Does the Bible describe the Locomotive?

(Investigator 188, 2019 September)


It is sometimes stated that the alterations Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) have made to their so-called "Bible truth" and "Bible education" number thousands.

Is "thousands" an exaggeration?

1300 in ONE BOOK

Investigator #85 estimated the number of points in The Finished Mystery (1917), a book of the early JWs or "Russellites", that were later discarded or revised at 1300.

The method was as follows:

I selected 35 pages from The Finished Mystery using the Random Number key of a Scientific Calculator and counted the number of statements that disagree with present-day JW interpretations.

The 35 pages contained 79 interpretations of Bible verses that the JW hierarchy later revised, an average of 2.26 per page, giving an estimate for the entire 608-page book of 608 x 2.26 = c.1300

That's 1300 false interpretations and false predictions in just one book!

Since the JW leaders are even now almost every year revising more of the "Bible truth" published in their previous publications their total errors obviously number thousands.


The "sample" of 35 pages from The Finished Mystery did not include pages 84-86 which we'll now examine.

Pages 84-86 interpret Bible verses describing "Behemoth" and "Leviathan" as referring to steam engines and locomotives. About 40 words are interpreted as parts of the steam engine or locomotive. Since no major religion interpreted Behemoth as steam engine or Leviathan as locomotive and JWs no longer do either, that's about 40 theological errors in three pages!

The Finished Mystery (1917) p. 84-86 (retyped):
page 84
Job also describes the steam engine—stationary, railway and marine.
The following is a corrected translation of Job 40:15 to 41:34, with comments thereon from the pen of one of Pastor Russell’s followers: "Behold now one with great heat [the stationary steam engine], which I have made to be with thee; he will consume fodder [peat, wood, coal] as do cattle. Behold now his strength is in his loins [boiler plates], and his power is within the parts bent in a circle [boiler shell] of his belly. His tail [smoke stack—opposite the feeding end] will set upright like a cedar; the couplings of his leaping parts [connecting rods, pitmans] will be clamped together. His bones are tubes of copper; his solid bones [grate bars] are as hammered-out bars of iron. He is the greatest of the ways of power. He that made him [the Lord] can make His sword [Word] to approach unto [reveal] him. [Isa. 26:20, 21.) He shall rest under thin shelter [steam jackets] within a covering of fibrous reeds [jute] and clay [mortar]. The willows of the valley [the trees overhead] will enclose him around about. Behold [as a pumping engine] he will drink up an overflowing river without much exertion; he will cause the people to trust [that their cellars will keep dry], though a Jordan should rush forth over its border. He will gather it up in his fountains by means of traps and with a perforated nozzle.

"Thou wilt lengthen out leviathan [the locomotive] with a hook [automatic coupler] or with a snare [coupling-pin] which thou wilt cause his tongue [coupling-link] to drop down. Wilt thou not place a ring [piston] in his nostrils [cylinders] or pierce through his cheeks [piston-ends] with a staff [piston-rod]? Will be make repeated supplication unto thee [to get off the track]? Or will he utter soft tones unto thee [when he screeches with the whistle]? Will he make a covenant with thee, that thou mayest take him for a servant forever [without repairs]? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird [make him whistle at will]? Or wilt thou bind [enslave] him for thy maidens [so that you can take them to a picnic or convention]? Companies [of stockholders] will feast upon him [his earnings]; they will share him among speculators. [Psa. 74:14.] Thou wilt fill his skin with pointed irons [bolts], and his head with a cabin of fishermen [a cab similar to the cabins on fishing vessels]. Place thy hand upon him, be mindful of the conflict [raging within the boiler] and thou wilt add no further questions. Behold, his confidence [boiler] being deceived [not properly supplied with water], shall not at once his mighty form be spread asunder [by an explosion]? There is none so bold that he will stir him up [to run at his very highest possible speed], and none who will then place himself before him [to be run over]. Who will compete with this one and endure [pass him on the track]? Under the whole heaven, none, unless [one like] himself.

"I will not pass in silence his members, nor the cause of his mighty forces, nor the beauty of his equipment. Who can strip off the facings of his jacket? Who can penetrate between the double lap of his shield [the overlapping sections of the boiler plates]? Who can force open the doors of his shield [the boiler ends]? The circuits of his teeth [rows or rivets] are formidable. His strength depends on courses of shields [sections of plates] closed up tightly with a seal [calked]. They shall join one upon another so that a hiss of air [steam] shall not escape from between them. One to the other shall adhere. They will be welded together that they cannot be sundered. In his sneezing [when he puffs from the cylinders] light will shine, a flood of light prevading the mass of vapors: and his eyes [headlights] will be as the eyelashes of the morning [as rays of light from the rising sun]. Out of his mouth [fire-door] will leap forth flaming torches, and [from the smoke stack] glowing sparks will slip themselves away. From his nostrils [cylinders] will issue forth vapor as from a boiling pot or caldron. His inhaling

[forced draft] will vivify burning coals, and a flame will leap forth from his mouth. Within his neck abideth strength, and a desolation will dance with joy [become a prosperous community] at his presence. The separable parts of his body are connected together; all will be made fast upon him; nothing will be shaky. His heart will be indurated similar to a stone, and will be firm as a piece of the lower [rocks]. When at his full speed the most courageous will fear [lest]. from accidents. they lose themselves. When dryness exalteth him [or renders him furious], he will not have power to withhold; the curved vault [fire box] being caused to tear away, and also the armor. He will esteem iron as straw, and brass as rotted wood. The archer cannot make him flee; missiles [of war] will be turned unto him as chaff. The [strokes of a] hammer will be esteemed as chaff; he will rejoice at the poking of the fireman. Hewed [or notched] timbers of the craftsman [ties] are under him; he will spread an embankment [or trench] upon the mire. He will [as a marine engine] cause deep [places] to become as a boiling pot [about his propellers]; he will make the sea to appear like boiling ointment. He will make a path to shine after him; one will think the deep to be growing gray. [Psa. 104:26; Isa. 27:1.] Upon the earth there is not his like—he that is [so] constructed that he can fear nothing. He can oversee [control by his work] all that which is great; he is indeed king over all conceptions of power."

One YouTube video features a JW on his cart ministry who refuses to listen and leaves when a person approaches with The Finished Mystery and begins to read pages 84 to 86 to him! That is typical JW conduct — they claim superiority over every religion because they alone supposedly properly understand the Bible, but run away when shown otherwise from their own books. Their refusal to hear their own history is not an informed individual decision, but by order of their Governing Body.


The origin of The Finished Mystery (1917) was as follows:

With the "key" which brother Russell, as the Lord's servant, had placed in his hands, brother Woodworth, by the Lord's grace, has been enabled to bring together everything that Brother Russell wrote on Revelation... (Preface, p. 6)

The Finished Mystery, like all JW books, was not advertised as containing speculation, not even as interpretation, but as truth from God:

Have you enjoyed this work thus far? Are you convinced it is of the Lord—prepared under His guidance?  (p. 126)

Pastor Russell was the most prolific writer of Biblical truth that ever lived. (p. 65)

In his search for Biblical truth and harmony he is without peer in this Age… He has been too busy spreading Divine Truth… (p. 125)

The enemies of Truth were wholly unable to check the spread of knowledge. (pp 382-383)

The clergy, trying to stem the tide of Truth ... put every restraint on the influence of Pastor Russell… Church members have been urged to get rid of every scrap of paper bearing the Message of Present Truth... Neither Pastor Russell nor his fellow-believers were permitted to utter the Bible Truth before the congregations of ecclesiasticism. (p. 390)

Elsewhere we read:

It does not contain any erroneous doctrines. (The Watch Tower 1920 April 1, p. 103)

…the clergy have kept the people from the truth and led them into darkness... Now the mask is torn off, and nothing ever published so exposes the nefarious course of this instrument of Satan as does The Finished Mystery. (The Watch Tower 1921, March 15, 93-94)


The JW hierarchy continued to praise The Finished Mystery to new generations of JWs, even while hindering access to copies of it. We get commendatory descriptions such as:

... a stinging exposure of the clergy. (Qualified to Be Ministers l955, 314)

… sweet to the spiritual taste. (Then Is Finished The Mystery of God 1969, 258)

… drawing the fire of all these enemies and resulting in their exposure as enemies of truth was the publication 'The Finished Mystery'. (Yearbook of JWs 1973, 106)

…a stinging exposure of Christendom's clergy class. (Awake 1984, December 8, p. 10)

The book was banned in Canada and USA in 1918 which JWs blame on clergymen who signed a petition. (Yearbook of JWs 1979, p. 108)

Some members of the cult who continued, despite the ban, and the book's 1000+ errors, to distribute The Finished Mystery, are described like this:

Yes, these faithful Christians were denied their freedoms because they dared, as did Jesus, exposing the hypocrisy of the clergy. (Yearbook 1979, 109-110)


JWs sometimes argue, "The Finished Mystery is an old book and scientists too revise their theories."

Mainstream scientists, however, don't claim that their scientific conclusions are from God, call other scientists "enemies of truth" deceived by the devil, urge people not to listen to them, or otherwise oppose their work!


From 1918 onwards Russellites by hundreds, and later thousands, either returned to mainstream Christianity or began to organize breakaway cults — and the trigger was The Finished Mystery:

This volume...was the focal point around which an opposition party arose within the society. (Convention Report 1950 Day 3, p. 2)

 …this book crystallized the opposition of the 'evil slave' class. (Qualified to be Ministers 1955, 314)

In Australia dissenters founded the Peoples Paper in which they published their objections to The Finished Mystery — pointing to its already-failing predictions, interpretations that had been changed, and outrageous verbal attacks on mainstream Christians. A doctor in New South Wales wrote:

"…its vindictive and slanderous aspersions of other religious thought, and its scurrilous cartoons, in no way indicating the spirit of Christ, made  me  throw it aside…" (Peoples Paper, September 1, 1918, p. 4)


It is impossible to get an honest description of JW history from JW sources. The embedded distortions, omissions, rationalizations and propaganda are too extensive.

Bible Dictionaries have long identified Behemoth
in the Bible in Job 40 as the hippopotamus, and Leviathan  in Job 41 as the crocodile, with which JWs in their book Aid to Bible Understanding (1971) finally agreed.

The point to remember is that JW revisions to what they promoted as God's Word and Bible truth number thousands.

Can JWs, by publishing thousands of errors involving every major doctrine and calling it all "Bible truth", be what they claimthat is "true Christianity" and "loyal to God's word"?
Are they right to stigmatize other religions as "false religion", "enemies of truth" and "evil slave" when they themselves are so false?
With such a background, how reliable are their current docrines?

Dictionary of Jehovah's Witnesses at: