Russell's Pyramidology Originated In Edinburgh Scotland

by cofty 83 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Fairlane

    @jaydee...thank you. .. interesting asking for postage and 'additional '! For the 'trouble ' ? To post and package a piece of the stone. !!

  • The Fall Guy
    The Fall Guy

    It was certainly news to me - and it's posts such as these which make this site truly worthwhile for so many. Many thanks Cofty. A nice little gem which will be shared with active J.W.'s. :)

    The originator of the WTBTS was nothing more than a 19th century plagiarising charlatan who had quickly learned that Christianity was now a lucrative business - and he wanted a piece of the action.

  • Finkelstein

    Well said The Fall Guy

  • Phizzy

    I find it interesting that Flinders Petrie, the Archeologist, went himself and measured the Great Pyramid, and found that Piazzi Smythe's measurements were way out, he thus said there was no such thing as the "Pyramid Inch".

    I bet the Watchtower never commented on that !

  • vienne

    From Separate Identity, vol 1

    The Witness of the Great Pyramid

    They were introduced to speculations about the Great Pyramid of Giza at least by 1875.[1] How soon they adopted the view that the pyramid was God’s “great stone witness on the border of Egypt” is unknown, but it must have been in this era. As with so much else, claims made about Russell’s belief that the Great Pyramid was a secondary witness to the divine message are often wholly or partly false. One writer suggests that Storrs introduced Pyramidology to “the Millerites,” and that belief centered in Adventist bodies. Those who lack persistence and skill as researchers, the lazy and polemicists may have an interest in limiting belief to “fringe” groups, but this distorts the record. Pyramidology was discussed in America at least by 1861.[2] Believers were a diverse group that ran the spectrum from Astrologers to Thomas De Witt Talmage, a popular Presbyterian and Reformed pastor, who had “no doubt” that Isaiah’s reference to a stone witnesses on the border of Egypt meant the Great Pyramid.[3]

    Charles Piazzi Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, popularized and elaborated the theories of John Taylor, who without visiting the pyramid suggested that it was constructed by Noah. Smyth traveled to Egypt, examining and measuring the pyramid. He penned Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid which was published in 1864. It attributed the Great Pyramid to Melchizedek and gave it a scientific and religious import. Smyth’s theories gained a following among Egyptologists, not the least of whom was William Matthew Flinders Petrie. But when Flinders Petrie traveled to Egypt in 1880, making his own measurements he found so many flaws in Smyth’s theory that he abandoned it, calling it “lamentable nonsense.” By the end of the 19th Century no reputable Egyptologist supported it.

    James K. Walker, president of the Watchman Fellowship, suggested that Pyramidology was “a major source of revelation” for Russell, writing that Russell admitted to this. As is true of most of what Mr. Walker writes, this is absurd. At least one writer claims that Pyramidology attracted Adventists primarily, and many claim that pyramid belief was rank superstition, occultism, or connected to the Masons. All of this is wrong, some of it out of context and some contrived. Certainly, Walker’s claim that Russell was dependent on pyramid measurement for his chronology is false. Ron Rhodes described Russell’s belief that the pyramid fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy as “cornerstone component” of his belief system. This is also false.

    In 1881, Russell wrote that he had “great respect” for the teaching of the Great Pyramid, adding, “We do not build our faith upon it. It has well been called ‘A Miracle in Stone,’ and it commends itself to us as a work of God, and not planned by men, for it seems in every respect to be in perfect accord with God’s plan as we are finding it written in His Word; and this it is, that causes our respect for it.”[4] It is no more true that Russell found in the pyramid a cornerstone of his theology than it is of Clarence Larkin, the Baptist expositor, who also saw the pyramid as God’s stone witness on the border of Egypt.

    Russell was introduced to Pyramidology through his One Faith and Millennialist connections. Storrs, writers for Age-to-Come journals, and others promoted Smyth’s ideas and added thoughts of their own. Thomas Wilson’s Our Rest focused on the dual themes of Christ’s return and the Great Pyramid. Russell could not have avoided the discussion. The quotation above shows us that he read J. A. Seiss’ Miracle in Stone when it was published in 1877. Seiss published on the theme in 1869, but while Russell may have read that tract we cannot prove he did. The nature of the Great Pyramid was the subject of lectures, pamphlets, books and public discussion. If it later became the pet theory of fringe religion and occultists, it was not that in this era. We honor Isaac Newton for his science. We forget that when everyone else believed Phlogiston was a scientific reality, he did too. If he were alive today, we’d raise our eyebrows and scoff. Context is everything here. Put in context, Russell’s adoption of Smyth’s theory made him a man of his times. He believed it when others did.

    Seiss, whose works are still published, is honored as a serious and scholarly exegete. Others of repute in the religious world found the theory attractive. A long list of favorable reviews of his Miracle in Stone appeared in the religious and secular press. The Illustrated Christian Weekly expressed some reservations but recommended it. The Reformed Church Messenger approached it in the same way. So did The Christian Intelligencer. Messiah’s Herald wrote, “We’re glad that it is being studied by men of learning and piety; and those who have a taste for study in that direction, will find many things in this volume to help them.” We do not know how Russell was introduced to Seiss’ book. He probably heard of it from various sources. The Pittsburgh Dispatch reviewed it, saying: “The lectures of Dr. Seiss are as remarkable for the polished beauty of their construction, as for the information which they contain. That mysterious pillar, the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, its relation to ancient history, modern discoveries, and Bible connections, are thoroughly canvassed in this volume.” If we are to fault Russell at all, it is for believing the theory long after its defects were apparent.

    [1] The Great Pyramid, Bible Examiner, 1875, page 233 ff.

    [2] 1861 New York Tribune Almanac, page 3.

    [3] T. De Witt Talmage: Lesson of the Pyramid, The Peekskill, New York, Highland Democrat, October 24, 1891.

    [4] C. T. Russell: The Year 1881, Zion’s Watch Tower, May 1881, page 5.


    A pyramid shaped monument was installed in the Bible Student cemetery in Pittsburgh. The cemetery is occasionally described as Masonic. It’s not. There is a Masonic temple nearby built years later. There is no connection. The pyramid was intended as a general monument with the names of those buried in the Watch Tower plots engraved onto open books. Rather than being a Masonic symbol, the open book motif derives from the book of Revelation. Those who want to cast Russell as part of some great Masonic conspiracy claim the pyramid embodies the “all seeing eye.” It does not. The pyramid symbol refers to Russell’s belief, shared by many others who did not otherwise hold his views, that the Great Pyramid at Gizah was a divinely inspired testimony in stone to Bible truth. We trace the development of this idea in Chapter Three. The use of the pyramid as a monument was suggested not by the back of the US dollar which had an entirely different design in 1920, but by the grave marker for Charles Piazzi Smyth, a prominent pyramidologist and Astronomer Royal of Scotland.

    The monument was installed in 1919, some years after Russell’s death. One source suggests Russell designed it, a Bible Student convention report saying: “The Pyramid, as you will note, has an open book carved on each side, intended by Brother Russell for the names of Bethel workers as they ceased their work and were laid at rest, awaiting the great Resurrection of the first-fruits of the Lord.”[1] A Bible Student web page takes pains to blame the pyramid monument on Rutherford rather than Russell. Neither of these statements is correct. The monument was designed not as a memorial to Russell but “as a memorial to the society.” It was “designed by Brother Bohnet, and accepted by Brother Russell as the most fitting emblem for an enduring monument on the Society’s burial space.” According to Bohnet, work started in 1914. The pyramid’s purpose was not Masonic.[2]

    [1] Souvenir Notes from the Reunion Convention of Christian Bible Students: Pittsburgh, Pa., November 1-2-3, 1929.

    [2] Souvenir Notes from the Bible Student’s Convention: Pittsburgh, Pa., January 2-5, 1919, page 7.

  • Vidiot

    So, "pyramidology" originated in Scotland?

    Where there aren't even any pyramids???

    What, Stonehenge wasn't cutting it?

  • TD


    I`m just trying to clear this confusion up once and for all .

    I would guess it's more a fetish for detail than anything else. There's no question that Russell fell hook, line and sinker for this nonsense and the difference between grave vs. tomb or plot monument vs. headstone doesn't affect that fact one way or the other.

    JW's (As we all know) will pounce on the tiniest distinction in an attempt to dismiss the greater point, so it doesn't hurt to dot our i's and cross our t's as the saying goes.

  • dropoffyourkeylee

    I used to have a book by John and Morton Edgar, two Scotsman who were Bible Students in Russells time ( I think they left the WT later). The book was much more elaborate than Russell's writing on the subject.

  • Ruby456

    I agree with cofty and dropffyourkelee re Scottish links to the popularization of pyramidology and links to Jehovahs witnesses.

    this info was hugely relevant for me as it helped me break free of the mythic and cosmic fear and influence that satan and his demons had had on me.

  • ILoveTTATT2
    jaydee ,I must have mis-read your post or got the wrong impression with your thumbs up on vienne `s comment ,who by the way querys the pyramid as being associated with C.T.Russell.?
    Also if I`m not mistaken ,I loveTTATT2 also doesnt seem to believe that the pyramid is associated with C.T.Russells gravesite.,how many more ? I dont know
    If I have misunderstood I LoveTTATT2 ` s reply to Cofty ,then maybe I should call it a day.
    Yes. Vienne commented on the inaccuracy of a small part of Cofty's OP. Cofty's OP said that the pyramid was Russell's tomb. It's not. It's a monument that is close to the tomb, but not the tomb itself. It was built some years after Russell died. I was NOT in any moment saying that there is no relationship between Russell and the pyramid. Russell was obsessed with the pyramid and based many of his predictions on measurements of it. So it was appropriate that his followers made a pyramid shaped monument NEAR his tomb some years after his death. Cofty lashed out at Vienne for pointing this out.

Share this