Cover of Awake! magazine, February 2007
|Publisher||Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York|
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Awake! is a monthly illustrated magazine published by Jehovah's Witnesses via the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and printed in various branch offices around the world. It is considered to be a companion magazine of The Watchtower, and is distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses in their door-to-door ministry. Awake! is considered to be the second most widely distributed magazine in the world (after The Watchtower), with a total worldwide printing of 43,524,000 copies in 99 languages per month.
The magazine was originally published bi-weekly ("every other Wednesday") under the name The Golden Age on October 1, 1919, by the International Bible Students Association. (In 1930 it was published in Danish under the name New World.) On October 6, 1937, it was renamed Consolation and continued to be published bi-weekly until July 31, 1946. On August 22, 1946, the magazine was renamed Awake! and until 2005 was published semi-monthly in major languages (on the 8th and 22nd; The Watchtower was published on the 1st and 15th), monthly in many languages, and quarterly in a few languages. Since January 2006, Awake! has been published monthly.
The magazine has frequently suggested the nearness of apocalyptic events. World War III has been a perennial theme, with issues printed during the Cold War years of the 1950s and 1960s reporting heavily on conferences of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and other notable events in the USSR, particularly as they pertained to the possibility of Nuclear War. This topic continued to fill pages well into the 1980s.
The stated purpose of the magazine has changed over time. Until 1982, each issue of the magazine included a mission statement which stated "this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new order before the generation that saw 1914 passes away". When their belief regarding the "generation" of 1914 was changed to a less literal sense, the aim was restated as "this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things".
Awake! contains articles about general-interest topics such as nature, geography, family life, and also the Bible and biblical history, from the Watchtower Bible And Tract Society's perspective. It has also presented current medical opinions of various medical conditions. Conditions that have been featured in Awake! include dementia, stroke, infectious diseases, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression. Many issues claim that mankind is living in the end times.
The magazine includes a number of regular features:
- The Bible's Viewpoint, a column which applies Jehovah Witnesses' interpretations of the Bible to current issues;
- Watching the World, a selection of single-paragraph news items from a variety of sources;
- From Our Readers, a selection of letters commenting on previous Awake! articles;
- Was it Designed?, an article about a particular animal from a creationist perspective.
Autobiographical articles by individual members regarding their experiences and circumstances also appear periodically, and are notable as the only regularly credited writings in any Society publication.
The magazine's editor under the titles of The Golden Age and Consolation was Clayton J. Woodworth. Woodworth was a former editor and textbook writer, and later served on the boards of several corporations of Jehovah's Witnesses until just a few years before his death in 1951 at the age of 81. When the magazine was renamed Awake!, the journal's editorship became anonymous. Its publication is overseen by the Writing Committee of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Awake! is published in 98 languages.
The magazine is printed in nineteen different countries; about 25% of the total is printed at one of the organization's printeries in Toronto, Canada.
Awake! is considered to be the second most widely distributed magazine in the world (after The Watchtower), with a total worldwide circulation of 43,524,000.
Until March 1990, Awake! was available for a small charge that varied over time and in different countries. For example, in the United States, the suggested donation per issue was $0.05 in 1950, gradually increasing to $0.25 in 1989. On January 17, 1990, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that sales of religious literature were subject to taxation, which introduced ambiguity into the formerly tax-free practice of suggesting a particular donation in exchange for the magazines. The Watch Tower Society filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief arguing that the perceived sale of religious literature should be exempt from taxation. From March 1, 1990, the journals were made available at no cost, on a freewill donation basis in the United States, with the stated purpose of simplifying their Bible educational work and distinguishing themselves from those who commercialize religion. The article "Use Our Literature Wisely", which appeared in the May 1990 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry, stated that "there are growing pressures against all religious elements", and it went on to say that their main concern was to move ahead in the worldwide Kingdom preaching work, "without hindrance."
The sale of Jehovah's Witnesses' literature was gradually phased out in other countries, and Awake! has been distributed free of charge worldwide since early 2000, its printing being funded by voluntary donations from Jehovah's Witnesses and members of the public.
See also 
- Jehovah's Witnesses publications
- List of Watch Tower Society publications
- List of magazines by circulation
- Awake! July 2013 issue, page 2
- Newspaper Today. 20 February 2012. Top 5 World’s Best Magazines. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- The Watchtower, April 1, 1990, page 28, "In 1930 the magazine The Golden Age (now Awake!) began to be published in Danish under the name The New World."
- Revelation - Its Grand Climax At Hand, pages 146-147
- Watch Tower Publications, Watchtower Publications Index, 2008
- Our Kingdom Ministry, March 2005, published by the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, "beginning with its January 2006 issue, Awake! will be published as a monthly magazine. This will result in considerable simplification in the preparation, translation, and shipping of our literature. This change will affect about 40 percent of the languages in which Awake! is published. In most languages, Awake! is already a monthly or a quarterly publication."
- Awake! 8th November 1982, Page 2
- "Awake!" October 2010 page.4
- Awake!, September 22, 1998
- Awake!, February 8, 1998
- Awake!, July 22, 1999
- Awake!, September 8, 2001
- Awake!, March 8, 2003
- Woodworth was editor except during a brief period of incarceration in 1918 and 1919 in connection with his commentary on Revelation in The Finished Mystery
- "Announcements", The Watchtower, February 15, 1952, page 128
- "Watchtower- Official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses : Publications Available". Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- The Watchtower, November 1, 2005, page 27
- Jehovah's Witnesses website — Audio recordings and digital formats of magazines
- The Watchtower: 4. May 15, 1950.
- Our Kingdom Ministry: 2. October 1989.
- Jehovah's Witnesses and Jimmy Swaggart
- Our Kingdom Ministry: 7. May 1990. "At the end of February 1990, it was explained that magazines and literature will be provided to publishers and to the interested public on a complete donation basis, that is, without asking or suggesting that a specific contribution be made as a precondition to receiving an item."
- 2001 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. p. 18. "Another factor in reaching more people with the good news has been the simplified literature distribution arrangement. ... The voluntary donation arrangement is explained to people, but no charge is made for the literature. As of January 2000, that arrangement was extended to all lands where it was not already in operation."