‘Seeking Delightful Words, Correct Words’
“THE congregator sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.” (Ecclesiastes 12:10) How precious ‘delightful, correct words’ based on the inspired Scriptures can be! They are compared to “apples of gold in silver carvings,” artful and dignified on any occasion and priceless in stressful circumstances.—Proverbs 25:11.
In our day the Greater Congregator, Jesus Christ, has provided spiritual resources far beyond those enjoyed by God’s people under ancient Israelite kings. (Matthew 12:42) For over a century, delightful, correct words of truth covering every aspect of life have been presented in the Watch Tower Society’s publications and widely distributed in many languages. Many families and individuals have thus been able to accumulate in their own homes a library of reliable reference works that focus on the Bible. In addition, most congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses have fine libraries for use at their Kingdom Halls.
Yet, finding the delightful, correct words needed for a particular situation still requires searching. Recognizing this, since early in its history, the Watch Tower Society has published indexes to its publications.—See box on pages 28 and 29.
A New Policy
The year 1985 began a new chapter in the history of Watch Tower Publications Indexes. Nine earlier Indexes were combined and harmonized in one volume covering 1930 through 1985, a project requiring 14 man-years of effort. The benefits of such a single-volume Index covering many years led in 1986 to a new policy, that of publishing cumulative Indexes henceforth. Each year, usually during four successive years, a cumulative Index brochure will cover one, two, three, and then four years. Every five years a hardbound Index will combine all Indexes from 1986 on, such as 1986-90, 1986-95, and so on. Thus, it is not necessary to consult more than three Indexes: the 1930-1985 Index, the current hardbound Index, and the current brochure.
Index Prepared With You in Mind
The first section in each Index is a subject index. In preparing a subject index, two questions are kept in mind: (1) What information should be indexed? (2) Where might someone look for that information?
As a reader, you would seldom be interested in finding every minor comment on a subject. Since you generally look for information that is significant or really useful, this is what is selected for indexing. But such material need not be extensive. An Index entry could refer to as little as one sentence, such as a statement of the Society’s policy on a matter. Or it could embrace an entire article, even a whole publication. Usually, however, the entry leads to several paragraphs of discussion.
The question of where references should appear in the Index is equally important, for readers think differently and will look under different headings. For example, information about the Tower of Babel appears under TOWER OF BABEL. But some readers may look under BABYLON, ARCHAEOLOGY, or LANGUAGE(S), depending on the aspect of the subject that is of interest to them. Hence, efforts are made to repeat references under various appropriate headings, keeping in mind that readers are of a variety of ages and backgrounds, and they have different purposes.
How the Index Can Help You
Like a map the Index can serve you only if you use it. What should you expect to find either in the subject index or in the Scripture-index section that follows it?
References in the Scripture-index section are to material that explains individual verses. You may find an explanation of the setting in which the words of a text were expressed, why it was written, to whom it applied, or the meaning of individual words or phrases. An example might be the request in Jesus’ model prayer: “Do not bring us into temptation.” (Matthew 6:13) Why was it stated in that way? The Scripture index will help you find out.
The subject index, as its name implies, is an index primarily of subjects rather than of words or phrases. When trying to find an article by its title, some readers have had difficulty locating it. This problem may develop when no word in the title really identifies the subject. An example might be the article “How Much Is Too Much?,” which discussed the effects of alcohol. Remembering the content of the article, you might turn to ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES or DRINKING in the Index, and you would find it referenced there.
The Index can be of special value in finding information on problems you may face. For example, if a parent, do you sometimes feel frustrated in your effort to discipline and guide your children? Under CHILDREN you will find references to much that provides insight into their thinking, feelings, and needs. Yet, under the heading CHILD TRAINING, you will find references for teaching and disciplining in all their aspects.
The Watch Tower Society at times receives written requests for help in resolving marital problems or questions as to the propriety of certain marital intimacies. While the Society may be able to respond, the same sensitive, practical counsel can be found by turning to the heading MARRIAGE, with its subheadings “problems” and “sex” or “sexual relations,” and looking up the references listed.
Letters are also received from those who suffer from depression or mental distress. The reassurance and help provided by mail may more quickly be found in your own library or the one at a local Kingdom Hall by checking the headings DEPRESSION and MENTAL ILLNESS in the Index. Articles explaining how to cope with mental ills, treatments available, and touching experiences of those who have been depressed are referred to.
Are you a youth? You may have concerns about marriage, family life, school, your relationship with your parents, and so forth. The main heading YOUTHS has references under all these subheadings and more. In addition, headings such as RELATIONSHIPS, SCHOOLS, CAREER, and COURTSHIP have a great deal to offer. For school reports, the Index can lead you to fine material on nature, the sciences, drugs, economics, and a host of other subjects.
Benefits for All Age-Groups
An 81-year-old woman wrote: “The books and magazines are such a gold mine of information and spiritual strength—and the Index brings the gold to the surface.” A mother whose children are eight and nine years of age said: “I now wonder how I ever did without it. It has led me to answers to many of the questions I’ve wondered about for a long time and has made research during preparation for congregation meetings a lot easier. . . . I would also like to tell you how this publication has helped our family Bible study. . . . When my husband gives the girls a choice of what they would like to do, they often want to do research using this Index. They enjoy picking a subject that they are interested in, such as their favorite animals or different countries, and they are able to look up the information with very little help. This has also taught them that Bible study is fun.”
The search for delightful words and correct words of truth has priceless rewards. The Congregator’s efforts provided benefits far beyond his original purpose, for such words have served to encourage and guide Jehovah’s servants to this day. Our related efforts also bring Jehovah’s blessing, with results that may last eternally.—Proverbs 3:13-18, 21-26.
[Box/Picture on page 28, 29]
In 1902 a special edition of the Holman Parallel Edition Bible was produced for the Watch Tower Society, and it contained extensive helps prepared by the Society. Its appendix contained both subject and Scripture indexes to the Millennial Dawn series of books (later known as Studies in the Scriptures), two major booklets, and Zion’s Watch Tower for 1879-1901.
The Berean Bibles of 1907 and thereafter provided similar indexes. These were augmented in 1922 by extensive indexes to The Watch Tower. These indexes appeared in the last of seven volumes of Watch Tower reprints (1879-1919). To this day the latter are the principal means of finding material presented in early issues of the Watch Tower magazine.
For the next 40 years, however, research in publications released after 1919 had to be done by using scattered indexes in the backs of books and in the last magazine issue of each year. But in 1959 the Society undertook a major project to provide a subject and Scripture index in a single volume for its English publications. A team was assembled that included members of the headquarters staff, missionary graduates of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, and even traveling overseers from New York City. After a year and a half of concentrated effort by 18 dedicated workers, the first Watch Tower Publications Index, with sections for subjects discussed and scriptures explained, covering 31 years from 1930 through 1960, was released. That was first released to a delighted audience at the 1961 United Worshipers Assemblies.
Since then, a Watch Tower Publications Index has appeared in English every year, with a hardbound cumulative Index every five years.