Tablet of Wisdom questions and answers
by Abdu'l-Bahátranslated by Bahá'í World Centre.
published in Ethel Jenner Rosenberg, the Life and Times of England's Outstanding Bahá'í Pioneer Worker, by Robert Weinberg, pages 78-81
Oxford: George Ronald, 1995
first written or published 1906
He is God!
O thou dear handmaid of God!
Thy letter dated 6 April 1906 hath been received. Thou hast written that Mrs______ hath regained her health. God be praised, this daughter of the Kingdom hath attained unto spiritual health. A disaster to the body, when spiritual health is present, is of no importance. That is the main thing. God be thanked, she hath attained that great bestowal; she hath taken on immortal life.
It is to be regretted, however, that her husband is still wrapped in the veils of his idle imaginings. If her dear daughter _______be trained according to the instructions of God, she will grow to be a peerless plant in the garden of the heart. It is incumbent upon the father to choose for his daughter the glory that dieth not. Nevertheless, this is up to him; he may educate her in any way he desireth. As to what thou didst ask regarding the history of the philosophers: history, prior to Alexander of Greece, is extremely confused, for it is a fact that only after Alexander did history become an orderly and systematized discipline. One cannot, for this reason, rely upon traditions and reported historical events that have come down from before the days of Alexander. This is a matter thoroughly established, in the view of all authoritative historians. How many a historical account was taken as fact in the eighteenth century, yet the opposite was proven true in the nineteenth. No reliance, then, can be placed upon the traditions and reports of historians which antedate Alexander, not even with regard to ascertaining the lifetimes of leading individuals.
Wherefore ye should not be surprised that the Tablet of Wisdom is in conflict with the historical accounts. It behoveth one to reflect a while on the great diversity of opinion among historians, and their contradictory accounts; for the historians of East and West are much at odds, and the Tablet of Wisdom was written in accordance with certain histories of the East.
Furthermore, the torah, held to be the most ancient of histories, existeth today in three separate versions: the Hebrew, considered authentic by the Jews and the Protestant clergy; the Greek Septuagint, which was used as authoritative in the Greek and other eastern churches; and the Samaritan Torah, the standard authority for that people. These three versions differ greatly, one from another, even with regard to the lifetimes of the celebrated figures.
In the Hebrew Torah, it is recorded that from Noah's flood until the birth of Abraham there was an interval of two hundred and ninety-two years. In the Greek, that time span is given as one thousand and seventy-two years, while the Samaritan, the recorded span is nine hundred and forty-two years. Refer to the commentary by Henry Westcott [the transliteration of this name is not certain] for tables are supplied therein which show the discrepancies among the three Torahs as to the birthdate of a number of the descendants of Shem, and thou wilt see how greatly the versions differ from one another.
Moreover, according to the text of the Hebrew Torah, from the creation of Adam until Noah's flood the elapsed time is recorded as one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, while in the Greek Torah the interval is given as two thousand two hundred and sixty-two years, and in the Samaritan text, the same period is said to have lasted one thousand three hundred and seven years.
Reflect now over the discrepancies among these three Torahs. The case is indeed surprising. The Jews and Protestants belittle the Greek Torah, while to the Greeks the Hebrew version is spurious, and the Samaritans deny both the Hebrew and the Greek versions.
Our purpose is to show that even in Scriptural history, the most outstanding of all histories, there are contradictions as to the time when the great ones lived, let alone as to the dates related to others. And furthermore, learned societies in europe are continually revising the existing records, both of East and West. In spite of this, how can the confused accounts of peoples dating from before Alexander be compared with the Holy Text of God? If any scholar expresses astonishment, let him be surprised at the discrepancies in Scriptural history.
Nevertheless, Holy Writ is authoritative, and with it no history of the world can compare, for experience hath shown that after investigation of the facts and a thorough study of ancient records and corroborative evidence, all establish the validity of God's universal Manifestation; once His claim proveth true, then whatsoever He may choose to say is right and correct.
The histories prior to Alexander, which were based on oral accounts current among the people, were put together later on. There are great discrepancies among them, and certainly they can never hold their own against the Holy Writ. It is an accepted fact among historians themselves that prior to this time history was transmitted by word of mouth. Note how extremely confused was the history of Greece, so much so that to this day there is no agreement on the dates related to the life of Homer, Greece's far-famed poet. Some even maintain that Homer never existed at all, and that the name is a fabrication.
It is my hope that through the favour and grace of the Abha Beauthy, thou wilt fully recover thy health, and engage in serving the Cause with all thy might. I am aware that thou art much afflicted, and in extreme distress; but if we taste a drop from affliction's cup, the Blessed Beauty drank down a sea of anguish, and once we call this to mind, then every hardship turneth into peaceful rest, and toil into merciful bliss. Then will a draught of agony be but a refreshing wine, and the tyrant's wound only a friend's most gentle balm. Greetings be unto thee, and praise.