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TAGS: Bible; Christianity; Interfaith dialogue; Interpretation; Prophecies; Quotations from the Bible; Some Answered Questions
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Abstract:
Can certain passages from the Hebrew Bible be taken as prophetic references to the Babi or Baha'i Faiths?
Notes:
Submitted by and posted with permission of recipient. Transmitted by email.

Biblical Questions, Interpretation of:
Ezekiel 10:19, Jeremiah 49:38 and Micah 7:12

by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice

1998-05-12
To: Universal House of Justice 
From: Research Department

      The Research Department has considered the questions raised by Mr. ______ in his email message of 3 April 1998.  Mr. ______ cites three passages from the Old Testament, specifically, Ezekiel 10:19, Jeremiah 49:38 and Micah 7:12, and states that these passages have been interpreted in the "work of William Sears and a number of other Bahá'í authors" as "references to the Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths".  He further states that he has "studied these passages using the historical-critical method" and "concluded that the traditional Bahá'í interpretations are foreign to the contexts and, in the case of the passage from Micah, based on errors of translation".  As he has not found any authoritative Bahá'í Writings on the passages, Mr. ______ would like to consider the interpretations as "purely personal" and "not binding on Bahá'ís in general".  Finally, Mr. ______ requests any information "that would confirm or invalidate" his conclusion.

      The Research Department has not been able to find in the Bahá'í Writings any statements regarding the passages cited by Mr. ______.  He is free to arrive at his own conclusions as to the meaning of the passages.

      However, Mr. ______ may be interested to note that in God Passes By (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), the Guardian identified a verse from Ezekiel, which appears to have some similarity to Ezekiel 10:19, as describing 'Akká.  The passage from God Passes By (page 184) is reproduced below.

      'Akká itself, flanked by the "glory of Lebanon," and lying in full view of the "splendor of Carmel," at the foot of the hills which enclose the home of Jesus Christ Himself, had been described by David as "the Strong City," designated by Hosea as "a door of hope," and alluded to by Ezekiel as "the gate that looketh towards the East," whereunto "the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East," His voice "like a noise of many waters."
      It is not possible to comment on specific methods Mr. ______ may have used to arrive at his conclusions.  However, in connection with Mr. ______'s statement that his conclusion was based on the context of the Biblical passages, we would like to point out the possibility that such verses can be seen in more than one context.  For example, a verse which may be understood in the context of historical events during the lifetime of its author can at the same time have a deeper spiritual significance referring to later stages of divine Revelation.

      Finally, Mr. ______ may find useful the following extract from a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice regarding the study of the Bible.  We note especially the last paragraph, which seems to indicate that passages from the Bible may have many meanings.  The extract reads:

The interpretation of biblical prophecies has long been the subject of controversy and speculation among religious scholars.  As Bahá'ís, we know that we must turn to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi for authoritative guidance in these matters.  When a subject has not been mentioned or explained in the Sacred Writings, we are free to consult other books and to consider the opinions of scholars if we wish to do so.  This principle is affirmed in the following excerpts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian by his secretary to individual believers:
As regards what Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl has said concerning the seven religions of the past, Shoghi Effendi wishes to emphasize that what are truly authoritative views are the Master's words.  In all such cases we should try and find out what He has said, and abide by His words, even though they seem conflicting with the findings of modern scholars.  If He does not say anything on the subject then the individual is free to accept or refute what scholars such as Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl say.  Through the discussions of these the truth will ultimately be found.  But at no time should their decision be considered as final.

As regards Confucianism: The Teachings contain no data on this subject, and the Guardian would therefore advise that you refer to authoritative books regarding the history and teachings of this Faith.

 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to recommend your continued study of Some Answered Questions since this book contains the interpretations given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá on the meaning of some of the passages you mention from the Book of Daniel as well as other subjects found in the Old and New Testaments.  You will note that in addition to giving His explanations, 'Abdu'l-Bahá encourages personal initiative in unraveling divine mysteries.  For example, at the end of Chapter XX on "The Necessity of Baptism: He says: "This subject needs deep thought.  Then the cause of these changes will be evident and apparent."  And at the end of Chapter XXX on "Adam and Eve", after setting forth His own interpretation of the us, He goes on the say: "This is one of the meanings of the biblical story of Adam.  Reflect until you discover the others." - (17 January 1978, to an individual)
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