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Studies in the Scriptures is a series of publications, intended as a Bible study aid, containing seven volumes of great importance to the history of the Bible Students, and the early history of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Origin and author

The author of Studies in the Scriptures, Charles Taze Russell, reported that he did not write them "through visions and dreams, nor by God's audible voice", but by gathering the fragments of the truth scattered for a long time. In 1886 the first volume of the series was written. Today known as The Divine Plan of the Ages, it was originally titled The Plan of the Ages under its former series name of Millennial Dawn. The name of the series was changed to Studies in the Scriptures in 1904 in order to clarify their nature as biblical textbooks.

Purpose

The series was written as a Bible study aid. The intention was that by studying the Bible topically, rather than verse by verse, details of God's plan might become clearer. The series progresses from elementary topics, such as the existence of God and establishing that the Bible is God's word, to deeper subject matter throughout the series.

Contents

  • Volume 1 — The Divine Plan of the Ages — 1886
Elementary topics and attempts to show God has a clear plan for mankind.
  • Volume 2 — The Time is at Hand — 1889
Offers a complete Bible chronology, keys to time prophecies, the second advent of Christ, and the identification of the Antichrist.
  • Volume 3 — Thy Kingdom Come — 1891
Describes the prophecies of the Bible in further detail, along with the fate of Israel and information on the Great Pyramidmarker as being built under God's direction. The section on Pyramidology was influenced by the theories of Charles Piazzi Smyth, who also helped review it.
  • Volume 4 — The Day of Vengeance — 1897
Originally titled The Battle of Armageddon, shows the causes of the dissolution of the present order, and reveals the Biblical remedy as God's kingdom.
  • Volume 5 — The At-one-ment Between God and Men — 1899
Discusses man's nature, the work of redemption, and the Holy Spirit.
  • Volume 6 — The New Creation — 1904
Covers the seven days of Creation found in Genesis, and discussion of the duties and responsibilities of a Christian, in both family and personal life.


Viewpoint and theology

Chart from Divine Plan of the Ages, Studies in Scriptures Vol 1.
The series was criticized by a few early 20th century ministers as an attempt to replace the Bible. Russell's view was quite different: he believed that while the Bible had been studied through different methods, topical study was the best approach. The six volumes are in some ways written as a commentary with suggestions given to Biblical events and utterances. Pastor Russell did not claim infallibility, but declared that God's plan of salvation could not be understood independent of his writings. He is quoted in saying, "if he then lays [the Studies in the Scriptures] aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness."

Studies in the Scriptures claimed to represent that humankind had reached the end of the current era, which Jesus said would be a harvest time, during which there would be a separation between the wheat and the impure imitations.

The Finished Mystery

Following Russell's death in 1916, a seventh volume - entitled The Finished Mystery - was published in 1917 and advertised as his "posthumous work". This seventh volume was a detailed interpretation of the book of Revelation, but also included interpretations of Ezekiel and the Song of Solomon. An advertisement for the book in The Watch Tower called it: "the true interpretation." (1917, p.334) The book was allegedly: "of the Lord—prepared under his guidance." (p. 126)

Immediate controversy surrounded both its publishing and contents. In a short time it was established that it was largely written and compiled by two of Russell's associates, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, and edited by Russell's successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford.

Withdrawal

As elements of its theology changed over the years, the Watch Tower Society revealed a series of prophecies concerning the date of Christ's return. Jehovah's Witnesses decided to withdraw from circulation all seven volumes of Studies in the Scriptures.

Most Jehovah's Witnesses are aware of the existence of Russell's books, as they are cited in that group's other works, such as Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (their official history) and Revelation---Its Grand Climax at Hand (one of their study books). The books may also be found in the libraries maintained by the individual congregations at many of their Kingdom Halls.

References

  1. "This book may properly be said to be a posthumous publication of Pastor Russell."


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