(adapted from volume 56, number 3 of Unsearchable Riches magazine)
A.E.K. AND HIS WORK
A Biographical Sketch by a Close Friend
And Long-time Associate
EDWARD H. CLAYTON
TO WRITE OF ADOLPH ERNST KNOCH is, primarily, to write a history of the years during which the magazine, Unsearchable Riches, has been published. That this is so intimates how fully his life has been given up to research into the untraceable riches of Christ to the nations, as well as to inquiry into the Scriptures regarded as the comprehensive literature which reveals the ways of God.
As a result of reading the Bible, and in particular the Roman epistle, A.E.K. has written, “I believed and was saved.” The reality of his faith, evoked by the Word of God, has been evident ever since. During the closing years of the last century, while he was associated with the Plymouth Brethren, there was much exercise of mind around the Word of God. In the early years of the present century, God was guiding and ordering circumstances into which A.E.K. was to enter, as a ministry. The thoughts and exercise around the Word of God were, in this period, advancing that faith which had arisen in A.E.K.’s spirit as he moved to and beyond the adult stage. In these, steps were taken which led to a real ministry of the Word of God. The “Mystery” of the epistles of Paul occupied the mind of A.E.K., as well as other problems and topics concerned with the Scriptures.
GRACE AND GLORY
Writing upon the Divine Mysteries, in the first volume of Unsearchable Riches, A.E.K. makes reference to the journal, Things to Come, which had been taken over by the late Dr. Bullinger a few years earlier. A. E. Knoch speaks of the articles on the Mystery in Dr. Bullinger’s publication as being “epoch-making.” And truly they were. The pressing idea of “rightly dividing the word of truth” was being entertained by A. E. Knoch, and several others were also exercised by the same thought, although not as yet were these friends (to be) in contact. That came about as a result of a series of articles “On Baptism” which A. E. Knoch submitted to Dr. Bullinger in 1906 and which appeared in the pages of Things to Come the following year.
“Epoch-making” would be an equally true description of A. E. Knoch’s own ministry which was then gradually developing, and which took on a more distinct shape from the associations which resulted from the publication of these articles. So that, with the help of the late Vladimir Gelesnoff, a ministry came into being which has extended over fifty years. It will be seen that the ministry being formulated in the mind of A.E.K. was not one which proceeded upon conventional lines, reiterating that which had been entertained in the teachings of others. A.E.K. found brethren who were being similarly exercised. One such brother was Alan Burns, who in the year 1906 commenced the issue of a small magazine under the title Grace and Glory. A.E.K. contributed to this, writing on topics described as “The Burning Issues of the Hour.” His friend, Vladimir Gelesnoff, was also a contributor on subjects closely in line with those written by A.E.K. But Grace and Glory ran only for eight issues, the last one published in March 1909.
For some months before its cessation, it had been realized that Grace and Glory did not fit the pattern of the ministry which was envisaged. Income and expenditure did not encourage continuance. Yet the desire for the ministry had been roused, and the urge in the spirit of the two friends, V. Gelesnoff and A. E. Knoch, corresponded thereto. So, in October 1909, the first number of the present magazine, Unsearchable Riches, was published. Gone were the tentative features of Grace and Glory; there was a definite program, with bimonthly issues, and at a cost of a dollar per annum. The desire to serve the saints can be gauged from the fact that this charge is still maintained, despite the many factors which have increased costs during the life of the magazine.
The breadth of outlook of the two editors, as stated in the opening editorial of the first issue of Unsearchable Riches, is most notable. Moreover, behind the statement were the minds of two saints whom God’s spirit had enlisted and enriched with a vista around His Word which suggested a promising ministry. Here were teachers who had discerned the value of correctly cutting the Word of truth, and also, for their studies, the benefits of using concordances based on the original languages which lie behind our versions. In this way, they were escaping the influence of lexicons, and they were presenting studies which emerged from close attention to God’s own word usages, for the words were regarded in the contexts made by God in His inspiring of the Scriptures. Tentatively a working arrangement was planned so that one editor made Hebrew his prior interest, whilst the other took the Greek, yet this was not to be absolute and exclusive. Unfortunate happenings, which consummated in the death of Brother Gelesnoff, did not allow this arrangement to continue for many years; in fact, increasingly the affairs of the magazine passed into the care of A. E. Knoch.
THE CONCORDANT METHOD
In the first volume of Unsearchable Riches, there appeared an article by A.E.K. under the title, “God’s Word Regained.” Here was the hint of a ministry which, as had been perceptible from prior articles, was departing from current translations. The article explained the inception of a plan which really merited the thought of regaining God’s Word, for each word was to be kept separate from all others; a word had its own area of thought and its own usage. This was a worthy view of the inspired Word of God, one which recognized His inspiration and the unique character of the word assemblage of which our God was capable.
From this careful use of sound words came help in understanding seeming difficulties in God’s Word. The “mysteries” of existing translations became “secrets.” This allowed the further discrimination that God’s Word was speaking of a number of secrets which God had been concealing but which were revealed through Paul.
During the succeeding years of the magazine, more and more samples of the results of what was to be called “The Concordant Method” appeared in its pages, both in the form of articles and of the proposed version. Means to indicate the connection of the various details of the version with the facts of the original were also displayed. The basic foundation for the CONCORDANT VERSION was being laid, and plans were being made for it to be issued in the years ahead. Gradually a Greek Text was formed, with a sublinear beneath it and STANDARD words shown therein. By means of these, the student was given the clear area of thought for each Greek element. A fuller account was given later in the booklet, (“The Story of the Concordant Version”).
TRUTH ABOUT THE EONS
The articles appearing in the early volumes of Unsearchable Riches were really elaborating on what the first issue of the magazine stated as its aim; the recovery of truth. Not only was the teaching concerning justification affirmed, but the unknown truth, the secret of the evangel, was uncovered. Word study had discriminated two words both rendered “reconcile” in the versions; these were shown to be “conciliate” (a one-sided matter) and “reconcile” (a mutual matter) so that the evangel is heralding the revelation of God’s secret, for God is conciliated by the death of His Son. Love has achieved its secret. The whole of this topic, developed by A.E.K., was set forth in a series of articles, under the heading, “The Mystery of the Gospel,” which was later published as a book.
Alongside such truth, there was also appearing studies by A.E.K. which showed the falsity of the Bible words, “forever” and “forever and ever.” The occurrences of these were examined and analyzed and classified in a manner which revealed the truth that God had made the eons through His Son, and that His purpose was eonian, achieved in the eons through His Son. All these results were proceeding from the study of concordances which related the words of our Bible to the original inspired words of the text of God’s Word. A number of articles on these themes were gathered into book form, under the title ALL IN ALL, setting forth the goal of the universe as revealed in the Scriptures.
These were years in which A.E.K. was making great efforts to indicate to God’s saints the truth which God had revealed in His Word for their faith, yet which lay hidden from them in the discordant versions in use. He was seeking to put God’s Word above all else in the minds of those whom his ministry reached. By the magazine, truth has gone around the world, and many saints have become informed concerning God’s righteousness and His love and His ultimate purpose, planned in His Son.
ALL IS OUT OF GOD
Brother Knoch’s full occupation and intense activity did not prevent him from giving a little attention to that other side of faith which expresses itself in worship, for he composed hymns which viewed the wider prospect given to faith, and which also enshrined the thoughts coming to be realized from the recovery of truth. These hymns were set to music and sent forth on sheets, that adoration, in stricter accord with truth, may arise to God, the Father of Him Whose obedience implemented the evangel.
Because A.E.K. was so dominated by the Word of God, his mind was led to consider Scriptural matters free from the influence of creed and theology. The universe was God’s creation; He was Supreme. By learning in this manner, it became an easy step for A.E.K. to receive the truth that all is out of God, through Him and for Him. Thus he soon saw that there was no “problem” in connection with the question of evil. For the God of the Scriptures, there was no struggle against evil; nor did His Word reveal any notion of dualism in the universe. A series of articles on the theme of evil appeared in the pages of Unsearchable Riches, and, when completed, they were gathered under one cover, and published in a volume suitable for convenient study.
All these studies by A.E.K. were done along the way as he worked diligently toward the completion and the publishing of the CONCORDANT VERSION. Special studies into the Greek of the inspired text were conducted, as well as the decision how the Greek text should be formulated. The several forms of the Greek verb called for close investigation, as a preliminary to rendering them into a version. They must first be discriminated by standards. Of particular importance was the solution of the grammatical significance of that Greek verbal form which is termed the Aorist. In what sense did the Aorist differ from the other form which was also regarded as a past? A.E.K. went to work on these matters in a thorough manner; he spared no effort to reach a position of which he was assured. Then the results were brought to a focus in a masterly article under the title, “The Greek and English Indefinite.”
THE UNVEILING PUBLISHED
After great effort, it became possible to publish “The Story of the Concordant Version” in June 1919. Therein is given many details of how the work proceeded from the first beginnings up to reaching the practical stage for publication. The first installment, the book of The Unveiling (“Revelation”), was available and in the mail to subscribers by August 1919. The years which ensued were also years of intense activity and application, for A.E.K. planned to issue the work in twelve parts, and at six-month intervals. In this way, he was able to finance the work, for each part provided the money for the next.
The pathway to the issuance of the first part of the version presented many a difficulty the solution of which called for resourcefulness, as well as an undaunted spirit. In this was the expression of a spiritual life which was strong and deep, creating a desire to move closely to the inspired original. By following this course, the influence of several details, present in a cursive Greek text, was avoided and the work proceeded on a free course.
The publishing of the Unveiling, as the first part of the CONCORDANT VERSION, called for a full exposition of that book. The notes by A.E.K., printed beside the version and the Greek text required elaboration. A.E.K.’s plans anticipated this, and soon there began a series of articles in Unsearchable Riches. Volume 12 contained the first article, and they ran through to the last number of volume 20. The whole of these articles have been made available as a volume of almost 600 pages, published under the title, “The Unveiling of Jesus Christ.”
A. E. KNOCH’S VIEW OF INSPIRATION
This exposition of the Unveiling presented the view that the book was revealing the opening years of the day of Yahweh (or, “Jehovah”), which establishes the saints of Israel in the kingdom, to reign with Messiah for a thousand years. The concluding chapters of the Unveiling take the revelation forward into the Day of God and the new heavens and earth. The topics of the many articles were those required by the literary structure of the book, more or less akin to the chapters. This writing kept A.E.K. well occupied, amidst both the completing of the parts of the CONCORDANT VERSION and its incidental revision for the publishing in one binding in 1926. Then followed the compiling and printing of the Lexical Concordance to the completed CONCORDANT VERSION of the Greek Scriptures. This latter was a most onerous task, and was completed and published in 1930, along with a new printing, on better paper, of the Version itself.
Amidst the completing of this great task, on September 7, 1926, Brother Knoch was called upon to bear the pain and sorrow of the death of his wife. She had been a true helpmeet, and, until failing health overtook her, she had given much assistance in the work, and so enabled A.E.K. to go forward with the more serious side of the work. Now our brother must go on alone. Only his immediate friends knew what this meant to him.
A.E.K. should not be regarded merely as a man of industry. To entertain that thought of him is to miss entirely the true estimate of his lifework. Here is a brother who was motivated by an overriding perception which was emerging as a desire to serve, not “his day and generation” but his God and Father. The Bible was a version of God’s inspired Word, and A.E.K. wished to know the original behind that English version. He would honor the fact of God inspiring His Word. To A.E.K., the inspiration of the Scriptures was as important and fundamental as was the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. The written Word compares to Him Who is the Living Word. A version of the Scriptures ought to enter into this analogy. To this end, A.E.K. labored.
PREPARATION FOR THE HEBREW WORK
Wisdom characterized the ministry of A.E.K. Some subjects in God’s Word were ever in his mind, and a full statement upon them was left until his studies were complete and really exhaustive. This was, indeed, a very essential feature for some questions, since tradition and prior commitment were most strongly entrenched. Around the person of God’s Son, Brother Knoch came to write three most illuminating articles. The titles were The Kenosis of Christ, Christ Compared with Deity, and Christ Contrasted with Deity. These articles set forth the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ, in their true scriptural position, showing that He is the Image of the Invisible God. The articles are most mature studies, far more effective than any argument or denial of the so-called “Trinity.” The whole subject was rounded out by a study on the personality of the holy spirit. It is God’s spirit; the living, intelligent, personal power by which God does all things, through Christ. God is called by the term spirit when attention is diverted from His Deity to His operations in creation and salvation.
The years in which the CONCORDANT VERSION of the Greek Scriptures were being completed found A.E.K. giving increasing attention to his plans for executing a similar service in respect to the Hebrew Scriptures.
Some preparation for the Hebrew section had been in process, but a major matter was that it should begin by a visit to Palestine by A.E.K., and a sojourn in that country, so as to learn firsthand the topography, the customs and other circumstances, such as might give insight to aid the investigations into the Hebrew Scriptures. It was even a desire to translate some passages of the Hebrew whilst resting or wandering amidst a particular district of Palestine. One such passage is the well known Twenty-third Psalm. Our English version of this psalm seems much colored by the circumstances of the English countryside, rather than the more arid condition which prevails to a great degree in the Holy Land.
THE SOJOURN IN PALESTINE
The May 1931 issue of Unsearchable Riches made the announcement that Brother Knoch, after waiting for the Lord’s guidance concerning the work in Palestine, and his way thither, had decided that he should cross the continent of the United States during that month of May, calling to see friends en route, but eventually reaching New York, from whence he would embark for the south of England, and then to Scotland. To many of A.E.K.’s friends, in both continents, these were days of remembrance, and they have been enhanced since.
The end of June 1931, saw A.E.K. depart from England for Sweden to meet friends of the work there. Then over to Denmark and eventually into Germany. In the latter country, much interest was shown in the truths which had been brought to light from the study of the original text of the Scriptures and the divergences which existed in the versions.
In Germany, Brother Knoch met with a sincere desire for a German CONCORDANT VERSION. They knew a little about the English side, and there was active discussion on such a project in German. As the discussion advanced, select passages were translated for a proposed prospectus. And these plans were not laid aside, despite A.E.K.’s departure from Germany. His journey to Palestine had been planned and was in process, and it must proceed. The Hebrew work was really geared into the journey, along with the sojourn in the land.
Many were the journeys and the wanderings made by A.E.K. in Palestine. There was the comparing of passages in the Bible with the numerous districts to which the scriptures made reference. In these circumstances, it was sought to catch the value of the environs of the passages, and then to consider them amidst the first tentative translations which had been made. Standards had been fixed for a considerable number of Hebrew words, and work on a number of books had been done. Thus it was easy to consider the special features of special passages, more or less related to a given district. It was hoped to gain much value from this experience.
A.E.K. MARRIES SIGRID von KANITZ
The stay in Palestine had fulfilled the needs for which it was undertaken. But the visit to Germany en route had created in the mind of A.E.K. a real understanding of the needs of the saints of that country and their urgent desire to have a version based on a pattern of sound words. The conversations which A.E.K. had with the friends when in Germany left him without any doubts in the matter. His prior impressions, gained whilst at home in Los Angeles, had been more than confirmed. Apparently the call, “Come over and help us,” followed him to Palestine. So A.E.K. did not return to California until the year 1939.
In February 1932, the engagement of A.E.K. to Countess Sigrid von Kanitz was announced. By the middle of April A.E.K. was staying in Potsdam, later to take up residence at Stepenitz. Here Brother Knoch and Sister Knoch worked together to produce a CONCORDANT VERSION for the German saints. It was when passing through Germany that A.E.K. recognized the fervid faith and desire of the Countess for God’s Word in the form of a CONCORDANT VERSION. Her special qualifications to assist in such a project were also apparent to A.E.K. During almost seven years the two worked together on the German version, so that early in 1939 the work was off the press and available to the German saints.
The compiling of the German CONCORDANT VERSION did not become any interlude in the Hebrew work, for the latter was carried along amidst the German work. All the time details and problems of the Hebrew word families and the STANDARDS required for STEM and BRANCHES were slowly built toward the practical issue. From Stepenitz, A.E.K. kept in touch with his several assistants in the work, beside guiding the publication of Unsearchable Riches which was still published in Los Angeles.
RETURN TO CALIFORNIA
December 1939, found A.E.K. and his wife back in Los Angeles, united with his son Ernest and his wife Alberta, as well as his family born during A.E.K.’s absence from the U.S.A. From the landing at New York, in late November, there was the renewing of contact with many friends. This would have continued right across the States, except that A.E.K. was in poor trim. Traveling for him was an ordeal. The journey from Denmark, at first skirting the northern limits of the ocean, to avoid war dangers, was a great physical trial to him. His wife was “as good a traveler as he was bad,” was A.E.K.’s comment.
A period of recovery from the effects of the trip, and readjustment to a renewal of conditions back home, was necessary ere Brother Knoch was back in stride. There was no real inactivity, but rather a reviewing of the stages at which the several sections of the work stood. From increased experience, especially from the undertaking of the German side of the work, plus the years of actual use of the English CONCORDANT VERSION, it had become evident that this section of A.E.K.’s ministry needed to be revised in some details, and even re-cast in its form. In a sense, this was an extra work, yet it was shouldered amidst the carrying forward of the Hebrew work. The outcome was the International Edition of 1944, together with its Keyword Concordance.
Brother Knoch’s plans for the Hebrew section of the work had gradually been moving forward. All the books of the Hebrew Scriptures had been transferred from the Hebrew characters and typed into Latin letters, leaving space for a sublinear of STANDARDS to be written beneath the words, and this had proceeded well toward completion. It was now definitely possible for A.E.K. to begin to review all prior translation efforts and to undertake the trying task of making improvements in the vocabulary required by the STANDARDS given to each Hebrew word.
GENESIS AND ISAIAH
There were still problems of detail in some of the word families which called for more research and consideration. Such matters as the divine titles were a problem in themselves, and this needed much attention and thought. To these Brother Knoch applied himself with rigid attention, though his years now added up to a good total.
It became possible to publish, as the fourth number of volume 48, a first installment of the Hebrew Scriptures. This was the book of Genesis, or “In a Beginning.” In it was given an introduction which sketched the many avenues traversed for the work, and tended to convey an inkling of the earnest effort A.E.K. had made. It represented years of original toil and all the setbacks which had crossed the path of the work. Yet, nothing daunted, the work always went forward by some minute stage. God’s grace always sustained, for the work had been begun in the fear and love of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it had continued in His strength and the regard for the needs of the saints who looked to the inspired Scriptures God had given to humanity.
Brother Knoch now had to lessen his activity in the work, but he had brought the book of the prophet Isaiah sufficiently forward that it was possible to go ahead and publish it in 1962. The remainder of the Hebrew Scriptures are now in a position which, under God’s grace and guidance, may yet make it possible for them to become available. The major question is, Will our God call the living and the dead saints to the air, ere their completion is reached?
THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM
From volume forty-one of Unsearchable Riches, Brother Knoch’s son, Ernest, was associated with him in the editing of the magazine, but A.E.K. was able to continue in a limited capacity, until the fiftieth volume was reached. He was also assisted by his grandsons, David and Albert. In commencing volume fifty, A.E.K. quoted from the first editorial of the magazine. This reflection back to the beginning of the magazine’s ministry is very notable, after such a long period. It indicates how strong has been the memory of the original outlook and attitude to God’s Word, and how constant and consistent has been the adherence to it.
Somewhere, A.E.K. wrote, in reference to work he had just then completed, that he wished the work were better done. That was an expression of his humility, and doubtless Brother Knoch would still echo those words with respect to his life’s work.
Edward H. Clayton
THE SHEPHERD PSALM
Yahweh is my shepherd
so I am wanting naught.
He’s causing me to recline
In verdant oases.
To restful wat’ring places
He is conducting me.
My soul He is restoring–
[My soul restoreth He!]
In righteous rounds He guides me
Because of His [own] name.
E’en though I’m walking in
The shade of death ravine,
I am not fearing evil,
For thou dost stand by me.
Thy club and crook console me–
[Thy club and crook console!]
Before me thou’r’t arranging
Forage that fronts my foes.
Thou sleek’st my head with oil.
My cup doth satiate.
Yea, good and kindness follow
For all my livelong days.
And in Yahweh’s house
I dwell to length of days!
A. E. Knoch
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