Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary:

Working Manuscript Available

By Sarah Belle Dougherty

On January 15, 1999, Theosophical University Press began publishing on the Internet, as a work in progress, the current manuscript of the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary prepared under the direction of G. de Purucker. It will go online serially, beginning with the letters A and B, at www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etg/etg-hp.htm. Editorial and scholarly review of the glossary will continue after the entire working manuscript is accessible to the public.

The original manuscript of this reference book dates to the 1930s and '40s. In 1930, soon after he became Leader of the Theosophical Society, Dr. de Purucker proposed that the Literary Committee at the International Headquarters (then at Point Loma, California) begin an enlarged glossary of terms appearing in theosophical literature — primarily that of H. P. Blavatsky, but also of William Q. Judge, Katherine Tingley, and himself. It was to embody both scholarly accuracy and reliable explanations of the teachings of the wisdom tradition. Contributors included Charles J. Ryan, Lydia Ross, Grace Knoche (Sr.), Gertrude W. van Pelt, Henry T. Edge, Joseph H. Fussell, and Judith Tyberg, with Geoffrey Barborka as editor and project manager. Dr. de Purucker did not himself write much of the material, nor did he try to eliminate unevenness of writing or research quality. He did, however, examine every term and dictate corrections and additions as required until May 1941, and for another year continued to clarify unsettled questions.

Although the glossary had been considered finished, for various reasons it was never published. In the 1980s an editorial team led by Grace F. Knoche, who from 1935-1941 had taken all Dr. de Purucker's dictation of corrections to the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary, began a careful review of the manuscript. While it has been possible to modernize the punctuation and capitalization, improve the style, clarify the presentation, and remove obviously dated material, much work still remains to be done: because of extensive advances in every branch of learning since the 1940s, the manuscript must be thoroughly checked, corrected, and updated to insure its scholarly accuracy. Entries in only three subject areas have been checked and revised: the Tibetan terms have been examined by Dr. Bruce C. Hall, the Persian and Zoroastrian terms by Homa A. Garemani, and the Scandinavian terms entirely rewritten by Elsa-Brita Titchenell.

To many students of theosophical literature, however, much of the material may be of value in its present form — particularly that dealing with theosophical and philosophical concepts. For this reason, Theosophical University Press decided to make the unfinished manuscript available on the Internet, also hoping that those using it will send the Glossary Committee any errors of fact or typography that they find, along with their comments and suggestions. The editors would value citations of source material or references concerning any proposed changes. Through this process, those who are interested can contribute actively toward making this, in time, the excellent and reliable theosophical reference work that Dr. de Purucker and his coworkers intended.


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