Friday, April 2, 2010

JW Chronology Problematized by JW Literature

Yesterday I was reading some of my blog subscriptions, and I stumbled across something new by Mike Felker from The Apologetic Front blog. (I'd been subscribing to his channel on YouTube for ages, but only recently took a look at the blog.) That something new was a bit of research he did that shows - using nothing but literature published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, official literature of Jehovah's Witnesses - that Jerusalem actually did fall in 587 BC, rather than 607 BC as Jehovah's Witnesses idiosyncratically believe. And the reason why this is so important is that their prophetic chronology is really the cornerstone of their religion; if Jerusalem didn't fall in 607 BC, then they can't biblically justify, even with their other eisegetical manuevers, their belief that the parousia occurred in 1914; that belief, however, is the bedrock of JW eschatology and has enormous ramifications on numerous other areas of JW doctrine. So, without further ado, please watch Mike's excellent video:


Mike isn't the first one to discover this problem, of course. Although I only watched this other video today (also very well done), Carlos Scienza posted it a few months ago:


I'll lay out the case below in a somewhat different way for those whose computers can't handle video so well for some reason or another (and believe me, I sympathize):
  1. Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 BC
    • "The outstanding Absolute date from the B.C. period of the Hebrew Scriptures is that for the fall of Babylon as the capital city of the third world power at the hands of Cyrus, king of the Persians, October 13, 539 B.C., Julian calendar (or October 7 by our present Gregorian calendar), which event is referred to at Isaiah 45:1. This date is made absolute by reason of the archaeological discovery and dating of the famous Nabunaid Chronicle, which itself gives a date for the fall of Babylon and which figure specialists have determined equals October 13, 539 B.C., according to the Julian calendar of the Romans" (The Watchtower, 1 February 1955, p. 94)
    • "It is well to understand that all Bible chronology dates for events prior to 539 B.C. must be figured backward from the Absolute date of 539 B.C." (The Watchtower, 1 February 1955, p. 95)
    • "One such fixed or absolute date is in connection with the events recorded in the fifth chapter of Daniel, verses one to thirty-one. That was concerning the time when the Medes and the Persians under Cyrus the Great broke up Belshazzar's notorious carousal, capture the city of Babylon, and overthrew the Third World Empire. The year was 539 B.C.E. on the Gregorian calendar, four years after the Buddhist Era began in India" (The Watchtower, 15 August 1968, p. 490)
    • "Recognized authorities of today accept 539 B.C.E. without any question as the year Babylon was overthrown by Cyrus the Great" (The Watchtower, 15 August 1968, p. 491)
  2. Nabonidus (Nabu-na'id) ruled from 556 BC to 539 BC
    • "Last supreme monarch of the Babylonian Empire; father of Belshazzar. On the basis of cuneiform texts he is believed to have ruled some 17 years (556-539 B.C.E.)" (Insight on the Scriptures 2:457)
    • "Nabonidus' ascension to the throne followed the assassination of Labashi-Marduk" (Insight on the Scriptures 2:458)
  3. Labashi-Marduk ruled in 556 BC
    • "[Neriglissar's] underage son Labashi-Marduk, a vicious boy, succeeded him, and was assassinated within nine months" (The Watchtower, 1 January 1965, p. 29)
  4. Neriglissar (Nergal-shar-usur) ruled from 560 BC to 556 BC
    • "[Evil-merodach] was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar, who reigned for four years, which time he spent mainly in building operations" (The Watchtower, 1 January 1965, p. 29)
  5. Evil-merodach (Amel-Marduk) ruled from 562 BC to 560 BC
    • "Evil-merodach reigned two years and was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar..." (The Watchtower, 1 January 1965, p. 29)
  6. Nebuchadnezzar (Nabu-kudurri-usur) ruled before Evil-merodach from 605 BC to 562 BC
    • "The Babylonian king who succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to the throne in 581 B.C.E" (Insight on the Scriptures 1:773)
      • Note that the date of 581 BC is based on JW belief in 607 BC, rather than the other way around. The same erroneous date of 581 BC is asserted elsewhere: "Amel-Marduk (Evil-merodach) as the oldest son succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to the throne in 581 B.C.E." (The Watchtower, 1 January 1965, p. 29). I'll discuss this issue further in a bit; for the moment, however, note that everything else up until this point shows that the date of 581 B.C.E. is inconsistent with other statements accepted by Jehovah's Witnesses.
    • "Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned for 43 years, headed a dynasty that ruled over the Babylonian Empire" (Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy!, p. 50)
  7. Jerusalem fell in 587 BC
    • "Finally, in 607 B.C.E., on Tammuz (June-July) 9 in the 11th year of Zedekiah's reign (Nebuchadnezzar's 19th year if counting from his accession year or his 18th regnal year), a breach was made in Jerusalem's wall" (Insight into the Scriptures 2:481)
      • Note again that, while the publication falsely asserts the year to have been 607 BC, the important aspect of this quote is that it places the event in the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. And, since it follows conclusively from other statements admitted in JW publications that Nebuchadnezzar's reign had to begin in 605 BC, the year of Jerusalem's fall can only be 587 BC--quod erat demonstrandum.

Every single quote involved here is available on the Watchtower Library CD-ROM. Anyone who has a copy can verify all quotes used here; I did, and they all check out solidly. It's undeniable--whatever arguments Jehovah's Witnesses use to attempt to establish a 607 BC date for the fall of Jerusalem, the fact remains that their own literature contains every single fact that, put together, show irrefutably that Jerusalem fell in 587 BC. But what about the statements that Evil-merodach's reign began in 581 BC, or that the fall of Jerusalem really did happen in 607 BC? It has to be noted that these are assertions inconsistent with others that appeared in JW literature. Furthermore, remember that it was admitted that every date before 539 BC has to be calculated backwards from 539 BC, not another date. The date of 581 BC can only be obtained by counting forwards from 607 BC, which in turn relies on a highly questionable jump backwards from 537 BC, rather than 539 BC. On the other hand, the date of 587 BC, as shown above, is derived from counting backwards from 539 BC through all the Babylonian rulers to show that Jehovah's Witnesses cannot consistently avoid the implication that Nebuchadnezzar's reign only began in 605 BC--the date universally accepted by all non-JW sources. Only Jehovah's Witnesses deny this, and as shown above they must do so inconsistently. Now, lest a JW apologist attempt to say that certain relevant names have been omitted here, consider the complete list of relevant Babylonian rulers, as excerpted from yet another JW publication:

Nebuchadnezzar
Evil-merodach, 582 B.C.E
Neriglissar
Labashi-Marduk
Nabonidus
Belshazzar, died 539 B.C.E. (The Watchtower, 15 June 1960, p. 377)

So what we have here is a complete list of rulers. But Nabonidus, as Jehovah's Witnesses must admit, started ruling in 556 BC. Labashi-Marduk ruled for just nine months, while Neriglissar ruled for four years. At most, that could push the chronology back to 561 (though actually 560) BC for the start of Neriglissar's rule; but, since authoritative JW literature has already shown that Neriglissar ruled for only two years, rather than over two decades, there is simply no way to associate the year 582/1 BC with Evil-merodach, which ruins the proposed JW chronology. And the calculations that do so are simply impeccable.

And lest some JW apologist try to say that the calculations in the theocratic literature that demonstrate the 587 BC date were simply incorrect, consider that the entry on "Chronology" in Insight on the Scriptures indicates, fairly plainly, that their calculations are, for all intents and purposes, infallible, since they refuse to distinguish their understanding of the timeline from what the Bible actually says.

So what's the bottom line here? We have both a firm anchor point (539 BC), a complete order of consecutive reigns extending throughout the period in question, and lengths for each reign. Mathematically, without rejecting at least one of those three, there is simply no way to escape the truth: Jerusalem fell in 587 BC, thereby invalidating a substantial block of JW doctrine. That is, the only way to avoid the conclusion is to reject one of the following three propositions:

  • We have a firm anchor point in 539 BC.
  • We have a complete order of consecutive reigns, without considerable gaps, stretching from the destruction of Jerusalem to 539 BC.
  • We have roughly accurate figures for the length of each reign of which we have record (that is, the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-merodach, Neriglissar, Labashi-marduk, and Nabonidus).

To deny the first is not open to Jehovah's Witnesses at all; it's too firmly entrenched in what they believe. What about the second? It doesn't seem so. Remember, not only does The Watchtower give what purports to be a complete "chronological chart" that admits of no gaps, but their discussions of the individual reigns doesn't appear to give any place to gaps beyond a few months or so at the most. Certainly nowhere to stuff two decades of either unknown rulers or anarchy! Note also that many of the figures in question came to power by killing their predecessors, which precludes the possibility of additional intervening rulers. So, how about the third? Could a Jehovah's Witness be justified here in denying that the reign lengths are accurate? Again, the answer must be no. The only candidates up for revision are Evil-merodach, Neriglissar, and Labashi-marduk. Assuming for the sake of argument that Jerusalem fell in 607 BC, we'd have to place the beginning of Evil-merodach's reign in 582/1 BC, and the end of Labashi-Marduk's reign in 557/6 BC, since Insight on the Scriptures unequivocally places the start of Nabonidus' reign in 556 BC; the Babylonian Chronicles, after all, definitely places the fall of Babylon as occurring in the 17th year of Nabonidus' reign (the particular tablet in question is the Nabunaid Chronicle cited by The Watchtower in one of the quotes above). So, then, we have to somehow cram at least 24 years into these three reigns, which The Watchtower has instead affirmed to have taken less than seven years! This, like the other two theoretical possibilities, will never work. (I also add that I have before me right now a translation of a Babylonian document from the reign of Nabonidus that makes clear that, at the very least, Neriglissar's reign was four years--see J. B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 312. The text also explicitly affirms only 104 years from "the time of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, to the 6th year of Nabonidus, king of Babylon", which is also inconsistent with the 607 BC date for the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. I'll also mention, for those who might be interested, that other texts of the period mention Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk by name.)

My challenge to all Jehovah's Witnesses is this: show how one of these three possibilities is genuinely viable. If none of them are, and thus if all three propositions above are true, then the data given in Watchtower publications shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jehovah's Witness chronology is in significant error, thus undermining JW teachings.

21 comments:

  1. The video from "The Apologetic Front," is an example of ignoring evidence that goes contrary to their agenda of trying to discredit JW's.

    Here's just one example that was ignored by the video's author:

    The JW book "Insight on the Scriptures," article on Evil-merodach explains:

    "Berossus, quoted by Josephus, attributes to him a reign of two years. Josephus himself assigns him 18 years...."

    So, was Evil-merodach's reign 2 years or 18 years?

    Noted historians, that lived much closer to the events, don't even agree.

    That's a 16 year variation in the historical record.

    Since the desire of "The Apologetic Front," is to selective use dates in favor of 587BC, he chose WT quotes that discussed one of the historians view that it was 2 years, while ignoring Joseph's information that it was 18 years.

    The WT publication present a tight, consistent, chronology from 539BC to 607BC, based first on information from the Bible, and second on secular history.

    In summary, The Apologetic Front's video is an attempt misrepresent the Watchtower's position on this topic, by selectively quoting one side of unreliable secular historical information.

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  2. Does the Watchtower society make any attempt to refute these obvious dates and calculations?

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  3. To the first anonymous commenter: Thank you for your contribution. Yes, the Insight book does mention the discrepancies in the ancient historians Berossus and Josephus with respect to the reign of Evil-merodach. When it comes to Babylonian chronology, Josephus is of highly questionable reliability. For example, in the same passage in which he assigns 18 years to Evil-merodach (Antiquities of the Jews 10.11.2), he also assigns forty years to Neriglissar; however, in accordance with the accepted dating, we have early Babylonian records that refute Josephus' suggestion, as I cited previously. Also, I should perhaps mention that the Uruk King List, while dating only from the Seleucid period, agrees with Berossus in assigning a two-year reign to Amel-Marduk/Evil-merodach (see Pritchard, ANET, p. 566). Also, ancient stelae found in Harran, speaking in the voice of Nabonidus' mother, mentions the reign lengths of various Babylonian kings and ends with "the 43rd year of Nebuchadnezzar, the 2nd year of Awel-Merodach, the 4th year of Neriglissar" (cf. Pritchard, ANET, p. 561). When it comes to the length of the reign of Evil-merodach, the historical record is clear.

    As a side note, even if Josephus were correct on both accounts, I suspect that the result would be to push the fall of Jerusalem back even earlier than 607 BC, with the consequence that JW chronology would still be in grave error. After all, if Evil-merodach came to power in 582/1 BC as the Society says, then if he had an 18-year reign and Neriglissar had a 40-year reign, Nabonidus and Belshazzar couldn't have even started reigning until the 520s BC; and without a 537 BC date for the decree of Cyrus, there could be no even remote basis for calculating 607 BC as the date for the fall of Jerusalem.

    Furthermore, I know of no contemporary credentialed historian who considered Josephus to be correct on the length of Evil-merodach's reign; do you? If so, I'd love to hear about it. (Please also note, as a further relevant consideration regarding his historical reliability on Babylonian matters not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, that Josephus conflates Nabonidus and Belshazzar, whereas we now have ample records from the period to distinguish the two, as the Insight entry on "Belshazzar" agrees--and if that weren't sufficient, I'll add that Pritchard's ANET, in note 5 continuing on page 310, quotes a tablet from the period, now in the Yale Babylonian Collection, that speaks of "a favorable interpretation for my lord Nabonidus, king of Babylon, as well as to my lord Belshazzar, the crown-prince".)

    To be continued...

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  4. To the first anonymous commenter, again: Furthermore, the simple fact of the matter is that 'theocratic' literature has officially endorsed the two-year-reign-of-Evil-merodach view; the quote is, as with the others, provided above. The quote did not merely "discuss" a "view that it was 2 years"; it explicitly asserted that view to be fact. While you may consider Mike Felker to be dishonest in not mentioning the Insight book's mere mention of Josephus' alternative suggestion in the video, I think that, with all due respect, you have missed the point. I don't believe that Mike's case relies on JW literature being at all univocal; rather, the point is primarily that everything required to make a case for the 587 BC view is asserted within official JW literature, thus seriously problematizing the official chronology. Mike is not "selectively quoting one side of unreliable secular historical information" at all; he is quoting clear assertions of fact from 'theocratic' literature, and never once makes reference to the ancient historians in question. As I've said, it wasn't his purpose to do so. While you're certainly free to believe that "WT publication[s] present a tight, consistent, chronology", the word "consistent" here renders the statement entirely false.

    Thus I must conclude that, while your attempt at apologetics on behalf of the Jehovah's Witness perspective on this issue is perhaps almost the best that could be done in this situation, you have failed to salvage JW chronology. Instead you have raised the spectre of skepticism without justifying it (as though the mere existence of an alternative view at some point in the past were sufficient to negate the criticisms at hand) or grappling with the fact that the view you so readily dismiss was in fact asserted in theocratic literature authored under the purported aegis of God's "faithful and discreet slave" through which he communicates with mankind today; and, in addition to this, the bulk of your comment consisted in misplaced aspersions on the honesty of the maker of one of the videos (without any mention, curiously, of the other one), which turn out to be highly unreasonable in light of the actual argumentation implicit in his presentation. As before, thank you very much for trying, and I hope I'll see more of your comments around these parts in the future.

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  5. To the second anonymous commenter: To my knowledge, no official attempt has been made by any authorized representative of the Society to explain the fact that they themselves have affirmed all premises in a valid argument for the 587 BC fall of Jerusalem. It's possible that some of the few scattered JW apologists out there have given it a whirl, but if so, I'm unfamiliar with their explanations; and, not to prejudge them too dogmatically without seeing them try, I'm skeptical as to whether any such effort could succeed, given the apparent conclusiveness of the argument at hand. I imagine that the very best that could be done would be to simply say that the Society was wrong in the 1960s when it gave the reign lengths for those monarchs, but with the weight of historical evidence from records dating from that period, it would require a whole lot of sophistry to go that route.

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  6. The only attempt the Watch Tower Society makes and explaining their errant chronology is that one day evidence will be found that will back up their assertion that Jerusalem fell in 607BC.

    What's fascinating is that the local congregations organise trips to [idolise] the British Branch office. Part of the trip often includes a guided tour of the British Museum within which contains EVIDENCE that backs up 587BC. From what I can gather the tour guides carefully make sure that this issue isn't brought to light...

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  7. "the bulk of your comment consisted in misplaced aspersions on the honesty of the maker of one of the videos (without any mention, curiously, of the other one), which turn out to be highly unreasonable in light of the actual argumentation implicit in his presentation."

    This is classic Jehovah's Witness apology; ignore the reported facts and question the integrity of the "messenger".

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  8. JB: "To my knowledge, no official attempt has been made by any authorized representative of the Society to explain the fact that they themselves have affirmed all premises in a valid argument for the 587 BC fall of Jerusalem."

    I don't think they comment on ridiculous claims like this.

    They've written many articles outlining the complete unreliability of these dates, along with specific commentary on the highly questionable length of Evil-Merodach's reign, pointing to 2 years or 18 years.

    To suggest they have "officially endorsed" anything related to the "extreme confusion" presented by secular historians is laughable.

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  9. JB: "...the point is primarily that everything required to make a case for the 587 BC view is asserted within official JW literature."

    That's as long as you ignore all their articles that show 587 is false, and the dates and reasonings that lead to that conclusion are completely unreliable.

    Why not start with the 5/8/72 Awake article - "When Did Babylon Desolate Jerusalem?"

    which outlines in great detail how the 586/587 date is calculated, and how the specific dates it's based on are completely unreliable.

    Also, make special effort to notice how they point out the unreliability of assuming 2 years for Evil-Merodach's reign and that it's impossible to base calculations on it.

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  10. Let us not confuse the two issues here: 1) What the WT's position is, and 2) If they are correct.

    The WT has been explicit about their views on the unreliability of these dates and has discussed this on many occasions.

    Mike's video ignored all this in an attempt to suggest they "endorsed" these dates they've consistently highlighted as unreliable.


    Here are the specifics from the 1972 Awake. I think the WT's position on 586/587 BC, and in particular the reign of Evil-Merodach are simple to understand. The video from "The Apologetic Front" simply ignored their direct commentary on the unreliability of these dates.

    "Various attempts to harmonize the date 586 B.C.E. with what the Bible says are therefore unsatisfactory. None of such attempts fit the Bible’s testimony that Jerusalem and Judah lay desolate for seventy years.
    The 586 B.C.E. date is based primarily on what is known as “Ptolemy’s Canon,” which assigns a total of 87 years to the Babylonian dynasty beginning with Nabopolassar and ending with Nabonidus at the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.E. According to this Canon, the five kings that ruled during this period were Nabopolassar (21 years), Nebuchadnezzar (43 years), Evil-merodach (2 years), Neriglissar (4 years) and Nabonidus (17 years). In line with the number of years thus assigned to each ruler, Jerusalem’s desolation in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year (nineteenth year if counting from his “accession year”) would fall in 586 B.C.E.—2 Ki. 25:8; Jer. 52:29.

    But how dependable is Ptolemy’s Canon? In his book The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, Professor E. R. Thiele writes:

    “Ptolemy’s canon was prepared primarily for astronomical, not historical, purposes. It did not pretend to give a complete list of all the rulers of either Babylon or Persia, nor the exact month or day of the beginning of their reigns, but it was a device which made possible the correct allocation into a broad chronological scheme of certain astronomical data which were then available. Kings whose reigns were less than a year and which did not embrace the New Year’s day were not mentioned.” (Italics ours.)

    So the very purpose of the Canon makes absolute dating by means of it impossible. There is no way to be sure that Ptolemy was correct in assigning a certain number of years to various kings. For example, while Ptolemy credits Evil-merodach with only two years of rule, Polyhistor assigns him twelve years. Then, too, one cannot be certain that just five kings ruled during this period. At Borsippa, for instance, were found names of a number of Babylonian kings that do not appear elsewhere.

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  11. Mark Hunter (former Jehovah's Witness)April 7, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    @ anonymous - but it all comes back to Russell's belief that he knew when the parousia started. He proclaimed it as being 1874. Then it was changed. A few times. Now we have 1914.

    Isn't all of this in direct contrast to what Jesus said in Acts chap 1?

    Could it be that, rather than chewing over this piece of artifact or this piece of evidence, we take Jesus as his word and realise that it doesn't belong to us to know the "times and seasons"?

    As a Jehovah's Witness I fully understand your desire to shore up the 607/1914 argument. It is, afterall, the foundation upon which your faith in the Watch Tower Society is based.

    But why not try instead going to Jesus as the only way to the Father, and believing him alone as "the way, the truth and the life"?

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  12. Amen to what Mark said.

    To the anonymous JW apologist: Your failure to actually grasp the point is rather tragicomic. As I've said before, it does not matter that the Watchtower has "written many articles outlining the complete unreliability of these dates", or authored many "articles that show 587 is false, and the dates and reasonings that lead to that conclusion are completely unreliable". The reason why this is irrelevant is because Mike and others have never been arguing that the Watchtower has consistently supported, indirectly, the 587 date, only that they have supported what you smear as "the 'extreme confusion' presented by secular historians". (After all, Jehovah's Witnesses are not known for doctrinal consistency to any large degree. On this issue, there is no one "WT's position", but rather several "WT's positions"; what we're interested in here is the very existence of that minority strand, not whether it's their dominant position on the matter at all.) You still refuse to address the quotations in which they officially endorsed things like the two-year reign of Evil-merodach. The quote is to be found in the post above. If you want to call the charge that "[the Society's writers] themselves have affirmed all premises in a valid argument for the 587 BC fall of Jerusalem" as being a "ridiculous claim", the least you could do - for the sake of plain and simple intellectual honesty - is to refute it by actually engaging with the citations offered. You have conspicuously ignored them all.

    Now, you continue to dismiss the two-year reign of Evil-merodach. All that about Ptolemy's Canon is all well and good, but where, exactly, is your response to the numerous Neo-Babylonian texts I cited that explicitly state that Evil-merodach reigned for two years? After all, I've certainly never cited Ptolemy's Canon; there's been no reason to, since we have all the evidence needed elsewhere. Note also that merely citing much later historians who give alternative reign lengths is patently insufficient, whether they be Flavius Josephus or Polyhistor. Also note that while vague remarks about additional names found at Borsippa are interesting, they are irrelevant unless we have reason to think - contrary to Neo-Babylonian records - that any of them belong in the period in question.

    (And, having just read through the article from the 5/8/1972 issue of Awake!, I can see that it dealt with none of the evidence that I've used.)

    As for the Watchtower's independent case for the 607 date, I hope to address that in a future post. While we wait, however, how about addressing the issue at hand? Here's your mission:

    - First, actually deal with the fact that Watchtower publications irrefutably have endorsed the "secular" reign lengths of each Babylonian ruler in question.
    - Second, show how the indepedent evidence that I've cited for the reigns of Evil-merodach and Neriglissar don't establish the two- and four-year reign lengths.
    - Third, provide actual evidence to think that their reigns were otherwise.
    - Fourth, construct a Babylonian chronology of the period that includes your pretended 'correct' reign lengths. It's one thing to talk smack about "secular historians" (which, when speaking of folks like Josephus, Berossus, Polyhistor, or the Babylonian records themselves, is really somewhat of a misnomer); it's another to actually do the hard work and put forward some answers. Why do you think the Society has never provided an alternative chronology for the Neo-Babylonian kings?

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  13. Here is what is "tragicomic."

    Mike posts a video to do a chronological walk-back from 539 to 605 and then forward to 587.

    He thinks he's found something clever. WT opposers all high-5 him, with compliments of "great research." Other WT opposers add their 2-cents to insult the Wt with "they don't even know their own chronology."

    The chronology that Mike thinks he's cleverly found is what the WT presented in the 1972 Awake article. They reviewed it, gave their reasons for not trusting it, and dismissed it.

    Now, critics like yourself and Mike roll out saying that the WT has "officially endorsed it," and that they view it as "the most accurate," "they're sure about it," etc.

    This silliness is simply in your mind. Where exactly do they say "We've officially endorsed this?" They don't. They've officially dismissed it.

    Now, whether they are correct or not, is a completely different discussion.

    But, for Mike, you, and others to pretend they've officially endorsed something they've repeatedly dismissed, is pure intellectual delusion.

    But the fact that you, Mike, and others can't see that tells me that my time is better spent talking to more reasonable people.

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  14. Mark Hunter (former Jehovah's Witness)April 7, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    No, here's what's tragicomic; your faith is placed on a North American publishing corporation founded by a failed haberdasher.

    They've sold you, lock, stock and barrel, on the idea that God somehow needs a publishing corporation in order for the world to know the truth. And while they're doing that they've effectively blinded you to the person of Jesus Christ who boldly claimed, "I am the way, the truth and the life".

    Now you're spending your time debating bits of clay that have been lying buried in the ground for 1000s of years all the while your cognitive dissonance is frying your brain to the point whereby you feel 607 is more important than John 14:6.

    Wake up, smell the rejected wine in the Memorial glass and recognise that a publishing corporation never has, nor ever will, been able to make you right with God.

    If it could, why did Jesus need to die?

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  15. To the anonymous JW apologist: Apologies for the delay in responding. My computer became... unusable... and I had to get a new one. A rather regrettable - and expensive - difficulty indeed.

    Anyway, with all due respect, you continue to systematically misconstrue and misrepresent everything that Mike and I have been contending. I have to confess, I may have to revise my relatively tolerant stance on the whole "cult" issue; this degree of evasion pushes the limits for anyone in a normal epistemic situation.

    You ask where they officially endorsed the elements of the chronology presented; I point you - yet again to the quotations from Watchtower Society publications found in the post above and in Mike's video. Those are the quotations you persistently and steadfastly ignore and refuse to engage.

    To be perfectly honest, the 1972 Awake! article is irrelevant to the issue at hand. I repeat myself: neither myself nor Mike has alleged that the Society has consistently upheld the various propositions in question (e.g., the proposition that Evil-merodach reigned for two years, the proposition that Neriglissar reigned for four years, etc., etc.), only that they have, in fact, upheld the propositions in question. They asserted them as truth in publications that are supposed to constitute 'spiritual food'. That is the issue here. Now, as to the 1972 Awake! article, I read it and found the reasons given for undermining the 587 chronology to be very insufficient in light of the actual Neo-Babylonian evidence that does, in fact, confirm the propositions above, the conjunction of which establishes the 587 chronology beyond a reasonable doubt. I have already rehearsed a portion of this evidence, none of which you have addressed. Rather than repeat myself again, I invite you to actually read what I've said already.

    With all due respect, Mike and I have presented what I consider to be a very interesting case, one that you have not actually addressed as of yet. Were you to go seek "more reasonable people", I dare say that you would be even more outclassed than you are at present. While your rhetoric about "opposers" and all that is all well and good and makes for decent rhetoric, it's belied by the utter lack of relevant substance in your posts. I've been addressing the points you've raised, and yet you keep repeating them. I repeat my points because you've yet to actually address them. I urge you, for the sake of intellectual honesty, to actually do so.

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  16. I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    If you're interested, a defense of 607 BCE can be found at http://thirdwitness.com/607_BCE/www.jehovahsjudgment.co.uk/607/

    My blog defending Jehovah's Witnesses on general issues is at stayawake-standfirm.blogspot.com

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  17. @ Standfirm; why would Russell even have been trying to figure out the parousia, using 607 or otherwise? Didn't he read Acts 1? Why are Jehovah's Witnesses obsessed with their esoteric knowledge?

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  18. My response to Mark Hunter's comments to me here and on my blog can be found here:

    http://stayawake-standfirm.blogspot.com/2010/04/response-to-mark-hunter.html

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  19. I've replied, in part, to StandFirm as follows;
    "So, when Jesus said that it doesn't belong to humans to know the day or hour - times or seasons - Russell decided actually, it does and should belong to humans to know just that?

    Why, then, did Russell believe to his dying day that Christ hadn't returned in 1914, but in fact had returned 40 years earlier? Wouldn't that truth preclude Jesus selecting the Watch Tower Society per his comments in Luke 12 where he pointed out he'd be looking for ones who were alert, watching for his return and ready to open the door at his arrival.

    Where the Watch Tower Society (Russell included) watching for Christ's return in 1914 or had they instead opened the door for him in 1874? What did Russell believe? He seemed to believe that Christ had returned in 1874 and 1914 would be when Christ would draw the current age to an end with Armageddon.

    In doubt about this? Please see the 'Proclaimers' book pages 40, 46, 47 and 631-633.

    You also state that only Jehovah's Witnesses know the meaning of 1914. But they didn't have their current understanding back in 1874, did they? Russell certainly didn't believe that 607 + 2560 years = 1914 and Christ's parousia, did he?

    I think it's fair to conclude that the application of Daniel 4 with the "gentile times", plus 607/1914 is esoteric knowledge in that Jehovah's Witnesses claim it was only revealed to Russell. That would fall into the category "understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest".

    It's also fair to conclude that Russell got his ideas about 607 etc from Nathan Barbour (Proclaimers book page 40 onwards) who in turn got his eschatology from the Adventists.

    Has the teaching regarding 1914 changed, at all? Has the Jehovah's Witness understanding of the generation of 1914 changed at all? If so, would that mean that Jehovah's Witnesses have been taught - and in turn taught others - falsehoods? Would that, in turn, mean that Jehovah's Witnesses do not have "the truth"?"

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  20. My reply will be published on my blog when I write it.

    If you wish to debate with me, you can find me at Topix, in the Jehovah's Witness forum, at http://www.topix.com/forum/religion/jehovahs-witness
    Anyone can post without signing up.

    If you accept, please write me a comment on my blog first. It will only be about one topic if we do debate, and not about everything and anything as the comments on my blog are.

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  21. To StandFirm:

    Thanks for your contributions to the discussion. I look forward to reading those posts (along with that external site about the 607 issue) and others on your blog when I have a chance, hopefully before I write a post dealing with the 607 issue in general. (Perhaps eventually, time permitting, I'll write a few posts here as replies to some of yours over at your blog. I think it could be quite an enjoyable exchange.)

    In the meantime, I was wondering if you had any thoughts about the substance of my post above. Would you be willing to embark on the undertaking that the anonymous JW apologist who'd previously been commenting here had refused?

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