This article examines the thesis proposed by Juan Cole, based on his translation and interpretation of Bahá’u’lláh’s Sahífiy-i-Shattíyyih (Book of the River), that Bahá’u’lláh did not consider himself a Manifestation of God until a short time prior to his Ridván declaration and that his experience in the Síyáh-Chál in Tehran in 1852 was not a divine revelation. It is argued that such a revision of history is unwarranted. The text of the Book of the River is analyzed as well as the date and context of its revelation, and it is argued that the tablet should be viewed in terms of the dialectic of concealment and revelation that characterizes Bahá’u’lláh’s early writings. Significant problems in translation and interpretation are discussed, and evidence is cited from Bahá’u’lláh’s writings confirming the reality of his revelation in Tehran and his selective declaration of his station as the Promised One during the early Baghdad period.
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Copyright © 1999 Nader Saiedi