Jehovah's Witnesses publications

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The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society produces a significant amount of printed and electronic literature, primarily 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] Supporters adopted the name Jehovah's witnesses in 1931.[3] Particularly since 2001, when referring to other Watch Tower Society publications their literature has typically stated that it is "published by Jehovah's Witnesses",[4] though the edition notice identifies the publisher as the Watch Tower Society.[5]

Along with books and brochures, other media are also produced, including CDs, MP3s and DVDs, and Internet downloads and video streaming. New publications are usually released at Jehovah's Witnesses' annual conventions.

Literature for preaching[edit]

Jehovah's Witnesses outside the British Museum

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:

When interested individuals are encountered, Witnesses offer a home Bible study course, using a current publication, such as What Does the Bible Really Teach?, which 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. 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".[8] 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.[9] Bible students are expected to be making progress to become baptized as a Jehovah's Witness by the time the course is completed,[10] and may be asked to study a second publication, such as "Keep Yourselves in God's Love".[11]

Jehovah's Witnesses previously offered their literature for a price determined by the branch office in each country, to cover printing costs.[12] Since 2000, Jehovah's Witnesses have offered their publications free of charge globally.[13][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]

Literature for members[edit]

Some publications, such as the hymnal Sing to Jehovah, The Watchtower Study Edition,[17] and the textbook Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School Education[18] are for use by those who attend congregation meetings. Others, such as the organizational manual Organized to Do Jehovah's Will[19] and Watchtower Library (containing the Watch Tower Publications Index from 1930, issues of The Watchtower since 1950, and most other Watch Tower Society literature published since 1970),[20] are intended for members. Certain publications are limited to members in appointed positions, such as the manual for congregation elders, "Shepherd the Flock of God".[21][22]

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 Bible encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures and Jehovah's Witnesses' official history book Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom.[23][24] Many of these publications are also available from their website in the Watchtower Online Library.

Notable publications[edit]

In addition to Jehovah's Witnesses' widely distributed magazines, various publications have received attention from the media and other commentators.

Aid to Bible Understanding[edit]

Aid to Bible Understanding was the first doctrinal and biblical encyclopedia of Jehovah's Witnesses, published in full in 1971. Raymond Franz, a former member of the Governing Body who left the organization[25] claimed to have been one of the researchers.[26] Research for the book led to new interpretations of some concepts, providing a catalyst for changes in doctrine.[27][28] It was replaced in 1988 by Insight on the Scriptures, which contains much of the original content from Aid to Bible Understanding.[29]

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

Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?, first published in 1985, presents the Old Earth (Gap and Day-Age) creationism of Jehovah's Witnesses,[30] 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.[31] 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?

The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life[edit]

The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life was a Bible study textbook published in 1968 and revised in 1981 (now out of print).[32] The 1975 Guinness Book of Records included this book in its list of highest printings.[33] According to the Watch Tower Society, by May 1987 publication had reached 106,486,735 copies in 116 languages.[34]


  1. ^ Watch Tower, July 1, 1879
  2. ^ "Modern History of Jehovah's Witnesses". The Watchtower. January 15, 1955. p. 14.
  3. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. p. 720.
  4. ^ For example, "Should You Fear the End of the World?". The Watchtower. January 1, 2013. p. 8. What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah's Witnesses
  5. ^ What Does the Bible Really Teach. p. 1. PUBLISHERS Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
  6. ^ 2015 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. p. 23.
  7. ^ "The Watchtower—Public Edition" (PDF). The Watchtower. January 1, 2015. p. 2.
  8. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach?. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 2005. p. 7.
  9. ^ "Teach What the Bible Really Teaches". The Watchtower. January 15, 2007. pp. 24–25.
  10. ^ "Be "Intensely Occupied" With Your Ministry". Our Kingdom Ministry. January 2004. p. 3. Your goal is to help the student achieve greater insight into the truth, qualify as an unbaptized publisher, and become a dedicated and baptized Witness of Jehovah.
  11. ^ "How to Use the "God's Love" Book to Conduct Bible Studies". Our Kingdom Ministry. March 2009. p. 2.
  12. ^ "Presenting the Good News—By Effective Use of Magazines". Our Kingdom Ministry. October 1984. p. 8.
  13. ^ "Use Our Literature Wisely". Our Kingdom Ministry. May 1990. p. 7. 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.
  14. ^ 2001 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. p. 18. 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.
  15. ^ 2001 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. 2002. p. 18.
  16. ^ "How to Offer the Bible Teach Book". Our Kingdom Ministry. January 2006. p. 5.
  17. ^ Benjamin Jerome Hubbard; John T. Hatfield; James A. Santucci (2007). An Educator's Classroom Guide to America's Religious Beliefs and Practices. Libraries Unlimited.
  18. ^ Eugene V. Gallagher; W. Michael Ashcraft (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  19. ^ Firpo W. Carr (2002). Jehovah's Witnesses: The African American Enigma—A Contemporary Study. Vol. 1. Morris Publishing. p. 207.
  20. ^ Torres-Pruñonosa, Jose; Plaza-Navas, Miquel-Angel; Brown, Silas (2022). "Jehovah's Witnesses' adoption of digitally-mediated services during Covid-19 pandemic". Cogent Social Sciences. 8 (1). doi:10.1080/23311886.2022.2071034. Retrieved 7 May 2022. The 2021 English edition organises and hyperlinks some 137,000 printed pages
  21. ^ John Ankerberg; John Weldon (1999). Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions. Harvest House Publishers. p. 165.
  22. ^ "Introduction". "Shepherd the Flock of God". Watch Tower Society. p. 6.
  23. ^ "Selected Publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania". Our Kingdom Ministry. November 1991. p. 6.
  24. ^ "The Christian View of Authority". The Watchtower. 1 July 1994. p. 21.
  25. ^ 1973 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 257
  26. ^ Franz, Raymond (1983). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. p. 20.
  27. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. pp. 233–235.
  28. ^ Franz, Raymond (1983). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. pp. 23–25.
  29. ^ ""Insight on the Scriptures"—A New Bible Encyclopedia". The Watchtower. March 15, 1989. p. 10. Insight on the Scriptures includes much of what was formerly in the book Aid to Bible Understanding and a great deal more.
  30. ^ Chryssides, George D. (2008). Historical Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses. Scarecrow Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780810862692.
  31. ^ Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. pp. 119–121.
  32. ^ Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. 2000. p. 78.
  33. ^ "Guinness book sets sale record". Google News.
  34. ^ "Watching the World". Awake!. October 8, 1990. p. 28.

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