New Light from Old Books and Dead Opposers
by Gary Busselman
In support of their recent Biblical interpretation change concerning "this generation" (Matt. 24:34), the Governing Body (hereafter GB) of Jehovah's Witnesses submitted four documents. (Watchtower, 11/1/95, p. 12)
1. Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.
2. W.E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.
3. J.H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.
4. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1964), edited by Gerhard Kittle.
After reading the November 1, 1995 Watchtower, my friend, Steven A. Hickey, pastor of Harvest Covenant Church in Sioux Falls, SD (also a Biblical scholar and theologian) asked me, "How do they get 'new light' from a guy who's been dead for a hundred years?"
In my research that he inspired, I found that the GB often relies on "worldly wisdom" from old books and dead opposers, who were educated by, and members of "apostate Christendom." (Sorry folks, Watchtower language, not mine.) Here are some additional facts regarding these sources.
1. Walter Bauer (1877-1960), German lexicographer. Taught at Gottingen from 1916 to 1945. (Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church, 1982, Moody Press, Chicago.)
2. William Edwy Vine (1873-1949), vocal OPPOSER of Jehovah's Witnesses, called their teachings of conditional salvation, the denials of the Deity of Christ, and the Trinity heresies. [Vine was appealed to by the Watchtower 52 times in their encyclopedic Insight on the Scriptures alone.] Greek scholar, educator, editor, pastor and author, educated at University College of Wales; BA & MA in "Ancient Classics" from University of London, pastor at Manvers Hall Church in Bath for 40 years. Celebrated Christmas, believed in Hell and that Christ is God, that He died on a CROSS, it is proper to address Him in prayer, and that all believers partake in the Lord's Supper.
Vine denied the concept of an early Christian "organization," and a "selective" resurrection. He wrote two volumes on the "End Times" and the parousia. Vine taught that parousia should not be translated at all and that it (parousia) will start with the rapture of the Church, (when believers meet Christ in the air) and it will end with the manifestation of Christ in glory. (Publisher's Forward of Vine's Expository, 1981 ed. and W.E. Vine, His Life and Ministry, Oliphants LTD, London, 1951)
3. Joseph Henry Thayer (1828 -1901), New Testament lexicographer, born in Boston, MA, College at Harvard and seminary at Andover. Ordained a pastor in the Congregational Church in 1859. Professor of sacred literature at Andover Theological Seminary (1864-1882). Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School (1883-1901). Instrumental in founding the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. (Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church, 1982, Moody Press, Chicago.)
4. Gerhard Kittle (1888-1948), German biblical scholar, born in Breslau, Germany. Instructor at Kiel (1913) and Leipzig (1917), professor of New Testament at Greifswalg (1921-1926) (ibid. p. 229)
Similarly, the Watchtower publication Insight On The Scriptures, vol. 1, p. 440 applies for credibility citing the following sources of "worldly wisdom":
1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong (1822-1894), Methodist biblical scholar and educator. A member of the Anglo-American Bible Revision Committee. (Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church, 1982, Moody Press, Chicago, p. 385)
2. Edward Robinson's Greek and English Lexicon, Edward Robinson (1794-1863), American biblical scholar, studied at Hamilton College and learned Greek at Andover Theological Seminary. Did much research and theological writing. (Who Was Who in Church History, Moody Press, Chicago, 1962.)
What do these Watchtower sources all have in common?
a. They are all dead. (Long-time dead men don't usually write, call or show up on videos.)
b. They were all college educated (unlike most Witnesses I know). And they read Greek and Hebrew (unlike all Witnesses I know).
c. None were Jehovah's Witnesses. All were students of, and/or members of "Christendom."
d. All were writers of what the Watchtower calls "wisdom of the world."