Jehovah's Witnesses publications

Jehovah's Witnesses publications

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society produces a large amount of literature for use by Jehovah's Witnesses; their best known publications are the magazines, The Watchtower and Awake!. The Watchtower was first published by Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Bible Student movement, in 1879,[1] followed by the inception of the Watch Tower Society in 1881.[2] Following a dispute in the movement's leadership,[3] supporters of the Watch Tower Society's president, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, adopted the name Jehovah's witnesses in 1931.[4] Particularly since 2001, the literature produced by the Watch Tower Society has typically stated that it is "published by Jehovah's Witnesses".[5]

Along with books and brochures, other media are also produced, including audio cassettes, videocassettes, and DVDs. New publications are usually released at Jehovah's Witnesses' annual conventions.


Literature for preaching

Most literature produced by Jehovah's Witnesses is intended for use in their evangelizing work. Publications for preaching are also routinely studied by members, both privately and at their meetings for worship. Their most widely distributed publications are:

  • New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT), a modern-language translation of the Bible published in over 100 languages. This is the Bible translation primarily used by Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • Awake!, published in 84 languages (as of the January 2012 issue), a general-interest monthly magazine covering many topics from a religious perspective. It has an average printing of over 41 million copies per issue.
  • The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom, published in 194 languages (as of the 1 January 2012 issue)[6] semimonthly, focuses mainly on doctrine. With an average printing of over 42 million copies, The Watchtower is the most widely distributed magazine in the world.[7] Since 2008, the issue dated 1st of each month is distributed to the public, and the issue dated the 15th is distributed only to members for use in the Watchtower Study.[8]

When interested individuals are encountered, Witnesses attempt to initiate a home Bible study course, using a current publication, such as What Does the Bible Really Teach?, that outlines their primary beliefs and interpretations of the Bible. The Witness then visits the student on a regular basis, generally considering a chapter on each visit, depending on the student's circumstances. Students are requested to examine the material prior to the arrival of the Bible study conductor, using the questions at the bottom of each page, to "help prepare the student for the Bible study".[9] Jehovah’s Witnesses customarily read each paragraph aloud together with the student, and then ask the question(s) provided for that paragraph. Students are encouraged to read the scriptures cited in the material.[10] Bible students are expected to be making progress to become baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses by the time the book is completed,[11] and may be asked to study a second publication, such as "Keep Yourselves in God's Love".[12]

Jehovah's Witnesses previously offered their literature for a price determined by the branch office in each country, to cover printing costs.[13] Since 2000, Jehovah's Witnesses have offered their publications free of charge globally.[14] Printing is funded by voluntary donations from Witnesses and members of the public.[15] Jehovah's Witnesses accept donations if offered by householders, and are instructed to invite donations in countries where soliciting funds is permitted.[16]

Special-purpose literature

Certain publications are designed for distribution to members of specific religious groups. The brochure Will There Ever be a World Without War? is intended for the Jewish community; the brochure The Guidance of God—Our Way to Paradise is published for readers with an Islamic background; Our Problems—Who Will Help Us Solve Them? is targeted toward Buddhists; Why Should We Worship God in Love and Truth? is written for those with Hindu beliefs. The booklet Good News for People of All Nations contains a simple Bible message in many languages.

The brochures Apply Yourself to Reading and Writing and Learn to Read and Write are used, primarily in developing countries, for assisting people to learn to read and write.[17][18]

The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life

The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life was a Bible study textbook published in 1968 and revised in 1981 (now out of print).[19] The 1990 edition of the Guinness Book of Records included this book under its heading "Highest Printings". According to the Guinness Book, by May 1987 it had reached 106,486,735 copies, in 116 languages.[20]

Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?

Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, first published in 1985, presents the Old Earth (Day-Age) creationism of Jehovah's Witnesses, and their criticism of evolution. Biologist Richard Dawkins criticized the book for repeatedly presenting a choice between intelligent design and chance, rather than natural selection.[21] The book was supplemented by the 1998 book, Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?, and the 2010 brochures The Origin of Life—5 Questions Worth Asking and Was Life Created?

Literature for members

Some publications, such as the hymnal Sing to Jehovah, The Watchtower Study Edition, the newsletter Our Kingdom Ministry,[22] and the textbook Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School Education[23] are for use by those who attend congregation meetings. Others, such as the organizational manual Organized to Do Jehovah's Will[24] and Watchtower Library CD-ROM (containing the Watch Tower Publications Index from 1930, each issue of The Watchtower from 1950, and most other Watch Tower Society literature published since 1970), are typically reserved for baptized Witnesses. Certain publications are limited to members in appointed positions, such as the manual for congregation elders, Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock.[25]

Some publications are typically distributed only to members, but may be supplied to other interested individuals on request or made available in public libraries. These include the biblical encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures and Jehovah's Witnesses' official history book Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom.[26][27]

Aid to Bible Understanding

Aid to Bible Understanding was the first doctrinal and biblical encyclopedia of Jehovah's Witnesses, published in full in 1971 (now out of print). Raymond Franz, a former member of the Governing Body who left the organization[28] claimed to have been one of the researchers.[29] Research for the Aid Book led to new interpretations of some concepts, providing a catalyst for changes in doctrine.[30][31]


  1. ^ Watch Tower, July 1 1879
  2. ^ The Watchtower, January 15, 1955, page 14, "Modern History of Jehovah’s Witnesses"
  3. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses: The New World Society by Marley Cole, pp. 89-90.
  4. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, page 720, Noteworthy Events in the Modern-day History of Jehovah’s Witnesses
  5. ^ The Watchtower, 15 January 2001, pp. 28-31, How the Governing Body Differs From a Legal Corporation
  6. ^ "JW Media Release: Milestone in publishing and translation: 500 languages". 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  7. ^ The Watchtower, February 1, 2005, p. 32
  8. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, July 2007, p. 1 Exciting Changes for The Watchtower!
  9. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach? © Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania 2005. | p. 7 Is This What God Purposed?”
  10. ^ Watchtower Society. “Teach What the Bible Really Teaches” The Watchtower 15 Jan. 2007: 24-25.
  11. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, July 2004, page 1, "Part 1—Conducting Progressive Bible Studies"
  12. ^ "How to Use the "God's Love" Book to Conduct Bible Studies". Our Kingdom Ministry: 2. March 2009. 
  13. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, October 1984 p. 8
  14. ^ Since 1990, the "complete donation basis" had been used in the United States; see Our Kingdom Ministry, May 1990, page 7.
  15. ^ 2001 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 18
  16. ^ Our Kingdom Ministry, January 2006, p. 5 "How to Offer the Bible Teach Book"
  17. ^ "Volunteers at Work", Awake!, July 22, 2001, page 6
  18. ^ "Apply Yourself to Reading", Benefit from Theocratic Ministry School Education, page 21
  19. ^ Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. 2000. p. 78. 
  20. ^ Awake! October 8, 1990, p. 28.
  21. ^ Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. pp. 119–121. 
  22. ^ An Educator's Classroom Guide to America's Religious Beliefs and Practices by Benjamin Jerome Hubbard, John T. Hatfield, James A. Santucci, ©2007, Libraries Unlimited
  23. ^ Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America by Eugene V. Gallagher, W. Michael Ashcraft, ©2006, Greenwood Publishing Group
  24. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses: The African American Enigma--A Contemporary Study (Vol. I) by Firpo W. Carr, ©2002, Morris Pub, page 207
  25. ^ Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, ©1999, Harvest House Publishers, page 165
  26. ^ "Selected Publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania". Our Kingdom Ministry: 6. November 1991. 
  27. ^ "The Christian View of Authority". The Watchtower: 21. 1 July 1994. 
  28. ^ 1973 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 257
  29. ^ Franz, Raymond (1983). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. p. 20. 
  30. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. pp. 233–235. 
  31. ^ Franz, Raymond (1983). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. pp. 23–25. 

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