded as having said in John 8:58 (see Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, Third Edition, Chapter 3, pages 223-225).

As for whether Jesus claimed to have eternally preexisted or to have preexisted “before Abraham was born,” or whether Jesus used “I AM” as a divine name in John 8:58 and also for an extended discussion about how John 8:58 should be translated into English, see pages 274-296 of my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended. See also my recent answer to the question, “Why do different editions of the New World Translation (NWT) contain different footnotes to its rendering of John 8:58?” published December 17, 2009, online through Elihu Books’ “Upon the Lampstand.”

The question and the answer in the above referenced “Lampstand” article indicates that since its first edition of the New World Translation (NWT) New Testament (NT) in 1950 to its latest 1984 Reference Bible and 1985 Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT), the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (the publisher of the NWT and the KIT) has had more than one footnote in its English translation of John 8:58. In my recent “Lampstand” Q&A I provide an extended evaluation of these different NWT/KIT footnotes to John 8:58, in response to many harsh and unfounded criticisms made over the past 50+ years by scholars and critics of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Indeed, scholars and critics of Jehovah’s Witnesses through to this past year 2009 have published what is demonstrably false and which contradicts readily available information, including the originally misunderstood and misused 1950 John 8:58 (NWT) footnote’s use of the incontrovertibly clear English expression “rendered in.”

First, consider how Ron Rhodes captioned the 1950 NWT’s use of “perfect indefinite tense” in his 1993 book Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1993), page 116:
Scholars agree that the Watchtower Society has no justification for translating ego eimi in John 8:58 as “I have been.”
The above has been removed from Rhodes’ 2009 edition of his Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2009), which is a positive indication. Indeed, Rhodes must now realize that many scholars not only agree with the NWT translation of John 8:58, but it has been sufficiently demonstrated that Rhodes’ preferred “I am/AM” translation of John 8:58 is unacceptable for many good reasons. For example, after categorizing the Greek idiom correctly as an “Extension from Past” (also known as a “Present of Past Action Still in Progress”) in which the present verb eimi (“I am”) is “used with an expression of either past time or extent of time with past implications” (as in “before Abraham was born”), K.L. McKay gives an English rendering that is almost identical to the NWT’s, namely, “I have been in existence since before Abraham was born” (Kenneth L. McKay, A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek [SBG 5; New York: Peter Lang, 1994], pages 41-42).

As I attempted to make plain in my online Q&A, “Why do different editions of the New World Translation (NWT) contain different footnotes to its rendering of John 8:58?” page 11, note 9, while addressing some of the claims made by Robert M. Bowman, Jr.:
As I have shown on pages 283-284 of my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended, Bowman misquotes every single one of the Greek grammars he cites in connection with his claim, “most grammars specifically state that accompanying the present tense verb is some adverbial expression indicating the extent of the duration of the time indicated by the verb” (Bowman, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John, page 105 [underlining added]). Each one of Bowman’s referenced grammars makes it clear that a past expression and a present verb together denote duration from the past point of reference (“before Abraham was born”) to the present (“I am”). Yet, not one of the grammars cited by Bowman on this point says anything about “the extent of the duration of the time” being indicated by the adverbial, past-referring expression. Shifting the focus (as Bowman does) from a past expression modifying a present verb to “a clause beginning with prin” ignores the role of the present verb in relation to the adverbial clause. By doing this, Bowman can disconnect “‘duration’ up to the present” from the past expression. But the adverbial “prin clause” is not considered in isolation from the present verb! It is, in fact, the present verb which denotes duration (though not always the extent of the duration) from the time indicated by the past-referring adverbial clause.
You may review for yourself the what I recently referenced again in my new “Upon the Lampstand” Q&A regarding NWT footnotes to John 8:58 (see page 7), and in my Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended (see Chapter 3, pages 277-294), namely, the following writers who describe or who classify the Greek idiom of John 8:58 just as the Watchtower Society now does:

1) J.A. Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1858), page 370.

2) A. Tholuck, Commentary on the Gospel of John (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1859), page 243.

3) H.A.W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Gospel of John, trans. William Urwick (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884), page 293.

4) G.B. Winer, A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, trans. J. Henry Thayer (Andover: Warren Draper, 1897), page 267.

5) F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and R.W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. Robert W. Funk (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), page 168, sec. 322. (Note: John 8:58 is cited erroneously in the grammar’s text, in the referenced section, as John 5:58.)

6) N. Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 3, Syntax (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1963), page 62, sec. 1(c).

7) J.N. Sanders and B.A. Mastin, A Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), page 236.

8) Kenneth L. McKay, “Time and Aspect in New Testament Greek,” NovT 34 (1992), page 212.

A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek (SBG 5; New York: Peter Lang, 1994), pages 41-42.

— “‘I am’ in John’s Gospel,” ExpT 107.10 (1996), page 302.

Rhodes neglected to consider each and every single one of the above in connection with this issue in his 1993 edition (which means Rhodes would not have had available to him only the last two cited sources) and Rhodes does not consider or reference any of them in his 2009 edition of Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, in 1993 Rhodes wrote that “scholars agree” there is “no justification” for the NWT rendering! Then sixteen (16) years later in 2009 Rhodes still hides available references which clearly support the NWT rendering and/or the Greek idiom cited explicitly by the Watchtower Society since its 1984 NWT Reference Edition was published.

In so doing, Rhodes makes it nearly impossible for his readers to completely and accurately understand these issues. Therefore, I believe for the above and for other reasons stated elsewhere in documents referenced in this Bog that Ron Rhodes and those who support his work against Jehovah’s Witnesses are misleading people by what Rhodes writes about the NWT and about John 8:58.

Further concerning John 8:58 and the NWT, consider the following from Rhodes’ 1993 edition of his Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 116 (with my underlining added):
It is highly revealing that at one time, the Jehovah’s Witnesses attempted to classify the Greek word eimi as a perfect indefinite tense rather than a present tense.
The above words are gone from Rhodes’ 2009 edition. Indeed, at no time have Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Watchtower Society attempted to “classify the Greek word eimi as a perfect indefinite tense rather than a present tense”!

Rhodes’ claim is a fabrication, one easily contradicted by the expressed use of “rendered in” in the very same 1950 NWT footnote to John 8:58 which is the source of the issue Rhodes’ writes about above concerning the “perfect indefinite tense”! The original fabrication begun by Dr. Walter Martin on this issue has been carried forward by many of Martin’s disciples since at least 1957, and possibly as early as 1953 (see notes 1, 2, 24, and 25 in my “Why do different editions of the New World Translation (NWT) contain different footnotes to its rendering of John 8:58?”). Unless Martin was intending to deceive people by his treatment of John 8:58 in the NWT, his false claims could have been avoided had Martin and his research staff understood the simple English expression, “rendered in,” which expression plainly reveals that “perfect indefinite tense” in the 1950 NWT footnote to John 8:58 has to do with the English translation, not with “the Greek word eimi as a perfect indefinite tense.”

Even more outrageous is the following 1993 description of the alleged reaction by Jehovah’s Witnesses to Martin’s false claims concerning the 1950 NWT footnote to John 8:58, which alleged reaction is portrayed by Rhodes as follows:
However, this claim proved to be very embarrassing when Greek scholars pointed out to the Jehovah’s Witnesses that there is no such thing as a perfect indefinite tense in Greek grammar. [Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (1993), page 116].
The above has now been eliminated from Rhodes’ 2009 edition, not because it no longer fit with the text and overall scope and subject of Rhodes’ work on Jehovah’s Witnesses (obviously). Rather, it seems clear that the change was made because Rhodes’ claim “proved to be very embarrassing when” English-speaking persons pointed out to Rhodes and to the Christian Research Institute which Martin founded that the NWT’s use of “perfect indefinite tense” had nothing to do with “Greek grammar”! 

Many of these same and other Trinitarian apologists and scholars still seem unable or unwilling to try and further unwind Walter Martin’s mishandling of NWT footnotes to John 8:58. The result is the NWT is continuously tainted unfairly over this issue when, in true and unfortunate irony, the NWT’s footnotes to John 8:58 should continue to serve as an embarrassing reminder of the false and misleading claims made by many Trinitarian scholars and critics of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Rhodes has a note at the end of the above quotation (note 63) which refers to Robert M. Bowman, Jr.’s 1989 publication Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989), pages 90-98. Yet, Bowman’s publication reveals the truth of the matter (in part) involving the 1950 NWT’s use of “perfect indefinite tense” in its footnote to John 8:58. Note Bowman’s weak but revealing admission on his page 94, “it may be ... that the expression ‘rendered in’ in [the 1950 NWTNT] footnote should be understood to refer to the tense of the English rendering.”

It not only “may be,” it is clearly true (based on the 1950 NWT footnote’s use of “rendered in”) that “the expression should be understood to refer to the tense of the English rendering.” Further ‘embarrassment’ for many Evangelicals, such as those who support the claims made by Martin, Rhodes, Bowman, Morey, Ankerberg, Weldon, and others who followed Dr. Martin down this path in varying degrees, can be seen in Martin’s book, The Kingdom of the Cults, Revised Edition (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany Fellowship, 1977 [1965]), page 78. Here Martin alleges “the term ‘perfect indefinite tense’ is an invention of the author of the note.” 

Yet, twenty (20) years after the publication of Martin’s The Kingdom of the Cults in 1965, in Martin’s 1985 Revised edition, his strong allegation has been significantly changed. In fact, the change made in the 1985 edition of The Kingdom of the Cults still remains in editions of Martin’s work published almost forty (40) years after the book was first published according to the Revised, Updated, and Expanded Edition of Martin’s book edited by Ravi Zacharias (Grand Rapids: Bethany, 2003). Consider the following comparison of these editions of Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults (with underlining added):
1977 (1965) Kingdom of the Cults, pages 77-78:

It is difficult to know what the author of the note [on page 312 of the 1950 NWT] means since he does not use standard grammatical terminology, nor is his argument documented from standard grammars. The aorist infinitive as such does not form a clause. It is the adverb Prin which is significant here, so that the construction should be called [a] Prin clause. The term “perfect indefinite” is an invention of the author of the note, so it is impossible to know what is meant.
1985 Kingdom of the Cults, page 88:

It is difficult to know what the author of the note [on page 312 of the 1950 NWT] means since he does not use standard grammatical terminology, nor is his argument documented from standard grammars. The aorist infinitive as such does not form a clause. It is the adverb Prin which is significant here, so that the construction should be called a Prin clause. The term “perfect indefinite” is not a standard grammatical term and its use here has been invented by the authors of the note, so it is impossible to know what is meant.
2003 Kingdom of the Cults, page 111:

It is difficult to know what the translator means, since he does not use standard grammatical terminology, nor is his argument documented from standard grammars. The aorist infinitive as such does not form a clause. It is the adverb prin that is significant here, so that the construction should be called a prin clause. The term “perfect indefinite” is not a standard grammatical term, and its use here has been invented by the authors of the note, so it is impossible to know what is meant.
Note that in the later edition of Martin’s work it is not said the NWT translators ‘invented’ “the term ‘perfect indefinite tense.’” Rather, in the 1985 edition of Kingdom of the Cults Martin’s charge is that the NWT footnote authors “invented” the perfect indefinite’s “use here” in John 8:58! As I wrote in my recent Q&A on NWT footnotes to John 8:58:
It is unclear how those responsible for the 1985 and later 2003 editions of Martin’s work (quoted above) could have made such a change (but without any retraction for Martin’s false claim that the NWT authors invented “the term ‘perfect indefinite tense’”), but at the same time fail in their research (all the way up to at least 2003) to note the explanation of the NWT authors’ “use” of “perfect indefinite” given by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in its 1978 letter to Firpo Carr. In fact, this 1978 letter (which I discuss in the main body of this article) is referenced and considered in part by Robert M. Bowman, Jr., in his 1989 book Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989), pages 93-94, and 100. So it was not “impossible to know what” was meant in 2003, that is, had those responsible for editing Martin’s work bothered to fully research the matter according to the published explanation given by the Society over thirty (30) years ago, and subsequently critiqued by Bowman twenty (20) years ago! [Greg Stafford, “Why do different editions of the New World Translation (NWT) contain different footnotes to its rendering of John 8:58?,” note 1 continued on page 9.]
I have attempted to fairly consider issues pertaining to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the NWT, and John 8:58 in my three editions of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended (1998, 2000, and 2009), in my answer to the December 17, 2009, “Upon the Lampstand” question, “Why do different editions of the New World Translation contain different footnotes to its rendering of John 8:58?” and now here in this Blog. I plan on continuing to engage all demonstrably false teachers over this or concerning any other important biblical text or issue, in order to try and help those who are truly attempting to learn about the best available reasons for beliefs concerning Jah God, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Bible.

In closing, I will here again produce a listing of several English translations which are similar to NWT’s rendering of John 8:58 in that they, too, attempt to express Jesus’ preexistence rather than an identity as “I AM” or an explicit claim to have existed eternally. Neither of these latter conclusions have any place in John 8:58, for neither of them come from the grammar or from any of the clear teachings of this text in its context, as I have repeatedly and expressly shown:

“From before Abraham was, I have been”
George R. Noyes, The New Testament (Boston: A. Williams and Company, 1871).

“Before Abraham was born I was already what I am” and (in the 1904 edition) “I was”
The Twentieth Century New Testament (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1904).

“I have existed before Abraham was born”
James Moffatt, The Bible: A New Translation (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1935).

“I am here – and I was before Abraham!”
J.A. Kleist and J.L. Lilly, The New Testament (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1956).

“I was before Abraham”
William F. Beck, The New Testament in the Language of Today (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963).

“I was in existence before Abraham was ever born”
Kenneth N. Taylor, The Living Bible (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale, 1979).

“I am from before Abraham was born!”
Richard Lattimore, The Four Gospels and the Revelation (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979).

“I existed before Abraham was born”
C.B. Williams, The New Testament in the Language of the People (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 1986).

“I have been in existence since before Abraham was born”
Kenneth L. McKay, A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek (SBG 5; New York: Peter Lang, 1994), page 42.

For more on the history and meaning of John 8:58, and on the use of ego eimi by Jesus and by others in the New Testament and in related literature, see my Chapter 3, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Christ from Heaven,” in the Third Edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended: An Answer to Scholars and Critics (Murrieta, CA: Elihu Books, 2009), and also my online Q&A, “Why do different editions of the New World Translation (NWT) contain different footnotes to its rendering of John 8:58?”