Sunday, November 13, 2016

Russell's Changes to the Scripture Studies

Many quote from various editions of the Studies in the Scriptures in such a way that does not take into consideration that none of the editions after 1905 were ever totally brought up to date to reflect what Russell taught from 1904 onward. Some changes were made in 1905, and some more around 1914, but an exhaustive updating of the Studies in the Scriptures, so as to totally reflect his change of viewpoint in 1904, has never been made. Because of this we are left with what may seem to be inconsistencies in the Studies.
Before 1904, Russell held that the "time of trouble" would end in 1914, based on Barbour's conclusions. Even before 1904, evidently some Bible Students had come to the conclusion that 1914 would see the beginning, not the end, of the time of trouble. Russell at first rejected that viewpoint, but in 1904, he evidently became convinced that the ending of the Gentile Times in 1914 does indeed indicate, not the end, but the beginning of the time of trouble, and thus wrote of this in the July 1, 1904 WT:
In the June 15, 1905 issue of the WT, Russell presented both John Edgar's and U. G. Lee's parallels. Edgar pointed to the year 1915 as the a possible year of Christendom's destruction (the end of the time of trouble). Lee's chart pointed to the year 1920.
A link is given to a jpg of Lee's chart at the above URL, but the link does not work (at least at the time we tried it). We have Lee's chart online at:
Regarding Russell's change of viewpoint concerning 1914 that he made in the year 1904 -- ten years before 1914, see:
Some changes were made in the 1905 edition, especially as related to the pyramid passage regarding the descending passageway. Some more changes to original editions were noted in the Watch Tower of 1909, and were given as follows; we are not sure in what editions all the changes were made. We know that the change concerning the descending passageway of the Great Pyramid first appeared in the 1905 edition.
From the Watch Tower, September 15, 1909, page 283, Reprints 4477:
The following are the changes made in "Studies in the Scriptures" to harmonize with the foregoing presentations on the subject of the New Covenant, its Mediator, and the Church's justification by faith and acceptance as the Seed of Abraham under the original Oath-Bound Covenant of Grace.
Page 113, line 16, "who hath sealed the Covenant with his own precious blood," changed to, "whose precious blood is to seal the Covenant."
Page 130, line 7, "Under the New Covenant the members," changed to, "Under the Covenant of Grace members." Last line, "(in this life or the next)" changed to, "(in the Millennial Age)."
Page 69, line 5, "sealed or," changed to, "secured."
Page 298, line 8, "but only for the remnant selected from the twelve and the residue selected from among the Gentiles," changed to, "It must first be sealed by the blood (death) of the Mediator--Head and Body, from Jews and Gentiles."
Page 342, lines 17, 18, 3416 inches, changed to, 3457 inches to agree with later accurate measurement, would seem to mark 1915. The former figures were "paper measure" from Piazzi Smith's illustration supposed to have been drawn to a scale, but found inaccurate.
VOLUME V.--later paging.
Page 28, line 15, "by divine prearrangement sealed," changed to, "made possible the sealing of." Lines 20 and 21, "The New Covenant had been sealed," changed to, "the redemption had been secured." Next to last line, "which sealed," changed to, "for sealing."
Page 121, line 34, "sealed the New Covenant," changed to, "opened up a new way of life"! Line 39, "New Covenant," changed to, "precious blood."
Page 139, line 29, "New," changed to, "Oath-bound."
Page 243, line 32, "reckoned," changed to, "thenceforth."
Page 426, line 26, "his own sacrifice, his own death as," changed to, "his own death (and his members) for."
Page 455, line 31, "was made," changed to, "becomes." Line 34, "and having sealed," changed to, "that he might seal." Line 35, "made," changed to, "make."
Page 88, line 13, "the call of this Gospel Age could not be promulgated or effected until our Lord had sealed the New Covenant with his blood," changed to, "the call [R4478 : page 283] of this Gospel Age could not be promulgated until first our Lord by his death had become 'surety' for the New Covenant."--Heb. 7:22.
Page 109, line 11, "New," changed to, "Grace."
Page 168, line 5, "sealed," changed to, "secures." Line 7, "reconciliation with him through this Redeemer, and his sacrifice only," changed to, "fellowship with our Redeemer in his sacrifice and reward." Line 13, changed to, "privilege of communion in Christ's blood."
Page 227, line 3, "New," changed to, "Grace."
Page 228, line 15, "New," changed to, "Grace." Line 16, "it, who," changed to, "the Law, but." [R4478 : page 284]
Page 285, line 3, omit "six."
Page 357, line 30, "sealed," changed to, "suretied." --Heb. 7:22.
Page 358, line 16, "sealed, ratified," changed to, "suretied."--Heb. 7:22.
Page 362, line 26, "New," changed to, "Grace."
Page 392, line 29, changed to, "the high priest who made the sacrifice."
Page 397, line 27, "sealed," changed to, "suretied."-- Heb. 7:22.
Page 401, line 25, "New," changed to, "Abrahamic." Line 26, omit, "sealed and."
Page 432, lines 11 and on from bottom, changed to, "received him as the antitypical Moses. As they were baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud, the acceptance of Christ, as instead of Moses, would imply that they were in Christ, as members of his Body, under him as their Head, and through association with him, ministers of the New Covenant, of which the complete glorified Christ, Head and Body, will be the Mediator."-- Acts 3:23; 2 Cor. 3:6.
Page 434, line 13, "Mediator," changed to, "Surety." Heb. 7:22. Line 14, add, "which they engaged to serve." --2 Cor. 3:6.
Page 461, line 4 from bottom, "was sprinkled upon," changed to, "is efficacious for."
From the Watch Tower, March 1, 1915, page 66, Reprints 5649:
We call attention to a few slight changes which have been made in four pages of Vol. II. and six pages of Vol. III., "STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES." These are all trivial and do not alter the real sense and lesson, but conform to the facts as we have them today. The pages containing these corrections are as follows:
Vol. II., page 77, line 1, "will be the farthest limit," reads "will see the disintegration."
Vol. II., page 77, line 6, "will obtain full universal control," reads "will begin to assume control."
Vol. II., page 77, lines 16,17, "end of A.D. 1914," reads "end of the overthrow."
Vol. II., page 81, line 9, "can date only from A.D. 1914," reads "could not precede A.D. 1915."
Vol. II., page 170, line 16, "at that time they will all be overturned."*
Vol. II., page 221, line 25, "full favor until A.D. 1914," reads "full favor until after 1915."
Vol. III., page 94, line 29, "in this end or harvest," reads "at the end of this harvest."
Vol. III., page 126, line 12, "at A.D. 1914," reads "after 1914."
Vol. III., page 133, line 21, "ere the harvest is fully ended."+
Vol. III., page 228, line 11, "some time before 1914," reads "very soon after 1914."
Vol. III., page 228, line 15, "just how long before," reads "just how long after."
Vol. III., page 362, line 11, "some time before," reads "some time near."
Vol. III., page 364, line 14, "must not only witness," reads "may not only witness."
*How long it will require to accomplish this overturning we are not informed, but have reason to believe the period will be short.
+The end of the harvest will probably include the burning of the tares.
Russell in no way sought to hide these changes, and there is nothing at all wrong with this, except that one might imagine, assume, and attribute something evil or sinister to it. Many of these changes, however, were not something "new" in 1914, since they reflect what Russell had stated many times in the pages of the Watch Tower and elsewhere between the years 1904 up to 1914.
Russell Disclaimed Being a Prophet
A few quotes from Russell:
"Our own views are not prophecy, but interpretations of the holy prophets of old." -- Watch Tower, October 1890, page 8.
"Neither must you lean upon the DAWN and the TOWER as infallible teachers." -- Watch Tower, June, 1893 pg. 168
"We claim no infallibility for our presentations." -- Watch Tower, April 15, 1901, page 136
Russell was not correct about everything; he admitted that possibility from the start. And many things he had right, but even in these many of the details were not as expected, nor did all happen as soon as he was expecting. Furthermore, at times he gave several variations of what might be expected, one of which was the possibility that nothing at all may happen in the fall of 1914, or 1915, etc. Nevertheless, these were just that -- expectations, they were not prophecies. Indeed, amongst the Bible Students before 1914 there were many different conclusions concerning what would happen in 1914 and dates before and after. (There was no central authority as Rutherford developed after Russell died).
The reader should understand that we do not agree with all of Russell conclusions; we believe, for instance, that what he refers to as the 'grace covenant' is indeed the New Covenant, since grace comes by the blood of the New Covenant. (Matthew 26:28; Romans 6:14,15; Hebrews 10:29) A true "Bible Student" should never put Russell's -- are anyone else's -- opinions above the Bible (as Russell himself wrote several times.)
Many mistakenly think that Russell changed 1914 to 1915, whereas, in reality, 1915 had been discussed in the pages of The Watch Tower as a possible date for the ending of the time of trouble, and/or other things, for many years. Additionally, another viewpoint held, long before 1914, by some Bible Students, long before 1914 had come, was that 1915 was to be real end of the Gentile Times. Brother Russell, although he did not himself accept this view, did at least twice present this view in the pages of the Watch Tower. Some others were pointing to 1933 as the end of the Gentile Times. Russell discussed all of these dates, and a few others. Overall, however, he held that the last date that he believed could be determined by Biblical time prophecy was 1914, and he continued to believe this until he died in 1916; all other dates he did not give as much credence to because they were being determined by parallels, or based on a different viewpoint of chronology itself.
Something many also do not realize is that Russell also referred many times to October of 1914 as the start of the year 1915; in this he was using the fall-to-fall years, as the Jewish year. He was not changing 1914 to 1915.
Some have quoted page 99 of the 1914 or later edition of Volume II of the Scriptures Studies, and offer this as proof of their claim that when 1914 failed, Russell changed the date to 1915. This method is misleading, however, since the change on page 99 appeared at least dhree years before 1914, and did not first appear in the 1914, 1915 nor in 1916 editions (or later), as many would make it appear. In other words, in Volume II of the Studies, the 1911 edition, on page 99, 1914 was changed to 1915, but this change was not made in 1914 (or later), as some report; this change appeared in the Volume II as early as 1911. We have found no report, however, of such an change being made in the pages of the Watch Tower, and, thus, it has been speculated that the change may have been made without Russell's authorization. The change to 1914 to 1915 in the context on page 99 does not really make sense, although taken out of context, one could conclude that Russell may have changed this to correspond with John Edgar's thought that the time of trouble was to end in 1915; that is, the "time of trouble" was to last for one year, from October of 1914 to October of 1915. Russell, however, although he presented Edgar's, as well as U. G. Lee's, conclusions in the pages of the Watch Tower in 1905, did not fully adopt either of these conclusions. He maintained that we do not know how long the time of trouble was to last, although he stated that it probably would not last for more than a year.
At any rate, the change would seem to reflect Edgar's view that the time of trouble was to end in 1915, a view that many Bible Students, long before 1914, held in high regard.
The earlier editions of Volume II read:
In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished
by the end of A. D. 1914.
The change that appeared as early as the 1911 edition, three years before 1914, reads as follows:
In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished near the end of A. D. 1915.
The year 1914 was changed to 1915. As stated, and in context, it would appear that the 1911 edition would, by this one sentence, have the Times of the Gentiles to end in 1915, which, however, from the context, we know that this was not what is meant. If Russell authorized this change, he evidently did so with Edgar's parallel in mind, which seemed to indicate that the time of trouble was to begin in around October of 1914 and end around October of 1915. We highly doubt that Russell would have authorized such a change that would be so much out of context, however.
We will also note that this sentence in the LHMM edition of 1937 reads:
In view of this strong evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the overthrow of the kingdoms of this world begin in 1914, preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
This latter edition actually more accurately reflects Russell's view that he adopted in 1904, ten years before 1914. P. S. L. Johnson, who edited the LHMM edition of the Studies, had worked closely with Russell as Russell's personal secretary.
Nevertheless, at the time of this writing, we do not know for a certain as to why such a change was made in the way that it was made in the 1911 edition. We can only state that the LHMM edition actually is more correct in expressing the view that Russell adopted in the year 1904, ten years before 1914. It may have been that when changes were made that someone somehow, either by accident, or on purpose, also changed the wording on page 99 from 1914 to 1915. We do know, however, that it was not Russell's thought that the end of the Gentiles should be changed to one year later. His overwhelming testimony throughout the pages of Watch Tower attest to this. If any of the Bible Students might have more information on this, feel free to respond below with that information.
The following quotes from Russell between October of 1914 until his death in 1916 show that Russell did not change 1914 to 1915:
Watch Tower, February 15, 1915, page 53:
For a wise purpose He permits this reign of lawlessness, this condition which evokes universal odium. Our thought is that we should look for still further evidences day by day that the Gentile Times have ended, and that God's Kingdom has begun its work.
Watch Tower, February 15, 1915, page 53:
We believe that the Times of the Gentiles ended just on time, as shown in Volume II. of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES.
Watch Tower, February 15, 1915, page 55:
The Times of the Gentiles have ended, and the nations are now disintegrating.
Russell certainly believed, in February of 1915, that the Gentile Times had already ended. He had not changed the date to October of 1915. Russell, however, by his various statements from 1911 to 1916, seemed to be unaware that of the changes that had appeared in the 1911 editions of his STUDIES. This provides evidence that he was never aware that the dates had been changed in the 1911 editions of his books.
Watch Tower April 15, 1915, page 127:
We believe that the dates have proven to be quite right. We believe that Gentile Times have ended, and that God is now allowing the Gentile Governments to destroy themselves, in order to prepare the way for Messiah's Kingdom.
Rather than saying that 1914 was the wrong date, Russell states that he still believed that the dates had proven to be quite correct. Thus, in April of 1915, Russell had not changed the date 1914 to 1915.
Watch Tower June 1, 1915, page 166:
We do not think that the Gospel Age fully ended in September 1914, but merely the Times of the Gentiles.
Again, this shows that in June of 1915, he still believed that the Gentile Times had already ended in 1914; he was not looking for them to end in October of 1915.
Watch Tower, July 15, 1915, page 215:
As we leave here today, we do so with the thought that we may meet again as a Convention, or perhaps we may not meet again. It is not for you or for me to be dictatorial. The Bible indicates that the Gentile Times have ended. Their kings have had their day.
The above was taken from a discourse that Russell gave in Oakland in June of 1915. It shows that in June of 1915 he was still holding to the belief that the Gentile Times had already ended. It also shows that he had not set forth any date for the time of trouble to end.
Watch Tower September 1, 1915, page 286:
Many Bible students are thoroughly convinced that the 2520 years from Zedekiah's day to October, 1914, ended there--that that date marked the end of God's lease of world power to the Gentile nations.
In September of 1915 Russell was still pointing to the 1914 as the end of the Gentiles; he did not mention any expectation that they were to end a month later.
Watch Tower January 1, 1916, page 4
We have seen, too, that when Elijah's time for translation came, he was sent from Gilgal to Bethel, from Bethel to Jericho and from Jericho to Jordan; and that these different points were measurably disappointing; yet that Elijah and Elisha were not discouraged, but went on--Jordan representing the end of the Times of the Gentiles, 1915.
Here Russell does refer to the end of the Time of the Gentiles as being 1915. Does this mean that he had changed his view, and that he was saying that the Gentile Times had not ended in 1914? No, because his usage of 1915 is the same as found in the very first editions of his STUDIES, as referring to the Jewish year correspond to 1915 as beginning in October of 1914. See the first edition of The Time Is At Hand (1889) page 232, where he spoke of A.D. 1915 as "the closing of the Gentile Times." The chronology that Russell used was "whole years" or "full years" running from October to October, thus the end of 1914 A.D. in October would be the beginning of 1915 A.D. Indeed, he often referred to the Gentile Times as ending in 1915  as meaning the beginning of the Jewish year in October of 1914.
Watch Tower February 1, 1916, page 38.
Did the Times of the Gentiles end by October 1st, 1914? It certainly looks very much as if they did.
Russell, in February 1916, was still holding to the belief that the Gentile Times had ended in October of 1914. He had not changed 1914 to 1915.
Watch Tower September 1, 1916, page 264.
It still seems clear to us that the prophetic period known as the Times of the Gentiles ended chronologically in October, 1914.
In September of 1916, just before his death, he was still holding to the belief that the Gentile Times had ended in 1914. He still had not changed it to 1915.
John 14:6 World English:
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me." -- Not by means of Russell, nor of an organization, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses.
This research has been added to from time to time for past ten years are so. Recent edits: 12/12/2013; 4/9/2014. Last edited 5/29/2014.

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