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Big Book is Not a Religious Book

For millions, the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous – known affectionately as the Big Book – is the Bible. Now the news is that the Bible was edited. For nearly 70 years, the original manuscript by AA co-founder Bill Wilson was hidden and then auctioned twice. Now it will become public next week with edits that reveal a profound debate about how to have a discussion with God.

AA’s decision to use “higher power” and “God of your understanding” instead of “God” or “Jesus Christ” and to have a more inclusive tone was crucial in making the profoundly spiritual book accessible to those who did not embrace religion or Christianity.

Over the years, the AA program has been embraced by the governments of Iran and the former Soviet Union and reworked by many religious groups.

“If it had been a Christian-based book, a religious book, it wouldn’t have succeeded as it has,” said Nick Motu, senior vice president of Hazelden Publishing. Hazelden is published the AA manuscript, titling it “The Book That Started It All.” The original title was simply “Alcoholics Anonymous.”


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