Some Answered Questions was first published into English in 1908, but was "extensively retranslated" in 2014. Why was a retranslation needed?

I assume it has to do with the dual origin of the English and Persian interview notes, and the relative (un)reliability of the English source. That'd mean the new edition draws on both the Persian and English originals but I can't find any confirmation of this--and if it's so, why didn't they also retranslate the 1908 French version? It's a semi-authoritative religious text, so this sort of thing does matter.

  • I've got some ideas as well, but I've looked online a bit and can't find any support for them. My best thought would be that English has changed (somewhat) over a hundred years, so the updated version may best reflect those changes. That and the fact that perhaps a few minor revisions were made. Those are my only ideas.
    – fi12
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 1:58
  • @fi12 I'd hope that the experts on the subject I'd like to attract wouldn't need to be walked through the context of the material, but I've added some mentions of the complexities of the origin. Hopefully that will prevent others from thinking it's a simple translation issue. (The fact it's a semi-authoritative religious text makes it all the more "about the actual literature." Try the forward to the new edition for a start at the reasons.)
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 2:01

1 Answer 1


Evidently the authors felt that the original translation lacked nuance.

Over the years following the initial publication, in 1908, of this greatly treasured volume that records the explanations given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in response to questions posed by Laura Clifford Barney during her visits to the Holy Land in 1904-1906, it became evident that the English translation was in need of a thorough revision — one which would more adequately reflect the meaning and style of the original, convey clearly the subtleties of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s explanations, and render consistently the philosophical terms used in the text. The present volume is the fruit of efforts to realize those aims.

New English translation of Some Answered Questions: Press Release

Additionally, the Baha’i World Centre is producing a body of works, retranslating a wide range of historically important books. A cynic might argue that they had financial aims as well as a desire to garner fame and publicity for their organisation.

The publication of Some Answered Questions marks the beginning of an acceleration in the pace of the programme for the translation and publication of the Holy Writings at the Baha’i World Centre. Work is already well advanced on a volume of extracts pertaining to Baha’i Holy Days as well as a retranslation of the Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, and it is anticipated that in the course of the next Plan further volumes will be produced.

New English translation of Some Answered Questions: Press Release

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