The Body of God: Major themes in Bahá’u’lláh's Surih of the Temple

One Bahá’í belief essential to understanding a major theme of the Súriy-i-Haykal is the concept of how God delegates authority to humankind. Stated as a concomitant of the methodology by which God gradually advances society age to age through the advent of the Manifestations, this law is best described as gradualness or Qadar. Simply put, learning is constrained by degree, by the fact that, though ultimately destined to succeed, the path to the Lesser Peace necessitates that we acquire new learning and implement it by degrees, whether as individuals or as a global community.

Deepening questions
  • Why must God guide the advancement of civilization indirectly?
  • Why must the Manifestations also employ an indirect methodology?
  • How is this methodology of delegation of authority articulated in the Surih of the Temple?
  • What literary devices make this work so abstruse for most people?
  • Why do you think Bahá'u'lláh considered this tablet so important?
  • To what extent is this work an allegory, and why do your think Bahá'u'lláh employed this narrative approach?
  • What are some of the various levels of meaning in the "Temple"?
  • What is intended by ascribing to this work the notion of "The Body of God"?
  • What are some of the most noteworthy parts in each of the Five letters?

  • Non Fiction Literature
  • Theology
  • Governance

  • John S. Hatcher

    John S. Hatcher is Professor Emeritus in English literature at the University of South Florida in Tampa where he taught for forty years. He is a poet, lecturer, translator, and author, having published twenty-five books, some of which have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese German, and Norwegian. He has also published more than a hundred poems and articles. He has been a guest lecturer at such distinguished institutions as the University of Michigan, McGill University in Canada, the University of Maryland, Emory University, and Oxford University.


46th Annual Conference


The views expressed in this recording are those of the presenter and do not necessarily represent the views of the Association for Bahá’í Studies, nor the authoritative explications of Bahá’í writings.