WALSH TRIAL TRANSCRIPT
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The bottom of this page links to the entirety of the manuscript from the Walsh Trial in Scotland, 1954
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The Walsh Trial was a very significant event in Watchtower history.

What was the Walsh Trial?

The Walsh trial began on November 23, 1954, in Scotland. It centered around a Scottish Jehovah's Witness, Douglas Walsh, who was selected to be a test case regarding conscripted military service in Scotland. Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to refuse military service, whether voluntary or conscripted. In Scotland, ordained religious ministers were exempt from conscripted military service. Therefore, Douglas Walsh, a Jehovah's Witness Pioneer ("Pioneers" are considered to be full-time ministers in the Jehovah's Witness religion) sought to receive exempt status based on his position in the Jehovah's Witness congregation. This matter ended up in court. After much questioning and deliberation the court finally decided that the Jehovah's Witnesses were, indeed, an official denomination, BUT that Douglas Walsh, and other Jehovah's Witnesses in his similar position, did not legally qualify as a "minister".

The Watchtower Society has published very sparse information regarding the Walsh Trial -- only twice mentioned that we can find (as of 2012). They published an article in the June 1st (1955) Watchtower (pp.329-332), which gave a very brief rundown of some of the trial's hightlights, and eighteen years later published an even briefer piece in their 1973 Yearbook. These two mentions of the Walsh Trial are heavily edited to show that, although the Jehovah's Witness's were recognized as a legal denomination in Britain, their description of "ministers" didn't fit the court's legal preconceptions, and thus Jehovah's Witnesses were being unfairly targeted for conscripted military service. This is pretty much all that the Watchtower Society says about the matter. Please click here to view these references.

What the Watchtower Society doesn't tell you is that the transcript of this trial reveals other things that the common Jehovah's Witness membership is unaware of. For example, sections of it actually prove that the New World Translation was NOT translated by men properly educated to translate biblical Hebrew and Greek, and that the Watchtower Society refused to name the men who worked on the translation committee. Here are the specific excerpts from the transcript:

(Transcript pages 6-9)

The court is questioning Frederick William Franz, then Vice-President of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. He had earlier stated to the court that he was consulted for all theological matters at the Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society (pp.1-2). We have highlighted parts which we felt were especially significant.

 

Q: I think that you studied both Latin and Greek when you were at the University?
A: Yes.

Q: Have you also made yourself familiar with Hebrew?
A: Yes.

Q: Do you also know and speak Spanish, Portuguese and French?
A: Spanish, Portuguese, and German, but I have a reading knowledge of French.

Q: So that you have a substantial linguistic apparatus at your command?
A: Yes, for use in my Biblical work.

Q: I think that you are able to read and follow the Bible in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, German and French?
A: Yes.

Q: It is the case, is it not, that in 1950 there was prepared and issued what is called the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures?
A: Yes. (Franz was then shown a copy of this publication, after which he responded) I recognize that as an authentic copy of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures issued in the summer of 1950.

Q: That as it shows to be the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures rendered from the original language by the New World Biblical Translation Committee C.E. 1950?
A: Yes.

Q: That is on the flyleaf?
A: Yes.

Q: And I see that it is copyrighted by the Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society and published by the Watchtower, Bible, and Tract Society Incorporated and made in the U.S.A.?
A: Yes.

Q: And I think you have a foreword. Are you responsible, yourself, for the foreword?
A: That is prepared by the Translation Committee as the signature will show.

Q: And are the Christian Greek Scriptures referred to there what are usually called the New Testament?
A: That is true.

Q: I think that it was your duty, was it not, before the issue of that New World Translation by your Society to check that translation for accuracy?
A: That is true.

Q: In light of your studies and in light of your knowledge?
A: That is true.

Q: And did you do so?
A: I did so.

Q: I think, as the book shows, that there was a substantial printing of that translation? The first edition was 480,000 copies and the second edition was 1,000,000?
A: Yes.

Q: So that at least one and a half million copies have been issued, is that right?
A: That is true.

Q: And have these been issued in connection with the work of the Society all over the world?
A: Yes, particularly in English speaking countries.

Q: I should ask you this. Has that version been translated into any other language than English?
A: No.

Q: It is an English translation?
A: Yes.

Q: So may I take it in round figures that you have published and disseminated something like one and a half million copies of that translation under the authority of your Society?
A: Yes.

Q: And does the Society regard it as an authoritative translation of the New Testament Scriptures?
A: Yes.

Q: And as the foundation of Bible study in English speaking lands amongst members of the Society with regard to the New Testament?
A: Yes.

Q: In 1952 there was a similar translation of the Hebrew Scriptures issued by and on behalf of the Society?
A: In 1953.

Q: Would you look at number 42 of process. Is that a first volume of the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures?
A: Yes that is.

Q: And that is a translation of the books of the Old Testament up to and including the Book of Ruth?
A: Yes, known as the octoteuch.

Q: And it was your duty, on behalf of the Society, to check the translation into English from the original Hebrew of that first volume of the Old Testament Scriptures?
A: Yes.

Q: I think that the flyleaf shows that the first edition of half a million copies was printed and published?
A: Yes.

Q: Copies that been distributed?
A: I could not say.

Q: You cannot say about that?
A: No.

Q: Anyway that would be the published edition?
A: Yes.

Q: Have you in fact received favourable comments on these two volumes?
A: We have.

Q: From scholars and theologians who are wholly unconnected with the Society?
A: That is true.

 

At this point the court turns to questioning Franz regarding the Jehovah's Witnesses as a worldwide group. Later, Franz is cross-examined. Here we'll continue with page 87-89 of the transcript:

 

Q: Does that committee perform functions of translation as well as interpretations in English of Scripture?
A: No, it does not perform matters of translation. We have translators there who translate the material that has already been published in English.

Q: In so far as translation of the Bible itself is undertaken, are you responsible for that?
A: I have been authorized to examine a translation and determine its accuracy and recommend its acceptance in the form in which it is submitted.

Q: Are the translators members of the Editorial Committee?
A: That is a question which I, as a member of the Board of Directors, am not authorised to disclose, because when the translation was donated to the Society at a meeting of the Board of Directors there, the Translating Committee made it known that they did not wish their names to be disclosed, and the Board of Directors, acting for the Society, accepted the translation upon that basis, that the names would not be revealed now or after death.

Q: Are the translators all members of Jehovah's Witnesses?
A: That again is part and parcel of the agreement that their names shall not be revealed. They are consecrated men as the foreword to the translation discolses.

Q: It is awfully important, isn't it, to beware of false prophets?
A: That is right.

Q: Is it the view of your theocratic organization that the qualifications of translators and interpreters of the Scriptures should be kept secret?
A: That is the business of the Translation Committee. They can make a donation on their own terms and we can accept it. The Society can accept it on their terms.

Q: Are you speaking now of donations?
A: Yes. The translation was donated to the Society on the understanding that it would be published.

 

Skipping to pages 91-93 and continuing:

 

Q: You yourself are multilingual?
A: Yes.

Q: At what age did you go to Cincinnati University?
A: I entered the university in 1913 after graduating from Woodward High School and I continued there until April 1914.

Q: When did you go to the University?
A: In 1911, and I continued there until April 1914.

Q: Did you graduate?
A: No I did not. I left the University in 1914 because I realised, according to the Scriptures, that that was the crucial year which was to be marked by the outbreak of a great trouble, and I realised that the ministerial work was the most important thing in the world to do and I wanted to get into the ministerial work before the great trouble broke, and so I wanted to get in earlier but my father refused to permit me to leave the University because I was still under 21. In April 1914 he acceded to my wishes and allowed me to leave the University and I immediately entered full time ministerial service as a pioneer.

Q: What subjects were you studying at Cincinnati University?
A: I was studying in the Liberal Arts College and among other things taking up Chemistry, English, Latin, Greek and German.

Q: Had you done any Hebrew in the course of your University work?
A: No, I had not, but in the course of my editorial work my special research work for the president of the Society. I found it was very necessary to have a knowledge of Hebrew and so I undertook a personal study of that.

Q: What subjects did you hold passes in at Cincinnati University?
A: Passes?

Q: I do not know whether you work there the same way we do here, but after the anguish of examination you get a certificate saying that you have passed certain subjects. Do you work that way in America?
A: Well I passed the junior year of the University, and I did not complete the third year. I left in April and the term terminated at the beginning of June.

Q: What subjects did you have passes when you left the University?
A: I had passed through Greek and Latin and I had also taken two terms in German.

Q: Did you do Helennic Greek?
A: Yes, as well as coined Greek, the Greek of the New Testament.

Q: Were you yourself responsible for the translation of the Old Testament?
A: Again I cannot answer that question in harmony with the gentlemen's agreement made by the Board of Directors and the Translation Committee.

Q: Why the secrecy?
A: Because the Committee of Translation wanted it to remain anonymous and not seek any glory or honour at the making of a translation and having any names attached thereto.

Q: Writers of books and translators do not always get glory and honour for their efforts, do they?
A: But I believe translators are generally acclaimed and go down in history as the translators. Furthermore, a young man Elihu said in the 32nd chapter of Job "God forbid that I should accept any man's person nor give flattering titles to any man.

Q: Would you look at number 42 of process. That is the New World Translation of Hebrew Scriptures, is it not?
A:That is right.

Q: I see it is rendered from the original languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee.
A: Yes

Q: Is that the Committee of which you are a member?
A: Again I must say that I cannot answer that question. I am bound by prior agreement.

Q: Perhaps you could tell me this. Is the New World Bible Translation Committee a portion of the Incorporation of New York or of Pennsylvania?
A: I cannot answer that question.

 

Here the questioning goes slightly off course, so we'll skip to page 100

 

Q: But you say you o.k. translations?
A: I o.k. translations.

Q: If you o.k. them they automatically go to the president, do they?
A: They go to the president, and he gives further consideration to the matter

 

After a few more questions, the court was adjourned until the next day; Wednesday, November 24, 1954. Again, Frederick Franz took the stand. Beginning with p.102 and following:

 

Q: Would you please look at number 42 of process, which is the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. I think we come to the name Jehovah in the fourth verse, don't we, of the second chapter of Genesis, page 34?
A: Yes.

Q: You, yourself, read and speak Hebrew, do you?
A: I do not speak Hebrew.

Q: You do not?
A: No.

Q: Can you yourself translate that into Hebrew?
A: Which?

Q: That fourth verse of the second chapter of Genesis?
A: You mean here?

Q: Yes.
A: No. I won't attempt to do that.

Q: And the footnote there shows, and I understand correctly, the name Jehovah in the original Hebrew consisted simply of consonants?
A: That is right.

Q:It was called the Tetragrammaton?
A: Yes

Q: Do you subscribe to the view that in ancient Hebrew it was the ineffable name which was not to be pronounced?
A: According to the Jewish tradition which developed later on after the closing of the canon that was not to be pronounced.

Q: But you follow later manuscripts, do you, in inserting vowels to make it a word which may be pronounced?
A: Yes. The Masoretic text contains the vowels. That is the traditional text.

Q: Do you, yourself, speak Aramaic?
A: No.

Q: The book of Daniel is partly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic in the original, isn't it?
A: That is correct.

Q: I think we get the same thing, don't we, in the prophets such as Ezra and Nehemiah?
A: In Ezra yes, and there are Aramaic words scattered throughout various Books of the Bible.

Q: Did you o.k., as you put it yesterday, the texts of the translations of the Books of Ezra and of Daniel in Number 42 of process?
A: No.

 

Again, the questioning goes onto a different course from here. It picks up again later, in Franz's re-examination.
Let's start on page 174:

 

Q: You were referred by my learned friend to Number 16 of process: "This Means Everlasting Life" p.137 as to the qualification for the ministry. I do not think he read the whole paragraph. Do you recall having that read to you: "True Christian preachers who follow and imitate their Master Jesus need no University, college, or seminary schooling, nor is any degree, title, diploma or ceremonious ordination by clergy operators of a theological seminary required by them. Religious clergymen have all such impressive things, but not one has fulfilled God's requirements for becoming one of His ordained, anointed preachers." I think my friend stopped there, but you see it goes on "Compared with the religious clergy of his day Jesus was what they call a 'lay preacher'. But he was really God's ordained preacher and they were not." Were you pointing the difference between seminary qualifications and real qualifications?
A: Yes.

Q: I do not think St. Paul possessed a University degree, did he, as far as we know?
A: No, he sat at the feet of Gamliel he says, in the city of Jerusalem, but Gamliel was not a Christian preacher.

Q: On your New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures number 42 of process you were asked a number of questions as to your own scholastic qualifications for checking that. May I take it that you made yourself familiar with the various sources from which that translation was made?
A: The sources are given in the foreword.

Q: They are?
A: Yes.

Q: Set out at some length?
A: And the same is true with regard to the Christian Greek Scriptures.

Q: And are you familiar with those sources?
A: Yes, in the University of Cincinnati we studied the famous Westcote edition of the Greek text.

Q: I think you yourself left Cincinnati University without taking a degree, as Mr. Leslie elicited, but I do not think you told us one other matter. Is it the case that you sat for and were awarded a Rhodes Scholarship?
A:Yes, I was offered a Cecil Rhodes Scholarship, I took an examination for that in the University of Ohio, the State University of Columbus Ohio.

Q: What year was that when you were nominated a Rhodes Scholar?
A: That was in 1914, but in view of my decision as to the ministry as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, I turned that down.


The Walsh Trial transcript also contains evidence that the Watchtower Society is a false prophet (pp.345- 348), and that the brotherly unity among the Jehovah's Witnesses is enforced more than being a spontaneous action (p.347-348). It also confirms that the Watchtower Society teaches that they are the only means by which others can learn real Bible truth (p. 503). The transcript is 762 pages long and is in the public domain, thus it carries no copyright. Below we have provided a link for you to view the entire transcript so that you can see exactly what was said, and by whom, and where any bias lay. You may also be interested in reading further analysis on the Walsh Transcript by clicking on the webpage posted here.

 

To read the entirety of the transcript, please click
HERE

 

If you wish to obtain a hardcopy of the entire trial, please contact:
The Scottish Record Office, H.M. General Register House, Edinburgh, Scotland. Ask for the Pursuer's Proof of Douglas Walsh vs. The Right Honourable James Latham Clyde, M.P. P.C., as representing the Ministry of Labour and National Service.