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TITLENotes and Mazandarani's "9 Styles of Revelation"
CONTRIB 1Jonah Winters, ed.
NOTES Prepared as part of Wilmette Institute notes and commentary on the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh.
TAGS* Bahá'u'lláh, Writings of; - Outlines and summaries; Mírzá Asadullah Fadil-i-Mazandarani; Modes of revelation; Nine (number); Style (general); Voices of revelation
CONTENT Tablet Study Outline:

Students in the Wilmette Institute's early "Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh" courses were asked to fill out a "Tablet Study Outline" for one Tablet read in each week. The Outlines I've posted online here were my own personal "grading keys." The full template of the Tablet Study Outline given to the students was:
     NAME: 				   UNIT #:	 	 COURSE:  		
     Name of Tablet in Arabic or Persian:
     Translation into English:
     Significance of Name:
     Aqdas was revealed in: __ Arabic __ Persian __ Both  (check one)
     Name of Recipient:
     Reason for Revelation of the Tablet:
     Questions asked that are answered in Tablet (if known):
     Date of Revelation:
     Place of Revelation:
     Role of Amanuensis or Secretary (if any):
     Other Tablets revealed at about the same time:
     Tone, subject, and genre of the Tablet:
     Voice of Tablet:
     Outline Contents of Tablet (if possible):
     List the principal themes of the Tablet:
     Comment on the Tablet's relationship to any other tablets.
     In several paragraphs, record your personal responses to the Tablet.
     Brief biography or bio notes of the recipient(s) of the Tablet.

Tone, Subject, and Genre: Mazandarani's 9 styles

An aspect of Bahá'u'lláh's tablets to study is the style in which they were revealed. According to Adib Taherzadeh (Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1, pages 42-43), "In the Súriy-i-Haykal (Súrih of the Temple) revealed in 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh states that in this Dispensation the verses of God have been revealed in nine different styles or categories. A well-known Bahá'í scholar, Jináb-i-Fádil- i-Mázindarání, after careful study of the Writings, has enumerated these styles." The following is a slight adaptation of Mázandarání's nine categories:
  1. Tone of Tablet
    1. Tablets with the tone of command and authority.

    2. Those with the tone of servitude, meekness and supplication.

  2. Subject Covered by Tablet
    1. Writings dealing with interpretation of the old Scriptures, religious beliefs and doctrines of the past.

    2. Writings in which laws and ordinances have been enjoined for this age and laws of the past abrogated.

    3. Mystical Writings.

    4. Tablets concerning matters of government and world order, and those addressed to the kings.

    5. Tablets dealing with subjects of learning and knowledge, divine philosophy, mysteries of creation, medicine, alchemy, etc.

    6. Tablets exhorting men to education, goodly character and divine virtues.

    7. Tablets dealing with social teachings.

In addition to Mázindarání's nine categories, one can identify the following five literary genres in which tablets fall:
  1. Letter to an individual. This is often revealed by epistolary style, in other words, there are greetings to the person, exhortations, and usually an opening and a closing that sound like a letter. See the opening and closing several pages of the Four Valleys for an example; especially read footnote 9.

  2. Essay or book revealed as a letter to an individual. This may be difficult to separate from the first category. Among the defining characteristics are length, elaborate arguments, and a complex internal structure (division into chapters or sections).

  3. Essay or book, not revealed to a specific person. This category is very rare.

  4. Poem. These works are often not translated into English.

  5. Prayer.

Voice of Tablet:

Bahá'u'lláh revealed Tablets in a number of "voices," or perspectives. In various contexts He spoke as a Manifestation of God, as a human, as God Himself, or even in the voices of "characters," such as the Maiden of Heaven. Sometimes multiple voices appear in the same tablet, such as the dialogues between Bahá'u'lláh and the Maidens in the Ode of the Dove and the Tablet of the Holy Mariner.
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