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Saturday, January 31, 2009

John 1:1 "and the Word was"

Additional Reading:

RS reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (KJ, Dy, JB, NAB use similar wording.) However, NW reads: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God.”

Which translation of John 1:1, 2 agrees with the context? John 1:18 says: “No one has ever seen God.” Verse 14 clearly says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . we have beheld his glory.” Also, verses 1, 2 say that in the beginning he was “with God.” Can one be with someone and at the same time be that person? At John 17:3, Jesus addresses the Father as “the only true God”; so, Jesus as “a god” merely reflects his Father’s divine qualities.—Heb. 1:3.

Is the rendering “a god” consistent with the rules of Greek grammar? Some reference books argue strongly that the Greek text must be translated, “The Word was God.” But not all agree. In his article “Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1,” Philip B. Harner said that such clauses as the one in John 1:1, “with an anarthrous predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning. They indicate that the logos has the nature of theos.” He suggests: “Perhaps the clause could be translated, ‘the Word had the same nature as God.’” (Journal of Biblical Literature, 1973, pp. 85, 87) Thus, in this text, the fact that the word the‧os′ in its second occurrence is without the definite article (ho) and is placed before the verb in the sentence in Greek is significant. Interestingly, translators that insist on rendering John 1:1, “The Word was God,” do not hesitate to use the indefinite article (a, an) in their rendering of other passages where a singular anarthrous predicate noun occurs before the verb. Thus at John 6:70, JB and KJ both refer to Judas Iscariot as “a devil,” and at John 9:17 they describe Jesus as “a prophet.”

John J. McKenzie, S.J., in his Dictionary of the Bible, says: “Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated ‘the word was with the God [= the Father], and the word was a divine being.’”—(Brackets are his. Published with nihil obstat and imprimatur.) (New York, 1965), p. 317.

In harmony with the above, AT reads: “the Word was divine”; Mo, “the Logos was divine”; NTIV, “the word was a god.” In his German translation Ludwig Thimme expresses it in this way: “God of a sort the Word was.” Referring to the Word (who became Jesus Christ) as “a god” is consistent with the use of that term in the rest of the Scriptures. For example, at Psalm 82:1-6 human judges in Israel were referred to as “gods” (Hebrew, ’elo‧him′; Greek, the‧oi′, at John 10:34) because they were representatives of Jehovah and were to speak his law.


Jason David BeDuhn, Ph.D. in his book Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament says: “It is true that the most formal, literal translation of the words in John 1:1c would be “and the Word was a god.” The grammatical rules involved in this passage weigh very heavily against the more commonly seen, traditional translation, “and the Word was God.” However, translation is not only about rendering a passage word-for-word. It involves also consideration of broader syntax and the meaning of a passage as a whole.

“The grammatical construction used here can be called the qualitative or categorical use of the indefinite. Basically, that means x belongs to the category y, or “x is a y.” The examples I used in a letter now widely circulated are “Snoopy is a dog”; “The car is a Volkswagen”; and “John is a smart person.” The common translation “The Word was God” is as erroneous for this construction as it would be to say in English “Snoopy is dog”; “The car is Volkswagen”; or “John is smart person.” The indefinite article is mandatory because we are talking about a member of a class or category.

“Sometimes in English we can accomplish the same syntactical function by using a predicate adjective in place of the indefinite noun phrase. In the examples I gave above, this only works with “John is a smart person,” which means the same thing as “John is smart.” What Harner calls the qualitative sense is the same as what I call the categorical sense. In the many examples throughout the New Testament of the same grammatical construct as found in John 1:1c, the indefinite noun used is always a class or category to which the subject is said to belong. But in several of these examples, the category is used to suggest the quality the subject has, as in the many “a son of x” expressions found in the New Testament.

“Because of this evidence, we cannot rule out the possibility that for John quality was the center of focus rather than category”" Being honest to the original Greek, we cannot narrow the range of acceptable translation of John 1:1c any further than to say it is EITHER “And the Word was a god” OR “And the Word was divine.” I can, if pressed, explain at length why these two translations amount to the same thing FOR JOHN. But I also recognize that they leave open interpretation to a range of possible understandings. I am afraid I cannot do anything about that. If I were to say that the NWT translation is the only possible one, I would be committing the same offense as those who have said that “And the Word was God” is the only possible translation. The whole point of my work is to get us past these false assertions, and follow the original Greek, and follow it only as far as it takes us.

“What I can say is that “And the Word was God” is extremely difficult to justify, because it goes against the plain grammar of the passage. Either of the other two translations are acceptable, because the Greek allows them, while it does not obviously allow the traditional translation. What your correspondent needs to understand, in dealing with others on this question, is that the wording “The Word was divine” agrees 100% in meaning with “The Word was a god” and only 50% with “And the Word was God.” What must be given up from the latter wording is the absolute identity between Word and God that the traditional translation tried to impose. John clearly did not intend to make such an absolute identification, and that is precisely why he very carefully manipulates his word in the passage to rule it out. But, yes, John is putting the Word into the “god” or “divine” category, and that is as true if the wording is “a god” or “divine.”

“Remember, the Word is not a human person, and John does not use “god” for the Word to say he is talking about a prophet or a leader or an important person. The Word is a superhuman (hence “divine”) essence or being, very intimately connected to The God. How intimately? In what way connected? In what precise relationship? The answers to those questions are much more involved, and must be based on a reading of the Gospel of John as a whole, where John works very hard to make it all clear. And yes, there will be disagreements about how to understand this larger picture John is trying to convey.

“Of course, if your correspondent is using what I have written in arguments with people who favor the traditional translation, they are likely to seize upon my acceptance of “The Word was divine” as somehow a defense of their view. That is also something that cannot be helped. The idea of a Trinity developed over the centuries after the Gospel of John was written precisely as one solution to the questions raised by John’s wording. The JWs have a different solution to those same questions. I am not in a position to arbitrate such historical interpretations of the text. I think John went as far as he felt inspired to go in his understanding of things, and I do not fault him for not going further and for not answering all of the additional questions people have been able to raise since his time.

“The bottom line is that “The Word was a god” is exactly what the Greek says. “The Word was divine” is a possible meaning of this Greek phrasing. “The Word was God” is almost certainly ruled out by the phrasing John uses, and it is not equivalent to “The Word was divine” because without any justification in the original Greek it narrows the meaning from a quality or category (god/divine) to an individual (God).”

Jason David BeDuhn is an associate professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff. He holds a B.A. in Religious studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and M.T.S. in New Testament and Christian Origins from Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in the Comparative Study of Religions from Indiana University, Bloomington.


Additional Reading:


“and was himself a divine person” (Edward Harwood, H KAINH DIAQHKH. London, 1776, 2 vols; 2nd ed. 1784, 2 vols. 1768)

“and the word was a god” (Newcome, 1808)

“the Word was God’s” (Crellius,as quoted in The New Testament in an Improved Version)

“and the Word was a divine being.” (La Bible du Centenaire, L’Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel,1928)

“the Logos was a god (John Samuel Thompson, The Montessoran; or The Gospel History According to the Four Evangelists, Baltimore; published by the translator, 1829)

“the Word was divine” (Goodspeed’s An American Translation, 1939)

“the word was a god.” (Revised Version-Improved and Corrected)

“and god[-ly/-like] was the Word.” (Prof. Felix Just, S.J. - Loyola Marymount University)

“the Logos was divine” (Moffatt’s The Bible, 1972)

“the Word was God*[ftn. or Deity, Divine, which is a better translation, because the Greek definite article is not present before this Greek word] (International English Bible-Extreme New Testament, 2001)

“and the Word was a god” (Reijnier Rooleeuw, M.D. -The New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ, translated from the Greek, 1694)

“[A]s a god the Command was” (Hermann Heinfetter, A Literal Translation of the New Testament,1863)

“The Word was a God” (Abner Kneeland-The New Testament in Greek and English, 1822)

“[A]nd a God (i.e. a Divine Being) was the Word” (Robert Young, LL.D. (Concise Commentary on the Holy Bible [Grand Rapids: Baker, n.d.], 54). 1885)

“the Word was a god” (Belsham N.T. 1809)

“And the logos was a god” (Leicester Ambrose, The Final Theology, Volume 1, New York, New York; M.B. Sawyer and Company, 1879)

“the Word was Deistic [=The Word was Godly] (Charles A.L. Totten, The Gospel of History, 1900)

”[A]nd was a god” (J.N. Jannaris, Zeitschrift fur die Newtestameutlich Wissencraft, (German periodical) 1901, International Bible Translators N.T. 1981)

“[A] Divine Person.” (Samuel Clarke, M.A., D.D., rector of St. James, Westminster, A Paraphrase on the Gospel of John, London)

“a God” (Joseph Priestley, LL.D., F.R.S. [Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1794], 37).)

“a God” (Lant Carpenter, LL.D (in Unitarianism in the Gospels [London: C. Stower, 1809], 156).)

“a god” (Andrews Norton, D.D. [Cambridge: Brown, Shattuck, and Company, 1833], 74).)

“a God” (Paul Wernle,(in The Beginnings of Christianity, vol. 1, The Rise of Religion [1903], 16).)

“and the [Marshal] [Word] was a god.” (21st Century Literal)

[A]nd (a) God was the word” (George William Horner, The Coptic Version of the New Testament, 1911)

“[A]nd the Word was of divine nature” (Ernest Findlay Scott, The Literature of the New Testament, New York, Columbia University Press, 1932)

[T]he Word was a God” (James L. Tomanec, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Anointed, 1958)

“The Word had the same nature as God” (Philip Harner, JBL, Vol. 92, 1974)

“And a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word” (Siegfried Schulz, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 1975)

“and godlike sort was the Logos” (Johannes Schneider, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 1978)

“the Word was a divine Being” (Scholar’s Version-The Five Gospels, 1993)

“The Divine word and wisdom was there with God, and it was what God was” (J. Madsen, New Testament A Rendering , 1994)

“a God/god was the Logos/logos” (Jurgen Becker, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 1979)

“The Word/word was itself a divine Being/being.” (Curt Stage, The New Testament, 1907)

“the Word was of divine kind” (Lyder Brun (Norw. professor of NT theology), 1945)

“was of divine Kind/kind” (Fredrich Pfaefflin, The New Testament, 1949)

“godlike Being/being had the Word/word” (Albrecht, 1957)

“the word of the world was a divine being” (Smit, 1960)

“God(=godlike Being/being) was the Word/word” (Menge, 1961)

“divine (of the category divinity)was the Logos” (Haenchen (tr. By R. Funk), 1984)

“And the Word was divine.” (William Temple, Archbishop of York, Readings in St. John’s Gospel, London, Macmillan & Co.,1933)

The Word of Speech was a God” (John Crellius, Latin form of German, The 2 Books of John Crellius Fancus, Touching One God the Father, 1631)

“the word was with Allah[God] and the word was a god” (Greek Orthodox /Arabic Calendar, incorporating portions of the 4 Gospels, Greek Orthodox Patriarchy or Beirut, May, 1983)

“And the Word was Divine” (Ervin Edward Stringfellow (Prof. of NT Language and Literature/Drake University, 1943)

“and the Logos was divine (a divine being)” (Robert Harvey, D.D., Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Westminster College, Cambridge, in The Historic Jesus in the New Testament, London, Student Movement Christian Press1931)

‘the word was a divine being.’ (Jesuit John L. McKenzie, 1965, wrote in his Dictionary of the Bible: “Jn 1:1 should rigorously be translated . . . ‘the word was a divine being.’)

“In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word.” (Interlineary Word for Word English Translation-Emphatic Diaglott)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Beth-Sarim (1929 - 1947)

Brother Rutherford had a severe case of pneumonia after his release from unjust imprisonment in 1919. Thereafter, he had only one good lung. In the 1920’s, under a doctor’s treatment, he went to San Diego, California, and the doctor urged him to spend as much time as possible there. From 1929 on, Brother Rutherford spent the winters working at a San Diego residence he had named Beth-Sarim. Beth-Sarim was built with funds that were a direct contribution for that purpose. The deed, which was published in full in “The Golden Age” of March 19, 1930, conveyed this property to J. F. Rutherford and thereafter to the Watch Tower Society.

Concerning Beth-Sarim, the book “Salvation,” published in 1939, explains: “The Hebrew words ‘Beth Sarim’ mean ‘House of the Princes’; and the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there might be some tangible proof that there are those on earth today who fully believe God and Christ Jesus and in His kingdom, and who believe that the faithful men of old will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth.”

A few years after Brother Rutherford’s death, the board of directors of the Watch Tower Society decided to sell Beth-Sarim. Why? “The Watchtower” of December 15, 1947, explained: “It had fully served its purpose and was now only serving as a monument quite expensive to keep; our faith in the return of the men of old time whom the King Christ Jesus will make princes in ALL the earth (not merely in California) is based, not upon that house Beth-Sarim, but upon God’s Word of promise.”

At the time, it was believed that faithful men of old times, such as Abraham, Joseph, and David, would be resurrected before the end of this system of things and would serve as “princes in all the earth,” in fulfillment of Psalm 45:16. This view was adjusted in 1950, when further study of the Scriptures indicated that those earthly forefathers of Jesus Christ would be resurrected after Armageddon.—See “The Watchtower,” November 1, 1950, pages 414-17.

Brother Rutherford was survived by his wife, Mary, and their son, Malcolm. Because Sister Rutherford had poor health and found the winters in New York (where the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters were located) difficult to endure, she and Malcolm had been residing in southern California, where the climate was better for her health. Sister Rutherford died December 17, 1962, at the age of 93. Notice of her death, appearing in the Monrovia, California, Daily News-Post, stated: “Until poor health confined her to her home, she took an active part in the ministerial work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

Additional Reading:


By November Brother Rutherford’s critical illness had gained ground and he was compelled to have an operation at Elkhart, Indiana. Thereafter he expressed a desire to go to California. So he was taken to a San Diego residence known as “Beth-Sarim.” For some time it was apparent to his associates and the best medical experts that he could not recover.

Briefly it may be said that Brother Rutherford had a severe case of pneumonia after his release from unjust imprisonment during 1918-1919 because of his faithfulness to Jehovah. Thereafter he had only one good lung. It was virtually impossible for him to remain in Brooklyn, New York, during the winter and still carry out his duties as the Society’s president. In the 1920’s he went to San Diego under a doctor’s treatment. The climate there was exceptionally good and the doctor urged him to spend as much time as possible in San Diego. That is what Rutherford did ultimately.

In time, a direct contribution was made for the purpose of constructing a house in San Diego for Brother Rutherford’s use. It was not built at the expense of the Watch Tower Society. Concerning this property, the 1939 book Salvation stated: “At San Diego, California, there is a small piece of land, on which, in the year 1929, there was built a house, which is called and known as Beth-Sarim.”

Sister Hazel Burford was one of the nurses who cared for Brother Rutherford during his final illness at Beth-Sarim, where he was taken in November 1941. She tells us: “We had the interesting times, for he got to where he would sleep all day and then all night long he was busy with the Society’s business and kept us on the move.” One morning about the middle of December three brothers, including Brother Knorr, arrived from Brooklyn. Sister Burford recalls: “They spent several days with him going over the annual report for the Yearbook and other organizational matters. After their departure, Brother Rutherford continued to weaken and, about three weeks later, on Thursday, January 8, 1942, he faithfully finished his earthly course and graduated into fuller service privileges in the courts of his heavenly Father.” Later that day the news was sent to the Brooklyn headquarters by long-distance telephone at 5:15 p.m.

How was news of J. F. Rutherford’s death received at Brooklyn Bethel? “I will never forget the day we learned of Brother Rutherford’s passing,” comments William A. Elrod. “The announcement was brief. There were no speeches.”

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS


He had no desire to be buried in any place but he had to. He knew he was dying and would have to be buried. He was sensible enough to know that he didn't want to have his bones hauled all the way back to Brooklyn. So he suggested to us that when the time came for him to be buried he wanted to be buried out there. We tried to get him buried there in the Beth Sarim property. That was a big property in behind there, went all the way down to Montezuma Road, and then Brother Heath had that big house over across the way that his mother had given him money to build. It would cost a half a million dollars to build and duplicate now, or more. We tried to get him buried at that property and the board in San Diego turned us down. They didn't want him buried anywhere out there, there was so much hostility and hatred against the Judge out there.

The authorities turned us down, every turn we took. I filed a lawsuit then in the courts out there in San Diego to force them to let us bury him out there on that property. Judge Mundo, who was the judge of the Superior Court, heard it and passed the buck, jumping from one thing to another, from one technicality to another, and finally after looking at the matter in a reasonable way Bill, Bonnie, and Nathan and all of us decided that we have fought enough on this and it looks like its the Lord's will that we take his body back to Brooklyn, and have him buried in Staten Island, which we did. So Bill and Bonnie were on the train with his body. And Fred, Nathan, and I had already come back and were working. I was trying to get his bones under the ground by legal mandate and we couldn't get it, and there was no other thing to do. And we did, and that ended that. He was laughing down from heaven at us scurrying around trying to get his bones buried.

- Interview with Watchtower Attorney Hayden Covington, Nov. 19, 1978, two days before his death. Also see the February 22, 1952 Awake, page 26 for the location of Rutherford's burial place:

January 9, 1942

On January 8, 1942, our beloved brother, J. F. Rutherford, faithfully finished his earthly course as a warrior for The THEOCRATIC GOVERNMENT and a minister of the Word of God. Knowing of your deep concern and of your prayers to God for him ever since his serious illness prior to the Detroit Convention of July, 1940, we hasten to notify you.

It was Brother Rutherford’s desire to “die fighting with his boots on”; and this he did. The Lord graciously spared him to complete the report of the 1942 Yearbook of Jehovah’s witnesses, therein showing that the greatest witness ever given had been accomplished and that the year’s distribution of books and booklets reached the grand total of 36,030,595 copies. He always had foremost in mind to DO THIS ONE THING, to declare the name of Jehovah and his kingdom, to keep covenant with Him, and to look well to the interests of his brethren.—1 John 3:16.

To him it was a joy and comfort to see and know that all the witnesses of the Lord are following, not any man, but the King Christ Jesus as their Leader, and that they will move on in the work in complete unity of action, as they unanimously expressed at the Theocratic Assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses in St. Louis.

All those standing steadfast for THE THEOCRACY will now not mourn or be disturbed or fearful, but will rejoice that their faithful fellow servant and brother has maintained his integrity toward the Lord, in sickness and in health, through evil report and through good report, and has now entered a higher field of service forever with the Lord.—2 Tim. 4 :7, 8.

Brother Rutherford’s consistent faithful activity and unbending devotion to THE THEOCRACY, especially since becoming president of the Society, January 6, 1917, has been and continues to be a true and blessed example to us all as of one who ‘fought a good fight and kept the faith’ and proved worthy of a part in the vindication of Jehovah’s name by Christ Jesus; and for this we give thanks to God.

With you keeping on working, determined, by the Lord’s grace, to let nothing stop us until the Lord’s “strange work” is finished, we are,

Your brethren and fellow servants,

Although Brother Rutherford served for 25 years as president of the Watch Tower Society and devoted all his energy to advancing the work of the organization, he was not the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and he did not want to be. At a convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1941, shortly before his death, he spoke about the matter of leadership, saying: “I want to let any strangers here know what you think about a man being your leader, so they won’t be forgetting. Every time something rises up and starts to grow, they say there is some man a leader who has a great following. If there is any person in this audience who thinks that I, this man standing here, is the leader of Jehovah’s witnesses, say Yes.” The response was an impressive silence, broken only by an emphatic “No” from several in the audience. The speaker continued: “If you who are here believe that I am just one of the servants of the Lord, and we are working shoulder to shoulder in unity, serving God and serving Christ, say Yes.” In unison the assembly roared out a decisive “Yes!” The following month an audience in England responded in exactly the same way. - Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

Opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses have occasionally made references (most of the details being incorrect) to J. F. Rutherford and "Beth - Sarim" in an attempt to discredit the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. A look at the context and actual records would be beneficial:

The 1975 Year Book tells us that

"Brother Rutherford had a severe case of pneumonia after his release from unjust imprisonment during 1918-1919 because of his faithfulness to Jehovah. Thereafter he had only one good lung. It was virtually impossible for him to remain in Brooklyn, New York, during the winter and still carry out his duties as the Society's president. In the 1920's he went to San Diego under a doctor's treatment. The climate there was exceptionally good and the doctor urged him to spend as much time as possible in San Diego. That is what Rutherford did ultimately.

"In time, a direct contribution was made for the purpose of constructing a house in San Diego for Brother Rutherford's use. It was not built at the expense of the Watch Tower Society. Concerning this property, the 1939 book Salvation stated: `At San Diego, California, there is a small piece of land, on which, in the year 1929, there was built a house, which is called and known as Beth-Sarim.'" - p. 194.

By November of 1941 Brother Rutherford's condition compelled him to return to Beth-Sarim for his final illness. He died there January 8, 1942.

However, the Salvation book (written by Brother Rutherford) quoted above goes on to say:

"The Hebrew words `Beth Sarim' mean `House of the Princes'; and the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there might be some tangible proof that there are those on earth today who fully believe God and Christ Jesus and in His kingdom, and who believe that the faithful men of old will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth. The title to Beth-Sarim is vested in the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in trust, to be used by the president of the Society and his assistants for the present, and thereafter to be for ever at the disposal of the aforementioned princes on the earth. .... and if and when the princes do return and some of them occupy the property, such will be a confirmation of the faith and hope that induced the building of Beth-Sarim." - p.311.

Apparently Brother Rutherford had earlier written that he expected the return of these princes in the year 1925. I don't have a copy of that, but I see no reason to doubt it. Note, however, that Beth-Sarim wasn't built until 1929. (This link is added to these comments for additional insight into the subject -

Money had been contributed for the specific purpose of "constructing a house in San Diego for Brother Rutherford's use" during his illnesses. The money, of course, could not be legally (or morally) used for any other purpose.

It's not surprising that in his book Brother Rutherford didn't care to detail these conditions which would have necessarily put his physical illnesses on public display. His decision to also dedicate this ground and building to those princes whom he truly expected to soon return is certainly understandable.

The fact that the princes did not return as soon as he expected was obvious even before Beth-Sarim was even built and certainly does not make Brother Rutherford a False Prophet. -


Rutherford died at Beth Sarim on January 8, 1942 at the age of 72. After his death, Rutherford's burial was delayed for three and a half months due to legal proceedings arising from his desire to be buried at Beth Sarim, which he had previously expressed to three close advisers from Brooklyn headquarters. Watchtower attorney Hayden C. Covington explained his role in the lawsuit: "I filed a lawsuit then in the courts out there in San Diego to force them to let us bury him out there on that property. Judge Mundo, who was the judge of the Superior Court, heard it and passed the buck, jumping from one thing to another, from one technicality to another, and finally after looking at the matter in a reasonable way Bill, Bonnie, and Nathan and all of us decided that we have fought enough on this and it looks like its the Lord's will that we take his body back to Brooklyn, and have him buried in Staten Island, which we did." Witnesses collected over 14,000 signatures on a petition that Rutherford's dying wish might be granted. The May 27, 1942 Consolation explained:

As early as 1920 Judge Rutherford pointed out that the ancient witnesses or princes were promised an earthly resurrection by the Lord. In that year he delivered a public address at Los Angeles, California, entitled 'Millions Now Living Will Never Die,' in which he called attention to the expectations of the return of the men above mentioned. All the publications since emphasize the same fact. It therefore appears that the return of the princes is a fundamental teaching of the Scriptures. It is as certain as the truth of God's Word. Judge Rutherford gave much of his life in endeavoring to bring this vital matter to the people's attention. What, then, could be more fitting and appropriate before God and before men that his bones should rest on the land held in trust for the men whose coming he was privileged to announce.

Consolation condemned San Diego County officials for their refusal to grant a permit for Rutherford's burial at Beth Sarim or on a neighboring property named Beth Shan, also owned by the Watchtower Society:

It was not the fate of the bones which they decided, but their own destiny. Nor is their blood on anyone else's head, because they were told three times that to fight against God, or to tamper with His servant's bones even, would bring upon them the condemnation of the Lord. ... So their responsibility is fixed, and they followed the course of Satan.

After all appeals were exhausted, Consolation stated that Rutherford's remains were shipped to New York where he was buried on April 25, 1942. Critics have speculated that Rutherford was secretly buried at Beth Sarim. The May 4, 1942 issue of Time magazine noted Rutherford's burial at Rossville, New York, on Staten Island; a private burial plot for Watch Tower branch volunteers is on Woodrow Road. The exact grave location is unmarked; in 2002, a caretaker at Woodrow United Methodist Church and Cemetery (an adjoining graveyard) answered an inquiry about Watch Tower's plot by noting "I couldn't tell you who is buried on it because it has absolutely no markers or headstones or anything". - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 7/23/2011

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pastor Russell and Carnegie Hall

In what later appeared to be an attempt by the Pittsburgh ministerial alliance to discredit C. T. Russell’s scholarship and Biblical views, on March 10, 1903, Dr. E. L. Eaton, minister of the North Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, challenged Russell to a six-day debate. During each session of this debate, held that autumn in Allegheny’s Carnegie Hall, on the whole Russell came off victorious. Among other things, he Scripturally maintained that the souls of the dead are unconscious while their bodies are in the grave and that the object of both Christ’s second coming and the millennium is the blessing of all the families of the earth. Russell also made a very strong Biblical denial of the hellfire doctrine. Reportedly, one clergyman approached him after the last session of the debate and said: “I am glad to see you turn the hose on hell and put out the fire.” Interestingly, after this debate many members of Eaton’s congregation became Bible Students.

Additional Reading:

Some of the clergy felt the need to destroy Russell’s influence by exposing him in public debate. Near the headquarters of his activity, a group of clergymen endorsed as their spokesman Dr. E. L. Eaton, pastor of the North Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. In 1903 he proposed a public debate, and Brother Russell accepted the invitation.

Six propositions were set forth, as follows: Brother Russell affirmed, but Dr. Eaton denied, that the souls of the dead are unconscious; that the “second coming” of Christ precedes the Millennium and that the purpose of both his “second coming” and the Millennium is the blessing of all the families of the earth; also that only the saints of the “Gospel age” share in the first resurrection but that vast multitudes will have opportunity for salvation by the subsequent resurrection. Dr. Eaton affirmed, but Brother Russell denied, that there would be no probation after death for anyone; that all who are saved will enter heaven; and that the incorrigibly wicked will be subjected to eternal suffering. A series of six debates on these propositions were held, each debate before a packed house at Carnegie Hall in Allegheny in 1903.

What was behind that challenge to debate? Viewing the matter from a historical perspective, Albert Vandenberg later wrote: “The debates were conducted with a minister from a different Protestant denomination acting as the moderator during each discussion. In addition, ministers from various area churches sat on the speaker’s platform with the Reverend Eaton, allegedly to provide him with textual and moral support. . . . That even an unofficial alliance of Protestant clergymen could be formed signified that they feared Russell’s potential to convert members of their denominations.”—“Charles Taze Russell: Pittsburgh Prophet, 1879-1909,” published in The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, January 1986, p. 14.

On March 10, 1903, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh ministerial alliance, Dr. E. L. Eaton, minister of the North Avenue Methodist Episcopal church, formally offered to C. T. Russell a six-day debate on agreed Biblical subjects. (Later it appeared that this was a subtle attempt on the part of the associated clergy publicly to discredit Russell’s scholarship and teaching.) Within two days Russell in good faith accepted the offer, and the debates were finally held in the fall at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall before packed-out audiences.

(1) Sunday afternoon, October 18, Eaton debated affirmatively, that the Bible teaches that divine grace for salvation has been exercised since man’s fall and that there will be no probation after death. Russell Scripturally denied. (2) Tuesday evening, October 20, Russell affirmed that the Bible clearly teaches that the souls of the dead are unconscious while their bodies are in the grave. Eaton denied. (3) Thursday evening, October 22, Eaton affirmed that the Bible teaches that all of the saved will become spirit creatures, and after the General Judgment will enter heaven. Russell denied. (4) Tuesday evening, October 27, Russell, affirming that the Bible teaches that only the “saints” of this Gospel age will share in the “First Resurrection,” also held that vast multitudes will be saved in and by the subsequent resurrection. Eaton denied. (5) Thursday, October 29, Russell affirmed that the Bible teaches that the object of both the second coming of Christ and the Millennium is the blessing of all the families of earth. Eaton denied. (6) Lastly, on Sunday, November 1, with Eaton affirming that the Bible teaches that the divine penalty for sin eventually to be inflicted upon the incorrigible, will consist of inconceivably great sufferings, eternal in duration, Russell vigorously denied this hell-fire doctrine.



Carnegie Music Hall in Allegheny Crowded, and Speakers Listened to Attentively as they Discussed Probation


Remarkable in the demonstration of religious interest, the series of discussions between the Rev. E. L. Eaton, D. D. pastor of the North Avenue Methodist Episcopal church, and C. T. Russell, pastor of the Allegheny Bible House congregation, was inaugurated yesterday afternoon with a debate on the general topic of probation. The meeting was held in the Allegheny Carnegie music hall, and a larger assemblage had never been seen in the building. The remarks of both speakers were interrupted at frequent intervals with fervid responses and enthusiastic applause.

The Rev. Dr. W. H. McMillan, pastor of the Second United Presbyterian church, Allegheny, presided. Half an hour before the meeting was opened the hall was packed with people. The aisles of the main auditorium, the balcony, the stage and the vestibules were given over for standing room to the eager crowd. Preceding the debate a short devotional exercise was held and the singing of the hymns, "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah," and "Tell Me the Old, Old Story" was entered into with the zest of worshipers at a revival. No collection basket was passed, and the following proposition was announced for discussion:


After funeral services at The Temple in New York and at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, Brother Russell was buried at Allegheny, in the Bethel family plot, according to his request. A brief biography of Russell along with his will and testament was published in The Watch Tower of December 1, 1916, as well as in subsequent editions of the first volume of Studies in the Scriptures.

Additional Reading:

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Bible House (1889 - 1909)

Headquarters at the Bible House

The Bible Students in Allegheny, associated with the publishing of the Watch Tower, were considered the most experienced in doing the Lord’s work and were looked to by all the ecclesias, or congregations, as those taking the lead. At first they had headquarters offices at 101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, and later at 44 Federal Street, Allegheny. In the late 1880’s, however, expansion became necessary. So Russell arranged to build larger facilities. In 1889 a four-story brick building at 56-60 Arch Street, Allegheny, was completed. Valued at $34,000, it was known as the Bible House. It served as the Society’s headquarters for some 19 [20] years.

As of 1890, the small Bible House family was serving the needs of several hundred active associates of the Watch Tower Society. But as the decade of the 1890’s progressed, more showed interest in what these were doing. In fact, according to an incomplete report published in the Watch Tower, on March 26, 1899, the Memorial of Christ’s death was observed at 339 separate meetings with 2,501 participants. What, though, would help to keep the growing number
of Bible Students united?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Moving to Brooklyn

As the newspaper preaching gained momentum, the Bible Students looked for another location from which to originate the sermons. Why? The Bible House in Allegheny had become too small. It was also thought that if Russell’s sermons emanated from a larger, better-known city, it would result in the publication of the sermons in more newspapers. But which city? The Watch Tower of December 15, 1908, explained: “Altogether we concluded, after seeking Divine guidance, that Brooklyn, N.Y., with a large population of the middle class, and known as ‘The City of Churches,’ would, for these reasons, be our most suitable center for the harvest work during the few remaining years.”

In 1908, therefore, several representatives of the Watch Tower Society, including its legal counsel, Joseph F. Rutherford, were sent to New York City. Their objective? To secure property that C. T. Russell had located on an earlier trip. They purchased the old “Plymouth Bethel,” located at 13-17 Hicks Street, Brooklyn. It had served as a mission structure for the nearby Plymouth Congregational Church, where Henry Ward Beecher once served as pastor. The Society’s representatives also purchased Beecher’s former residence, a four-story brownstone at 124 Columbia Heights, a few blocks away.

The Hicks Street building was remodeled and named the Brooklyn Tabernacle. It housed the Society’s offices and an auditorium. After considerable repairs, Beecher’s former residence at 124 Columbia Heights became the new home of the Society’s headquarters staff. What would it be called? The Watch Tower of March 1, 1909, explained: “The new home we shall call ‘Bethel’ [meaning, “House of God”].”

“Newspaper gospelling,” as it was called, gained momentum after the move to Brooklyn. But it was not the only way of reaching masses of people.

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

The Bible Students had headquarters offices first at 101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, and thereafter at 44 Federal Street, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. By the late 1880’s, however, the accelerating work of publishing the good news and gathering sheeplike ones made expansion a necessity. So, Jehovah’s people built their own structure. Completed in 1889 at a cost of $34,000, this four-story brick building situated at 56-60 (later renumbered 610-614) Arch Street, Allegheny, was known as the “Bible House.” Originally it was held in title by the Tower Publishing Company, a private concern managed by C. T. Russell that for some years published literature for the Watch Tower Society at an agreed price. In April 1898, ownership of this plant and real estate was transferred by donation to the Watch Tower Society, its board of directors evaluating the structure and equipment at $164,033.65.

The Bible House served as the Society’s headquarters for some twenty years.

“What was it like at the Bible House in 1907?” asks Ora Sullivan Wakefield. Answering her own query, she says, in part: “There were only thirty of us in the ‘family’ and being small it was truly a family. . . . We all ate, slept, worked and worshipped in that one building. The chapel also had a place for baptism under the platform.”

Just think of it! Back in 1890 there were only about four hundred active associates of the Watch Tower Society. But Jehovah’s holy spirit was at work and was producing fine results. (Zech. 4:6, 10) Accordingly, the 1890’s were times of increase. In fact, hundreds gathered, on March 26, 1899, to memorialize the death of Jesus Christ, an incomplete report citing 339 groups with 2,501 participants. Indeed, sheeplike ones were flocking ‘into the pen.’—Mic. 2:12.

Growth of the preaching work had been spurred on by. C. T. Russell’s trip abroad in 1891. This 17,000-mile journey took him and his party to Europe, Asia and Africa. Thereafter a publications depot was set up in London. Also, arrangements were made to publish the Society’s literature in German, French, Swedish, Dano-Norwegian, Polish, Greek and, later, in Italian.

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS

By end of the ‘80’s they had outgrown the quarters at 151 Robinson Street (earlier designated as 44, and then 40, Federal Street), Allegheny, Pennsylvania. They decided to build, and in 1889 they moved into their own large, handsome four-story brick structure costing $34,000, located at 58 and 60 (later renumbered as 610-614) Arch Street, Allegheny (North Side, Pittsburgh), containing quarters for a small “Bible House family,” printing works, shipping rooms, an assembly place for about 200, an office, an editorial department and a store front. They named it “Bible House.” Years later, the Society’s board of directors accepted the donation of title to this plant, the board valuing the building’s net equity and all of its equipment at $164,033.65.

- Feb. 1, 1955 Watchtower, WTB&TS

But to undertake an all-out campaign of world-wide proportions the Society’s twenty-year-old four-story “Bible House” headquarters in Allegheny (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, had become inadequate, besides being not strategically located for world shipping and communication. So in 1908 representatives of the Society, including its legal counselor, J. F. Rutherford, were sent to Brooklyn, New York, to negotiate the purchase of more desirable quarters. Those quarters Russell himself had found on an earlier trip to New York. They bought the old “Plymouth Bethel,” a mission structure completed in 1868 for nearby Plymouth Congregational Church. This mission, at 13-17 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, had long been used in connection with Plymouth Church (built in 1849 on Orange Street, near Hicks) where about half a century earlier antislavery sermons were preached by the noted Brooklyn clergyman, Henry Ward Beecher. They also purchased the old Beecher residence at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, where other notables, even Abraham Lincoln, are said to have conferred with Beecher in the 1860’s. On January 31, 1909, some 350 attended the dedication of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, the new name for the now-renovated former “Plymouth Bethel.” Its second-floor auditorium, seating 800, gleamed in soft color, olive green prevailing, with tastefully artistic Bible-text wall decorations. The street floor was altered to be the Society’s headquarters operating office. The large basement floor had been turned into a small printery, stock and shipping departments. Soon, too, the home at 124 Columbia Heights had been readied for occupancy by more than thirty full-time members of the headquarters staff. “The new home we shall call ‘Bethel,’ and the new office and auditorium, ‘The Brooklyn Tabernacle’; these names will supplant the term ‘Bible House.’” By 1911 a spacious new dormitory addition had been completed, adjoining the rear of Bethel and fronting on Furman Street, further enlarging the facilities.

- March 1, 1955 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Additional Reading:

Additional Reading:

Will This World Survive?

No other generation has heard so much talk about the end of the world. Many fear that the world will end in a nuclear holocaust. Others think that pollution may destroy the world. Still others worry that economic chaos will set masses of humanity against one another.

Could this world really end? If it did, what would it mean? Has a world ever ended before?

A World Ends—Another Replaces It

Yes, a world did end. Consider the world that became very wicked in the days of Noah. The Bible explains: “The world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” The Bible also says: “[God] did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.”—2 Peter 2:5; 3:6.

Note what the end of that world meant and what it did not mean. It did not mean the end of humankind. Noah and his family survived the global Flood. So did the planet Earth and the beautiful starry heavens. It was “a world of ungodly people” that perished, a wicked system of things.

Eventually, as Noah’s offspring increased, another world developed. That second world, or system of things, has existed down to our day. Its history has been filled with war, crime, and violence. What will happen to this world? Will it survive?

The Future of This World

After saying the world in Noah’s day suffered destruction, the Bible account continues: “By the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire.” (2 Peter 3:7) Indeed, as another Bible writer explains: “The world [the one existing today] is passing away.”—1 John 2:17.

The Bible does not mean that the literal earth or the starry heavens will pass away, even as these did not pass away in Noah’s day. (Psalm 104:5) Rather, this world, with its “heavens,” or governmental rulers under the influence of Satan, and its “earth,” or human society, will be destroyed as if by fire. (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4) This world, or system of things, will perish just as surely as did the world before the Flood. Even Jesus Christ spoke about the situation in “the days of Noah” as an example of what would happen just prior to the end of this world.—Matthew 24:37-39.

Significantly, when Jesus spoke of the days of Noah, it was in answer to his apostles’ question: “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3, King James Version) Jesus’ followers knew that this world would end. Did this prospect frighten them?

On the contrary, when Jesus described events that would occur prior to the world’s end, he encouraged them to rejoice ‘because their deliverance was getting near.’ (Luke 21:28) Yes, deliverance from Satan and his wicked system of things into a peaceful new world!—2 Peter 3:13.

But when will this world end? What “sign” did Jesus give of his “coming, and of the end of the world”?

“The Sign”

The Greek word here translated “coming” is pa‧rou‧si′a, and it means “presence,” that is, actually being on hand. So when “the sign” is seen, it would not mean Christ was soon to come but that he had already returned and was present. It would mean that he had begun ruling invisibly as a heavenly king and that he would soon bring an end to his enemies.—Revelation 12:7-12; Psalm 110:1, 2.

Jesus did not give just one event as “the sign.” He described many world events and situations. All of these would take place during the time that Bible writers called “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3, 4) Consider some of the things that Jesus foretold would mark “the last days.”

“Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7) War in modern times has been of greater magnitude than ever before. One historian noted: “The First World War [beginning in 1914] was the first ‘total’ war.” Yet, the second world war was much more destructive. And war continues to ravage the earth. Yes, Jesus’ words have undergone fulfillment in a dramatic way!

“There will be food shortages.” (Matthew 24:7) Following World War I came perhaps the greatest famine in all history. Terrible famine also followed World War II. A scourge of malnutrition affects up to one fifth of earth’s population, killing some 14 million children every year. Truly, there have been “food shortages”!

“There will be great earthquakes.” (Luke 21:11) On the average, about ten times as many have died each year from earthquakes since 1914 as in previous centuries. Consider only a few major ones: 1920, China, 200,000 killed; 1923, Japan, some 140,000 died or disappeared; 1939, Turkey, 32,700 fatalities; 1970, Peru, 66,800 killed; and 1976, China, about 240,000 (or, according to some sources, 800,000) casualties. Surely, “great earthquakes”!

“In one place after another pestilences.” (Luke 21:11) Right after World War I, some 21 million people died of the Spanish flu. Science Digest reported: “In all history there had been no sterner, swifter visitation of death.” Since then, heart disease, cancer, AIDS, and many other plagues have killed hundreds of millions.

“Increasing of lawlessness.” (Matthew 24:12) Our world since 1914 has become known as one of crime and violence. In many places no one feels safe on the streets even during the daytime. At night people stay in their homes behind locked and barricaded doors, afraid to go outside.

Many other things were foretold to occur during the last days, and all of these also are being fulfilled. This means the end of the world is near. But, happily, there will be survivors. After saying “the world is passing away,” the Bible promises: “He that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17.

So we need to learn God’s will and do it. Then we can survive this world’s end to enjoy eternally the blessings of God’s new world. The Bible promises that at that time: “God . . . will wipe out every tear from [people’s] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible quotations are from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

- Reasoning From the Scriptures, WTB&TS