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Word by Word: Easy Access to All the World’s Holy Scriptures

Barbara Koppe | Jul 6, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Barbara Koppe | Jul 6, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

Why, and how, should we investigate and study the holy scriptures of the world’s religions? First, because Baha’is believe the Word of God, in every Faith, contains the key to the human heart.

Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

The Word of God is the king of words and its pervasive influence is incalculable. It hath ever dominated and will continue to dominate the realm of being. The Great Being saith: The Word is the master key for the whole world, inasmuch as through its potency the doors of the hearts of men, which in reality are the doors of heaven, are unlocked.

Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’u’llah’s son and successor, said:

It is my hope that you may put forth your most earnest endeavor to accomplish this end, that you may investigate and study the Holy Scriptures word by word so that you may attain knowledge of the mysteries hidden therein. Be not satisfied with words, but seek to understand the spiritual meanings hidden in the heart of the words.

RELATED: What’s in a Word? The Sacred Writings of the World’s Faiths

In this same speech, which Abdu’l-Baha gave to a Bible class in New York in 1912, he elaborated on how the Holy Scriptures were studied previously and warned against taking them literally:

The Jews read the Old Testament night and day, memorizing its words and texts yet without comprehending a single meaning or inner significance, for had they understood the real meanings of the Old Testament, they would have become believers in Christ, inasmuch as the Old Testament was revealed to prepare His coming. As the Jewish doctors and rabbis did not believe in Christ, it is evident that they were ignorant of the real significance of the Old Testament. It is difficult to comprehend even the words of a philosopher; how much more difficult it is to understand the Words of God. The divine Words are not to be taken according to their outer sense. They are symbolical and contain realities of spiritual meaning. For instance, in the book of Solomon’s songs you will read about the bride and bridegroom. It is evident that the physical bride and bridegroom are not intended. Obviously, these are symbols conveying a hidden and inner significance. In the same way the Revelations of St. John are not to be taken literally, but spiritually. These are the mysteries of God. It is not the reading of the words that profits you; it is the understanding of their meanings. Therefore, pray God that you may be enabled to comprehend the mysteries of the divine Testaments. …

All the texts and teachings of the holy Testaments have intrinsic spiritual meanings. They are not to be taken literally.

This isn’t always easy. For centuries, the Baha’i teachings point out, many of those who followed the great spiritual messengers — including Krishna, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and Muhammad — often took the meanings of their teachings in very simple, literal ways. This fundamentalism, unfortunately, had the effect of alienating many other people from those Faiths because their teachings, when explained literally, sometimes seemed to make no rational or logical sense. Instead, the Baha’i teachings say that:

… no comfort is greater and no happiness is sweeter than spiritual comprehension of the divine teachings. If a man understands the real meaning of a poet’s verses such as those of Shakespeare, he is pleased and rejoiced. How much greater his joy and pleasure when he perceives the reality of the Holy Scriptures and becomes informed of the mysteries of the Kingdom!

One of the ways to go about studying the holy scriptures of any Faith, or of all Faiths, involves choosing a single subject you are passionate about. 

Today truly wonderful online programs exist for this essentially spiritual purpose. One of them, called Ocean, allows you to type in a word or group of words — and then find, in a heartbeat, all of the references to your search terms in the holy scriptures of all the great Faiths. The Ocean Research Library, a unique search engine for literature from various world religions, provides access to over 1000 books of holy scripture in English and six other languages. You can click here to access it: https://bahai-library.com/jones_ocean/ 

RELATED: The Writings of Baha’u’llah

Tools like this represent an amazing way to deepen our daily reading and study — and to imbibe the tremendous repository of wisdom contained in the scriptures of all Faiths. 

For those interested in the writings and talks of the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and Abdu’l-Baha — an enormous compendium of spiritual and practical wisdom — simply log in to the Baha’i Reference Library at https://www.bahai.org/library. That comprehensive, official site contains the authoritative writings and guidance given to humanity by the central figures of the Baha’i revelation. 

Both of these online libraries can expand your mind, your consciousness, and your very soul.

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