Volunteers page …


Doug’s Background. 2 - in Biblical Studies

A radical claim.. 4 - It claims to have been authored by Jesus of Nazareth

Preliminary findings. 5 -  the claim seems to be true


If you’d like to get involved by helping with chores like proofreading the ACIM primary source material, donating money, or collaborating in other ways, let’s talk!




There are scads of  vital “chores” that need doing in addition to proofreading, such as website construction, typesetting, publication, distribution, marketing, fundraising or any of the myriad other tasks involved in the Scholarly Edition Project.  To date this project has mostly been done by myself, and it has mostly been financed by myself, and the limitations of one person’s “spare time and cash” annoy me, to be quite frank.  I can’t afford to “hire out” anything.  The upside of that is that I get to do it all and learn a wide variety of skills.  The downside of that is that everything takes a very long time.  So if  you’d like to lend a hand and anything in particular appeals to you, do let me know!


I’ve removed the “feedback” direct e-mail links because they have generated tsunamis of spam … but you can send e-mail to me at dthomp74 at or you can Skype me at dthomp74 or telephone at 519-780-0922.


I’ve been asked “what do you need done?”  To which I reply “what would you like to do?”  Right now I need a “web store” and an e-bay presence and paypal stuff set up so that the book and other products can be exposed to a larger audience, and so that would-be purchasers can make purchases more easily.  Most customers are in the USA and I’m shipping from Canada which runs up costs significantly.  I need a US distributor.  Some products can be shipped directly over the net.  The CDs, for instance, can all be made available as ISOs.  I know it can be done … I know how to make ISOs … I don’t know how to set it up so that people can make a purchase electronically and then download the ISO automatically.  If you do, I’d love to have your help!


There are so many things of this sort!

Doug’s Background in Biblical Studies   Top of page


There is a bit of background to me and this project that you should know about.


 I seem to have been born with “scriptural scholarship” in my blood … and when ACIM found me, my academic background in Biblical Studies defined my orientation … and led me to volunteer for this task.  There are many parallels between the Bible and ACIM, and one is that the “original wording” is uncertain due to less than completely reliable copying and some well-meaning but ill-advised editing which obscured the original message.  The “sources” for the New Testament are ancient manuscripts going back as early as, perhaps, the late first century in one case.  We have few manuscript fragments which are older than the fourth century, however.  In the past few hundred years, primary Biblical scholarship has sorted through these manuscripts at enormous depth and from them reconstructed far more of the ‘likely original’ than most would have imagined possible, and they’ve done so with an astonishing degree of “scholarly consensus.”  There are rather few significant passages in the Bible where there is any serious debate as to what the original likely was, and there are almost none where the textual evidence is in dispute … it’s just sometimes the interpretation of that evidence varies.


Students of the Bible then have something students of ACIM do not.  When they sit down to read, they have a thoroughly enumerated and authoritative text … they have at least the best that human scholarship can provide them!  They agree on “what the book says.”  That’s been settled long ago.


In the case of ACIM, we have an enormous embarrassment … unlike the Biblical Scholars whose original manuscripts are lost, ours exist, but very very little primary scholarship of any kind has been done on the material.  There are reasons for this I understand and I’m sure some I don’t, but I do understand one thing, it is absolutely essential for millions of people that this work of primary scholarship be done.  It is essential because if the Course were taken seriously, and included in such things as Comparative Religion classes, and available in accurate and authoritative editions, the Course would quickly assume a vastly higher profile the world over!  As long as the original source documents are kept from scholarly inquiry, as is the case with certain of them, and as long as the basic primary scholarship is not done, such that there is no good quality ‘consensus text’ of ACIM, ACIM will be indefensible against the critics and skeptics who suggest the presence of so much secrecy and deception and so many sham editions of the Course which are inaccurate and completely lacking in credibility, and the absence of good quality primary scholarship “proves” it’s all a fraud or a hoax or both, they need not look any further.  Those critics deserve an answer, and they deserve an open and honest one, but they are not getting it.


Well … actually they are getting it … and on this website is some serious, quality scholarship.  It’s only the start of a rather large project but at least it IS a start! 


And we can indeed provide them with the whole of the answer, it’s just a matter of time, or labour or money.

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If you’ve any background in primary textual scholarship, you know what needs doing. If you don’t, I’ll lay it out here briefly, and in doing so I’ll be telling you about some of the tasks for which I’m seeking volunteers … volunteers to do it or volunteers to donate money so I can hire people to do it.


The most obvious and straightforward task is proofreading.  In its very nature, proofreading is a chore, it’s not a lot of fun, and it’s not a “clubby” kind of activity and it does not appeal to volunteers.  I’m able to easily get volunteers to do almost anything except proofread.  Proofreading traditionally involves one person reading the copy out loud while the other follows along on the original by eye.  Discrepancies show up.  We use a computer voice synthesizer because it is actually more accurate.  The text of the Course takes about 40 hours to do a single pass, though the first pass takes three times that, because most of the errors are found on the first pass and must be corrected as they are detected.  So, yes, if I were paid to do this I could do a pass in a week.  Since I’m not paid to do this and must work to support myself, and squeeze the proofing into my ‘spare time’ … it takes several months to do a single pass usually.  I’ve done passes more quickly, but there is a great deal else I’m doing besides just proofreading.


Once we have accurate copies of original manuscripts then they need to be rendered into Concordances, and of course compared, and otherwise studied.  The first stage of primary scholarship is, however, simply getting the raw material into a computer with a very very high degree of accuracy.  This isn’t either complicated or especially difficult, but it is demanding, exacting, and tedious.  It’s also absolutely necessary and has not been done for more than a small part of the Course.


A radical claim    Top of page 


ACIM makes a radical and astounding claim.  It claims to have been authored by Jesus of Nazareth.  Whether or not you believe the claim is true, there can be no honest denial that the pages Helen Schucman scribed make that claim.  Either that claim is true or it isn’t.  If it is true, what we have here in ACIM is Scripture, plain and simple, on par with or even more important than the Bible.  If, on the other hand, this claim is not true then serious scholarly inquiry into this material and its origins should reveal in no uncertain terms the nature and dynamics of the fraud.


Either way, from the perspective of a Biblical Scholar, it’s important to study this material to find out.  If it’s a fraud, it’s a good enough fraud to fool a lot of ‘experts,’ and that means it’s good enough to fool a great many Christians.  If it’s a fraud, then, it’s a dangerous one and needs to be revealed and exposed because such a good fraud is in fact a danger to public safety.


If it’s not a fraud however, and it really is from Jesus, then surely this material is at least as important and worthy of detailed study as is the Bible!


I first read ACIM in 1998 when a Pentecostal pastor friend of mine asked for my “expert opinion” as one trained in Biblical Scholarship on the authorship of the material.  He asked me to determine the likelihood that it really was Jesus, and if not, what sort of background would a person need to produce such an unusual document?


I was sure that within hours I’d have pretty convincing proof it was a fraud, and some good ideas of the profile of the fraud artist.  With notebook in hand I set out to record every ‘suspect passage’ or indication that it wasn’t genuine.  Six weeks later when I finally finished my first reading of the first four volumes of ACIM, I had only two entries in my notebook.  In one case the words “I said” were associated with a Biblical quote generally attributed to St. Paul and in another a Biblical quote was rather badly mangled.  This would be supporting evidence if there were a great deal more, but by itself it is meaningless … or rather it means that if it’s a fraud it is a superb fraud.  I was convinced that Jesus was the author but also that the material had been tampered with, just as much of the Bible has been tampered with.  There are many signs, too numerous to list, in the early chapters of absolutely horrible style and incoherent passages and even unparseable sentences.  If Jesus, or indeed any person with a modest command of the English language was the source, then those who copied the words made a lot of mistakes or edited it extensively.  If Jesus was not the source and this was a fraud, then something very odd was going on!

Preliminary findings    Top of page 


Well my “findings” were welcomed in part, because my friend also believed it was from Jesus.  But he felt I was mistaken about the evidence of tampering.  He assured me that what was printed was “virtually unchanged” from what had been dictated by Jesus.  Since he rejected the second part of my findings, even though he agreed with the first part, I didn’t have much credibility as an “expert” in his eyes after that … at least until the pre-publication manuscripts started to appear which proved that the “tampering” had been even greater than I had detected.  But at least I’d detected some of it!  So my credibility was restored!  At least some of it!


It’s difficult to imagine a document more worthy of scholarly attention, and almost hard to imagine one in greater need of it.  It turns out that there are at least four “pre-publication” versions of ACIM, beginning with Helen Schucman’s original notebooks.  This original material exists, there is even a copy of it at the United States Copyright Office, several people known to me actually have copies, but no one will allow anyone to look at it or study it, let alone publish it for study!  That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.  Well the Copyright Office will actually let people look at, but not copy it, but only for a price.  Given that it is 3,000 pages … that’s a lot of “looking” …

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Some fragments of the Notes have been “liberated,” and two typescripts prepared by Schucman which predate the 1975 publication tell much of the “story of the editing.”  Far from being the ‘divinely guided” process in which the material was “virtually unchanged” save for deletions of “personal material” which the Scribes report, each time the Text volume was copied, a large number of typing errors were made and not detected.  Significant sections were re-written, but without any visible attempt to change meaning.  So these were not “corrections” but rather gratuitous paraphrasing.  In other cases meaning was changed but it appears rather obvious that a correct passage was rendered incorrect.  In some cases corrections were dictated and made, in other cases dictated and not made.


It’s clear that the original notes are not the “unadulterated authentic” version, there are errors in them and corrections to the errors dictated in them and further corrections and new material shows up as “dictated without notes” in later versions.


Overall the number of new errors introduced in each version outnumbers the corrections to previous errors which are made.  Now I haven’t counted and inventoried every single editorial change between each version, so I can’t be totally sure that those ratios will remain constant when they are all counted.  I have examined a thousand or so across five versions in some cases and four versions in all cases and that’s about the balance that I found.  There are a great many changes, the majority leave one wondering why any change was made at all, because there is no significant shift in meaning as a result, as one would expect of a genuine “error” correction. The next largest group of changes are mistakes, obvious and almost certainly inadvertent mistakes.  These range from spelling and grammar errors through inadvertent omission of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and in one case an entire page!  In all human copy-tying that I’ve been involved with a certain error rate is involved.  No human typist is 100% accurate, which is why publishers employ proofreaders.  Very obviously those editing ACIM did not adequately proofread the material they had copied against the source.  Kenneth Wapnick who was involved in the last phase of the editing told Robert Perry that no proofreading had been done.  I think Wapnick what Wapnick meant was no proofreading against earlier versions, not that they never checked the current draft for obvious mistakes.  They certainly did do some of that.


So there I found myself in late 2000 with copies of three of the “pre-publication manuscripts” in photocopy form, scans of the photocopies and “paper captures” of the scans which themselves were highly inaccurate, knowing that the “genuine ACIM” largely resided in this raw material the way a picture puzzle resides, in potential, when it’s in pieces in the box!  There were roughly 4,000 pages of material to sift through.  And I was still missing the 3,000 pages of the original Notes!


What was needed was to go through all versions, line by line, and track every editing change, identifying which were clearly corrections, which were clearly mistakes, and which were uncertain and required further study.  It was obvious to me from the ones I’d examined that of the significant editing changes which actually effect content, it was possible in most cases to be almost totally certain whether the change was a correction or a corruption and only a very few were genuinely debatable or uncertain.


To track the changes most efficiently, it would be helpful to have accurate machine-readable copies of each version!  Well I didn’t have anything more than a few fragments of two of the four but that really didn’t matter, there was plenty of work to do on the two I did have.  That work was firstly, proofreading so as to get a computer readable copy that was identical to the actual paper manuscript.  This is a conventional publishing industry chore, and the publishing industry employs professional proofreaders to do this and where a high standard of accuracy is needed, as is the case with this material, the industry standard is ten passes.  So I set out to do ten passes on each of the documents.


I set out to do that after waiting for three years for someone else to do it.  The need seemed to me rather obvious, as did the benefit, and I was sure that since so many millions of dollars were being donated to ACIM-related causes and activities, the cost of ten passes of proofing would be met by someone … or someones .. either though love or money.  Turns out it was, at least for one version … I volunteered and did it when no one else seemed to be doing it!


I spent a few months trying to get others interested, and did in fact receive dozens of offers of help, only one of which ever actually did any proofreading!


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