| A dime a dozen|
Oahspe: A Kosmon Bible in the Words of Jehovih and his Angel Embassadors (sic) is a book announcing new revelations from God, which was produced by John Ballou Newbrough (1828-1891) by automatic writing, and which was first published by Newbrough in 1882.
According to the glossary in the book, 1882 version, the meaning of the word used in the title is:
- Oahspe. Sky, earth (corpor) and spirit. The all; the sum of corporeal and spiritual knowledge as at present.
The revelation of Oahspe
Newbrough was a dentist who lived in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The practice of automatic writing was well known during the period in which Oahspe was revealed, largely as a result of the technique being used in the Spiritualist movement. Newbrough believed that angels were dictating the messages that ultimately appeared in Oahspe; large portions of the manuscript were produced by Newbrough by the means of automatic writing upon the recently invented typewriter.
What the Revelation says
The bulk of Oahspe contains cosmological revelations concerning the evolution of the human race and life on Earth. The text seems to suggest that the Earth travels through various regions of space, and that each of these regions has spiritual and physical consequences for Earth and its inhabitants. These several regions are under the presidency of various supernatural beings who are designated "sons of Jehovih," and as such the text of Oahspe contains separate books like the "Book of Sue, Son of Jehovih" and even the "Book of Thor, Son of Jehovih."
One typographical peculiarity of these books is that many of them are printed on pages divided in two, top and bottom. In these, the top half of the page contains a narrative of celestial events, while the bottom half describes the corresponding events on Earth. Oahspe also contains a body of teaching that attempts to explain the origin of all of Earth's religions other than the one it seeks to establish.
While Joseph Smith, Jr. claims to have translated The Book of Mormon from hieroglyphs (termed Reformed Egyptian) engraved on golden plates, Oahspe goes one step further and is profusely illustrated with its hieroglyphs. Unfortunately, the text of Oahspe bristles with unusual jargon, and is also written in a pastiche of King James English. These aspects, combined with the sheer bulk of the tome, make it rather daunting to the casual reader.
Editions of Oahspe contain a "Glossary Of Strange Words Used In This Book," but this glossary is sadly inadequate, covering only a small fraction of the strange words that appear in the text, and giving incomplete explanations of the ones it covers. It is helpful to learn that Es'enauers are "heavenly musicians, composed of singers and instrument players," and that Ughs are "foul air from dead people" is something the reader might figure out. But the intelligence that Egisi are "volunteers who may have previously registered themselves for such an excursion" is not helping.
The following is a sample of the text of Oahspe (specifically, The Book of Jehovih, chapter II), which will give an impression of this style:
1. JEHOVIH said: By virtue of My presence created I the seen and the unseen worlds. And I commanded man to name them; and man called the seen worlds Corper, and the unseen worlds Es; and the inhabitants of Corpor, man called corporeans. But the inhabitants of Es he called sometimes es'eans and sometimes spirits, and sometimes angels.
2. Jehovih said: I created the earth, and fashioned it, and placed it in the firmament; and by My presence brought man forth a living being. A corporeal body gave I him that he might learn corporeal things; and death I made that he might rise in the firmament and inherit My etherean worlds.
3. To es I gave dominion over corpor; with es I filled all place in the firmament. But corpor I made into earths and moons and stars and suns; beyond number made I them, and I caused them to float in the places I allotted to them.
4. Es I divided into two parts, and I commanded man to name them, and he called one etherea and the other atmospherea. These are the three kinds of worlds I created; but I gave different densities to atmospherean worlds, and different densities to the etherean worlds.5. For the substance of My etherean worlds I created Ethe, the MOST RARIFIED. Out of ethe made I them. And I made ethe the most subtle of all created things, and gave to it power and place, not only by itself, but also power to penetrate and exist within all things, even in the midst of the corporeal worlds. And to ethe gave I dominion over both atmospherea and corpor.
Oahspe is still available under the imprint of the Kosmon Press in California and as an e-text now in the public domain.
In the 1880s, attempts were made to establish a commune and orphanage founded on the revelations of Oahspe in the Rio Grande valley, in New Mexico and Texas. The enterprise foundered when Newbrough died of influenza.
Oahspe is the sacred text of a small religious denomination that now calls itself the Faithists of Kosmon. The sect still exists, though the number of its members are dwarfed by the followers of other, less original, nineteenth century alternative Scriptures.
- Ellis v. Newbrough, 6 N.M. 181, 6 Gild. 181, 27 P. 490 (Sup. Ct. of New Mexico, 1891)
- Oahspe: A Kosmon Bible in the Words of Jehovih and his Angel Embassadors, revised 1912 third edition
- Pamphlet on the Origin of Oahspe
- Shalam Colony, a utopian community founded by Oahspe believers