Jehovah’s Witnesses state that Constantine made the Bible pagan, Hence their New World Translation. Do you have any evidence against this as nobody yet has been able to provide me something that backs up their claim. Thanks very much.


This claim is so blatantly unfounded that for anyone to make the it they have to either be completely ignorant of the evidence or they are flat-out lying.   I am not sure which is the case.  No scholar could take this claim seriously and no honest person–Jehovah Witness or otherwise–who is aware of the evidence would make such an outrageous claim. Let me mention a few reasons.

We have dozens of manuscripts of the New Testament from before Constantine took office as emperor in the fourth century.  Besides, we have many hundreds of quotes from the New Testament from the church fathers in the second, third and fourth centuries.  We can simply read these manuscripts which precede Constantine and produce virtually the entire New Testament from them.  How could Constantine have changed manuscripts and quotes from before he even lived?

Even if Constantine wanted to change the New Testament, it would have been literally impossible because by this time many hundreds of copies of all the New Testament books were in use throughout the Roman Empire. Not only that, but the Church had also well outside the Roman Empire. By this time, there were many hundreds of churches in Armenia, Georgia, and Persia, and even some in Arabia and India.  In order to change the New Testament, Constantine would have had to force all of the churches, including many outside of his political influence to burn their manuscripts.  This would have been impossible, even if he had wanted to, as the church leaders would die rather than allow anyone to change the New Testament.  This would especially apply to Constantine who was most likely not even converted to Christianity until late in his life. Besides, if this had happened, then there would be evidence of a purge of New Testament manuscripts in the fourth century, but there is not.  In fact, the text-types from Alexandria and Antioch and elsewhere can be traced both to before and after the time of Constantine.

By the way, just so you know, there was a heretical teaching which arose in Alexandria around the time of Constantine. The group was led by a bishop named Arius, which is why this false teaching was known as Arianism.  These people taught that Jesus was created–that he was not God.  This, of course, is the heretical teaching of the Jehovah Witnesses as well, as you probably know.  So, they are claiming that Constantine won the battle with the Arians and changed the Bible to agree with the Orthodox belief.  Again, the problem with this claim is that all the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction. Like I said, no responsible scholar would even dare to make such a claim, as they would be laughed out of the field.

To summarize, there is no evidence that Constantine would have wanted to change the New Testament. There is also no evidence that any change was made during his lifetime. Besides even if he had wanted to change the New Testament, it would have literally been impossible without creating a massive conspiracy.  And even if he could have, we know he did not because we have nearly the entire New Testament in documents from before Constantine came to power.

You can completely dismiss this blatantly false claim.

I have more information about the Jehovah Witness group in my notes on World Religions.  Just do a search at the web site under that title and you will find a few pages of notes on the JW group.

John Oakes

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