A. E. Knoch Memorial Part One

Faithful Laborers

(adapted from volume 56, number 3 of Unsearchable Riches magazine) 

In Memoriam

A. E. Knoch, 1874-1965  


his Editorial was written forty years ago
by the one to whom this memorial
number is dedicated:

IT IS ALWAYS PLEASING to God for His saints to imitate Him, in His latest revelation of Himself. Our characters should conform to the truth we teach. The marvelous message of the ultimate reconciliation of all to God is the most powerful incentive to peace. We look upon all our enemies as potential friends. We welcome and anticipate the time when all enmity and every difference will vanish, and it is bound to have a soothing and salutary effect on our present conduct, in the measure in which it has gripped our hearts.
But that is future. A still more potent truth is God’s present attitude toward mankind. Only those who have peace with God are reconciled to Him, nevertheless He is conciliated to all mankind. The estrangement between man and his Creator is a onesided enmity. It is all on man’s side. God is not at all at war with mankind. Alas that this great truth should be most denied by those who seek to preach the gospel, and picture Him as a distant, angry god, who must be sought, who must be implored, who must be entreated for the smallest favor! Can any course more effectively conceal the grace He displays in seeking and beseeching the sinner to be conciliated to Him?
Great as is God’s grace in the gospel, how excessively redundant is its outflow to those who have received the conciliation and are reconciled! We are to imitate Him, not merely in our attitude to His enemies, but more especially toward those, whom He has taken to be His friends. Here is where we all fail. Here is where we all place limits on His favor.
The highest evidence of a close communing with God is not a haughty holding of the truth and a separation from all who do not see it as we do. We are to endeavor to correctly partition the word of truth, but we are also to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the tie of peace. Truth, too often, has been held in hate. Truth in love is the key to the approval of God and to the hearts of His saints.
In this day of apostasy the truth must often be most unwelcome and unwanted, even by the saints. That most of them are steeped in error is almost an axiom, for, if even one of the many conflicting divisions should be absolutely correct (which is most unlikely) that would convict all the rest. All want a confirmation of their position, right or wrong, though truth itself must be spurned. But truth, in love, has a power difficult to resist.
Truth, in love, is sometimes silent, for fear of offending. It is often grieved, but does not retaliate. Above all it does not, like Peter, cut off the ears of those who oppose, for it is patiently waiting for the time when the ears will be healed, not hurt.
Let us, who believe in ultimate reconciliation and present conciliation complement our belief by a most gracious and loving exercise of the grace we have received in our contact with the world and with His beloved saints!

A. E. Knoch

The Life of Adolph Ernst Knoch
through the Eyes of his Son


“I’M FROM MISSOURI–you’ve got to show me.” How often have I heard my father quote this well known maxim as he labored over the solution to some difficult problem in the Scriptures. Yes, he really was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on December 19, 1874. Although there were many ministers and lawyers among his ancestors, his father, whose name was also Adolph Knoch, held the humble position of janitor of a grammar school there, and young Adolph early learned the meaning of hard work, for it was his duty to sweep out one floor of the building in the morning before school.
In those days, nothing but German was spoken in the part of St. Louis where his parents lived, hence he learned this language and knew no English when he entered school. For this reason, when he did learn English he spoke it with no trace of German accent.
When he was ten years old, his parents moved to Los Angeles, California, settling on east Thirty-eighth Street, where he was brought up. He was one of a large family, mostly girls, although there was one brother, Ulrich. When he grew a little older, he fixed up a room for himself in the windmill tower at the rear of his home, from which vantage point he was able to observe the starry firmament to better advantage, for astronomy was one of his early interests, and he has told me that he seriously considered becoming an astronomer. Yet he was hampered by lack of funds.
My father showed a marked literary ability at a very early age, and was advised by his English teacher at Los Angeles High School, from which he later graduated, to make a serious study of the great literature of the world, such as Shakespeare and the Bible. Of course his parents did not possess a set of Shakespeare, but they did have a family Bible, so he began his studies with that. Thus it was that he learned the Scriptural basis for salvation from the Scriptures themselves, and, through reading them, became convinced, not of their literary value, but rather of the message of salvation they contained. His parents did not attend church, although they were listed as members of the Lutheran denomination.


Soon he knew that he needed salvation himself, and he accepted the invitation extended in the Word of God itself by his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Of course, as is the case with all genuine believers, this occurred when it delighted God to unveil His Son in him. He continued to his last conscious moment, to revel in the study of God’s Word above all else, and he was accorded the great privilege of bringing to the attention of other believers, many hidden truths which it contains.
In his early search for fellowship with others who, like himself, were interested in a serious study of the Scriptures, he became acquainted with, and later associated with, the Plymouth Brethren. After some time, they began to look upon him as promising material for leadership. He preached “the gospel” at the Los Angeles jail each Sunday afternoon. While he was highly esteemed by his associates, it became apparent to him that something was wrong. He began pointing out passages in the Scriptures which seemed to him to contradict their teaching on certain subjects. This would not do! He was asked to “sit back” and do no more teaching. So he just read Scriptures, and this led to his eventual excommunication from the group.


While still going to the meetings, he met a young school teacher, Olive Elizabeth Hyde, who attended the meetings with her parents. They were increasingly drawn together by the mutual bond of love for their Lord and Saviour, as well as love for each other, and they were married shortly after the turn of the century. Since his bride was troubled with malaria, they looked for a more favorable location than the low-lying area of West Twenty-fourth Street, where she had been living. They located a lot on the very top of a hill in what was then known as Boyle Heights, at 2817 East Sixth Street. Here the young bridegroom erected a two story house, with a tower and parapets for a fine view of the surrounding area as well as sun baths if desired. This house still stands. In a room of this house I was born on November 5, 1906 and was named Ernest Oliver, after my father's middle name and my mother's first. A second pregnancy, some time later, resulted in a miscarriage, and my mother was very ill for some months as a result.
In 1910, my father became acquainted with Leslie Cushman of Lincoln, Nebraska, who lived not far away. They decided to move out into the country, and purchased 100 acres of land from Mr. Brown, a relative, who had founded and developed Redlands. Since they would need hauling facilities on the land, the two men occupied themselves with the construction of a truck, which they named the Farmobile. It was probably the first truck to be made in Los Angeles, and the work was done in Mr. Cushman’s back yard, on Eagle Street.


When all was ready, they equipped themselves with tents for housing, sold their city homes, loaded the truck, and pulled out. The truck had solid steel wheel rims, and of course the roads were not paved in those days. What is now a trip of two hours or less on modern highways, took them two days! The land was located in the San Jacinto Valley, and they pitched their tents on a hill overlooking Mystic Lake (later known as Lake San Jacinto, and now drained). I remember one night I rolled out under the side of the tent in my sleep, and caused considerable alarm until I was located!
The first necessity was water. There was a grove of Mesquite trees between the tent and the road, and as water may always be found beneath Mesquite trees, a well about 30 feet deep was dug by hand. But the water proved brackish and unusable. Being of a mechanical turn of mind, Mr. Cushman constructed a “well rig,” with which they could drill much deeper. My father turned his attention to the selection of a site for drilling. He used a mesquite “witch,” using the method known as dowsing. After the well was drilled (I believe they went about 230 feet that first day), they were both so tired that they left the drill in the hole and came home to sleep. I can still remember the jubilation in the morning, when they returned to the site and found good water gushing up through the drill pipe!
My mother (whose health was never robust), soon found that this life was too rugged for her even though she enjoyed the fresh air and other blessings of country living. So she returned to Los Angeles until a house could be constructed. My father and I remained to construct the house, quarrying bricks from a nearby abandoned lime kiln (being careful of centipedes which were exceedingly large and numerous). I remember that, as a four year old, I received one graham cracker for every ten bricks I carried. I felt, I am told, that it should be the other way around! The excellence of this brick edifice, which contained ideas which my father felt would improve its ability to withstand any adversity, was amply demonstrated in 1918, when the San Jacinto earthquake made rubble of all other brick buildings in the area. My father and mother were in the house at the time, so here we see demonstrated the protection of their Lord, Who had much more work for them to do. Cement had been used instead of mortar, and strips of redwood were laid every ten layers or so, to tie the structure together. These were some of the safeguards my father devised, and they were typical of the thoroughness which was the chief quality which enabled him to complete the CONCORDANT VERSION.
My father had, of course, planned to stay there indefinitely, and had constructed an extra room adjoining the house proper, to use as his study. But this was not the Lord’s will for him, for my mother was unable to maintain her health there, even after the house became livable.


In an effort to get as close as possible to the old home on East Sixth Street, they purchased a vacant lot from their old neighbors, the Mulhollands, (who were interested in my father’s work), next door to their old home. It was located at 2823 East Sixth Street, and in 1912 my father, with the help of a Mr. Ditch, a relative and contractor, constructed the house at 2823 where he has lived ever since, except for his sojourn in Germany and the Holy Land.
Here it was that the headquarters for his life work was established. When the capacity of the house and attic were exhausted, my father built a warehouse at the rear, and later, with the help of friends, it was doubled in size. These premises are still in use for storage of the Concern’s extra supplies of literature, and this house was his residence at the time of his death.
Although at the very first opposed to his “heretical” ideas about the Scriptures because of her Plymouth Brethren background, my mother early became his staunchest supporter, and worked many tedious hours preparing the slips of paper for his card index of every occurrence of every word in the Greek Scriptures, as well as filling orders for the ever-increasing literature, and addressing by hand the envelopes for the mailing of the magazine which he had begun, with Vladimir Gelesnoff as co-editor, during the latter part of 1909. Although it was originally printed in Minneapolis, because Brother Gelesnoff resided there, he soon moved to San Diego, California, and then to Los Angeles. Since my father was a printer by trade, it was only natural that he should take over the printing and typesetting phase of the magazine at this time. The actual presswork was and still is done at the shop of his long-time friend and brother in the Lord, Herman Vogel. The typesetting was sent out until his grandson, David, took it over after his discharge from the Navy in 1954. But A.E.K. himself did the make-up until about 1960, when he could no longer see to do it, and it was taken over by his grandsons David and Albert.
For some years, my father resumed his work as superintendent of his brother’s printing establishment, the Commercial Printing House, on Boyd Street. But the responsibility took so much of his energy and strength that he asked to be demoted to “stone man” (the man who prepares the type for printing and locks it up in the press chase) so that he would have more time for the work closest to his heart, the Lord’s work.


Later, my uncle sold the shop and became editor and publisher of the “La Verne Leader,” a small-town newspaper. My father continued working for the new owners for a time, but when they required the purchase of war bonds, during the first world war, he and Herman Vogel, the pressman, both decided they did not want to contribute to the war effort, and were fired. Herman Vogel then purchased the Pacific Novelty Company, which printed and distributed picture post cards. From this beginning, he branched out into general letterpress work, and, because of their mutual interests and because he was a brother in the Lord, interested in the work my father was doing, “Unsearchable Riches” and later the CONCORDANT VERSION were printed there. They are still printed there today. With the exception of working a few months for Mr. Vogel, my father never again resumed steady employment, but was enabled to spend all his time compiling the CONCORDANT VERSION and writing the voluminous literature about the Word of God which seemed to flow so effortlessly from his pen.
Activity at 2823 East Sixth Street was devoted almost exclusively to the translation and editorial work now. The death of his devoted and talented co-editor, Vladimir Gelesnoff, in 1921, laid the responsibility for the work squarely on the shoulders of my father. No longer could he count on Brother Gelesnoff for articles to fill the pages of “Unsearchable Riches”, nor for the compilation of a concordant translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, as they had at first arranged.


Undaunted by this blow, my father continued his work on the CONCORDANT VERSION. He published a few tentative portions, yet he was not satisfied. He wished to give the English reader access to the originals, and eliminate the bias of the translator. There were Greek testaments available, and even an interlinear or two using modern Greek type. But this of necessity introduced punctuation, etc., which was not in the originals as hand written by the scribes in the uncial characters of the earliest manuscripts. He would make this available to the English reader! He had succeeded in obtaining photostatic copies of the three earliest and best manuscripts, Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus, after much difficulty. Inquiry revealed that no type was available to simulate the all-capital characters.
Since the war was on, no one could be hired to do work of this nature. So his friends told him,“It can’t be done!” This did not stop him. He resolved to make the type himself. He built himself a small work table and purchased files, Carborundum points, etc., and a bar of soft steel and went to work. The task took about a month of steady work. Then the “punches” had to be hardened with cyanide. I can well remember my mother complaining about the terrible smell which permeated the house when the cyanide solution was heated over the kitchen stove. After these punches were completed, it was necessary to impress them onto matrices. These could then be used to cast type in a monotype machine, after which the type was distributed into cases, and the Greek Text set up by hand.
I remember doing some of this work myself at the age of twelve. But it soon became evident that my father and I could not do it all, so an old printer was hired to do this portion of the work. His name was H. E. Gamewell, and he lived in Oceanside. After a week or two of instruction at our place, we took him back home in our 1919 model T Ford, with sufficient type to keep him busy for a month or so. He was also setting the sublinear type. As soon as he had a portion ready, we would make a trip to Oceanside and pick it up, and take him some more type.
I can remember one time when the heavy load of lead was too much for the model T, and the rear end gave out at Garden Grove. We were forced to return home on the Pacific Electric interurban. In a day or two they called to say that the car was ready, and I was sent to pick it up. Since I was quite young, the dealer was evidently somewhat worried about the validity of the check which my father had sent along. He wanted to know if I knew anyone in Garden Grove I could give as a reference. I did not. But just then the head of the firm (which was evidently a branch of a Los Angeles dealership) appeared from Los Angeles. Seeing that my check was on a Los Angeles bank, he immediately gave it his O.K. And so the Lord was with me!
In September of 1926, my father was dealt another heavy blow. His beloved helpmeet, my mother, passed away after a lingering illness. She it was who had been his chief co-worker. Yet I was now nineteen years of age, and was able to take over some of the tasks which he had been doing, such as correspondence and filling orders.


In those early days, there were many, both locally and in distant places, who helped my father with the various phases of the preparation work on the CONCORDANT VERSION, for the details were so many that they could never be handled by any one man alone. Some of those who helped locally were Melville Dozier (Superintendent of Schools in Los Angeles), J. H. Breckenridge, (Attorney for the Irvine Ranch) who helped with any legal problems, C. P. Wilcox of Long Beach, Horace M. Conrad of South Pasadena, who did the proofreading, Mrs. Gibson and Mrs. Walker, who prepared the slips for the card index system, Dr. Emma Lucas (first woman physician in New York), Earl Taber, Vi E. Olin, Edna Parr, Dr. and Mrs. W. S. Bagley. Pastor George L. Rogers of Almont, Michigan, served as the expert on the Greek verb, and he later moved to Los Angeles, where he also did some work with type, and spoke at the local meeting. Brother David Mann also spoke at the meeting, and corresponded. Later, Frank Neil Pohorlak (now Dr. Pohorlak) came and worked at headquarters for some time.
Helpers at a distance whose names I can remember are, Alexander Thomson of Scotland, whose indefatigable service was invaluable in the early days, Edward H. Clayton of England, who still serves as our advisor in translation matters, Ben Bredimus and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kirk of Seattle. Adlai Loudy, a Christian minister, became much interested, and wrote a book and a number of booklets, some of which we still publish. F. H. Robison and Walter H. Bundy were others who contributed articles and helped in other ways. Undoubtedly there were others, whose names I have forgotten.
The first part of the Complete Edition of the CONCORDANT VERSION, the Unveiling of Jesus Christ (Revelation) was published in 1919. Other portions followed until in 1926 the entire New Testament was ready. Parts left over were bound under one cover, and a few thousand copies of the 1926 edition became available in this form. But it quickly became evident that this supply would soon be exhausted, so plans were made and paper purchased for the 1930 edition. Printing of this took place just before I was married to Alberta Marie Lundquist, who was also working with us at that time, assisting during this busy period, when we made a daily trip to the printer, with a “form”of the Version to be printed that day, picking up Brother Conrad to go with us and check the accuracy of the layout before printing, and then trying to keep up with the office work in the evenings. I left on my honeymoon just before this was completed, and Brother Bagley took my place for the last portion.


After the completion of this work, my father turned his attention to the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament. In order to check many passages, it was his desire to visit the Holy Land. Since I was now married and had taken over the business end of the work, he could get away. This he did in 1931. A full account of this trip was given in “Unsearchable Riches” under the title of “The Palestine Expedition,” so I shall not go into details here. Let me merely point out the way in which the Lord used this trip for the furtherance of the work. On his way, he visited many countries in Europe, including Germany, where he made the acquaintance of the Countess Sigrid von Kanitz, who was editor of the German edition of a periodical called “The Overcomer,”which contained translations of scriptural articles written by Mrs. Penn-Lewis of England. Countess von Kanitz had of late years been including translations of articles from “Unsearchable Riches.” My father soon left for the Holy Land, but while there he realized that this was the one he wanted for his helpmeet. In about a year, he returned to Germany, and they were married.


He had originally planned to return to the United States in a year or so, but now it became apparent that there was a real need for a German CONCORDANT VERSION, so he and his bride commenced this work there, and also continued the magazine, changing the name to the German equivalent of “Unsearchable Riches.” This magazine is still being published, now from Switzerland, where Brother Albert Blaettler is in charge of the German work, and under the editorship of Herman Rocke of Carpinteria, California, who also assists me in editing the English Unsearchable Riches.
They located in Stepenitz, Ostprignitz, a small village now in East Germany, where they lived at the home of the Baroness Wally von Biasing, a long-time co-worker with Sigrid. Here they engaged themselves with the work of preparing a German language edition of the CONCORDANT VERSION. The Concordant principle of translation was equally applicable to all languages. They also continued publication of the German magazine, and of course my father contributed articles by mail for the English “Unsearchable Riches.” Pamphlets on scriptural subjects were also issued in the German language.
By 1939, the German translation of the Greek Scriptures was ready, and it was printed in Berlin by Thormann & Goetsch. It has gone through several editions since, and is at present in considerable demand in all German speaking countries, and stocked by many book stores.
But war clouds were gathering, and in a letter dated August 26th, 1939, my father received word from the United States Embassy in Berlin, advising him to leave the country immediately. As a citizen of the United States, he could do this at a moment’s notice, but what about his wife? There was no alternative but to leave her for the moment, pulling every string he could find to expedite her permit to leave the country, as his wife. So he went immediately to Copenhagen, where he stayed with a brother in the Lord who was interested in his work, Carl Poulsen, until she was permitted to join him. Passage to the United States was of course difficult to obtain, but they managed to find space on a Swedish ship, the Gripsholm. Since mines had been planted in the Atlantic, it was necessary for the ship to pass far to the north of the usual route. My father became very seasick. On arrival in New York, they were met by some of the friends there, and went on to Chicago, where Brother Jons Nelson of Los Angeles had gone to pick up a new car. With him, they rode to California.
When they first arrived, their house in Los Angeles was occupied, so they stayed with Alberta and me at our home in Altadena. In about a month, they moved into 2823 East Sixth Street, where they lived for the remainder of their lives.


Many projects now occupied my father’s attention. He resumed the task of “making up” “Unsearchable Riches” for the printer. The 1930 Edition of the CONCORDANT VERSION, which contained the Greek with its interlinears, the English translation, the compiler’s notes, and the Lexicon and Concordance, all under one cover–over 2000 pages in all-made a fine study volume, but was a bit unwieldy to carry about all the time. Although be had published a Pocket Edition of the CONCORDANT VERSION in 1927, that edition was now nearly sold out, and he wished to replace it with an edition similar to the German, with symbols to indicate how the Greek reads, cross references, figures of speech indicated, emphasis marked, etc., none of which was shown in the Pocket Edition. This would be called the “International Edition” since it was printed page for page to match the German. Published in 1944, it was followed two years later by the Keyword Concordance, and copies sold from then on contained this very valuable study aid under the same cover with the translation. All these projects required much time and attention, as well as much supervision. In addition, my father resumed his activity as speaker at the local ecclesia which met in Studio Hall. Here he would give examples of some of the problems he wrestled with during the week in his translation work, now often in the Hebrew Scriptures, and the solution he had reached.
I remember one of his methods. He would, in the evening, assemble all the pertinent facts pertaining to the problem with which he was occupied, but make no effort at a solution. During the night, he would pray and think about the problem. Often, when he awoke in the morning, the solution was quite clear! You may draw your own conclusions, but I personally feel that the Lord was leading in these instances, in order that His Word might be available to His people with some of the inconsistencies of translation, which throw it into disrepute among those who desire its downfall, eliminated.


One Sunday morning, there came from my father’s lips a startling announcement. He had completed the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures! Of course there were still a great many details to be worked over; yet he had given it a “once over,” having assigned standards to all of the words and completing a first draft. Thus it will be seen that, even though only Genesis and Isaiah were issued during his lifetime, we have in our hands the necessary groundwork for the other portions, and his death will not, D.V., halt their publication, should the Lord tarry.
On the occasion of his eightieth birthday, many of my father’s friends and brethren in the Lord gathered in honor of the occasion. At this time, his faculties were sharp and unimpaired. It was here that my son David met his bride-to-be, Nancy Tutterrow, although they had seen each other as children at the same meeting years before.
A few years after this, he began experiencing difficulty with his eyesight. It was no wonder, for probably no man living ever used his eyes as continuously as he did, over a period of three quarters of a century. Yet he continued to work on some new thoughts he had on a previous exposition of a portion of God’s Word which did not satisfy him. Thus he showed that he was never satisfied to continue in a rut of teaching just because he had taught a doctrine for years. If it did not agree with God’s Word, put it in the waste basket. One of his last projects was his series on the Divine Name and Titles, which did much to clarify this difficult and little understood subject.


Finally, in about 1961, he had to gradually relinquish most of his cherished work for his Lord into the hands of others. His grandson Albert, recently released from the Army, went to live at East Sixth Street, to assist in his care. As the years went by, this became an increasingly arduous task as my father was forced to remain constantly in bed. His memory began to play tricks on him, and it was then that he had to give up entirely, and rest. Although he was bedridden for several years, with the exception of occasional sojourns on the porch on fine days, there was not undue suffering–just a gradual weakening as the days went by. During this period, he was visited faithfully by Dr. Harold Payne, who ministered to his needs in spite of an extremely busy schedule. During the last few months, he required care day and night, due to severe bed sores resulting from his long confinement, so it became necessary to get others to assist Albert and Ellen Phillips in his care. A man was obtained to care for him at night, so that Albert could get a bit of sleep, and a nurse came in three days a week. My step-mother was now too advanced in years to minister to him, as she did so faithfully for many a year.
In December of 1964, he celebrated his ninetieth birthday. Many cards and letters received from friends who had been helped by his expositions of the Scriptures, were read to him as he lay on his bed. He was quite weak, and comprehension perhaps was even at this time only partial, in flashes, as his memory failed. From this time on, his failure seemed more rapid, and the end came on Sunday evening, March 28th, 1965, at 7:25 p.m. He had eaten a bit of supper and had slipped into sleep, from which he never awoke.


His fondest expectation was to one day be with His Lord, to experience the indescribable ecstasy which will thrill all believers when they hear the sound for which they have waited so long–the trump of God, calling them to be with Him Whom they adore. To go without dying! But this was not to be his destiny. Yet his destiny remains the same, and, so far as he is aware, it will make no difference, since in His wondrous wisdom our gracious God has so arranged that his next conscious moment will be with His Lord, Whom he served so long and so well.
Although my father’s all-consuming interest was the Word of God, yet he found time for the duties of a father and was extremely anxious that I acquaint myself, first-hand, with some of God’s handiwork, in order that I might compare it with the imperfect works of man. To this end, he saw to it that I had both a microscope and a telescope, so that I might inspect for myself some of the perfections in God’s works, and realize in some small way, perhaps, the greatness of our loving and powerful God. He was willing to help with kites, tops, and other things of interest to boys. He believed in hard work, yet he was not unreasonable in his demands. To have the privilege of carrying on the work which the Lord gave him to do, is a very great responsibility, and I pray that I may, with the Lord’s help, be enabled to do it in a way which will bring glory to the great God my father wished to honor and magnify, as well as to help many, as he did, towards a better under standing of His wonderful plan and His purpose for all those whom He has created. That this work might be carried on, would be my father’s wish. He has left a monument, in the form of the CONCORDANT VERSION, by which any man who so desires may search the Scriptures for himself, without the intervention of the opinion of the translator, which is as unique as it is valuable. We shall endeavor, dear father, to keep this light shining. Good night, until we meet at His feet, in that glorious resurrection morning!

Ernest O. Knoch

This publication may be reproduced for personal use
(all other rights reserved by copyright holder).