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Monday, October 5, 2009

Providing Literature for Early Bible Students

One of the first articles written by C. T. Russell was published, in 1876, in the Bible Examiner, edited by George Storrs of Brooklyn, New York. After Brother Russell became associated with N. H. Barbour of Rochester, New York, Russell provided funds for publication of the book Three Worlds and the paper known as Herald of the Morning. He served as a coeditor of that paper and, in 1877, used the facilities of the Herald to publish the booklet The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return. Brother Russell had a keen mind for spiritual matters as well as business affairs, but it was Barbour who was experienced in typesetting and composition.

However, when Barbour repudiated the sin-atoning value of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Brother Russell severed relations with him. So, in 1879 when Russell undertook publication of Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, he had to rely on commercial printers.

The following year the first of an extensive series of tracts designed to interest people in Bible truths was prepared for publication. This work quickly took on immense proportions. In order to handle it, Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was formed on February 16, 1881, with W. H. Conley as president and C. T. Russell as secretary and treasurer. Arrangements were made for the printing to be done by commercial firms in various cities of Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, as well as in Britain. In 1884, Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was legally incorporated, with C. T. Russell as president, and its charter showed that it was more than a society that would direct publishing. Its real objective was religious; it was chartered for “the dissemination of Bible Truths in various languages.”

With what zeal that objective was pursued! In 1881, within a period of four months, 1,200,000 tracts totaling some 200,000,000 pages were published. (Many of these “tracts” were actually in the form of small books.) Thereafter, production of Bible tracts for free distribution soared to the tens of millions year after year. These tracts were printed in some 30 languages and were distributed not only in America but also in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and other lands.

Another aspect of the work opened up in 1886, when Brother Russell completed writing The Divine Plan of the Ages, the first of a series of six volumes that he personally penned. In connection with the publishing of the first four volumes in that series (1886-97), as well as tracts and the Watch Tower from 1887 to 1898, he made use of the Tower Publishing Company. In time, typesetting and composition were done by the brothers at the Bible House in Pittsburgh. To keep expenses down, they also purchased the paper for printing. As for the actual printing and binding, Brother Russell often placed orders with more than one firm. He planned carefully, ordering far enough in advance to get favorable rates. From the time of the publication of the first book written by C. T. Russell down through 1916, a total of 9,384,000 of those six volumes were produced and distributed.

The publishing of Bible literature did not stop at Brother Russell’s death. The following year the seventh volume of Studies in the Scriptures was printed. It was released to the Bethel family on July 17, 1917. So great was the demand for it that by the end of that year, the Society had placed orders for 850,000 copies in English with commercial printers and bookbinders. Editions in other languages were being produced in Europe. In addition, that year some 38 million tracts were printed.

- JV 575, 1993, WTB&TS

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Realizing the necessity of keeping the Truth before the minds of those who had begun to investigate, in 1879 he began the publication of THE WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE, and was its sole Editor to the time of his death. This journal is issued semi-monthly; it never publishes advertisements, but is devoted exclusively to religious topics. Among the English speaking people in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, its semi-monthly circulation is 45,000 copies. It is also published in German, French, Swedish, Dano-Norwegian and Polish, reaching a large number of subscribers in America and Europe.

He was President of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY from its organization in 1884 until his death. He was also President of the PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION, organized in 1909, and the INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION, incorporated in London, in 1913, both of the latter corporations being adjuncts to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY. Through these religious corporations, as well as by word of mouth, he promulgated the Gospel of Messiah's Kingdom. He was the author of the following publications, issued between the years 1881 and 1914, each having phenomenal circulation, as given below:


He was also the author of WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT SPIRITISM, OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS, et cetera, et cetera. He was the author of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION, which had been exhibited prior to his death to more than nine million persons. He wrote and published the SCENARIO of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION, which has had a very wide circulation. His publications were translated into thirty-five different languages. At the same time he was Pastor of more than 1,200 congregations of Bible Students, in different parts of the world. These he visited and taught as often as possible.

He organized and conducted a Lecture Bureau which constantly employed seventy Bible lecturers, who traveled and delivered lectures on the Scriptures. He organized and managed an auxiliary lecture bureau of seven hundred men who gave a portion of their time to lecturing on Bible teachings. Each year he wrote practically all of the copy for the BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY, the annual distribution of which amounted to approximately fifty million copies.

His weekly sermons were handled by a newspaper syndicate. More than 2,000 newspapers, with a combined circulation of fifteen million readers, at one time published his discourses. All told, more than 4,000 newspapers published these sermons.

The Continent, a publication whose editor often opposed Pastor Russell, once published the following significant statement concerning him:

"His writings are said to have greater newspaper circulation every week than those of any other living man; a greater, doubtless, than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America; greater even than the work of Arthur Brisbane, Norman Hapgood, George Horace Lorimer, Dr. Frank Crane, Frederick Haskins, and a dozen other of the best known editors and syndicate writers put together."

- December 1, 1916 Watchtower, WTB&TS

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