Religions decline in fortune over time, between heyday and
renaissance. Whether due to oppression from foreign conquerors, or to
eclipse from the rise of a more popular movement, or to the threat of
encroaching secularism, or to the decay of the social order itself, a religion
will eventually face crisis. It is during such crucial periods that a peculiar
type of scripture dawns on the historical horizon, that which we call
The 1979 International Colloquium on Apocalypticism at Uppsala and the 1983 Princeton Conference on Maitreya Studies are two instances which show
how interest in the apocalyptic is still quite alive.
Most religions, if not all, develop future-oriented “visions of the end.” In such eschatological dramas, cosmology is applied to the future, and these prophecies, often modelled on past events, may be regarded as a kind of projected or inverse history.
Central to most apocalypses is the messianic savior whose function is to effect a deliverance from oppression, after which will be the revitalization of religion-from lowest ebb to restored power. [End p. 157]
The morphological and historical nucleus of messianism is, on
comparative grounds, defined by Lanternari as follows: “A messianic
movement is, in general, a collective movement of escape from the present and of
expectation of salvation, promoted by a prophet-founder, following a
mystico-ecstatic inspiration: a movement which intends to start a renewal of the
world which will be realized in an eschatological perspective as a return to a
primordial and paradisical age.”
In all apocalyptic traditions eschatological associations are
proclaimed by the charismatic aspirant to messianic office. Prophecy is drawn on
for purposes of legitimation. This phenomenon repeats itself over and over in
history. But when a new religion or messianic movement encounters diverse
traditions beyond its own ideological milieu, what kind of cross-fertilization
The case of the Bahá’í Faith demonstrates the
process, since it is both well-documented and ongoing. Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), prophet-founder of the Bahá’í cause, has been heralded by his followers as the eschatological Imám Husayn
áh Bahrám Varjávand (Zoroastrianism), the Spirit of Truth or Comforter (Christianity), Kalki
uyasas (Hinduism), Maitreya (Buddhism), as well as Viracocha (Peruvian Incan tradition). Other instances of messianic dignity conferred upon Bahá’u’lláh augment this eschatological constellation.
The only important historical parallel to this example of what one
might call a “multiple messiahship” is afforded by the prophetology
of Mání. In a passage preserved by al-Bírúní
from Mání’s now-lost Sháhpúragán,
Wisdom and deeds have always from time to time been brought to mankind
by the messengers of God. So in one age they have been brought by the
messenger of God called Buddha to India, in another by Zoroaster to Persia, in
another by Jesus to the West. Thereafter this revelation has come down, this
prophecy in this last [End p. 158] age, through me, Mání, the
Messenger of the God of Truth to Babylonia.
Mání, who evidently styled himself “the seal of
ammad likewise would), was regarded by
early followers (according to the newly discovered Cologne Mání
as a manifestation of the “True Prophet” whose spirit
enlightens a succession of revelators throughout the ages. Such prophetology
echoes Elkasaite doctrine (as Mání was raised among Elkasaite
baptists), and is strikingly evocative of the True-Prophet Christology of
Ebionite Christianity as developed in the Pseudo-Clementine
Thus a unique contribution of Mání to religious thought is the way in which he universalized prophetology through a federal ideology
adapted to embrace wisdom-traditions outside the Abrahamic thought-world. So
successful was Mání that during his own lifetime, the religion
spread to Ctesiphon, Babylon, Armenia, India, Mesene, Susiana, and
Although Mání was probably the first person in history ever to have consciously pursued the role of a world-prophet, nineteenth-century
civilization proved a far more auspicious time for such a figure. Like
Mání, Bahá’u’lláh was a Persian, yet
both transcended their own cultural boundaries. However,
Bahá’u’lláh succeeded where Mání failed.
Through a comparable, though perhaps more august proclamation,
Bahá’u’lláh was a superior organizer of an optimistic
rather than pessimistic spirituality. By formulating a code of laws replete with
a clear structure for the future development of his community of believers,
Bahá’u’lláh founded a Faith with the potential for
becoming a world religion.
As the “World-Reformer,” through whose “new World Order”
the peoples of the world would be universalized, Bahá’u’lláh began to articulate an ideology which relativizes all past apocalyptic visions as expressive of the same theme, hope, [End p. 159]
mandate, and promise. Within a single vision, legitimated through Bahá’u’lláh’s federal prophetology, is developed a concept referred to as “progressive
Contemplate with thine inward eye the chain of successive Revelations
that hath linked the Manifestation of Adam with that of the Báb
[Bahá’u’lláh’s forerunner]. I testify before God
that each one of these Manifestations . . . hath each been the bearer of a
specific Message, that each hath been entrusted with a divinely-revealed Book
and been commissioned to unravel the mysteries of a mighty Tablet ... And when
this process of progressive Revelation culminated ... He hath arisen to proclaim
in person His Cause unto all.
Bahá’u’lláh taught as “fact that all the Prophets of God have invariably foretold the coming of yet another Prophet
after them, and have established such signs as would herald the advent of the
Such tension of eschatological expectancy belonged to past religions, but in this age:
“The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended.”
Bahá’u’lláh announces: “Say: He Who is the Unconditioned is come, in the clouds of light, that He may ... unify the
Of universal movement in Bahá’í prophetic history is Bahá’u’lláh’s advent as the “Promise of all the Prophets of God, a heralded in all the sacred Scriptures.”
Augmenting the great
announcement are the specific eschatological claims advanced by
Bahá’u’lláh himself. Taking each eschatological
association separately, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed himself
to be four messianic figures, correlative of course to the four religious
traditions which then predominated in nineteenth-century Persia. This is the
point of departure for the Bahá’í process of
cross-acculturation of its own universal messianism.
Bahá’u’lláh’s fourfold messiahship is interesting to document, since this proclamation in effect originated a
Bahá’í teaching [End p 160]
technique. Through these
specific eschatological bridges, built to appeal to various apocalyptic
traditions, potential converts were enabled to make the crucial connexion of
faith between Bahá’u’lláh and an expected deliverer
foretold in prophecy.
This eschatological interface was expanded through the missionary
endeavors of Bahá’u’lláh’s followers, and to
some extent by the official pronouncements of the successive heads of the Faith.
Now, as the Bahá’í teachings are increasingly promulgated
among the world's tribal and minority cultures, new apocalyptic expectations are
encountered by Bahá’í teachers, who seek to build
appropriate eschatological bridges. A closer look at Bahá’u’lláh’s inaugural role in this “Diffusion of the Bahá’í Faith,” (which topic was discussed by panelists at two conferences of the American Academy of Religion in 1984) is in order and calls for a systematic description.
Quite public about his intentional role as a universal apocalvptic
figure, Bahá’u’lláh directed his proclamations to
specific religious communities, informing us that:
At one time We address the people of the Torah and summon them unto
Him Who is the Revealer of verses, Who hath come from Him Who layeth low the
necks of men.... At another, We address the people of the Evangel.... At still
another, We address the people of the Qur’án saying: “Fear
the All-Merciful, and cavil not at Him through Whom all religions were
founded.” . . . Know thou, moreover, that We have addressed to the Magians
Our Tablets. ... We have revealed in them the essence of all the hints and
allusions contained in their Books.
To examine Bahá’u’lláh’s specific claims within each of the four aforenamed traditions illustrates the appeal to
prophecy which a charismatic aspirant to messianic office necessarily makes for
purposes of legitimation.
are naturally enlarged
upon by later followers. Before we proceed to this secondary [End p. 161]
process, let us look at Bahá’u’lláh’s appeal to
messianic expectations then current in Persia and elsewhere among
í’í Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians.
Bahá’u’lláh first acknowledges a popular belief in
i’ism: that of the appearance or emergence
uhúr) of the Hidden Twelfth Imám, who is called qá’im
, followed by the return (raj’át
) of other Imáms to eventually establish their rule. The return of the third, Imám H
usayn, represents an apocalyptic vision
which has been at times a very passionate longing in
í’í folk beliefs. Among the bewilderingly
numerous apocalyptic traditions in Sh
í’ísm, the exegesis of the Qur’ánic passage: “Then, returned We unto you the turn [to
prevail] against them and aided you . . . ” (Qur’án 17:6)
attributed to the sixth Imám,
ádiq, was quite
influential. Here, by “returned” is meant the return of Imám
usayn, who will be flanked by the seventy-two of his companions who were martyred with him on the field of Karbalá. These companions will announce the return of
usayn. At the same time, the Qá’im will be among the people. When the people have truly recognized H
usayn, the Qá’im will die, and H
usayn will perform the funeral rites and burial.
With this all-too-slight background, the relevant messianic claim is advanced by Bahá’u’lláh as follows:
Consider the eagerness with which certain peoples ... have anticipated
the return of Imám-Husayn, whose coming, after the appearance of the Qá’im, hath been prophesied, by the chosen ones of God, exalted be His glory. These holy ones have, moreover, announced that ... all the Prophets and Messengers, including the Qá’im, will gather together beneath the shadow of the sacred
Standard which the Promised One will raise. That hour is now come. ... The seal
of the choice Wine of His Revelation hath, in this Day ... been broken. Its
grace is being poured out upon men. Fill thy cup, and
[End p. 162]
Sunní Islám anticipate two expected deliverers, the first
being the Mahdí (the “Divinely Guided One”)—whom
Shí’í tradition identifies with the hidden Twelfth Imám.
Following the Mahdí is to be (in Sunní tradition) Jesus Christ,
who returns to break crosses and to kill swine. In Sh
í’í tradition, this tradition is replaced by belief in the return of Imám H
usayn, the Prince of the Imáms. The martyrdom of H
usayn has moved the Persian psyche as powerfully as has the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for Christians down through the centuries. There is a particularly striking passage in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, where his identification as the Return of H
usayn is achieved through an allusion to the martyrdom of this heroic figure.
This passage is translated below, from a Tablet (the Lawh-i-Nasír
) mostly in Persian and which was revealed during the Adrianople period (1863-68).
By God! This is He Who hath at one time appeared in the name of the
Spirit [Jesus Christ], thereafter in the name of the Friend
[Muhammad], then in the name of
‘Alí [the Báb], and afterwards in this blessed, lofty,
self-subsisting, exalted, and beloved Name. In truth, this is
Husayn, Who hath appeared through divine
grace in the dominion of justice, against Whom have arisen the infidels, with
what they possess of wickedness and iniquity. Thereupon they severed His head
with the sword of malice, and lifted it upon a spear in the midst of earth and
heaven. Verily, that head is speaking from atop that spear, saying: “0
assemblage of shadows! Stand ashamed before My beauty, My might, My sovereignty
and My grandeur. Turn your gaze to the countenance of your Lord, the
Unconstrained, so that you may find Me crying out among you with holy and
Since the chronological sequence of
Bahá’u’lláh’s initial proclamations is difficult
to establish, apart from the extant datable writings, the order of the four
religions given here is arbitrary. Wherever dates occur they will be noted. In
Stiles’s [End p. 163]
study of the conversion of religious minorities to
the Bahá’í Faith in Irán, she notes that while a
significant Jewish conversion movement began in Hamadan around 1877, and while
in the early 1880s, Zoroastrians were drawn to the Bahá’í
Faith, no conversions among Persian Christians appear to have taken
Yet this should not obscure the fact that
Bahá’u’lláh and his followers were engaged in dialogue
with Christians at an early date, as well as during later stages of contact.
Stile’s intriguing observation awaits further documentation.
While the psychological and theological changes which occurred in the Bábí/Bahá’í community between 1850 and 1875
prepared Bahá’ís to receive non-Muslims, those changes did
not in themselves cause the conversions. Were this the case we might expect a
close correspondence between conversion and Bahá’í outreach
to certain groups. I did not find this to be the case. Of all non-Muslim
religions, Christianity was addressed most frequently in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings, and much earlier than Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Early Bahá’ís often approached Christians and requested their scriptures.
Momen’s survey of early relations between Christian
missionaries and Bábí/Bahá’í communities is
particularly interesting in this context.
Returning to Bahá’u’lláh, we find him
addressing a number of epistles or “Tablets” to Christians during
the ´Akká period of his ministry
Of these Tablets, the most important was the one to Pope Pius IX, written around 1869. In it there is what one might call a dual messianic claim. Specifically, it is:
This is indeed the Father (al-wálid), whereof Isaiah gave
you tidings [Isa. 9:6b] and the Comforter (al-mu‘azzí) whose
coming was promised by the Spirit.
[End p. 164]
In Bahá’u’lláh’s Lawh-i-Aqdas
, often referred to as the “Tablet to the Christians” (late 1870s?), this dual claim is reaffirmed:
This is an Epistle from Our presence unto him whom the veils of names
have failed to keep back from God.... Say, 0 followers of the Son! . . . Lo! The
Father is come, and that which ye were promised in the Kingdom is fulfilled! ...
Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all
The same passage (Isa. 9:6b) again appears to be alluded to here,
since Isaiah is the only Old Testament prophet explicitly referred to in the
entire Tablet. Of the two, the Comforter/Spirit of Truth declaration seems to be
the more important for Bahá’u’lláh, not only for
establishing a prophetic relationship to, but also claiming an actual parallel
with Jesus. This is intimated by such texts as follow:
The Comforter Whose advent all the scriptures have promised is now come
that He may reveal unto you all knowledge and
This Day Jerusalem hath attained unto a new Evangel, for in the stead
of the sycamore standeth the cedar.
0 concourse of Christians! Verily, He (Jesus) said: ‘Come ye
after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.’ In this day,
however, We say: ‘Come ye after Me, that We may make you to become
quickeners of mankind.’
As Riesenfeld has pointed out,
currents in early Christianity looked upon Jesus as the Comforter. Evidence for
such identification is found in I John 2:1, where Jesus is called
(albeit in a juridical sense). A further witness
occurs in a fragment from the Acts of John discovered in one of the Oxyrhynchus
papyri: “0 Jesus, the Comforter . . .” (POxy 850, verso
p. 165] 10).
It would make sense, therefore, that Bahá’u’lláh, far removed from
Pentecostal presuppositions, could interpret the Johannine Jesus’ promise
of “another Comforter” (John 14:16) to be transparently a reference
to a future advent of a Prophet like unto Jesus, parallel to Moses’
promise of a Prophet like unto himself (Deut. 18:15-19).
What is unclear, however, and deserves further enquiry, is how the
Father is associated by Bahá’u’lláh with the messianic
Spirit of Truth. The mere juxtaposing of two prophecies is possible, but does
not account for Bahá’u’lláh’s deliberately
consistent juxtapositions in Christian contexts. Did Bahá’u’lláh see, in the subordinationist Christology of John 14:28, a prophecy of the coming of the Father, indicated as an eschatological event in verse 30 (as a possible reading), when “the prince of this world cometh”? One could see, however unconvincingly, how the occurrence of the term “Father” in the verse immediately following
the later Spirit of Truth prophecy (John 16:12-14) could be viewed as a name for
the second Comforter.
“For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father” (Matt. 16:27) also associates the name of the Father with the second Advent in glory.
Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamation was not just theological; and its impact must be explained otherwise. Charismatic power
was what rendered his claim to be the “Father” plausible. A case in
point surrounds the conversion of the first Christian Bahá’í, Fáris Effendi, the Syrian Protestant who was won over to the Faith by the Bahá’í poet and historian Nabíl-i-A’zam. This event took place in Egypt (rather than Persia, where a few Armenian Christians would later convert) in the year 1868. Fáris and Nabíl were cellmates in a prison in Alexandria. Like H
, the first Jewish Bahá’í, Fáris was a physician; but he was a priest as well (hence his title, Qasis-i-Súrí
). Naturally, both of the prisoners tried to convert the other. Since Fáris was a priest, he must have encountered the claim that Bahá’u’lláh was the [End p. 166]
“Father” with some astonishment, but he was able to make the eschatological connexion to become a Bahá’í.
It happened that Bahá’u’lláh, himself a
prisoner, was anchored in the port of Alexandria in August 1868, en route to
exile in the prison-city of ‘Akká. So close was the steamer that
it was visible from the rooftop of Fáris’s prison. Fáris
took this opportunity to dispatch a special messenger to deliver a letter to
Bahá’u’lláh. The messenger was a Christian watchmaker
named Constantine who, upon returning from Bahá’u’lláh’s ship, exclaimed, “By God! I saw the Father of Christ.”
: Given the despised minority status of
nineteenth-century Persian Zoroastrians, Bahá’u’lláh’s open recognition of Zoroaster as a great Prophet (yik-i az payghambarán-i-buzurg
) assumes considerable significance. Moreover, Bahá’u’lláh wrote directly to Persian Zoroastrians in a manner sympathetic to their traditions. Again, the leading Bahá’í teacher Mirzá
l Gulpáygání was at pains to demonstrate that Bahá’u’lláh’s lineage could be traced back to Yazdigird III, the last Zoroastrian monarch to occupy the throne of Persia.
Bahá’u’lláh wrote to particular
Zoroastrians of prominence and to the dasturs
(or high priests) as well.
Cambridge Orientalist E. G. Browne published partial texts of three epistles of
The most celebrated Zoroastrian to whom Bahá’u’lláh wrote was Manakji Limji Hataria, known in Irán as Mánakjí S
ib, who had met Bahá’u’lláh in 1854, while passing through Bagh
dád en route to Persia from India. As emissary from Parsi India, Manakjí did more for the amelioration of oppressive conditions for
Zoroastrians in Persia than any other nineteenth-century figure. For several
years Manakjí corresponded with Bahá’u’lláh
through Mírzá Abú’l-Fad
l Gulpáygání, a newly-won Bahá’í who was in Manakjí’s employ from early 1877 to late 1882, years between two major imprisonments for being a Bahá’í.
[End p. 167]
As with other letters from
Bahá’u’lláh to Zoroastrians, some of the Tablets to
Manakjí were composed in pure Persian, without a trace of Arabic. This
was considered by all to be a literary feat. One of these Tablets advances a
veiled messianic claim: “When the world was environed with darkness, the
sea of generosity was set in motion and divine illumination appeared ... This is
the same illumination which is promised in the heavenly books.”
To Zoroastrian dasturs
Bahá’u’lláh wrote: “0 High Priests! ... The Incomparable Friend is manifest....
Whatsoever hath been announced in the Books hath been revealed and made
But the most specific of Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamations to Zoroastrians was penned in a Tablet known as Shír-Mard
(Lion of a Man) or Lawh-i-Haft Pursish
(Tablet of Seven Questions), to Ustád Javán-Mard, principal of the Zoroastrian school of Yazd. In response to Javán-Mard’s question, Bahá’u’lláh explicitly identifies himself as the eschatological Sh
áh Bahrám Varjávand, the expected Zoroastrian deliverer.
To the religious leaders of Christendom, Bahá’u’lláh shows preference for Isaianic imagery in messianic context: “0 concourse of bishops! ... He Who is the Everlasting Father calleth aloud between earth and heaven.”
This preference is made clear in Bahá’u’lláh’s direct declaration: “I am the One Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled”
Allusion to Isaiah 9:6b has been indicated in the Tablet to the Pope (above). Appeal as well to the
following verse (Isa. 9:7) is transparent from a call to the “people of the Torah” along with related passages which would no doubt be
communicated to many Jews by Bahá’ís who would cull such of
Bahá’u’lláh’s claims as:
The Most Great Law is come, and the Ancient Beauty ruleth upon the
Throne of David.
The Promised Day is come and the Lord of Hosts hath appeared.
[End p. 168] 0 concourse of the divines! The heaven of religions is
split and the moon cleft asunder and the peoples of the earth are brought
together in a new resurrection. . . The episode of Sinai hath been reenacted in
Behold . . . all the testimonies of the Prophets in My grasp... I am He
Who feareth no one.... This is Mine hand which God hath turned white for all the
worlds to behold. This is My staff; were We to cast it down, it would, of a
truth, swallow up all created things.
Moses/Sinai typology is strong throughout Bahá’u’lláh’s writings; in many other places, moreover, he is “the Voice of the Lord . . . coming from the Burning Bush.”
This led to accusations that his followers believed in his "Divinity and Godhood,” but Bahá’u’lláh responded: “0 Sh
! This station is the station in which one dieth to himself and liveth in God. Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth My complete and absolute
self-effacement. This is the station in which I have no control over mine own
weal or woe nor over my life nor over my resurrection.”
Bahá’u’lláh’s denial of any personal claim to “Divinity and Godhood” did not preclude him from speaking in the voice or persona “of the Lord,” however. Metaphors abound in his writings to express the unique position he affords at the intersection of
the human and divine realms as the Theophany, or Manifestation of God:
Consider the goldsmith: Verily, he makes a ring, and although he is
its maker, yet he adorns his finger with it. Likewise, God the Exalted appears
in the clothing of the creatures. (Lawhu’z-Zuhur)
[End p. 169]
I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping
wings of every broken bird, and start it on its flight. (Lawh-i-Maqsúd)
And elsewhere Bahá’u’lláh speaks
of himself as the:
Youth who is riding high upon the snow-white She-Camel betwixt earth and heaven. (Tablet of the Hair)
Relative to past prophets, Bahá’u’lláh
ammad as the “Seal of the
Messengers,” the Báb as the “King of the Messengers”
refers to himself as the “Sender of the Messengers” (mursil
). Since all past prophets were sent to progressively prepare the
world for its eventual unity, the spirit which propels mankind toward its own
unification is the same spirit that has empowered messengers of the past to
fulfill their preparatory roles. Bahá’u’lláh’s
fourfold messiahship, therefore, functions not only as an ideology which can
create eschatological bridges for winning converts, but also serves as a kind of
theory of religious relativity.
cross-cultural expression at first appears to be an eschatologically eclectic
and adaptive syncretism, with a messianic mixing of various apocalyptic
traditions. Such a view has influenced both scholar and polemicist in various
assessments of the Bahá’í Faith. Recalling E. G. Browne once
From what has been said above, the Western reader may be tempted to think of the Bábí [Bahá’í] doctrine as embodying, to a certain extent, the modem Western rationalistic spirit. No
mistake could be greater. The belief in the fulfillment of prophecies; the love
of apocalyptic sayings culled from the Jewish, Christian, and
Muhammadan scriptures . . .
And Browne goes on. Our purpose is not to prove this view wrong, but rather to refine it. Without a History of Religions perspective, the perceived
necessity of such cross-cultural expression is not so obvious; but parallels in
Christian and Islamic [End p. 170]
missionary enterprise are clear. Since the
rational spirit is strongly cultivated, with science given a status
complementary in function to that of religion in Bahá’í
principle, the superficiality of Browne's analysis comes into focus once the
Bahá’í worldview is grasped. With
Bahá’u’lláh’s pronouncement that “all the
Prophets of God proclaim the same Faith”
are oriented towards a kind of praeparatio messianica
appreciation of all
past apocalyptic urges.
There is some validity to Browne’s criticism, on the other
hand, since Bahá’í appeal to prophecy to date has tended to
be somewhat uncritical. This is characteristic of testimonia
religious apologetics which in argument depend on apocalyptic proof-texts. As I
have shown in two earlier papers, where I subjected Bahá’í
appeals to prophecy within Hindu and Zoroastrian traditions to critical
analysis, apocalyptic literatures are predominantly “prophecies from past
events” when it comes to messianic predictions, are of priestly redaction,
with typological dependence on past prophet/warrior deliverers, tend to be
religiously and culturally ethnocentric (often with vengeful attitudes toward
oppressors), and are discordant in their lack of
Positively, Bahá’ís have fostered renewed
interest in past traditions. This in itself helps break down religious
prejudices, since Bahá’ís embrace earlier world monotheisms
as a part of a global heritage. Thus, Bahá’u’lláh,
perhaps more than any other religious figure, has not only integrated
eschatologies as convergent, but has cultivated a unific awareness of the
parallel and complementary integrity of all faiths. [End p. 171]
 Vide: Apocalypticism in the
Mediterranean World and the Near East: Proceedings of the International
Colloquium on Apocalypticism, at Uppsala, Sweden, August 1979, D. Hellholm, ed.
(Tübingen: Mohr, 1983). Papers from the 1983 Princeton Conference on
Maitreya Studies were kindly provided by Prof, D. Overmyer (University of
 The projection of the past into the
future, so often the model for apocalyptic prophecy, was styled “inverse
history” by historian F. Kazemzadeh of Yale.
 V. Lanternari, “Messianism:
Its Historical Origin and Morphology,” History of Religions 2
(1962) p. 70.
Relevant also is J. Collins’ definition of apocalypse:
“‘Apocalypse’ is a genre of revelatory literature with a
narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being
to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal,
insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it
involves another supernatural world.” (“Introduction,”
Apocalypse: The Morphology of a Genre, Semeia 14 (1979) p.
Towards a definition of “revelation,” see G. Widengren, “Phenomenology of Revelation”, Studia Missionalia 20 (1971) pp.
 The classic
Bahá’í position on the relation of past apocalyptic promises
to Bahá’u’lláh was expressed by Shoghi Effendi,
Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith and
Bahá’u’lláh’s great-grandson. "To Israel He
[Bahá’u’Iláh] was neither more nor less than .. the
‘Everlasting Father’, the ‘Lord of Hosts’ come down
‘with ten thousands of saints’; to Christendom Christ returned
‘in the glory of the Father’; to Shí’íh
Islám the return of the Imám
Husayn; to Sunní Islám the
descent of the ‘Spirit of God’ (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians
the promised Sháh Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation
of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.” (The
Bahá’í World 14 (1963-1968) p. 31.)
Association of Bahá’u’lláh with Viracocha is
documented in a photograph in The Bahá'í World 16
(1973-1976) pp. 445, where Andean Quechua Indians are pictured
beside a placard which reads: “Bahá’u’IIáh el
Returno de Viracocha.” This proclamation took place in Cuzco, Peru
at the 1975 All-Quechua Bahá’í
 Cited in E. G. Browne’s A Literary History of Persia (Cambridge University Press, 1902) vol. 1, p. 163.
 For sources, see F. Mojtabai,
“Mání and Shapur,” Journal of the K. R. Cama
Oriental Institute 46 (1978) p. 100.
 A. Henrichs,
“Mání and the Babylonian Baptists: A Historical
Confrontation,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 77
(1973) pp. 45-55. Also, E. Rose, Die Manichaische Christologie
(Wiesbaden: Otto Harassowitz, 1979), reviewed in Numen 29 (1982) pp.
273-75 . H. Klimkeit).
 A. Bausani, The Persians
(London: Elek, 1971) p. 55.
 No formal comparison between the two religious systems has been undertaken. Clear documents designating succession, administrative structure, individual and social laws, come from
Bahá’u’lláh’s own pen.
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
(Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979) p. 63; Shoghi
Effendi, The World Order of
Publishing Trust, 1982) p. 146.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of
Bahá’u’lláh (Bahá’í Publishing
Trust, 1971) pp. 74-75.
Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán. The
Book of Certitude (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust,
rev. ed., 1974) pp. 12-13.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 60.
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 5.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of
Bahá’u’lláh to the Kings and Leaders of the
World (Haifa, Bahá’í World Centre, 1967) p.
 A. Sachedina, Islamic
Messianism: The Idea of Mahdí in Twelver
Shí’ísm (Albany: State University of New York
Press, 1981) pp- 168-69.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 12; L. Vaglieri, who
contributed the entry on Husayn for
Encyclopaedia of Islám, singles out an eschatological account
which approximates the tradition to which Bahá’u’lláh
refers: “Among the eschatological accounts is the following: Husayn went
to the Radwá mountains where he will
remain on a throne of light, surrounded by the Prophets, with his faithful
followers behind him, until the coming of the Mahdí [Qá’im];
then he will transfer himself to Karbalá, where all the celestial and
human beings will visit him.”
 S. Stiles, “The Conversion
of Religious Minorities to the Bábí Faith in Irán: Some
Preliminary Observations” (unpublished paper, 1983) p. 1. See also: W.
Fischel, “The Jews in Persia,” Jewish Social Studies 12
(1950) p. 156; Fischel, “The Bahá’í Movement and
Persian Jewry,” The Jewish Review (1934) pp. 47-55; H. Cohen, Jews
of the Middle East (1973) p. 201.
 Stiles' pp. 6-7.
 M. Momen, “Early Relations
Between Christian Missionaries and the Bábí and
Bahá’í Communities,” Studies in Bábí
and Bahá’í History, Vol. 1, ed. by Momen (Los Angeles:
Kalimát Press, 1983).
 S. Lambden, “A Tablet of
Bahá’u’lláh to George David Hardegg: The
Bahá’í Studies Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 1 (1983) pp.
 Ibid., p. 47, rendered from the
text of Lawh;-i-Páp, in
bi muluk va ru’asáy-i ard (Tehran:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust , 124 Bahá’í Era
[1967-681 p. 85.
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of
Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
(Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1978) pp. 9,
Bahá’u’lláh, cited in The
Bahá’í World 14 (1963-1969) p. 45.
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of
Bahá’u’lláh, p. 91.
 H. Riesenfeld, “A Probable Background to the Johannine Paraclete,” Ex Orbe Religionum:
Studia Geo Widengren Oblata (Leiden: Brill, 1972) vol. 1, pp. 266-76.
 “0 Jesus, the
Comforter” cited in ibid., 273.
 Parallelism of Paraclete to Jesus has recently been examined by M. Isaacs, “The Prophetic Spirit in the
Fourth Gospel,” The Heythrop Journal 24 (1983) pp. 391-407.
In the section, “Prophetic Functions ascribed to the
Spirit-Paraclete” (393-99), the Spirit of Truth serves as: 1) Divine
Messenger; 2) One who glorifies Jesus; 3) Teacher; 4) Witness; 5) Predictor; 6)
One who is rejected; 7) The Abiding Spirit. Isaacs’ parallelism is brought
into bolder relief in the section, “Jesus as the Model for the
Paraclete-Prophet” (pp. 402-404).
 Isaacs prefers the term
“Counsellor” to “Comforter” in her rendering of John
15:26: “But when the Counsellor comes, whom I shall send to you from the
Father, even the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he shall bear
witness to me.” Might not the cluster of titles,
Counsellor/Father/Prince evoke Isaiah 9:6?
 Browne, “A Catalogue and Description of 27 Bábí Manuscripts,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 24 (1892), “Three Epistles to
Zoroastrians” pp. 671-76. (To be precise, Browne provides the full text
of the first epistle.) See also, J. C. Katrak, “Professor E. G.
Browne’s Reminiscences of the Zoroastrians of Irán,”
Browne Centenary Volume (Calcutta: Irán Society, 1963) pp.
Browne documented the apocalyptic fervor of the Zoroastrians in Persia
in his classic, A Year Amongst the Persians, (See S. Seawright’s
evaluation of the work, The British in the Middle East [New York:
Atheneum, 1970] pp. 141-42). Browne recorded: “Their relations to one
another [Zoroastrians and Bahá’ís] are of a much more
friendly character than the relations of either of them towards the
Muhammadans, the Zoroastrians . . . regarding
'the virtuous of the seven climes' as their friends, and the Bábís
[Bahá’í] being commanded by Behá
[Bahá’u’lláh] to associate with men of all religions
with spirituality and sweet savour”. . . Moreover the Bábís
recognise Zoroaster as a prophet ... and are at some pains to conciliate and win
over his followers to their way of thinking, as instanced by the epistles
addressed by Behá from Acre to certain of their number; while some few at
least of the Zoroastrians are not indisposed to recognize in Behá their
expected deliverer, Sháh Bahrám, who, as Dastur Tir-andaz
informed me, must appear soon if they were to be rescued from their abasement,
and ‘the Good Religion’ re-established. The Dastur himself, indeed,
would not admit that Behá could be this promised saviour, who, he said,
must come before the next Naw-Rúz [Persian New Year] if he were to come
at all . . .” (A Year Amongst the Persians [Cambridge University
Press, 1970 (1893)] pp. 431-32).
 G. Aidun, “Manekjí Limji Hataria and the Bahá’í Faith,”
Bahá’í Studies Notebook 1 (1980) pp. 47-62;
M. Boyce, “Manekji Limji Hataria in Irán,”
Golden Jubilee Volume (Bombay: K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, 19) pp.
21-26; M. Momen, “Abu’l-Fazl [sic] Golpaygání [sic],”
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet to Mánackjí
Sáhib, Star of the West 1 (1910) 5ff.;
Bahá’í Scriptures, pp. 130-33.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of
Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 105-106.
 S. Stiles, Zoroastrian
Conversions to the Bahá’í Faith in Yazd, Irán
(M.A. Thesis in Oriental Studies, University of Arizona, 1983) p. 20; 27. H.
Balyuzi, Bahá’u’lláh: The King of Glory
(Oxford: George Ronald, 1980) p. 10. The text of
Lawh-i-Haft Pursish (or
Shír-Mard) was most recently published in
(Wilmette. Bahá‘í Publishing Trust, 1978) where one
finds the explicit association with Sháh Bahrám on p.
Bahá’u’lláh, cited in Shoghi Effendi, The Promised
Day is Come (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1961)
Bahá’u’lláh, cited in The Promised Day is Come, p. 34.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of
Bahá’u’lláh, p. 89.
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of
Bahá’u’lláh, p. 239.
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of
Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 247-48.
in A. Taherzadeh, The Revelation of
Bahá’u’lláh: Adrianople, 1863-68 (Oxford:
George Ronald, 1977) p. 293.
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of
Bahá’u’lláh, p. 265. A parallel
proclamation is ventured by Bahá’u’lláh when he
writes: “0 people! The Sun of Utterance beameth forth in this day, above
the horizon of bounty, and the radiance of the Revelation of Him Who spoke in
Sinai flasheth and glisteneth before all religions.” (Epistle to the
Son of the Wolf, p. 65)
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 41.
An illuminated tablet in Bahá’u’lláh’s own
cursive, a facsimile of which forms the frontispiece to The
Bahá’í World, Vol. 14 (1963-68), reinforces this
important distinction: “When I contemplate, 0 My God, the relationship
that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things,
‘Verily I am God!’; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it
coarser than clay!”
 Browne, Encyclopaedia of
Religion and Ethics, ed. by J. Hastings: (Edinburgh, 1908-14) vol. 2, p.
306. Broadcast proclamation of the advent of
Bahá’u’lláh on the part of Bahá’ís
has led one critic’s evaluation of the Faith to include negative as well
as positive assessment. Bahá’ís are taken to task for having
bordered on creating “a magnified cult of the founder.” (J.
Nijenuis, “Bahá’í: World Faith for Modern Man?”
Journal of Ecumenical Studies 10  p. 532.)
In contrast, the personality inventory of Bahá’ís,
conducted by J. Keene, deserves notice: “Bahá’í World
Faith: Redefinition of Religion," Journal for the Scientific Study of
Religion 6 (1967) pp. 221-35.
Bahá’u’lláh, Iqán, pp. 135-54. The
full text states: “...all the Prophets are Temples of the Cause of God,
who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe . . . . thou
wilt behold them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven,
seated upon the same throne.... and proclaiming the same Faith.... Wherefore,
should any one of these Manifestations of Holiness proclaim, ‘I am the
return of all the Prophets’, He verily speaketh the
 Buck, Christopher. “The Mystery of the Sworded Warrior in Hindu Apocalypse: Was Kalki Visnuyasas Bahá’u’lláh?” AAR/SBL, PacNW Region, 1981; Buck, “Was Bahá’u’lláh Sháh Bahrám Varjávand despite Zoroastrian
‘Prophecies’?” AAR/SBL PacNW Region 1982. For the summary of
a further study in Bahá’í prophetology, see Buck,
“Illuminator vs. Redeemer: A ‘Trajectory’ of Ebionite
Christology from Prophet Messianism to Bahá’í
Theophanology” Abstracts: American Academy of Religion/Society of
Biblical Literature Annual Meeting 1983 (Scholars Press, 1983) p.
Other references to specific messianisms include: Kalki
K. Jayaswal, “The Historical Position of Kalki and his
Identification with Yasodharman,” The Indian Antiquary 46 (1917)
pp. 145-53; H. Bhide, “Is Kalkirája an Historical
Personage?” The Indian Antiquary 48 (1919) pp. 123-28; D.
Mankad, “Kalki - The Earliest Check to Buddhism,” The New Indian
Antiquary (1942) pp. 337-43; D. Kosambi, “The Avatára
Syncretism and Possible Sources of the Bhagavad-Gita,” Journal of
the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiastic Society. 24-25 (1948-49) pp.
121-34; P. Eggermont, “The Śaka
Era and the Kaniska Era,” Papers on
the Date of Kaniska, ed.
by A. Basham; (Leiden: Brill, 1968) pp. 87-93 (89).
Sháh Bahrám Varjávand: K.
Czeglédy, “Bahrám Cóbin and the Persian
Apocalyptic Literature,” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientarum
Hungaricae 8 (1958) pp. 21-43; M. Biró, “Bahrám bbin and
the Establishment of the Principality in Kartli,” Acta Orientalia 33
(1979) P. 177; Czeglédy, “Bahrám Cóbin,”
Antik Tanulmányok 4 (1957) p. 301; R. Frye, Neue
Methodologie in der Iranistik (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1974) p. 66;
Frye, “The Charisma of King ship in Ancient Irán,” Iranica
Antiqua 6 (1964) pp. 36-54; S. Eddy, The King is Dead: Studies in the
Near Eastern Resistance to Hellenism, 334-331 B. C. (University of Nebraska,
1961) pp. 343-49 (343; 348 n 45).
Maitreya: Papers from the 1983 Princeton Conference on Maitreya
Studies: P. Jain, “Stages in the Bodhisattva Career of the
Tathagáta Maitreya”; J. Barbaro, “On the Meanings of the
Maitreya Myth: A Preliminary Typology.” J. Kitagawa, “The Career of
Maitreya,” History of Religions 21 (1981) pp. 107-25; P.
Eggermont, “The Origin of the Saka-Era,” Indo-Iranian Journal
2 (1958) pp. 225-28; H. Ui, “Maitreya as an Historical
Personage,” Indian Studies in Honor of C. R. Lanman (Harvard, 1929)
pp. 95-102. On all three (Saosyant/Kalki/Maitreya) messianisms: Abegg, Der Messiasglaube in Indien und Irán (Berlin, 1929).
Persian Imámí Shí’íh
Messianism: I. Friedländer, “The Heterodoxies of the
Shi’ites,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 29
(1908) esp. pp. 23-30 (on al-raja); D. Halperin, “The Ibn
Sayyád Traditions and the Legend of
al-Dajjál,” JAOS 96 (1976) pp. 213-25; A. Sachedina, Islamic
Messianism: The Idea of Mahdí in Twelver
Shí’ísm (State University of New York, 1981); J.
Husain, “The Role of the Imámite Wikála with Special
Reference to the First Safir,” Hamdard Islamicus 5 (1982) pp. 25-52; p.
Smith, “Motif Research: Peter Berger and the Bahá’í
Faith,” Religion 8 (1978) pp. 210-34.
Christian Messianism: F. Gardiner, “The Description
of Spiritual Phenomena under the Figure of Natural Convulsions,” The
Old and New Testament Student 1 (1889) pp. 162-69; E. Renan,
Antichrist (London, 1890); S. Giet, L’Apocalypse et
l’Histoire (Paris: Universitaires de France); J. Collins,
“Pseudonymity, Historical Reviews and the Genre of the Revelation of
John,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 39 (1977) pp. 329-43; Pesch,
“Markus 13,” and, F. Neirynck, “Marc 13: Examen critique de
l’interpretation de R. Pesch,” L’Apocalypse Johannique et
l’Apocalyptique dans le nouveau Testament, ed. by J. Lambrecht (Leuven
University, 1980); T. Callan, “Psalm 110:1 and the Origin of
the Expectation that Jesus Will Come Again,” CBQ 39 (1982) pp.
Jewish Messianism: E. Osswald, “Zum Problem der Vaticinia Ex
Eventu,” Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
75 (1963) pp. 27-44; P. Casey, “Porphyry and the Origin of the Book of
Daniel”, Journal of Theological Studies 27 (1976) pp. 15-33;
N. Wieder, “The Idea of a Second Coming of Moses,” Jewish
Quarterly Review 46 (1956) pp. 356-64; H. Teeple, The Mosaic
Eschatological Prophet (SBL, 1957); J. Fossum, “Jewish-Christian
Christology and Jewish Mysticism,” Vigiliae Christianae 37 (1983)