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Free Content Bahaullah's Bishrt (Glad-Tidings): A Proclamation to Scholars and Statesmen

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This article is a historical and textual study of the one of the major writings of Bahaullah: the Law-i Bishrt (Tablet of Glad-Tidings), revealed circa 1891, and advances new theories as to its provenance and purpose. The Tablet of Glad-Tidings is a selective compendium of Bahaullah's laws and principles, sequentially presented in a series of 15 Glad-Tidings. As the Arabic term, Bisharat, suggests, these Glad-Tidings were a public announcement of some of the essential teachings of the new Baha'i religion. The Glad-Tidings is the most extensive of several tablets by Bahaullah that present key teachings in a numbered structure. The Glad-Tidings may, in part, be regarded as serially articulated world reforms intermixed with religious reforms emanating from Bahaullah in his professed role as World Reformer. The Glad-Tidings also functioned analogously (albeit anachronistically) to a press release, serving not only as a public proclamation but to rectify the inaccuracies and gross misrepresentations that had previously circulated in print. Intended for widespread translation and publication, the Glad-Tidings was sent to scholars notably Russian orientalist, Baron Viktor Rosen (18491908) and Cambridge orientalist, Edward Granville Browne (18621926) and possibly pre-revolutionary Russian statesmen as well. As a Proclamatory Aqdas, the Tablet of Glad-Tidings was part of a much broader proclamation by Bahaullah, who proclaimed his mission to the political and religious leaders of the world. This study will argue that Bahaullah may have revealed the Tablet of Glad-Tidings for E. G. Browne or rather through him, since Bahaullah evidently intended that Browne should translate and publish the Bisharat in order to make the nature of the Baha'i teachings more widely known. This would then correct the distortions that had previously been published regarding Bahaullah's purpose and the nature of the religion that he founded, thereby promoting a public awareness that a new world religion was on the horizon of modernity.

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Keywords: Bahaullah; Baron Viktor Rosen; Bishrt; Edward Granville Browne; Proclamatory Aqdas; Tablet of Glad-Tidings; modernity; sacralizing/desacralizing; world reforms

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto. 2: University of Virginia.

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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