In this section some methodological issues that are relevant for this thesis
will be surveyed.
1. Research-questions and hypotheses
- What is Bahá'í-apocalypticism in general?
- How is it possible for the Bahá'í-religion to view
revelation (religion) as successive, continuous and progressive while
originating in a religious context (Islám) which claims that Muhammad
is the "Seal of the Prophets" and that revelation is final?
- Is the concept of progressive revelation a central concept,
principle, or theme, in the Bahá'í-religion?
- What is progressive revelation? What are some of its distinct
features and dimensions?
- Bahá'í-apocalypticism in general has a
multidimensional structure, e.g., hierarchical, horizontal, vertical,
exoterical, and esoterical.
- Issues like the "Seal of the Prophets" and finality of revelation
are, according to the Bahá'í-authors, ultimately a matter of
viewpoint and interpretation (esoteric/exoteric). Thus, the
Bahá'í-authors upholds the that the "Seal of the Prophets" and
the finality of revelation are valid from one specific point of view, but they
prefer to interpret these issues from within the concept of progressive
revelation, especially within the cyclical scheme.
- Progressive revelation is a central concept, principle, and theme,
in the Bahá'í religion. It consists both of an esoteric (texts
of identification) and an exoteric dimension (texts of
- Progressive revelation is an evolutionary concept of
Bahá'í-apocalypticism and which interprets various revelations
(religions) as essentially interconnected, cyclical, and
2. Methodological problems
A. The Material
The study of the Bahá'í-religion can in some respect be
advantageous in comparison to the study of the more ancient religions in that:
1) the original and primary sources (Arabic/Persian/English), to a large
extent, have been preserved and are utilized for direct translations, and 2)
the Bahá'í-material, despite the religions young age, is quite
vast. At the same time, however,
there is a frustration and disadvantage in that the great majority of this
material is not yet translated, but efforts are being made to address and solve
As was stated in the introduction, Shoghi Effendi was appointed as the
interpreter and translator of the writings of the Báb,
Bahá'u'lláh, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The Báb and
Bahá'u'lláh wrote in both Arabic and Persian, whereas
Abdu'l-Bahá mainly wrote in Persian. Moreover, the latter gave lectures
in Persian that were either recorded by stenographic- or ordinary notes, and
which subsequently were translated into English. Due to his American/English
education, Shoghi Effendi naturally translated the original Arabic and Persian
sources into English. Furthermore, due to his long-term correspondence (c.
1922-1957) with the world-wide Bahá'í community in English,
Shoghi Effendi more or less established this as a universal language among the
Bahá'ís in various countries are not only encouraged, but sees it
as imperative to translate the principal Bahá'í-writings into the
vernacular. However, it should be emphasized that these translations are not
based upon the original Arabic/Persian sources, but are in nearly all cases
based upon either: 1) English primary
sources (Shoghi Effendi's writings), or 2) English secondary sources (usually
translated by Shoghi Effendi). In addition, more than 60% of all published
Bahá'í-literature that has been published in the world is in
English. It is due to these reasons that the material for this thesis is
primary and secondary English sources.
B. The Method
This study is primarily an exegetical approach to
Bahá'í-apocalypticism. However, to systematically and
structurally analyze various dimensions of Bahá'í-apocalypticism
the method which has been preferred for this study is mainly a
"structural-criticism," which is a subordinate field of exegesis. Consequently,
extensive passages by the
Bahá'í-authors have frequently been incorporated into the
main-body of this thesis. These passages have, in turn, been utilized as the
basis for the analysis of significant subjects: key terms, metaphors, concepts,
structures, axes, and dimensions of Bahá'í-apocalypticism. It is
"systematic" in that specific areas, e.g., theology, cosmology, and
prophetology, are sequentially investigated. It is also systematic in that the
Bahá'í-authors' texts in each area is generally dealt with in a
"diachronic" fashion, i.e., first the writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
then 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and finally Shoghi Effendi. It is also systematic
since it has studied these areas in a "synchronic" manner, i.e., some subjects
have been compared both "intra-textually" (within a text, or different texts,
by the same author) and "inter-textually" (between various texts by the three
A "key term" is defined as a term which occurs repeatedly and/or is found as
central to a Bahá'í-text. A "metaphor" is a figure of speech
which is based on a pattern of resemblance. The metaphors which are recurrent,
and that have been investigated in various contexts, are commonly of an
astronomic/astrological, or organic, nature where the latter often exhibits
characteristics of growth and progress. Certain regularly employed metaphors
have in this thesis been labeled "models," (e.g., the solar-model and the
seasonal-model). A "concept" can be defined as consisting of different "key
terms". For example, the concept "progressive revelation" consists of two key
terms progress and revelation. However, this concept is, in turn,
also associated with other key terms (e.g., evolution, capacity), or concepts
(e.g., the Manifestation of God). A "structure" is seen as the relationship(s)
between various concepts. Some repeated structures have been designated
"schemes" (e.g., the macro/micro scheme and the cyclical scheme). An "axis" can
also be regarded as a structure but which is associated with a specific
directionality of revelation ("vertical/horizontal"). In turn, a "dimension"
can be said to consist of all the previous mentions subjects, but it generally
points to both the directionality and relationship between of the different
structures. In this thesis the most prevailing dimensions have been defined in
the following bi-polarities ("binary oppositions"): two "vertical/horizontal"
axes, and two "esoteric/exoteric dimensions." Together, the different key
metaphors (models), concepts, structures (schemes), axes, and dimensions, make
up the overall system of Bahá'í-apocalypticism.
Finally, this method is, on the hand "analytical" in that it discerns certain
explicit units ("surface structures") of the Bahá'í-texts, but it
is, on the other hand also "synthetic" in that it examines various implicit
relationships ("deep structures") between the above mention subjects.
 It is beyond the scope of this thesis to
fully introduce the historical origins and the development of these areas. For
an introduction to the Bahá'í religion see, Hatcher, W. S. and
Martin, J. D. (1989). For a more in-depth study see, e.g., Balyuzi, H. M.
(1991). For an introduction to the field of revelation see, e.g., Ward. K.
(1994). For an in-depth study of apocalypticism see, e.g., Hellholm, D. (1983).
For an introduction to the ideas of progress see, e.g., Bury, J. B. (1920);
Nisbet, R. (1994); Melzer, A. M., Wein
rger, J. & Zinman, M. R. (1995).
See Hopper, D. H. (1991); Kumar, K. (1978)
 See Hellholm, D. (1983)
 See Bury, J. (1920)
 E.g., Augustine (354-430 AD). The City of God; Baillie, J. (1950). The Belief
 E.g., Plotinus (205-270 AD). The Enneads; Hegel, G. W. F. (1807).
Phenomenologie des Geistes [The Phenomenology of Mind]; Caird, E. (1902). The
Evolution of Religio
 Boyce, M. (1987). p. xiii. Most scholars date the life of Zarathustra c.
700-600 BCE, whereas Boyce is dating him between c. 1700-1500 BCE; see p. 18
 Boyce, M. (1987). p. 4
 Ithná-'Asharí in Arabic
 See e.g., Momen, M. (1985)
 Boyce, p. 152. The figure 878 CE appears to be a typographic error since most
authors agree on Imám Hasan al-'Askarí's disappearance 260 AH =
873-74 CE See e.g., Amanat, A. Resurrection and Renewal, p. 10; Momen, M.
(1985). p. 30
 al-Qá'im ("the one who will arise" in Arabic), is one of the many
titles of Muhammad al-Mahdí, the Twelfth Imam (al-Mahdí means
"the guided one" in Arabic)
 The "Gate," (in Arabic) also known as Siyyid 'Alí-Muhammad
 The historical development of the Shaykhi-movement or the
Bábí-religion are beyond the scope of this thesis. For a greater
analysis of these areas see e.g., Amanat, A. (1989); Arjomand, S. A. (1984);
Báb (1987); Bayat, M. (1982); Browne, E. G. (1891), (1892), (1918),
(1924); Lawson, B. T. (1987); MacEoin, D. M. (1979); Rafati, V. (1979); and
Sachedina, A. (1981
 See e.g., Momen, M. (1981); Vámbéry, H. (1869); Hedin, S.
 See e.g., Gibb, H. A. R. (1960); Hedin, S. (1887)
 See e.g., GPB; Esslemont, J. E. (1980); Hatcher, W. S. and Martin, J. D.
 "Explanation" in Arabic; see Nicolas, A. L. M. (1905) and (1911-1914); and
 Man-yuzhiruhu'lláh in Persian. The full title of the Qá'im is
Qá'im-i-Ál-i-Muhammad which is translated as "He who shall arise
of the family of Muhammad." The relationship between the Qá'im and "Him
whom God shall make manifest" is rather intricate and complex. "The Báb
declared Himself to be the Qá'im and also the Gate (Báb) to a
greater divine messenger, 'Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest'." Momen, W.
(1991). p. 19
 The "Glory of God" (in Arabic) also known as Mirza
 See GPB, p. 101-102; WOB, p. 31
 The word "Bahá'í" ("a follower of Bahá") is derived from
Arabic and is the name of both the religion and an adherent of this religion
 Buck, C. (1986)
 "Servant of Bahá" (in Arabic) also known as 'Abbás Effendi
 Also known as Shoghi Rabbáni (1897-1957
 It should be noted that Shoghi Effendi's style of writing was highly
influenced especially by: E. Gibbon's (1737-1794) The History of the Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-78), and King's James' Bible
 Effendi, S. (1944)
 See Rabbani, R. (1969)
 Bury, p. 240, italics added. See also Schelling, Friedrich von (1775-1854),
who, according to Bury, also "saw in history a progressive revelation of divine
reason." Bury, p. 256, italics added
 See e.g., Sharpe, E. J. (1986). pp. 1-46
 Sharpe, E. J. (1986). pp. 27-32, italics added
 Caird, E. (1907). pp. 25-2
 See Hellholm, D. (1983)
 E.g., Dulles, A. (1994); Ward, K. (1994
 The Bahá'í religion is the second most widespread religion in
the world with c. 7 million adherents. It is also the largest minority religion
in Iran. See Hatcher, W. S. and Martin, J. D. (1989); Fazel, S. (1994);
Schaefer, U. (1988
 See e.g., Balyuzi, H. M. (1970); Momen, M. (Ed.) (1987); MacEoin, D. M.
 Taherzadeh, A. (1987). vol. I, pp. 35-36; pp. 42-4
 In the Swedish Bahá'í News Magazine (Bahá'í
Nov. 1993), it is estimated that of Bahá'u'lláh's c.
15000 written documents (ranging from books, tablets, and especially letters),
7160 have been allocated and preserved in the Archives at the
Bahá'í World Center, Haifa, Israel. In comparison, the works of
'Abdu'l-Bahá, the figure is 15549 out of c. 30800, and Shoghi Effendi,
the amount is 16370 out of c. 30100. The total amount of available written
material, thus amounts to 39079. The rest of the written documents, estimated
to be c. 37000, has either been destroyed, lost, or is hidden among either
Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í
 This is especially the case with studies in the Bábí-religion
where only portions of his writings have been translated into English. See:
Báb (1978); Browne, E.G., (1918). However, some of the most important
works of the Báb, the Arabic Bayán and the Persian Bayán,
have both been translated into French, e.g., Nicolas, A. L. M. (1905) and
(1911-1914). In this moment of writing a group of Bahá'í
scholars, competent in Arabic and/or Persian, are both trying to systematize
the works of Bahá'u'lláh and to translate hitherto unknown works
in the Bahá'í community.
 It is to be noted that Shoghi Effendi only wrote one book, God Passes By,
which was published in 1944. The rest of the titles which are associated with
his name are compilations of letters in his correspondence with the world-wide
 The exceptions are Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish. In these cases the original
Arabic/Persian sources are used as the basis for translation. See: LG, p. 107;
Volker, C. A. (1989-90)
 For a more detailed explanation why English is used as the primary language
for translations see: Collins, W. (1990). LG, p. 107; Volker, C. A.
 For an explanation of "structural criticism" see Hayes, J. H. & Holladay,
C. R. (1987). pp. 110-11
 See Appendices I and II. See e.g., Schuon, F. (1984
 For an explanation of "surface structures" and "deep structures" see Hayes, J.
H. & Holladay, C. R. (1987). pp. 110-11