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COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLELot and His Daughters
AUTHOR 1 Universal House of Justice
ABSTRACTDiscussion of two Bahá'í references on the Biblical story of Lot; an interpretation of a Bible verse is not inevitably dependent on the Biblical source being authentic or reliable.
TAGS- Christianity; - Judaism; Bible; Interfaith dialogue; Lot (Bible); Research Department, Questions and answers
CONTENT 29 March 2015

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

Your email letters of 14 and 26 February 2015, concerning references about the legitimacy of the story of Lot and his daughters found in a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, have been received at the Bahá’í World Centre and forwarded to the Research Department for study. Enclosed is a memorandum prepared by that Department in response to your questions. It is hoped that the content of this document will provide the information you seek.

    With loving Bahá’í greetings,
    Department of the Secretariat


To: The Universal House of Justice
Date: 29 March 2015
From: Research Department

Lot and his daughters

In his email letter of 14 February 2015, Mr. ___ provides a provisional translation, obtained online1, of an extract of a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá concerning the story of Lot and his daughters found in the Old Testament. In this extract ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that the “story of Lot and his daughters and the apostasy of some of the prophets recorded in the Torah and the Psalms” are “confused dreams” that “are the words of historians among the People of the Book for which God has revealed no authority”. Mr. ___ then refers to an extract of a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, found in Lights of Guidance2, which states that, according to the text of Genesis 19:29–38, Lot bears no responsibility for the actions of his daughters. Mr. ___ concludes by asking how the Guardian could give legitimacy to the story in light of the statements made by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Tablet. The Research Department offers the following response.

To date, nothing has been found in the letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in the Archives at the Bahá’í World Centre pertaining to the above-mentioned extract of a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. However, we note that various statements of the Guardian regarding the authenticity of the Bible are consistent with the statements of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarding the story of Lot. For example, in a letter dated 11 February 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, we read:

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states we believe what is in the Bible, He means in substance. Not that we believe every word of it to be taken literally or that every word is the authentic saying of the Prophet.

With this in mind, it would appear that, in the letter to which Mr. ___ refers, the Guardian is commenting on the meaning of the story of Lot and his daughters as found in the Bible, irrespective of its authenticity or reliability, and that he is not maintaining that the text of Genesis 19:29–38 is to be understood literally.

  2. Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File, compiled by Helen Hornby, 4th rev. ed. (New Delhi: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1996, 2001 printing), page 502, number 1689.
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