Awake! (ISSN 0005-237X) is a general-interest magazine published by the Jehovah's Witnesses. The title comes from Mark 13:33 and Luke 12:36. It is considered a companion magazine to The Watchtower which focuses mostly on Bible study and doctrine. Awake! has a wider scope than the Watchtower, publishing articles on science, nature and geography, usually with a religious slant.
The magazine's predecessor, first published in 1919 by International Bible Students Association (an earlier name of Jehovah's Witnesses), was entitled The Golden Age. From 1937 it was called Consolation. In some countries it was also known as New World, for a while. In 1946 the present magazine called by the name Awake! was released.
Awake! magazine cover February 2007
The magazine has included Bible crosswords and quizzes, and a number of regular columns: "The Bible's Viewpoint," a column which applies the Bible to current issues; "Young People Ask," giving Bible-based advice aimed at teens and young-adults; "Watching the World," a selection of single-paragraph news items from a variety of sources; "From Our Readers," a selection of letters commenting on previous Awake! articles; and "How Would You Answer?," a compilation of Biblical trivia. There are also sections for historic Biblical dates, questions from the current issue's articles, and a section where kids can search for pictures throughout the magazine.
Articles relating to medical conditions are commonly featured in Awake!. These include dementia, transcient cerebral ischemia, infectious diseases, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression to cite just a few examples.
Autobiographical articles by individual members regarding their experiences and circumstances also appear periodically, and are notable as the only regularly credited writings in any Society publication.
Until December 2005, Awake! was published semi-monthly. However, since January 2006 Awake! was published in a monthly edition. It is currently published once a month in most of its available languages. The magazine has 32 pages and is printed in full color. As of the start of 2007, it is available in 81 different languages (55 monthly, 26 quarterly), including English, German, Swedish, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Indonesian and Zulu with a total worldwide circulation of 34,267,000. It is also available, in selected languages, in audio cassette and compact disc (audio and MP3) formats.
In the past, Awake!"' and its companion The Watchtower were sold for a small charge, varying over time and from country to country.
However, on January 17, 1990, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that sales of religious literature were subject to taxation, which would have required the Watchtower Society to pay tax on the price of the magazines. The Watchtower Society filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief arguing that the sale of religious literature should be exempt from taxation.
From March 1, 1990, the journals were made available at no cost, on a freewill donation basis in the United States. This has helped to simplify their Bible educational work and to separate themselves from those who commercialize religion. The article "Use Our Literature Wisely" which appeared in the May 1990 Our Kingdom Ministry stated, that "there are growing pressures against all religious elements" and it went on to say that their main concern was to move ahead in the worldwide Kingdom preaching work, "without hindrance."
The sale of the literature around the world was gradually eliminated soon thereafter. It continued until the early 1990s, and in some places until early 2000. Awake! is now distributed free of charge worldwide, its printing being funded by voluntary donations.
Awake magazines, and all Jehovah's Witnesses' literature, were sold at cost around the world until the early 1990s. The Awake is now distributed for free, though donations may be solicited. The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of NY, Inc., not-for-profit publisher of The Watchtower, was as of 2001 one of the 40 largest revenue-generating companies in New York City, reporting an annual revenue of about US$951 million. The corporation is now legally headquartered in Patterson, New York. Its yearly report is different from a Wall Street company as the company's employees are volunteers who live and work in the Brooklyn complex.
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Above is a selection of articles that have appeared in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. The Watchtower is published in 183 languages and Awake! in 81 languages. These can be obtained from Jehovah's Witnesses locally or by contacting one of their branch offices.
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