Analysis of the Genre of Bahá'í Literature Commonly Called "Pilgrim's Notes"

By Jan Jasion

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #97
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 3–6, 2010
(see list of papers from #97)

    This paper will first look at the value of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's talks and in particular those He gave in the West. Then the question of provenance and sources will be looked at followed by a discussion on the shortcomings of oral talks and presentations.

    Shoghi Effendi stated "that Bahá'ís should not attach much importance to talks, reported to have been given by the Master, if these have not in one form or another obtained His sanction."1 He also said: "It was in the course of these epoch-making journeys . . . that 'Abdu'l-Baha expounded with brilliant simplicity, with persuasiveness and force, and for the first time in His ministry; those basic and distinguishing principles of His Father's Faith, which together with the laws and ordinances revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas constitute the bed-rock of God's latest Revelation to mankind."2

    The chasm between these two statements will be looked at and pondered over.

    1. From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, quoted in Lights of Guidance: A Baha'i Reference File, compiled by Helen Bassett Hornby, 2nd and enlarged ed. (New Delhi: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), pp. 439-440.
    2. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, new ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 281.

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