Here is the true story of the revision of "Daniel and the Revelation." Told by the secretary of the revision committee, it is accurate and trustworthy, and will answer the many questions that have been asked as to why it has taken so long to revise and publish the book, and certain related questions. A number of erroneous impressions have gained circulation. This and other articles to follow will keep the record straight concerning this major task. —Editor.
Three questions were frequently asked members of the Daniel and the Revelation revision committee in the last two years: When will Daniel and the Revelation be out? What are you doing to certain disputed points of interpretations? Why is it taking so long to get the book published? The first two questions are answered by the book itself, which has recently been placed on sale by our three major publishing houses. The third may now very properly be answered by a simple story of the various processes of the undertaking. This account should have been written by the chairman, W. E. Howell, but his passing from our midst left the final touches of the work to other members of the committee.
The question of revising and republishing Daniel and the Revelation as a subscription book was considered by the Executive Committee of the General Conference on October 23, 1940, at the Autumn Council in St. Paul, Minnesota. At that time it was voted to refer the question to the officers of the General Conference and the managers of the three publishing houses. There was some correspondence regarding the problem, but the first convenient opportunity for this group to meet was at the Autumn Council of 1941. It was voted there to appoint a five-man committee to examine the book in detail and report on the advisability of proceeding with the revision. The committee consisted of W. E. Howell, F. M. Wilcox, and the book editors of the three publishing houses. This was entirely in harmony with the following instruction from Mrs. E. G. White:
"In some of our important books that have been in print for years, and which have brought many to a knowledge of the truth, there may be found matters of minor importance that call for careful study and correction. Let such matters be considered by those regularly appointed to have the oversight of our publications. Let not these brethren, nor our canvassers, nor our ministers magnify these matters in such a way as to lessen the influence to these good soul-saving books."—Preach the Word, 1). 7. (Written July 31, 1910.)
On November 17, 1941, W. E. Howell, the chairman of this small committee, wrote to the members, telling them of their appointment, and suggesting certain methods of procedure to be followed before the committee should meet to begin its work. Right there began the long trail which eventually, and only recently, brought us to the published book. From that moment until the time of this writing, when the revised books are ready for circulation, there has been not the slightest slackening of pressure to hasten the task to completion.
It should be remembered, first of all, that the men appointed to this committee were already fully employed in important denominational work. In most cases the additional burden meant long hours of concentrated effort outside of regular responsibilities. It should also be remembered that the three publishing houses are widely separated. The business of the committee entailed much time spent in traveling, as well as extra expense for maintenance for men away from home.
On March 8, 1942, the five committee members met in a quiet corner of the General Conference office building. They toiled continuously and diligently until March 22, spending their full time at the task. On March 23 a report was rendered to the officers of the General Conference and the managers of the publishing houses. The consideration of this report lasted until the twenty-fifth. From this meeting the following recommendations were passed on to the Spring Council of the General Conference:
"We recommend, I. The publication of Daniel and the Revelation as a subscription book in a revised form.
"2. That a special book committee of eleven members on revision be appointed, with representation of the three publishing houses of North America, giving them power to act in revising and preparing the book for publication.
"3. That the revised edition of Daniel and the Revelation be published by all three publishing houses.
"4. That the proposed revision of Daniel and the Revelation take the place of all editions now published."
On April 8, 1942, W. E. Howell wrote to those involved, reporting that the Spring Council had accepted the recommendations of the committee, and had appointed the eleven-man revision committee with power to act, fully representing the three publishing houses. The committee consisted of the managers and book editors of the three publishing houses, and W. E. Howell, F. M. Wilcox, H. M. Blunden, A. W. Cormack, and W. E. Read.
During some of the earlier discussions of the problem of revision, both in the field and in the various committees, dating back even before the 1940 Fall Council, the suggestion was often made that it would be easier to write an entirely new book than to attempt to revise an old book after the author was dead. Many saw light in such a plan. It had much in its favor. But the following statement from Mrs. E. G. White was so convincing and all-inclusive that revision seemed the only proper procedure:
"Especially should the book Daniel and the Revelation be brought before the people as the very book for this time. This book contains the message which all need to read and understand. . . . Let our canvassers urge this book upon the attention of all. The Lord has shown me that this book will do a good work in enlightening those who become interested in the truth for this time. Those who embrace the truth now, who have not shared in the experiences of those who entered the work in the early history of the message, should study the instruction given in Daniel and Revelation, becoming familiar with the truth it presents. . . The interest in Daniel and Revelation is to continue as long as probationary time shall last."--E.G. White MS. 174, 1899.
From the moment that the Spring Council action created the necessary machinery for a joint publication of the book by the three publishing houses, there has never been the slightest suggestion that the work of revision and publication be dropped or even retarded. Everyone connected with any phase of the task has put forth strenuous efforts to speed the work forward.
On May 3, 1942, the fully empowered revision committee met in Washington. A subcommittee of seven was appointed to do the actual work. This relieved the three publishing house managers and F. M. Wilcox from the necessity of sitting through several weeks of detailed labor. The revision committee worked diligently until June 2, 1942. The next two days were spent in reporting to the full committee that which had been accomplished. In making this report the subcommittee recognized that much detail yet demanded attention before the copy would actually be ready for the typesetter. Even while the subcommittee was at work, stenographers were busy preparing four copies of the manuscript. These were to be distributed to the publishing houses for whatever contribution they wished to make. The chairman kept the master copy.
It was agreed that the copy editing should be shared by the houses, and their responsibilities were divided. The Pacific Press editorial staff agreed to verify all historical facts and dates. The Review and Herald staff was assigned the task of verifying all quotations other than Scripture. The Southern Publishing Association group was to verify Scripture texts and references, and was given the responsibility of general style, since the Southern house was to do the typesetting. All this detail took time—weeks and weeks of time. The physical aspects of verifying hundreds of dates and quotations and making thousands of style decisions is beyond the comprehension of anyone who has not had experience in such work.
The basic agreement that the book should be published by all three publishing houses in North America added immensely to the complexity of the task. A publishing committee_______ distinguished from the revision committee—was appointed by the General Conference, in order that all business arrangements might be properly planned. The making of a book is a complicated process. Many decisions must be made by responsible leaders. Costs must be figured. Prices must be set. Illustrations must be selected. Type and layout must be planned. When three organizations share in such work, it naturally takes more time.
When the revision committee of seven reported on June 3 and 4, 1942, to the eleven-man committee which was empowered by the General Conference to publish the book, it passed on the task to others to be carried to completion. But at the same time this group of revisers recognized that there were many details yet to be decided, and that they should have a watchful care over the text of the book until it was in final form in pages of type. From this time, therefore, there were really two groups of men working on the problems of publication.
During the summer and autumn of 1942 the preparation of the copy was pressed with vigor. The publishing house groups returned their copies of the manuscript, and their suggestions were collated on the master copy. In this work several problems arose which required the consideration of the revision committee. Many of them were decided by correspondence, but some were accumulated for a meeting of the revisers, which took place in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Autumn Council of 1942. This was really the last formal gathering of the revisers, but problems were often referred to the members by mail after that until the book was finally in page form.
It should be remembered that the revisers and publishers were dealing with a book that contained more than eight hundred pages. Everything about it took time. The following schedule of progress will illustrate why the public had to wait until the close of 1944 to see the finished product:
On December 18, 1942, the first of the copy was sent to the Southern Publishing Association to be set in type. But this was only the beginning. It was not until April 9, 1943, that the last of the copy was transmitted. All that time the chairman and the secretary of the revision committee had been at work collating the suggestions of the three editorial groups, finishing the verification, and presenting to the revision committee members additional problems for consideration. On June 3, 1943, the first galley proofs were submitted to the revision committee. It had been agreed that the revisers should all read the galley proofs as a final check on their own work. On June 18, additional proofs were submitted, and on August 15 the last of 231 galley proofs were sent out to committee members.
In the meantime returns were coming in on the first proofs. On August 4, 1943, the proofs for the part on Daniel were returned to the Southern Publishing Association. But it was not until October to that the proofs for the section on Revelation could be returned. On November 16 and 23 corrected proofs were returned to Washington for the preparation of the dummy. It had taken eleven months to get the copy set, the proofs read, and the corrections made. No one in all that time could be charged with holding up progress for a moment. The very nature of the task required it. The making of a book requires a sequence of work. Certain procedures may not be undertaken until other operations are completed.
So far nothing has been said about the illustrations. It was agreed right at the start that everything within our power should be done to make the finished product attractive. This meant new pictures. And pictures, like ancient Rome, are not made in a day. Some time before the revision of Daniel and the Revelation was inaugurated the Review and Herald had started on a plan to secure outstanding artists to paint pictures to illustrate our distinctive truths. The first pictures received from this source were of such merit that the publishing committee decided to use similar pictures for the new book. It was therefore voted to make a liberal allowance in the budget for these new pictures. This meant that the artists must be persuaded to devote some of their time to our project, and they must be fully informed concerning the illustrations wanted.
While much preliminary work had been done, and many new pictures selected as the setting of the type progressed, the real task of illustrating had to wait until the type was finally set and corrected and the exact length of each chapter was known. As stated before, the proofs for the dummy were transmitted November 16 and 23, 1943. It was on March 3, i944—more than three months later—that the completed dummy was returned to the Southern Publishing Association.
The type was soon made up into pages, and by April 20 and 21 page proofs were on their way to Washington. This time a minute reading was not necessary. On April 27 the proofs were returned to Nashville. The last correspondence on the revision and illustration in the committee secretary's files is dated May 31, 1944.
But the story does not end here. There was a Scripture and subject index to make after pages were complete. Then three sets of printing plates were to be produced, or one for each of the three main publishing houses. Since the book has 830 pages, it required 2,490 printing plates in all.
During the fall of 5944 the plates were shipped to the publishing houses. Now at last books would be ready in a hurry. But wait—two more hurdles remained. Foremost, of course, was the time required to print and bind a large edition of a major subscription book. The second was paper rationing. The Southern Publishing Association and the Pacific Press were able to issue small editions before the end of 1944. The Review and Herald completed its first printing soon after the new year 5945 began.
This has been a long story, and by now the reader may be 'weary with all it details. But it was those details which took time. And that is why it took so long to publish a new edition of Daniel and the Revelation.