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March 08, 2018

Philly-area artifact dealer sells letter written by Gandhi about Jesus

Ardmore-based Raab collection auctions off rare historical document for $50,000

History Religion
Gandhi Bridgeman Images/Wikipedia Commons

Mahatma Gandhi

A local collectibles dealer has sold a rare letter written by Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi about Jesus Christ.

The letter, written in April 1926 by Gandhi during his efforts leading the Indian independence movement, was in response to Milton Newberry Frantz, a Christian leader in the United States who had written to him about his beliefs.

Nathan Raab, president of the Raab Collection, a historical document dealer in Ardmore, said on Friday he had sold the document for $50,000.

In his reply to Frantz, Gandhi wrote that while he believes Jesus is one of the "greatest teachers of mankind," he does not subscribe to the belief that Jesus was the "highest manifestation of the unseen reality."

"In spite of all my efforts, I have not been able to feel the truth of that statement," Gandhi wrote. "I have not been able to move beyond the belief that Jesus was one of the great teachers of mankind."

Gandhi also touched on one of his core beliefs in the letter: unity among people of all religious faiths.

"Do you not think that religious unity is to be had not by a mechanical subscription to a common creed but by all respecting the creed of each? In my opinion, difference in creed there must be so long as there are different brains. But what does it matter if all these are hung upon the common thread of love and mutual esteem?"

Among other historically significant documents sold by the Raab Collection are ones linked to Amelia Earhart, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

The recently sold letter is the only one of Gandhi's writings the collectors have found where the activist mentions Jesus.

The Raab Collection did not disclose the identities of the seller or buyer of the Gandhi letter.