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>>   Letters from the Universal House of Justice
Abstract:
Three letters, from 2002, 2010, and 2013, about numbers of Sacred Texts catalogued by the Baha'i World Center and their classification into "authenticated," "revised," and "transcribed."
Notes:
Below is (1) a letter to the House from 2001 and (2) their response from 2002, which was (3) later published in 2009, followed by (4) an update letter sent in 2010 and (5) another in 2013.

Original email for the 2001 letter submitted by and posted with permission of recipient, and name retained with permission of recipient; posted here in 2002. Later reprinting mirrored with permission from irfancolloquia.org/u/universal house of justice_classification; posted in 2009.

Original emails for the 2010 and 2013 letters are on file; names have been removed.


Texts, Sacred, Numbers and Classifications of

by Universal House of Justice

published in Lights of Irfan, Volume 10, pages 349-350
Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia, 2002/2013

1. 2001 Letter from Steve Cooney to the Universal House of Justice, 2001-06-18

In the June 13 press release from the Bahai World News Service about the Summons of the Lord of Hosts is an attempt to quantify the size of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation:
"The collected volume represents only a fraction of Bahá'u'lláh's output during his 40-year ministry, when He revealed thousands of tablets which altogether represent a volume more than 70 times the size of the Qur'an and more than 15 times the size of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible." www.bahaiworldnews.org/story.cfm?storyid=163.
Some time ago I wrote the Department of Secretariat:
Over the years there has been periodic reporting of the collection and classification of the Sacred Texts. In 1983 the "Seven Year Plan 1979-1986 Statistical Report" published at Ridvan 1983 reported that:

The original letters and tablets housed at the World Centre numbered 15,000 documents. The authenticated copies for which no originals had yet been received constituted 46,000 items.

Together these 60,000 plus documents were broken down into 15,000 Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, 27,000 Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá and over 17,500 letters of Shoghi Effendi.

In 1994 David Ruhe mentioned in the preface of his book 'The Robe of Light' that there are now more than 21,000 Tablets and letters of Bahá'u'lláh held in the Bahá'í Archives.

I would very much like to know the comparable figures as of 2001 and if possible the ratio or proportions of originals to authenticated copies. Also if there are any statistics regarding the Tablets and Writings of the Bab that would be useful. Failing that, the last published figures would be appreciated."
Yesterday I received this reply by electronic mail. I thought you would be interested. It shows that since 1983 the number of documents bearing on the Revelation has more than doubled from 60,000 to approx 138,000. Also the classification system has become more sophisticated. It is difficult to compare the 1983 and 2002 figures directly but in the nearly two decade time frame a lot more documents have been acquired. And clearly a lot more authentication work remains to be done.

2. Response from the Universal House of Justice to Steve Cooney, 2002

Your email letter dated 18 June 2001, requesting statistical information relating to the collection and classification of the Sacred Texts, which are housed in the Bahá'í World Centre Archival collection, was received, and we are to reply as follows. We apologize for the lengthy delay in responding to you.

The Bahá'í International Archives holds significantly more Tablets and Bahá'í Holy Writings in its collection now than it did in 1983. For your ease of reference, we provide the following information as an explanation to the data presented in this document. The Archival collection held at the World Centre is divided into three categories, and between these three groups there are varying degrees of overlap. They are as follows:
  • Authenticated items: Originals or reproductions of Tablets and letters as dispatched to or received by their addressees.

  • Transcribed items: Secondary copies of Tablets or letters, copied by scribes of varying degrees of reliability, sometimes copied from an authenticated item, sometimes copied from another transcribed item.

  • Draft copies or Working copies: These include copies prepared by a scribe/secretary for checking prior to preparing the final copy, copies kept by the scribe/secretary or by Shoghi Effendi for later reference.
In light of the information provided above, we are able to inform you that there are some 7,169 original and photocopies of original Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, 15,815 by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and 17,118 letters of Shoghi Effendi. In addition, there are some 98,000 copies of other such Tablets and letters, many of which have not as yet been authenticated.

With regard to the Writings of the Báb, the Archival collection holds approximately 135 original Tablets, and 55 photocopies. We are unable to provide you with any figures for transcribed copies of His Writings since there is not yet a computer inventory of them.
          With loving Bahá'í greetings,
          Department of the Secretariat

3. 2002 letter, republished in Lights of Irfan vol. 10, 2009

irfancolloquia.org/pdf/lights10_texts.pdf

4. 2010 letter

To: The Universal House of Justice
Date: 1 October 2010
From: Research Department Request for statistics about the Sacred Writings

The Research Department has received a request from Mr. ... in an email letter of 21 July 2010 for the latest statistics on the Sacred Writings available at the Bahá’í World Centre.

The collection and collation of the Sacred Writings is an ongoing process, and the numbers are continually being revised. While past statistics, such as those referred to by Mr. Shafa, were based on counting the number of originals, transcriptions, and drafts held in the Archives, and included an element of double counting, the collation work has now reached a stage where estimates of the numbers of unique works can be given, as follows:

  • For Bahá’u’lláh, well over 18,000 unique works have been identified, comprising over six million words. Of these works, nearly 15,000 have been authenticated by the Archives Office so far.

  • For the Báb, over 2,000 unique works have been identified, comprising almost five million words. The works of the Báb have not yet been formally authenticated.

  • For ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, over 30,000 unique works have been identified, comprising over five million words. Of these works, over 27,000 have been authenticated by the Archives Office to date.

  • For Shoghi Effendi, well over 34,000 unique works have been identified, also comprising over five million words. Of these works, over 33,000 have been authenticated by the Archives Office.

5. 2013 letter

The Universal House of Justice Department of the Secretariat
Transmitted by email
6 June 2013

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

Your email letter dated 3 April 2013 requesting statistics concerning the Sacred Texts has been received at the Bahá’í World Centre and forwarded to the Research Department for study. That Department notes that the collection and collation of the Sacred Writings is an ongoing process, and the numbers are continually being revised. The estimates of the numbers of unique works can be given as follows:

  • For Bahá’u’lláh, nearly 20,000 unique works have been identified. Most of these Writings have been collected; however, 865 are known to have been revealed, but the texts are not available. Close to 15,000 of the collected works have been authenticated by the Archives Office to date.

  • For the Báb, over 2,000 unique works have been identified. Most of these Writings have been collected; however, 74 are known to have been revealed, but the texts are not available. Nearly 1,600 of the collected works have been authenticated.

  • For ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, over 30,000 unique works have been identified. All of these Writings have been collected and over 27,000 of them have been authenticated.

  • For Shoghi Effendi, over 22,000 unique works have been identified. All of these documents have been collected and the majority of them have been authenticated.
It is estimated that approximately ten per cent of the documents described above are in photocopied form. A fraction of the total numbers of unique works have been published in the original languages or translated into Western languages. However, citing exact numbers would be misleading since much of the unpublished and untranslated material consists of day-to-day correspondence and personal guidance and encouragement, which is less likely to be of general interest. The World Centre is actively pursuing a publication programme for the as yet unpublished major works of the Central Figures of the Faith and Shoghi Effendi.
    With loving Bahá’í greetings,
    Department of the Secretariat
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