Reflections on the Memorials of the Faithful:
From the Background of Early Christian Experiences

By Per-Olof Akerdahl

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #132
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 2–5, 2015
(see list of papers from #132)

    Memorials of the Faithful is a unique book for many reasons. A number of early Bábís and Bahá'ís have been described in this book and they have all been faithful to the Covenant in the Faith. The author is 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Centre of the Covenant in the Bahá'í Faith, which means that the stories are told by a person Who was in a position where he really could tell if a person had been faithful to the Covenant or not. It is a book that is central in the Bahá'í history, written by a person who had lived that history and been as close as possible to Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith. There are 65 headings but as some headings describes more that one person there are close to 70 persons described and they are all important in the history of these two Religions at least to some extent, some of them being on the list of apostles of Bahá'u'lláh.

    Regarding Christianity, there are a great number of gospels from this early time in the history of the Church, but only four has been accepted by the Church as trust able and are parts of the New Testament. One of the authors of these gospels has written two texts: the story of the life of Jesus Christ and the story of the early Christians and this is St. Luke. Both are written as long letters to a person with the Greek name Theophilus, meaning the friend of God. This person is, however, unknown to the world except as the receiver of these two letters. Does this means that St. Luke can be seen as a parallel to 'Abdu'l-Bahá? It is a matter of personal faith, but there is nobody who is mentioned as the Centre of the Covenant in a testament, written and signed by Jesus Christ. It is safe to claim that 'Abdu'l-Bahá is unique in the history of religions for this reason and for other reasons as well. In the writings of the New Testament there are a number of persons that are followers of Jesus Christ and that are described as central, but nobody with the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. If there had been one, had the history of Christianity been different? The answer must be "yes, it would" but in what ways we can only guess. It might have been a history without wars, with very little theological disputes and with a church that was never divided. However, this never happened so we will never know.

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