Did Russell ask that no publications be written after he died?

by ackack 25 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • cabasilas

    While I am no supporter for Rutherford and I think he did violate Russell's Will by starting the Golden Age I don't think Russell meant to forbid the publishing of new material after his death. Why else have an editorial committee if all they could do was review Russell's old sermons? I think the word "publications" is parallel to "periodical" in that phrase from the Will.

    I'm sure Russell thought he was the "faithful and wise servant" and only envisioned the new material to be in harmony with his views. The Memorial issue of the Tower for Russell's death (December 1, 1916) mentions Russell's last words. Among them is the statement about the 7th volume: "Some one else will have to write it." (Now I don't think he would have been proud of Woodworth & Fisher's production, however.)

    According to Russell's Will any new material had to be reviewed and accepted by a majority of the editorial committee. It would only be a step further to string together a series of articles into a book. And curiously, almost all the Bible Student groups have done just that. P.S.L. Johnson actually outwrote Rutherford. His Epiphany Series of Studies in the Scriptures goes on and on!

  • Leolaia

    cabasilas....The "Editorial Committee" was for the Watch Tower journal, which was supposed to have new content. The "Committee" wasn't intended to review other new material for publication, because there wasn't supposed to be any other new material, as he stated explicitly. Even the Old Theology Quarterly was to "consist of reprints from the old issues of the WATCH TOWER or extracts from my [Russell's] discourses".

  • LDH
    IMHO the 1919 Watch Tower article interprets Russell's Will with the same freewheeling abandon as the Finished Mystery book interpreted the prophecies of Revelation.

    mwa ha ha.

    Great point.

  • geevee


  • Anitar

    Thanks Leolaia. Yes, this is sad to read but is it really that surprising? I mean it's Rutherford we're

    talking about here. He would sell his own mother to build an extension on Beth Sarim, which for all we know

    he probably did. Can you expext anything more from a guy who wormed his way into control of the Watchtower

    mere months after Russell's death? The sucker probably wasen't even cold yet.


  • cabasilas

    So if the Watch Tower could have new content what would prevent that material being put into book form? Books have been serialized in the Tower before. True, the Will only refers to the Tower but that would have been the immediate problem...how to continue its publication once it's editor was gone.

    It doesn't make sense to me that Russell would have envisioned a mechanism for new material in the Tower but was somehow forbidding this info being put into book form at some point. And he did say someone else would have to write the 7th volume.

  • cabasilas

    Just a side note. I mentioned above that the other groups that have descended from Russell also publish new material and books:

    Dawn Bible Students:


    Layman's Home Missionary Movement


    Chicago Bible Students:


    and none of them have ever indicated they did not respect Russell's Will.

  • Leolaia

    1) What would prevent it is the part in the Will that states that the Editorial Committee will not "write for or be connected with no other publications in any manner or degree". Their responsibility was only for the Watch Tower; if a group of their articles were to be published as a separate book, that would indeed connect them with a new publication. Bear in mind that the only books then published (other than hymnals and the two old supplements to the Watch Tower that appeared in 1881) were the Studies in the Scriptures, which were to be completed only by the Seventh Volume. The intent in the Will is to keep the two periodicals going (with the Old Theology Quarterly being filled only with Russell-era stuff) and to reprint existing publications, not to embark on the writing of new books or new periodicals, which is exactly what the WTB&TS did in the years after Russell's death.

    It doesn't make sense to me that Russell would have envisioned a mechanism for new material in the Tower but was somehow forbidding this info being put into book form at some point.

    It does make sense if you understand that his intent was just to keep the Watch Tower going.

    And he did say someone else would have to write the 7th volume.

    And yet when it was published it masqueraded itself as a posthumous work of Russell. This legitimized its publication as one of Russell's Millennial Dawn Scripture Studies books.

    2) Of course, "other groups descended from Russell" have published new material and books. But they did not do so with the funds of the WTB&TS or on the presses of the WTB&TS. Russell's Will concerned the assets of the WTB&TS. It did not say that the Bible Students could not print their own publications on other presses or with other monies. To suggest that they "did not respect Russell's Will" by publishing outside of the WTB&TS is to totally misunderstand the Will. It was precisely the fact that Rutherford used donated funds to the WTB&TS to publish new books on WTB&TS printing presses, or to start a new periodical on WTB&TS presses that was considered unethical or illegal.

  • ackack

    And this explanation fits in well with why the early Bible Students would have balked at distributing the Golden Age. Makes good sense to me.

    You should write a book ... I'd buy it! :)


  • cabasilas

    I am still not convinced that Russell asked that no publications (meaning books) be written after he died.

    Those who support this view cite the Will:

    "As the Society has already pledged to me that it will publish no other periodicals, it shall also be required that the Editorial Committee shall write for or be connected with no other publications in any manner or degree." (Watch Tower, 1 December 1916, p. 358).

    This is all one sentence and refers to the same thing: a periodical or magazine. This is what the context of the sentence is all about. In the Adventist tradition (of which Russell was a part) a magazine was the vehicle that promoted the movement. Russell did not want an audience forming around another magazine or publication that would be the genesis of a new movement. He said 1) the Society was not going to publish another magazine and 2) that the Editorial Committee would be required not to be connected to some "other" publication in any way. Notice the word "other." This sentence is referring to in house periodicals or periodicals from other sources.

    I think to make "publications" in this sentence refer to future booklets or books is stretching it beyond the context of Russell's statement. As I've said before, the Bible Students who to this day revere Russell as "the faithful servant" have never felt qualms about violating the spirit of Russell's Will by publishing new books and booklets. If they felt that Russell really had asked for no other books to have been written then they would not have done so. And Russell himself is reported to have said that someone else would write the 7th volume. The December 15, 1916 Watch Tower indicated that the Society was contemplating publishing in book form the Memoirs of Pastor Russell together with some of his sermons.

    Again, I'm not supporting Rutherford's position. He obviously violated the Will by starting the Golden Age magazine.

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