Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #3 William Henry Boulton

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Mayor of Toronto from 1845 to 1847, and in 1858 and member of the Orange Order in Canada, lawyer, cricketer and political figure in Canada West, William Henry Boulton (1812–1874)

The British William Henry Boulton may not be confused with the Canadian lawyer and political figure who was affiliated with the Church of England in Canada and lived in Canada West also called Upper Canada (the former colony of Upper Canada after being united into the Province of Canada),

Several of our brethren have become interested in history and especially in the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of the regions mentioned in the Old Testament. Assyria and the rest of ancient Mesopotamia (a region that encompassed what is now modern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and northwestern and southwestern Iran) and of the related cultures that used cuneiform writing, were favoured subjects for the British William Henry Boulton who was born on 11 April 1869 in Clerkenwell, Middlesex, to Joseph Boulton, a brassfounder and Ann Maria Elwood. Following the death of his first wife, he remarried, to Alice Ionia Westmoreland (1877-1965).

Ever since the days of Brother Thomas, Christadelphians have been drawn to Gibbon’s record of the Roman Empire and its decline. Brother Roberts was a fan of the six-volume work by the English rationalist historian and scholar Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, taking a copy of this continuous narrative from the 2nd century to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, with him on his voyage to Australia. In the preface to his booklet Helps to the Memory of History, published in 1897, Brother Roberts recommends Rollins and Gibbon as

“the two books which supply all the knowledge practically required by the ordinary reader.”

In the early years of the twentieth century, the esteem in which Brother F. G. Jannaway held Gibbon’s work may be inferred from the fact that he regarded as one of the highlights of the Manuscript Room in the British Museum (a room in which also was displayed the Codex Alexandrinus) the agreement by Edward Gibbon in 1787 for the sale of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. {Brother F. G. Jannaway, The British Museum with Bible in Hand, Maranatha Press, p. 86.}

Christadelphian exponents of the continuous-historical interpretation of Revelation have naturally been particularly interested in Gibbon; there are many quotations, for instance, from The Decline and Fall in The Apocalypse and History by Brethren W. H. Boulton and W. H. Barker, in particular when discussing the outworking of the first six seals and the trumpets. {Brethren W. H. Boulton and W. H. Barker, The Apocalypse and History, Fourth Edition, The Christadelphian, 1969. The authors quote from Gibbon on pp. 28 (first seal), 30-31 (second seal), 31 (third seal), 32-33 (fourth seal), 43 (sixth seal and the alliance with corrupted Christianity), 55-56 (second trumpet), 65 and 69 (fifth, or first woe, trumpet) and 70 (sixth, or second woe, trumpet).}

In addition to several direct quotations, Brethren Boulton and Barker when discussing the sixth trumpet (the second woe trumpet) allude to Gibbon’s comments on the significance, in the context of the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, of the Turk’s use of gunpowder and the weapons in which it was used.
They also quote Gibbon’s record of the conversation in 637 between the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the conquering Moslem forces, in The Testimony, May 2011110which the Patriarch under his breath allegedly linked the Moslem conquest of the city to Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation in the holy place. {Ibid., p. 6}

It is should be noted, however, that Brethren Boulton and Barker were not uncritical students of Gibbon. When summing up the events covered by the first five seals they allude to Gibbon’s well-known exposition of the reasons for the success of Christianity in the first to third centuries, but point out that the historian’s view neglects the most significant force at work, which was the blessing of God and the Lord Jesus Christ upon the missionary work undertaken {Ibid., p. 38.}.
No doubt this “oversight” on the part of Gibbon was a reflection of his enlightenment values rather than a careless omission.

Later generations of Christadelphian students have had a similar regard for Gibbon. Even those who have not been supporters of the continuous-historical interpretation of Revelation have admired the work. Brother Alfred D. Norris recommended that the “Preacher’s library” should include a copy of The Decline and Fall, {Brother A. D. Norris, Preaching the Word, The Christadelphian, 1967, p. 58} while Brother Harry A. Whittaker expresses the delight he found in reading chapter 15 (“The Progress of the Christian Religion, and the Sentiments, Manners, Numbers, and Condition, of the primitive Christians”) and chapter 28 (“Final Destruction of Paganism—Introduction of the Worship of Saints and Relics Among the Christians”), and observes colourfully that

“His [Gibbon’s] volumes, or at least chapters 15 and 28, mouldering on many a bookshelf, are in need of a dusting.”

For most of his life brother W.H. Boulton was employed as an auditor and was considered a gifted amateur writer on assyriology, transport history and religious subjects.

Boulton’s interest in assyriology was that of a gifted amateur. He became a regular author for Sampson Low, Marston & Company Ltd. on the Ancient Near East. Along with the English architect and writer on the ,temples of Jerusalem Henry Sulley, Boulton as a frequent contributor of archaeology articles in The Christadelphian magazine during the editorship of C.C. Walker.

After Boulton retired he relocated from London to Birmingham and assisted Walker’s successor John Carter as editor. Carter was also the representative of the Christadelphian church in front of military tribunals in 1938.

William Henry Boulton’s son A. H. Boulton (1904–1981), was also a regular contributor to The Testimony magazine.

A secondary interest by W.H. Boulton was transport; on this subject his major work was The pageant of transport through the ages (1931).

*

Boulton’s works:

Historical:

  • 1924 Babylon, Assyria and Israel, their history as recorded in the Bible and cuneiform inscriptions. Sampson Low, Marston & Co, 1924. 181pp.
  • 1930 The romance of archaeology. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
  • 1931 The romance of the British Museum. With a foreword by Sir Frederic G. Kenyon. Sampson Low, Marston & Co., London.
  • 1933 Assyria. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
  • 1933 Babylonia. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
  • 1933 Elam, Media, and Persia. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
  • 1934 Greece and Rome. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
  • 1950 Palestine. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.

Transport:

  • 1931 The pageant of transport through the ages. With a foreword by Sir Josiah Stamp. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
  • The Splendid Book of Railways (children’s book). Sampson Low, Marston & Co
  • 1950 The Railways of Britain – Their History, Construction and Working. Sampson Low, Marston & Co.

Religious:

  • 1917 The Apocalypse and History. With W.H. Barker.
  • before 1923 The Names and Titles of the Deity.
  • 1924 Epistle to the Hebrews. S. Low, Marston & Co. London.
  • 1946 Paul the apostle – Jew, Tarsian, Roman.
  • 1952 Archaeology Explains the Bible. Epworth, London.
  • God-spell – The Bible story retold. Birmingham.
  • 1962 Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. Birmingham.

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Preceding

Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #1 Dr. John Thomas

Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #2 Frank George Jannaway

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Additional reading

  1. John Thomas – Namesake and inspirer
  2. Thomasites, Russelites – Christadelphians and Biblestudents
  3. Thomasites

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Assyriology Writings

  1. Deuteronomy as a Translation of Assyrian Treaties
  2. Tell Fekheriyeh, Deuteronomy, and the Assyrian Treaty Tradition
  3. The Exaltation of Innana | Interview with Dr. Louise Pryke

3 thoughts on “Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #3 William Henry Boulton

  1. Pingback: Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #3 William Henry Boulton | Talmidimblogging

  2. Pingback: Answers Concerning Prophecies and things future #14 Tarshish | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  3. Pingback: Temple of Ezekiel’s Prophecy | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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