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Later this year, the Religious Studies Center will publish a volume called Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts, edited by Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews. To help readers understand the scope and purpose of this project, the Religious Educator held the following interview with two of the editors.
Abstract: The authors begin by highlighting the importance of Book of Moses research that has discovered plausible findings for its historicity, rendering it at least reasonable to give the benefit of the doubt to sacred premises — even if, ultimately, the choice of premises is just that, a choice. Emphasizing the relevance of the Book of Moses to the temple, they note that the Book of Moses is not only an ancient temple text, but also the ideal scriptural context for a modern temple preparation course. Going further, the authors address an important question raised by some who have asked: “Since Christ is at the center of the gospel, why doesn’t the temple endowment teach the story of the life of Christ? What’s all this about Adam and Eve?” The answer given in detail in the paper is as follows: “The story of the life of Christ is the story of giving the Atonement. And the story of Adam and Eve is the story of receiving the Atonement. Their story is our story, too.”
[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the Latter-day Saint community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.
See Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, “Adam, Eve, the Book of Moses, and the Temple: The Story of Receiving Christ’s Atonement,” in Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses: Inspired Origins, Temple Contexts, and Literary Qualities, edited by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, David R. Seely, John W. Welch and Scott Gordon (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation; Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central; Redding, CA: FAIR; Tooele, UT: Eborn Books, 2021), page numbers forthcoming. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/ancient-threads-in-the-book-of-moses/.]Historicity and Plausibility of the Book of Moses.
Abstract: In this article, we will examine affinities between ancient extracanonical sources and a collection of modern revelations that Joseph Smith termed “extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch.” We build on the work of previous scholars, revisiting their findings with the benefit of subsequent scholarship. Following a perspective on the LDS canon and an introduction to the LDS Enoch revelations, we will focus on relevant passages in pseudepigrapha and LDS scripture within three episodes in the Mormon Enoch narrative: Enoch’s prophetic commission, Enoch’s encounters with the “gibborim,” and the weeping and exaltation of Enoch and his people.
Abstract: Moses 1:41 echoes or plays on the etymological meaning of the name Joseph — “may he [Yahweh] add,” as the Lord foretells to Moses the raising up of a future figure through whom the Lord’s words, after having been “taken” (away) from the book that Moses would write, “shall be had again among the children of men.” Moses 1:41 anticipates and employs language reminiscent of the so-called biblical canon formulas, possible additions to biblical texts meant to ensure the texts’ stability by warning against “adding” or “diminishing” (i.e., “taking away”) from them (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:2; 5:22 [MT 5:18]; 12:32 [MT 13:1]; cf. Revelation 22:18– 19). This article presupposes that the vision of Moses presents restored text that was at some point recorded in Hebrew.
In most forms of Gnosticism secret oral tradition is often associated with accounts of the creation of the world, the experiences of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and the fall of man. It is usually in this creation setting or in a temple or on a mountaintop that Gnosticism places the revelation of the esoteric mysteries and the knowledge needed to thwart the archontic powers and return to God.
The Lord has told us that many things in the Apocrypha are true and many false. The fascination that apocryphal writings generally hold for Latter-day Saints was recognized in a 1983 BYU symposium on this topic addressed by fifteen scholars representing a wide range of expertise. Those addresses are collected in this book.
This study explores the influence of the King James Bible (KJV) on the Book of Mormon (BM) by examining how the BM appropriates and adapts the text of the J source of the Pentateuch-a narrative strand from Genesis to Deuteronomy-and weaves phrases, ideas, motifs, and characters into the text. I identify the full range of influence of the J source of the Pentateuch on the text of the BM in Part II, and then analyze the use of Gen. 2-4 in its own literary context, in ancient sources, and finally in the BM. Through close reading and analysis the study highlights the gaps between the meaning of Gen. 2-4 in its own literary context and the way that the BM interprets its themes and overall message. The BM employs a thoroughly 19th century American- Christian worldview in both its use of the J source and its interpretation of that important text. This study has important implications for BM studies broadly and for historical-critical studies of the BM in particular. Moving forward, BM studies will need to grapple with the heavy influence that the KJV had on the composition of the BM. Past studies have identified limited influence of the KJV on the text for several reasons, but whatever the reasons it is clear that there are specific ways to move the field forward. Studies have focused on the block quotations of Isaiah in the BM, and some have explored the use of Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi and other portions of the text. Unfortunately, there are very few studies that have attempted to broaden the scope and look at the influen ce of a larger section of the KJV and its more subtle uses throughout the entire BM It is my hope that this study can be a stepping-stone of sorts for future work. I have looked specifically at how the BM uses parts of Genesis through Deuteronomy, but this leaves the door open to exploring the influence of any and all of the other parts of the KJV and their influence on the text of the BM.
Originally presented as a talk given on 1 April 1980 at Brigham Young University.
A controversial examination of evolution and the Latter-day Saint view on creation and the various roles of Adam.
On two occasions while he worked on his New Translation of Genesis in 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated to his scribe Oliver Cowdery a word combination that in English is awkward and umgrammatical, though in the Hebrew it is not: “Behold I.” The first occurrence reads, “Behold I am the Lord God Almighty.” The second reads, “Behold I send me.” Both passages are in the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, but “Behold I” is not found in either of those passages today because, after the time of Joseph Smith, each was edited out of the text . .
Originally posted at https://faithpromotingrumor.com/2017/09/24/the-book-of-enoch-the-book-of-moses-and-the-question-of-availability/. Note that this blog post has since been removed without explanation, but was not disavowed by the author and was originally archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20181217192041/https://faithpromotingrumor.com/2017/09/24/the-book-of-enoch-thebook-of-moses-and-the-question-of-availability/ (accessed November 22, 2018). It seems that the archive.org version has now been removed, but the original article can now be found at: https://cdn.interpreterfoundation.org/ifarchive/Ben-Tov-Availability-of-1-Enoch-Cirillo-error-The-Book-of-Enoch-the-Book-of-Moses-and-the-Question-of-Availability-FAITH-PROMOTING-RUMOR.pdf.
This book is a study of the text of Selections from the Book of Moses, an excerpt of Genesis from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Commonly called the Book of Moses, it is the first section in the Pearl of Great Price, one of the standard works of scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Enoch Scroll of the texts from Qumran Library Cave 4 has provided parts in Aramaic among the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery between 1947 and 1956. Contents: Aramaic Book of Enoch, Astronomical Book, Book of Watchers, Book of Dreams, Book of Giants, Enochic Writings. NOTE: The Book of Enoch w/ Aramaic fragments from Milik, see The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, Florentino García Martínez, Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar, 1999
This second of two volumes of essays honoring Hugh Nibley includes scholarly papers based on what the authors have learned from Nibley. Nearly every major subject that Dr. Nibley has encompassed in his vast learning and scholarly production is represented here by at least one article. Topics include the sacrament covenant in Third Nephi, the Lamanite view of Book of Mormon history, external evidences of the Book of Mormon, proper names in the Book of Mormon, the brass plates version of Genesis, the composition of Lehi’s family, ancient burials of metal documents in stone boxes, repentance as rethinking, Mormon history’s encounter with secular modernity, and Judaism in the 20th century.
Are there indirect evidences of distinctive contents of the brass plates? Can we learn anything about the plates and their contents through an examination of indirect textual evidence in the Book of Mormon?
Abstract: The Book of Mormon peoples repeatedly indicated that they were descendants of Joseph, the son of Jacob who was sold into Egypt by his brothers. The plates of brass that they took with them from Jerusalem c. 600 bce provided them with a version of many Old Testament books and others not included in our Hebrew Bible. Sometime after publishing his translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith undertook an inspired revision of the Bible. The opening chapters of his version of Genesis contain a lot of material not included in the Hebrew Bible. But intriguingly, distinctive phraseology in those chapters, as now published in Joseph Smith’s Book of Moses, also show up in the Book of Mormon text. This paper presents a systematic examination of those repeated phrases and finds strong evidence for the conclusion that the version of Genesis used by the Nephite prophets must have been closely similar to Joseph Smith’s Book of Moses.
[Editor’s Note: This paper appeared first in the 1990 festschrift published to honor Hugh W. Nibley.
It is reprinted here as a convenience for current scholars who are interested in intertextual issues regarding the Book of Mormon. It should be noted that Interpreter has published another paper that picks up this same insight and develops considerable additional evidence supporting the conclusions of the original paper.
This reprint uses footnotes instead of endnotes, and there are two more footnotes in this reprint than there are endnotes in the original paper.].
Abstract: In chapter 3 of the Gospel of John, Jesus described spiritual rebirth as consisting of two parts: being “born of water and of the spirit.”1 To this requirement of being “born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit,” Moses 6:59–60 adds that one must “be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; … For … by the blood ye are sanctified.”2 In this article, we will discuss the symbolism of water, spirit, and blood in scripture as they are actualized in the process of spiritual rebirth. We will highlight in particular the symbolic, salvific, interrelated, additive, retrospective, and anticipatory nature of these ordinances within the allusive and sometimes enigmatic descriptions of John 3 and Moses 6. Moses 6:51–68, with its dense infusion of temple themes, was revealed to the Prophet in December 1830, when the Church was in its infancy and more than a decade before the fulness of priesthood ordinances was made available to the Saints in Nauvoo. Our study of these chapters informs our closing perspective on the meaning of the sacrament, which is consistent with the recent re-emphasis of Church leaders that the “sacrament is a beautiful time to not just renew our baptismal covenants, but to commit to Him to renew all our covenants.”3 We discuss the relationship of the sacrament to the shewbread of Israelite temples, and its anticipation of the heavenly feast that will be enjoyed by those who have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ.
[Editor’s Note: This article is an updated and extended version of a presentation given at the Third Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference: The Temple on Mount Zion, November 5, 2016, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. For a video version of the presentation, see https://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2016-temple-on-mount-zion-conference/2016-temple-on-mount-zion-conference-videos/]
Abstract: In chapter 3 of the Gospel of John, Jesus described spiritual rebirth as consisting of two parts: being “born of water and of the spirit.”
To this requirement of being “born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit,” Moses 6:59–60 adds that one must “be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; … For … by the blood ye are sanctified.”
In this article, we will discuss the symbolism of water, spirit, and blood in scripture as they are actualized in the process of spiritual rebirth. We will highlight in particular the symbolic, salvific, interrelated, additive, retrospective, and anticipatory nature of these ordinances within the allusive and sometimes enigmatic descriptions of John 3 and Moses 6. Moses 6:51–68, with its dense infusion of temple themes, was revealed to the Prophet in December 1830, when the Church was in its infancy and more than a decade before the fulness of priesthood ordinances was made available to the Saints in Nauvoo. Our study of these chapters informs our closing perspective on the meaning of the sacrament, which is consistent with the recent re-emphasis of Church leaders that the “sacrament is a beautiful time to not just renew our baptismal covenants, but to commit to Him to renew all our covenants.”
We discuss the relationship of the sacrament to the shewbread of Israelite temples, and its anticipation of the heavenly feast that will be enjoyed by those who have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ.
The essays in this volume address key aspects of Israelite religious development. Cross traces the continuities between early Israelite religion and the Canaanite culture from which it emerged; explores the tension between the mythic and the historical in Israel’s religious expression; and examines the reemergence of Canaanite mythic material in the apocalypticism of early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Biblical character Enoch is a central figure in early Jewish mystical literature, where his story is redolent with themes related to the concepts of transformation and communion with the Divine. This rich and mythic wisdom significantly influenced American Royal Arch Freemasonry, and through it, early Mormonism. This paper explores the shared aspects of these traditions: where they overlap, and specifically, where Mormonism may rely upon Freemasonry. The Enoch pseudepigrapha and their Masonic and Mormon iterations are presented as a series of related mystical traditions. Linked by common themes of theophany, grand assembly, and heavenly ascent, they are utilized in similar, yet innovative ways to impart spiritual truth to their followers.
Abstract: In this article, we offer a general critique of scholarship that has argued for Joseph Smith’s reliance on 1 Enoch or other ancient pseudepigrapha for the Enoch chapters in the Book of Moses. Our findings highlight the continued difficulties of scholars to sustain such arguments credibly. Following this general critique, we describe the current state of research relating to what Salvatore Cirillo took to be the strongest similarity between Joseph Smith’s chapters on Enoch and the Qumran Book of Giants — namely the resemblance between the name Mahawai in the Book of Giants and Mahujah/Mahijah in Joseph Smith’s Enoch account. We conclude this section with summaries of conversations of Gordon C. Thomasson and Hugh Nibley with Book of Giants scholar Matthew Black about these names. Next, we explain why even late and seemingly derivative sources may provide valuable new evidence for the antiquity of Moses 6–7 or may corroborate details from previously known Enoch sources. By way of example, we summarize preliminary research that compares passages in Moses 6–7 to newly available ancient Enoch texts from lesser known sources. We conclude with a discussion of the significance of findings that situate Joseph Smith’s Enoch account in an ancient milieu. Additional work is underway to provide a systematic and detailed analysis of ancient literary affinities in Moses 6–7, including an effort sponsored by Book of Mormon Central in collaboration with The Interpreter Foundation.
The stories of the Grand Councils in Heaven, the Creation, the Fall, and the revelation of the Plan of Salvation to mankind are foundational to LDS doctrine. As it turns out, they are also the focus of a vast ancient literature by Jewish commentators, Islamic scholars, and early Christians, as well as the nexus of perennial controversies about science and religion.
The so-called Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20) from Qumran Cave 1 has suffered from decades of neglect, due in large part to its poor state of preservation. As part of a resurgent scholarly interest in the Apocryphon, and its prominent position among the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls, this volume presents a fresh transcription, translation, and exstenive textual notes drawing on close study of the original manuscript, all available photographs, and previous publications. In addition, a detailed analysis of columns 13-15 and their relation to the oft-cited parallel in the Book of Jubilees reveals a number of ways in which the two works differ, thereby highlighting several distinctive features of the Genesis Apocryphon. The result is a reliable text edition and a fuller understanding of the message conveyed by this fragmentary but fascinating retelling of Genesis.
Since their initial discovery in 1947, the ancient scrolls found in caves near the Dead Sea have stirred public curiosity. For Latter-day Saints, whose scriptural tradition speaks of sacred records to come forth in the last days, the Dead Sea Scrolls naturally give rise to questions such as:
— Are there references to Christ or Christianity in the scrolls?
— Do the scrolls contain scripture missing from the Bible?
— Is the plan of salvation attested in the scrolls?
— Do the scrolls refer to Joseph Smith or other latter-day figures?
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Questions and Responses for Latter-day Saints succinctly deals with these and other questions on topics of particular interest to LDS readers. These topics are based on actual questions that Latter-day Saints have asked the authors as they have taught classes at Brigham Young University, shared their research at professional symposia, and spoken in other settings.
Review of Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts.
Reprinted in Mormonism and Early Christianity, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley vol. 4, 45–99. Also reprinted in LDS Views on Early Christianity and Apocrypha: Articles from BYU Studies, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book.
Draws upon a host of sources and shows certain parallels between an early Christian form of prayer and that of the Latter-day Saint prayer circle.
Originally published as an article in BYU Studies in 1978.
Draws upon a host of sources and shows certain parallels between an early Christian form of prayer and that of the Latter-day Saint prayer circle.
A practice that was eventually condemned by the church because of its Jewish affinities—being found, for example, in the Testaments of Abraham and Job and in the writings of Philo—the prayer circle has a long and complex history in Christian practice. This practice was considered one of the “ mysteries” and therefore was protected from all who weren’t initiated. For the initiated participants, this was a very sacred practice, which demanded unity between all those involved. The prayer circle, generally referred to as a “ dance,” often included hymns, prayers for the living and the dead, and gestures that would prepare the participants for heavenly visitations.
originally published in Deseret News, November 21, 1931, pp. 7-8
Review of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014), 590 pp. (full color interior includes footnotes; endnotes; three excursus sections; annotated bibliography on Enoch and the Flood; comprehensive reference list; thumbnail index of one hundred and eleven illustrations and photographs; and indexes of scriptures referenced, modern prophets quoted, and topics discussed). $49.99 (hardcover).
Reprinted with the kind permission of the Association for Mormon Letters.
In this article, I will explore the notion of communal ascent to heaven in ancient Jewish and Christian literature and seek to answer the questions, Can an entire community ascend to heaven? and Do we see this theme in ancient texts, or is this a complete innovation on the part of Joseph Smith as he sought to unite his followers around an inspiring and unifying goal? To arrive at the answers to these questions, I will analyze a number of ancient Jewish and Christian religious texts that feature the ascent to heaven motif and suggest that not only did their authors envision an individual ascent, but they also imagined groups or communities raised up to the celestial realm.
Reprinted in Enoch the Prophet, Collected Works of Hugh Nibley vol. 2.
Discusses the book of Enoch and its relationship with the Pearl of Great Price.
Reprinted in Enoch the Prophet, Collected Works of Hugh Nibley vol. 2.
Discusses the book of Enoch and its relationship with the Pearl of Great Price.
In the Book of Moses, part of the Latter-day Saint scriptural canon known as the Pearl of Great Price, are what the Prophet Joseph Smith entitled “extracts from the prophecy of Enoch.” These scriptures, says the eminent Latter-day Saint scholar Hugh Nibley, “supply us with the most valuable control yet on the bona fides of the Prophet. . . . We are to test. . . . ‘How does it compare with records known to be authentic?’ The excerpts offer the nearest thing to a perfectly foolproof test—neat, clear-cut, and decisive—of Joseph Smith’s claim to inspiration.”
In Enoch the Prophet, Dr. Nibley examines and defends that claim by examining Joseph Smith’s translations in the context of recently discovered apocryphal sources.
This book contains a collection of various comparisons of the Enoch materials in the Book of Moses with the Slavonic and Ethiopic Enoch texts and other related materials and lore from antiquity, showing the possibility that Joseph Smith’s book of Enoch could be authentic ancient text.
One of the most prominent themes in the first eleven chapters of the Bible is a series of transgressions of boundaries that had been set up in the beginning to separate mankind from the dwelling place of God. This general thesis is useful as far as it goes. In the stories of the transgressions of Adam and Eve, of Cain, of Lamech, of the “sons of God” who married the “daughters of men,” and of the builders of the Tower of Babel, we cannot fail to observe the common thread of a God who places strict boundaries between the human and the divine. Surprisingly, however, a significant and opposite theme has been largely neglected by readers: namely, the fact that within some of these same chapters God is also portrayed as having sought to erase the divine-human boundary for a righteous few, drawing them into His very presence. The prime examples of this motif are, of course, Enoch and Noah, of whom it was explicitly said that they “walked with God.”
A series of handouts prepared in the fifties and early sixties for distribution to various audiences.
“Years ago, it was my custom to communicate to the General Authorities in an occasional brash and self-appointed newsletter (called a ‘G-2 Report’) items of interest dealing with new discoveries which I considered significant. My boldness was not ill-received.” —Quoting a letter from Nibley to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 2 October 1979.
The Garden of Eden pericope (Genesis 2-3) contains a number of powerful symbols that are related to and represent archetypal depictions of subsequent Israelite temple systems. In a cogent manner, the Garden of Eden, as it is referred to throughout the Bible, Pseudepigrapha, and rabbinic writings, served as the prototype, pattern, and/ or originator of subsequent Israelite temples, “a type of archetypal sanctuary.” The garden was not a sanctuary built of cedar or marble, for it is not necessary for a temple to possess an edifice or structure; but rather it was an area of sacred space made holy because God’s presence was found there. Mircea Eliade has stated that the Garden of Eden was the heavenly prototype of the temple, and the Book of Jubilees 3:19 adds that “the garden of Eden is the Holy of Holies, and the dwelling of the Lord.” This essay will examine these claims.
Abstract: The biblical etiology (story of origin) for the name “Cain” associates his name with the Hebrew verb qny/qnh, “to get,” “gain,” “acquire,” “create,” or “procreate” in a positive sense. A fuller form of this etiology, known to us indirectly through the Book of Mormon text and directly through the restored text of the Joseph Smith Translation, creates additional wordplay on “Cain” that associates his name with murder to “get gain.” This fuller narrative is thus also an etiology for organized evil—secret combinations “built up to get power and gain” (Ether 8:22–23; 11:15). The original etiology exerted a tremendous influence on Book of Mormon writers (e.g., Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mormon, and Moroni) who frequently used allusions to this narrative and sometimes replicated the wordplay on “Cain” and “getting gain.” The fuller narrative seems to have exerted its greatest influence on Mormon and Moroni, who witnessed the destruction of their nation firsthand — destruction catalyzed by Cainitic secret combinations. Moroni, in particular, invokes the Cain etiology in describing the destruction of the Jaredites by secret combinations. The destruction of two nations by Cainitic secret combinations stand as two witnesses and a warning to latter-day Gentiles (and Israel) against building up these societies and allowing them to flourish.
Since the beginnings of the Church, those who participated in the Restoration were commanded to keep a history. Latter-day Saints have an abiding interest in the history of God’s dealings with this earth. Similarly, we reverence the history in scripture because our faith is grounded in events that have taken place in the time and space of this earth. Historicity is the study of the authenticity of recorded past events. This significant compilation addresses the issue of historicity as it relates to the scriptures that Latter-day Saints accept as the word of God. With articles from Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Robert J. Matthews, Robert L. Millet, and more, this book provides an inspiring and more complete picture of the necessity for the historical nature of the Latter-day Saint canon.
While some may argue that gospel truth is separate from historical truth, the gospel cannot be true unless it is also historical. This means that events such as the Creation, Fall, Atonement, and Restoration all truly took place in an identifiable time and place, even if that time and place are not known to us. If these or any gospel events were not historically true, God could not render a righteous judgment on any person.
The issue of the historicity of the Book of Mormon highlights the difference between those who rely solely on scholarship and those who rely on revelation, faith, and scholarship. Those who rely solely on scholarship reject revelation and focus on a limited number of issues. But they can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon through their secular evidence and methods. On the other hand, those who rely on a combination of revelation, faith, and scholarship can see and understand all of the complex issues of the Book of Mormon record, and it is only through that combination that the question of the historicity of the Book of Mormon can be answered.
The book of Moses is the first of several documents in the collection of sacred writings published as the Pearl of Great Price. Although this material is currently labeled “Selections from the Book of Moses,” it was not always specified by that name, nor has the content of the material always been exactly as it is today. A quick look at its origin, development, and content can help us more fully appreciate what the book of Moses is, how it came to be, and why it is a unique witness for Jesus Christ.
Abstract: For ancient Israelites, the temple was a place where sacrifice and theophany (i.e., seeing God or other heavenly beings) converged. The account of Abraham’s “arrested” sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22) and the account of the arrested slaughter of Jerusalem following David’s unauthorized census of Israel (2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21) served as etiological narratives—explanations of “cause” or “origin”—for the location of the Jerusalem temple and its sacrifices. Wordplay on the verb rāʾâ (to “see”) in these narratives creates an etiological link between the place-names “Jehovah-jireh,” “Moriah” and the threshing floor of Araunah/Ornan, pointing to the future location of the Jerusalem temple as the place of theophany and sacrifice par excellence. Isaac’s arrested sacrifice and the vicarious animal sacrifices of the temple anticipated Jesus’s later “un-arrested” sacrifice since, as Jesus himself stated, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day” (John 8:56). Sacrifice itself was a kind of theophany in which one’s own redemption could be “seen” and the scriptures of the Restoration confirm that Abraham and many others, even “a great many thousand years before” the coming of Christ, “saw” Jesus’s sacrifice and “rejoiced.” Additionally, theophany and sacrifice converge in the canonized revelations regarding the building of the latter-day temple. These temple revelations begin with a promise of theophany, and mandate sacrifice from the Latter-day Saints. In essence, the temple itself was, and is, Christ’s atonement having its intended effect on humanity. .
This article explores the ancient Near Eastern ritu-als that endowed kings with this power, specifically the rites suggested by the Investiture Panel at the palace of Mari, with specific focus on the motifs of creation, sacred garden, and divine kingship. Because contemporary evidence at Mari relating to an interpretation of the panel and the functions of various rooms of the palace is limited, it will be necessary to rely in part on a careful comparative analysis of religious texts, images, and architecture throughout the ancient Near East, including the Old Testament. Comparative analysis not only has the benefit of increasing our understanding of ancient Mesopotamian religion but also can enrich our understanding of the Bible.
This chapter is adapted from a review of Douglas F. Salmon, “Parallelomania and the Study of Latter-day Scripture: Confirmation, Coincidence, or the Collective Unconscious,“ Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 33, no. 2 (2000): 129–56. The article was originally published as William J. Hamblin and Gordon C. Thomasson, “Joseph or Jung? A Response to Douglas Salmon,“ FARMS Review of Books 13, no. 2 (2001): 87–107.
A review of an article written by Douglas F. Salmon.
During his lifetime, Joseph Smith revealed at least four versions of what I will refer to as the “Genesis account,” which consists of the creation of the world, the experiences of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and the events that befell them and their near posterity following the expulsion from the garden. These four versions each differ in important ways from the biblical text in Genesis, and they also differ one from another. The versions of the Genesis account include the following:
(1) scattered references found in the Book of Mormon;
(2) the biblical account as revised in the Book of Moses;
(3) the account in the Book of Abraham; and
(4) the version presented in the temple endowment.
I will focus on the second of these, the Book of Moses, especially chapters 1-7, which were revealed to Joseph Smith from June to December 1830. Many have already pointed out temple-related themes that abound in these chapters.
I will take these discoveries a step further, arguing that Moses 1-7 is fundamentally a ritual text whose elements are adapted to the physical features of the temple of Solomon. I will then discuss how this reading of the Book of Moses might interact with modern scholarship on the biblical book of Genesis, and ﬁnally how this reading of Moses can provide insight into ritual performances both ancient and modern
Ten prominent Church scholars presented at the symposium on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Their in-depth study of the Joseph Smith Translation and related scriptures clarifies the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and show how Joseph Smith restored many plain and precious truths to that holy book. This volume brings together those addresses, illuminating this inspired translation as perhaps no other book had done.
In 1828, the H. and E. Phinney Company in Cooperstown, New York, published a quarto-size edition of the King James Bible. This is the version that Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, used in his work when he created a new translation of the Bible. Here the author examines Joseph Smith’s marked-up copy of the Phinney Bible as an artifact important to Mormonism’some of Smith’s corrections and additions appear in footnotes of the Bible that Mormons use today. The author notes that the Phinney Bible’s updated language is more modern than the version of the Bible Latter-day Saints officially use (the King James), and the modernization may or may not have influenced Joseph Smith’s word choice in creating his translation. The author also gives biographical information on the Phinneys, describes how their Bible may have made its way into Joseph Smith’s hands, briefly traces the history of the English Bible in America, and describes the printing process employed by the Phinneys.
Several approaches to interpreting Joseph Smith’s use of the so-called Jewish and Christian apocryphal literature have been employed both by critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter LDS), and by those professing faith in the Church and whose interests may be classified as apologetic. These approaches span the range of being probative of Joseph Smith’s restoration of lost texts and scripture and being dismissive of Mormonism generally, because its sacred religious texts are founded on flagrant plagiarism of apocryphal literature. Before one can answer the most important historical question at hand, how Joseph Smith used the Apocrypha and what relationship that body of literature had to early Mormon writings, it seems prudent to first of all establish some controls on the discussion. This is necessary because previous discussions have largely contented themselves with drawing out parallels between apocryphal writings and early Mormon publications without any discussion of whether or not Joseph Smith had access to the texts under discussion. Moreover, a wide variety of modern translations of ancient apocryphal texts are often employed when there is no possible way that someone living in the early nineteenth century could have known them. This is particularly important when citing phrases or words that Joseph Smith might have incorporated into the language of his revelations.
The latter-day restoration of the gospel included the restoration of much significant truth to the Bible. It brought about the restoration of biblical history that had been lost and the restoration of biblical texts that had been changed or omitted or were in need of clarification. More important, it included the restoration of biblical doctrine that had been either removed, distorted, or simply misinterpreted by a world that did not enjoy the fulness of the gospel.
Shortly after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint was organized, the Prophet Joseph Smith was instructed by the Lord to undertake a careful reading of the Bible to revise and make corrections in accordance with the inspiration that he would receive. The result was a work of profound significance for the Church that included the revelation of many important truths and the restoration of many of the “precious things” that the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi had foretold would be taken from the Bible (1 Ne. 13:23–29). In June 1830 the first revealed addition to the Bible was set to writing. Over the next three years, the Prophet made changes, additions, and corrections as were given him by divine inspiration while he filled his calling to provide a more correct translation for the Church. Collectively, these are called the Joseph Smith Translation (JST), a name first applied in the 1970s, or the New Translation, as Joseph Smith and others in his day referred to it.
With the recent publication of David Bokovoy’s Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy, many have wondered to what extent the Bible has had influence on the Book of Moses. The discussion has mainly revolved around the parts of the text that are obvious revisions of the Genesis creation chapters (Genesis 1, 2-3) that originate from different Israelite sources written centuries after the time of Moses. In response to and in order to make a contribution toward further understanding this topic I will look closely at the full text of the Book of Moses in the original manuscripts (as presented in BYU’s RSC publications) and locate the places of intertextuality. I will present the Book of Moses on a chapter by chapter basis until I arrive at the end, and after this is complete I will offer some thoughts on to what extent the KJV influenced the composition of the Book of Moses. This will take time for each of these posts to come out, and I hope that in the meantime others will utilize the work here to discuss the topic. My approach in these posts is based on my much larger project of locating textual dependence throughout the Book of Mormon on the King James Bible, a manuscript that will be published by Greg Kofford Books.
Traditional Christianity struggled for many years to define its canon, to determine which of its writings were sacred, inspired, and authoritative. The Latter-day Saint concept of canon differs from that of other Christians. In addition to the Bible, the Latter-day Saint canon includes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These “standard works” provide a measuring rod by which we can judge other texts and statements. But while we have a canon, we nevertheless believe that God continues to make known His will through the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. Inspired by the Holy Ghost, their decisions are to be made in unity (D&C 107:27). We as Church members also need the Holy Ghost in order to recognize scriptural power in their words, and we can be comforted in the Lord’s promise that the President of the Church will never lead us astray.
During the early 1970s, a practical need arose for a Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible. As explained by George A. Horton Jr., director of curriculum production and distribution for the Church Educational System, three different Bibles were in circulation among Church members—one for adults, one for seminary students, and one for Primary children. Not only did this system create an element of chaos, but it also increased costs.  About this time, the Spirit of the Lord seemed to be hovering over several people in various organizations within the Church. Two of these people were Horton and his colleague Grant E. Barton, who was then serving as a member of the newly formed Meetinghouse Library Committee.  Horton and Barton were neighbors who carpooled together to the Church Office Building, using the occasion to discuss a desire to have one Bible as well as teaching aids for an LDS edition.  Barton, Horton, and another colleague decided to survey various organizations of the Church to help them decide “what the ideal characteristics/features would be of the ideal Bible that would be used by all.”
In this article, I will suggest how the LDS story of Enoch might be understood as the culminating episode in a temple text cycle woven through the book of Moses. I will begin by giving a brief summary of “temple theology” and what is meant by the term “temple text.” Distinctive aspects of LDS temple teachings will be outlined. I will then outline how the book of Moses reflects elements of temple architecture, furnishings, and ritual in the story of the Creation and the Fall. Like other scripture-based temple texts, the general structure of the second half of the book of Moses follows a pattern exemplifying faithfulness and unfaithfulness to a specific sequence of covenants that is familiar to members of the LDS Church who have received the temple endowment. I argue that the story of Enoch and his people provides a vivid demonstration of the final steps on the path that leads back to God and up to exaltation.
Abstract: The character and complexion of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible (JST) is often a puzzle to students and scholars. One text in particular, the first chapter of the Book of Moses, claims that its very words would be lost and later restored to the believing. As this bold claim has not yet been verified by the discovery of an ancient copy of this text, clues to the antiquity of this document will need to be discovered within the text itself. This study investigates Moses 1 with the tools of biblical and literary criticism to discover if the text has the characteristics and content of an ancient religious document.
In this paper I intend to deal primarily with the element of deception in the production and employment of apocryphal literature, particularly as it is revealed by the devices of pseudonymity and pseudepigraphy. I am defining pseudonymity here as an author’s intentional adoption of another persona, not merely as a pen name but as an assumed identity. Thus the Testament of Solomon is pseudonymous because the author has clearly adopted the persona of Solomon and speaks, as Solomon, in the first person. On the other hand, Huckleberry Finn would not be pseudonymous by my definition even though Samuel Clemens used the nom de plume Mark Twain, because Clemens did not adopt a persona other than his own; that is, we may assume that Clemens did not return royalty checks made out to Mark Twain, but rather cashed them unashamedly. Sam Clemens was Mark Twain, and there was no real possibility of confusing one person for the other.
The idea of names as “keywords” has been associated with temples since very early times. In a temple context, the meaning of the term “keyword” can be taken quite literally: the use of the appropriate keyword or keywords by a qualified worshipper “unlocks” each one of a successive series of gates, thus providing access to specific, secured areas of the sacred space. In this presentation, we will explore how a series of names and titles purportedly given to Moses at various points in his life might relate to accounts of his ascents to heaven.
First, I want to deal with the figure of the Son of Man in ancient literature, reviewing along the way what current biblical scholarship says about this personality, especially since he is mentioned prominently in nonscriptural sources. Second, I intend to treat the question of the anthropomorphic view of God in scripture, specifically in the Old Testament. Third, I wish to touch on the issue of the nature of the titles used for deity throughout scripture, for we all have the impression that a great many are applied to God, especially within the pages of the Old Testament. Fourth and last, I want to single out the parallels in ancient Christian and Jewish literature to the remarkable, almost singular theological position to which we Latter-day Saints are committed when we call deity a Man, whether Man of Holiness, Man of Counsel (Moses 7:35), or some similar title.
Pointed social commentary concerning the state of the natural environment.
Abstract: In this essay, Richard Bushman borrows a critical perspective from Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. He analyzes the representation of antiquity in two of Joseph Smith’s striking translations, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses. The two texts, produced within a few years of one another, created distinctive stages on which to dramatize the human-God relationship. The question is: What can we learn from this comparison about God, prophets, and human destiny?
[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the Latter-day Saint community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.
See Richard L. Bushman, “Mormon, Moses, and the Representation of Reality,” in Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses: Inspired Origins, Temple Contexts, and Literary Qualities, edited by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, David R. Seely, John W. Welch and Scott Gordon (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation; Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central; Redding, CA: FAIR; Tooele, UT: Eborn Books, 2021), 51–74. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/ancient-threads-in-the-book-of-moses/.].
Longer version of an invited presentation originally given at the 2009 Conference of the European Mormon Studies Association, Turin, Italy, July 30-31, 2009
One of the intriguing things about religious texts is how long of a life and how long of an afterlife they have. Once a text becomes a part of a “canon,” once it becomes in a way fixed, it becomes open to further discussion and elaboration. Different groups and religious traditions create different genres of interpretation to work with and understand their scriptures according to the needs of their traditions. One form of interpretation involves reopening the Bible and expanding on the narrative of the already canonized text, such as is found in the rabbinic genre of midrash and in Joseph Smith’s New Translation (JST) of the Bible.
Philip L. Barlow offers an in-depth analysis of the approaches taken to the Bible by major Mormon leaders, from its beginnings to the present. He shows that Mormon attitudes toward the Bible comprise an extraordinary mix of conservative, liberal, and radical ingredients: an almost fundamentalist adherence to the King James Version co-exists with belief in the possibility of new revelation and surprising ideas about the limits of human language. Barlow’s exploration takes important steps toward unraveling the mystery of this quintessential American religious phenomenon. This updated edition of Mormons and the Bible includes an extended bibliography and a new preface, casting Joseph Smith’s mission into a new frame and treating evolutions in Mormonism’s biblical usage in recent decades.
Abstract: This article highlights the striking resemblances between Moses 1 and a corresponding account from the Apocalypse of Abraham (ApAb), one of the earliest and most important Jewish texts describing heavenly ascent. Careful comparative analysis demonstrates a sustained sequence of detailed affinities in narrative structure that go beyond what Joseph Smith could have created out of whole cloth from his environment and his imagination. The article also highlights important implications for the study of the Book of Moses as a temple text. Previous studies have suggested that the story of Enoch found in the Pearl of Great Price might be understood as the culminating episode of a temple text woven throughout chapters 2–8 of the Book of Moses. The current article is a conceptual bookend to these earlier studies, demonstrating that the account of heavenly ascent in Moses 1 provides a compelling prelude to a narrative outlining laws and liturgy akin to what could have been used anciently as part of ritual ascent within earthly temples.
We invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now.
There is a striking example of a “narrative” type call in the prophetic commission of Enoch in Moses 6:23–36. This study considers the elements of the narrative call pattern; those elements of this form found in the prophetic commission of Enoch are examined and compared with the biblical narrative call passages.
Key historical events in the scriptures require historicity to give substance to our faith. Since the Enlightenment, however, some scholars have proclaimed that the scriptures lack historicity. In the face of these doubts, some have argued that historicity is not necessary for belief. Latter-day Saints should be wary of the misleading arguments of critics and of simplistic solutions to those arguments.
In November 2004 the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University published a facsimile transcription of all the original manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.  I was privileged to be one of the editors of the project and worked with those manuscripts in preparing the publication. A facsimile transcription seeks to reproduce in print—as much as is humanly and typographically possible—the writing found on a handwritten document. Thus the transcription includes the writers’ original spelling, grammar, punctuation, line endings, omissions, errors, insertions, and deletions. The purpose of the publication is to provide scholars and lay readers with an accurate reproduction of the text as found on Joseph Smith’s original manuscripts. Its importance is in the fact that those documents had never been made public before but were stored in archives that were only available for study to a limited number of researchers.
Some believe that historicity and inerrancy in scripture are the same. By this argument, when a portion of scripture is found to have errors, the entire record is considered neither historical nor accurate. However, nothing in this imperfect world is inerrant, and although the authors of the scriptural records were prophets and called of God to write their portion of the scriptures, they were not perfect—no one is. So although the authors were not inerrant, their writings are nonetheless historical. By academic standards the scriptures fulfill all the criteria for historically accurate records. With the human errors accounted for, the scriptures are reliable historically and accurate in their testimony of the doctrines of the gospel and the mission of Jesus Christ.
The Apocalypse of Abraham, a pseudepigraphon only extant in a fourteenth century Old Church Slavonic manuscript, has not received much attention from scholars of Ancient Judaism, due in part to a lack of readily available information regarding the history and transmission of the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha. This dissertation examines the historical context of these works with the aim of assessing the probability that they contain ancient Jewish material. The rest of the dissertation is focused on the Apocalypse of Abraham specifically, discussing its date and provenance, original language, probability that it comes from Essene circles, textual unity, and Christian interpolations. This includes treatments of the issue of free will, determinism, and predestination in the Apocalypse of Abraham as well as the methodological complexities in trying to distinguish between early Jewish and Christian works. It also provides an in-depth comparison of the Apocalypse of Abraham with 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch and takes up the question of the social setting for these texts based on relevant precedents set by recent scholars of midrash who seek to probe the “socio-cultural and historical situatedness” of midrashic texts. This discussion includes a survey of parallels between the content of the Apocalypse of Abraham and rabbinic literature to support the argument that a sharp distinction between apocalyptic ideas and what later became rabbinic tradition did not exist in the time between 70 and 135 C.E. Overall, this dissertation argues that the Apocalypse of Abraham is an early Jewish document written during the decades following the destruction of the Second Temple. While seeking to warn its readers of the dangers of idolatry in light of the apocalyptic judgment still to come, it also provides sustained exegesis of Genesis 15, which gives cohesion to the entire document.
A discussion of the Book of Enoch as extracts of “The Writings of Moses.”
This exciting and penetrating comparison of the Joseph Smith book of Enoch, with four known variant manuscripts of that ancient work, provides yet another evidence of the Prophet’s inspiration and the scope of his vision in the great work of the Restoration.
This follows the idea that Enoch had great cosmological visions.
The deliberate wickedness of the people at Enoch’s time created a moral turbulence that was reflected in chaotic nature, such as earthquakes.
In this installment, Brother Nibley first concludes his discussion of the veil, then uses scriptural sources from the book of Moses and nonscriptural accounts by apochryphal writers of texts not available to Joseph Smith to give us an intriguing image of Enoch’s holy city.
A discussion of the translation of the Dead Sea Scroll book of Enoch.
With the October 1975 issue, the Ensign began a series on the book of Enoch authored by Hugh Nibley. As Part 1 recounts, early Christian writers knew and respected the book of Enoch, but biblical scholars neglected it in scorn after the excitement of the Reformation was over. However, James Bruce, exploring the sources of the Nile in 1773, brought back three copies. Part 2 describes the critical response—or lack of it—to these documents and then turns to examining the four versions of the book of Enoch against which Joseph Smith’s writing must be judged.
This section of the examination of Enoch compared Joseph Smith’s book of Enoch step-by-step with four main classes of documents, commonly designated as the following: I Enoch (the Ethiopic texts, beginning with the three brought to England by Bruce in 1773), II Enoch (also called the Secrets of Enoch in Old Slavonic), III Enoch (Enoch texts in Greek), and scattered Hebrew and Aramaic Enoch fragments. Since these are to serve as checks on the reliability of the Prophet Joseph, the qualifications of each should be briefly considered.
Discusses how Christian Enoch’s writings are.
Suggests that what is written on earth is written in heaven and discusses how that comes into play with writing spiritual matters that the Lord has commanded be written.
The Improvement Era was an official magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1897 and 1970.
A study of the book of Enoch as a recording of sacred matters.
Suggests parallels to Moses 1, which lie far beyond the reach of coincidence or daydreaming. The number of details and the order in which they occur make it perfectly clear that we are dealing with specific works of great antiquity which come from a common source. To show what they mean, they compare Moses’s, Abraham’s, and Adam’s confrontations with Satan.
The purpose of these articles is to (1) call attention to some of the long-ignored aspects of the Joseph Smith account of Enoch in the book of Moses and in the Inspired Version of Genesis and (2) provide at the same time some of the evidence that establishes the authenticity of that remarkable text. Contemporary learning offered few checks to the imagination of Joseph Smith; the enthusiasm of his followers presented none.
Addresses the dangers of oversimplifying the scriptures and attempts to look at the Book of Mormon without such oversimplification.
Reprinted in Old Testament and Related Studies, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 1. 87–114.
An address given at the BYU Women’s Conference, 1 February 1980.
“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pas the immortality and eternal life of man.” This profound doctrinal statement is one of many contained in the Pearl of Great Price, the smallest of the standard works and the last to be canonized. Studying that scripture in depth adds immensely to our understanding of the Lord’s eternal plan. Comprising addresses delivered at a symposium on the Pearl of Great Price, this book combines the insights and testimonies of thirteen gospel scholars. All things were created to bear witness of God. As here shown, the Pearl of Great Price does that in many ways.
The more we are acquainted with the life and ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the more evident it becomes that Elder John Taylor did not overstate reality when he said that “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (D&C 135:3). This passage goes on to specify that it was the abundance of revelation and scripture given Joseph Smith that particularly qualified him for such a lofty epithet.
An essay published posthumously in which England wrestles with what he believed to be a disturbing trend in Mormonism away from what he saw as Joseph Smith’s and Brigham Young’s doctrine of God as a personal being engaged with us in a tragic universe not of his own making and toward a more absolutistic God similar to the teachings about deity held by Evangelical Christianity.
This book comprises fourteen of the papers presented at “Chiasmus: An Open Conference on the State of the Art,” held at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, on August 15–16, 2017. That date marked the fiftieth anniversary of events in Germany and Austria which soon grew into the publication of Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis (Hildesheim: Gerstenberg, 1981), edited by John W. Welch. Generated forty years ago, that widely-cited volume with a preface by David Noel Freedman featured contributions by authors including Yehuda T. Radday, Jonah Frankel, Bezael Porten, Wilford G. E. Watson, John W. Welch, and Robert F. Smith, about chiasmus in Ugaritic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and other literatures.
Since 1996, researchers from Brigham Young University—with the assistance of new photographs, scanned images, and much hands-on examination of the documents—have been engaged in a careful study of the text written on the original manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The work has yielded the publication of a large facsimile transcription of all the original manuscript pages and much new information about how Joseph Smith prepared the text. Among the many new discoveries resulting from this research is an enhanced understanding of the sequence and chronology of the Prophet’s work.
Referring to ancient and long-lost scripture that Joseph Smith restored, Wilford Woodruff declared it to be part of “the rich treasures that are revealed unto us in the last days.” One such treasure is Moses chapter 1, a scriptural jewel we have hardly begun to appreciate but whose luster has become more apparent in light of various ancient texts and traditions that have emerged since Joseph Smith’s day. So striking are the parallels as to recall Joseph’s own prophecy that “the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence.”
The Pearl of Great Price is a book of scripture, and the Lord will bless you as you carefully read and ponder the sacred words found therein. This student manual provides statements and commentary to support and enhance your study of the Pearl of Great Price.
As historians engage with literary texts, they should ask a few important questions. What is the text that I am using in my research? What is the manuscript tradition from which the manuscript or text evolved? How does that evolution inform the specific period I am studying? Did it evolve orally or in written form? And are there variations that have been handed down through time and through tradition that may provide greater context or clarity to my research? Implicit in these questions is an interest in authenticity and accuracy. As literary texts evolve and are shared over time, there are multiple factors that may lead a text away from its earliest forms, such as when a narrative is orally transmitted over multiple generations and then recorded in writing or when a manuscript is repeatedly copied by hand and errors are introduced into the text. The attempt to ascertain the earliest forms of a text is known as textual criticism. This branch of scholarship started in earnest at the beginning of the European Renaissance from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, and led to the European Enlightenment of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In this article I will argue that scholars of Mormon history have not yet taken advantage of the historical insights that textual criticism has to offer, as a means of persuading the academic community to embrace this important methodology.
Abstract: The LDS Book of Moses is remarkable in its depiction of the suffering of the wicked at the time of the Flood. According to this text, there are three parties directly involved in the weeping: God (Moses 7:28; cf. v. 29), the heavens (Moses 7:28, 37), and Enoch (Moses 7:41, 49). In addition, a fourth party, the earth, mourns—though does not weep—for her children (Moses 7:48–49). The passages that speak of the weeping God and the mourning earth have received the greatest share of attention by scholars. The purpose of this article is to round out the previous discussion so as to include new insights and ancient parallels to the two voices of weeping that have been largely forgotten—that of Enoch and that of the heavens. ((An expanded and revised version of material contained in this study will appear as part of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen, Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel (Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, forthcoming, 2014). All translations from non-English sources are by the first author unless otherwise specifically noted.)) .
The colonists living in the new United States after the American War for Independence were faced with the problem of forming new identities once they could no longer recognize themselves, collectively or individually, as subjects of Great Britain. After the French Revolution American politicians began to weed out the more radical political elements of the newly formed United States, particularly by painting one of the revolution’s biggest defenders, Thomas Paine, as unworthy of the attention he received during the American War for Independence, and fear ran throughout the states that an anarchic revolution like the French Revolution could bring the downfall of the nation. State, local, and regional organizations sprang up to fight Jacobinism, the legendary secret group of murderers and anarchists that fought against the French government.
This distressing situation gave rise to new literature that sought to describe the “real” origins and background of Jacobinism in the War in Heaven and in Eden, and a new movement against Jacobinism was established. Fears about the organization of secret societies did not wane in the decades after the French Revolution, but worsened in the last half of the 1820s when a Freemason, William Morgan, disappeared under mysterious circumstances in connection to an exposé of Masonry he had written. Most Americans assumed that Freemasons had abducted and murdered Morgan in order to keep their oaths and rites secret.
One influential early American who was influenced by this socio-historical was Joseph Smith, Jr., the founding prophet of Mormonism. Smith interpreted the Eden narrative in light of the movement against secret societies, and literary motifs common to anti-Jacobin literature during the period provided language and interpretive strategies for understanding the Eden narrative that would influence how Smith produced his new scripture. Only a few months after the publication of the Book of Mormon Smith edited the version of Eden found there into the text of the Bible itself and made the biblical narrative conform to the version found in the Book of Mormon through his own revisions and additions.
In 1979, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published its edition of the King James Version of the Bible. The Scriptures Publication Committee decided to include portions of the Joseph Smith Translation in the new edition. For the first time, Latter-day Saints had access to Joseph’s inspired work in their own personal scriptures. Many Latter-day Saints may be unaware that the efforts to include the JST material in the new edition of the Bible were pioneered by Robert J. Matthews, former dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University. Beginning in 1953, Brother Matthews began a letter-writing campaign to the RLDS Church (now called the Community of Christ), requesting permission to study the original JST manuscripts. Through his sustained efforts, the RLDS Church gave Brother Matthews permission to examine the manuscripts.
In Temple and Cosmos, Brother Nibley explains the relationship of the House of the Lord to the cosmos. In Temple, the first part of the volume, he focuses on the nature, meaning, and history of the temple, discussing such topics as sacred vestments, the circle and the square, and the symbolism of the temple and its ordinances. In the second part, Cosmos, he discusses the cosmic context of the temple-the expanding gospel, apocryphal writings, religion and history, the genesis of the written word, cultural diversity in the universal church, and the terrible questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? and Where are we going?
This lecture was originally accompanied by slides. It was circulated in two different editions in 1986 and 1987 and was available in a much expanded version, including illustrations, in 1988.
Abstract: The accounts of creation in Genesis, Moses, and Abraham as well as in higher endowments of knowledge given to the faithful are based on visions in which the seer lacked the vocabulary to describe and the knowledge to interpret what he saw and hence was obliged to record his experiences in the imprecise language available to him. Modern attempts to explain accounts of these visions frequently make use of concepts and terminology that are completely at odds with the understanding of ancient peoples: they project anachronistic concepts that the original seer would not have recognized. This article reviews several aspects of the creation stories in scripture for the purpose of distinguishing anachronistic modern reinterpretations from the content of the original vision.
This essay derives from a presentation made at the 2013 Interpreter Symposium on Science and Religion: Cosmos, Earth, and Man on November 9, 2013. Details on the event, including links to videos, are available at journal.interpreterfoundation.org. An expanded version of the symposium proceedings will be published in hardcopy and digital formats.
This book features the personal perspectives of prominent LDS scientists addressing the theme of “Cosmos, Earth, and Man.” Many of these were drawn from the first Interpreter Symposium on Science and Mormonism, held in Provo, Utah on 9 November 2013. In the pages of this book, readers will appreciate the concise and colorful summaries of the state-of-the-art in scientific research relating to these topics and will gain a deeper appreciation of the unique contributions of LDS doctrine to the ongoing conversation.
Today the modernist view of history in which texts only represent events is so predominant that most Latter-day Saints automatically apply it to the question of scriptural historicity. Unfortunately, historical scholarship rarely lines up with our understanding of scripture as well as we would like. Problems arise when we use modernist tools to examine scripture written by premoderns, who considered their writing not as mere representation but as incarnation—an embodiment of the symbolic ordering of the world. The premodernist reading of the scriptures more accurately reflects Latter-day Saint beliefs: whereas modernism would use reason to understand history (and thus the Divine in history, i.e., scripture), premodernism uses divinely revealed scripture as well as ritual, ritual objects, and ritual language to give order to history. Instead of examining scripture as just another element of history, premoderns consider scripture to be the defining element in history.
The historicity of scripture is important to most Christians and especially to Latter-day Saints.  Christians disagree among themselves about how to understand scriptural history, but few deny that, in some important sense, Christian scripture is historical. However, given the challenges to scriptural history, challenges that are especially strong for Latter-day Saints who take the Book of Mormon to be historical, what are we to make of the claim that scriptures are history? Given those challenges, is it possible to understand scripture as literal history? The answer to that question—positive, I will argue—lies in answering the question of what we mean by history.
English and Spanish
Review of Terryl Givens with Brian Hauglid, The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019). 285 pages. $34.95 (hardback).
Abstract: Among the many revelatory works of Joseph Smith, members and scholars alike seem to give lesser attention to what is found in the Pearl of Great Price. In The Pearl of Greatest Price, Terryl Givens and Brian Hauglid attempt to provide some of the attention that has been lacking. The result is a book that, while spotty in places, provides a good resource that should receive wide exposure in academic circles. Believing members, on the other hand, may find the book lacking or downright questionable because of the secular approach it takes to dealing with scripture understood to have a divine provenance.