The Watchtower and Johannes Greber

Much has been said and written in recent years regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses reliance on Johannes Greber’s “The New Testament—A New Translation and Explanation Based on the Oldest Manuscripts” to support their rendering of John 1:1 and Matthew 27:52,53 in their “New World Translation.” In reality, the writers of The Watchtower have only referred to Greber a handful of times over the years. But, I think the timing and context of those references is interesting. Let’s start with the most recent reference to Greber and his translation that I could find.
From the 4/1/1983 issue of “The Watchtower”, page 31, “Questions from Readers”
■ Why, in recent years, has The Watchtower not made use of the translation by the former Catholic priest, Johannes Greber?
This translation was used occasionally in support of renderings of Matthew 27:52, 53 and John 1:1, as given in the New World Translation and other authoritative Bible versions. But as indicated in a foreword to the 1980 edition of The New Testament by Johannes Greber, this translator relied on “God’s Spirit World” to clarify for him how he should translate difficult passages. It is stated: “His wife, a medium of God’s Spiritworld was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber.” The Watchtower has deemed it improper to make use of a translation that has such a close rapport with spiritism. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) The scholarship that forms the basis for the rendering of the above-cited texts in the New World Translation is sound and for this reason does not depend at all on Greber’s translation for authority. Nothing is lost, therefore, by ceasing to use his New Testament.
So here, The Watchtower tells us that they had ceased using Greber’s translation because they came to realize that it had come about, at least partially, as a result of spiritism. Interesting that The Watchtower quotes from the forward from the 1980 edition rather than earlier printings of Greber’s translation. A cursory reading of this might leave the reader with the impression that the writers of The Watchtower had only recently discovered Frau Greber’s relying on “God’s Spiritworld” to convey “the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber”, and having discovered it, immediately stopped making use of Greber’s translation. Their statement could hardly have been better worded to give that impression.
This is hardly the case however.  The writers of The Watchtower knew about Greber being a spiritualist as early as 1955. This is from the 10/1/1955 Watchtower, page 603, para. 33:
It comes as no surprise that one Johannes Greber, a former Catholic clergyman, has become a spiritualist and has published the book entitled “Communication with the Spirit World, Its laws and Its Purpose.” (1932, Macoy Publishing Company, New York)
Then in 1956, The Watchtower makes reference to Greber’s 1937 translation of the New Testament, again highlighting Greber’s spiritism. The following is from the 2/15/1956 Watchtower, pages 110-111, para 10, “Triumphing Over Wicked Spirit Forces”:

Says Johannes Greber in the introduction of his translation of The New Testament, copyrighted in 1937: “I myself was a Catholic priest, and until I was forty-eight years old had never as much as believed in the possibility of communicating with the world of God’s spirits. The day came, however, when I involuntarily took my first step toward such communication, and experienced things that shook me to the depths of my soul. . . . My experiences are related in a book that has appeared in both German and English and bears the title, Communication with the Spirit-World: Its Laws and Its Purpose.”(Page 15, ¶ 2, 3) In keeping with his Roman Catholic extraction Greber’s translation is bound with a gold-leaf cross on its stiff front cover. In the Foreword of his aforementioned book ex-priest Greber says: “The most significant spiritualistic book is the Bible.” Under this impression Greber endeavors to make his New Testament translation read very spiritualistic.

Despite having already acknowledged Greber’s being a spiritist, The Watchtower then turned around and used his rendition of Matthew 27:52, 53 to support their own translation of it. In the 1/1/1961 issue of The Watchtower, page 30 they quote Greber’s translation without attribution as follows:
Nor is the New World Translation alone in rendering these verses thus. A modern German translation reads quite similarly: “Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.”—Matt. 27:52, 53.
Next, in their issue of 9/15/1962, page 554 in the article “The Word” – Who is He? According to John, they quote Greber with attribution in a footnote to support their translation of John 1:1:
Similar is the reading by a former Roman Catholic priest: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without it nothing created sprang into existence.” (John 1:1-3)
And the footnote to the previous quote reads:
The New Testament—A New Translation and Explanation Based on the Oldest Manuscripts, by Johannes Greber (a translation from German into English), edition of 1937, the front cover of this bound translation being stamped with a golden cross.
The 1965 edition of The Watchtower’s book Make Sure of All Things, Hold Fast to What is Fine quotes Greber’s translation of John 1:1; the 1953 and 1957 editions of the same book, do not.
In their encyclopedic Aid to Bible Understanding (1971), page 1134, after mentioning earthquakes in Ecuador and Columbia where corpses were heaved out of tombs by earthquakes, they quote Greber, again with respect to Matthew 27:52,53, writing:
The translation by Johannes Greber (1937) of these verses reads as follows: “Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.”
Later, in the same Aid book, on page 1669, they cite Greber in connection with John 1:1:
A translation by a former Roman Catholic priest, Johannes Greber (1937 ed.) renders the second appearance of the word “god” in the sentence as “a god.”
Then in The Watchtower of 10/15/1975, page 640, “Questions From Readers”, they again refer to Greber’s translation to lend support to their rendering of Matthew 27:52, 53:
“Without wresting the Greek grammar, a translator can render Matthew 27:52, 53 in a way that suggests that a similar exposing of corpses resulted from the earthquake occurring at Jesus’ death. Thus the translation by Johannes Greber (1937) renders these verses: ‘Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried there were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.’”—Compare the New World Translation.” 
And again in The Watchtower of 4/15/1976, page 231, “Insight on the News”, they again use Greber’s translation to support their own.
“The recent Guatemalan earthquake affected even some of those already dead. “Time” magazine reports that “several mourners who went to bury their dead in family plots found that the coffins of long-dead relatives had been uncovered by the quake.” Something similar occurred during an earthquake in the Jerusalem area at Jesus’ death. At that time, dead bodies were customarily placed in vaults or chambers cut from Palestine’s soft limestone rock, often in hillsides. A report in the Bible, as translated by Johannes Greber, says that when Jesus died, “the earth quaked, and the rocks were shattered. Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried there were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.” Hence, rather than a resurrection, as some Bible translations imply, there appears to have been merely an exposure of the dead to observers, as in Guatemala.
A search on JW.ORG for “Greber” returns no results, but in their note on Matthew 27:52 in their online version of The New World Translation (Study Edition) they state: “Evidently, the earthquake was so powerful that the tombs were broken open and corpses were thrown out of them.”
So, to summarize, after recognizing Greber as a spiritist in 1955 The Watchtower from 1961 to 1976, used Greber’s translation to support their New World Translation’s renderings of John 1:1 and Matthew 27:52,53. Then in 1983 they explained that they had stopped using Greber’s translation when they realized he was a spiritist, giving the impression that their realization was much more resent than it really was. While the writers of The Watchtower appeal to other translations to support their rendering of John 1:1, Greber’s is the only other translation that they use to support their rendering of Matthew 27:52, 53.
So, I think to say that The Watchtower got their rendering of John 1:1 from Greber may be a bit of a stretch. The same cannot be said for their dependence on Greber for support of their translation of Matthew 27:52,53.