Cover of Awake! magazine in Japanese, English and German. No. 1 2016
|Publisher||Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania|
|First issue||October 1919|
|Based in||United States|
|Part of a series on|
|Watch Tower presidents|
|Notable former members|
Awake! is an illustrated religious magazine published every second month by Jehovah's Witnesses via the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 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 the second most widely distributed magazine in the world (after the Public Edition of The Watchtower), with a total worldwide printing of over 57 million copies in 103 languages per issue.
The magazine was originally published "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), monthly in many languages, and quarterly in a few languages. As of January 2006, the magazine was published monthly, and as of 2016 it is published every second month.
The stated purpose of the magazine has changed over time. From 1982 to 1995, 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 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's editor under the titles of The Golden Age and Consolation was Clayton J. Woodworth, who later served on the boards of several corporations of Jehovah's Witnesses. When the magazine was renamed Awake!, the journal's editorship became anonymous. (Autobiographical articles credited to individual members about their experiences and circumstances occasionally appear.) Publication is overseen by the Writing Committee of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The magazine is printed in nineteen 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—Public Edition), with a worldwide circulation of 57,761,000 each issue.
The magazine is distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses in the course of their house-to-house ministry. They are also distributed by approaching people in public places, given informally to acquaintances and professionals, or left as reading material in places such as bus terminals and laundromats.
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 against Jimmy Swaggart 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 supported Swaggart in the case, 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. An article in the May 1990 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry—a newsletter provided to members—stated that "there are growing pressures against all religious elements" and went on to say that their main concern was to move ahead in the worldwide 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.
- Jehovah's Witnesses publications
- List of Watch Tower Society publications
- List of magazines by circulation
- Awake! No. 1 2016 issue, page 2
- 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 1995, 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: 128. February 15, 1952.
- ""Do Not Tire Out"". The Watchtower: 30. April 15, 2013.
- The Watchtower, November 1, 2005, page 27
- "Contents page". Awake!: 2. February 2016.
- "Question Box", Our Kingdom Ministry, March 1988, page 4, "Perhaps some back issues of the magazines could be distributed free when visiting nursing homes and hospitals. They could be left at Laundromats or in the lobbies of residential buildings where our work is restricted. However, good judgment should be exercised as to how many and how often magazines are left at one place. ... No literature of any kind should be left in mailboxes"
- Jehovah's Witnesses website — Audio recordings and digital formats of magazines
- "Publication details". The Watchtower: 4. May 15, 1950.
- "Announcements". Our Kingdom Ministry: 2. October 1989.
- Edmond C. Gruss (2003). The Four Presidents of the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). Xulon Press. pp. 72–73.
- "Use Our Literature Wisely". 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.