Just read that Carl Olof Jonsson died yesterday

by slimboyfat 358 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • slimboyfat

    For newbies, who was Carl Olof Jonsson?

    He was a JW in Sweden who was challenged by a householder in the 1960s, who pointed out to him that secular history books don’t agree with Watchtower that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE, but instead place the event 20 years later. The reason the date is important is because it is the starting date for JW chronology which leads to 1914 as the end of the Gentile Times, and the beginning of the Last Days, as JWs understand it. Jonsson decided to research the subject so he could go back to the householder and defend the 607 BCE date, but the more he researched, the more he realised that the 607 BCE date was simply wrong, not only by secular history, but also in terms of the Bible’s own chronology. Jonsson carefully researched the topic over years, consulting many experts, and compiled all his research into a detailed report that he sent to the world headquarters of JWs in Brooklyn. He hoped that when the Governing Body saw the evidence they would change their chronology. Instead of accepting the evidence the Governing Body dug its heels in and kept the chronology. Raymond Franz was compiling the Aid book at the time and included a lengthy entry on chronology, which was intended to refute Jonsson’s research by undermining confidence in secular chronology, but without making reference to Jonsson’s work directly. Raymond Franz later expressed regret that he played a part in rejecting the evidence that Jonsson had sent.

    Instead of being thanked for his research and the sincerity of his appeal to the Governing Body, Jonsson was marginalised and eventually excluded from his religious community. He was accused of trying to promote sects. In reality Jonsson had shared his research with people he considered friends because he thought the information was important and he hoped for reasonable dialogue. Once outside the religion, Jonsson published his research as a book titled The Gentile Reconsidered: Have Jehovah’s Witnesses Been Wrong All Along About 607 BCE? Raymond Franz helped Jonsson publish and distribute this book that refuted the Watchtower date he had once defended. Jonsson went on to publish a second book, with his friend Rud Persson (pseudonym Wolfgang Herbst), titled The Sign of the Last Days - When? which, among other things, proved that Watchtower was wrong about there being an increase in earthquakes during the 20th century. This book apparently had some impact because Watchtower stopped making specific claims about an increase in earthquakes after this book was published. However Watchtower still maintains, contrary to Jonsson’s evidence, that wars, diseases, and famines typify our era in particular.

    In the 1980s and 1990s a Norwegian JW named Rolf Furuli began circulating his own research which he claimed supported Watchtower chronology and refuted Jonsson’s research. Jonsson made some responses to Furuli generally pointing out that experts in ancient history did not accept his arguments based on readings from ancient sources in Akkadian and other ancient languages that are difficult to learn and interpret. Watchtower used some of the material Furuli compiled to restate their support for their 607 BCE date in a couple of Watchtower articles in 2011. Furuli was later disfellowshipped for disagreeing with the Governing Body on other matters in 2020 but still maintained that Watchtower chronology was accurate.

    It had been said that Carl Olof Jonsson was in poor health for a number years and only kept in touch with a few friends including Rud Persson. News now arrives that Carl Olof Jonsson died on the 17th April 2023.

    Watchtower faced a crossroads in the 1970s when it could have chosen to accept the detailed evidence Jonsson provided showing that their chronology had a faulty basis. They could have chosen to abandon 1914 at that stage and focus on other core beliefs instead, such as the identity of God and Jesus, the hope for paradise on earth, and peaceable good living until it arrives. Instead they chose to double down on their faulty chronology and crack down on dissenters. The result is that 1914 date weighs ever heavier round their necks as a growing reminder of their own fallibility with each passing year. Open discussion on Bible chronology, and other matters, remains unwelcome in the religion.

    No doubt there may be details I got wrong in the above summary and I would welcome corrections.

  • Sanchy

    Damn, sad news. His was one of the first exjw books I read after CoC.

    RIP Carl

  • Nostromo

    Sad indeed. His health had been quite poor for some years now, he lived with her wife in a nursing home, I believe.

    I often wish internet and youtube had existed back in the 80s. Carl, Ray Franz, James Penton and all the other legends could have had their own youtube channels and could have exposed it all. But back then it was only books they could write and witnesses were too afraid to buy them.

  • Beth Sarim
    Beth Sarim

    yes once I read CoC, not long after I read Carl Olaf Jonson's books.

    Ray Franz, James Penton and Carl Olaf Jonson,,,all very instrumental in waking me up and countless others from the dishonesties and underhanded teachings of the Borg.

  • Chevelle

    Very sad news...

    I distinctly remember those two disingenuous Watchtower articles written by Rolf Furuli. They were October and November of 2012. No one in the writing committee or the governing body was competent enough to provide a basic overview of the 7 times of the Gentiles much less write articles about the subject.

  • AndersonsInfo
  • scholar


    Carl Olaf Jonsson despite having produced scholarly research into WT chronology, more specifically the validity of 607 BCE for the Fall of Jerusalem was not a scholar in the sense that he did not undergo learning at a University or received a Degree. COJ attempted to disprove 607 BCE by means of 17 lines of evidence from NB Chronology accompanied by his own interpretation consistent with the current scholarship of Jeremiah's '70 years' and an interpretation of the 'Gentile Times ' in Luke 21:24.

    He published his original treatise submitted to Brooklyn Headquarters in 1977 titled The Gentile Times Reconsidered in four editions with a Fourth Edition reprinted as a First Edition 2021 subtitled Have Jehovah's Witnesses been wrong all along about 607 BCE? I had corresponded with COJ expressing my criticisms of his original thesis and he kindly sent me an autographed copy of his Third Edition, 1998.

    One of my earlier criticisms was that he incorrectly accused the WT authors of the Proclaimers book of misrepresenting the connection of the Gentile Times with Luke 21:24 made by John Aquila Brown in his published Eventide, 1823.

    Further, COJ failed to make any discussion of the Jewish/Babylonian Exile of 70 years in its theological and historical significance with the Fall of Jerusalem and failed to recognise that the 70 was a period not only of Babylonian servitude but a period of Exile with a desolated land of Judah. Further, he overstated the case of VAT 4956 as providing solid evidence for the date of 587 BCE as an Absolute Date for the Fall of Jerusalem rather than the preferred date of 539 BCE for the Fall of Babylon advocated by WT scholars since 1963. A Semitic scholar and former Winess, Dr. Rolf Furuli has since published scholarship that shows that VAT 4956 can also be interpreted to prove a 20 year gap in the NB Chronology which supports 607 BCE rather than 586BCE or 587 BCE.

    Jonsson has never publicly produced his original treatise despite publishing online the correspondence between himself and the WT Society during the period when his treatise was being evaluated and it is hoped that this treatise will become publicly available.

    Further, in terms of scholarly criticism of WT Chronology particularly 607 BCE and 1914 CE, COJ's research followed on the heels of earlier research made by SDA scholars and others in Australia from the fifites onto the sixties which was very similar in content to what COJ later published under the above title. Thus, his research impressive as it may be to some it was simply a replication of others' research'

    Carl Olaf Jonsson Vale - May he rest in peace

    scholar JW emeritus

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    Thank you Carl Olaf Jonsson.

    " All that your hand finds to do, do with your vigor, For there is no doing or devising or knowledge or wisdom In the unseen where you are going."

  • enoughisenough

    I started to watch this and got busy...but it's on topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6K2egXUM-ww

  • Simon
    Damn, sad news. His was one of the first exjw books I read after CoC.

    Same ... some books made it clear that their behavior didn't match any "divinely inspired" organization, others highlighted how intellectually wrong they were about basic facts.

    All useful to put your mind at rest that you are making the right decision to leave.

    So I'm grateful to the people who put the time and energy into their works.

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