New volume of Baha'i sacred writings is published
HAIFA, Israel — An important early epistle of Baha'u'llah that explores the human quest for spiritual enlightenment and the symbols used throughout the history of religious revelation has been recently translated and published in English.
"Gems of Divine Mysteries" is the latest publication of the Baha'i World Centre. Some 82-pages in English, the volume was originally titled Javahiru'l-Asrar, and was written in Arabic during Baha'u'llah 's banishment to Iraq, where He was exiled from 1853 until 1863. The book is a letter written in reply to a seeker who asked about the relationship of prophecy to the Babi Faith, and Baha'u'llah used that question as an opportunity to elaborate a number of related subjects.
The book relates closely to two other major works of Baha'u'llah: The Seven Valleys (Haft-Vadi), an exposition on the progression of the soul, and The Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan), which gives an exploration of the progression of divine revelation and the tribulations sustained by the Manifestations of God. Specifically, it addresses the cause of the rejection of the Prophets of the past, the danger of a literal reading of scripture the meaning of the signs and portents of the Bible concerning the advent of the new Manifestation, and the continuity of divine revelation.
For example, in "Gems" Baha'u'llah explains many of the symbolic terms used in past revelations, such as the term "resurrection" and "Day of Judgment."
"...he who had believed in God and in the Manifestation of His beauty was raised from the grave of heedlessness, gathered together in the sacred ground of the heart, quickened to the life of faith and certitude, and admitted to the paradise of the divine presence. What paradise can be loftier than this, what ingathering mightier, and what resurrection greater? Indeed, should a soul be acquainted with these mysteries, he would grasp that which none other hath fathomed."
"Gems" further provides what the Universal House of Justice calls "an exposition of the stages in the path of the spiritual wayfarer," which is explained in seven stages: "the Garden of Search," "the City of Love and Rapture," "the City of Divine Unity," "the Garden of Wonderment," "the City of Absolute Nothingness," "the City of Immortality," and "the City that hath no name or description."
The translation was prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, which works from original documents either written by Baha'u'llah 's own pen or recorded by His amanuensis. This English rendering combines the efforts of a number of translators, who strive to follow the pattern established by Shoghi Effendi, head of the Baha'i Faith and its authorized interpreter from 1921 until his death in 1957.
The book is the second publication of Baha'u'llah 's writings this year, following "The Summons of the Lord of Hosts" last May. These two are the first new full translations of Baha'u'llah 's writings since the publication of The Most Holy Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas) in 1992.
Although the documents identified as Baha'u'llah 's primary works have been the focus of translation work so far, they represent only a small portion of His writings during His 40-year ministry. All totaled, He revealed thousands of tablets, which altogether would constitute a volume more than 70 times the size of the Qur'an and more than 15 times the size of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
The book can be ordered through the United States Baha'i Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; email: [email protected]).