The Watchtower

From Academic Kids

This article is about the religious magazine. For information on literal watchtowers, see Fortification.
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Jehovah's Witnesses offer copies of The Watchtower from door to door or, where approval is given, where people might read them.

The Watchtower is an illustrated religious magazine printed and published by Jehovah's Witnesses via their Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Wallkill, New York and branch offices around the world.



The Watchtower is used by Jehovah's Witnesses in their proselytising activities and gives their interpretation of Biblical teachings. The magazine is also a major vehicle of communication from the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses to the association as a whole regarding doctrinal issues or changes.

The Watchtower and its companion journal Awake! both aim to spread the views of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Watchtower focuses more on religious and theological issues, while Awake! aims to be more of a topical read from a religious perspective.

The inside of the cover page of the Watchtower states:

"The purpose of the Watchtower is to exalt Jehovah God as Sovereign Lord of the Universe. It keeps watch on world events as these fulfill Bible prophecy. It comforts all peoples with the good news that God's Kingdom will soon destroy those who oppress their fellowman and that it will turn the earth into a paradise. It encourages faith in God's now-reigning King, Jesus Christ, whose shed blood opens the way for mankind to gain eternal life. The Watchtower, published by Jehovah's Witnesses continuously since 1879, is nonpolitical. It adheres to the Bible as its authority."


Publication began in 1879 under the title Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. In 1909 the name was changed to The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. Later on, in October 1939, it was renamed The Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence, and, from March 1940 until now, its full name has been The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom.

The Watchtower and Awake! were sold for for a small charge in the United States until March 1, 1990, when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that religious literature being sold was subject to taxation. In the United States, distribution of Jehovah's Witnesses literature was at that time switched to a voluntary donation system. The sale of the magazines, and all Jehovah's Witnesses' literature, continued around the world until the early 1990s, and in some countries until the start of 2000.

The Watchtower is now distributed free of charge everywhere, although voluntary donations are accepted.


The Watchtower has an average print run of 26.4 million and is printed semi-monthly in about 110 languages, and monthly in about another 40 for a total of 150 languages.

The Watchtower is distributed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They consider their work a public service. Witnesses commonly offer these magazines in the course of their house-to-house ministry. They are also distributed by approaching people in public places or informally to doctors, academics, politicians and acquaintances. The Watchtower may also be seen left as reading material in public places, including bus terminals, laundromats or other places where the managers or owners approve. Distribution practices such as mailbox drops and placing stacks in public places are discouraged by the leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses as the magazines are intended for only people who will read them.


Over the years, Jehovah's Witnesses have added a variety of editions of the magazine, with a view to making it available to a wider public. In 1976, The Watchtower became available in Grade II English Braille. In 1988, it began to be produced on audiocassette for the benefit of the visually impaired as well as others who wished to listen to it. In 2003, a videocassette edition in American Sign Language was produced, and this was extended to DVD in 2004. Additionally, 2004 saw the release of The Watchtower on compact disk (MP3 and later audio CD format). In 2005, a DVD edition of "The Watchtower" was made available in Brazilian Sign Language.


Each issue contains two or three study articles that are used as guides to religious studies of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the world. Virtually all of the Jehovah's Witness communities throughout the earth discuss the same information each week.

Today, the magazine is 32 pages in size and is published in 150 languages. A typical issue usually includes topics such as Bible prophecy, Christian conduct and morals, as well as the history of religion and the Bible.

The Watchtower has long drawn criticism that it publishes definite dates for the end of the world as a matter of doctrine. The Watchtower's subtitle, "Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom," indicates its interest in eschatology but Watchtower writers caution, "It does no good to use Bible chronology for speculating on dates that are still future in the stream of time." (All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial, 1963)

External links

ca:The Watchtower de:Wachtturm fr:La Tour de garde ja:ものみの塔 pl:Strażnica Zwiastująca Królestwo Jehowy


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