Confessions of a Divine Principle Editor

By Dan Fefferman

I had the privilege of working on both the 1973 edition of Divine Principle and consulting on the 1996 new translation, known as Exposition of the Divine Principle (EDP). Here, I offer some recollections and confessions, with a view toward giving our community some information for our reflection.

Prior to 1973, most of us in the USA used Dr. Young Oon Kim’s “Red Book” titled Divine Principle and Its Applicationor the blue study guide that complemented it. A smaller number used Sang Ik Choi’s Principles of Education. As part of his late 1971 push to unify the groups that had formed around the various Korean missionaries, Rev. Sun Myung Moon ordered the translation into English of the official Korean version of Divine Principle, Wolli Kangron. This task was given to Mrs. Won Pok Choi. She later told me she had to finish this work in great haste, over a period of 40 days, at the Soo Taek Rhee training center.

Sometime in 1972, Mrs. Choi’s text arrived in Washington, DC. Each chapter was given to a different editor, living in various centers, and we did not have a style sheet to guide us. Editors were relatively inexperienced and used various standards of punctuation and capitalization. In addition, there were lots of new terms.

Dr. Kim’s book was relatively short and did not use terms like “foundation of substance,” “foundation to receive the messiah,” or even “internal character and external form.” So in some chapters of Mrs. Choi’s translation, “foundation of substance” was rendered as “substantial foundation” or even “foundation of heart.” I myself changed “time-identity” to “time-indemnity” until I realized my error.

Editors agonized over whether Moses led the course of “restoration of Canaan” or “restoration into Canaan.” We also wondered how strict we should be about retaining “therefore,” instead of “thus” or “so.” Adding to the angst of the editors was the fact we had been instructed to stick closely to Mrs. Choi’s translation rather than risking a change in meaning. This meant avoiding changes in sentence structure and length.

In early 1973, Louise Berry (Strait) was given the painstaking task of bringing together the highly inconsistent work of the various editors. As the deadline threatened, I was brought in to finish the task, come hell or high water. Coordinating a staff of about a half a dozen, I decided it would be impossible to unify the disparate editorial standards in time and settled for achieving consistency within chapters instead. That is why, if you read a first edition of the “Black Book,” you may notice that “National Course of Restoration” is capitalized in one chapter but not in another, or that “world-wide” is hyphenated here, but not there, for example.

I recall long hours burning the midnight oil in the basement of Varnum House. As we were finally about to go to press, Father arrived for a brief stay at Upshur House, a short walk away. Hearing there were problems with editing, he demanded that it be absolutely flawless. However, we were already at the “blueline” (proof) stage, meaning that photographic negatives had already been produced in preparation for burning lithographic printing plates. Very few changes are normally allowed at this point, because each change needs to separately photographed and carefully “stripped in” by the printers.

So, we had to pull several “all-nighters,” trying our best to weed out any errors we could catch. We found hundreds of them, and if you look carefully at a first edition, you may be able to discern where some of them are (a word or phrase that has been stripped in may appear slightly lighter or bolder than the surrounding type). The most embarrassing flaw for me personally was one that nearly crept into the chapter on Moses’ course.  It stated that after Moses led them through the Red Sea, “God drowned all the pursing Israelites,” rather than the pursuing Egyptians. Louise recalls a printer’s proof in which the title page read “DEVINE PINCIPLE”!

What, no Korean?

It was during these final stages of the editorial process that Father called me to Upshur House and gave me a remarkable instruction. I had been at Varnum House, working on the bluelines, when Dr. Kim called me on the phone and told me to come right away to Upshur and bring the bluelines of the final chapter. I hurried over to find her and Father Moon in the front sitting room. I spread the blueline on the coffee table, and Dr. Kim found the section Father wanted to discuss. She pointed to three or four paragraphs. Father then drew lines through them and said to me, “These paragraphs, take out!” This was the section that explains that Korean must be the language of the unified world.

We finally went to press, and the Black Book appeared in early summer 1973. It was far from flawless. It was also very hard for the reader to get through. And so, even before the first edition was distributed, we began working on a second.

Second edition

Here, a note of clarification is in order. There were only two editions of Mrs. Choi’s translation, both published in 1973. The first edition was printed only once, a thick black book of 643 pages. There were many printings of the second edition, some brown, some black; some hardcover, some paperback. However, for some reason, each new printing of the second edition was called a new “edition” on its title page. The only differences between these printings had to do with the size of the type, color of the cover (black or brown), kind of paper used, and whether the book was paperback or hardcover. They should have been called “printings,” not “editions.” (I own a “second edition” black hardcover version published in 1973, which is indeed a second edition. But I also own a “fifth edition” brown paperback version of this book published in 1977. In reality, this “fifth edition” is the fourth printing of the second edition! Readers who own any “edition” of Mrs. Choi’s translation other than the 643-page first edition can presume it is the second edition. As far as I know, second editions are always 536 pages long.)

The second edition was compiled by a three-person editing team consisting of Ron O’Keefe, Felice Walton (Hart) and myself, during the summer of 1973.  We worked at Belvedere, in an office on the second floor of Carriage House, above the room where Father used to speak to trainees.  I still have the first edition I used in this process, complete with editing marks. After we finished our work on Part I of this edition, Ron continued on his own to complete Part II.

For this edition, our instructions were less strict than with the first edition. We were allowed to rework sentences and change idiomatic expressions. Although most readers still find this version of DP to be “tough sledding,” it is certainly an easier read than the first edition.

The second edition team was fortunate to have both Mrs. Choi and Rev. Young Whi Kim available for occasional consultation that summer. Mrs. Choi was often at Belvedere with True Father, and Rev. Kim, who had just published his own DP lecture manual, was leading the 100-day Belvedere training session. Ever humble, Mrs. Choi apologized more than once for her “poor translation,” which was completed in such haste.

Neither Mrs. Choi nor Rev. Kim was slavishly devoted to the Korean text. If the team found what we thought was an error, they were open to discussing it and occasionally authorized changes. They also agreed that the section which Father had omitted from the first edition, regarding Korean as the future world language, should also be omitted from the second edition.

Another change, directed by Rev. Kim, had to do with description of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: Did it symbolize immature Eve or perfect Eve? The first edition stated this tree symbolizes “Eve in perfection.” However, Rev. Kim reported he had discussed this issue with Father Moon, and that Father had authorized him to teach instead that it symbolized simply “Eve” or “woman,” implying that the goodness or evil of her character had not yet been determined. Thus, the second edition contains the following:

“…When we find in the Garden of Eden a tree symbolizing [first ed.: perfect] manhood, we know there must be another tree symbolizing [first ed.: perfect] womanhood. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was described as standing with the Tree of Life (Gen. 2:9), was thus the symbol of Eve.”

The second edition not only omits the adjective “perfect” to describe Eve here, but substantially rewrites the last sentence, which, in the first edition reads as follows:

“The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was described as standing with the Tree of Life (Genesis 2:9), was the symbol of ‘womanhood having fulfilled the ideal of creation,’ the symbol of Eve in perfection.”

Between 1973 and 1996, the second edition Black Book was the standard English DP text, but most new members were introduced to the Principle through lectures. At least two manuals were created by Rev. Young Whi Kim for this purpose. There was also a six-volume Divine Principle Home Study Course published by HSA headquarters. Later, Father Moon instructed that a series of two-hour, four-hour and eight-hour lectures be created, with accompanying texts.

The author with three different editions of the Divine Principle book.

Outline of the Principle, Level 4 became the more-or-less standard text used in the USA during the early-to-mid 1980s. Published in 1980, this book was written by Rev. C.H. Kwak, based on Wolli Kangron, “to help readers understand The Principle and to be used as a lecture outline.” The title “Level 4” seems to be based on its relation to the two-hour, four-hour and eight-hour lecture booklets.

An expanded “Level 5” version was nearing completion in 1986, with substantial input from Western Unificationist scholars. I worked on it part-time for one quarter while a student at UTS.  The project was scrapped when Father Moon declared that Wolli Kangron must remain the standard. He then ordered a new translation of that text, which was published in 1996. I was disappointed by this decision, because I believe the DP, being “a textbook teaching the truth” rather than the Truth itself, needs many new expressions.

Exposition of the Principle

My work on the 1996 translation, Exposition of the Divine Principle, was relatively minor. I gave feedback on a draft of the text and recall a couple of formal discussions with the editors in New York. There is no doubt in my mind that the 1996 translation represents an improvement over Mrs. Choi’s earlier version, and I suspect she agreed.

I have not done a systematic comparison of the two translations, but a few things stand out. First, EDP represents not only a new translation but also includes several substantive changes. One notable change is the use of new biblical proof-texts to replace some of the old ones, which were considered weak by readers with experience in biblical studies.

For example, in the original Wolli Kangron, the following quote from St. Paul is used to support the idea that Jesus did not come to die: “… for if they [the rulers of the age] had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” But, in context, Paul is actually arguing in favor of the predestination of the Cross, which he considered to be God’s plan from the beginning.

To compare: the 1973 second edition of DP says,

“…we can see that Jesus’ crucifixion was the result of the ignorance and disbelief of the Jewish people and was not God’s predestination to fulfill the whole purpose of Jesus’ coming as the Messiah. I Corinthians 2:8 says, ‘None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’  This should be sufficient proof.”

But the 1996 EDP says,

“we can deduce that Jesus’ death on the cross was the unfortunate outcome of the ignorance and disbelief of the people of his day; it was not necessary for the complete fulfillment of his mission as the Messiah. This is well illustrated by Jesus’ last words on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’” (Luke 23:34)

The above comparison of the 1973 and 1996 versions also points up another important contribution of the new version. It softened DP’s approach to the question of Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion. Thus, where the 1973 version speaks of the “ignorance and disbelief of the Jewish people,” the 1996 version speaks of “the ignorance and disbelief of the people of his day.” Several other examples of this softening can be found elsewhere in the 1996 text.

Regarding the two previously mentioned substantive changes Father Moon had authorized, both of them were rejected by the EDP editing team. Thus, Exposition of the Divine Principle includes the paragraphs affirming that Korean will be the language of the unified world. And, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil — which for 23 years had symbolized immature Eve — once again “represents the ideal woman, perfected Eve.”

No doubt there are many additional differences between EDP and the earlier translation which are worth investigating, and I’m sure readers will comment on some they have noticed.

It should be noted Divine Principle is not currently one of the three core scriptures in the era of Cheon Il Guk; moreover, True Mother Moon intriguingly stated in March that “In the future, the Divine Principle will need many updates. What I mean is that theories from the Completed Testament Age do not suffice.” Perhaps she is alluding to the possibility of a major 21st century revision of the original Korean edition of DP.

I consider myself very fortunate to have worked on the editing of several English editions of DP, as well as on various publications of Rev. Moon’s words. This experience has given me first-hand insight into the experience of both ancient and modern scribes dealing with sacred scripture. I hope to discuss with colleagues and readers the various issues and problems we face in approaching this process.♦

Dan Fefferman (UTS Class of 1986) is a member of the UTS Board of Trustees and President of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom. He is also the composer of several well-known Unificationist holy songs.

14 thoughts on “Confessions of a Divine Principle Editor

  1. Excellent, Dan! Now I can understand why, during “official DP” study time, half of my MFT team would be “nodding” in agreement with numerous passages! The first “black book” of which I am a proud owner and peruser, was indeed “a slog” which I attempted, and ultimately succeeded many times. Good insights.

    Also, my Japanese wife, who speaks and reads and writes excellent English, was often engaged in translation of TF’s recent speeches from Japanese notes to English and vice versa. I often assisted her when she was flummoxed more than once or twice by incomprehensible and/or incoherent passages (perhaps the note taker was also “nodding” in agreement?) and trying to “make reasonable sense” of it all. So I was introduced to the fragility of the “absolute truth of God” and the perils of…interpretation. A good experience. It probably has made me less prone to “outrage” by the current detractors of TM by the adherents of the SC movement regarding her “changing of TF words”. “Deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out”? Bob Seeger – “Against the Wind”.

  2. Dan,

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is a valuable article, both for its reporting of history and its insights into the confluence of the divine and human, the eternal and temporal, in the writing of the Word.

    One question: I’ve had the recollection of picking up the first edition of Divine Principle while living in the Regent Street Center in Oakland shortly after I joined, late January 1973. Yet you say it was not published until early that summer. Are you sure of that date? If so, my memory will stand corrected.

  3. God’s revelation is constantly changing. Divine Principle black book is just the foundation for other guidance to follow. There is so much more to find out about God, our Creator, and Parent. Unless we are firmly cemented in understanding what has been given, we cannot understand how God is working in today’s world through the Family Federation and outside world leaders. True Parents’ word and teaching are new — thus we don’t need the old religious teachings any longer. Satan’s control over this world is old, so why do we continue to listen to his history, teaching, and current information to lead us? Yet, we do. We don’t see the lion sleeping with the lamb. We resort to old habits and old ways. God didn’t provide the best people to support Jesus. Well, the same can be said of those followers of True Parents. God brings those inspired when ready. But those inspired don’t stay all the time. And even those that stay stop growing, and fall back to old ways. True Mother, the female aspect of God, has been silent far too long. As the Chosen Daughter of God, let us never forget her position and authority. Mere mortals can’t interpret what they don’t know. That’s the reason God continually sends us messages, but for only those with ears to hear and eyes to see.

  4. Wow, Dan – such amazing experiences you’ve had with the DP!

    The experience with Father and “These paragraphs, take out!” is precious! As for your latter comment about the DP not being in the “3 Core Scriptures,” it is in the 8 Core Textbooks that True Father proclaimed toward the end of his life. I hope some day someone (you perhaps) will have the opportunity to ask True Mother a question about the primacy of DP and sacred texts.

  5. Thank you very much, Dan, for this historic account of the production of the Divine Principle. This is a valuable piece of information about something that many sold as “A Revelation from God.” But we know that there are many intermediaries used to actually write down and record “revelations.” The more transparency there is about the process, the better people are able to make judgments about texts. Biblical scholars would find such accounts of construction of biblical texts a treasure trove of information, that would help lay to rest various speculations and theories.

    I have always been skeptical about claims of inerrancy and literalism, and I believe one of the most serious problems today is that many Muslims do not realize that the Koran was constructed from various revelations from Mohammed that were memorized orally by followers in a heavily illiterate society and collected, written down, and organized thematically after his death. Religious leaders and institutions use these claims of inerrancy to prop up their own power over others, preventing the maturation of followers, and turning an institution designed for growth into an institution of oppression.

    It took Christianity a long time to accept Biblical Criticism as not being sacrilegious. And, it is healthy for Unificationists to understand this process and use their own reason and hearts to draw conclusions.

    Whenever collections of True Father’s or True Mother’s words are organized, I like to know who the editors are, what their educational background is, who instructed them or paid them to do the editing, etc. If excerpts are taken from speeches and reassembled independent of the original context, some of the spiritual intent of the utterances can be lost. A video presentation of True Father speaking to a group and knowledge of the reason, occasion, of the meeting generates a much more accurate understanding than finding a sentence from that speech cut and reassembled into a topical treatment of Father’s words.

    Unification Theological Seminary, in its early years — which these still are — should be able to do this type of constructive analysis of texts in order to get closer to the truth as “being,” rather than truth in literal correspondence to “facts” described by words.

  6. Dear Mr. Fefferman,

    Thank you for contributing this article. I am interested in this quote from your article:

    “Regarding the two previously mentioned substantive changes Father Moon had authorized, both of them were rejected by the EDP editing team. Thus, Exposition of the Divine Principle includes the paragraphs affirming that Korean will be the language of the unified world.”

    Is there any reason why True Father wanted to remove those four paragraphs regarding the Korean language becoming the language of the unified world? Furthermore, why did the editing team reject this instruction?

    I’d appreciate if you could provide some insight on this.

  7. Thank you, Dan, for this informative article. I own and have read both the 1973 version and the 1996 Exposition many times. It is kind of sad that we have to always rush things to make deadlines instead of taking the time to do it right, but I guess that was the nature of the providence while Father was alive. Thanks also for all your great songs.

  8. I really appreciate this article from Dan Fefferman. It is a topic dear to my heart. In January 1982, I began working under Dr. Bo Hi Pak as the transcriptionist and editor of Father’s public speeches, mostly at Belvedere and the World Mission Center (New Yorker). I inherited this mission from Margaret Herbers and from Elena Barros. Before Margaret, there had been a lot of poorly edited (and vetted) speeches published, and they became powerful fodder for the “anti-cult” groups. Many of you remember the famous phrase, “I am your brain,” which was attributed to one of TF’s speeches in the ’70s and used, along with others, to scare the heck out of American parents and get more deprogramming customers.

    Just to support the points made by Dan, there were many word and phrase changes made by humble people like me, who were typing and editing and proofreading translations of the speeches. And by 1982, no speech was published without being checked by the legal team in 43rd St. This was for obvious reasons. I had this Speech Library mission until 1989 and worked with several other wordsmiths. My personal background was a B.A. in English. I did not attend UTS.

    I have been flabbergasted in recent years by accusations from the SC group about “changing the words” spoken by TF. First of all, the translators (Bo Hi Pak, Sang Kil Han, Peter Kim, etc.) did their work in real time, no way to prepare (other than prayer) for the things that might come out of Father’s mouth. There was a noticeable difference between the phrases used by Dr. Pak and Col. Han. The latter seemed to be trying to form grammatically correct English sentences, which became rather long and winding, while Dr. Pak was more succinct and less grammatically concerned. But neither one of their translations could possibly be published without lots of editing.

  9. Dan Fefferman is an accomplished songwriter and singer of the Completed Testament Age. He also struck out very well as a popular advocate of interfaith harmony. Now, here he comes as a DP historian, providing a heart-touching testimony to generate such mature and spiritually enriching conversation as above — to the credit of everyone involved.

    Thank you, Dan!

  10. It is an interresting story. Thank you, Mr. Fefferman, for revealing the history of DP editing. This can give us light on how revelation needs to be modeled to meet believers’ needs and how revelation has to respond to those who receive it. The truth is there between the revealer and the receiver, and understanding the truth can only be done in context spiritually, socially, politically, and culturally. Understanding the Divine Principle is no exception.

  11. This is a very important article, Dan. We became too arrogant believing that every word of the DP was absolute. It did not help us in our relationship with other faith traditions. This article helps us be humble before the truth. Hopefully we can focus on the essence of the word instead of the word alone.

  12. Not going quite so far back (except in meditation, perhaps), having worked with Dan, a bit, on the Encyclopedia, other works, etc., this is surely essential legacy exposition. The primary lesson appears to be that the concept of “the infallible word” (of God) is, at least, suspicious. Many thanks. Onward.

    P.S. “What no Korean?” …priceless!

  13. Thank you, Dan, this is very enlightening. I still have my 1973 edition, but what I learned the most from was the green “Level 4” outline of DP with all the charts. I brought several spiritual children due to this.

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