Looking Back — 35 Years Ago in Free Inquiry

“The [Jehovah’s] Witnesses compute the time of the end [of the world] with their own variant of [the Book of] Daniel’s periodization of history by divine arithmetic, using an amazing conflation of unrelated biblical texts. William Miller predicted that Christ’s Second Coming would occur in 1844. After that hope failed, Charles Taze Russell, using different figures, named 1874. That year passed uneventfully, so Russell recomputed and came up with 1914. To this day, Jehovah’s Witnesses insist that the Second Coming really did happen in 1914—the world just hasn’t realized it yet!”

— Lois Randle, “The Apocalypticism of Jehovah’s Witnesses,”
Free Inquiry, Volume 5, No. 1 (Winter 1984/85)

Editor’s Note: Lois Randle (a pseudonym) was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, left the religion, and at the time of writing this article was a freelance writer living in the American Southwest.


“The [Jehovah’s] Witnesses compute the time of the end [of the world] with their own variant of [the Book of] Daniel’s periodization of history by divine arithmetic, using an amazing conflation of unrelated biblical texts. William Miller predicted that Christ’s Second Coming would occur in 1844. After that hope failed, Charles Taze Russell, using different …

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