Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Surfeit of Riches

Well ... we've bogged down but in a nice way ... We plod along with marginal documentation, drawing from brief comments what there is and writing it up. And then we find riches. Yesterday we found riches. And while it will take some days to digest it all, I can tell you bits. One of the early-days places of interest was North Carolina. The work there seems to have started in 1882 at the hands of a missionary to the Jews. Another joined him in the work. We do not know if they came to it separately or one prompted the other. We only have their initials. (Russell avoided names in The Watch Tower to keep Paton and Barbour from sending material to correspondents.) But we have a fairly detailed history. Parts of it will appear in separate chapters. But such an interesting story to tell!

If you read volume 1 of Separate Identity you will be familiar with Age-to-Come belief. One of those prominently associated with The Restitution was medical doctor named Malone. He appears in ZWT in 1885, preaching at least parts of the Watch Tower message. He was the author of two books and many articles in the Age-to-Come press. Jan Stilson, Church of God General Conference (Atlanta) historian, sent me one of his books. So I'll be digesting this stuff in the next few days. Stellar stuff!


Simon said...

I can't wait to receive my copy of volume 1 to dive into the amazing work you've done !! :-)
Unfortunately I cannot help you in your research but be sure that I read every post...
By the way, is there an ebook version of volume 1, even pdf I don't mind, and where can I buy it (it would be easier to carry ;-) )

(Sorry for my english but I'm french speaking)

Simon said...

New fresch comment on amazon :

"Never been done before in so much detail
By Jerome W. on December 3, 2015
This is the history or rather the pre-history of the Bible Student movement associated with Charles Taze Russell. He founded a magazine (still published today) originally called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. It started in 1879, and yet this first lengthy volume only takes the reader up to that year. There is a massive untold story before that year, and this is the only volume to my knowledge that really does that justice.
Schulz and de Vienne try hard to be accurate and fair to all concerned. The problem with history is that we all tend to come at it with preconceptions. Perhaps the biggest error we make – even unconsciously - is to try and graft our modern sensibilities onto those of the 19th century. Of course, people are people in any era, but only when you understand the background of the times can you appreciate some of the things they believed and did. And rather than swing between the extremes of adulation and criticism, to understand where they were coming from in all sincerity AT THE TIME. Also the ideas of Charles Taze Russell did not exist in a vacuum, and this volume brings back to life many of the people he associated with. At the time he willingly gave them credit, but this has tended to be lost as the years have rolled by and the focus has concentrated on one man – a focus distorted by incomplete data. This book has attempted to right that situation.
In recent years there have been several books covering this ground, generally far more sympathetic than past attempts with a specific religious agenda. But for sheer minutia of research, backed up by references of the time, this book is ground breaking. Don’t take my word for it, if you have any interest in this subject, or in the general ambience of those times, get it and read it for yourself. Whether your personal beliefs match or differ from these men of 150 years ago, it will complete many pieces of a jigsaw that you likely never knew existed."

Link to the amazon page :

I promise to read the book carefully (I receive it next monday and count the days) and write the first comment in french (I suppose ;-) ...) to help promote your book :-)

Hope to read you soon and wisch you and Mr. Schultz all the best

Donald Jacobs said...

Looks interesting. I wonder to what extent the "age to come" theme of the believers you are investigating can be linked with the westward expansion of the country itself in that period. As an undergraduate I did a course on 19th century US history and a key text we were told to read was "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" by Frederick Jackson Turner. Having grown up fascinated by Native Americans it also really strikes me that Barbour and Russell started associating around the same time Custer made his last stand for example. I wonder if you can discern a "frontier mentality" in the writing and even the theology of the period. Is there a sense in which, while many were flocking west to create a new world for themselves, Bible Students rejected such secular prospects and put their hope in a new world arriving on the east coast and in the Midwest, by means of the kingdom? Maybe I've read this idea before actually, and internalised it.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Watch Tower adherents believed they should take the good news everywhere. So by 1879 we find believers on the western frontier and in California, Oregon and Washington Territory. In the 1880s all the more settled frontier areas seem to be represented. Dakota Territory had active evangelists. Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado had settled adherents. Idaho too I think.

I'm making a chart of all the known areas by city when possible or by county. The chart covers the years 1882-1887. If I can find someone who knows how to use mapping software we'll transfer it to a year by year map. Belief was more widely spread than we supposed and certainly more than the about 20 places Russell first suggested.

Miquel Angel Plaza-Navas said...

It's really interesting. You have brought light on the origin of Bible Students movement and an accurate description of religious influences far beyond what it is understood in other published material. It is an excellent work. Please, follow giving more light.

Semer said...

I don't understand this statement, could you explain?
"Russell avoided names in The Watch Tower to keep Paton and Barbour from sending material to correspondents."

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Russell published most letters without the writer's name. He did that to block Paton and Barbour's ability to send their publications to newly interested people. In those days you could reach someone with just a name: U Wrota letter, General Delivery, Some Town, North Carolina.

jerome said...

Paton seems to have adopted the same strategy, using just initials for most correspondents. Barbour tended to print names in full, although one suspects he was very selective in what he allowed in print.