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.

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