what does the Course mean
Lanham, MD (Vocus) September 23, 2009
A Course in Miracles has been an "underground best-seller" since the 1976 publication of a heavily edited and substantially abridged version. Several million copies of that version are in print in 18 languages. The earlier manuscripts include more than 50,000 words of the original dictation which were omitted from that 1976 version. The earlier versions also show very different wording in many sections that were preserved in the 1976 version.
In total there are three "earlier versions" in manuscript form which have come to light so far, the original handwritten Shorthand Notebooks, the later typed Urtext manuscripts and the still later and more heavily edited Hugh Lynn Cayce (HLC) manuscript.
From one version to the next, in the process of retyping there were many inadvertent copying mistakes as well as intentional omissions and re-writing. While some of the alterations enhance the material, others were clearly just mistakes. A comparison of the versions reveals that many times in the later versions when a passage seems unclear or contradictory, the reason is simply that there is a copying mistake in a passage that was originally entirely clear.
Beginning in the year 2000 when copies of the HLC and Urtext manuscripts first became available as photocopies, Doug Thompson whose academic background is in Biblical Studies, has been transcribing and proofreading the thousands handwritten and typed manuscript pages. The HLC was first printed in 2006. Miracles in Action Press is now making it available in a second edition. All seven volumes of the Urtext were first published in 2009 by Miracles in Action Press and in 2010 we hope to have at least the most interesting portions of the Shorthand Notes in print.
Unlike all previous editions of A Course in Miracles which have gone to press with woefully inadequate proofreading and which make claims for "accuracy" and "originality" and fidelity to the original dictation which are more wishful thinking than factual, these two new editions of the scribal manuscripts are thoroughly proofed and exhaustively documented to a high standard of textual scholarship. These are the most accurate editions of A Course in Miracles yet to appear in print.
In addition to transcribing the manuscript text, much of which has never before been available in print, Thompson has footnoted a thousand references to the Bible which are present in the Course along with another thousand or so footnotes which relate to ambiguities and variants in the historic handwritten and typed manuscripts. The Biblical footnotes powerfully reveal the extent to which the Course's thought system relates to the Bible while the latter technical footnotes help the reader distinguish between wording which is clear and wording which is uncertain.
In a series of explanatory appendices at the end of the Urtext Manuscripts book, Thompson presents a publishing and editing history of the Course and the results of research into the origins and nature of the manuscripts themselves. These represent a "mini course on the Course" in their own right!
While almost every edition of the Course to have appeared since 1976 claimed it was "unchanged" or "original," this edition includes some 50,000 words more than any other version in print and is indeed much "less changed" and "more original" to the initial dictation received by Schucman than any other yet to appear.
Mr. Thompson, in a 10 year effort utilizing his training in Bible scholarship has painstakingly studied the four known "scribal" versions of A Course in Miracles and footnoted over 1400 references to the variant readings between them while adhering to the strictest standards of textual scholarship to not make any undocumented alterations to the text, so the reader receives the full quality of Jesus' oratory.
In addition to the book, Thompson has prepared an exhaustive concordance to this seven volume edition of the Urtext Manuscripts as well as one for the HLC Manuscript which was first published in 2006. Available on digital media (CD or DVD) these powerful reference tools facilitate searching and lookup in what are admittedly huge books. Partial (abridged) concordances are on line.
The Concordances are part of the "Scholar's Toolbox" which includes facsimile image files of the original manuscripts plus searchable e-text transcriptions. All these are cross-referenced with a universal reference system which makes it very easy to look up passages and compare them across versions. For the serious student of the Course, these reference tools are a "must have."
In order to establish "what does the Course mean" we must first establish "what does the Course say" and in many places, until all versions are compared, we simply don't know.
These editions represent the most thorough and complete primary textual scholarship on A Course in Miracles yet undertaken.
About The Publisher: The publisher, Miracles in Action Press, LLC, was formed specifically for the purpose of getting these manuscripts into print and is now finding an an expanded purpose in publishing other channeled works. Its founder, Doug Monkton, of Peterborough, NH, was introduced to A Course in Miracles in 1996 after a satsang with Siddha Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, his spiritual teacher at the time. After much initial resistance to the material, Monkton came to understand that Jesus of Nazareth is the only possible author of A Course in Miracles and now even attends a wonderful church, Vineyard Christian in NH, USA. The pastor, while conflicted about the publications, ("What am I going to do with you Doug?") hasn't thrown him out yet. Stay tuned for more.