A find on Fred Franz's "system of things"

by careful 6 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • careful

    I was looking at the footnote in the 3rd ed. of Weymouth's NT (1912) on an unrelated topic and I happened on the phrase "the passing away of the present system of things" (p. 659 n. 2). When I was in, I remember reading that the NWT "committee" (= F. Franz) came up with that "system of things" rendering of the Greek aion from John Parkhurst's very old lexicon. Does anyone know if this statement in Weymouth's NT (or elsewhere) also played a role in this phrase that so marks the NWT, even being retained by the mysterious ones responsible for its 2013 revision?

  • slimboyfat

    Very interesting observation. I can't recall any other particular dependence on Weymouth in the NWT off the top of my head.

    But it seems possible this is the source of the phrase since Franz was eclectic in the places he gathered NWT idiosyncrasies. When I've got time I'm going to look at WT literature from the 1940s and 1950s to look for references to Weymouth, explanations of this "system of things" phrase, and the background of NWT peculiarities generally.

  • TerryWalstrom
  • Londo111

    "System of things" is another example of weird, convoluted cult lingo. I didn't realize it had an earlier origin.

    I hear Freddie could get fixated on certain things sometimes.

  • fulano

    System of things can be Anything .

    A cake

    An engine


  • fulltimestudent

    The translation of αἰών ( as in Matthew 24:3 ) may be difficult.

    As I'm sure most of us know, a common alternative rendering in many bibles, is "world". But some translations use "Age", in the sense of "epoch." Which may more closely match the meaning of αἰών.

    I would not take the extreme position of saying that everything connected with the JWs is bad! bad! bad!

    Interestingly, I had a conversation with one of my lecturers on day ( A committed Christian) and in passing he commented that he considered the NWT a very "lively translation."

    I think that it is with great difficulty that some ancient Greek words are translated into English.


    You will of course find academics who have differents opinions about the NWT.

    ( for anyone interested in the credentials of Dr Chris Forbes, you can find his Macquarie University bio at:


  • fulltimestudent
    slimboyfat : ... Franz was eclectic in the places he gathered NWT idiosyncrasies. When I've got time I'm going to look at WT literature from the 1940s and 1950s to look for references to Weymouth, explanations of this "system of things" phrase, and the background of NWT peculiarities generally.

    Here's an interesting background for another closely related term. As I've made clear in many past posts, the central focus of my uni studies has been Chinese history, and in examining the influences on the Chinese revolutionaries of the first half of the twentieth century, I found this possible link to Joe Rutherford and his (possibly) last book, likely ghost written by our beloved brother Freddy, named "The New World." (published 1942). (That's the year Joe R. died, although he may not have been mentally competent in his last year.


    ( https://www.amazon.com/World-Watchtower-Bible-Tract-Society/dp/B000J3L0ZW )

    When I got involved with YHWH's New World Society, a common term in use in the early 1950s, we often used that term in preaching, meetings and prayers. Even assemblies were themed with the term.

    So it was with a certain mental jolt that a few years ago ,I saw a reference in a text book on China, by a certain J.D.Spence, "The Search for Modern China'" (P.257). He referred to a group called "the Anarchist New World Society,"

    This 'anarchist new world society,' had been founded in Paris,
    by "a group of Chinese anarchists who established the Xin shijie she (New World Society), which started the publication of the journal Xin Shiji (New Era) in 1907"

    It may seem difficult to link that group with old Joe Rutherford. But I suggest a possible link. The WT leadership under Russell (of which Rutherford became a part) spent a lot of time in Europe (including Paris), so it is quite possible that in the era of intellectual ferment following the collapse of so many empires that the WT group may have heard of that Chinese group.

    Both Russell and Rutherford seemed to well aware of political trends and when we examine Rutherford's books in the 1920s and 1930s, ( like Riches, Vindication 1, 2 and 3 and Light 1 and 2) there is a strong radical influence noticeable. You could almost call that influence anarchist. Check the illustrations in those books, most include the same three figures, bloated capitalists, dissolute religious figures and slimy politicians, all in lurid color, with all those figures often
    manipulated by a threatening cartoonish devil and a hope of a better future when
    greedy capitalists, priests and politicians have been destroyed.

    According to one commentary, that Chinese group in Paris had one difference to the standard European Anarchist movements.

    Although the European anarchist movement advocated social transformation, the Chinese anarchists stand out because of the primary importance they placed on the abolition of the old culture.

    European anarchists reserved some of their harshest critiques for
    Christianity, seen as one of the three pillars of authoritarianism,
    along with capitalism and the state. Chinese anarchists declared
    all-out war against Confucian culture, which they saw as a form of
    social control roughly analogous to western Christianity in its
    hegemonic penetration of society and proscription of social norms.

    So was old Joe Rutherford influenced by a group of Chinese dissidents? Impossible to prove beyond doubt, but an interesting possibility.

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