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The Body of God: A Reader's Guide to Bahá’u’lláh’s Súrih of the Temple

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This study of Bahá’u’lláh’s Súrih of the Temple is intended to provide the reader with tools to gain insight into the complex symbols and structure that underlie any attempt at interpreting the meaning and purpose of this critical work. To this end, Hatcher unravels the major symbols employed by Bahá’u’lláh, and explains the challenging framework whereby complex matter has been framed by Him into a dialogue between Himself, as He lies imprisoned in the Siyáh-Chál, and the Holy Spirit, personified as the Maid of Heaven.

Incorporated into this rendering of the Súrih are five representative epistles among those Bahá’u’lláh addressed to the most prominent kings and rulers of the world. Hatcher demonstrates how these letters become integrated into the central themes of the Súrih as Bahá’u’lláh examines and delineates how God has delegated authority through the Manifestation to these rulers and, ultimately, to humankind.

The book culminates in revealing how the divine plan for global unity and justice can come about solely by the collaboration of world leaders who, though having failed to recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh, can still heed His salient and rational guidance for hastening a “Lesser Peace.” The Súrih of the Temple is thus critically pertinent to present-day conflicts and challenges we face, whether as a global community, as nations, or as individuals striving to create the foundation for global change by establishing collaborative and nurturing communities—the essential framework for urgently needed global transformation.


John S. Hatcher

Dr. John S. Hatcher received his BA and MA degrees at Vanderbilt University, and his PhD at the University of Georgia. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of South Florida where he taught in the English Department for forty years and headed graduate studies in English Literature. An author and speaker, Professor Hatcher has published over a hundred poems and articles, and twenty-seven books. He presently serves as Editor on the Association of Bahá’í Studies Publishing Committee.


From the book's preface: "Some years ago, I likened the efforts of a learned Bahá’í to a scout whose understanding and foresight can offer support and assistance to the community as it advances on its long journey of transformation to the ultimate attainment of its intended destination. In this book, John serves that role well, offering insights into the nature of reality and the method of learning essential for translating Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings into action, before guiding the reader into a deep exploration of one of the central tablets of Bahá’u’lláh. And as is the case with the best scholarship, the aim is discovery and not the imposition of meaning. Those who are veteran Bahá’ís will find many insights to test previous conceptions and provoke new understandings and insights for future progress, especially through the connections to existing Bahá’í efforts and contemporary challenges. For those who are new to this type of work—welcome to the conversation."

Paul Lample

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