Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Watchtower Society: From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained

Watchtower Society Publication
(New York: International Bible Students Association, 1958)
(Image by Tanya Olmstead, at Amazon.com)

Yesterday, I posted an entry about the Jehovah's Witnesses' interest in John Milton's theological views, which bear some similarities to their own that have not gone unnoticed.

A visitor with the intriguing name "Eklektekuria" posted a comment to inform me that the Jehovah's Witnesses had earlier published on themes familar to readers of Milton:
In 1958, the Watchtower Society published a book entitled "From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained". It was commonly used with children, but was not originally intended to be a children's book, and it gives a JW view of the Bible from creation to Armageddon and the future millennium. The book is best remembered for its graphic portrayal of Armageddon on pp. 208-209 which terrified many a JW child.
I was curious:
Eklektekuria, thanks for visiting and for the interesting detail. Was the book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained dependent in any way on Milton's two, similarly titled poems? I can imagine that Milton's depiction of Hell would frighten many a child as well...
I haven't heard back from Eklektekuria on this point, nor have I been able to discover any substantive link to Milton from my online search for the book mentioned. Perhaps other readers will know.

Here's another angle on what the book's cover looked like, this one from Tanya Olmstead, also at Amazon.com:
I wonder why the Watchtower Society chose the color red for their book's cover. In 1958, the color red was strongly associated with Communism, a connection to iconic that merely six years later, in 1964, the Chinese government published Quotations from Chairman Mao ZeDong as the famous "Little Red Book."

The book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, however, was more frightening than anything Mao said. Here's an image from the book supplied by an ex-JW at Watch the Tower:

With images like this one, no wonder that the book "terrified many a JW child," as Eklektekuria phrased it. Still, it's not much more frightening than Milton's depiction of hell:
Nine times the Space that measures Day and Night [50]
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquisht, rowling in the fiery Gulfe
Confounded though immortal: But his doom
Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain [55]
Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay
Mixt with obdurate pride and stedfast hate:
At once as far as Angels kenn he views
The dismal Situation waste and wilde, [60]
A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great Furnace flam'd, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd onely to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace [65]
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery Deluge, fed
With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum'd: (
PL 1.50-69)
Here's a related scene from Paradise Lost, as visualized by Terrance Lindall:

Synopsized and with illustrations (1982)

Not an especially comforting sight, even if the image does depict the fate endured by the enemy of God and mankind.

While we ponder the doom reserved for Satan and his angels, perhaps some kind reader will inform us if the Watchtower Society had Milton's poems in mind when they titled their book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained...

UPDATE: Apparently, the image above depicting Jehovah's wrath comes not from the book but from a JW brochure depicting the end of the world.

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At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the picture you have is from a brochure, not the book. The picture referred to can be found at http://web.archive.org/web/20051001061954/http://quotes.watchtower.ca/scans/1958_paradise_lost_208-209_large.jpg

At 3:50 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, thanks for the website address. The address is a bit long and lies partially hidden (as you see), but I managed to copy and paste it.

For the benefit of others, here is a link (an internet function that everyone ought to learn how to use).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jeffery,

you can send a letter to the Watchtower Society about your question on the color choice on the book and a connection to Milton. I am sure they will reply, as I have sometimes asked them questions by letter.

I suspect, however, when it comes to the color choice, that there is a simple reason that has to do with how Watchtower Society printed their books all the way to the 1990's. If you take a look at other books printed by them, you will notice that most of the books came with no dust jacket and that some of them had a relief print on the cover. It could be that red was chosen because it is a light color.

As to the connection to Milton, I think that there is some connection but it's mainly in what the Bible says about the beginning of mankind, how something good was lost, and in the title of the book.


At 5:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the comment, Dichotomy. You may be correct about the color, and perhaps also about the book itself, namely, the link to Milton being slight.

On the other hand, I've seen JW's refer with approbation to Milton's views on the Trinity, for he was critical of that doctrine and was not a Trinitarian in his later years.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The book color is actually more of a salmon color than red. :)

At 4:27 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, you mean in the images? On my computer, they look red, but I've noticed that colors show up differently on different computers.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there..had this book as a child and it was orange..would love to find another copy for the library.

At 4:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, thanks for the comment.

Since you had a copy, you would know the color. Computer images are often different in color.

A for a copy, have you checked Amazon? Sometimes, used copies of books are for sale.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi my name is teresa scamp, i was given this book as a child, an still have on my book shelf, the cover is of an salom colour ,an dose not containe these pictures.

At 6:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ms. Scamp, thanks for visiting.

The first picture (not counting the images of the book), is from a website that states:

"Pictured above are actual illustrations from a Watchtower children's book, which my mother read to me as a child!"

You can click the link to find the website, which I was relying on for my information. However, I am convinced that you are correct, for the first comment makes the same point and explains that this picture is from a brochure rather than the book. I'll add an update.

The second picture is from John Milton's Paradise Lost, as visualized by the contemporary artist Terrance Lindall. I used it for purposes of comparison.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This book found its way into our house when I was a child and there were no color images. There was indeed one sketch of an angry goat seated on a throne. That was the frightening image in the book.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for the note and information.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:10 PM, Blogger TruthSolace said...

book is pink - :) welcome to look at my page an links if you have any others questions about Jehovah's Witnesses. Those pics never scared me as a child - far more scary things in school books.

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Truth Solace, for the invitation. I think that some readers will take you up on that.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cover is actually a salmon color, I had a copy when I was a child (10 yrs old) and I recalled the color to be of salmon color and not red. I also read the book (although and I'm not a JW), I found the book interesting and I was never fighted by it.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Anonymous. A couple of other commenters also noted the salmon color. My computer screen must be rendering the color wrong. As for being frightening, the book -- as with horror films -- probably affects different children differently.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:33 PM, Blogger je1984 said...

The book is not red and never was. I have this bookand it is almost a peach color. I never understood why you people try to make everything of Jehovah's Witnesses out to be something bad when they are truly the most kind loving Crhristians I have ever met. But then read the bible and see for yourself how God's people have always been treated by others outside their lifstyle.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger je1984 said...

sorry of the typos, I am tired.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ah, je1984, you seem not to have read me very closely, nor have you looked carefully at the 16 comments prior to yours, I gather, or you might have written differently -- and when you say "you people" to refer to me, what group of people do you imagine that I belong with?

Apologies for any typographical errors I might have made, for I, too, am tired.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still have my "Paradise Book" from when I was 12 and I'm no longer a witness but I'm reading it to my 8 year old. I must have an old copy because mine does not have that vivid color picture of Armageddon. Not that it would frighten any child in today's world.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for noting that missing picture. There must have been several editions.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The book was indeed a salmon-pink color and the "armageddon" picture was in purple ink. It was a terrifying picture - at least to a person of compassionate nature. In this picture I could see my beloved grandmother, aunt, and later on my own mother, who had been deemed unworthy by the Watchtower Society. I cried myself to sleep many nights.

At 7:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'm sorry to hear that. I hope that you and your relatives are fine now.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was raised a JW and was fascinated by this book (which as several people have pointed out was salmon-coloured), and was mildly traumatised by the apocalyptic images. I was not aware of the Milton connection until much later, which is purely titular.

Interestingly, I was prohibited from watching the destruction of Krypton sequence at the start of Superman The Movie (my favourite film as a child), despite it being identical in many ways to the images in the book. This is one example of many contradictions inherent in the religion. My father (still a JW) recently said that he didn't watch Passion of the Christ because it was an 18 certificate. The fact that it's an 18 certificate because it depicts events in the Bible that JW's hold to be true and central to their faith was seemingly lost on him.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for the comment.

One JW objection to The Passion would likely be that it shows a cross. I'm told that JWs refer to a "torture stake" instead.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:53 AM, Blogger Bienvenido Bones said...

Yeah, I'm remember my Mother, teach me about this book is the Paradise Lost and the Paradise Regained, Despite my Father was a Protestant and Lawyers and my art teacher too, but they gave me inspiration for the opportunity to listen and reading that book is Paradise Lost from JW,Watchtower Society. For my observation of that books, it's probably the awakening the world of 666 Enlightenment, and without good illustrations of shock and shuddered, but it is a part of the Beautiful and Sublime, Therefore it is a part of universal statement of the world paradise lost,but there's a hope for mankind the Paradise Regained, and that's the story of the Sacred Bible. *Bones*

At 8:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Bones. I now see where some of your ideas received a kernel of inspiration.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a small child I loved reading or more realistic hearing my mother reading it. This book is some of my happiest childhood memories, because of the hope for mankind. Yes I saw the picture of Armageddon it never bothered me. I was bored in post ww2, I new that mankind had hope,that the Adam bombs would not destroy the world, and the good would last forever. By the way my parents fell away but never stopped believing,and as a adult, i am one of JW's After years being away.

At 4:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Is the hope there for all mankind? Most of us are of the preterite.

I like your expression "Adam bombs."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This book terrified me as a child. Especially the armageddon scene. I lived in an earthquake prone region and there were many nights while laying in bed during earthquakes I was thinking the end had come. This was around the mid 1970's at the time when armageddon was predicted to occur. People had been selling their homes and quitting jobs to go full time pioneering. Of course armageddon didn't come and likely never will. I later came to realize that the whole JW theology was flawed.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the comment!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Johanna Barnard said...

The book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regain is not red. It is orange. It was a book my parents had studied with me when I was a child. But even if it was red, like a couple of other publications in the past, hasno bearing on other governmental thoughts or status. It's just a color that brings attention to the book on it's particular topic.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the insight.

Jeffery Hodges

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