The Problem of Watchtower Honesty:
My Second Response to Jehovah’s Witnesses United.
By Jerry Bergman Ph.D.
In response to my first critique of Jehovah’s Witness United the owner, who I am told is a Mr. James Long (webmaster Erik Galloway), and claims not to be an attorney, has revised his article about me, which is reprinted below in its entirety2:
Any Jehovah’s Witness that has extensively explored the web has no doubt stumbled upon Dr. Gerald Bergman’s writings. Dr. Bergman may also be referred to as “Dr. Jerry Bergman” or “Jerry Bergman, Ph.D.” Dr. Bergman was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness but seemingly could not abide by its standards. He has now made it his life’s work to write rather long and shallow “scholarly” treatises concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses and various topics. While Mr. Bergman’s curriculum vitae is certainly extensive, he has had quite a few problems in his academic life. These problems most likely contributed to his employment at a small school named “Northwest State Community College.” One fact that he never seems to mention in his writings concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses is the criticism of his methods and conclusions in such research from the academic world and his peers. In fact, he previously was denied tenure from Bowling Green State University for reasons that included his ethics, teaching, quality of publications and relevance of publications to his teaching. Interestingly enough, he sued the University claiming that he was discriminated against due to his failure to obtain tenure. He has stated that the reason for his failure was attributable to academic discrimination concerning his ardent creationist teachings. The court did not agree with him.
They did correct some of the misinformation, but retained much other misinformation. I can no longer conclude this was due to ignorance, but due to willful distortion. I will now respond to each claim.
Any Jehovah’s Witness that has extensively explored the web has no doubt stumbled upon Dr. Gerald Bergman’s writings. Dr. Bergman may also be referred to as “Dr. Jerry Bergman” or “Jerry Bergman, Ph.D.”
My first question is, “How many Jehovah’s Witnesses would be extensively exploring the web and reading critical material about Witnesses?” Certainly not many in good standing.
Dr. Bergman was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness but seemingly could not abide by its standards.
Again, as I asked before, what evidence do they have that I “seemingly could not abide by its standards?” This is a charge like the tabloids commonly make, which is vacuous. Again no hint of my sin was mentioned.
He has now made it his life’s work to write rather long and shallow “scholarly” treatises concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses and various topics.
This put down is, again, repeated without substantiation. Of my over 600 articles relatively few of them are about the Witnesses. Many of my articles are an attempt to defend theism and thus have been aggressively attacked by atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists. Does Mr. Long agree with the world views of my critics? Then why does he publish material that is exploited by atheists, agnostics and other critics of theism who attack those that attempt to hold a theistic world view?
While Mr. Bergman’s curriculum vitae is certainly extensive, he has had quite a few problems in his academic life. These problems most likely contributed to his employment at a small school named “Northwest State Community College.”
This is a good example of both uninformed and unfounded criticism. Why does the author conclude that less qualified persons teach at what he calls a “small school?” People teach at “small schools” for many reasons having nothing to do with lack of qualifications (and to assume such is an insult). Some professors like a smaller school because of the intimacy it affords with students and the opportunity to teach a wide variety of courses (major attractions for me). I started teaching at Northwest State in March of 1986, soon after I married my present wife. She is part-owner of a family business here in Montpelier and, also, her parents, whom she is close to, are now in their mid 80’s, have health problems, and live only one street away from us. An obligation exists here. Also, several of our kids and grandchildren live close by. For all these reasons, we are not able to move at this time. I have been offered positions at larger schools for more pay, but was unable to accept them at this time due to my ties to this area.
One fact that he never seems to mention in his writings concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses is the criticism of his methods and conclusions in such research from the academic world and his peers.
This is totally untrue. Most of my peers have been very laudatory of my work but, as is true of any widely published academic researcher, I have received some criticism, most of which is totally unfounded. As a result I have spent much time responding to the “criticism” of my work, most of it by atheists and/or functional atheists of various sorts. If the author did his homework, he would be very aware of my detailed responses to the “criticism of my work.” For example, see my response to Richard Singelenberg below
In fact, he previously was denied tenure from Bowling Green State University for reasons that included his ethics, teaching, quality of publications and relevance of publications to his teaching. Interestingly enough, he sued the University claiming that he was discriminated against due to his failure to obtain tenure. He has stated that the reason for his failure was attributable to academic discrimination concerning his ardent creationist teachings. The court did not agree with him.
That this is still claimed is evidence that the author is aware of the fact that this statement is wrong (or refuses to investigate the evidence that I presented) but persists in continuing to spread this misinformation. This statement proves a wonton disregard for the facts.
The court’s holding concerning his lawsuit and the reasons he was denied tenure.
This will be responded to at length elsewhere.
The text of a case where Mr. Bergman fails as an expert witness in attacking the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I did not in this case “fail” as an expert, but was in fact accepted by the court as an expert Witness in this case. Nor was my testimony attacking the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but simply relating the scientific research about their teachings and the research on their mental health problems.
The text of a case where Mr. Bergman testifies concerning a child custody case and psychology. The court’s opinion concerning Mr. Bergman’s methodology and conclusions.
This has been responded to on many places elsewhere.
Recently, Richard Singelenberg of the University of Utrecht reviewed Mr. Bergman’s “Jehovah’s Witnesses. A Comprehensive and Selectively Annotated” (sic) in the Spring issue of Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review. His review of Mr. Bergman’s work seems to confirm the opinions of the University faculty that denied Bergman’s tenure above.
This review is grossly irresponsible. It is printed in its entirety below (copied from Amazon.com)
(Note that only 5 of 9 people found the review “helpful,” the lowest percent of any review of my book. In all of the other reviews, 100 percent of readers judged the review helpful):
Comprehensive although subjective, May 20, 2000
Reviewer: Richard Singelenberg from Utrecht, The Netherlands
Recently, Rodney Stark and Lawrence Iannaccone advised social scientists of religion to spend more time studying the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs). They accused their colleagues of systematically neglecting the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) and its adherents. The membership of this more than 100-year-old religious movement may be highly visible in daily life, but it is practically ignored in journals and textbooks.
Whatever the reason may be, a lack of written sources can hardly be a valid explanation for this alleged indifference by the scientific community. In his second bibliography about the JWs, American psychologist Bergman compiles approximately 5000 titles of printed material by and about the WBTS and its membership. The author divides this work into five categories: official literature by the WBTS (chapter 1); material associated with the movement's genesis and early development (chapter 2); sources from outside observers such as books and newsletters (chapter 3) and magazine and journal articles (chapter 4). and, finally, material from the organization's offshoots (chapters 5 and 6). Only chapter 4 is arranged by separate subjects like court cases involving the JWs, the blood transfusion doctrine, the flag salute issue, and sociological and psychological studies. A name index concludes the book.
Though the bulk of the publications are in English, Bergman also presents many sources from Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia. Italian, Spanish, French, and Russian references are sparse while material in other languages is minimal. The time span covers more than a century and a half: from the 1840s - sources that, according to Bergman, were highly influential in the development of the views of founder Russell - until 1997. With regard to the amount of sociological research, a quick count yields approximately 20 Ph.D. dissertations and 50 articles in professional journals. If these numbers indicate “systematic neglect” as asserted by Stark and Iannaccone, one wonders what amount is required for "systematic attention."
This bibliography is a reasonably easy reference book for specialists. One may conclude that, with one exception, most of what any researcher on this religious movement will require is here. Particularly the final chapters that deal with the organization's many schisms offer interesting details. Social scientists may pay too little attention to the JWs; the offshoots of the WBTS are a virtual terra incognita.
Unfortunately, the bibliography's comprehensiveness is the only positive characteristic of this work. The annotations suffer from subjective usage, unfounded or incomplete evaluations, and tabloid irrelevance. Partially, these problems can be explained by the compiler's former religious allegiance; Bergman is an ex-JW and notorious adversary of the WBTS. The uninformed reader, however, is left in the dark about these facts. “He has been researching and writing about the Jehovah’s Witness movement for nearly four decades,” is the only biographical information provided. From the annotations, however, his present position and sentiments become clear.
He describes the organization as “corrupted,” “inhuman,” and “dishonest” while its various teachings, such as the blood transfusion doctrine and the prophetic year 1914, are evaluated as “tragic,” “erroneous,” and “wrong” (pp. 95, 98, 100, 111 ). Next, Bergman qualifies hundreds of sources including some of his own (p. 119) - as “excellent” without providing any argument for this appraisal. This applies to a Swedish treatise ("excellent review") that makes a stand against the movement’s transfusion prohibition (p. 100) and a Dutch book that contains “much excellent information found nowhere else” (p. 109). How does he know? Has he mastered these languages? From the writer’s acknowledgments, it seems that many opinions probably originate from foreign associates who contributed much of the non-English material (p. ix).
Some annotations are painfully incomplete or embarrassingly void. A plain blunder is the comment on a publication commissioned by the former East German Secret Service with the specific intention to discredit the WBTS. Surely, Bergman labels the book “an Anti-Witness work,” but he leaves out the vital (and well-known) information that the Stasi was behind its production (p. 97). Also, the pioneering studies of Bryan Wilson on the JWs are devoid of any comment (p. 256); and when the reader's interest may have been aroused by an obscure but unique experimental study on personality traits among German JWs, no details but the minimally required bibliographical data are provided (p. 101 ). In contrast, the author’s comments on the seminal study of the JWs persecution in Nazi-Germany by historian Garbe are limited to the gratuitous remark that the movement's own historiography is “not always very accurate,” rather than showing the theoretical merits of this work (p. 97). Further, Bergman overlooks numerous German (case) studies published since the early 90s about the fate of the JWs during the Hitter-regime. A separate section on this specific issue would have been appropriate.
An inclination to outright sensationalism can be detected in annotations about the alleged relationship between WBTS membership and adverse behavior. What does the author suggest with the comment “About the skinhead murder by three boys all of which were raised Witnesses” (p. 107)? So far, any significant association between upbringing in this religious milieu and criminal activities has not been demonstrated. The same goes for a JW lawyer who swindled his fellow believers (p. 241). These are unfortunate events, but by emphasizing these and similar isolated incidents it is unclear what information the writer wants to convey to the reader other than the negative stigmatization of a religious minority.
Concerning Bergman’s classification criteria, one may wonder if grouping the so-called “human interest” category under the heading of “sociological and psychological studies” is advisable. Thus, articles in Sociological Analysis and Acta Psychiatrica Belgica alternate with a Penthouse interview with singer and JW-raised Patti Smith and an expose about a converted television star in Woman’s Day (pp. 249-256). Finally, the observation that the non-English entries are saturated with language errors points to sloppy - if at all - final editing, the sophisticated external care of the book aside. The best advice to the reader would be to concentrate on the titles and ignore the annotations.
My response to the Singelenberg Book Review follows:
First of all much of the criticism is appropriate and helpful. Singelenberg’s major complaint is that my book Jehovah’s Witnesses A Comprehensive and Selectively Annotated Bibliography. (New York: Greenwood Press 1999 352 pp. Volume 48 in the Greenwood Press Series of Bibliographies and Indexes) is not objective and biased against the Watchtower. This is partly true, except the bias is often in favor of the Watchtower: I wrote most of the book while I was still an active Witness in an effort to serve as a Watchtower apologist. Before the book was published, the entire manuscript was reviewed by several active and informed Witnesses, and most all of changes they suggested were made. These Witnesses actually put considerable work in the book, although, for obvious reasons, I could not give them credit.
A major mistake Singelenberg makes is to attribute the negative comments he quotes to me when actually they are part of the annotations and relate to the contents of the books and articles reviewed. An annotation of a book that is about the positive aspects of Nazi Germany such as follows: “covers the beneficial aspect of the Nazi government including their highly successful health policies such as their anti-smoking program” does not mean that the reviewer agrees with Nazism, but only stating what the book is about. This is what I did.
As to the individual concerns listed, Singelenberg implies that the 1914 and other date predictions were not erroneous or wrong, and that Russell's predictions about Armageddon occurring in 1914 came true. Or was it Rutherford’s predictions about 1914 that came true? Which one? These predictions cannot be construed as anything but a failure that had tragic consequences for the Watchtower (an estimated up to 75% of the persons who were then involved with the Watchtower left sometime thereafter). This is hardly a positive outcome, and to conclude otherwise indicates little knowledge about the society.
Furthermore, how can one conclude the results of the blood transfusion doctrine, the vaccine prohibition, the organ transplant prohibition and similar doctrines, have as a whole been anything but tragic? Numerous empirical studies have clearly shown that blood loss below a certain level increases the likelihood of death enormously. Furthermore, although some debate exists as to the exact number of people that have died due to refusing blood transfusions, there is no doubt as to the importance of the many therapies that rely on, or come from, blood (many of which were once condemned, but are now approved, by the Society). Blood work in general–including glucose tolerance tests, cholesterol tests, prostate specific antigen (PSI) tests, and lead poison tests–are all critically important in modern medical practice. No one except a sadist or an uninformed person would rate the results of Watchtower medical prohibitions as positive. Ask anyone who lost a son daughter or another loved one due to this doctrine.
As to my abstract about Farr’s book that discusses the tragedy of the Watchtower’s teaching on blood, I simply summarized what the book was about. I doubt very much that Singelenberg has read this book, and so how can he imply my summary of it was inaccurate? Likewise, if Singelenberg had read Gruss’ book, he would understand the events that I refer to as tragic, such as the suicides of Bethelites. Several events recounted in this book I am aware of from other sources, and so I am confident that they are true. One (at least one with a moral conscience) can describe these events covered in Gruss' book only as inhumane.
As to the Spier reference, does Singelenberg have any evidence that my statement “much excellent information is found here is covered nowhere else” is incorrect? Likewise, does he have evidence that dishonesty allegations in the Johnsson reference (p. 100) are wrong? The “dishonesty” Johnsson discussed has been well documented, and to claim otherwise one should have evidence.
I am also quite certain that Singelenberg has not read the report completed by active Witnesses mentioned on page 111 in my book. If he had, he would agree that it presents damaging evidence of Watchtower corruption (I am also aware of the information found in this report from other sources). If Singelenberg has evidence that their claims are incorrect, he should document and publish the evidence. Until he does, I have no choice but to hold to my conclusions.
Relative to mastering foreign languages, I realize that many Europeans are multilingual, but this is not the case in America. At the college where I teach, only two faculty that I am aware of have a good knowledge of a foreign language (one reads German, and the other French). Thus, we in America have no choice but to rely upon others, especially since, in the case of my book, over two dozen languages were involved. To mock one who is not multilingual hits most Americans.
As to qualifying “hundreds of sources” as excellent, it would have been ideal if I had the space to provide more adequate information for my appraisal. The fact is, the publisher would not publish two volumes, and so the book had to be shortened (I had to cut the original manuscript length several times, including shrinking the type so the manuscript would fit into the space requirements). Noting that the East German Secret Service Stasi was behind the production of the book would have been useful, but the same criticism could be leveled at virtually all of the annotations: much important information had to be left out simply because of space limitations, and I included only the information that I concluded was most relevant to the work such as the fact that the book contains much documentation and photocopies of Watchtower files that are very useful to researchers.
As to the Koppl reference (page 101), I corresponded with the author, and he came to the same conclusions that all of the other psychological studies that I am aware of reached, i.e. a disproportionate number of Witnesses have mental health problems, and, again, space limitations prevented me from relating his findings in more detail.
Obviously, Singelenberg also did not read the book about the skinhead murders (p. 107), otherwise he would have not made the comments he did about this work. It is an excellent study completed by a college professor who extensively documented the relationship between being raised in the Watchtower religious milieu and criminal activities. Obviously, he made judgments in drawing his conclusions but, none-the-less, I thought that the author did an excellent job (considering he was not raised a Witness) and supported his conclusions with facts and logic. He consulted with a number of researchers when completing his work, and I did not become aware of his book until after it was completed. Furthermore, I also have first hand knowledge of this case because I consulted with the attorneys involved in the trial, and spent much time going over the records, including the psychological reports.
Also, I am hardly emphasizing events such as the J.W. Lawyer who swindled fellow believers, but simply referenced the article, and noted what the article was about (one could not accurately judge this from the title). The articles that discussed negative aspects of the Watchtower were not being emphasized, but only included. A computer search indicates that Singelenberg located most every negative comment made in a book of 351 pages, yet, omitted the many references made to articles that noted the many positive aspects of the Witness movement.
For example, I mentioned that the Norman Long book discusses “the major positive role the Watchtower beliefs have played in the development of a rural Zambia community” (page 101). Actually, as noted, because I was an active Witness when most of this work was completed, much of the book was deliberately slanted in the Watchtower’s favor. As to the Kaplan reference (page 100), I noted that it focused on Watchtower's “civil liberties struggles” and several have accused my work in this area as being apologetic for the Watchtower. I also defended the Witnesses in scores of quotes, such as on p. 240. Also, does Singelenberg have any evidence that the sources I claim were highly influential in the development of Russell’s views were, in fact, not influential? A study of Watchtower history shows that these sources were clearly important.
Some time ago Singelenberg kindly sent me a dozen or so references on the Jehovah Witnesses and mental health issue. I carefully checked all of them (most of which I was familiar with) and found most did not even refer to the Watchtower, and those that did supported my conclusions that the Witness mental health problems are above average. I am now aware of a dozen studies, including a PhD thesis and another study by a sociologist which is in progress that supports my conclusion that the Witness mental health problems are above average. I find it ironic that those Witnesses (and Singelenberg) who deny this conclusion are unable to find any empirical support for their position, and therefore must resort to name calling.
I am further baffled as to why Singelenberg would want to serve as a non-objective apologist for the Watchtower. Does he have any idea what it is like to decide to attend college and, as a result, have your relatives and most of your friends no longer speak to you, or, worse, conclude that you are of Satan? (This prohibition has also now changed.) Can he relate to a person who looses a child because the Watchtower says treatment with factor VIII will result in the loss of one’s everlasting life (then, a few years later, their position was changed: taking factor VIII is now OK)?
On one hand, he approves serving as a Watchtower apologist, yet on the other he seems to condone those who condemn persons who critique, often unethically so, people who defend certain Watchtower doctrines such as creationism. Singelenberg defends the Watchtower, yet does not defend certain specific beliefs, such as their creation worldview. A Witness who rejected creationism would usually be disfellowshipped although, in my experience, disfellowship for this reason is rare–even most ex-Witnesses remain creationists–yet the scientific literature condemning the creation doctrine belief is unmerciful. I have a number of articles and reports (some several hundred pages long) that claim the Watchtower routinely and unscrupulously quotes out of context, and distorts the evolutionist literature in this area. Of course, these are common charges made against all creationists. How would he respond to this?
Singelenberg’s noting that I am an ex-Witness will put the rare Witness who bought the book (or any non-Watchtower approved book about Witnesses) at risk of being disfellowshipped. Does he have any idea what it is like trying to deal with a Witness past? Imagine not being able to talk to your cousins, nor even your own mother, because of disagreeing with the teaching that having an organ transplant will result in losing out on everlasting life (a belief the Watchtower has also now dropped).
It is amazing that, after struggling to overcome the stigma of being a Witness for so long, I am now struggling to overcome the stigma of being an ex-Witness. How can one be just a non- Witness? When I was teaching at Bowling Green State University, I was still an active Witness. Is Singelenberg interested in the difficulties that I encountered when teaching at a state university as a result of professing Witness beliefs? I will be glad to send him the court testimony that makes it unequivocally clear the difficulties a Witness can have, difficulties that I had hoped to avoid after I left the Watchtower. As an ex-Witness, though, it seems that this will never happen.
The other reviews of my book, none of which were referenced by Jehovah’s Witness United, are as follows:
Dr. D.S. Azzolina, of the University of Pennsylvania published the following review in Choice (issue 37(2):302; October, 1999):
The history of religion in the US cannot ignore the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although rightly celebrated for their role in expanding religious freedoms in precedent-setting court cases, they are often neglected by scholars, in part because their own literature falls largely (and deliberately) outside the book trade and therefore is rarely collected by libraries. The primary value of Bergman’s bibliography is its solid description of this material. Long established as one of the major scholars in this field for his histories of the movement and for editing reprints of important early Witness publications, Bergman describes every known item associated with the Witnesses, both source and secondary material. The first part comprises official material and documents. The sections about the Witnesses (chapters 3 and 4) make up more than a third of the book, but these chapters are simple alphabetical lists by form of publication (journal articles, dissertations, etc.). Since there is no subject index, users must read all the entries. The sections covering the various offshoots in the movement are a major bibliographic contribution. No one knows this literature so well as Bergman. Recommended for all collections supporting US religious history.
The following was published in Booknews
Contains a listing of official and nonofficial material written or compiled by Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as books and articles about them and their offshoots. Court cases, hymn books, convention reports, yearbooks, and magazines are among the entries collected. Books, pamphlet, and tracts listed are in many languages and brief explanations are sometimes provided. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
The following reviews were published on Barnes and Noble.com:
Ken Raines, A reviewer, May 14, 2001,
A must have research tool on JWs
Jehovah’s Witnesses A Comprehensive and Selectively Annotated Bibliography by Jerry Bergman, Ph.D., is just that it is a massive bibliography listing written material by and about Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) and the Watchtower Society from the 1800s through 1999. In addition to listing all known Watchtower Society literature ever produced, it lists everything dealing with JWs from a tabloid article in the National Enquirer to scholarly books and Ph.D theses. It is ‘comprehensive’ in that it contains, according to the publisher, ‘nearly 10,000 references on the Watchtower movement and the dozen or so major schisms’ of the Society. The book is ‘selectively annotated,’ which means many, but not all of the 10,000 references contain a brief explanatory note by the author on the content or focus of the reference (article, book or manuscript). As is typical of bibliographic listings of material, the books references list the author, title, publisher, publication date and number of pages where known. The chapters are subdivided into topics such as reviews of the New World Translation, articles in medical journals, etc. on their blood transfusion doctrine, and so forth. Each chapter and many of the subheadings also has an introductory explanatory text by the author on the chapters subject. These often give advice on what material that is listed would be the best or most helpful to the researcher such as noting what references contain ‘material found nowhere else’ on an issue. Being a bibliography, this book is not meant to be read from cover to cover like a novel (though I did just that for this review). It is a reference source for further reading and research, a means of finding material on JWs, both pro and con, without spending several decades tracking them down in libraries across several continents as Bergman has done. (In addition to English references, the author also includes references on JWs in other languages such as German.) Jehovah’s Witnesses A Comprehensive and Selectively Annotated Bibliography is an indispensable reference for the researcher and writer on Jehovah’s Witnesses and their history. If you need a book on Jehovah’s Witnesses as a reference source for research and writing, this is the one to have. With nearly 10,000 references on the Watchtower and its history from the 1800s to 1999, you're bound to find much material that will assist your research.
Carl Olof Jonsson, A reviewer, February 28, 2001,
INDISPENSABLE REFERENCE SOURCE ON JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
With his work, Jehovah’s Witnesses. A Comprehensive and Selectively Annotated Bibliography (Westport, Connecticut, and London: Greenwood Press, 1999), Dr. Jerry Bergman has made available to researchers on Jehovah’s Witnesses the most comprehensive bibliography ever compiled on the movement and its many offshoots. The work is ‘selectively annotated,’ meaning that many of the entries are accompanied by brief but helpful comments on the content. Some other interesting and enlightening features of this work are (1) the lengthy overview of the origin and history of the Watchtower movement given in the Introduction, and (2) the background and historical comments introducing the bibliographies of the many offshoots. Further, valuable information is also given on (3) a number of individuals who strongly influenced the founder of the Watchtower movement, Charles Taze Russell. These include George Storrs, Nelson H. Barbour, John H. Paton, and Maria Russell. The main focus is on publications written in English, the ‘mother language’ of the movement, but quite a number of publications written in other languages are also listed. For a few of these languages the entries had not been proof-read. These include the Scandinavian languages, for which I noticed quite a number of spelling errors. These should be corrected in the next edition. Were it not for these ‘blemishes’ (which still are minor ones compared to the book as a whole), I would not have hesitated to give this work five stars. On the whole, Bergman’s work is a goldmine and an indispensable reference source for researchers and writers on the background, origin, history, and teachings of the Watchtower movement.
A reviewer, a College Professor, February 26, 2001,
A Must for All Watchtower Researchers
This reference work is a required source for anyone interested in researching the Jehovah's Witnesses and/or the Watchtower Society. It includes a listing of just about every book, booklet, article and book chapter ever written about the movement in English - probably almost 10,000 references. It also includes much of the important material in other languages. The work also includes all masters and doctors dissertations (over a hundred) completed in the last 100 years. The author has spent almost 40 years collecting material about the Watchtower for this bibliography. When he was at Bethel he also reviewed their libraries to insure that most of their holdings were also included in his work. In his discussion of the many Watchtower offshoots he includes material found nowhere else in print. Also included is an excellent 29 page introduction to the movement. Many of the references are annotated so the researcher can determine if a work may be useful for his or her research. This work will save researchers and writers a great deal of time and money.
The following reviews were published on Amazon.com
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A must have research tool, June 2, 2001
Reviewer: Ken Raines from Everett, WA.
Dr. Bergman’s Bibliography it is a massive bibliographic listing of written material by and about Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) and the Watchtower Society from the 1800s through 1999. It is “comprehensive” in that it contains, according to the publisher, “nearly 10,000 references on the Watchtower movement and the dozen or so major schisms” of the Society. The book represents several decades worth of work by Dr. Bergman in compiling a comprehensive reference listing everything written on or by the Watchtower and their offshoots. In addition to listing every known publication produced by the Watchtower Society since its founding in the 1800s, it lists everything Bergman and his sources have found from a tabloid article in the National Enquirer to scholarly books and Ph.D theses on JWs. The “schisms” or offshoots of the Watchtower are the subject of the last two chapters. For those researching the origins of the Watchtower and C. T. Russell’s beliefs, there is a valuable chapter listing the individuals and material that influenced Russell in the Millerite/Adventist movements.
As is typical of bibliographic listings of material, the book’s references list the author, title, publisher, publication date and number of pages (where known) of each reference. Amazon’s Table of Contents link on this page will give you a detailed overview of just how comprehensive this Bibliography is and the material it covers.
The book’s references are “selectively annotated,” which means many, but not all of the 10,000 references contain a one or two-sentence explanatory note by Bergman on the content or focus of the reference (article, book or manuscript). From the annotations the reader will know what the reference is about and thus if it is something that is needed as part of his/her research. In addition, each chapter and some of the subheadings contain an introductory explanatory text by Bergman on the chapter's material, what it covers, and discusses the most important and prominent individuals involved. These also often include advice on what may be the best, most important, or perhaps the most helpful material in the section for the researcher. Also helpful is Bergman’s noting at various places where some of the rare material may be obtained in photocopy or where one can find reprints.
Being a bibliography, this book is not meant to be read from cover to cover (although I did just that for this review). It is a reference source for further reading and research, a means of finding material on JWs, both pro and con, without spending several decades tracking them down in libraries across several continents as Bergman has done.
Dr. Bergman’s Bibliography is an indispensable reference for the researcher and writer on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their history. If you need a book on Jehovah’s Witnesses as a source for research, this is the one to have. With nearly 10,000 references on the Watchtower and its history from the 1800s to 1999, you're bound to find much material that will assist your research.
The first review of this book claimed that Bergman’s annotations “suffer from subjective usage, unfounded or incomplete evaluations, and tabloid irrelevance” and that Bergman claimed the Watchtower was “corrupt” and “inhuman,” while some of its teachings were “erroneous” or “wrong” in the annotations. He even said, “An inclination to outright sensationalism can be detected in annotations” and that Bergman could only be trying to stigmatize a “religious minority” by “emphasizing” certain negative material on JWs. In my opinion, this apparently reflects more of the biases and preoccupations of the reviewer than in any defects in Bergman's annotations. It certainly is not a fair or accurate description. Bergman was simply stating what the references were about, not giving his personal “sentiments.”
Bergman annotated much Watchtower material which he certainly doesn’t believe in the same manner as the examples from anti-Witness works, thus the book is in general consistent, not biased against the Society in its annotations. For example, in annotating the second Watchtower president, J. F. Rutherford’s various booklets, he annotated these as follows(pp. 41-43):
“Shows the only remedy for the evil world and clergy is the Watchtower kingdom.”
“Discusses the work of the Watchtower which will cause all good persons to leave Christendom.”
“on why the Watchtower is the only hope for mankind.”
“an expose of Christendom and its false teachings.”
Why would Bergman, that “notorious adversary of the WBTS,” as he was called, say the Watchtower was the only hope for mankind and the clergy are evil? Was he trying to “stigmatize” a religious majority? No, anymore than he claimed the Society was “inhuman” etc. in his annotations. So for example the book Blood Crimes is not a negative review of the Society’s blood transfusion doctrine, but is, as Bergman's annotation explains, “about the skinhead murder by three boys, all of which were raised Witnesses. Shows the critical importance of the J.W. faith and teachings in the crime.”
It should be clear that the annotations simply state what the reference is about and its perspective at times in fairly neutral (unbiased) terms. Whether Bergman agrees or not with the author of the reference that the WT. is “the only hope for mankind” or is “corrupt” is irrelevant.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A Goldmine!, March 27, 2001
Reviewer: Diane Wilson from Morgan Hill, CA United States
Who are these annoyingly persistent people known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, who knock on our doors bright and early Saturday mornings, disturbing our rare opportunity to get a few extra winks? The person who desires a deeper understanding of this sect will get a jump-start on their search for information with this book. It is an extensive listing of the works written by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (the administrative head of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion), and also a listing of almost every work written by others about the Watchtower Society. His annotations--brief comments about the contents of the listing--are most helpful in narrowing down the publications one is looking for.
Dr. Bergman’s book is a goldmine--a directive to a wealth of knowledge. It is like a map that directs one how to find the hidden buried treasure. Dr. Bergman has searched through hundreds of libraries for material about the Watchtower Society; he has invested an immense amount of time and effort in bringing his unique book to fruition, thus saving the writer, researcher, and persons interested in learning more about this religious movement an enormous amount of time and work.
Some may at first compare this Bibliography to a huge card catalog in a library whose shelves are bare, as many of the publications listed are very old and seemingly unavailable. As it took the author 30 years to compile this listing, one cannot expect to find all of the publications under one roof. The author assures, however, that most are obtainable through libraries in the United States, which can be accessed through one’s local library on an inter-library loan basis; others can be obtained through the Library of Congress. Much of the older Watchtower Society publications can be purchased on CD-ROMs available from various Christian ministries.
In addition to the listings, Dr. Bergman has included a valuable section on the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as a very interesting chapter on religions that have their roots entwined with them, “American Offshoots of the Watchtower Society”.
As a Watchtower researcher myself and author of the upcoming book, AWAKENING OF A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS: Escape From the Watchtower Society, (Prometheus: January 2002), I can attest to the value of Dr. Bergman's book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An Excellent Reference Tool, March 23, 2001
Reviewer: William J. Chamberlin from Clarkston, MI USA
This bibliography is the perfect reference tool for collectors, book dealers and researchers. Being a collector and researcher, I really put the bibliography to the test and have come to the conclusion that it should set the standard for many years to come in the field of Watchtower literature.
The first thing you notice is the excellent way it is set up with official Watchtower literature first followed by material associated with the Russell movement. Next are chapters titled: Books, Manuscripts, Tracts and Newsletters; Magazine and Journal Articles (written by both individual Jehovah’s Witnesses (J.W.)and non-J.W.s; both pro-J.W. material and anti-J.W. material). Finally, a list of literature by many Watchtower offshoots.
I found everything in my collection listed. Unfortunately, the publisher limited the author to a given number of pages forcing the author to eliminate some important W.T. material, i.e. official Post Cards starting as far back as 1910 (that I am aware of), audio records (hundreds of them were used in the door-to-door ministry during the 1930's), specially made portable record players of different designs (several of which I had in my collection for a number of years), etc.
The bibliography is most helpful in that most entries have annotations indicating what subject matter is covered by a particular publication. It also has a very useful Name Index which makes it easier to find all of an author’s writing for they may be located under different chapters.
The one major disappointment I found, or maybe I should say “did not find”, was a listing for my 899 page Bible Bibliography by the same publisher as Bergman’s book, back in 1991 and is still in print and available from the publisher. I had a listing for every Watchtower Bible translation and their publication history and should have been included in this bibliography. However, to be fair, Mr. Bergman did list several articles I wrote for the International Society of Bible Collectors’ quarterly.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Kudos to Dr. Bergman, January 10, 2001
Reviewer: Donald L. Nelson from Sonora, CA USA
To paraphrase with parenthesis the author of Ecclesiastes: “to the making of books (by and about Jehovah’s Witnesses) there is no end”. A bewildering array of literature exists, for and against this extremely active religious organization. And now, thanks to Dr. Bergman, it has been almost exhaustively cataloged. His bibliography includes publications as diverse as “The Truth That Leads to Everlasting Life” (possibly the third most published book in the world) and “Judge Rutherford Uncovers the Fifth Column”, which hardly anyone has ever heard of. Both have rolled off the impressive presses at the Watchtower’s Brooklyn plant and bear the imprimateur of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This thorough bibliography would be of immense help for any serious student of the Watchtower that desires to grasp the extraordinary diversity of doctrinal and chronological modifications that have taken place in that organization over the years since its inception. There is even a listing of splinter groups that have formed during periods of upheaval and internecine controversy, along with their esoteric doctrines. The breadth of Dr.Bergman's book is remarkable and easily surpasses anything heretofore published. As a former student at University of California, Berkeley, who dropped out in 1952 to become one of Jehovah's Witnesses (ultimately graduating from the Watchtower Bible School, Gilead, and later becoming a circuit overseer in both Pennsylvania and Brazil), I can vouch for its overall accuracy and fairness of presentation. My own library of Watchtower-related material is quite extensive and from the vantage point of a serious student of Watchtower history, I can enthusiastically endorse and heartily recommend this splendid bibliography.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Indispensable reference tool on Jehovah’s Witnesses!, January 9, 2001
Reviewer: Carl Olof Jonsson from Goteborg, Sweden
Dr. Jerry Bergman’s work, Jehovah’s Witnesses. A Comprehensive and Selectively Annotated Bibliography (Westport, Connecticut, and London: Greenwood Press, 1999), is, as the title indicates, a bibliography on the background, origin, and history of the Watchtower movement. The book contains nearly 10,000 references, and it is very well done. It is, in fact, a goldmine for researchers. This holds true especially of the literature in English, which is truly comprehensive.
Bergman was himself a Witness until the early 1980's, and he knows the Watchtower movement thoroughly from within. He has spent decades on researching, writing, and collecting material on it, and owns himself almost every piece of material listed in the book. It can safely be said that very few persons in the world has such an extensive library on the Witnesses at hand.
The bibliography is “selectively annotated”, that is, it contains brief descriptions of the content of many of the publications. These are usually informative, although in some cases they may seem too brief. Many, if not most of the publications about the Witnesses are of very poor quality, and for this reason Bergman often calls attention to the exceptions, denoting them as “well written,” “interesting,” “excellent,” etc. Such evaluations, although of necessity subjective, are certainly legitimate and helpful.
Many publications about the Watchtower organization are aimed at “exposing” the faults of its teachings and policies. The notes on the contents of such “anti-witness” publications do not necessarily reflect Bergman’s own views (although they sometimes do), as I was led to believe when I first read Singelenberg's review, but primarily the negative evaluations of the authors of these publications. The same holds true, or course, of the notes on the Watchtower publications. When, for example, the entry on a booklet published in 1983 is followed by the comment, “The need to accept Watchtower teachings; directed at Muslims” (p. 48), this, of course, describes the contents of the booklet, not the view of Bergman.
The work is not just an annotated bibliography, but it also gives very valuable and interesting background information on the movement. Thus the Introduction presents a most valuable historical overview of the movement's background in the Second Advent groups that branched off from the Millerites after the failure of their 1844 date. Brief biographical notes are given on George Storrs, John H. Paton, Maria F. Russell, the Edgar brothers, Walter Salter, and others. Some of the most interesting and valuable chapters are the last two (5 and 6) dealing with the offshoots of the Watchtower Society, which contain important historical notes on the major groups. Few if any scholar has gathered so much information and literature on these offshoots as has Jerry Bergman.
As stated, the main focus is on publications in English. A selection of publications in a number other languages are also listed, although these are far from complete. Unfortunately, for some of these languages (including the Scandinavian languages) the entries had not been proof-read and therefore contain many errors, particularly spelling errors. These, and some other errors I have noticed should be corrected in the next edition. However, most of these errors are trifles compared to the enormous amount of sources that are made available to scholars through this book.
Researchers and writers on Jehovah’s Witnesses will find this work to be an indispensable reference tool, as it will save them years of work in searching for relevant sources. And anyone interested in the Watchtower movement will find the historical information added at various places in the book of great interest.
To achieve balance instead of trying to distort the truth Jehovah’s Witnesses United should have referred to other reviews besides Singelenberg. Mr. Long refers only to one review, the only negative review published! This is hardly objective reporting but is an attempt to distort the facts. This is exactly why I left the Watchtower. They do not respect the truth, but present a distorted one-sided biased view. Nor are they interested in the truth but in defending their existing view.
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