Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 9, 2008

The Need for a Critical Edition of Reverend Moon's Words

Andrew Wilson
Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 9, 2008

In the history of religion, the work of collecting and preserving the founder’s words normally becomes a priority in the years immediately after his passing. Thus the Gospels were collected and written some 40 years after Jesus’ passing, and the leaves of Muhammad’s revelation were collected as the Qur’an within 20 years of his death. This same priority is emerging in the Unification movement, where Reverend Moon is in his later years. Although the UM enjoys all the advantages of modern technology for preserving and publishing the words of the founder, technology also makes it easy to edit those words before they reach the printed page. There are also some unique issues, among them translation -- Rev. Moon preaches in three languages. Although the FFWPU has been consciously setting up a corpus of official writings, notably the Cheon Seong Gyeong[1] and the Pyung Hwa Hoon Gyeon[2], both composed based upon selections from Moon Sun Myung Seonsaeng Malseum Seonjip [Sermons of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon][3], the large corpus of his sermons given over more than 60 years, many of the texts suffer from distortions introduced by translators and editors. There is need for scholars to establish a critical edition of the Rev. Moon’s sermons that preserves what he has spoken in exact detail.

As someone who has been involved in editing Rev. Moon’s translated speeches for more than ten years, I have learned some of the challenges that the task of translation requires. For example, for the recently published text World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon[4], the work of translation occupied the editors and their staff for two full years. Korean and English are so dissimilar that translation between them is extremely difficult. Furthermore, Rev. Moon has a unique vocabulary and often gives his Korean words shades of meaning that are distinct from secular Korean. However, while it is well known that many existing English translations fall short, I came to recognize that there are problems in the underlying Korean as well.

Lack of Reliable English Translations

Although thousands of pages of Rev. Moon’s words have been translated into English, the translations are of varying quality. Least reliable are the large corpus of Sunday sermons given at the Belvedere Training Center in Tarrytown, New York, which were delivered in Korean with consecutive translation. The translators, who were caught up in the heat of grasping the words of the extemporaneous sermon, often took considerable liberties paraphrasing and elaborating upon the thought rather than striving for accuracy with his words. They often felt it necessary to adjust the content to be more comprehensible to a Western audience. While these sermons can be drawn upon for inspiration, they can by no means be taken as an accurate representation of Rev. Moon’s words. Accurate translation requires that the translator begin from the official Korean text or from a transcription of the original audiotapes.

One infamous example of inaccurate translation is this paragraph from “The Significance of the Training Session,” given at Belvedere Training Center on May 17, 1973 and translated by Won Pok Choi. It contained material that opponents of the church in the 1970s and 80s used to quote as evidence of the church’s allegedly anti-democratic politics: “We must have an automatic theocracy to rule the world.” When this quotation was cited as evidence in a legal proceedings brought by the British government in the 1984 in their unsuccessful effort to strip the church of its Charity status[5], I was commissioned to review the text for accuracy. After obtaining the original audiotape, I had the passage transcribed and translated from the transcription. The extemporaneous translation (left) and the translation from transcription of the audiotape (right) are shown side-by-side:

Published translation

Translated from transcribed audiotape

My dream is to organize a Christian political party including the Protestant denominations, Catholics and all the religious sects. Then, the communist power will be helpless before ours. We are going to do this because the communists are coming to the political scene. Before the pulpit, all the ministers of the established churches must give their sermon on how to smash or absorb communism -- but they are not doing that. We are going to do this. Unless we lay the foundation for this, we cannot carry it out

In the Medieval Ages, they had to separate from the cities -- statesmanship from the religious field -- because people were corrupted at that time. But when it comes to our age, we must have an automatic theocracy to rule the world. So, we cannot separate the political field from the religious. Democracy was born because people ruled the world, like the Pope does. Then, we come to the conclusion that God has to rule the world, and God-loving people have to rule the world -- and that is logical. We have to purge the corrupted politicians, and the sons of God must rule the world. The separation between religion and politics is what Satan likes most.[6]

It is Teacher’s dream to make an international-level Christian political party, a coalition of Catholics and Protestants throughout the world. That is, I desire to create a Christian political party centering on our Unification Church in each country, gathering all Catholics, Protestants and non-religious people from throughout the world. Then we should quickly dissuade people from Communism. Because Communism is gaining political influence, it is Teacher’s view that things will get worse unless we democratic Christians build a similar foundation. These days, Catholic priests and Protestant ministers ought to preach that we should act in order to stop international Communism. They are not doing that now. I think this is needed because I believe it is impossible to effectively stop Communism unless this kind of foundation is built.

That religion and politics should be separated is a theory that arose at the end of the Middle Ages to prevent the misuse of power after the Papacy had become corrupt. Let’s see, how did democracy start? What was its source? Democracy was born out of the Reformation against the corrupt Catholic Church. Because of this origin, religion and politics were separated.

What? Separate religion from politics? Why separate religion from politics? Can you separate God from politics? God is active in the realization of all human affairs. Therefore, when the democracies produce a succession of many God-fearing[7] politicians, it will become heaven on earth. Don’t you agree that this is the way it should be? Separation of religion from politics is what Satan dislikes the most -- Oh excuse me; it is what Satan likes the most.

In his actual words -- which are more detailed than what the translator could catch -- Rev. Moon mentions nothing about “automatic theocracy” or even “theocracy.” I would argue that the passage is not anti-democratic but rather promotes a vision of democracy in which religion plays a major role in shaping political discourse and policy.

Due to such distortions, the consecutively-translated extemporaneous sermons are the least reliable translations. In the pressure of the moment and with the inspiration that accompanied these sermons, word-for-word accuracy was just not possible. In time, all of these sermons will need to be re-translated based upon transcriptions of the original audiotapes.

Towards a Proper Standard of Translation

Translations prepared for the fifteen Hoon Dok volumes published in 1998 are only slightly better[8]. The process of translation began with a Korean making a rough translation into English, followed by a Westerner at another location sometimes half-way around the world polishing the English. The results were of variable quality, with generally poor English and numerous inaccuracies. Several reasons contributed to the poor results: First, a tight deadline for completing the task; second, lack of selectivity in the employment of translators and editors -- many of whom had weak English skills; third and more fundamentally, the process was flawed, because there was no mechanism for the translator to check the work of the editor against distortions that inevitably arise in the course of polishing the English. Generally, the practice of using Korean translators for whom English was their second language is contrary to best practices of translation, where a translator should have as his or her first language the language into which the work is being translated.[9] Few Westerners in the church had sufficient command of Korean to be qualified to translate.

A better procedure for translation utilizes a team approach, where both the translator and the English editor communicate with each other to go over the text for both accuracy and clarity in English. This method was employed in preparing Exposition of the Divine Principle (1996), World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon (2007), and most of Rev. Moon’s formal public speeches. Korean translators and American editors would meet together, sometimes on a weekly basis, to review the translations, identify difficulties, and come up with renderings that satisfied both the criteria of accuracy and good English sense.

This is not the place to discuss the many issues involved in translating Rev. Moon’s words from Korean into English. It suffices to caution that no translation can be perfect; there is always something lost or misunderstood in going from one language to another, one culture to another, one way of thinking to another. Translation is partly an art, requiring language fluency, years of experience, and knowledge of Rev. Moon’s unique way of thinking.

Establishing a high standard of English translation reveals the shoddiness of earlier efforts. Thus, when English passages selected for World Scripture were checked against the Korean text, eighty percent of them had to be completely re-translated. In the future, there will undoubtedly be scholars who will devote themselves to making new translations of all Rev. Moon’s sermons.

The Exceptional Case of the 1973 Public Speeches

For all their inaccuracies, even the poorest extemporaneous English translations are still recognizable as stemming from a Korean original. One group of speeches form a glaring exception: the public speeches that Rev. Moon gave during his eight-city tour of America in the Fall of 1973: “God’s Hope for Man” (October 20, 1973), “God’s Hope for America” (October 21, 1973), and “The Future of Christianity” (October 28, 1973).[10] The English and Korean versions of these speeches show numerous and gross inconsistencies.

Unlike the Belvedere sermons, these were public speeches put to writing and repeated on at least 28 occasions. I was not able to determine whether the translator, Col. Bo Hi Pak, read from a polished text or repeated a well-rehearsed translation from memory. Yet we know he was accustomed to taking considerable liberties in interpreting for the benefit of American audiences and believed he was justified in doing so to produce a culturally literate translation. Questions can be raised: Did Rev. Moon know, and assent to, the translator taking such liberties? If Rev. Moon approved the English-language translation, then should the speech, which was given publicly in America, be regarded as the official English text? Or should the Korean text as found in Moon Sun Myung Seonsaeng Malseum Seonjip be taken as official, even though from the perspective of the proclamation made in English it served as little more than speaker’s notes?

Here are two sample passages, with the English text on the left and a translation of the Korean text of Malseum Seonjip on the right. The first is a well-known passage critiquing American individualism:

Published English text

Translated from the Korean text

I know that Western culture is characterized by individualism. However, selfish individualism is doomed. Sacrificial individualism will blossom. Individuality in itself is good. God gave each of us a unique way to serve. But individualism without God can only build castles on the sands of decay.

I can see a great change, a great new surge of revolution coming to America -- not by fire, not by bullets, but by God’s truth kindling a revolution of men’s hearts. I have come here to ignite this spiritual revolution. I don’t need to demonstrate in front of the White House or in Lafayette Square. The answer does not lie there, but in the hearts of men, in the quiet revolution from selfishness to unselfishness.

Can you imagine how wonderful the ideal society will be? Individuals will belong to their families, the family will belong to the society, the society will belong to the nation, the nation will belong to the world, the world will belong to God, and God will belong to you. He who gives the most will know God most deeply. (October 20, 1973)[11]

I know that American culture upholds individualism. However, there must not be individualism that disregards the relationship between God, the Subject, and human beings, His objects. Selfish individualism is destructive, and its prevalence is driving America into a corner.

Now America should recover the essence of Christianity -- by seeking for God’s original way of life: The individual lives for the sake of the family; families contribute to the community; communities give their strength to the nation; nations exist to benefit the world; and the world exists for the sake of God. These are God’s heavenly ethics. If we practice it, then what is God’s is also mine, and whatever I do for God also benefits me. Living for the sake of God is ultimately living for my own benefit. (69:88-89, 73.10.20)

While the English text condemns “selfish individualism” but upholds “sacrificial individualism” and “individuality” within the will of God, the Korean text condemns individualism altogether and calls Americans to recognize that each person is situated within a network of relationships. Also absent from the Korean is the well-known passage calling for a “quiet revolution from selfishness to unselfishness.” Such expansions are frequent in the 1973 public speeches.

In another passage recounting God’s providential work in American history, Col. Pak’s English version waxes eloquent with long expansions:

Published English text

Translated from the Korean text

George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, tasted the bitterness of defeat in many, many battles. When he finally faced the last heartbreaking winter at Valley Forge, he was serious. I am sure George Washington prayed like this: “God, it is You who led our people out of Europe and brought us over here to the New World. You don't want us to repeat the dull, gray history of Europe. You liberated us and gave us freedom. You don't want to see the mistakes in Europe repeated in this land. Let me give you my pledge. I will build one nation under God.” Thus George Washington made his battle God's battle, and therefore the victory won was a victory for God.

I know that this victory and the independence of America came because God accepted George Washington's prayer, along with the prayers of many other Americans. God knew that His champions would work for His new nation. But George Washington had nothing to work with, and the British army had everything -- power, authority, tradition, and equipment. They were proud of their military strength. The American Continental Army had no ammunition and few soldiers. George Washington finally had one weapon only: faith in God. I believe that George Washington's position paralleled David's in his fight against the giant Goliath. David won his battle in the name of God. They both let God vanquish their foe. Each of them put his whole heart, his whole being, his whole sacrificial spirit into the battle, and won.

Now it is a significant fact that throughout history, God's people could never be blessed on their own homeland. God moves them out of their homeland and settles them on foreign soil, and there they can become a people and a nation of God. According to the pattern, the American people journeyed in faith out of their homelands, came across the ocean to the New World, and here they received God's blessing. God had a definite plan for America. He needed to have this nation prosper as one nation under God. With God, nothing is impossible. So out of the realm of impossibility the independence of America became a fact, and upon its foundation, great prosperity came.

The British army fought for their king. For them, the British crown was supreme. The American army fought for their king. God was their only King, and He alone was supreme. The New World was pioneered in the name of God. America is called "the land of opportunity". Here is the soil on which people find opportunity in God.

The Christian tradition in America is a most beautiful thing for foreigners to behold when they come to this country. I learned that every day your Congress is convened in prayer. Your president is sworn into office by putting his hand on the Bible. One day I visited a small prayer room in your Capitol building. When your leaders have grave decisions to make, they come to this place, kneel humbly before God and ask His help. There is a stained glass window depicting George Washington on his knees in prayer. Here I saw the true greatness of America. From the highest echelons of Congress way down to the rustic customs of the countryside, evidence of dependence on God can be seen everywhere in America.

In this respect America is a unique nation. Even your money, the bills and coins, are impressed with such a beautiful inscription, "In God We Trust." No other nation does such a thing. Then whose money is it, your money? Is it American money? No, it is God's money. Every bill or coin says so. You are the stewards, and God has deposited His wealth in your hands. Yes, this nation is not the American nation, it is God's nation. And such a nation exists for the entire world, not just for America herself. Yes, America was formed as a new nation, a new Christian nation under a new tradition. The shackles of old traditions fell away in America. You must want to build a new nation under God.

God's purpose is the salvation of the world and all mankind. Today in America, therefore, you must not think that you have such wealth because you yourselves are great. We must humbly realize that the blessing of God came to America with the purpose of making it possible for God to use this nation as His instrument in saving the world. If America betrays God, where can God go? If America rejects God, where can God go to fulfill His aim? Do you want to let him try to go to the communist world? To underdeveloped countries? God wants to have America as His base, America as His champion. And America has begun in the sacrificial spirit pursuing God's purpose. America must consummate her history in the same sacrificial spirit for God's purpose. Then America will endure forever![12]

George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, was defeated in many battles. When he faced the heartbreaking winter at Valley Forge, I am sure George Washington prayed like this: “God, You led this people from Europe and brought us to America, where there is freedom of faith. You would not wish to deliver this people back into the hands of England, to suffer under its monarchy and the yoke of state-enforced religion. Please bless this nation to become the land that You desire to build, upholding freedom of faith and laying the foundation for Your ideal world.” In his prayer, George Washington must have pledged that he would lead his nation to become the land desired by God.

Isn’t it true that very day your Congress is convened in prayer? America is not merely the land where Americans live; it is the nation blessed by God.

In this respect, America is unique. Your money is imprinted with the inscription, “In God We Trust.” Does any other nation in the world do that? Americans promote the motto, “One nation under God.” Does this motto refer only to America? Ladies and gentlemen, the Kingdom of Heaven should occupy the whole world. It was for this reason that America was born: as a nation composed of all the peoples of the world, it should be the model for one worldwide nation. Why did America establish freedom of religion where the new Protestant faiths could thrive? For what purpose did America throw off the state religions of Europe? It was not just for America’s sake, but to save the world. To save the world!

Americans, do not think that you are prospering because you yourselves are great. God did not bless this nation so that you can enjoy an affluent life. You should remember God’s original purpose in blessing America, to use this nation as His instrument for saving the world. (69:102, October 21, 1973)


The question of how to best deal with these important speeches remains unsettled. In the passage on individualism, adhering to the standard of the Korean text of the Malseum Seonjip expounds a key point in Rev. Moon’s teachings where the English has introduced a certain amount of distortion. Theological clarity is an important standard. At the same time, Rev. Moon understands that a divine message has to be appropriate to his audience, as when he wrote, “the scope and depth of Jesus’ words and the method of his teaching varied according to whom he was speaking” (Exposition of the Divine Principle, 104); hence in approving the English translation that was read publicly he may have assented to certain liberties for the sake of better communicating his message to the American people.[13] In that case, the published English texts should not simply be forgotten in years to come, amidst a general effort to make everything accurate to the standard of the Korean “original.” Perhaps they should keep their place in the developing canon.

Problems with the Official Korean Text

In addition to the typical difficulties that exist in any translation from Korean to a Western language, there is a more fundamental problem, which is the unreliability of the current standard Korean text -- the published 400+ volumes of Malseum Seonjip and other collections of readings such as Blessing and Ideal Family.[14] All these printed Korean texts show evidence of editing.

Extemporaneous sermons are not the stuff of polished prose. Rev. Moon frequently involves the audience, often in sustained rhetorical challenges and responses. He occasionally challenges a particular disciple, setting up a dialogue that can last for a minute or more. His sermons are replete with sudden exclamations and contain occasional misstatements and self-corrections (for example, the last line of the transcription from “The Significance of the Training Session,” above.) Sometimes he uses strong, even shocking language, meant for aural effect but too strong to come off well on the printed page. Hence, it is understandable that the publisher of Malseum Seonjip would edit the text as he prepared the sermons for publication.

Furthermore, Rev. Moon has given numerous sermons entirely in Japanese, a language in which he is fluent. When speaking to Western audience he will often break into broken English for minutes at a time. Yet in Malseum Seonjip all his words are in Korean. Even sermons given in Japanese were translated back into Korean. While these adjustments can be expected in a publication meant for the Korean membership, they make Malseum Seonjip unreliable as a standard for the worldwide church.

Yet the problems with Korean texts run deeper still. I first became aware of textual problems in the Korean collections of Rev. Moon’s sermons when collaborating with Jinseung Eu, son of former President Hyo Won Eu, to retranslate portions of Blessing and Ideal Family. Despite our efforts to improve the English translation, he was troubled that the Korean text of this book was not reliable, as was evident by comparing its passages with the underlying speeches in Malseum Seonjip.

More evidence turned up in preparing excerpts of Reverend Moon’s speeches for World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon (2007). Sometimes I found discrepancies with other versions of the same speech printed in collections of Rev. Moon’s sermons prepared in Japan. A discrepancy by itself does not prove that the Korean text is in error; nevertheless it calls into question any uncritical acceptance of its accuracy. I also found material in the English translation that was entirely missing from the Korean text. Again, this does not prove that the Korean text is in error; the additional material could be a translator’s elaboration (as was the case with the 1973 speeches, above). However, sometimes when original audiotapes were reviewed, we found that the English material accurately corresponded to what Rev. Moon spoke, thus revealing a defect in the Korean text.

The Perspective of a Text Critic

In the history of religion, scholars agonize over the fact that the extant copies of the holy books were written decades or centuries after the founder’s passing, and that struggle as they may, they cannot easily penetrate behind the veil of time to know the founder’s actual words. This task is called text criticism.

In the Old Testament there are frequently differences between a verse in the Hebrew and Greek versions. Consider for example Isaiah 7:14:

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)

Septuagint (Greek)

14 Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

14 Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

In the Septuagint (Greek) text, the prophet Isaiah foretells the virgin birth of Jesus, while the Hebrew (Masoretic text) seems to be referring to a woman of the prophet’s own day. Believers have reacted to this discrepancy in various ways. In centuries past, Christian scholars accused the Jews of changing the Hebrew Bible to blot out this prophecy of Jesus’ birth. Yet nowadays text critics affirm the accuracy of the Hebrew text in most instances, and the reading “young woman” is well accepted. Nevertheless, both texts are many hundreds of years removed from when the prophet Isaiah spoke those words. Scholars have uncovered evidence that in the intervening centuries, before the Hebrew text was fixed, several different versions, or recensions, circulating among the Jews. Hence it is remotely possible that the Greek text, which was translated around 300 B.C.E. preserves a different underlying Hebrew text which may have had the word “virgin.”

Since the Gospels were collected and written between 40 and 70 years after Jesus’ passing, parallel passages within the Synoptic Gospels have engendered numerous debates about which of them is closest to Jesus’ original words. Compare for example the “sign of Jonah” in Matthew and Luke:

39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Matthew 12:39-41)

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation… 32 The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29-32)

Here scholars are nearly unanimous in preferring the version in Luke as best rendition of Jesus’ actual words, even though the one sentence unique to Matthew, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,” is beloved of Christians as a prophecy of his death and resurrection. Evidence for this comes from the internal consistency of the passage itself, which speaks of “the men of Nineveh” as having received the sign, which can only be Jonah’s preaching, not his days in the whale’s belly. According to Luke, who preserves a more authentic recollection of Jesus’ words in this case, the passage was originally not a prophecy of Jesus’ death, but rather a call to believe his message while he walked the earth. A later editor added the gloss in Matt. 12:40 reflecting the early church’s faith in the resurrection.

How do these examples of biblical text criticism apply to the sermons of Rev. Moon? Usually we have to rely on the official Korean text as the sole source. Sometimes, we have, in addition to the Korean text, translations into Japanese or English made at the time the sermon was given. As in the case of the passage from Isaiah, above, it is presumed that the Korean text will be the most accurate. Nevertheless, a text critic will want to examine the translations as well.

Here is an example where a translation might well be more accurate. The right-hand column is a literal translation from Malseum Seonjip, and the left-hand column is taken from the volume Raising Children in God’s Will, which was translated from a Japanese original. It includes material, like that below, which had been transcribed from consecutive Japanese translations of sermons given in Japan.

Published English text translated from Japanese

Translated from the Korean text

What is God’s Will? It seems like a simple question but actually it is a difficult question. I asked one theologian to explain to me the Will of God and he said to me, “It seems like a very simple question, but actually it is very difficult to explain.” Of course he is right. So what does Rev. Moon of the Unification Church think that God’s Will is? We have to give an explanation concerning the Will of God. This is an absolute necessity. The reason for this is because God is the origin of the whole providence of salvation and the central point of unity and the driving force of providential history. So I think that giving a conclusive definition of the Will of God is of utmost importance.[15]

What is God’s Will? This is an extremely simple question, but also is an extremely difficult one. What, then, is the Will of God from Rev. Moon’s viewpoint? This must be defined with certainty, because this is the basis for the entire providence of salvation and the goal towards which God leads human history. Therefore, giving a conclusive definition of the Will of God is of utmost importance. (110-213, November 18, 1980)

Did Rev. Moon describe a conversation with a theologian? In my judgment, it is most unlikely that it was invented by the Japanese translator. For most of the other differences the Korean text probably provides a more accurate rendering, such as the discrepancy between “goal towards which God leads human history” and “driving force of providential history.” Nevertheless, the absence of the “theologian” from the official Korean text leaves questions about its accuracy.

Next is a case where I have a suspicion that the Korean editor revised Father’s strong language to make it more palatable. The text in the left is the consecutive English translation of a sermon given at Belvedere Training Center, which refers to medical doctors as “infants” in their knowledge of the human eye. Given what we know of Rev. Moon’s speaking style, it is quite possible that this was what he said, extending the appellation “infancy stage” to the doctors themselves. The official Korean text has softened it to “scientists.” I invite the reader to judge: Which do you think is original?

Published English sermon

Translated from the Korean text

The human body reflects the mystery of God. Even if you try for millions of years to analyze everything with your mind, you will not know all there is to know about your body. For instance, there are thousands of eye doctors, but there are more mysteries about the eye than they ever thought about. Do you think they know everything about the eye and that there is nothing more to know? Are they in the infancy stage of knowledge or the perfection stage? They think they know, but actually their knowledge is in the infancy stage compared to the knowledge of the eye which God possesses. How could these infants say there is no God? They have no right to say that. (“Our Destined Relationship,” Belvedere, November 6, 1977)

The human body reflects the mystery of God. Analyze and dissect it using your intellect, and even after millions of years you would not know all there is to know about your body. Despite thousands of eye doctors, there are still innumerable mysteries about the eye. Do you think they know all there is to know about the eye, or they are still in the infancy stage of knowledge? It should be the latter. How, then, can these scientists say there is no God? (95-123, November 6, 1977)

A third problem I have uncovered is the deletion of whole paragraphs that exist in translation but not in the official Korean text. The only way to confirm the source of this problem is to examine the original audiotape. Here is a paragraph from God’s Will and the World in English that I wanted to include in World Scripture, yet it is absent from the Korean text of Malseum Seonjip. Normally one would fault the translator for adding additional material, as with the elaborations of the 1973 speeches, and accept the official text as the standard. However, in this case I was able to locate the original audiotape of the speech, and I found that the missing paragraph was indeed present. The English edition preserved this marvelous story, despite its omission the official Korean text:

The day before yesterday I took a group of about twenty people to a seafood restaurant… When we were about to place our order, the waiter told us that we all had to wear ties to be seated, and he offered to lend us all ties. But the thing displeased me; I said, “No thank you,” and walked out of the restaurant with my group. The restaurant staff saw me as I was driven away in a fancy car. They must have wondered, “Why does a rich person like him object to wearing a tie?” They probably realized they had missed a great opportunity, but I will not visit that place again. They should not discriminate against people for not wearing ties. Even if they offer to make an exception for me, I will not give them my business. If they treat me like that, how will they treat black people? I want to stand up for you, because I know you are going through hardships.[16]

We may find comparable examples in the history of biblical scholarship. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars had few options but to accept the Masoretic (Hebrew) Text of the Old Testament. Comparisons with variants in the Septuagint (as with Isaiah 7:14, above) confirmed the superiority of the Masoretic Text over all translations. However, the treasure-trove of manuscripts from Qumran included manuscripts of books from the Bible one thousand years older than the oldest manuscript of the Masoretic Text. In a few places, scholars discovered in these manuscripts whole sentences that had been lost from the Bible. An example is 1 Samuel 10:27-11:2 (NRSV):

27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” They despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace. Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead.

11 1 About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, namely that I gouge out everyone’s right eye, and thus put disgrace upon all Israel.”

The material in italics, which lies between 1 Sam. 10:27 and 11:1, was unknown until its discovery in a manuscript among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yet it is undoubtedly original, and does much to explain the motives of the king of the Ammonites in attacking the city of Jabesh-gilead.

In the case of Rev. Moon’s speeches, there is no need to wait for an archaeologist to stumble on ancient scrolls; the original audiotapes are mostly available. Scholars of Reverend Moon’s words have an obligation to history that requires them to go back to the audiotapes and check every speech. Undoubtedly more such missing passages will be found.

Characteristics of a Critical Edition

As scholars begin the task of assembling a critical edition of the Korean text of the Reverend Moon’s words, they will produce a text having the following characteristics:

1. It preserves oral speech. We know that oral speech is different from written words, and the temptation of an editor is to clean up all the natural and spontaneous extra words to make for better written prose. The critical edition should preserve every single word Rev. Moon spoke, and not make any effort to clean it up.

2. It preserves impromptu dialogue between Rev. Moon and individual members. In the Gospels, we treasure reading the many short dialogues Jesus had with his disciples. Rev. Moon often interrupts his message to carry on short conversations with his disciples. These can contain precious wisdom and reveal much about the personal dynamics of his ministry; yet they have been excised from Malseum Seonjip. All such conversations, including the disciple’s responses, will be included in the critical edition.

3. When a disciple is making a report and Rev. Moon interrupts to make a point, both Rev. Moon’s remark and the words from the disciple’s report which prompted it will be included.

4. It includes harsh and jarring language, which in Malseum Seonjip has been cleaned up for public consumption. In a critical edition that will mainly be used by scholars, all Rev. Moon’s words will be preserved exactly as he spoke them.

5. It preserves controversial sayings that might cause offense. Editors and translators alike have taken to cutting out some of Rev. Moon’s frank language about sex and pronouncements that might be a political liability. The critical edition will preserve this controversial content for posterity and for analysis by future generations of scholars.

6. It includes diagrams. Rev. Moon conveys much information visually, through diagrams that he writes on the blackboard. Whenever possible, these diagrams need to be rescued from videotapes and included in the critical edition.

7. It is multi-lingual. When Rev. Moon speaks Japanese, the text will be written in Japanese; when he speaks English, the text will be written in English. The practice of translating Rev. Moon’s words from Japanese and English into Korean for Malseum Seonjip introduces many errors. In whatever language Rev. Moon speaks, he chooses fitting words to convey his message because he recognizes that sharing language is the best way to share the heart. The critical edition will thus include all three languages, exactly as Rev. Moon spoke them.

8. It includes editor’s notes about the context. Behind every sermon is a context -- a political event, a providential activity, or an issue of church life -- that forms the backdrop to what is spoken. Knowing a speech’s context sheds additional light on its content. Therefore, scholars who prepare the critical edition will create notes about the historical context of every sermon.


It is high time for scholars to begin the work of establishing an accurate text of Rev. Moon’s speeches. He is already 89 years old. The taped records of his speeches are aging and will in a few years begin to lose their integrity. This critical edition should include every single word to the letter that Rev. Moon ever spoke in public, including conversations with his disciples. It should be prepared with the highest scholarly standards. Its purpose will be to preserve for generations to come a full and accurate record of the words spoken by this remarkable man.


[1] Sun Myung Moon, Cheon Seong Gyeong. Prepared by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Seoul: Seong Hwa Press, 2005).

[2] Sun Myung Moon, Messages of Peace, Pyung Hwa Hoon Gyeong (New York: FFWPU, 2007).

[3] Sun Myung Moon, Moon Sun Myung Seonsaeng Malseum Seonjip (Sermons of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon). 400+ volumes (Seoul: Seong Hwa Press, 1984-).

[4] World Scripture and the Teachings of Sun Myung Moon, ed. Andrew Wilson (New York: Universal Peace Federation, 2007).

[5] The British government dropped the case in February 1988, as reported in Randall’s Parliamentary Service, February 3, 1988.

[6] Sun Myung Moon, “The Significance of the Training Session,” trans. Won Pok Choi, Tarrytown, NY, May 17, 1973.

[7] Literally “uncorrupt,” but “honest” does not do justice to the thought.

[8] Sun Myung Moon, Blessing and Ideal Family, The Way of Young People, Raising Children in God’s Will, etc. Gathering for Reading and Learning Series, 12 vols. (Washington, DC: Family Federation for World Peace and Unification International, 1998). Hoon Dok refers to morning devotional readings of these and other Unification texts as well as religious scriptures.

[9] In the field of Bible translation, nineteenth-century missionary translations have given way to modern translations by those for whom the indigenous language is their mother-tongue.

[10] Reprinted in Sun Myung Moon, God’s Will and the World (New York: HSA-UWC, 1985), pp. 161-228.

[11] Sun Myung Moon, “God’s Hope for Man,” God’s Will and the World, p. 176.

[12] Sun Myung Moon, “God’s Hope for America,” God’s Will and the World, pp. 193-94.

[13] Moon took this view when questioned about why Exposition of the Divine Principle calls for “all of humanity to be engrafted to Jesus” (p. 55) even though he generally describes the engrafting process in the opposite manner, in accordance with normal horticultural practice, in that a sprout from the Messiah is engrafted on to each individual. He replied that he recognized that Exposition was technically incorrect; however it is expressed in a way to be in accord with the expressions in the Bible, specifically the metaphor of engrafting described in Romans 11. The author was present at that discussion, which took place at East Garden in 1996.

[14] Sun Myung Moon, Ch’ukbok-gwa Isang Kajan [Blessing and Ideal Family]. Prepared by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Seoul: Seong Hwa Press, 1998).

[15] Sun Myung Moon, Raising Children in God’s Will, Gathering for Reading and Learning Series Vol. 5 (Washington, DC, FFWPU, 1998), p. 3

[16] Sun Myung Moon, “God’s Preparation for our Church, and Its Early Days,” God’s Will and the World (New York: HSA-UWC, 1985), p. 419. 

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