Select Abstracts and Papers of Stephen N. Lambden on Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies subjects delivered at UK. Academic Baha'i Studies Seminars during 1977-2015.
Including those held at Lancaster and Cambridge Universities (c.1977-80) then at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and elsewhere (1981-2015). Full details are in process of being collected and set down ...
In Progress - last updated 04-02-2016.
A few pre-seminar unpublished books and papers.
1970 - `The background and significance of the Bābī-Bahā'ī doctrines respecting the human "soul", "spirit", "mind" and "intellect" (unpublished).
1971 - `Epistle to the White Shaykh' ( an extended letter addressed to a leading Aḥmadiyya cleric of Kampala, Uganda in 1971) (ms.)
1976 - `An Hermeneutic Odyssey : The Bābī-Bahā'ī Search for Truth and the Four Criterion of Truth' (under revision in 2 vols.)
Bahā'ī Studies Seminars, Cambridge and Lancaster Universities.
1978-9 Bahā'ī Studies Seminar, Lancaster/ Cambridge University, 1978
- `Kabod and doxa ...'. (Unpublished). Pdf.
1979 Bahā'ī Studies Seminar, Lancaster/ Cambridge University, 1978.
- `Preface to the working out of an hermeneutical paradigm for Bahā'ī Studies'. (Unpublished). Pdf.
1983 UK University Bahā'ī Societies Conference on the Academic Study of Religion. University of Warwick, Coventry, UK., February 19th-20th.
- `Bahā'ī deepening and the Academic Study of Baha'i Doctrine.' Report in BSB 1/4 98-110.
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. 17th-18 September.
Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Seminar [Newcastle upon Tyne]
- `A Note of the background and Bābī-Bahā'ī exegesis of the Name (Ar.) Mūsā (= Moses) with reference to the Sharḥ al-qaṣīda al-lāmiyya of Sayyid Kāzim Rashtī (d. 1260/1844)'.
Select participants in the first Irfān Colloqium, Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), December 3rd->5th 1993.
Back Row (L->R) = John Coates, Robert Parry, Kathleen Coates, Moojan Momen, Kamran Iqbal, Iraj Ayman, Ian Holland, Seena Fazel, Semira Manaseki, Mozheh Zamiri, Fariba Hedayati, Robert Stockman.
Middle Row (L->R) = Stephen Lambden, Barbara Lawson, Todd Lawson, Gillian Bell, Wendi Momen. Sitting = Sen McGlinn and Khazeh Fananapazir.
SCRIPTURE AND REVELATION: (1st Irfān Colloquium)
The First Haj Mehdi Arjmand Fellowship Conference, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, U.K., December 3-5, 1993
- "Thomas Kelly Cheyne, Biblical scholar and Baha'i".
- Abstract: `In this paper attention was focused upon Thomas Kelly Cheyne (d. 1915), an Oxford University lecturer and pioneer of modern biblical scholarship and its "hallowing". In part as a result of corresponding with and meeting `Abd al-Bahā' (in Oxford 1912) he became a Bahā'ī. In his old age he wrote the Bahā'ī volume of historical sketches, `The Reconciliation of Races and Religions'.
- `Prophecy in the Johannine Farewell Discourse: Paraclete, Aḥmad, Comforter (mu'azzī )."
- Abstract : In this paper it was noted that Muslims traditionally argue that the Greek NT term parakletos (Paraclete, "Comforter") in John's gospel should be read as periklutos, "illustrious," which could be translated into Arabic as "Ahmad," a variant on the name "Muhammad." Bahā'-Allāh has stated that Jesus did refer to Muhammad the "illustrious," Aḥmad but stated that the reference was not preserved in the canonical New Testament. Additionally, Bahā'-Allāh interpreted the NT paraclete passages ( in the Gospel of John) to himself. A slightly expanded version of this paper is now published in M. Momen, ed. Scripture and Revelation, (= Baha'i Studies vol. III), Oxford: George Ronald 1997, pp. 69-124. See Babi-Baha'i Studies Webpage here ...
`IRFĀN COLLOQUIA : For select abstracts and details of the more than fofty more papers delivered by Stephen Lambden at Irfan Colloquia sessions in the UK, USA, Italy and elsewhere (1993-2006) see URL:
[I] Newcastle upon Tyne, June. 23-25,
- The Risāla fī 'l-nubuwwah al-khāṣṣa ("Treatise on the Specific Prophethood [of Muhammad]") of Siyyid `Alī Muhammad the Bāb.
- Abstract. PDf.
[II] Newcastle upon Tyne, Dec. 8-10. Conference on Anti-Bahā'ī Polemic sponsored jointly by the Association for Bahā'ī Studies (English-Speaking Europe), Religious Studies Special Interest Group and the Haj Mehdi Arjmand Memorial Fund in cooperation with the Institute for Bahā'ī Studies, Wilmette. At the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (England). December 8-10, 1995.
- `The Position of Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī, Subḥ-i-Azal (1834-1912) : Some Aspects of Azalī anti-Bahā'ī Polemic and Bahā'ī Apologetics'.
- Abstract : The Position of Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nuri, Subh-i Azal (c.1831-1912)...
[I] 1996A - Newcastle upon Tyne.
[II] 1996B - Newcastle upon Tyne, Dec. 8-10.
- `Christianity and the Baha'i Faith: An Historical and Doctrinal Overview'.
- Abstract :`This paper attenpts to sum up some key aspects of the relationships between Christianity and the Baha'i religion. The Baha'i view of the New Testament will be examined as will aspects of the Baha'i interpretation of New Testament and later Christian Theology, Christology and Eschatology. Shi`i-Shaykhi rooted Baha'i hermeneutics will be compared and contrasted with biblically rooted literalisms, typology, allegory and other modes of scriptural interpretation championed by diverse groups of Christians over the centuries.'
- `Baha'-Allāh's tablet to Pope Pius IX'.
- Abstract : `The paper offered an overview of the Tablet to Giovanni Maria-Mastai Ferretti, Pope Pius IX (1792-1878). Its historical precursors as pre-Bahā'ī messages to ecclesiastics, rulers and kings was outlined as associated with Jesus, Muhammad and the Bāb. Biblical citations or allusions were commented upon as were possible allusions to the First Vatican Council (1869).'
- Abstract II. PDf. Pius IX.pdf
[I] 1997A Manchester (UK), July 4th-6th 1997. The `Irfan Colloquia and the Religious Studies (SIG) Seminar of the Association for Baha'i Studies for English-Speaking Europe, "The World Religions and the Bahá'í Faith" Friday, July 4 until Sunday, July 6 1997 at the Manchester Bahā'ī Centre, Wilmslow Rd., Manchester
`Qā'im (Ariser) and Qayyūm (Deity Self-Subsistent) : The background and significance of twin messianic advents in Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture.'
Abstract : Qa'im-Qayyum.pdf
[II] 1997B - Newcastle upon Tyne, Dec. 12-14. A Bahā'ī Studies Seminar of the ABS-ESE., Religious Studies Special Interest Group Newcastle upon Tyne December 12-14, 1997.
- `Some Aspects of Spiritual Resurrection in the Bābī-Bahā'ī Scripture and modern Biblical Scholarship'.
- Abstract : `The doctrine and theology of resurrection is of central importance within Christianity, significant within strands of ancient and contemporary Judaism, and a fundamental feature of Islamic eschatology. It likewise has a place in the Zoroastrian religion where the concept has important roots. A large number of passages within Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture deal directly or indirectly with such interrelated eschatological themes as "life", "death" and "resurrection". Developed Bābī-Bahā'ī doctrine proposes a non-literal or "spiritual" interpretation of these concepts. This mode of interpretation has some background in ancient gnosticism and, for example, in medieval and later theosophical Sufism as well as in Islamic philosophical-theological-mystical gnosis (irfān). Modern Bahā'īs understand the general "resurrection" as a spiritual renewal; a transformative coming to the "life" of faith from the "tomb" or "death" of unbelief and materialistic selfishness. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is interpreted as a non-bodily event in which the story of the "empty tomb" is basically an example of apologetic symbolism, a view championed by a growing number of modern academic and lay biblical scholars. The Galilean messiah's "flesh and bones" did not come back to (quasi-) physical life on or beyond this physical world. While his physical body remains somewhere around Jerusalem, his spiritual, resurrected "body" conquered "death" through the spiritual "life" of the community of his followers, the ever-living "body" of the church. It was this "body" which came alive after the crucifixion while the divine reality of Jesus was raised up to those "many mansions" of the afterlife where it continued to have a resurrecting influence upon humanity. This is intimated in the largely symbolic resurrection appearances of Jesus. `Abd al-Bahā (1844-1921) gave interesting "spiritual" interpretations to select post-crucifixion "appearances" of Jesus. He noted that the mention of Mary Magdalene caused Bahā'-Allāh to beam with joy and singled her out as the earliest and primary witness to the spiritual continuance ("resurrection") of the Founder of Christianity. In this paper discussion of these and related issues will be attempted along with some remarks about ancient and contemporary responses to the "spiritual" understanding of resurrection.'
Second Paper :
- For in and out, above, about, below..": The contemporary religious labyrinth and the Bahā'ī criterion of truth.
- Abstract. `The contemporary market-place of religions and ideologies is bewildering in the extreme. Established religions are multi-faceted and constantly being restructured and revamped. New religious movements and ideologies are legion: in one way or another they surface practically every month. Conflicting definitions and concepts of spirituality, mysticism and religious `truth' leads sectors of modern society into a state of bemused apathy or secularized indifference towards things ` spiritual',` theological' or ` religious'. Conceptual and pragmatic confusion breeds forms of apathy that could be reckoned one of the features of this not-yet so-golden millennial age.
Bahā'ī sacred scripture exhorts humankind to seek truth zealously and individualistically. It provides some guidelines in this endeavour. The seeker should not be uncritically reliant upon potentially fallible human guides, gurus, self-confessed hierophants, priests or scientists. etc. This also bearing in mind that such time-honored criterion of truth as empiricism; rationalism; scriptural exegesis and inspirational realization are all considered limited or potentially fallible. How "truth" can be sought, realized and appropriated individually and collectively by seekers of conceptual and other dimensions of `reality' is addressed in this paper. This in the light of the Bahā'ī theology and theophanology of divine revelation. These and related themes will be considered in the context of the plethora of contemporary avenues to self-realization and religiosity.'
[I] 1998A- A Bahā'ī Studies Seminar of the ABS-ESE., Religious Studies Special Interest Group Newcastle upon Tyne August 21-24.
- `The Choicest of Narratives (aḥsān al-qaṣṣaṣ): Joseph motifs and the Bābī-Bahā'ī interpretation of the Joseph Story.'
- Abstract : ABSTRACT
[II]1998B - Baha'i Baha'i Societies Annual Conference, Oxford
- `Kaleidoscope: The Background and Significance of some aspects of Angelology and Color Mysticism in Bābī-Bahā'ī Scripture'.
Irfan Colloquium, Newcastle upon Tyne
Irfan Colloquium, Newcastle upon Tyne
London - Irfan Colloquium, London, LSE Building.
- Cherubim, Seraphim and Demythologization: Some aspects of Bābī-Bahā'ī angelology and the malā' al-a`lā (Supreme Concourse). A Paper read at the Ifrān Colloqium London, 2001.
- Abstract : Cherub.pdf
London - Irfan Colloquium, London, LSE Building, July 19–21, 2002
- `Some aspects the nubuwwa (Prophetology ) and maẓhariyya (Theophanology) of the Bāb.'
- Abstract : "The Bab made the Islamic concept of the (Per.) maẓhar-i ilāhī ("Divine theophany", "Manifestation of God") central to his distinctly apophatic (negative) theology. God the incomprehensible Divinity cannot be known but through the pre-existent and emanated mashiyyat-Allāh (Will of God) who is, in effect, the subordinate, revealed and knowable divinity, the "God" who communicates the divine purpose to humankind. In this paper the roots and centrality of the Bab's concept of the maẓhar-i ilāhī will be traced relative to Shi`ism, Shaykhism and the writings of various members of the school of the Great Shaykh, Ibn al-`Arabi (d. 638/1240). Additionally, some notes will be presented about the Bab's various statements pertaining to pre-existent prophets and Manifestations of God including Adam, two Ishmaels and two Davids".
- Second Paper: `The Risāla fí'l-jasad al-nabī (Treatise upon the Body of the Prophet Muhammad) or Sharḥ kafiyyat. al-mi`rāj (Commentary upon the modality of the mi`rāj [of Muhammad]).
- Abstract : "This presentation will consist of the exposition through provisional translation and commentary upon the Risala fi'l-jasad al-nabi (The Treatise upon the Translocation of the Body of the Prophet Muhammad), of the Bab. It is a 2-3 page Arabic treatise written in reply to a question (posed in Isfahan in 1846 by Mirza Hasan Nuri?) about the translocation of the body of the Prophet Muhammad, his jasad ("Body") being in more than one time-space location. It is centered upon an interpretation of the tibyan al-ashkal (clarification of forms), relative to the rijāl al-a`rāf ("men of the heights" = Twelver Imams) and the manner of the mi`raj ("Night Ascent") of the prophet Muhammad (cf. Q.171f). It includes an exposition of the various (Islamic) concepts of "time", including the three levels of al-sarmad ("beginingless eternity") that of dahr, the realm of the "eternal continuance of time" and that of al-zamán which is suggestive of the duration of time itself."
[I] Irfan Colloquia Session #54 Institute of Commonwealth Studies: London, England July 2–4, 2004.
- 2004A -`The Arabic Dalá'il al-Sab'ah (Seven Proofs) of the Báb: Some Introductory Notes'.
- Abstract : It was perhaps towards the middle or latter part of his nine-months imprisonment at Ma-ku (The Open Mountain) between July 1847 and April 1848 in Persian province of Azirbayjan (in the NW of Iran), that the Báb revealed the Persian and the shorter Arabic recension of his (Per.) Dalá'il-i sab'ih (Seven Proofs). These closely related literary works are most centrally concerned with a seven-fold proof of the divinely revealed status of a sacred book, most notably the Qur'án and most centrally the Báb's own now extensive divine revelations which are post-qur'anic yet characterized by the inimitable style of the Islamic Holy Book.
While the Arabic version is a fairly brief — roughly fourteen page (with 19 or less lines per page) — the more extensive Persian Seven Proofs spans just over 70 pages. In literary form both of these Persian and Arabic works constitute a variety of Istidlaliyya ("Testimonial") text designed to set forth prophetic and other proofs of an Islamic and post-Islamic claim to (Ar.) wahy (divine revelation) and mazhariyya, the status of being a manifestation of God. Primitive Christianity missionary outreach was much facilitated by oral and written collections of prophetic proof texts (= Testimonia) culled from the Hebrew Bible and other sacred writings. In similar fashion, both the two Seven Proofs works of the Báb, and Bahá'u'lláh's major Istidlaliyya, best known today as the Kitáb-Iqán (Book of Certitude), are basically Istidlaliyya type works. The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh both wrote proofs of the truth of their new religions and encouraged their followers to do likewise.
The Arabic Seven Proofs is less known and represented in mss. than the Persian Seven Proofs. It has never been translated into any European language and has only been published once in Tehran by Iranian Azali-Babis (in the mid. 1960s?) on the basis of four extant manuscript copies available to them. This wholly Arabic work opens with a Dhikr-type litany of more than 100 versions of basmala (=Bismillah al -- al -- = "In the Name of God, the X, the Y) phrases often terminating with words derived from the Arabic trilateral root F-R-D having connotations of "uniqueness" (= al-fard = also meaning single, alone, solitary, unique, etc). The word expresses the unique, the quintessence of God's tawhid, his "oneness", the Divine Singularity.
The Arabic Seven Proofs thus begins with a double superlative of F-R-D, namely afrad = "most unique", supremely alone: In the Name of God, the Most Unique, the Most Unique. In the Name of God, the Unique, the Unique. In the Name of God, the Unique, the Unique. In the Name of God, the Unique, the Unique ...
[II] 2004B Irfan Colloquia Session #58 (English) Louhelen Bahá'í School: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 8–11, 2004.
- 2004B -`The Arabic Dalá'il al-Sab'ah (Seven Proofs) of the Báb: Some Introductory Notes'.
- Abstract : See above - this paper was a second version of that listed above.
[III] 2004C ABS Religious Studies Special Interest Group Bi-Annual Seminar Newcastle upon Tyne, December10-12, 2004
- `The Commentary of Sayyid Kāzim Rashtī upon the Graphical Form of the Mightiest Name of God'.
- Abstract :
- Second Paper: `Bahā'-Allāh the Tetragrammaton: Some Aspects of Judaism and the Bahā’ī Faith'.
- Abstract :
`Irfan Colloquium -Bosch Baha'i School, Santa Cruz, California, USA. May 29 – June 1, 2008.
- And It Came to Pass: the Báb and the Fulfillment of Shí'í Islamic Messianism (Part 1).
- And It Came to Pass: the Báb and the Fulfillment of Shí'í Islamic Messianism (Part 1I).
- Abstract : `The Báb fixed very, very precisely, to the exact minute, the time of the onset of the New age and non-literally understood "Day of Resurrection" (yawm al-qiyáma). According to Persian Bayán the "Day of God" commenced on the evening of May 22nd 1844 CE, two hours and eleven minutes after sunset on the evening of that day when the Báb announced his mission before Mullá Husayn Bushrú'í. This took place 1,000 years after the disappearance of the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi and alleged son of Hasan al-Askarí, the 11th Imam of the Twelver Shí`ís. The year was 1,260 AH or during the Gregorian year 1844. In this paper the nature and interpretation of certain traditions attributed to the Prophet and the Imams which the Báb and his followers cited in proof of the truth of their claims will be examined. It will be shown that, among other things, traditions were cited in proof of the name, age, appearance, habits, nationality, travels, revelations and martyrdom of the Báb. The Arabic texts will be shared and given their exact textual source as well as fully translated into English.
The following text is an example of such a prediction contained in the Kitáb al-Ghayba (Book of the Occultation") of Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ja`far al-Nu`mání (d. 360/970) and from the Bihár al-anwár (Oceans of Lights) of Muhamad Báqir Majlisí (d. 1111/1699-1700), centering on Mecca and the future role of the messianic Qá'im. It is a hadíth (tradition) relayed from the fifth Imam Muhammad al-Báqir (d. c.126/743): "... until a Herald from heaven (munád min al-samá') cries out. So when he cries out then quickly hasten along [to join him]. By God! It is as if I perceive him (al-Qá'im) [in Mecca] between the pillar [corner of the Ka`ba] (al-rukn) and the [nearby] locale ["station" of Abraham] (al-maqám). He will spread out his arms in initiating a new Cause (amr jadíd), [offering] a new book (kitáb jadíd), and [instituting] a new sovereign rule from heaven (sultán jadíd min al-samá'). His eternal banner (ráyat abadá an) will be not be layed down until [the time of] his death" (Nu`mání, K-Ghayba, 2003: 363; Majlisi, Bihar, 2nd ed. vol. 52: 235, 293).
`Irfan Colloquium -Bosch Baha'i School, Santa Cruz, California, USA. May 30 – June 2, 2013.
- The Bábí-Bahá'í Theology of 'Adl (Justice) and the Lawh-i Ridván al-'Adl of Bahá'u'lláh'
- Abstract : PDf.
`Irfan Colloquium -Bosch Baha'i School, Santa Cruz, California, USA.
- Twin Shining Lights Pt.1 : Shaykh Ahmad ibn Zayn al-Din al-Ahsa’i (d. Medina 1241/1826).
- Abstract : Shaykh Ahmad.pdf
- Twin Shining Lights Pt. II : Sayyid Kazim al-Husayni al-Rashti (d. Karbala, 1259/1843).
- Abstract : Sayyid Kazim.pdf