Monday, October 19, 2015


The August 15, 2012, Watchtower says: “In July 1879, the Bible Students published the first issue of … Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. …. Twenty-seven-year-old Charles Taze Russell was chosen to be the editor, with five other mature Bible Students serving as regular contributors.” A similar claim appears in the January 15, 1955, Watchtower: “Having now withdrawn their editorial and financial support from … The Herald of the Morning, the Pittsburgh Bible class decided to embark upon a great project, that of publishing for the first time their own monthly magazine.”

These statements imply that starting Zion’s Watch Tower was a group decision and that Russell was elected editor. I cannot find support for this in contemporary records. Can you point me to an original source that shows a group choice, an election of Russell as editor?


Johnsc11 said...

The only thing I see is that he was elected pastor. This reference is in the preface to the Watchtower Reprints in Vol 1

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

My focus is on the idea that he was chosen to be editor of the Watch Tower which suggests the decision to publish was a group decision made in Allegheny.

jerome said...

Your original quote is suggestive, but I doubt you will find primary source material on this either way. It would obviously have been a group decision to elect CTR as pastor. Thereafter, the Watchtower of 1977 12/14 page 752 says about him:

"So in July of 1879 he founded the desired magazine with himself as editor and publisher."

No doubt there was consultation - in fact, when a new magazine was first suggested, the Herald asked for feedback. But publishers usually have quite a big say in who will edit their magazines. And the publisher was CTR.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Russell wasn't chosen editor by anyone but himself. He proposed the new paper; he paid for it; he controlled editorial policy.

The 1955 statement must be taken in the context of W. F. Franz' push for changes to congregational structure that began in 1944. The 1977 statement retroactively creates in the Allegheny congregation the modern governance structure found among Jehovah's Witnesses. It is false.

While there may have been "consultation," there was no choosing of Russell as editor. That idea is not historically sustainable. Both quotations represent historical idealism. They are revisionist without support in the original documents.

The idea that there was a group choice of contributors is also false. Russell chose the contributors.

jerome said...

I suspect there's a typo there and you meant the 2012 statement for a retroactive slant. However, I think you would find the wording of the 1977 statement (WT 1977 12/14 page 752) more acceptable - which is why I quoted it. It says "So in July of 1879 he founded the desired magazine with himself as editor and publisher." Note the use of "HE" - not "they".

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Yes, I'm aware of both statements. One is accurate. One is myth.

roberto said...

The thought of Rachael is fair. I agree with her.