What Exactly IS the ‘Original Edition’?

We were asked recently to clearly explain what exactly is the ‘Original Edition’ and how does it compare to the early xeroxed copies of the manuscript made before formal publication.
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 In 1969 the scribing of the Text and Workbook was finished by Helen Schucman and co-scribe Bill Thetford. This resulted in what is referred to as the ‘Urtext’. The pages stand about 2 feet high when placed in a stack. At this time a lengthy process of retyping the Course began. Bill Thetford was adamant that no changes be made other than correcting the typing errors and removing specifically personal material. Jesus designated Bill to be the one in charge of all changes.

In the Spring of 1972 the dictation of the third volume, Manual for Teachers, began. In September 1972 the retyping of the text was completed. The transcribing of the third and final volume, the Manual for Teachers, was completed.

When Helen and Bill finished the manuscript in 1972, they made about 12 copies and put them in their closet. [Bill Thetford mentions this in one of the Course videos]. The movie implies, however, that these copies were the copies created when all of the edits were finished in 1975, but they are not, as you will see in this discussion.

The copies in their closet were actually of the ‘original edition’ which has now been published by Course in Miracles Society [CIMS]. Helen Schucman and Bill allegedly gave unrestricted copies of their finished work to a few people. The ones we know of are: Cal Thatcher, a close friend of Helen’s; Fr. Benedict Groeshel, CFR, student of Helen’s; Hugh Lynn Cayce, son of psychic Edgar Cayce and Kenneth Wapnick, a clinical psychologist, who had recently converted to Catholicism and is informed of Bill and Helen through Father Groeshel. [It should be noted that it had been sent to Hugh Lynn Cayce in the hopes that his association might publish it, according to letters between Hugh Lynn Cayce and the scribes.]

As noted, Ken Wapnick was included in the group of six people receiving one of the 12 copies of the 1972 manuscript. We know from his statements on various Course videos that he was thoroughly intrigued by this manuscript when he had heard about it from his friend Father Groeshel. When Ken returned from Israel in the early part of 1973 he came to see Helen and asked to see the manuscript. In approximately six months, after becoming a close friend of Helen’s, at the end of 1973, Ken encouraged her to work with him to edit the document in order to make it more ‘printer ready’. Ken describes, in his own words what transpired at this time:

“I commented to Helen and Bill that I thought the manuscript needed some additional editing. Some of the personal and professional material still remained, and seemed inappropriate for a published edition.” Absence From Felicity” CH 12 “The Editing”.

This was the editing project which Ken and Helen finished in a little over a year, i.e. in the spring of 1975. Full copyright timeline is here: Copyright TimeLine

Therefore, the xerox copies that Judith Skutch Whitson made and distributed were not the ‘original edition’. Judith Skutch met Helen, Bill and Ken in 1975, after the editing project had been completed. The manuscript was typed one final time by an elderly Maryknoll Sister and was ready for its journey into the public arena as a trimmed down and publication ready A COURSE IN MIRACLES.

However, the 1972 manuscript was only ever seen by those few people mentioned earlier. As many of you may know, eventually in 1996 there was a law suit brought against Endeavor Academy by the copyright holders of ACIM. The Endeavor Academy lawyers needed to prove pre-copyright distribution. No one knew that the ‘original edition’ existed until it was located at the Association for Research and Enlightenment [A.R.E.] Library during the ‘discovery phase’ of the litigation, in 1999. As we mentioned previously, by some miracle, Helen and Bill had sent Hugh Lynn Cayce a copy of the manuscript when it was finished in 1972, before meeting Ken Wapnick. Some say the manuscript was stolen from the A.R.E. Library and some say they were given permission to make a copy. [This copy of the early 1972 manuscript has been named the Hugh Lynn Cayce or HLC manuscript.]

In any case, after the HLC manuscript was discovered it essentially blew everyone’s mind! That was in 1999. The Course community was previously told for 24 years that only minor changes in punctuation and title headings had been made during the editing project in 1975. They had no idea, until this discovery, that 25% of the first 5 chapters were removed when Helen and Ken edited the manuscript in 1973; most of all the capitalized words were changed to lower case, and replaced  with italicized in only a few cases; 53 principles went to 50; sections were rearranged and major portions were deleted. 127 references to “Soul” were changed to 12. The word “Soul” was either deleted or changed to another word such as: creations, you, spirit. Here is a side by side comparison of the changes: http://bit.ly/n0gNgh

It should also be noted that the Urtext [rough, original typing from shorthand notes] was obtained legally from the Library of Congress by the parties being sued: Endeavor Academy and CIMS. A copy was illegally leaked from Endeavor Academy.

COPYRIGHT LITIGATION OUTCOME http://www.enotes.com/topic/A_Course_in_Miracles

“Beginning in June, 1996, and ending in April, 2003, a copyright lawsuit initiated by Penguin Books and FIP* was brought against the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor for their unlimited independent publication of substantial portions of A Course in Miracles. It was found that the contents of the FIP first edition, published from 1976 through 1992, are in the public domain. However, copyright in all of the changes introduced in the Second Edition remains intact, as does the copyright for the Text Preface and the two supplementary pamphlets, Psychotherapy and Song of Prayer, as well as Schucman’s poetry, The Gifts of God.” [end of excerpt]

This means that the urtext, HLC, special messages, Helen’s unpublished works and all prior renditions of the work were deemed to be included in its copyright which was now overturned in this judgment. When the Course was found to have been placed in the public domain, that ruling also applied to the predecessor renditions.

After Judge Sweet overturned the copyright in 2003 Robert Perry of the Circle of Atonement wrote a very informative article. Robert Perry’s full article is here: http://bit.ly/pB1Shw  This is an EXCERPT from Robert Perry’s article:

“The judge categorically sided with the original version of the story. According to him, this is what happened: Helen “Schucman was embarrassed by her scribing and considered it her ‘guilty secret.’” Fearing for their professional reputations at Columbia University, she and Bill Thetford originally “chose to keep [the Course] a secret.” That is why they didn’t put a copyright notice on it, even though they were accustomed to copyrighting their professional articles.” [end of excerpt]

It’s interesting that in Robert Perry’s article there is a bit of history left out between the paragraph that starts with, “The judge categorically sided with the original version of the story…” and the next paragraph “Shortly after receiving the manuscript, Judy then took the Course to California, in two key trips that took place in June and July of 1975.”

What is left out is that In between the manuscript being given to several people by Helen and Bill in 1972 and when it was distributed in 1975, there was the completion of the editing project undertaken by Helen and Ken Wapnick. No wonder people are confused. Bill Thetford had chosen not to take part in this editing project, eventually moving to California in 1980.

We are just happy that we have the freedom NOW to read any version that we choose. When “Absence from Felicity” was published by Kenneth Wapnick we longed to read the special messages and the original manuscript and the Urtext [very first typing before HLC] and now we can!

We hope that this answers a lot of your questions and if you have any further questions, please post them here. ♥

~ Course in Miracles Society

*FIP – Foundation for Inner Peace

FINAL Court Ruling: http://www.jcim.net/Images/Copyright/Penguin BooksUSAvNew ChristianChurch288FSupp2d544-Dist.pdf

COMPARISON of Various Versions of the Course: https://cimsmiracles.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/acim-comparisons/

MORE Information here: https://cimsmiracles.wordpress.com/

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