Parallels in the Ministries of Táhirih and St. Paul

By JoAnn Borovicka

Presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #135
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Davison, Michigan
October 8–11, 2015
(see list of papers from #135)

published in Lights of Irfan, volume 17, pages 37-64
© 2016, ‘Irfán Colloquia

    In the preface to Memorials of the Faithful —`Abdu'l-Bahá's work that immortalizes the lives of sixty-nine early Bahá'ís —Marzieh Gail, the translator, states that the book is more than a collection of brief biographies of early Bahá'ís; it is somehow also a book of personality and character types. With the concept of 'types' in mind I compared the stories of the early believers of the Bahá'í Faith as presented in Memorials of the Faithful to the lives of early believers in Christianity as recorded in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. In the course of this study I noticed a striking parallel between the life of Táhirih, the only woman among the Báb's Eighteen Letters of the Living and the last entry in Memorials of the Faithful, and the life of the Apostle Paul of early Christianity; that being that both are recognized in their respective religions for initiatives that contributed significantly to distinguishing the new Revelation from the old. This paper explores this and other parallels in the lives and ministries of Táhirih and Paul and suggests that, though different in gender and religion and separated by 1800 years, in many ways Táhirih and Paul may be seen as representing a similar type of early believer in a New Dispensation.