I was thinking about JTR’s statement about “intellectual honesty.” I suspect that every religion that has ever promoted chronology doctrines has been guilty of intellectual dishonesty. I have studied only a few, and most were related to the Millerite movement, Second Adventists, Seventh Day Adventists and the Bible Students, but not enough to actually make a definitive statement about others besides these.
I talked at length to followers of Harold Camping a few years ago when they were sure that Judgment Day would be on May 21, 2011. The night before, I started a study with one of them and showed him where his information was not Biblical. He (and his wife) were sure it would happen, but promised to continue their study if it didn’t. I followed up and he basically claimed that it must have been God’s will, some kind of a test perhaps, but that they were so close there would definitely be further revelation coming very soon. What got to me most was their inability to admit that Camping had really been wrong, and another claim that nothing like this had happened back on September 6, 1994. (Which very clearly had also happened despite their denials.)
As a former researcher, not just at Bethel, but also at my first full-time job with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I was trained to believe in intellectual and scholastic honesty. And internally I even feel a certain aggravation that one of my own parents and several relatives who once took 1975 so seriously will now claim that it was just a few overzealous brothers who were misinterpreting what the literature was really saying.
But my experiences remind me that, even WITH training to appreciate the value of intellectual honesty, the human mind sees what it wants to see. One amazing example of this is a site that attempts to defend C.T.Russell’s honesty in “the case of the 41 extra pyramid inches.” In fact, this is the best site I’ve seen that defends Russell’s honesty in this case, and I agree with it. However, in spite of defending him, it should be very clear to an outsider that Russell and his followers still saw what they wanted to see. The problem comes from these two quotes, one in the 1903 edition of Studies in the Scriptures Vol III “Thy Kingdom Come,” and one from any edition after 1904:
*** 1897 through1903 edition: ***
“…this measurement is 3416 inches, symbolizing 3416 years…. This calculation shows A.D. 1874 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble….”
*** 1905 through 1923 edition, and reprints: ***
“We find it to be 3457 inches, symbolizing 3457 years….This calculation shows that the close of 1914 will be the beginning of the time of trouble….”
[Fuller context at the end of this post.]
This change has often been pointed to by opposers as if it shows Russell’s dishonesty, supposedly as 1914 got closer (to within a decade) and it was realized that 1874 hadn’t really been a start of a time of trouble that would culminate and finish in 1914. 1914 could no longer be seen as the END of a time of trouble they had been experiencing since 1874. I’m not saying Russell was always honest – there is plenty of evidence that he was not always honest – but in this case it really was a matter of having (sloppily) estimated a pyramid length that would bring them to the 1874 date based on some inaccurate diagrams of the pyramid. When more accurate diagrams came out, these new lengths pointed to 1914.
(But notice how in each case the measurement pointed to either one of Russell’s two most most important dates! 1874 or 1914.)
But then, Russell’s favorite loyal follower and speaking companion for conventions, Brother Morton Edgar, went to Egypt in 1909 and had it measured himself. Turns out that both measurements were way off. Here’s what Edgar said in 1929, based on the new measurements taken in 1909:
*** quote from Edgar ***
You may have noted that, in his early editions of Vol. III of
‘Studies in the Scriptures,” in the Pyramid chapter, Brother Russell
states that the length of the Descending Passage, from the junction of the Ascending Passage down to the Subterranean Chamber, is 3416 inches. But in all later editions of his third volume, since 1905, the length of this passage has been altered to the extent of 41 inches, the length now being said to be 3457 inches. Formerly the north wall of the Subterranean Chamber was said to mark the date 1874 A.D., but with the new measure of 3457 inches this date was shifted forward 41 years to 1915 A.D. No explanation is given for this change. (See, however, the short article, ‘The Great Pyramid Measurements,” on page 326 of 1st Nov., 1904, ‘Watch Tower.”)
We measured this passage in 1909, having first removed from
it all obstructing debris, we found that neither the earlier published
length of 3416 inches, nor the later published length of 3457 inches,
was correct. The true length was found to be more nearly 3385 ‘Pyramid” inches. (The exact length is 3384.904 ‘Pyramid” inches.) As will be seen, this is 31 inches less than the first of Brother Russell’s figures, and 72 inches less than his later one.
We, of course, immediately communicated with Brother Russell
the true length of the Descending Passage. At first sight it appeared as if we would require to abandon the time-measurements of this lower part of the Pyramid’s passage system, the true length being so different from what we had previously understood it to be. Yet, strange to say, instead of abandoning the time-measurements, we found that the true length of the passage established these time-measurements all the more thoroughly. Both dates, 1874 and 1914, are now seen to be indicated by the end of this Descending Passage. This indication is very exact and convincing, and goes far to establish our faith in the Great Pyramid as indeed a building of God.
—Morton Edgar’s Discourse: “THE GREAT PYRAMID— Why Was It Built? Who Built It?”
*** end of quote from Edgar ***
What is amazing is that by searching through the entrails of the various drainage and air passages that angled through the pyramid, it never mattered whether the length of these zigzagging passages was 3,416 inches, 3,457 inches, or 3,384.904 inches. In EVERY case they proved that 1874 or 1914 or BOTH 1874 and 1914 were correct. This was true even though the first measurement was nearly 3 feet off, and the first “corrected” measurement was 6 feet off.
Even so, after the exact measurement was given in 1909 the new editions didn’t update it a second time and kept repeating 3,457 inches. The books also kept a statement which had been there from the very beginning that some of these pyramid measurements were accurate to within a fraction of an inch.
———–for reference: Russell’s1905-1927, Vol III passage IN CONTEXT —-
So, then, if we measure backward down the “First Ascending Passage” to its junction with the “Entrance Passage,” we shall have a fixed date to mark upon the downward passage. This measure is 1542 inches, and indicates the year B.C. 1542, as the date at that point. Then measuring down the “Entrance Passage” from that point, to find the distance to the entrance of the “Pit,” representing the great trouble and destruction with which this age is to close, when evil will be overthrown from power, we find it to be 3457 inches, symbolizing 3457 years from the above date, B.C. 1542. This calculation shows A.D. 1915 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble; for 1542 years B.C. plus 1915 years A.D. equals 3457 years. Thus the Pyramid witnesses that the close of 1914 will be the beginning of the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation–no, nor ever shall be afterward. And thus it will be noted that this “Witness” fully corroborates the Bible testimony on this subject, as shown by the “Parallel Dispensations” in Scripture Studies, Vol. II, Chap. VII.
[Note: Russell considered October 1914 to be the start of the Jewish year 1915.]
Thanks to the original poster at jw-archive.org who wishes to remain anonymous.
Additional notes: It may also interest our readers that the Wikipedia entry under Harold Camping, referenced above, has the following footnote:
“Harold Camping Says End did come May 21, spiritually; Predicts New Date: October 21”. International Business Times. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
The link no longer works, but the sentiment seemed eerily familiar to students interested in Russell and Rutherford’s teaching methods. Carl Sagan referred to this same “method” with reference to Russell’s predictions and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
2 thoughts on “Recent Finds: 1914 – Seeing What They WANT To See”
This explains the importance of waiting on Jehovah and not jumping to conclusions as men are imperfect and prone to do. Watchtower 1/1 2000 explains this. Here is the section in its entirety. In the interests of truth and for the benefit of your readers this information is vital.
“A Progressive Cleansing
15 During some 40 years up until Christ’s heavenly rule began in 1914, the Bible Students had been freed from many of the non-Biblical doctrines of Christendom, such as infant baptism, immortality of the human soul, purgatory, hellfire torment, and a Trinitarian God. But it took additional time to purge all wrong ideas. For example, in the 1920’s many Bible Students wore a pin featuring a cross-and-crown emblem, and they celebrated Christmas and other pagan holidays. However, for worship to be pure, all vestiges of idolatry must be discarded. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, must be the sole basis of the Christian’s faith and way of life. (Isaiah 8:19, 20; Romans 15:4) It is wrong to add to God’s Word or to take anything away from it.—Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18, 19.
16 One example will underline how important this principle is. In 1886 when C. T. Russell published a book that came to be called The Divine Plan of the Ages, this volume contained a chart linking the ages of mankind with the Great Pyramid of Egypt. It was thought that this memorial of Pharaoh Khufu was the pillar referred to at Isaiah 19:19, 20: “In that day there will prove to be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to Jehovah beside its boundary. And it must prove to be for a sign and for a witness to Jehovah of armies in the land of Egypt.” What relationship could the pyramid have with the Bible? Well, as an example, the length of certain passages in the Great Pyramid was said to indicate the time for the beginning of the “great tribulation” of Matthew 24:21, as it was then understood. Some Bible Students became engrossed with measuring different features of the pyramid to determine such matters as the day they would be going to heaven!
17 This so-called Bible in Stone was held in esteem for some decades, until the Watchtower issues of November 15 and December 1, 1928, made clear that Jehovah needed no stone monument built by pagan pharaohs and containing demonic signs of astrology to confirm the witness given in the Bible. Rather, Isaiah’s prophecy was seen to have a spiritual application. As at Revelation 11:8, “Egypt” is symbolic of Satan’s world. The “altar to Jehovah” reminds us of the acceptable sacrifices made by anointed Christians while they are temporary residents in this world. (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15, 16) The pillar “beside [Egypt’s] boundary” points to the congregation of anointed Christians, which is “a pillar and support of the truth” and which stands as a witness in “Egypt,” the world that they are about to leave.—1 Timothy 3:15.
18 As the years pass, Jehovah continues to give us further clarification of truth, including a clearer understanding of his prophetic word. (Proverbs 4:18) In recent years, we have been encouraged to look again with deeper understanding at—among other things—the generation that will not pass away before the end comes, the parable of the sheep and the goats, the disgusting thing and when it will stand in a holy place, the new covenant, the transfiguration, and the temple vision of the book of Ezekiel. It may be difficult at times to understand such updated explanations, but the reasons for them become clear in due course. If a Christian does not fully understand a new explanation of a scripture, he does well humbly to echo the words of the prophet Micah: “I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation.”—Micah 7:7.
19 Recall that the watchman “proceeded to call out like a lion: ‘Upon the watchtower, O Jehovah, I am standing constantly by day, and at my guardpost I am stationed all the nights.’” (Isaiah 21:8) The anointed remnant have shown lionlike courage in exposing false religion and showing people the way to freedom. (Revelation 18:2-5) As “the faithful and discreet slave,” they have provided Bibles, magazines, and other publications in a multitude of languages—“food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45) They have taken the lead in gathering the “great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” These too are cleansed by the ransoming blood of Jesus and show themselves lionhearted in rendering God “sacred service day and night.” (Revelation 7:9, 14, 15) What has been the fruitage this past year of the small surviving group of anointed Witnesses of Jehovah and their companions, the great crowd? Our next article will tell.”
In general I agree. But remember that this was just one especially silly mistake among at least 20 major doctrines that were wrong and are STILL wrong (220 if you count obsolete types and antitypes). Every chronology-related doctrine was wrong, including everything that was predicted about 1914. And although only a few of these chronology-related doctrines remain, the ones that do remain are just almost as silly as the doctrines surrounding the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Also, the Watchtower you quoted says something that is quite dishonest: “But it took additional time to purge all wrong ideas.” This indicates that ALL wrong ideas were purged after some additional time between 1914 and perhaps as late as 2000. This was stated in 2000, yet wrong ideas continued to be purged by their own admission in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The wrong idea about the overlapping generation will not likely be fixed for another two or three years. The wrong idea about “types and antitypes” got a good start in 2014 and 2015, but continues to include Nebuchadnezzar and the “faithful and discreet slave.” I can see the “tree dream” being dropped in the next few years, but I expect that the GB are too fearful of losing all authority if they stop considering themselves to be the “antitypical” slave.