First published in 1923, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era offers readers a thorough introduction to the Bahá’í Faith written by one of its early adherents. Through studious investigation of the young religion, aided by a close relationship with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá — the son and successor of Bahá’u’lláh, its Prophet and Founder — Dr. John E. Esslemont gained rare insight into the history and teachings of a religion still in its infant stages.
Since its first publication, Dr. Esslemont’s book, now translated into sixty-seven different languages, remains one of the most enduring and widely used introductory books on the Bahá’í Faith. It is our hope that in making this edition widely available to the general public, the book will continue to provide readers with a comprehensive and inspiring overview of the newest of the world’s independent religions.
The National Spiritual Assembly of
the Bahá’ís of the United States
With the publication of “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era” more than ten years ago, the Bahá’í Faith was given its first well-conceived, thorough exposition by a student of the teachings. Recognizing its value as the most satisfactory introduction to the Cause, Bahá’ís in both East and West have found Dr. Esslemont’s book so helpful that it has been translated into some thirty different languages.
As Dr. Esslemont himself recognized, the Faith entered a new phase of its history after the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The result is that the author’s views, some of them written prior to 1921, no longer, on certain aspects of the subject, correspond to the evolutionary character of the Faith. His treatment of events and social conditions then existing, moreover, no longer appears fully relevant. Unavoidably, a few errors of fact had entered his text, while his explanation of the stations of the Báb and of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have been replaced in the minds of Bahá’ís by the authoritative interpretations since made by the first Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi.
The present edition therefore represents a revision made by the American National Spiritual Assembly, acting under the advice and approval of Shoghi Effendi.
These revisions in no respect alter the original plan of Dr. Esslemont’s book, nor affect the major portion of his text. Their purpose has been to amplify the author’s discussion in a few passages by the addition of material representing the fuller knowledge available since his lamented death, and newer translations of his quotations from Bahá’í Sacred Writings.
Bahá’í Publishing Committee
With this edition the American Bahá’í Publishing Committee takes over copyright and other interests in “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era” from Messrs. George Allen & Unwin Ltd., of London, England, through whom the late Dr. J. E. Esslemont published his famous book more than twenty years ago. Under arrangement with the British publishers, the Committee has since 1928 brought out eleven printings, in addition to the first American edition imported by Brentano’s of New York.
This edition does not displace the text as it has appeared since major revision was made in the book under the direction of the Guardian of the Faith in 1937, as the time has not come for anything like a thorough recasting of the book to make its references to world conditions completely contemporaneous. Dr. Esslemont’s work endures as a trustworthy introduction to the history and teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. Its translation into some thirty different languages attests its appeal to students in the East as well as the West.