Wierwille taught that a pronoun always refers to its closest associated noun, called its antecedent, so his hard-and-fast rule of dividing the Word is to "follow the pronouns."

However, the "closest associated noun" rule is a fallacy Wierwille learned from English class, and he never understood that Greek is a very different language. Greek is based on word forms, while English is based on word order. In English you could never say, "the store went to the man." In Greek, you can say "the store went to the man," and readers would clearly understand that the man went, because the word forms make clear what happened no matter what the word order. Greek (and many other languages) are based on word forms and aren't dependent on word order.

In fact, in Greek, there often aren't even any pronouns to follow. Usually the text doesn't have any pronouns at all. It just says, "(he/she/it) said..." The pronoun is implied in the word-form, not stated. For example, where Jesus speaks with a woman (such as in John 4 and 20), the same word for "said" is used for both of them, without pronouns. The English translation adds the pronouns "he" or "she" based on the context. The noun (Jesus or woman) that "said" refers to isn't always the closest noun.

Wierwille ignored his own "follow the pronouns" rule when he felt like it. He ignored it in places like John 1 and Colossians 1, in which following the pronouns leads one to believe that Jesus Christ is God/deity. (That's not the same as saying that Jesus is the Father.) This is one reason that his rewriting ("literal translation according to usage") of John 1 is so long- he is trying to cloud the plain meaning of the text.

Wierwille always wanted people to believe he was teaching from Greek and was a great Greek teacher. But he normally used English and only guessed at the Greek. An example of this is his lists of lambano and dechomai in which he ignores most occurrences of the two words in the NT-- because he used the King James English for his list instead of going back and finding all the Greek occurrences of the words (see my detailed chart about this on the Messiah7 web site). Another example of Wierwille guessing at Greek is in the first printing of Power for Abundant Living, in which he guessed that the Hebrews 11 story of Enoch used the word anablepo. He was wrong, but that didn't matter to him- he just slapped the same word definition on another Greek word for "see."

One reason for this was Wierwille's use of Young's concordance, which categorizes English words according to the Greek words they translate. This made him feel as though he was studying Greek usage. However, it apparently never occurred to him to study all the instances of the Greek word, no matter what English words were used to translate them. The best way to do this is to use a Greek concordance, not an English one (like Young's and Strong's) that has notes about Greek. This practice throws a whole different light on the creative word definitions Wierwille wrongly promoted as accurate.There's no end to Wierwille's ignorance, which his followers have too often believed to be the truth.

"Follow the pronouns" is a good general guideline for reading English Bible translations. But it can't be used as immutable proof for a distinct interpretation of a Bible passage, and it must always serve, not rule as Master over, the Greek text.

Dr. John Juedes, 2000 /rsr_closenoun

Back to Research & Teaching Menu