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Re: obsolete words

Oct 31, 1995 03:21 PM
by Richtay

If I may chime in here on Jerry's and Eldon's conversation, at the risk of
seeming to pander both sides, I think there is something to be said for each
of the "positions."

I think Eldon's point about obsolete words is unequivocally true. It is easy
for those of us working on advanced academic degrees to assume that certain
knowledge is common, that most people have access to good dictionaries, etc.
 They don't. In fact, I teach an introductory religion class as UC Davis and
I myself had to explain to the majority of kids who Jesus is. for instance,
few people knew that our dating of centuries is dated to Jesus' birth. Those
who DID know that, did not realize that we have dated Jesus' birth wrongly,
though all Biblical scholars now date Jesus' birth between 7 and 2 BCE. (Of
course we know HPB puts Jesus' death at around 76 BCE, but that is another

I think the problem with HPB's and Judge's writing is getting more severe
with each decade. I have been compiling a list of words that I think are
obsolete for some time, it is getting very long. Something NEEDS to be done,
or only scholars will be able to read and appreciate our Founders' works.

At the same time, I think Jerry H-E is quite right that we cannot just
re-write texts to suit current trends. So I propose the following:

(1) NO MATTER WHAT we should keep track of original manuscripts and first
editions and keep them in good condition and ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC. Then
anyone can check our work.

(2) We should also begin considering works like Jerry H-E is suggesting,
"edited" versions meaning that we will add a gloassary in the back, or
footnotes, or whatever, as long as it is CLEARLY INDICATED that these are
editorial changes, not part of the original work, and leave the main text
itself exactly as it was.

(3) We should begin preparing sophisticated introductory courses that will
take people from the street, as it were, assuming NO BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE,
and get them into the original texts with the aid of overviews of the
teachings, examples of Theosophical works through history (Plato's Allegory
of the Cave in the REPUBLIC, Gnostic works, Buddhist and Vedanta works),
current works by Theosophical thinkers, etc. All with the aim of getting new
students to the original stuff as quickly and thoroughly as possible. I
believe this is exactly the kind of course Jerry and April H-E are preparing
for public use. I look forward to it expectantly, hoping it will truly
improve the (generally fair to poor) level of Theosophical education which as
a rule ignores HPB and Mr. Judge's original stuff altogether.


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