The focus of the Research Department memorandum is restricted to answering a narrowly-stated accusation:
The memorandum proceeds to argue that Mr. Beckwith distorted the passage in question.
The issue is much broader than that, a fact the research department was certainly aware of, but they focused on elements of Beckwith's argument with the purpose of discrediting him, probably because they knew a thorough review of the controversy would not serve them well.
Let's look at the first four editions of the New Era:
1,2. There were major revisions in 1923 and 1937. Shoghi Effendi oversaw the 1937 revision. These first two editions included an apparent prophecy of world peace pointing to 1957.
3. In 1950, there was another major revision, also overseen by Shoghi Effendi (refer to the book). In this edition, a new passage replaced the old passage. The new passage indicated a similar prophecy, but this one pointed to 1963.
4. The next revision, in 1970, supplied yet another prophecy which removed the element of world peace from the prophecy, while preserving the date. Note that the prophecy was not removed in 1970, but rather it was replaced by a less explicit prophecy, after the target date of the prophecy had already passed.
This was no mere cover-up, but rathera whole series of editorial bunglings. The Research Department memorandum submits:
In reality, a "Note on Revisions" had been added to the 1946 edition, stating:
P. 303: "the end of the 1,335 days." The Guardian has written that in the Baha'i teachings themselves there is nothing to indicate that any definite degree of world peace will be established by 1957, nor by 1963, the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Baha'u'llah. The Baha'is understand that the process of spiritual regeneration and social order is evolutionary, and that no human powers can prevent the final consummation of the divine promise.
J. E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era",
(Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1946), p. ix)
There was actually no 1946 edition, but there was a 1946 printing. The Research Department is correct in stating that the annotation was provided in the 1946 printing. Strangely, though, the note was not present in any other printing/edition that I have seen, and I have seen quite a few.
The first 4 editions were in 1923, 1937, 1950, and 1970. Check a copy of the book. The previous editions are documented at the front.
Why did the Research Department fail to present these facts? Keep this question in mind as we continue.
In the 1966 printing of the 1950 edition, the 1950 version of the prophecy is intact. The "notes on revisions" begin as follows:
Since 1937, when Dr. Esslemont's book was first revised under the direction of Shoghi Effendi, further correction and alteration has become necessary by reason of important developments in the progress of the Faith ...
Perhaps they ought to have added "or lack thereof."
These "notes on revisions," by the way, make no comment about the passage in question. There is no evidence of such a revision or note thereof anywhere in the book.
Just as important, if Shoghi Effendi approved of the 1937 edition, why the
need for such annotations in 1946? And more importantly, it is documented that
Shoghi Effendi oversaw the 1950 revision; so why was the 1946 note removed at
The 1970 edition goes so far as to claim that no revision had been made since 1937, except for some minor changes in 1950:
Since 1937 no revision has been made to the text of Dr. Esslemont's book, although in 1950 some minor corrections were introduced.
Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Preface to 1970 Edition
We know that changes were made in 1970, so the above statement is inaccurate. Furthermore, calling the changes in 1950 "minor" shows questionable editorial judgement.
To sum it up ...
Was `Abdu'l-Bahá a false prophet?
Was there a cover-up?
More than one, and the Research Department of the UHJ has only served to deepen the hole with their reponse to Mr. Beckwith.
Let's hear it for good old-fashioned editorial micro-management and bungling!
 The Research Department's summary of the 1923 version
of the prophecy:
On page 212 of the first edition, which was published in 1923 by Allen & Unwin in London (see attached photocopy) and Brentano's in New York, he states:
In a table-talk at which the writer was present, `Abdu'l-Bahá
"These 1,335 days mean 1,335 solar years from the Hijrat."
(Flight of Muhammad from Medina to Mecca, marking the beginning of the Muhammadan era.)
Dr. Esslemont then calculates the date when the prophecy will be
fulfilled and quotes a second utterance of `Abdu'l-Baha:
As the Hijrat occurred in 622 A.D., the date referred to is, therefore, 1957 (i.e. 622 + 1,335) A.D. Asked: "What shall we see at the end of the 1,335 days?" he replied:--
Universal Peace will be firmly established, a Universal language promoted. Misunderstandings will pass away. The Baha'i Cause will be promulgated in all parts and the oneness of mankind established. It will be most glorious!
 From the 1950 Edition:
`Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets make it clear that this prophecy refers to the one-hundredth anniversary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, or the year 1963. Asked what will be manifest after the 1,335 "days," he replied: Universal peace will be firmly established, a Universal language promoted. Misunderstandings will pass away. The Bahá'í Cause will be promulgated in all parts and the oneness of mankind established. It will be most glorious!
Esslemont, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, 1950 Edition, pg. 303
 From the 1970 Edition:
` Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets make it clear that this prophecy refers to the one-hundredth anniversary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, or the year 1963:-
Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation whereof thou didst ask, namely, "Blessed is he who cometh unto the thousand, three hundred and thirty-five days." These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar years. For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the divine light shall flood the world from the East even unto the West. Then, on that day, will the faithful rejoice!
Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, 1970 Edition, pg. 250