•September 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

 

Introduction 

 

The text and tables below represent a survey of some of the major changes made in selected books, between their original publication and later editions, which were written by Baha’i authors during the 20th century. A major change is considered to be a revision which reflects a change in Western Baha’i doctrine, practice or attitude toward a particular subject since the early 1900’s. It should be noted however, that there have been literally hundreds of changes made in the few books examined to date.

 

 

 

 

•September 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Revision, Censorship, and Suppression in Modern Baha’i Literature

 

Denis M. MacEoin ( reference : 40 )

While Babi-Baha’i history suffers a kind of distortion at the hands of Baha’i authors which is rather subtle, a more direct approach is taken by the Baha’i Administration and publishers, through revision of previously printed materials and by a review process of future publications. This ongoing policy of updating earlier writings and regulating works by Baha’is, whether for publication in Baha’i organs or otherwise, is intended to preserve doctrinal purity and to “‘present a true picture of the Faith to the general public…'” (40) Justification for such practices have generally centered on the need to correct minor errors and update statistics. (41) Or, in the case of the review process, to ensure some standard of academic quality. (42) However, the evidence suggests that the the primary concerns are the promotion of a consistent picture of Baha’i history and dogma, the blotting out of references to failed predictions and promises, and the diversion of readers from differing or hostile points of view. 

 

 

 

Posthumous Additions, Deletions, and Suppression in Popular Baha’i Books

 nabil-i-zarandi

During the first half of this century, English speaking Baha’is who were interested in the history of the movement generally came to rely upon the works of E.G Browne because, not only were they scholarly, reasonably sympathetic, and the most accurate sources at that time, but because they were essentially the only English language sources available which treated the subject in any depth. Therefore, Browne’s works were cited quite frequently in a number of books by popular Baha’i authors. But, as time passed, Browne’s materials began to be replaced by the hagiographical works, “God Passes By” and The Dawnbreakers; the former being a survey of the first hundred years of the movement by Shoghi Effendi, while The Dawnbreakers is a translation of an early history by Nabil Zarandi, a partisan of Baha’u’llah. (43) Browne’s comments which cast the Baha’i faith in a favorable light still appear in Baha’i books, but his opinions on the origins and evolution of the faith have become quite unwelcome in recent years. (44)

Evidence of attempts on the part of Baha’is to divert readers from Browne’s contributions to Babi and Baha’i history can be seen by comparing original and later editions of All Things Made New by John Ferraby. Ferraby, who served as the National Secretary of the British Baha’i community and who was appointed a “Hand of the Cause” in 1957, penned an introduction to the faith which was published that same year. The original edition contains a list of references, as well as a list of abbreviations of “Baha’i Books Referred To.” (45) “Browne’s Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion “and his translation of “A Traveller’s Narrative “, with notes, both appear in these lists, but have been removed from the 1987 edition, which was revised posthumously. Further, Browne’s writings are still included in the text of the book, but the references have been changed so that they no longer direct the reader to the primary source, but to Baha’i books which contain the same quotations, as well material which is critical of Browne. (46) Apparently, the editors wish to make use of the scholar ‘s favorable comments, but refer their readers to books which question Browne’s value as an authority on the subject and which may neutralize potential problems which could result from consultation of his more critical writings. (47)

Abdu’l-Husayn Ayati, named Avarih or Wanderer

 

Another case of suppression involves John E. Esselmont’s use of materials by the former Baha’i historian Abdu’l-Husayn Ayati, named Avarih or Wanderer by Abdu’l-Baha. Avarih was also a “Hand of the Cause” who was commissioned by Abdu’l-Baha to write a history of the Baha’i Faith in Persian, which was published in 1923 and 1924. After completing a missionary journey to Europe, Avarih lost faith in the Cause and was subsequently declared a Covenant-breaker by Shoghi Effendi. (48) Covenant-breakers are those who have accepted Baha’u’llah as a Manifestation of God, but have later apostatized and opposed Baha’u’llah, his successors, or Baha’i institutions. Faithful members are instructed to shun entirely those who have rebelled against the Cause of God and, although not explicitly commanded, the reading of material written by Covenant-breakers is discouraged as well. (49) In the original edition of Baha’u’llah and the New Era, Esselmont expressed his gratitude to Avarih for his assistance in the preparation of the book and referred to him as “the learned Persian historian of the Baha’i movement.” (50) In later editions, this acknowledgement has been removed from the preface without any notation. (51) Avarih was quoted five times in the original edition to shed additional light on certain events. Two of these quotations were dropped completely from the text of the 1980 edition, but the other three were retained entirely. However, in one note, Avarih’s name has disappeared and there is no reference to any source. (52) In another he is quoted, but his name has been substituted by the words “On this point a historian remarks.” (53) And finally, Esselmont included an account of the marriage of Abdu’l-Baha which was “kindly supplied to the writer by Janab-i-Avarih,” but the 1980 edition refers only to “a Persian historian of the Baha’i Faith.” (54)

Actually, these are but a few of the many changes which were originally made in the 1937 revision of the Baha’u’llah and the New Era by “the American National Spiritual Assembly, acting under the advice and approval of Shoghi Effendi.” The preface to the 1937 edition states that the revision was necessary to correct “a few errors of fact,” to update Esselmont’s explanations of the stations of Abdu’l-Baha and the Bab, and to remove his treatments of issues which are no longer relevant to the Faith. It is further stated that “these revisions in no respect alter the original plan of Dr. Esselmont’s book, nor effect the major portion of his text.” (55) These assertions, however, are misleading. In fact, there have been over forty changes, some of which include entire sections or paragraphs totaling hundreds of words. And, some of the revisions do “alter the original plan of Dr. Esselmont’s book.” This is certainly the case in the removal of Esselmont’s eyewitness accounts of discourses by Abdu’l-Baha.

Like many of the early Western believers, Esselmont was captivated by and completely devoted to his Master, Abdu’l-Baha. After corresponding with him, Esselmont received an invitation to come to Haifa in 1919, where he spent over two months as his guest. During this period, the two discussed the manuscript of Baha’u’llah and the New Era and “several valuable suggestions” were made. (56) In the 1923 edition, Esselmont included a number of statements by Abdu’l-Baha which he had personally heard and recorded. In spite of the value which these firsthand accounts contribute to our understanding of Abdu’l-Baha and the perceptions of early believers, some of them have been removed from later editions without any notation. (57) For example, on page 123, Abdu’l-Baha advocated, in detail, a constitutional form of monarchy over a republican form of government as practiced in the United States. This was included in Esselmont’s chapter titled “True Civilization,” to illustrate the type of government which Baha’u’llah counseled nations to adopt until the next Manifestation of God appears. In later editions Esselmont’s words have been replaced with nearly three pages of new material speaking merely of the fact that there will be different types of governments during the “Lesser Peace” and the “Most Great Peace.” Although Abdu’l-Baha was quite specific, these later accretions are vague and give no clear illustration of what type of rule Baha’u’llah would have nations adopt. (58)

Perhaps the most important change in Baha’u’llah and the New Era was made on page 212 of the 1923 edition. Recorded as a Baha’i prophecy (59) concerning the “Coming of the Kingdom of God,” Esselmont cited Abdu’l-Baha’s interpretation of the last two verses of the Book of Daniel from the Bible. He stated that the 1335 days spoken of by Daniel represented 1335 solar years from Muhammad’s flight to Medina in 622 A.D., which would equal 1957 A.D.. When asked “‘What shall we see at the end of the 1335 days?’,” Abdu’l-Baha’s reply was: “‘Universal Peace will be firmly established, a Universal language promoted. Misunderstandings will pass away. The Baha’i Cause will be promulgated in all parts and the oneness of mankind established. It will be most glorious!'” (60) In editions published after his death, Esselmont’s words have been changed to say that Abdu’l-Baha “reckoned the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy from the date of the beginning of the Muhammadan era ” (61) and one of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablets is quoted on the same subject in which he writes, “‘For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth….'” Esselmont appears to conclude that Abdu’l-Baha was referring to the year 1963 and the one hundredth anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s public claim to be a Manifestation of God. (62) These words, however, were never written by the author, but were added posthumously. And, it should be noted that the phrase “‘the dawn of the Sun of Truth'” is not a reference to a particular year, in this case 1863, but to a period of years when the Bab and his followers were preparing the way for the Manifestation of Baha’u’llah. Hence, they are commonly referred to as the “Dawn-Breakers.” (63) Further, in another quotation which originally appeared on the same page, but was also removed from later editions, Abdu’l-Baha plainly stated, “‘ This is the Century of the Sun of Truth. This is the Century of the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.'” (64) Esselmont recorded Abdu’l-Baha as declaring explicitly that the prophecy was to be computed from the Hijra or 622 A.D. and that specific conditions would exist in the world upon it’s fulfillment in 1957. When it became apparent that this Baha’i prophecy would not be fulfilled, it was replaced with the ambiguous material which has remained in the text to the present. This is evident from the fact that, although Esselmont’s other eyewitness accounts were removed in the 1937 revision, the record of Abdu’l-Baha’s prophecy was left intact by the American National Spiritual Assembly and Shoghi Effendi. It was not changed until after 1957. (65) Also, Abdu’l-Baha’s conviction that all of these events would take place in this century have been expressed in other writings and it is evident that Shoghi Effendi shared his optimism as well. (66)

Upon an examination of revisions in recent Baha’i literature, it seems that the institution of the Guardian of the Cause of God has been the subject of the most widespread bowdlerization of texts. The office of the Guardian was first established by Abdu’l-Baha in his Will and Testament. Shoghi Effendi, his eldest grandson, was named as the first in a succession of hereditary Guardians. The Guardian is the authoritative interpreter of the holy writings and the permanent head of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme administrative body which was referred to by Baha’u’llah in his Kitab-i-Aqdas. Through the Guardianship, the Cause of God is believed to be safeguarded from schism, because he is to be under the protection and infallible guidance of Baha’u’llah and the Bab. (67) However, the Baha’i world was thrown into confusion when Shoghi Effendi died suddenly on November 4, 1957. He had left no Will or instructions, and he had named no successor. Since all of Baha’u’llah’s living male descendents had been declared Covenant-breakers by Shoghi Effendi, the Hands of the Cause of God assumed authority over the entire Baha’i community. The Hands were a group of leading Baha’is who had been chosen in accordance with Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and had been named “the Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth” by Shoghi Effendi, shortly before his death. The Hands of the Cause moved the community in a direction which culminated in the election of the Universal House of Justice. This was accomplished with surprisingly little opposition or schism. (68)

Changes in books written prior to 1957 indicate that the failure of what was to be a perpetual, divinely ordained and protected institution became a delicate subject with the Baha’i Administration. But, it should be pointed out that, although there have been numerous revisions, there are still books which have not been changed at all. So, there does not appear to be a conspiracy or systematic program to eradicate the notion of a continuous Guardianship. However, the books which have been substantially reworked are popular introductions and histories, often used for propagating the Faith.

John Ferraby’s All Things Made New is second only to Baha’u’llah and the New Era in the number of textual changes. The original edition, first published in 1957, was dedicated “To Shoghi Effendi: The First Guardian of the Baha’i Faith.” (69) In the 1987 edition the dedication is “To Shoghi Effendi: The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith,” implying that there was to be only one Guardian. (70) Ferraby originally stated that, “Abdu’l-Baha, in his turn, arranged that the Cause would still have a visible Centre after His passing, by providing for a succession of Guardians of the Cause of God to follow him.” He then included over two hundred words from Abdu’l-Baha’s Will to explain the importance of the perpetual Guardianship and how successors are to be chosen. (71) This entire section has been rewritten in later editions, stating that Abdu’l-Baha’s Will only provided for “the possibility of a succession of Guardians…” And, the portions of Abdu’l-Baha’s Will have been replaced with the statement,”Although there could have been a series of Guardians, there is nowhere in the writings any promise or guarantee that the line of Guardians would not be broken but would endure forever.” (72)

But, there were others who were also convinced that the institution of the Guardianship would continue. George Townshend, another Hand of the Cause, wrote that,”When it is written that ‘the government shall be upon his shoulder’ the reference can be to the Guardian only and the continuing ‘forever’ of his sovereignty can only be referred to the lineage of succeeding Guardians.” (73) In later editions, Townshend’s interpretation of this passage from the Biblical book of Isaiah which he said could only apply to the Guardian has been changed to refer to “the devolution by Baha’u’llah of supreme authority upon his divinely guided institutions…” (74) Shoghi Effendi’s wife Ruhiyyih Rabbani was convinced that her husband was the first in a line of Guardians. In a book which is no longer in print, she argued that: “The principle of successorship, endowed with the right of Divine interpretation, is the very hub of the Cause into which its Doctrines and Laws fit like the spokes of a wheel – tear out the hub and you have to throw the whole thing away.” (75)

Horace Hotchkiss Holley ( reference : 75  )

 

Finally, it is important to consider Shoghi Effendi’s understanding of the nature of the Guardianship. He was probably more familiar with his grandfather’s Will than anyone and he is believed to have been endowed with divine inspiration to make authoritative interpretations of the Writings. (76) The original edition of The Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi included numerous references to the institution of the Guardianship and its inspired origin, its perpetual nature, and its absolute centrality to the Covenant. This collection of his writings opened with a large extract from the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha which could best be summed up as an appeal to the believers to be “firm in the Covenant” and follow the divine guidance which can only be found in the Cause of God. In the 1975 edition most of the text of this appeal has been removed, except for two paragraphs which promised that the Twin Pillars of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice are under the guidance and protection of Baha’u’llah and the Bab. However, the phrase “…and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants” no longer appears at the end of the paragraph concerning the Guardian. (77) Two complete pages have been removed from the original edition without notation, including this explicit statement:

Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Baha’u’llah would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as Abdu’l-Baha has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God. ‘In all Divine Dispensations,’ He states, in a Tablet addressed to a follower of the Faith in Persia, ‘the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of prophet hood hath been his birthright.’ Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be imperilled, and the stability of the entire fabric would be gravely endangered. (78)

———————–

 

40. Denis MacEoin, “Baha’i Fundamentalism” 62.

41. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era vii, xi.

42. Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher, “Note” 191.

43. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By; Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers.

44. Hasan M. Balyuzi, Edward Granville Browne ; William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Baha’i Faith 207-11; Douglas Martin, “The Missionary as Historian” 46-8.

45. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1957) 308-9, 312.

46. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 326-8, 331.

47. John Esselmont, who was also appointed a “Hand of the Cause” after his death in 1925, included a bibliography in the original edition of Baha’u’llah and the New Era , for “students who wish to make a further study.” A Traveller’s Narrative is included in this bibliography, which was removed completely in the 1937 edition. A list of “Basic References” appears in the 1980 edition, replacing the original bibliography, and Browne’s work is no longer included, although his material still appears as part of the text. See, John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, 1st rev. ed., (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1937); John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 14, 39, 40, 117, 118 & 287.

48. William M. Miller, The Baha’i Faith 218, 275, 289-90; Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 438; Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Twenty-Five Years of the Guardianship (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1948) 21; As a possible reference see, Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By 327.

49. National Teaching Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, The Covenant: Its Meaning and Origin and Our Attitude Toward It (Wilmette: The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, 1988) 71-73.

50. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923) 8.

 

51. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1937) viii; John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) xiv.

52. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 33.

53. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 13.

54. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 53.

55. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1937) v-vi.

56. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923) 7, 8; Wendi Momen, ed., A Basic Baha’i Dictionary (Oxford: George Ronald,1989) 81.

57. The reason which is often given for the removal of these eyewitness accounts is that they are derived from “pilgrim’s notes” or the personal journals of early converts and are not considered to be authoritative. However, Baha’u’llah and the New Era has never been considered to be an authoritative history, but only Esselmont’s personal understanding of the Baha’i Faith. Therefore, his reminiscences are valuable for the light which they shed on the first Western believer’s thoughts of their Master and his teachings. Although most of these references have been removed, there are still a number of excerpts from pilgrim’s notes which remain in later editions.

58. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923) 123-4; John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1937) 167-70; John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 135-7. In another section, Abdu’l-Baha discussed post-war social problems such as nationalism, labor troubles, and the probability of future wars. Again, his specific treatment of issues was replaced by pages of general material which add nothing to Esselmont’s thesis. See, John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923) 209-11; John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1937) 297-301; John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 244-8.

59. The title of the chapter is “Prophecies of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha.” John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923) 202.

60. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923) 212; This revision was first brought to light by, Francis J. Beckwith, Baha’i (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985) 37-9.

 

61. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 249.

62. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) 250.

63. Wendi Momen, A Basic Baha’i Dictionary 64.

64. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923) 212.

65. John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1937) 301-3; John E. Esselmont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1980) xi.

66. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come 121; Shoghi Effendi, rev. ed., The World Order of Baha’u’llah (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1955) 39; Phillip Smith, “What Was A Baha’i?” 239.

67. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah 147-52; Peter Smith, The Babi and Baha’i Religions 115-6; Wendi Momen, A Basic Baha’i Dictionary 92-3.

68. Peter Smith, The Babi and Baha’i Religions 128-32; Wendi Momen, A Basic Baha’i Dictionary 96; Dennis MacEoin, “Baha’ism” 483. The only real challenge to the actions by the Hands of the Cause came from Mason Remey, himself a Hand of the Cause. He claimed to be the second Guardian by virtue of his appointment as president of the International Baha’i Council by Shoghi Effendi. For further information on Remey and his claims see, William M. Miller, The Baha’i Faith 310-22; Joel Bjorling, The Baha’i Faith: A Historical Bibliography (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1985) 134-39.

69. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1957) 5.

70. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 7.

 

71. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1957) 246-7.

72. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 252-3.

73. George Townshend, Christ and Baha’u’llah ( London: George Ronald, 1957) 100-1.

74. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 100-1

75. Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Guardianship 23; For other remarks which reflect the perpetual nature of the Guardianship see, 4, 6, 24, 25 & 26. See also, Horace Holley, Present-Day Administration of the Baha’i Faith (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1947) 2 & 3; H. M. Balyuzi, A Guide to the Administrative Order of Baha’u’llah, 2nd. ed. (London: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1947) 5-7.

76. Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Guardianship 23; Wendi Momen, A Basic Baha’i Dictionary 92; Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah 149-50.

77. Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi: Guardian of the Baha’i Faith (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1942) 3-5; Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust,1975) vii.

78. Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings (1942) 43-4; Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings (1975) 32.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

•September 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Selected Writings

 of Shoghi

Effendi by Shoghi

 Effendi

 

 
 

 

  

  

 

 

 

Edition / Page No. ( 1942 / 1975 ) : Address :

Synopsis

Edition / Page No. ( 1942 / 1975 ) : 3 – 5 / vii
The original edition began with nearly three pages of excerpts from Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament, in which he commanded his followers to “turn unto Shoghi Effendi….” This has been reduced in the 1975 edition to two paragraphs with statements concerning hereditary succession of the Guardianship and the role of the Guardian as the Head of the Universal House of Justice replaced with ellipses.
 

 
 

Edition / Page No. ( 1942 / 1975 ) : 10 / 4
Two paragraphs have been removed, one of which deals mainly with outdated statistics concerning the growth of the Faith. The other is an assertion by Shoghi Effendi that he was “appointed as First Guardian of the Baha’i Faith and Head of the Universal House of Justice….”
 

 
 

Edition / Page No. ( 1942 / 1975 ) : 27-8 / 19
A paragraph has been removed which described the Administrative Order as “the framework of the Will [of Abdu’l-Baha] itself, the inviolable stronghold….”
 

 
 

Edition / Page No. ( 1942 / 1975 ) : 43-5 / 32
Two full pages have been removed, which formed an apologetic for the functions, the centrality, and the absolutely essential position of the Guardianship in Baha’u’llah’s World Order.
 
  

•September 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment
 
 
 
 

Christ and Baha’u’llah by

( George Townshend )

 

         

George Townshend

 

 

 

 

(Edition / Page No. ) ( 1957 / 1985 ) : address : Synopsis

(Edition / Page No. ) ( 1957 / 1985 ) : 79 / 79
Townshend originally referred to Shoghi Effendi as the “first and present Guardian,” but this phrase has been dropped.

(Edition / Page No. ) ( 1957 / 1985 ) : 98-9 / 98-9
Townshend discussed the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha and the provision for a succession of Guardians. The succession principle has been dropped and Shoghi Effendi is no longer spoken of as “the first Guardian.”

 

 

(Edition / Page No. ) ( 1957 / 1985 ) : 100-1 / 100-1
This section dealt with “the lineage of succeeding Guardians,” but it has been changed so it appears that Townshend is writing about “divinely guided institutions” in general.

•September 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

“All Things Made New” ( by John Ferraby )

 

 

 

 
 

 


(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : address :

 Synopsis

 

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 5 / 7
Ferraby dedicated his book to “The First Guardian of the Baha’i Faith.” In the later edition, Ferraby’s dedication is to “The Guardian.” This is the first of many changes concerning the perpetuity and indispensable nature of the Guardianship.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 27-8 / 27-8
Ferraby originally stated that the Guardianship was to be perpetual, but this section has been reworked, explaining that another Guardian could not be appointed since none were qualified. All references to the duties of the Guardian were in the present tense, but have been changed to the past tense, indicating that the Guardianship has ceased.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 64 / 67
Islam was said to be declining in influence and power in the world and that this trend will continue. Because of events in the Middle East during the past two decades, this section has been rewritten, shifting the emphasis to a decline in Islam’s spirituality and reputation in the world.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 246-7 / 252-3
In the original edition, Ferraby quoted the Will of Abdu’l-Baha and demonstrated that the Cause would continue to have a visible Centre through the institution of successive Guardians. He referred to this as “a Covenant so mighty that mankind has never seen its like.” However, this section has been completely rewritten, stating that the Will only provided for the “possibility” for a succession of Guardians and that the writings nowhere “promise or guarantee” that the institution would continue. The Universal House of Justice is now presented as the “visible centre.”

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 250-5 / 256-61
The Will of Abdu’l-Baha and the Covenant were discussed. References to the Guardian have been replaced or amended with “the Universal House of Justice.”

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 256-62 / 262-72
This section has undergone major revision with the addition of hundreds of words. References to the Guardianship have been changed to the past tense or have been replaced with “the Universal House of Justice.”

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 272-4 / 288-90
Ferraby extolled the virtues of the Baha’i Administrative Order and cited evidences of its superiority over concepts of authority in Christianity and Islam. Because of the unexpected death of Shoghi Effendi, this information was modified to a great extent, with the notion of the hereditary Guardianship being played down.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 279 / 295
Baha’i burial customs were discussed and Ferraby’s statement that “Cremation is forbidden, because the too sudden disintegration of the body may harm the departed soul” has been replaced with a statement by Abdu’l-Baha.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 308-12 / 326-31
A number of books have been dropped from Ferraby’s bibliography, including those written by Edward G. Browne. References to Browne’s works still appear in the text of later editions, but the notes refer the reader to books by other Baha’i authors who also quote Browne. Two of the Baha’i books referred to also contain material which is critical of Browne, so these revisions were apparently made to divert the reader from the primary sources, which contain material that is at variance with orthodox versions of the history of the movement.

•September 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment

 

 

 

 

“ Baha’u’llah and the New Era” ( by John E. Esselmont )

 

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : address :

Synopsis



(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 8 / xiv
Esselmont expressed his gratitude to the Baha’i historian, Avarih, who later left the faith and was declared a Covenant-breaker. This reference was completely removed.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 13 / 14
“Miracles” were discussed which were intended to show how civilization has advanced since the nineteenth century. Some of these “miracles” have reversed and worsened since 1923. They have been edited from the text.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 22 / 13
The apostate Avarih was quoted, but his name has been replaced by “a historian.”

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 28 / 20
In the original, Esselmont’s remarks seem to indicate that the Bab was merely a forerunner to Baha’u’llah, a view which was quite common at the beginning of this century. Later editions reflect the current notion of the Bab and Baha’u’llah being the “Co-founders of their Faith.”

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 34 / 26
Avarih’s material was dropped completely.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 39 / 33
A quote of Avarih is left in the text, but his name was removed.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 55-6 / 53-4
Avarih provided a lengthy description of the marriage of Abdu’l-Baha, which remains in later editions with Avarih’s name removed.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 67-9 / 67-9
This is a very important change. Esselmont spoke of the unique station of Abdu’l-Baha and stated that “whatever Abdu’l-Baha says or does is to be accepted as of equal authority with the direct utterance of the Manifestation.” Further, he quoted Abdu’l-Baha to the effect that the Bab was “the ‘Promised Christ.'” Two pages have been completely reworked. The institution of the Guardianship was introduced and the views which Esselmont originally expressed are referred to as “naive enthusiasm.”

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 118 / 130
Baha’u’llah provided that Abdu’l-Baha would be the sole interpreter of his writings and after him the International House of Justice, but this has been changed to “the authorized interpreter.” The institution of the Guardianship was added in the 1937 edition (pg. 160) and it was clearly stated that there would be “successive Guardians.” However, this section was changed again in the 1970 revision and refers only to Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian, with no mention of succession.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 123-4 / 135-7
Esselmont was present when Abdu’l-Baha specifically advocated a form of constitutional monarchy under the heading “True Civilization.” This quotation has been dropped and replaced with two pages of general material which merely says that there will be different types of government under the Lesser Peace and the Most Great Peace.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 146 / 165-6
Emphasis on the use of Esperanto as the universal language is played down in later editions.

 

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 157-8 / 179-9
A detailed two page account of Spiritual Assemblies in Persia by Jinab-i-Assad’llah Fadil Mazindarani has been replaced by an updated description of functions.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 161 / 186
Nineteen Day Feast was added.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 190 / 218
The establishment of the League of Nations and reduction in armaments were cited as “advances in fulfillment” of prophecies of world peace. This statement has been removed.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 203-4 / 235-7
Esselmont claimed that Baha’u’llah’s words have a “creative power” and he cited a number of specific advances as proof. He claimed that world temperance was advancing, military dictatorships had fallen and will not be revived, democracy was spreading, Esparanto was gaining worldwide acceptance as a universal language, and the “emancipation of the workers” was “steady and irresistible.” This has been rewritten in a more general fashion.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 209-10 / 244-7
Under the heading of “Social Troubles After the War,” Esselmont gave an eyewitness account of some specific predictions by Abdu’l-Baha, which did not take place. This section has been replaced by nearly three pages of general information summing up Baha’u’llah’s proclamation.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 211-12 / 249-50
Abdu’l-Baha was quoted, asserting that the Kingdom of God would be established in this century along with world peace and a universal language, specifically by 1957. This section has been replaced with material by Abdu’l-Baha which speaks generally of the effect of the Baha’i Faith on the world. It has been made to appear as if Esselmont was referring to the progress of the movement at the one hundredth anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s declaration, or 1963. It is important to note that this change was not made in the major revision in 1937, but in the 1970 revision, after the events predicted did not take place.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 215-6 / 253-4
Avarih’s estimates of the number of Baha’is worldwide have been replaced. It is interesting to note that it was the issue of dishonesty in the Baha’i administration over the numerical success of the movement, which Avarih cited as his reason for leaving the faith.

(Edition / Page No. ) (1923 / 1980) : 228-9 / 287
Esselmont supplied a bibliography for further study which included books from a variety of authors, including Edward G. Browne. In the 1937 edition it was removed completely, but a new list of references is included at the end of later editions. Although, Browne’s material remains in the text, his work is missing from the latest bibliography.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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