A Separate Identity: Organizational Identity Among Readers of Zion’s Watch Tower: 1870-1887, Volume 1

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Lulu.com, Mar 25, 2014 - History - 376 pages
This is a history of the Watch Tower movement's earliest years written to an academic standard. It is based on fresh research into original documents. This is volume one of a two volume work. Volume two is in preparation.
 

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Magnificent. I have never read a book on Jehovah's Witnesses so meticulously researched. B. W. Schulz and R. M. de Vienne (recently deceased) are to be congratulated for shining a light on this little understood period (1870-1887) of Bible Student history. They refute the myths that have grown up and been perpetuated by both friends and foes of the movement. These are replaced by concrete facts which are fully and laboriously footnoted.
I could not recommend this book more highly.
 

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This is a fantastic book. No not because of its literary quality. Its writing style can in fact be called humdrum at times. Nor would one call it fantastic because of it beauty. It has over 100 photos and illustrations but none are strikingly beautiful. What makes this a fantastic book is the volume of pure information that is inside. This is the first book about the early years of the group of people who eventually morphed into Jehovah's Witnesses.
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As noted above this book is about a group of people. Histories of the early formative years of Jehovah's Witnesses tend to focus almost exclusively on one person, Charles Taze Russell. And too be sure Russell is given the central position in this book as the prime mover in the movement that eventually led to Jehovah's Witnesses. But for the first time in a history book we are given an abundance of details about those who Russell associated with and learned from not just what others learned from him.
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The authors, Bruce Schulz and Rachael de Vienne, note in the “Introductory Essay” (paragraph 5) that none of the previous histories, whether by Witness or non-Witness historians, come close to meeting an academic standard of scholarship when it comes to these early years. And, as historians, Schulz and de Vienne have made an conscious effort not to get bogged down when it comes to the matter what may or may not be religious truth. They basically say one's choice of religion is in effect a personal decision while the job of a historian is to be accurate. Thus, the book is neither pro-Witness or anti-Witness. But they have done their best to imitate Sargent Joe Friday of the old TV show 'Dragnet' when he interviewed emotional witnesses who would give some wild opinion about the crime they just witnessed. (“Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts.”) So if you are looking for accurate information about the early years of Jehovah's Witnesses not only is this book highly recommended but I point out that this book is the ONLY resource available at this time that thoroughly covers this early period .
 

Contents

Developing a Religious Voice Page
2
Among the Second Adventists Millenarians
55
Among the Second Adventists Millenarians
97
A Separate Identity Page
151
Meeting the Principals Russells
179
Barbour and Russell The Early Ministry Page
214
Russell and Barbour The Fruitage Page
258
Aftermath of Failure Page
288
Afterward Page
346

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