This paper addresses the need for a Bahá’í encyclopedia and describes the nature, organization, and editing of the multi-volume Bahá’í encyclopedic dictionary project endorsed in 1984 by the United States Bahá’í community. The encyclopedia will serve both Bahá’í and non-Bahá’í researchers arid scholars, the general reader; and university and public libraries. This paper considers the significance of the encyclopedia in terms of other Bahá’í encyclopedic works and in terms of the current stage in the development of the Bahá’í community. However desirable such a project may be, a number of dilemmas accompany its undertaking. These dilemmas relate to the present status of Bahá’í scholarship, the embryonic nature of primary sources, the high standard of scholarship exemplified by the works of Shoghi Effendi, and the relative newness of the Bahá’í religion. The prospects of the encyclopedic undertaking are expected to generate considerable scholarship and to provide intellectual vigor to issues raised by Bahá’ís and their critics.
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Copyright © 1989 Will C. van den Hoonaard