Oldest Bible (Codex Sinaiticus) Now Online

Although in physical form it is in 4 separate locations around the world, the oldest known copy of the Bible is now completely online. The document dates back to Constantine I and is considered one of the world’s greatest written treasures. Now, thanks to the internet, everyone has equal access to this historical heritage.

To find out more about why this document is so important, you can read more about it here. Interestingly enough, there are many discrepancies between the contents of the Codex and what we consider as the Bible today. For example, it has no mention of a resurrected Jesus – a pivotal component of modern Christian doctrine.

Codex Sinaiticus detail

I took the image you see above while playing around with the controls at the Codex Sinaiticus website. As the image shows, you can zoom in to see quiet a lot of detail.

Even you are not a librarian or a photographer or an archivist, it isn’t difficult to imagine the daunting task of digitizing a 1,600-year old manuscript that is literally falling apart.

This monumental achievement reminded me of the massive volumes of Baha’i texts which are hidden away in vaults and not accessible by scholars (or anyone else). To give you an idea of what a similar project for Baha’i texts would look like, here is a low resolution image of an excerpt from the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf by Baha’u’llah (written in the handwriting of Mirza Aqa Jan, Baha’u’llah’s amanuensis):

excerpt from Epistle to Son of the Wolf Bahaullah (Mirza Aqa Jan handwriting)
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Can a Woah-man! Serve on the UHJ?

I was talking to a friend recently about her volunteer work within the GLBT community and something she said caught my attention: “gender is so over!”.

Now that statement may seem ridiculous, especially when you consider that everything in our Western society demonstrates and magnifies the divide between the two sexes.

Boys are given toy trucks, girls? Barbies. Even if the politically correct parents of today have moved beyond such cliches, I’m willing to bet that they may have read books like, Men are from Mars, Women from Venus.

There are two sexes: men and women. But is it that clear cut?

Turns out… no.

Science is slowly beginning to come to grips with the question of gender and the discoveries are nothing short of astonishing. Whereas we once thought of the world divided between two halves, the new paradigm is one where there is a continuum.

intersex

Recently I stumbled on this article: We’re all intersex where Gerald N. Callahan, the author of Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes is interviewed about his research:

In between what we call the ideal biological male or ideal biological female, there’s a whole range of other possibilities that don’t differ from our basic preconceptions to the extent that we have names for them or call them a disorder. Just like with every other human trait, there are an infinite number of possibilities.

Of course this is nothing really new. There are other books, like Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach, from 1978 which expound more or less the same ideas.

We’ve all heard of ‘hermaphrodites’ – persons which have both sexes. By the way, recently, intersexuality has replaced the more familiar, hermaphrodite, as the word of choice within the medical field. In any case, all of this made me think of an uncomfortable question:

Of what significant is the limitation of women’s capacity to serve on the House of Justice when the very definition of ‘woman’ is not black and white?

Can an intersex person be eligible? what if a person has both sets of genitalia? and biologically is both man and woman?

Would that mean that they are eligible? or ineligible? or both?

Huh?

If the Baha’i Faith didn’t have the principle of the unity of religion and science, we could easily brush this off; just like a fundamentalist Christian decrying the fossil records as ‘Satan’s trickery’. But, as Baha’is we have an incredibly high standard which requires us to abide by scientific truths, just as much as religious truths. They are, after all, twin paths to the same truth (or is it Truth?).

I’m not sure if this question has already been asked of the Universal House of Justice. If anyone knows, drop me a note so I don’t have to bother them by asking again. I’ve looked around the internet and haven’t been able to find anything substantial but that doesn’t mean something of significance isn’t out there somewhere floating about.

The only things I’ve found are others over the years wondering the same question and one Baha’i blogger who wrote such a bigoted tripe of an ‘essay’ that it deserves to not even be dignified with detailed mention.

For those that are new to this topic, currently, membership to the Universal House of Justice is restricted to male adults. But there is some disagreement with others believing that there is a sound theological basis for both women and men being eligible for membership to this institution.

But if science shows that gender isn’t that clearly defined into two subsections, doesn’t that make all this a moot point? that is, rendered irrelevant?

Let me know what you think about all this. I’m sure someone out there knows much more about this than I do.

Global Currency Proposed By Russia

Writing in the World Order of Baha’u’llah, Shoghi Effendi envisioned the future:

A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity. A world metropolis will act as the nerve centre of a world civilization, the focus towards which the unifying forces of life will converge and from which its energizing influences will radiate. A world language will either be invented or chosen from among the existing languages and will be taught in the schools of all the federated nations as an auxiliary language to their mother tongue. A world script, a world literature, a uniform and universal system of currency, of weights and measures, will simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races of mankind.

Keeping in mind that the above was written in 1938, you can’t help but be awed by his prophetic vision. We can easily identify many of the things he outlines.

The internet – connecting everyone, almost instantaneously; allowing for the world to bear witness to the violent crushing of protests on the streets of Tehran.

A supplementary language? English obviously. It is spoken and taught in almost every place on earth. It has become the de facto language of commerce, naval and aerial navigation, computer programming, etc.

A uniform and universal system of weights and measures? The metric system is the standard in all but 3 countries.

And just recently – at the G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for a “supranational” world currency and to have something to show the world leaders, he gave them a sample coin minted in Belgium:

supranational coin 'unity in diversity'

global currency coin

medvedev world currency G8 summit

It even has a website: Future World Currency

united future world currency

To be fair, this is not the first coin to be inspired by the phrase ‘unity in diversity’. In 2006 India minted a 10 Rupee coin designed by National Institute of Design which had the symbolic representation of the concept: 4 lines and dots coming together:

10 rupee coins symbol unity in diversity

I know that this proposal won’t amount to much but it is remarkable news nevertheless. A world currency is still a long ways off, of course. But with the success of the Euro, which united Europe’s main group of countries and has since expanded to several others, the idea of a supranational currency is easier to imagine. Who knows, this vision of Shoghi Effendi may come true sooner than we think.

By the way, does anyone have any reference of a global currency in the writings of either Abdu’l-Baha or Baha’u’llah? As far as I can tell, there aren’t any but maybe I haven’t looked hard enough.

Turmoil in Iran Simmering, Not Over

Although news about Iran’s stolen election have fallen off the radar of most news outlets, things have not calmed down or been resolved. Not by a long shot.

While the ruthless Basij and riot police were able to suppress the protests and prevent any new ones, the same discontent simmer beneath the surface ready to explode at any moment.

If this does play out following the same time line as the Iranian revolution 30 years ago, it will go on for months and build momentum slowly. I’m still not convinced that it will however. The Islamic Republic has shown itself to be completely without mercy when it comes to internal challenges. There is no line they will not cross to maintain power.

But it would seem that Rafsanjani has been busy in Qom. The Assembly of Qom Seminary Scholars and Researchers recently released a shocking statement (see below).

Doonesbury cartoon about Iran's election 2009
Doonesbury

Since this all began I kept a running tally of links to important articles, new developments and analysis. I’ve continued to add links to it but since the list is getting really long I’ll keep going below:

There is also an interesting site I stumbled onto with fascinating pictures and images of the olden Mid-East. There is only one that directly pertain to the Baha’i Faith. And I believe it is incorrect or at least incorrectly labeled. It is the image below:

AbdulBaha's grandsons from mideastimage.com

Photograph, of the grandsons of ABDUL BAHA, taken in Acre [ Acca ]/Syria in 1905. One of the two grandsons is Shoghi [Showqi ] Effendi,known as the “Guardian of the Cause”…

Neither of the two men resemble Shoghi Effendi (not even close!). But the other images of the cities and people of the time of Abdu’l-Baha are interesting nonetheless.