For the 4th time in 19 years, Jehovah's Witnesses are studying the book Revelation: Its Grand Climax at Hand, a verse by verse consideration of that final Bible book: Revelation. Verse by verse is an ambitious undertaking. Some verses are explained with spot-on, blow-you-out-of-the-water clarity, and some may make you say "hmmm, could that really be?" But even the latter are presented persuasively, backed with evidence, and presented with the non-dogmatic caveat that "It is not claimed that explanations in this publication are infallible. Like Joseph of old, we say "do not interpretations belong to God?" (Genesis 40:8) At the same time, however, we firmly believe that the explanations set forth herein harmonize with the Bible in its entirety, showing how remarkably divine prophesy has been fulfilled in the world events of our catastrophic times." (page 9)
A new edition has been prepared for the current study, but, so as not to render the older books obsolete [these are not college textbooks, after all, which deliberately tweak information each year, so that the old book is no good and students must shell out $150 for a new one] an insert has been prepared with all the revisions. They are insignificant, for most part, generally just the updating of dates and statistics. But a few have more substance.
For example, in the midst of discussion of Rev 6:3-4.....
And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say: “Come!” And another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him.
Paragraph 18 on page 94 states "some scientists forecast mathematically that an accidental nuclear war is virtually certain to take place within the next 25 years - let alone a planned nuclear conflagration!" The updated version, however, yanks this phrase for the blander: "some scientists speak of the possibility of an accidental nuclear war - let alone a planned nuclear conflagration!" [!]
The reason the publishers have done this is because Tom Barfendogs has marked on his calendar (to the day, hour, and minute) exactly when 25 years from the first book's publication expires. He is praying, hoping, pleading that there is no nuclear war within that time frame (after that is okay) so he can launch into yet another false prophet screamfest. But now he's been checked in his nefarious scheme!
However, there is a school of thought which holds that the publishers too early quit a game of "chicken." The original may yet turn out to be true, even if there is only 6 years left. Do we not have Iran and North Korea cooking up their own bombs, unstable nations if ever there were unstable nations? Is not Isreal thinking they may yet someday teach hostile neighbor nations an atomic lesson? Has not the formerly monolithic Soviet Union more-or-less fallen apart, so that any Boy Scout troop can fill up a shopping cart with second-hand nukes?. Decidedly, the Watchtower publishers are being sissy, girliemen (per Schwartzenegger). It may yet turn out as they first said. And even if it doesn't, who gets egg on their face? The Watchtower? No! "Some scientists" said the saying. Why should Watchtower care if "some scientists" shoot themselves in the foot? "Some scientists" are always saying rash things, like how, if you 'give infinite monkeys infinite typewriters one of them will write the complete works of Shakespeare!' Or how boisterous flatulance evolved over the eons as a means to scare off predators.
The publishers also missed an opportunity to update when commenting on Rev 6:8
And I saw, and, look! a pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him. And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Commenting on the "wild beasts of the earth" part, Watchtower lays stress on literal mean animals, like the vicious Monty Python bunny rabbit. [my example, not theirs] They also mention people who behave like animals, making a reference to Isa 11:6-9:
And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.
The animals in this verse likely refer to people as well as the literal critters. This is because other verses liken people to various animals, and "the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah" would affect people, but probably not animals. So formerly vicious "animals," under Kingdom rule, coexist peacefully with their nicer counterparts. But in Revelation 6:8, the vicious animals are having a field day, being one of the means in which Death claims a quarter of the earth.
Lots of people are vicious animals today. Unreasoning. Bombers, for example, ecstatic at the thought of dying, if only they can take a few dozen with them! And just today [July 17] there is an NPR report of gangs ("The Multitude") in Kenya that have beheaded 100 people. Heads turn up all over the city, sometimes on spikes. "Animals" is a perfect description! Even in the original 1988 edition, Watchtower observed that such "[animalistic] people are largely responsible for the global expansion of sex-related crimes, murder, terrorism, and bombings in the modern world." It was true then. All the more so today.
It was a area in which the current edition could have expanded, but didn't.