Nathan Homer Knorr

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Nathan Homer Knorr
Nathan Knorr, Jehovas vitne - (cropped).jpg
Nathan Homer Knorr
Born23 April 1905 (1905-04-23)
Died8 June 1977(1977-06-08) (aged 72)
Signature of Nathan Homer Knorr.png

Nathan Homer Knorr (April 23, 1905 – June 8, 1977) was the third president of the incorporated Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society,[1] becoming so on January 13, 1942, replacing Joseph Franklin Rutherford, who had served in the position since 1917.


Nathan Knorr was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States. He began to show interest in the International Bible Students at age 16. He left the Reformed Church in 1922 and was baptized on July 4, 1923 as a Bible Student following a baptism talk by Frederick W. Franz, with whom Knorr became close friends. Knorr became a volunteer at the Watch Tower headquarters in Brooklyn on September 6, 1923, and became its factory manager in September 1932. On January 11, 1934, at age 28, Knorr was elected director of the Peoples Pulpit Association (now Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.), and was made its vice president the following year. In January 1942, Knorr became president of International Bible Students Association and the corporations now known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York.[2] Knorr was married to Audrey Mock in 1953.

He died from a cerebral tumor June 8, 1977, while receiving hospice care at an extension of world headquarters, quieter Watchtower Farms in Wallkill, New York.[3]

Contribution to Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

Knorr contributed significantly to Jehovah's Witnesses, with an intense educational focus. Within a month of his taking office, arrangements were made for an Advanced Course in Theocratic Ministry, a school that featured Bible research and public speaking. On September 24, 1942, Knorr suggested that the Society establish another school to train missionaries for service in foreign countries. The suggestion was unanimously approved by the board of directors. The first class of the Gilead School - the name given to this missionary school - commenced February 1, 1943.

Knorr arranged for the creation of new branch offices in many countries. In 1942, when he became president, there were 25 branch offices worldwide. By 1946, despite the events of World War II, the number of branch offices increased to 57. Over the next 30 years, the number of branch offices increased to 97.

Knorr began a campaign of real estate acquisition in Brooklyn to expand the organisation's world headquarters, expanded printing production throughout the world, and organized a series of international assemblies that dwarfed those of Rutherford in the 1920s. In 1958, more than 253,000 Witnesses gathered at two New York City venues, Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds, for an eight-day convention where more than 7000 were baptized.[4] Other large conventions were held in the US, Canada and Germany.

The doctrine of not accepting blood transfusions was also introduced during Knorr's leadership.

Organizational adjustments[edit]

From October 1, 1972, adjustments began in the oversight of the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. The writing of Aid to Bible Understanding led to a new understanding of the Bible's mention of elders and "older men" and seems to have been the catalyst for the denomination to adjust its organizational structure.(Franz 21-22) A revision to the Watchtower Society's organizational manual in 1972 explains, "it is noteworthy that the Bible does not say that there was only one 'older man', one overseer, in each congregation. Rather, it indicates that there were a number of such."[5] There would no longer be one congregation servant, or overseer, but a body of elders and ministerial servants. One elder would be designated chairman, but all the elders would have equal authority and share the responsibility for making decisions.

Later, the chairmanship of the Governing Body would also be affected, rotating in alphabetical order. In December 1975, leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses passed from the president of the Watch Tower Society to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Beginning January 1, 1976, the Governing Body formed several committees to oversee publishing, writing, teaching, service and personnel. Knorr worked with the new arrangement until illness shortly before his death forced his move from the world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Following Knorr's death in June 1977, Frederick William Franz succeeded him as corporation president.


Some of the publications used by Jehovah's Witnesses which were released during Knorr's stewardship were:

See also[edit]


  • Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (Watchtower), pages (96, 98, 101, 592)
  • Organization for Kingdom-Preaching and Disciple-Making, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania


  1. ^ William Henry Conley served as president for almost four years before the Society's legal incorporation in 1884. See Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania#Presidents
  2. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. p. 91.
  3. ^ "Watching the World", Awake!, August 22, 1977, page 29, "On June 8, 1977
  4. ^ M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, University of Toronto Press, 1997, page 86.
  5. ^ Organized to do Jehovah's Will, Watchtower Bible and Tracy Society, page 53
Preceded by President of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
January 13, 1942 – June 8, 1977
Succeeded by