Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Angels and Women (Seola)

A site makes the following assertion:
Russell recommended his followers read the book, Angels and Women. He personally supervised its editing and said it was beneficial because it throws light on certain Biblical subjects.
What are the facts?
In 1878, a book by the name “Seola,” written by Mrs. J. G. Smith, was published. It was evidently written as a fiction novel, but some state that Smith claimed to have written it in under the influence of the spirit world. In view of what is reported to be in the book, this is very probable, since it is reported that Mrs. Smith would probably not have had the knowledge presented in the book except by such an influence. Thus, it is claimed that Mrs. Smith wrote the book through what is often called “automatic writing,” which is a form of spiritism in which a spirit actually does the writing through a human being.
In 1924, another book was published by the A.B. ABAC Company, of New York, entitled “Angels and Women,” which is based on the earlier book by J. G. Smith. As far as we have been able to determine, contrary to what is being stated on several sites, this book was never published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, nor by the International Bible Students Association.
This later book was not exactly the same as the book “Seola,” but the book “Angels and Women” is an edited version of the earlier book. We are still not sure who edited this later book, but there is a reference to a “Bible Student” who was “a personal friend of Pastor Russell.” This comes from a review of the book as presented in The Golden Age magazine (this magazine was not printed in Russell’s day), thus the “Bible Student” was probably actually a follower of Rutherford and Rutherford’s new teachings and organization.
We present the following quote from The Golden Age,
When Pastor Russell was here, he read a book dealing with oonditions that obtained prior to the Flood. He requested some other brethren to read it. It was so much in harmony with the Bible account of the fallen angels that he regarded the book as remarkable. Under his supervision it was revised, and later published by one who was formerly his confidential associate. The new book is published under the title "Angels and Women". Scripture citations are given. An appendix is added. Pastor Russell remarked that at some opportune time the book, revised, should be published.
Of course, Rutherford himself had been a personal friend of Russell’s before Russell died, but we know that after Russell died, Rutherford rejected and often misrepresented what Russell taught and said. One author, Ken Raines, claims that a JW told him that the revisor was “Ed Brenisen,” who was indeed a follower of Rutherford, and what became  the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” leadership. (See Reference 1 below.)

Below are links to both books as found on archive.org: 

There is nothing in any of the writings of Russell that speaks of a book called “Angels and Women.” Indeed, this book did not exist in the days of Russell. There is no evidence at all from Russell's writings that Russell personally supervised its editing, as has been claimed. Indeed, we cannot be certain that Russell ever read the book. However, it is possible that Russell did come across a copy of the book “Seola,” written by Mrs. J. G. Smith, as a novel, and it is also possible that he might have suggested that some of his co-workers might read the book. He may have desired their feedback concerning the book. We do know that Russell several times in his writings showed how the demons will present truths in order to get people to accept a greater lie.  He could have had this in mind regarding this book, if he had read it. I highly doubt that he was “recommending” the book for general approval. Nevertheless, he often sought to get the opinion and suggestions from others concerning if and how such items might be utilized in the pages of the Watch Tower. Since Brother Russell never mentioned that book in his writings, evidently, Russell decided against any use of the book. However, those who claim that he recommended the book, Angels and Women, are obviously in error. The only book that he could possibly have recommended to his associates would have been the book, “Seola,” since the later revision did not exist in his time. Surely, however, if he had done so, there would be some record of such a recommendation in his writings, but there is no such recommendation. I could find no mention of either book in the Bible Students DVD Library. As a whole, I would say that Bible Students have nothing to do with either book.

The Golden Age, in 1924, claims that Russell personally supervised the editing of the later edition, and wished that it be published at an opportune time. However, we do not put much faith in what was being said by the leadership of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1924, since there were many statements being made after Russell died that have been proven untrue. Nothing from Russell's day gives any testimony at all that Russell supervised any editing of that book.

References (We do not necessarily agree with all the conclusions and/or statements made by these authors):

1.A new version of the 1924 edition has been released by Jim M. Rizoli (not associated with the JWs or the Bible Students), and can be obtained through the link provided below: 

2. “The Golden Age’s Review and Endorsement of Angels and Women,” Ken Raines http://www.seanet.com/~raines/review.html

3. “Angels and Women” threads on the “Present Truth” forum: 

4. “Anne Eliza Smith”, article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Eliza_Smith

Updated: October 9, 2009; Updated and republished: October 12, 2015

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