Mom and B’s book went to the publisher today. It will not be available for purchase for maybe three weeks or so, a little later than hoped. But let me tell you about it. I’ve read it through twice. If you do not like long books, it’s not for you. Counting the two introductory essays it is 607 pages long. If you read volume one, you’ll probably remember that it took the story from Russell’s antecedents to his separation from Barbour. This volume follows that. It does not consider all the divisions and strife that took place, but focuses on the foundation years of Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. Mom and Bruce Schulz pushed all the divisions and that sort of thing off into a volume three.
I may be prejudice because Mom wrote it, but I think her preface is one of the best parts of the book. B in his essay takes a certain class of writers to task for bad work and touches on the origins of Russell era Watch Tower faith. It’s good. He shows that some writers whom he names made things up. Mom’s essay is mildly critical of the Watchtower Society. The criticisms set off a storm of protest from Witnesses who read parts of it on their history blog. But it’s mild and fair. The best part is a discussion of the historic antecedents of Russell’s beliefs. It is different than you might expect, and not much like some of the things you read on this discussion board.
Unlike most books about Watchtower thinking and history, Mom and B tell you about people you probably never hear of before. Russell did not make the Watch Tower Society on his own. So they tell you about early evangelists the modern Watchtower ignores, some of whom left that religion. This is not a redo of Proclaimers. There is a huge amount of detail that I think recreates Watch Tower history in a very vivid way. An example is an examination of early Watch Tower finances. And names – people who do not appear in books written by Witnesses who further the story, J. B. Adamson for one.
There is no fake scandal here. But real life events. How about a Watch Tower evangelist who disrupted a Presbyterian meeting to throw tracts at the clergymen meeting there? There are two chapters that narrowly focus on specific early believers. One is English and the other was a prominent Southern writer who was a bit odd. More than a bit.
I really can’t tell you about Mom’s book in any detail or this would be a very, very long post. But there’s a chapter on early clergymen who joined in the movement. Some stayed with it, and some did not. There are some fairly detailed and revealing biographies of early evangelists and adherents with pictures! I like historic photos. Don’t you? Bet you’ve never seen most of these.
The focus is very narrow. Mostly it's on the years from 1879 to 1881. They expected to go to heaven in 1881. They didn't. Volume 3 will take us up to 1887, the end of this thee volume book and the start of the next, projected to cover 1887 to 1916.
There are biographies of some who left the Watch Tower in the early days, people the modern Watchtower ignores. There is a chapter on how and why the Watch Tower grew, one on the earliest days of Zion’s Watch Tower that tells you about Maria Russell’s place in it. I loved this book.
Look for it in about three weeks on lulu.com or Amazon or other bookseller sites.