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Old 06-11-2018, 10:05 AM   #1
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Who Wrote the Commentary on the Aqdas?

I see the same set of commentary referenced everywhere, the version on Baha'i.org (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas | Bahá’ Reference Library ) as well as the Baha'i Reference Library. I'm not sure if I've missed it, but I've read the preface and introduction 5+ times now questioning who wrote the notes section and have come up empty. I am curious because I have seen people on other sites quote from these notes as if it is authoritative. Is it possibly by Shoghi Effendi, these notes? I'm unsure because the introduction says it was on the centenary of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah this english copy was made. Does anyone know the answer to this?
 
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Old 06-11-2018, 12:12 PM   #2
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I can't find a good source right now, but based on what I read somewhere, my basic understanding is that Shoghi Effendi either started a commentary or jotted down notes in preparation of a commentary, but died before it could be written, and the effort to finish it was organized by the UHJ.

Thus, in terms of where the document stands in terms of authority, it's a bit muddled, since it is a mix of probably-authoritative interpretation (I put the "probably" there only because I am personally unsure of whether an incomplete draft by Shoghi Effendi has the same degree of infallibility as his writings, as far as I know that question was never posed) and a mix of non-authoritative interpretation (no other interpretation save the Master and Guardian can be wholly called authoritative).

Shoghi stated that letters written on his behalf were less in authority than words written in by his own hand (oddly enough, revealing this in a letter written on his behalf), so my guess would be that it would be of less authority than the letters he dictated.

Regardless, Shoghi Effendi wrote enough on the topic of his own authority to make it clear that this work would be of less authority than his own words.

On the "Scale of Scriptural Authority" (if such a thing could exist), I'd place it here:
Writings of Baha'u'llah and the Bab
Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha
Interpretations in Shoghi Effendi's Own Writing
Interpretations that Shoghi Effendi Dictated, written by his Secretaries
This Document
Anyone's interpretation of a given Scripture.

Last edited by Walrus; 06-13-2018 at 01:10 PM.
 
Old 06-12-2018, 07:33 AM   #3
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The commentary to the Aqdas was written by the Universal House of Justice. Large portions of it are simple copies of statements the House already gave in answer to questions concerning the provisions of the Aqdas in its general or individual letters.

Therefore it is authoritative and can be quoted in the same manner as any other letter or message by the Universal House of Justice.
 
Old 06-12-2018, 10:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoerenRekelBludau View Post
The commentary to the Aqdas was written by the Universal House of Justice. Large portions of it are simple copies of statements the House already gave in answer to questions concerning the provisions of the Aqdas in its general or individual letters.

Therefore it is authoritative and can be quoted in the same manner as any other letter or message by the Universal House of Justice.
Good to know! Thank you so much!
This does make me curious about parts that are not copies of already existing letters however. Much seems interpretative (a given, considering it's setting out to help explain the Aqdas) and this makes me wonder as to how much of the aforementioned Guardian's commentary was completed and how much was filled in.
 
Old 06-12-2018, 11:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
Good to know! Thank you so much!
This does make me curious about parts that are not copies of already existing letters however. Much seems interpretative (a given, considering it's setting out to help explain the Aqdas) and this makes me wonder as to how much of the aforementioned Guardian's commentary was completed and how much was filled in.
Shoghi Effendi didn't write a single part of the commentary. He started to prepare the shorthand summary which is also included in the Aqdas. This part was already completed as early as 1972 when the House first published this notes under the title "Synopsis and Codification" accompanied by the parts of the Aqdas the Guardian had already translated for other purposes.

But of course the House is able to comment on passages in the Aqdas as far as it is entitled to "clarifiy what is unclear or obscure" and to foster the application of the laws for which it is often necessary to go further than the actual text. In this sense I would deem the commentary on the Aqdas being part of the application of the laws which is intrinsically linked to the House's power of legislation.

Last edited by SoerenRekelBludau; 06-12-2018 at 11:42 PM.
 
Old 06-13-2018, 09:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoerenRekelBludau View Post
Shoghi Effendi didn't write a single part of the commentary. He started to prepare the shorthand summary which is also included in the Aqdas. This part was already completed as early as 1972 when the House first published this notes under the title "Synopsis and Codification" accompanied by the parts of the Aqdas the Guardian had already translated for other purposes.

But of course the House is able to comment on passages in the Aqdas as far as it is entitled to "clarifiy what is unclear or obscure" and to foster the application of the laws for which it is often necessary to go further than the actual text. In this sense I would deem the commentary on the Aqdas being part of the application of the laws which is intrinsically linked to the House's power of legislation.
If their authority is only linked to application and not interpretation though, would that not mean they aren't able to interpret the laws, but would have had to rely on what was said by Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian as to what they meant, and apply them accordingly?
I'm not so certain it would be authoritative in terms of how it is interpreted, though the application of them would definitely be. I see that if most of it comes from already established letters it has a lot of credibility (Especially if those letters were on behalf of the Guardian) - Either way, a very helpful commentary.
 
Old 06-13-2018, 11:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
If their authority is only linked to application and not interpretation though, would that not mean they aren't able to interpret the laws, but would have had to rely on what was said by Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian as to what they meant, and apply them accordingly?
I'm not so certain it would be authoritative in terms of how it is interpreted, though the application of them would definitely be. I see that if most of it comes from already established letters it has a lot of credibility (Especially if those letters were on behalf of the Guardian) - Either way, a very helpful commentary.
The Universal House of Justice is allowed to make law and repeal that same law that is not written in the Book. It is also allowed to set further details under the law, lets use the example of Arson as one law.

The Ultimate penalty for Arson has been already given and it is lawful to apply that law. Death by fire can also be given as life in Prision.

But when that penalty is to be given has not been given in the writings, this will be set in the future when the Universal House of Justice decides upon this matter. My thoughts would be that Arson with intent to kill could attract the penalty given by Baha'u'llah, lesser levels of that crime would have other penalties set.

All this has been allowed for by the Baha'i Writings.

Regards Tony
 
Old 06-13-2018, 11:31 AM   #8
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The notes to the Aqdas translation are prepared by the Research Department and are not authoritative. Shortly after the first edition was published, a sheet of corrections was issued, which included many changes to the notes, so if you are going to use the notes, get hold of the "corrigenda" to the notes.

A letter on behalf of the House of Justice (ie, written by the secretariat) explains :

"As to whether the materials prepared by the Research Department constitute the authoritative word of the Universal House of Justice on a particular subject, as raised in your third question, the House of Justice indicates that such materials, though prepared at its direction, represent the views of that Department. While such views are very useful as an aid to resolving perplexities or gaining an enhanced understanding of the Bahai Teachings, they should never be taken to be in the same category as the elucidations and clarifications provided by the Universal House of Justice in the exercise of its assigned functions. However, the House of Justice chooses to convey the materials prepared by the Research Department to the friends because it wishes them to be thoughtfully attended to and seriously considered." (22 October 1996 - note that procedures may have changed in the intervening 20 years)
 
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