Jehovah’s Witnesses, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, religion, new religions, Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology, and GN301-674
The article explores the history of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Estonia. The first Bible students emerged in Estonia in the 1920s, and the Society started its work in the country in 1926 when the local office was opened. In 1935 the Watchtower Society was closed down according to the Emergency Act. The Society was accused of activities that caused social unrest and damaged the interests of Estonian foreign policy. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, although banned as an organization, continued their work in spreading the Biblical message around the country. In 1940 Estonia was incorporated into the Soviet Union. The foreign staff of the Watchtower Society left the country and from there on the Estonian Jehovah’s Witnesses organized their work on their own, and their contacts with the headquarters abroad were lost. Although from 1941 to 1944 Estonia was occupied by German military forces, little action was taken against the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Soviet authorities’ repressions against them started in 1948 when the leading Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested and sent to prison camps. In 1951 during the operation Sever (North) carried out by the Soviet authorities, which targeted the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the new territories of the Soviet Union, almost all Witnesses were deported from Estonia to Tomsk region in Siberia. All of the Estonian Jehovah’s Witnesses were gradually released by the mid-1960s. However, the Soviet anti-religious campaign targeted the Jehovah’s Witnesses, stigmatizing them in the media and at their workplaces. By the late 1960s the Witnesses in Estonia had established their contacts with their headquarters in the West and started organizing the Watchtower Society’s work in the Baltic countries as well as in the western part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, including Leningrad (St. Petersburg). Although the direct repressions against Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Soviet period in Estonia were rare compared to other Soviet republics, the authorities monitored them, and conscientious objectors were imprisoned. When the Soviet regime ended in Estonia in 1991, the Jehovah’s Witnesses registered their religious organization and started their missionary activities. In the 1990s there were several conflicts between the mainstream society and the Witnesses. The conflicts included conscientious objectors, blood-free medicine, the use of rented facilities for their religious services, and sensational but unsubstantiated news by the tabloid media. However, by the 2000s the problems were solved, and in a short time the Jehovah’s Witnesses had become the fourth or fifth largest denomination in Estonia.
Eesti ja Soome-ugri Keeleteaduse Ajakiri, Vol 3, Iss 1, Pp 279-295 (2012)
history of written Estonian, Bible translation, terminology, blasphemy, publican, Philology. Linguistics, P1-1091, Finnic. Baltic-Finnic, and PH91-98.5
After the Reformation, two written languages developed in the Estonian territory: one was based on the South-Estonian dialects,and the other on the North-Estonian dialects. By the 1630s, year-round pericope books had finally been printed in both language versions. The new aim in the mid-seventeenth century was to translate the whole Bible, as well as to homogenise and systematise the already existing work. Term creation became especially important. At that point, Estonian lacked equivalents of many essential abstract notions, the terminology of the Old Testament was hopelessly fragmentary, and the usage of a number of terms was unstable. The first person to undertake the translation of the whole Bible was Pastor Johannes Gutslaff,who worked in Urvaste in South-Estonia. His translation remained in manuscript and later Bible versions show no traces which would indicate that his work was used. Gutslaff’s translation is an interesting and instructive example of a missed opportunity in the history of the Estonian written language. The following characterises Gutslaff’s language creation in general and describes his search for Estonian equivalents of two New Testament terms (βλασφημία ‘blasphemy’ andτελώνης ‘publican’). The matches suggested for the first term are quite transparent, whereas those for the second have a vaguer etymology.
ethno-botany, “folk Bible”, folklore, folk medicine, Slavonic dialectology, Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology, and GN301-674
The article demonstrates how, among the Slavs, a given objective feature of a plant becomes an important factor in the selection of plants for use in folk medicine. At the same time, this feature provides remarkably close ties between the plant, folk beliefsabout certain biblical personages, and the symptoms of disease. The role of another mediator – natural language – is no less important for connections between different codes of traditional culture. A plant name becomes linked to words and objects, thereby acquiring secondary associations. Thus, traditional culture regards disease not only as a deviation but also as a situation close to the mythological time of world creation, and a patient is placed in the mythological space where he uses, as medicine, the herbs which have “appeared” thanks to characters of Christian mythology. The phytonymsand etiological legends, analysed in the article, are used within the tradition as an instrument to ascertain the reason why a specific plant was selected for the treatment of a certain illness. In folk culture, an illness is observed – at least indirectly – as ananomalous state of the human being, however, it is also treated as a situation close to the mythological time of origin of the objects of the surrounding world, and the ailing person is placed in the mythological space wherein he/she would use medicinal plants created thanks to the figures of Christian mythology; this re-occurs again in the treatment of each new patient.
SUMERIAN literature, ASSYRO-Babylonian literature, INTERNATIONAL cooperation, HEADS of state, DELEGATED legislation, SUMERIAN mythology, ASSYRO-Babylonian mythology, and WISDOM literature (Bible)
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