About this compilation of A Course in Miracles 4.2
This page is a highly condensed summary of the most frequently raised questions.
If you are new to the ACIM Community and are interested in the history and origins of the Course, or simply wish more information about the various versions of ACIM and this particular compilation in particular, please click here for considerably more detailed documentation.
The channelling of the six volumes of ACIM contained in this compilation began on Oct 23, 1965 and ended in 1978. The six volumes in this collection do not represent the whole of Helen Schucman’s scribing but do constitute what is broadly recognized as the ACIM “canon”.
The six volumes, with their dates of original scribing, are as follows:
I: Text – 1965-68
II: Workbook – 1969-1971
III: Manual for Teachers – 1972
IV: Use of Terms – 1975
V: Psychotherapy – begun 1973 but not completed until 1975
VI: Song of Prayer – 1977
The first three volumes were published in the 1975 Criswell Edition with the fourth volume added as an appendix to the Manual for Teachers in the first large scale printing in 1976 by the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP). In late 1999 and early 2000, two earlier manuscripts of the Text, and one earlier manuscript of each of the other five volumes were discovered and found to be substantially different from the earlier published versions. While the differences after the first few chapters of the Text are mostly minor, the differences in the early material are quite substantial with the equivalent of five entire chapters having gone missing entirely. (view comparison of first 8 chapters)
Since 2000, we’ve been working on preparing these manuscripts for publication in machine readable form with Concordances.
There is a second version of Volume I and a Separate Concordance. This is the “Urtext” material from the USCO. Our work on proofing this volume has only just begun. We are including it in its unproofed and uncorrected form because this Concordance with the option of displaying each page of the original manuscript is useful and makes the material more accessible than any other tool we’ve discovered.
In this compilation is the Text of the “Hugh Lynn Cayce” (HLC) version, which is Helen Schucman’s last re-typing of the first volume prior to the massive editing of 1973-74 which led to the 1975 FIP Abridgement. It is proofed to a very high standard, much higher than any previous or extant edition of ACIM we know of. Where we discovered errors or omissions in that manuscript for which there was powerful evidence to suggest they were inadvertent errors, as opposed to intentional editing changes, we have either added them with footnotes or footnoted the problem. The original scribes did not proofread their work against earlier material and many inadvertent typos, spelling mistakes, and omissions of which they were almost certainly unaware happened. These range from obvious spelling mistakes and inconsistencies to omissions of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and even a whole page which result in the total loss, not just of original meaning, but of any meaning at all! Where we have become aware of these we have “corrected” them, but always with a footnote, except for the most obvious and insignificant spelling and punctuation mistakes. That way you can tell what’s from the original manuscript and what was altered by us. We’ve also included the original manuscript and annotated the HLC Text to the original manuscript page numbers just in case you want to check for yourself!
We have not systematically documented variations between this version and the FIP version in footnotes because they are so numerous and so extensive. We have footnoted them in later volumes where the variations are relatively few and minor. We will eventually get to footnoting all the variant readings.
For considerably greater detail on this topic see: Preface to the Corrected HLC
3) The “Sub-Urtext” volumes II through VI are still being proofed and “corrected”
The other five volumes are not proofed to the same high standard as the HLC yet. The Workbook has had two passes and is perhaps the least polished here. The other four volumes have all received four passes (our standard is 10), and are in reasonably good shape. We’ve also added references to those Biblical quotes we’ve noticed in those volumes. Biblical references are very time-consuming to add, but we will include them for the Text and Workbook in due course.
While we know a great deal about the HLC manuscript, we know rather less about the manuscripts we’re working from on the later volumes. In the “22 Volumes of Helen Schucman’s Private Papers” retrieved from the United States Copyright Office (USCO) in 2000, manuscripts of all six volumes of ACIM which clearly pre-date the FIP editions, were found. These were labelled “Urtext” at the USCO, but in the case of the Text volume, it is clearly not the original Thetford typescript, but a highly edited, later copy. The proofing on that manuscript has only just begun (Oct. 2006). The other five volumes were in much cleaner condition and proofing and presenting them for print proved a relatively minor task by comparison, which is why they were quickly processed into the Concordance. However we do not know much else about these documents.
It is not entirely certain whether any of them are the actual “Urtext,” (Bill Thetford’s original typescript made from Helen Schucman’s dictation) or Helen Schucman’s later re-typing of the Urtext with editing changes. It is doubtful that the Workbook, or Manual are the Urtext. It is quite possible the Song of Prayer manuscript is the original Urtext, and there is some chance that the Psychotherapy manuscript is also, but this seems less likely. The Use of Terms may be, or it may not be. Due to the large amount of mark-up on it, there is reason to believe that there may not be another “re-typing.” However, because we don’t have all the original versions with which to compare, it is not possible to be entirely certain. All we know for sure is that these manuscripts are the oldest and least edited primary source materials we’ve been able to get a hold of, they are NOT the oldest in existence however. But that’s another story! For more on that story see A Note on Nomenclature.
4) Reading or looking up text with the Concordance Software
With the Concordance software you can search for any word or phrase in any or all volumes of ACIM, and you can enter the material through the Tables of Contents for each volume, should you wish to go immediately to a particular chapter. The four windows on your screen are resizable if you wish. Just hover your cursor over any of the borders until a “twin arrow” appears, and then you can move the boundary at will. This makes it reasonably convenient, about as convenient as a computer screen can be, for extended reading.
For reference purposes, since not all volumes are fully proofed, we’ve included scanned copies of the original manuscripts from which these materials were prepared. The original manuscript page numbers are part of the annotation we’re using, always the LAST field in the multi-field reference, in brackets. Simply load the manuscript for the volume in question and “go to” that page number and you can compare the original to the copy. Should you find any discrepancies which are not adequately explained in the footnotes, PLEASE WRITE and let us know what the problem is.
For more detail on the use of the Concordance Software see HELP.
5) How does the Annotation System work?
Those familiar with the FIP Second Edition annotation will welcome the simplifications this system involves. We set out to produce a “universal” system that would work, to the maximum extent possible, on all editions of all versions of ACIM. “Where possible” is limited by the fact that the FIP editions are missing a great deal of material and change some of the section and chapter names. We obviously can’t create a reference system to point to material that is missing in a given edition. For the most part, however, the chapter, section and even paragraph breaks are consistent across the versions. This, then, becomes the basis of the Annotation System.
Like the FIP system, the first field is the VOLUME, and it will be a single letter, T for Text, W=Workbook, M=Manual for Teachers, U=Use of Terms, P=Psychotherapy pamphlet, S=Song of Prayer pamphlet. The second field is the chapter number in all but the Workbook where the “chapter” is actually a “Lesson”, 1-361. The third field is a section, and this is based on the section breaks introduced by Bill Thetford in the Text. The fourth field is the paragraph number within the section, and this is based on the oldest manuscripts available to us, the paragraph structure in those, and the editorial mark up in those manuscripts. The final field is the “absolute page number” of the manuscript. In some cases that’s also the page number marked on the manuscript but in other cases the manuscript pagination is not accurate and therefore not useful for reference. Where that is the case, we’ve simply renumbered the manuscript with the first page (after the cover page) numbered one, and the number incremented with each page.
Our greatest challenge was the Workbook, because while the obvious major “landmarks of textual geography” are the Lessons themselves, there is additional material in the Workbook, the introductions, the reviews, the ‘what is” homilies in Part II, etc.
Using the Biblical “chapter and verse” reference system as our model, a system which has survived largely unchanged for some 600 years and has proven extremely useful, even though it is largely arbitrary and does not reflect “natural” divisions in the textual geography, we decided to limit the number of levels of division as much as possible. Thus where FIP divides the Workbook exactly as the editors structured it, which is highly inconsistent, we divide the whole thing into 361 “chapters” with the beginning of each of the 361 lessons as the ‘break’ point. Material which is not part of a specific lesson but which occurs between any two lessons is treated as the “second section” of that “chapter” or lesson.
The FIP system results in numerous inconsistencies and anomalies which make its use exceedingly difficult for the experienced and practically impossible for the novice. For instance, Lesson 350 is referenced thus: W-pII.350.2. It is followed by a “What Is” homily which is referenced thus: W-pII.14.1. In this structure, the Workbook has two ‘chapters’, pI and pII, and “section 350” is followed by “section 14” … and you can see why people have trouble figuring out how to write an annotation! In our system Lesson 350 is referenced thus: W 350 L 0 (604). The “What Am I?” homily which follows it immediately is referenced as W 350 W14 1 (605). This is about as complicated and inconsistent as our system gets. The first two fields are still Volume and Chapter, and will get you very close to the passage. After that for Lesson 350, and all lessons, there is the “section” designator “L” which means this is a regular lesson. Only that material which is NOT a “regular lesson” has anything else in the section field, in this case “W” for the “What Is” materials. For “Reviews” we find an “R” in the section field. For the introduction we find an “IN”. So you can have IN, IN2 for the introductions to Part 1 and Part 2, RI through RVI for the Reviews and W1 through W14 for the “What is” homilies. That’s it. The Problem in the Workbook is that the material was originally structured in a manner which defies any sort of ordinary literary hierarchical structure, so trying to put a simple and instantly understandable structure onto it is a challenge. We fully sympathise with why the FIP editors just gave up trying and simply labelled everything exactly as it appeared, however crazy and confusing the resulting annotation system ended up being. After years of discussion about this problem with many people we found it was possible to create a much simpler and more intuitive means of specifying the location of any line in ACIM with acceptable precision. Even so, the Workbook WAS a challenge and is still perhaps some distance short of the ideal, and if anyone has any suggestions for improving this, let us know!!
In the first chapter, in the 53 miracle principles, we have the other major anomaly to the strict “chapter and section” annotation system. While the first section, the Principles of Miracles, should obviously be subdivided into 53 parts, one for each miracle principle, some of the 53 parts have more than one paragraph and this is the “paragraph” level of our annotation system! We could have combined all the paragraphs in each lesson into a single paragraph but with the very long principles, these are over a page in length, and this is too large a block of text for a bottom tier of a reference system, especially if you remove the paragraph breaks within it! So that was ruled out. What we ended up doing in this section, and nowhere else, is to number the paragraphs as, for example, “51a” and “51b” etc., where elsewhere paragraph numbers are all a single integer. “51b”, of course, means the second paragraph of Miracle Principle 51. This does introduce, effectively, a fifth tier in the referencing of this one section and for this we apologise but we could find no way to avoid it. FIP avoided the problem by shortening the longer miracle principles until they were indeed just one paragraph in length, and relocating or just deleting the rest of the material. This was not an option we considered.
In the Manual some “chapters” are short and have no sections, the section designator will always be “A” therefore. In the Use of Terms there are no sections, only eight short chapters. Each “division” in the text is therefore a ‘chapter,’ one through eight. Here is another contrast with the FIP system. For the first part, FIP calls it, not “chapter one” but “chapter in” and for the last part, it calls it not chapter 8, but “chapter ep”. So you have six chapters with an “in” before chapter one and an “ep” after chapter six. We just made it 8 chapters, the chapter being simply being the top level of textual division within a volume. In the Text manuscript, Thetford has each chapter beginning with one or more paragraphs before the first labeled section break. We’ve called all of these “Section A, Introduction” and the first labelled section becomes, of course, “Section B” because it is the second section in the chapter. FIP is totally erratic in dealing with this. They change some of the “Introductions”, giving them new names and where they are left, they aren’t labelled “Section One” to indicate that they are the first section, they are labelled “Section in” and the second section, which we feel is sensibly labelled “section two” becomes in FIP, section one.
In these cases to match our annotation system to the FIP system, you actually have to ignore what FIP calls the sections, and simply count them, the first one being (surprise! Surprise!) “one” and the one after that being (I know this is radical) “two”, etc. or “A…B…C” with the sections.
Where FIP adds sentence numbers, we did not for three reasons. 1) Very rarely is it necessary to cite a quote with that degree of precision. Getting to the right paragraph is close enough. 2) The added field is just one more layer of complexity which makes the FIP system look and feel complicated even in those places where it isn’t particularly complicated, as is the case with a good part of the Text where FIP annotations and ours are nearly identical. 3) if you need that degree of precision in a citation, such as when contrasting two sentences in a single paragraph, or the like, there is nothing to stop people from adding another field after the paragraph numerical designator, as FIP does, and nothing stopping people from counting sentences within paragraphs if they wish! We just don’t feel this is needed frequently enough to include it in all citations as a standard.
The Basic Structure of our annotation system is Volume, Chapter, Section, Paragraph and the only anomalies are as indicated above. We have chosen to use different notion than FIP mostly so that it is immediately obvious to anyone viewing a reference generated in either system WHICH it is. Still, there is absolutely nothing to stop anyone from using whatever notation they prefer.
For the Volumes, we do as FIP does, one letter per but we also add volume numbers, one through six. For chapters, in the Text it is the same as FIP but in the rest it’s quite different, as FIP’s “chapter numbers” are chaotic and inconsistent in much of the other volumes. We do use chapter numbers which are Roman Numerals, whereas FIP uses Arabic for the chapter and Roman for the Section. We use alphabetical numbering for the sections, and Arabic numerals for the paragraphs. Except in the Workbook where the Lessons (chapters) use Arabic Numbers. It just gets too complicated with very large numbers such as CCCXXXVIII for Lesson 338, for example, to stick with Roman numerals there. It should be remembered that while the documents here use Roman, Arabic and alphabetic notation in a particular way, there is no reason you can’t use whatever suits your fancy!