Rutherford as a Bible scholar.

by larc 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • larc

    I have read some very interesting posts from Norm, Focus, Farkel, Jan, and Alan F regarding the silliness of the WT. (If I left someone out I apologize forthwith. I have decided to enter my analysis of Joseph Franklin Rutherford to the mix.

    During Rutherford's administration, he was referred to as "the world's foremost Bible scholar. (1) This remarkable, if true, since he had no formal education on the subject.

    Some of Rutherford's Biblical interpretations cast serious doubt on the assertion made in the quotation above. For example, he made an interesting prediction about the future of the United States and Britian. Two years before the outbreak of World War II, he wrote, "The question is, will Great Britain and America becom Fascist unter the dominating control of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy? The scriptures and the facts appear to fully support that conclusion." (2) Sounds pretty strange today, doesn't it?

    For some of his conclusions, a Biblical scholar is not needned to help the reader decide if Rutherford is correct. In some cases, an average layman can easily draw a conclusion. For example, Rutherford cites Job:38:35 to support a conclusion. Before I tell you his conclusion, let me describe the thirty-eighth chapter, then quote the thirty-forth and thirth-fifth verses. In this chapter in the book of Job, God is telling Job in no uncertain terms, of God's power and majesty, and asked Job if he can do the things than God can. In the two verses in question, God says, "Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of water may cover thee? Canst thou send lightning, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?" I think this is a very poetic way for God to ask Job if he can make it rain and if he can produce lightning. What do you think?

    Here's Rutherford's interpretation of the sentence about lightning, "It is since 1918 that the Lord has brought into action the radio which he foretold more than three thousand years ago. (3) I find this interpretation to be preposterous.

    To be continued: I am typing this in from something I wrote awhile back and I have to take a break.

  • DannyBear

    hello larc,

    Of course your subject matter caught my eye. Ahh da judge da judge.

    What I can never really fathom, is how my parents worshipped this guy. I guess anyone sticking around Bethel in those days, either did or left, some literally on their ear.

    Although I can still vividly remember listening to many 75rpm recordings of da judges talks. His voice reminded me of a mix between Roosevelt, Franz and Hitler....'religion is a snnnnarrree and a racket'....'millions, millions, millions now living willlll nevvvver dieeeeee' Yeah you go judge.

    Not a real laughing matter eh larc? He was one pompus, self important stufft shirt, who found religion a showcase for his demagouguery. Not much more than a hedonistic circus barker for god. Anyone that still can with a straight face, say that God selected this man, simply because he himself declared it so, should read you and Farkel as daily primers.


  • larc

    I'm back,

    Daniel 12:4 says, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." I think this means that when knowledge increases to a sufficient degree the sealed book will be opened and understood. What do you think? Perhaps you have a better interpretation. However, I don't think that Rutherford did. He wrote: "The railway train has been in existence less than a hundred years; and yet God by his prophet many centeries ago foretold that at the time of the end there would be many running to and fro. Without a doubt, this prophecy refers to the rapid transportation, including the railway and other means of modern travel, such as automobiles, electric cars, etc. (4) Maybe he though that there was no doubt, but I have serious doubts about his interpretations.

    If you are going to make anything of the phrase, "running to and fro", perhaps one could claim that this Scripture predicted professional football and basketball. Makes more sense to me, even though it is a silly idea as well.

    Let's try one more. In Nahum 2:3,4, it says, "The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valient men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken. The chariots whall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against one another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightning."

    In the context within which this is written, I think this Scripture is a poetic way of saying that Israel is going to be in deep trouble because they will be facing a very powerful enemy. What do you think?

    Here's what Rutherford thought, "Later came the electric engines and electric motor cars and gas engines, and now there is a tremendous amount of travel in every part of the earth... The aforementioned inventions are related to the day of God's preparation during Christ's presence." I find his idea to be far fetched.

    Eight years later, Rutherford attempted to minimize this silly interpretation. He said that this was one meaning of these Scriptures, but they also had a "deeper" meaning. They also predicted that God would destroy the Devil's organization. Now, this conclusion is stranger yet. How could these Scriptures predict both modern transportation and God's war?

    At any rate, this is what he had to say, "This and the subsequent verses of the prophecy have been heretofore understood and described to mean the 'chariots' for rapid transportation in this day. While the words of the prophet do well describe the modern means of transportation, yet the prophecy surely has a deeper meaning than that. That deeper meaning could not be understood until...God's lightnings flash, illuminating the prophecy. Instead of criticizing any interpretation heretofore given this prophecy, rather should God's people rejoice because of greater illumination that the Lord put upon it in his due time."

    Notice, that he changed the meaning of "lightning" from rapid transit, in the first interpretation, to God's revelation to him in the second interpretation.

    I am neither a Bible Scholar nor am I "illuminated" by God, but I could tell after the first reading of these Scriptures that they had to do with a powerful force set on the destruction of an enemy. At least Rutherford got the theme right this time. Whether he identified the correct parties in this conflict is a matter for debate.

    Many other examples of peculiar conclusions could be provided along with many cases of convoluted thinking and logical errors in reasoning. However, the point has been made.


    I lost track of the numbering system on the quotes, so I will list them in order after taking another break.

  • larc

    I'm back,

    Here are the references in the order they occured.

    1. Vindication I, 1931, advertisement.
    2. Enemies, 1937, p. 291.
    3. Governmemt, 1928, p 226.
    4. The Harp of God, 1921, p. 16.
    5. The Harp of God, 1921, p. 238.
    6. Prophecy, 1929, pp. 250, 251.

    By they way, as many of you know, no one has to write an "apostate" book. Their own writings over time are enough to condemn them, and the rank and file don't even know it. It was reading the kinds of things I have quoted here that caused me to leave, not because of any so-called apostate books.

    I was not "stumbled" by people in the organization. I was stumbled by bad ideas in the organization.

  • chasson

    Could i translate it to french ?

    P.S Wendy is very good.



  • LDH

    Nice post Larc.

  • nojw86

    Larc, as always your post are good to the Last drop. thanks for all your efforts. You are right " their own writings are enough to condem them. nojw

  • JAVA

    Hey there Brother larc,

    I was not "stumbled" by people in the organization. I was stumbled by bad ideas in the organization.

    I think that sums it up nicely. It's nearly impossible for an outsider or former Witness to make up stuff loonier than pages from Watchtower publications. Nice thread, larc!

    ...counting time at the Coffee Shop

  • AlanF

    JAVA, I totally agree with that quote. That perfectly describes my experience.

    Naturally, after seeing that bad ideas pretty much define the Watchtower organization, one begins to see that the bad ideas are not just floating around like disembodied spirits, but are propagated by foolish or unethical people who for reasons best explained by the language of cult studies, prefer the bad ideas. Such ideas tickle the ears of the foolish, and empower the unethical over the foolish.


  • larc


    You most certainly can translate this. The more that people read the Watchtower's own word, the more they will reject that organization. I hope you are translating Norm's excellant posts as well.

  • JAVA


    Such ideas tickle the ears of the foolish, and empower the unethical over the foolish.

    That's an astute observation, and causes me to wonder about leaders offering simple answers to complex societal problems. It's fairly easy understanding why the gullible falls for simple answers, but the ethics of giving simple answers is intriguing, when the one in control knows better.

    For example, politicians get elected by hiring more police, knowing crime goes down when people have living-wage jobs, not necessarily more cops on the beat. Religious leaders offer life eternal, knowing they don't know, but saying the expected because it makes people feel better. Of course, there are stages of unethical behavior that goes beyond the above. Sects like the Watchtower travel to the ethical extreme by telling followers to believe the unbelievable while forcing their lunacy with the gun of shunning pointed to the follower's head. As you said, it's an organization of unethical people holding power over the foolish.

    The foolish flock to the one offering simple societal or religious answers. The Tower will always have a pool of people to suck in, and forums like this are there for followers that awaken. (It's always interesting seeing how pissed new ones get when they realize what happened.)

    ...counting time at the Coffee Shop

  • larc

    A note on Russell,

    In 1908, Russell wrote, "The full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in A.D. 1914, and that date will be the furthest limit of the rule of imperfect men."

    In 1916, two years after the failed prophecy, this text was changed in a new edition to read as follows. "The full end of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion will be reached in A.D. 1914,; and that date will see the disintegration of the rule of imperfect men."

    The "end" or "furthest limit" of 1914 was change to a "beginning" of a "disintigration." Thus, with an economy of word changes, Russell was able to radically alter the meaning of his text. This is a clever writing method, but not a very honest one.

    Two years after the failed prophecy of 1914, Russell wrote in the forward to the 1916 edition of the book cited above: "Dealing with subjects so difficult that they are rarely touched by others, it is not to be considered strange if some of the suggestions made in this Volume have not been fulfilled with absolute accuracy to the very letter."

    Regarding the statement above, please note that his writings were not "suggestions". They were declarative statements of what the author considered to be absolute truth. Please note Russell's hedging when he stated that his prophesies were not absolutely correct "down to the letter". His prediction was very clear cut with no shades of gray, that is, the end of the world would occur by the end of 1914. You connot be almost right on a prediction like that. Your'e either right or wrong. (It's like saying that a a woman is almost pregnant: either she is or she isn't.)
    Reference: Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. II p. p.76, 77. as cited by Walen in "Argmaggedon Around the Corner", p. 36

  • chasson

    Thanks larc,

    Your page in French:

    And for Norm, here we go:

    You will be as international as the Watchtower ;)



  • larc


    I will be back tommorrow with some quotes before and after the failed prophecy of 1925.

  • ozziepost

    G'day AlanF,

    Naturally, after seeing that bad ideas pretty much define the Watchtower organization

    The bad ideas just keep on flowing! Take, for example, in the recent book "Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy!". In commenting on Daniel 11:30 "There will certainly come against him the ships of Kittim", it manages to convert this as Kittim=Cyprus="ships of Britain lying off the western coast of Europe". I kid you not! How on earth the book study conductors managed to gloss over that at their congregation book studies has be bemused.

    BTW nice post, old son



  • MacHislopp

    Hello Iarc,
    excellent post!

    Very good remarks :

    "By they way, as many of you know, no one has to write an "apostate" book. Their own writings over time are enough to condemn them, and the rank and file don't even know it. It was reading the kinds of things I have quoted here that caused me to leave, not because of any so-called apostate books."

    TRUE. Agape, J.C. MacHislopp

  • badboy

    Interesting *

  • VM44

    A recent thread asked who are the Watchtower Bible scholars?

    That question reminded me of this thread started by larc where he tells us that Rutherford was advertised in print at one time as "The World's Foremost Bible Scholar"

    I find that statement to be extremely hilarious!


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