[From ws15/12 for Feb. 1-7]
“Please listen, and I will speak.”—Job 42:4
This week’s study discusses the role language and translation have played in bringing the Bible to us. It sets the stage for next week’s study which discusses the many virtues the Organization believes its latest Bible translation has over all others. It would seem to be appropriate to leave a discussion of that topic for next week. However, there is something interesting in this week’s study that shows up the fallacy of David Splane’s discourse on tv.jw.org to the effect that the faithful and discreet slave of Matthew 24:45 only came into existence in 1919. (See video: The “Slave” is not 1900 years old.)
In his discourse, Splane states that there was no one from the time of Christ right down to 1919 who filled the role of the slave that provided food at the proper time to the domestics of Christ. He does not dispute the nature of that food. It is the Word of God, the Bible. The partial parable in Matthew 24:45-47 and the complete one in Luke 12:41-48 depict the slave in the role of waiter, one who distributes the food handed out to him. Splane also accepts this analogy, in fact he came up with it at the 2012 Annual Meeting.
During the Middle Ages, those taking the lead in the Christian congregation, aka the Catholic Church, blocked the distribution of the food by prohibiting its publication in English. Latin, a language dead to the common man, was the only acceptable tongue for communicating God’s Word, both from the pulpit and on the printed page.
Paragraph 12 refers very briefly to events in history wherein that food was once again being distributed to the Lord’s domestics.
As one historian relates:
“Before long England was ablaze for Tyndale’s Bible, this time on fire to read it. Thousands of copies were smuggled in. In Tyndale’s own happy phrase, “the noise of the new Bible echoed throughout the country.” Produced in a small pocket-sized edition that was easily concealed, it passed through cities and universities into the hands of even the humblest men and women. The authorities, especially Sir Thomas More, still railed at him for “putting the fire of scripture into the language of ploughboys” but the damage was done. The English now had their Bible, legal or not. Eighteen thousand were printed: six thousand got through.” (Bragg, Melvyn (2011-04-01). The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language (Kindle Locations 1720-1724). Arcade Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
But even before Tyndale and his supporters were busy feeding the domestics with the pure food of God in their own tongue, a courageous band of young Oxford students were imitating Jesus by despising shame and risking everything to spread the word of God in English. (He 12:2; Mt 10:38)
“Wycliffe and his Oxford scholars challenged that and their English manuscripts were distributed all over the kingdom by the scholars themselves. Oxford bred a revolutionary cell right inside an ostensibly safe breeding ground of the Catholic Church. We are talking about a degree of centralised regulation in medieval Christian Europe which had a great deal in common with Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China and with much of Hitler’s Germany.” (Bragg, Melvyn (2011-09-01). The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 (p. 15). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.)
What was the effect of this food distribution at the proper time?
“So when the translation of Tyndale was printed abroad and smuggled in (often unbound in bales of cloth) there was hunger for it. William Malden recollected reading Tyndale’s New Testament in the late 1520s: ‘Divers poor men in the town of Chelmsford . . . where my father dwelt and I born and with him grew up, the said poor men bought the New Testament of Jesus Christ and on Sundays did sit reading in the lower end of the church and many would flock to hear their reading.’” (Bragg, Melvyn (2011-09-01). The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 (p. 122). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.)
What a difference it made to ‘ordinary’ people, to be able, as they did, to dispute with Oxford-educated priests and, it is reported, often better them! What an illumination it must have given to minds blanketed for centuries, deliberately excluded from the knowledge said to govern their lives and promise their eternal salvation, minds deliberately stunted! There was, we read, ‘a hunger’ for the English Bible, for the words of Christ and Moses, of Paul and David, of the Apostles and the prophets. God had come down to earth in English and they were now earthed in Him. It was the discovery of a new world. (Bragg, Melvyn (2011-09-01). The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 (p. 85). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.)
What incredible cheek David Splane (speaking for the Governing Body) demonstrates in suggesting that these courageous men did not serve as part of that 1900-year-old faithful and discreet slave. They risked their reputation, their livelihood, their very lives, to carry the food of God’s word to the masses. What has the Governing Body done that comes even close? Yet they would presume to exclude such men from Jesus’ consideration when he returns, placing themselves alone on that pedestal.
It is said that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Please read the following quotes, but when reference is made to the Catholic Church or the Vatican, in your mind, substitute “The Organization”; when reference is made to the Pope, priests, or Church authorities, substitute “Governing Body”; and when torture and murder or other punishment are referenced, substitute “disfellowshipping”. See if under those terms, these statements still hold true.
“The Roman Church, rich, its tentacles in every niche of society…. Above all, it had a monopoly on eternal life. Eternal life was the deep and guiding passion of the time. The Vatican said you could only gain everlasting life – the majestic promise of the Christian Church – if you did what the Church told you to do. That obedience included forced attendance at church and the payment of taxes to support battalions of clergy….Daily life was subject to scrutiny in every town and village; your sex life was monitored. All rebellious thoughts were to be confessed and were punished, any opinions not in line with the Church’s teaching were censored. Torture and murder were the enforcers. Those suspected of even doubting the workings of this monumental monotheistic machine were forced into humiliating public trials and told to ‘abjure or burn’ – to offer a grovelling and public apology or be eaten by fire.” (Bragg, Melvyn (2011-09-01). The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 (p. 15). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.)
“More was fighting for the rights of the Roman Catholic position to be infallible and to be whatever it decided it wanted to be. He saw it as sanctified by time and service. Any change, he thought, would inevitably destroy the sacrament of Holy Truth, the papacy and the monarchy. Everything must be accepted as it had been. To dislodge one pebble would be to set off the avalanche. The vitriol against Tyndale’s translation and the burning and murdering of anyone offering the slightest disagreement to the Old Church’s view show what was at stake. Power was to be taken from those who had held it for so long that they believed that it belonged to them by right. Their authority had been exercised for so many centuries that the prospect of its being diminished in any way was felt to be fatal. They wanted the populace to be subservient, silent and grateful. Anything else was unacceptable. Tyndale’s print-popular New Testament had breached the fortifications of a privilege so deeply founded in the past that it seemed God-given and unchallengeable. It was not to be tolerated.” (Bragg, Melvyn (2011-09-01). The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 (pp. 27-28). Counterpoint. Kindle Edition.)
In Wycliffe’s and Tyndale’s day, it was the Bible in modern English that freed people from centuries of servitude to men claiming to speak for God. Today, it is the internet that makes it possible for anyone to check the validity of almost any statement or doctrine in a question of minutes and from the privacy of one’s own home, or even while sitting at the Kingdom hall.
As in their day, so it is today. This freedom is undermining the power of men over other men. Of course, it is up to each one of us to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, for many, they prefer to be enslaved.
“For YOU gladly put up with the unreasonable persons, seeing YOU are reasonable. 20 In fact, YOU put up with whoever enslaves YOU, whoever devours [what YOU have], whoever grabs [what YOU have], whoever exalts himself over [YOU], whoever strikes YOU in the face.” (2Co 11:19, 20)
The “governing body” term was first mentioned among JWs, in 1944. In 1976, they “Governing Body”, termed as a title in 1971, took control of the JW org. The hard work of Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz, and millions of witnesses, was then hi-jacked at the perfect time to assume the controls, reap the benefits, and slip in under the cloak of the former brothers’ hard work, AS IF the “Governign Body” did all these things. The did not. (Rev2:2) They are meddlesome power seekers who usurped the ministry from the capable hands of Knorr and Franz, to produce the… Read more »
Ka the sta me . Strongs g 2525 will appoint . Its the same word used at matthew 24;45 as it is at titus 1;5 where titus is encouraged to appoint overseers in crete . It seems to me that jesus by means of the scriptural qualifications set forth by the holy spirit in the bible appoints overseers to do his bidding So in a sense jesus could appoint a slave at anytime during history from the first century onward for is he not with us until the conclusion of the system of things . Im pretty sure the appointing… Read more »
Again thanks Meleti, for the article, I like Tyndall, today we would say, he had a love of God and people to do what he did, he had guts, we would say, and it cost him his life, these ones and there were others, they played a role there’s no denying it. So, If we take this new light The GB =F&D slave since 1919, and no one qualified to this role to provide food at the proper time to Christians from 33CE to 1919CE. This would mean that the entire New Testament was not officially food at the proper… Read more »
Why is it that every time the parable of the faithful slave is discussed by the organisation that the food given at the right time is always thought to be some spiritual instruction . ? Why cant they just take it on face value . FOOD given when people need it .the context in the preceding verses to the parable at luke 12 jesus says to sell all your things and give to the poor and have treasure in heaven . Even in the parallel parables at matthew 25 about jesus return . Jesus says to the sheep i was… Read more »
Father Jack you make a valid point. After all, I don’t think the word ” spiritual food” is found anywhere in the scriptures. The faithfull slave is found feeding, while the evil slave is found beating them. This may simply mean doing acts of kindness as opposed acts of oppression. Hence, the contrasting traits between the weed like Christians and the wheatlike ones.
The term spiritual food does occur at 1 corinthians 10 v 3 yobec . But i dont believe its speaking of spiritual instruction but of the manna . Which in turn seems to be a symbol of exercising faith in christs flesh . Possibly connected to the partaking of the bread of the communion meal . John 6 1 corinthians 10 . Ironic that isnt it . FJ
Meleti, You cite several quotes to support your claim that “During the Middle Ages, those taking the lead in the Christian congregation, aka the Catholic Church, blocked the distribution of the food by prohibiting its publication in English. Latin, a language dead to the common man, was the only acceptable tongue for communicating God’s Word, both from the pulpit and on the printed page”. I encourage you to read the Book Where We got the Bible by Henry Graham I think you can find an online PDF copy for free that will help you understand better the real situation of… Read more »
Those are strong assertions, Anonymous. You may be right, but telling us to read a book isn’t the way we do things here. You should get out the book you reference and give us relevant quotations from it.
That being said, it doesn’t alter the point I was making that the belief that there was no one feeding the flock with God’s word during those years, ergo, no faithful slave, is preposterous.
Meleti, I understand the point you were trying to make. I was just concerned about YOUR blog’s (article) historical accuracy. I have cited the quotes below so you can read and decide for yourself if you want to update or rewrite it. Here is an excerpt from Where we got the Bible by Henry Graham. In Chapter 11 titled Vernacular Scriptures before Wycliffe page 70-73: …. “To begin far back, we have a copy of the work of Caedmon, a monk of Whitby, in the end of the seventh century, consisting of great portions of the Bible in the common… Read more »
Thank you, Anolnymous. I really do appreciate your effort to ensure historical accuracy. I would very much like to learn more of this. I’ll see if I can get a copy of that book. Questions remain, but not in the way of a contrary challenge, but merely to make sure of all things. Therefore, I would like to discuss this further, but not in the comment section, which is not well suited for weighty discussion. Could you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can discuss further?
Thanks for that anonymous i didnt know that .the only history ive read on this was that which was presented by the watchtower .. cheers
Here’s another excerpt from Chapter 13 titled “Tyndale’s condemnation Vindicated” pages 89-90 from the book Where we got the Bible: In the third place, there was no demand for a printed English Bible to any great extent—certainly not to the extent of making it at all an urgent or pressing duty on the part of the authorities to issue one. Dore, (so often quoted already) ridicules the idea that at that time England was a ‘Bible-thirsty land’. He declares that ‘there was no anxiety whatever for an English version excepting among a small minority of the people’, and ‘the universal… Read more »
Meleti, Maybe your preaching to the choir, but Brother Splane, didn’t just say there was no one that served as the faithful slave for 1900 years because of the “source” the bible (he didn’t say nature of the food) was not readily available before the 15th century. But in fact made an argument composed of 4 reasons as to why there was no 1900 year old slave. Maybe you can address why the his argument in toto is fallacious, or perhaps you believe the role the F & DS serving food at the proper time just involves translating the bible… Read more »
I did a detailed review when the video first came out. You can see it here.here. However, to dissect Splane’s four main points: “The point of this discussion is not to malign these men. We don’t know how Jehovah felt about them. We don’t know whether any of them where of the anointed. Or just had a few problems in understanding.” He disqualifies them because they had problems in understanding. If that is a valid criteria for disqualifying someone from being a faithful and discreet slave, then the Governing Body are disqualified because they continue to teach false doctrine. The… Read more »
Meleti, You said: ‘First of all, in the beginning the source was not available.’ “Based on the Organization’s definition of the word, I find it hard not to call his an outright lie. The first century Christians had the original word, not translation like we have now. They had the actual letters. We also know that they pioneered the use of the codex over scrolls as a better way to research the scriptures. The Bible was their bread and butter. Copies would be made and distributed. Additionally, they had prophets uttering inspired expressions in the congregations.” I don’t want to… Read more »
In general, to state “the source was not available” is leading the witness to a conclusion which is not based on facts but on one’s definition of SOURCE. Is the bible the source of faitht? Or is Jesus the source? Jesus did not walk with a written bible (containing all prophets and law etc). Still, many believed. Most peculiar, many of the ones that actively used the scriptures that were available (pharisees) were actually against Jesus. The so-called SPIRITUAL FOOD (a term that does not exist in the scriptures) cannot depend on the written word. It would mean that God… Read more »
Menrov, I thought it was a giving that the source is divine revelation. Sacred Scriptures are divinely inspired. God is their author.They contain (in written form) the words of God, including the final word given to us in His Son. Witnesses will agree that In giving us His Son, God has said everything He has to say, because to see Jesus is to see His Father. There will be no other word than this one. Hebrews 1:1,2. Any witness can tell you that salvation doesnt not depend in having a bible especially many millions who lived in centuries past and… Read more »
What do you mean that you don’t need the Bible to be “saved”. Do you mean they will be resurrected in the resurrected in the resurrection of the unrighteous and be given a chance to know Christ then, or do you believe that good people will just get everlasting life without having to do anything else?
The sheep and the goats illustration says: Yes, people who do good will have life in God’s Kingdom regardless if they followed Christ in this life. They are granted entrance into the Kingdom because they love their fellow man.
Just one comment. You state: Again, David Splane is just describing the actual situation of the middle ages. Together with the understanding that Christianity was rotten to the core affecting the fundamental teachings (Hebrews 6:1,2) On what basis can anyone say that Christianity was rotten to the core during the middle ages? Who killed Jesus? What was the situation in certain congregations during time of Paul and Revelations? I agree that so-called Christian denomination acted during the middle ages in various cases badly and oppressed the people instead of helping them. But that is what so-called ecclesiastical authority bring: abuse… Read more »
Menrov, You said: “Please provide some scriptural support as I cannot find it. The fact that within a congregation you have roles that are there to oversee but nowhere can we find a central authority, overseeing all congregation and defining all doctrines. If that were the case or if that model was to be followed, then Jesus would have addressed His 7 letters to that central body for distribution and teaching and not to John (Revelations).” When I said “The understanding of an ecclesiastical authority has always been there” I was strictly speaking about Jehovah’s Witnesses history. Their understanding since… Read more »
Correction to one sentence in my previous response to your comment above.
“For Witnesses, Jesus can speak anywhere and any way He wants. Because he’s God’s son; He can do what He wants, how He wants.”
For Witnesses, Jehovah can speak anywhere and any way He wants. Because he’s God; He can do what He wants, how He wants.”
I just noticed the mistake, since it’s “A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him”. Although they can argue that Jesus is the head of the christian congregation and has been giving authority over it.
If something is a parable, it is not a prophecy. Using the parable as a prophecy (or as the WBTS calls it a prophetic parable) and as a result claim superiority and power is proof of ones own interpretation. While I agree with you that the GB interpretation of Mt 24:45-47 is invalid, I would like to clarify that I believe that many of the parables are prophetic in nature. A parable is an illustration, nothing more. But if the thing being illustrated is future, then the parable has a prophetic aspect to it, such as the parable of the… Read more »
Meleti you said: However, to dissect Splane’s four main points: “The point of this discussion is not to malign these men. We don’t know how Jehovah felt about them. We don’t know whether any of them where of the anointed. Or just had a few problems in understanding.” He disqualifies them because they had problems in understanding. If that is a valid criteria for disqualifying someone from being a faithful and discreet slave, then the Governing Body are disqualified because they continue to teach false doctrine. The most egregious example is the JW doctrine of the other Sheep. At last… Read more »
It is very common for WBTS to claim that only they understand the bible and have the right interpretation. Hence the over 100 changes is doctrines, I guess. I do not think it is up to us humans to say that the teaching of a trinity (which for many have a very different meaning) or hell fire or immortal soul is worse that the teaching of blood transfusion, only JW’s will be saved, shunning etc. Every teaching that does not honor the Father nor honors the Son is evil. However, only Jesus can judge as He is the appointed Judge.… Read more »
When it comes to those foundation doctrines, from the very start, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have understood and taught those things correctly. And they came to those understandings under the constant pressure of resistance by the churches. Yes, but let’s give credit were credit is due. The Adventist movement from which we sprang and which gave birth to most of the Adventist religions today is the source of all these fundamental truths. This video gives an easy to follow historical path for both our religion and that of the rest of those whose main thrust is the Advent or Presence… Read more »
Meleti, Witnesses will tell you that no one can judge who truly has the heavenly hope. That who are they to question that? If that is your hope then who can tell you otherwise? Why would think that? They are not denying you the heavenly hope and the adoption as a son of God, or that you must disobey the express command of our Lord to partake of the emblems that represent his blood and flesh sacrificed for your eternal salvation, and that your hope is to live for a 1,000 years as an imperfect, sinful human. You said: “I… Read more »
Is this your belief as well, Anonymous, or are you playing Devil’s advocate? They are not denying you the heavenly hope and the adoption as a son of God, or that you must disobey the express command of our Lord to partake of the emblems that represent his blood and flesh sacrificed for your eternal salvation, and that your hope is to live for a 1,000 years as an imperfect, sinful human. I am sure they would argue this, but they would be exceedingly disingenuous in making such an allegation. The message they–I–preached was for an earthly hope. That is… Read more »
I get the distinct impression that Russell, sincere as he might have been, was tricked by ex-Millerites and Adventists into believing a whole heap of rubbish, and he got too caught up in his personal opinions and private ruminations. Try reading the Millenial Dawn series now. Oh dear. Pyramids? Really? Denouncing Christendom because they wouldn’t believe this rubbish? Pictures of shooting arrows in the priests bottom in Rutherfords day? So embarrassing. Discreet. Might want to look up the word.
In the past when the Watchtower wanted to show that the faithful slave had always been with us unbrokenly throughout the centuries, they used Jesus’ departing words ” look !
I am with you ALL THE DAYS until the conclusion of the system of things “.
How would they now explain this scripture ?
Thank you once again for a well written and thought out Article. It makes me wonder what the GB think they have gained by dropping the idea of a more or less unbroken line going back to the Apostles, surely claiming that provenance would give them more credibility. I have prayerfully considered our Lord’s words, and cannot accept that the parable of the discreet and evil slaves is anything more than that, a parable. It is though one that touches my heart, as it speaks to me , asking me what kind of servant to the Lord am I right… Read more »
I agree Harrison. I see no basis in the parable for the idea Jesus was setting up a ruling clergy class. The fact that the faithful slave is appointed over all his belongings should tip us off. His faithful servants who endure to the end get the reward, be they male or female. All partake in the work of feeding by sharing the word of God with those in need, knowing which words are needed in any particular instance to encourage, alleviate suffering, and to motivate to love and fine works (ergo, food at the proper time).
The reason why they chose 1919 and previously 1918 is because Rutherford wanted to discredit Russell and this paved the way I e setting up “Jehovah’s Organistion”. Rutherford wrote in his book enemies that if we didn’t accept the 1918 date we were enemies of God.
Meleti, Thanks for another incisive article. Your comments about identifying the Faithful and Discreet Slave through the intervening nineteen centuries brings to mind my experiences at Bethel in the mid- to late sixties. It was a fascinating, when researchers were energized by the prospect of producing the Aid book by starting with a “tabula rasa,” or clean slate, wiped clear of preconceptions. Among the priorities: confirming the validity of the 607 BCE date for the fall of Jerusalem, a job to which Ray Franz and a good friend, Charlie Ploeger, were assigned. Crisis of Conscience, of course recounts their experiences.… Read more »
Thank you Meletti once again for such a well written and thoroughly researched article… Your dedication and stamina is appreciated…… My journey of walking away from what I knew as ‘truth’ has only just begun. Therefore the information I am discovering through my own research is somewhat overwhelming at times… I first had doubts after watching the Australian Royal Commission into sexual abuse…. This was the only subject, the only one major issue I could not accept nor be apart of. I continued to believe in everything else I was ever taught from the platform……. As you have said though… Read more »
I’m working every day to get the new sites ready. But once that is behind me, I should be able to put something together.
Join the discussion …. Again …. Many thanks …..
Did not the apostles and disciples give food at the proper time their message of salvation through Christ alone. All that was written in the NT by these faithful brothers inspired by God was given to give food at the proper time, and the bible is not out dated and has always been food at the proper time. John 21:16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17He said to him the third… Read more »