The Versions of A Course in Miracles

Q: What are the differences between the First and Second Editions?

The Second Edition of A Course in Miracles appeared in 1992. It differs from the First Edition primarily in these ways:

  1. The presence of reference numbering for every section, paragraph, and sentence
  2. The addition of a small amount of accidentally omitted material
  3. Changes in a few phrases (for instance, the plural "you" was often changed to "you and your brother"), and in some capitalizations
  4. Different page numbering as a result of the added material and slightly larger type
  5. Section titles have been added at the top of every page.

Q: References to the Second Edition of the Course give a letter followed by three of four numbers. What does this mean?

In the Second Edition, first published in 1992, all parts of the book are numbered. In the Text, numbering is applied to chapters, sections, paragraphs, and sentences. For example, T-17.III.7:3 means:

Text, Chapter 17, section III, paragraph 7, sentence 3

This refers to the sentence "Whom God has joined as one, the ego cannot put asunder" which can be found on page 332 of the Text in the First Edition.

References are made in the following ways:

Text: T-Chapter.Section.Paragraph:Sentence
Workbook: W-Part (I or II).Lesson.Paragraph:Sentence
Manual for Teachers: M-Section.Paragraph:Sentence
Clarification of Terms: C-Section.Paragraph:Sentence
Psychotherapy supplement P-Chapter.Section.Paragraph:Sentence
Song of Prayer supplement: S-Chapter.Section.Paragraph:Sentence

A few sections of the Course necessitate subsection letters as reference, e.g., T-6.V(A).1:1.

Q: What are the earlier versions of the Course that have emerged recently?

A couple of earlier versions of the Course have emerged recently:

  • The Hugh Lynn Cayce Version: This version was an attempt by Helen and Bill to turn the very rough original dictation of the Urtext (see below) into a clean and readable manuscript. It is called the "Hugh Lynn Cayce Version" because it was the version sent to Hugh Lynn Cayce, the son of famed psychic Edgar Cayce. It is also known by the name "Jesus' Course in Miracles."
  • The Urtext: This is an earlier version than the Hugh Lynn Cayce Version. It was Bill's original typing from Helen's shorthand notebooks. The word urtext means "original text," and is often used to refer to the original manuscript of a musical score or literary work.

The main difference between these versions and the standard version published by the Foundation for Inner Peace is that they have less editing (fewer word changes, less rearranging of material, etc.) and more material in the early chapters of the Text (including personal material for Helen and Bill, and material discussing a wide variety of topics, including sex, psychology, possession, Edgar Cayce, the structure of the mind, etc.). Many people have gotten a lot out of reading these earlier versions–especially the additional material in the early chapters, in which Jesus speaks in a very down-to-earth way about specific issues.

There is currently a debate in the Course community about which of the versions of the Course is closest to what Jesus intended to have published. Our position at the Circle is that none of the versions is the "perfect" version, but all are helpful aids in gaining a deeper understanding of Jesus' message. We would like to see a new edit of the Course, one which is designed to be useful for the student, and which hews as closely as possible to the editing instructions Jesus actually gave Helen and Bill.

For a detailed discussion of the earlier versions and how they came about, see Robert Perry's article The Earlier Versions and the Editing of A Course in Miracles.