Borrowed this thread from e-w's db, which has had no comments - but the reasons for the changes might be of interest for us...? It's interesting to me anyway, lol.
This is from the 8/15/83 WT:
THE SYMBOLIC OLIVE TREE—Type and Antitype
12 tribes of Israel
144,000 spiritual Israelites (secondary seed)
Isaac, Jacob and 12 patriarchs
Messiah Jesus (primary Seed)
'The Way': It has changed now. The Watchtower study article 'O the Depth of God's Wisdom!' in the Watchtower of May 15, 2011, p. 21-25 "updates" the explanation of 1983, which is a euphemism for making short shrift of the whole type-antitype idea and stripping away half of the previous explanation, that is all things having to do with the natural nation of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the 12 patriarchs, the 12 tribes of Israel).
An excerpt: The Symbolic Olive Tree
13 The apostle Paul goes on to compare those who become part of Abraham’s seed to branches on a symbolic olive tree.* (Rom. 11:21) This cultivated olive tree represents the fulfillment of God’s purpose with regard to the Abrahamic covenant. The root of the tree is holy and represents Jehovah as the one who gives life to spiritual Israel. (Isa. 10:20; Rom. 11:16) The trunk represents Jesus as the primary part of Abraham’s seed. The branches collectively represent “the full number” of those included in the secondary part of Abraham’s seed.
* Evidently, there is no typical or antitypical olive tree. Although natural Israel did produce kings and priests, the nation did not become a kingdom of priests. Kings in Israel were prevented by law from becoming priests. Therefore, natural Israel did not serve as a typical olive tree. Paul is illustrating how God’s purpose to produce “a kingdom of priests” is fulfilled in connection with spiritual Israel. This updates what was published in the August 15, 1983, Watchtower, pages 14-19.
13. What is represented by (a) the olive tree, (b) its root, © its trunk, and (d) its branches?
14 In the illustration of the olive tree, the natural Jews who rejected Jesus are likened
to olive branches that were “broken off.” (Rom.11:17)
Note how para. 13 does not even try anymore to give any Scriptural support or reasons WHY. It just says the root is this, the trunk is that, and apparently you have to accept this without further ado. The 1983 article at the least explored the scriptural support and tried to give Scriptural reasons (not that it was an entirely satisfying explanation either, but it contains interesting elements), but these were built in large part upon the whole type-antitype idea, which is now thrown in the dustbin. Talk about sawing the branch off the tree you're sitting on...
Let me just touch upon a few inconsistencies and paradoxes with this new explanation.
- "cultivated olive tree": If Jehovah is the root, then who is the cultivator of the tree? Who has planted the young tree with its root?
- The olive tree is said to depict the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. But where does Abraham come into the picture? Nowhere! Abraham is completely left out now!
- Natural Jews who rejected Jesus are likened to the natural branches that were "broken off". How then did these Jews who never believed in Jesus, grow on "their own" (Rom. 11:24) olive tree in the first place?? How did they naturally sprout from the trunk, who is said to be Jesus?? It does not make any sense!!
- Those who become part of Abraham's seed, HOW exactly can be said they descend or spring from Abraham? What does Paul say?
- Is there anyhow a certain continuity from the natural nation of Israel into "spiritual Israel" or the new "holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9)? Is the concept/term of "spiritual Israel" valid? or could it be misleading and in need of rethinking? See Perimeno's essay Did "Spiritual" Israel Replace Natural Israel?
- What was the quintessence of Paul's reasoning in Romans chapters 9-11 (or even 8-12)? (2 Peter 3:15-16)
PS: Maybe someone could upload a scan of the picture of the olive tree with the type-antitype in the Watchtower Aug. 15, 1983? That would be very interesting to see for all.
Replacement theology = natural Israel is OUT and the wtbts is IN. hmmmm...