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Monday, April 26, 2010

Frederick W. Franz (1893 - 1992)

TO THE angel of the congregation in Smyrna, the apostle John was told to write: “Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8, 10) Therefore, both sad and joyful is the announcement here made that Frederick William Franz, president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., as well as a number of other theocratic bodies, finished his earthly course on the morning of December 22, 1992.

It is a sad announcement in that it tells of the passing off the earthly scene of a very much beloved and outstandingly faithful servant of Jehovah. Yet, it is also a joyful announcement because to our dear Brother Franz now apply the words of Revelation 14:13: “Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.” Brother Franz was modest and humble, a hardworking and very productive minister
whom Jehovah God used mightily as a member of “the faithful and discreet slave” to assist in providing
spiritual food for the “domestics” and their companions.—Matthew 24:45-47.

Brother Franz was born on September 12, 1893, in Covington, Kentucky. He came in touch with the truth through an older brother. At that time he was attending the University of Cincinnati, preparing to become a Presbyterian minister. Instead, he separated from the Presbyterian Church and became associated with the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then called. He was baptized on November 30, 1913, and the following year he left the university and entered the colporteur (pioneer) work. On June 1, 1920, he became a member of the Brooklyn Bethel family. Before long, he was put in charge of the colporteur desk, and in 1926 he was transferred to the editorial department, where he served most prolifically. In 1945 he became vice president of the Watch Tower Society and other associated bodies. Upon the death of then president Nathan H. Knorr in 1977, he became the president of the Watch Tower Society. He served in that capacity until his death. In his lifetime, Brother Franz saw the number of Witnesses of Jehovah increase from a few thousand to some four and a half million. He enjoyed many privileges of service, including speaking at international conventions and visiting branches and missionary homes in many parts of the world. His life story appeared in the May 1, 1987, issue of The Watchtower.

On Monday evening, December 28, 1992, a memorial service was held in the Kingdom Hall of Brooklyn Bethel. A very warm and spiritually upbuilding talk was delivered by Brother Albert D. Schroeder of the Governing Body. Tied in by telephone were the Bethel families at Watchtower Farms, Patterson, Mountain Farm, and Kingdom Farm, as well as the Bethel family at the Canada branch.

All, especially those who worked closely with him, will greatly miss Brother Franz. He was understanding, encouraging, and patient toward everyone with whom he served and traveled. Truly, fellow believers responded to him in the spirit of Hebrews 13:7: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.”

On December 30, 1992, Brother Milton G. Henschel was chosen as the Society’s fifth president, to succeed Brother Franz.

- March 15, 1993 Watchtower, WTB&TS


Frederick W. Franz, A Religous Leader, Dies in Office at 99

Frederick William Franz, a biblical scholar and president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, better known as the Jehovah's Witnesses, died on Tuesday at his residence in the society's headquarters in Brooklyn. He was 99 years old. An eight-member board of directors is selecting his successor at the organization's new residential tower in Brooklyn Heights. Founded in 1879, the Jehovah's Witnesses is a Christian denomination that believes the end of the world is near and advocates door-to-door evangelism. It claims 4.4 million believers worldwide. Mr. Franz was elected president of the society in 1977 and remained in the post until his death. Despite impaired vision in his mid-90's, he remained active in administration and continued to contribute to the society's publications. Versed in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, Mr. Franz published many translations. He traveled extensively, addressing audiences around the globe, often reciting large portions of the Bible without notes. A high point in his career was the 1958 convention of the Witnesses, when he addressed an audience of 253,922 people from 123 countries gathered at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. The stadiums were linked by loud speakers. Born in Covington, Ky., he developed an interest in the Bible at an early age and entered the University of Cincinnati intending to become a Presbyterian preacher. There he studied biblical and classical Greek and Latin. Introduced by a brother to the teachings of the International Bible Students, as the Witnesses were then called, Mr. Franz was ordained as a minister of the faith in Chicago in 1913. There are no immediate survivors. - New York Times, December 24, 1992

Frederick William Franz (September 12, 1893 – December 22, 1992) served as President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal entity used to direct the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. He had previously served as Vice President of the same corporation from 1945 until 1977 and as a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses before replacing Nathan H. Knorr as president in June 1977. Franz was born on September 12, 1893 in Covington, Kentucky. He was baptized in the Lutheran Church, but attended Catholic services as a child as a matter of convenience, before later attending the Presbyterian Church. He graduated from high school in 1911 and attended the University of Cincinnati where he studied liberal arts and later (for two years) Biblical Greek, with the intention of becoming a Presbyterian preacher. He learned German and could read Latin and Greek and in later years learned Spanish, Portuguese and French and a basic understanding of Hebrew. His association with the Bible Students began after he read some of the literature of Charles Taze Russell. He was baptized as a Bible Student on either November 30 1913, or, according to Franz, April 5, 1914. In 1920 he joined the Watch Tower headquarters staff in Brooklyn, New York and in 1926 became a member of the editorial staff as a Bible researcher and writer for the Society’s publications. Franz was the Society's leading theologian and has been named as a leading figure in the preparation of the Witnesses' New World Translation of the Bible. His nephew and fellow Governing Body member Raymond Franz resigned from the Governing Body and was subsequently disfellowshipped in 1980 during F.W. Franz's presidency. Franz died in Brooklyn, New York in 1992 at the age of 99 and was succeeded by Milton G. Henschel. - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frederick W. Franz and Biblical Hebrew

A number of critical websites make assertions to the effect that Frederick W. Franz, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses until his death in 1992, was unable to translate a simple verse from Hebrew into English, when asked to do so during a court case in Scotland in 1954. When one man wrote to me about the above assertion, I challenged him to prove it. He replied by sending me a copy of Robert Hommel's article on the subject. Hommel, however, concedes that Franz was not asked to translate from Hebrew into English, but from English into Hebrew. A number of other sources, however, continue to misrepresent the facts. Now, as the court record shows, Franz refused to translate a Bible verse from English into Hebrew. First of all, we must agree with Stafford[2] that the fact that Franz refused to do so, saying "No, I won't attempt to do that," doesn't mean that he couldn't do it. After all, his knowledge of Hebrew or Greek was not in the slightest relevant to the subject of the court case at hand, which was whether Jehovah's Witnesses have the right to ordain ministers of religion. A court is not a circus and Franz certainly wasn't obliged to go along with some lawyer's dubious tactics. Franz stood up for himself and refused
to play along. - Read the full story at:


To give even more widespread publicity to the truth about the condition of the dead, Brother Russell served an extensive series of one-day conventions, from 1905 through 1907, at which he featured the public discourse “To Hell and Back! Who Are There? Hope for Return of Many.” The title was intriguing, and it attracted much attention. Audiences packed out assembly halls in cities both large and small in the United States and Canada to hear the talk. Among those who were deeply moved by what the Bible says about the condition of the dead was a university student in Cincinnati, Ohio, who was preparing to become a Presbyterian minister. In 1913 he received from his fleshly brother the booklet Where Are the Dead?, written by John Edgar, a Bible Student who was also a medical doctor in Scotland. The student who received that booklet was Frederick Franz. After reading it carefully, he firmly declared: “This is the truth.” Without hesitation, he changed his goals in life and got into the full-time ministry as a colporteur evangelizer. In 1920 he became a member of the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters staff. Many years later he became a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and, later, the president of the Watch Tower Society. - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS