Brief

New volume of Baha'i sacred writings is published

HAIFA, Israel, 22 September 2002 - An important early epistle of Bahá'u'lláh 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 Bahá'í World Centre. Some 82 pages in English, the volume was originally titled Javahiru'l-Asrar, and was written in Arabic during Bahá'u'lláh's residence in Iraq, where He was exiled from 1853 to 1863. The book is a letter written in reply to a man who asked about the relationship of prophecy to the Bábí Faith, the forerunner to the Bahá'í Faith. Bahá'u'lláh used the query as an opportunity to elaborate on a number of related subjects.

The book relates closely to two other major works of Bahá'u'lláh: 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 Bahá'u'lláh 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," wrote Bahá'u'lláh in Gems. "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 Bahá'u'lláh'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 Bahá'í Faith and its authorized interpreter from 1921 until his death in 1957.

The book is the second publication of Bahá'u'lláh's writings this year, following The Summons of the Lord of Hosts last May. These two are the first new full translations of Bahá'u'lláh's writings since the publication of The Most Holy Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas) in 1992.

Although the documents identified as Bahá'u'lláh'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 Bahá'í Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; email: bds@usbnc.org).

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