An explanation of the reasons for the photographic
reproduction of the 1882 (first) edition of OAHSPE,
plus reproductions of original oil paintings and
photographs by John Ballou Newbrough exerpted
from the 1891 (second and revised) edition.
John Ballou Newbrough was born on June 5, 1828, on a Springfield, Ohio farm. A college man, he specialized in medicine, particularly dentistry, which later became his profession. He was a big man, powerful and vigorous and adventurous. After college he went to the goldfields of California, and also to Australia. After becoming a dentist in New York City, he married, and became the father of a son and a daughter. A second marriage gave him another daughter. Part of his normal home life was an interest in spiritualism, and together with a dear friend, Edwin Augustus Davis, he interviewed many mediums, even entertained them in his home, in an effort to learn all he could of the occult. Davis was a photographer, and cooperated with Newbrough in taking pictures of spiritual phenomena, and many unusual pictures were secured. However, both men were dissatisfied with the calibre of spirit communications being received, and Newbrough particularly felt that there must be something more interesting and practical. The advent of the Fox sisters upon the New York scene brought matters to a head in Newbrough's mind, and he earnestly desired to know how the angels lived, the plan of the universe, and the true facts of spiritual existence. He believed that if he purified himself, he might establish higher contacts.
One morning in 1870, Newbrough went to the home of his friend Davis, who lived on Sixth Avenue, near the old Hay Market, and said: "I've come for your advice; I had quite an experience about 4 a.m. this morning. I was sleeping nicely when I felt a hand on my shoulder. A voice said: 'Wake up, doctor. Everything is all right. I only want to ask you a question and we will go.'
"I sat up and answered: 'Yes, if I can.' The voice said: 'Would you like to perform a mission for Jehovih?'
"I rubbed my eyes and saw that the room was lit up with pillars of a soft light so pleasing to the eyes that it was indescribable. I saw great numbers of beautiful spirits or angels. They did not have wings. I spoke: 'What is the mission, so that I may know whether to say yes or no?' The answer came back, 'Jehovih would like you to live spiritually for ten years, and at the end of that time we will come back and tell you what it is we desire, for your body and mind are not sufficiently perceptible now. You must be pure.'
"What do you mean by living spiritually?"
"'We want you never to kill anything, or eat anything that breathes: meat, fish, birds, reptiles, etcetera. Live on nuts, fruit, vegetables. You don't need so much food, as you are too heavy now; you need to lose weight. One other thing is very important: you must help people; give your services to people who need dental help, without pay, if they cannot pay. Do charity work; by individual charity you change the person's thoughts. They will think of you as a good man, and will send out good thoughts to you. You will need all the good will you can get.'
I answered: 'This will be quite a change of living for me. I will let you know.'
"'We already know your answer; it will be yes!' the voice said, and then the lights dimmed and went out, and the atmosphere changed back to its normal darkness. I got up and wrote down everything that had happened, then I drank a glass of milk and came over to talk to you."
Davis and Newbrough discussed the matter for hours, and during the conversation Newbrough revealed that he thought he had recognized three of the spirits, although he had not had a good look at them. He asked Davis if he thought the adventure was real, or only a dream.
"John," said Davis, "I don't believe it was a dream. I'd say, go ahead. I myself don't like meat or fish, and I would have no objection to going on the same diet so that you will have assistance in keeping to it, as it will certainly be hard on you to be so different in public eating habits. Perhaps the ten year wait will be worth it, when you find out what it is that you are to do."
At 4 a.m. one morning late in 1880, John Ballou Newbrough was awakened from his slumber to find the same mysterious and beautiful lights filling his room. He sat up and demanded: "Am I worthy?" The same voice spoke: "You have done well. You have passed our test. We know that you feel more healthy. Now we want you to buy a typewriter and place it on this table. We will thereafter awaken you one hour before dawn each morning, and you will sit in this chair before the typewriter and put your hands on the keys. You will buy plenty of paper and keep it always ready to use.
"I don't know how to use a typewriter."
"We will control your hands and arms, and perform the task for you, so don't worry. You must not look at what is written until it is finished."
There was further discussion and instruction, then the pillars of light dimmed and went out.
On the morning of January 1, 1881, having followed all instructions, the first writing session began at 4 a.m. As Newbrough later told it to his friend, Davis: "To my amazement as I sat in the chair, my hands went up and started to pound at the keys. It seemed to me that I was half asleep, but I saw everything I was doing. I saw no spirits, but I knew they were using my body and thought. I looked at my hands and fingers; they were going like mad. Then it occurred to me that it was fantastic.
"The papers seemed to pile up fast on the right side of the typewriter. As the days went by, I was doing more and more. At first I was thinking what am I writing about? My mind seemed blank, but I had never felt better in my life. I always locked my door after me, and it was locked when I came back. I noticed, though that there was a blank paper over the pile I had finished, and a paperweight on top. It was oblong in shape. As I left my room the next morning I took particular notice of how the paperweight lay on the stack of finished work. When I returned that evening, I wanted to see if it had been moved, but it had not. But to my surprise, my bed had been made. Everything had been dusted and cleaned. I said to myself: 'The spirits are certainly working hard around here!' I heard a loud laugh, and the voice said: 'We are! We don't want you to worry about a thing. We are taking care of you, and no harm can come to you, Remember this!'"
Every morning, before sunrise, until December 15, 1881, John Ballou Newbrough wrote at his Sholes typewriter, at a speed physically almost impossible considering the crudity of this first typewriter, and finally the manuscript was complete.
In 1882 the book was published. Newbrough kept the very first copy off the press, and presented the second copy to his friend Edwin Augustus Davis in appreciation for his assistance over the years.
The foregoing information (which it is significant to note is essentially the same as the account given by Newbrough himself in a letter written on January 1, 1883 to the editor of The Banner of Light in Boston, Massachusetts) comes from the diary of the grandson of Edwin Augustus Davis.
Although copies of the first edition of OAHSPE are reputed to exist in the possession of various individuals, only one copy has been located in fifteen years of diligent searching by the publisher of this photo-copied edition, and it is from this single copy that the photographic offset plates have been made. Inasmuch as there are considerable differences in the 1891 edition (and those subsequent) and the 1882 edition, it seems desirable to preserve the first edition in greater quantities for the purposes of those more erudite and concerned students of OAHSPE who, made aware that a "revision" was made, may wonder at the extent of the revision and the reasons for it.
The original manuscript, it is said, was destroyed in a flood in El Paso, Texas, after it had been carefully checked against the 1891 edition by Andrew M Howland, who aided Newbrough in the work of revising the 1882 edition. Destroyed also were the paintings from the 1891 edition reproduced in this photo-copied edition. Howland has written that the 1891 edition is identical with the manuscript; while Newbrough's daughter insists that the only differences in the two editions are a few typographical errors (which naturally reappear in this photo-copied edition). Aside from the incompatibility of these two statements, Wing Anderson, who has diligently and faithfully published OAHSPE since 1936, has stated that he has certain pages of the original manuscript (the Voice of Man), and notes that they are perfectly typed, whereas a letter written by Newbrough on the original typewriter is a curious example of inept typing ability. Newbrough was unable to type a single line without error.
In view of the differences in the two editions, and the existence of some of the pages of the original manuscript, there is reason to wonder about the circumstances behind the destruction of the original manuscript. Howland, in a letter written in 1893, mentions that the Book of Praise was nearly double its present size, and that quite likely this is also true of the Book of Ben. The Book of Discipline, which appears in the 1891 edition, does not appear in the 1882 edition, and unfortunately there is now no evidence that it appeared in the original manuscript. Other fragments of original proof sheets, including an introduction to the Book of Saphah and an explanation of the Tree of Language, appeared only in very recent editions. Apparently it is true that the original OAHSPE manuscript has never actually been published in its entirety, and because the manuscript is destroyed, some considerable portions are now lost.
It is not surprising that some effort (on the part of the drujas of OAHSPE?) would have been made to destroy or at least render confused and subject to criticism through inconsistency a book as vital to understanding as is OAHSPE. Certainly the high-raised angels whom Newbrough says wrote OAHSPE through his hands, would not have performed so inefficiently that revision was later necessary by persons in no whit originally involved, such as Andrew Howland.
Little can be done today to remedy any lack, but certainly none of the published editions should be allowed to become unavailable, as is the original manuscript. Therefore, we humbly offer this photographed edition of the 1882 printing, which was the very first, together with all its typographical errors, its language key charts, its Commentary, and as an added feature reproductions of the paintings (also destroyed in the same flood that removed the original manuscript from the ken of man) of the key prophets in OAHSPE, to those students who will value the opportunity to debate in their own minds the reasons for any changes at all, and to evaluate the history of OAHSPE in its proper perspective.
The publication of the photo copy of the 1882 edition is not to say that subsequent editions are invalid, for in fact the doctrinal content is unchanged, and the bulk of the publication is materially the same, except for the omissions, additions and revision changes as will be noted. This photo copy of the 1882 edition is offered solely in the interests of completion, and in answer to those who ask questions concerning the first edition and the exact nature of the changes that were actually made, and what their total effect on the validity of OAHSPE has been. The paintings are also included from the 1891 edition, because that is also very rare.
In our humble opinion, the first edition should not be lost, as was the original manuscript. It is to prevent this loss that this work has been done, and because it has been done, OAHSPE cannot now be attacked as an expurgated and perverted book and summarily dismissed. In the light of present day science, the Book of Cosmology alone is evidence of a superior fore-knowledge that stands as a sturdy sentinel over the doctrinal portions. And in the light of present day anthropology and archaeology, its historical portions stand as remarkable evidence of that same superior fore-knowledge. OAHSPE is truly a gateway to understanding.
June 2, 1960
The Book Of Discipline reproduced on the following pages, did not appear in the 1882 edition of Oahspe, although it was a part of the original manuscript. It was, however, included in the revised 1891 edition, and it is from this edition that the photo-copied pages included in this volume were reproduced. They are the same as appear in all subsequent editions of Oahspe, including the British edition, which is still being published in Great Britain. Because of its importance, and in the interest of completeness, the Book Of Discipline has been included for the first time in this photo-copy of the original 1882 edition.
Index to Oahspe