In the Bible, we are told simply that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” However, in Moses 7, we are given a detailed account of how and why this happened—not only to Enoch but also, eventually, to a city of his followers. Before being taken permanently to God’s “own bosom,” Enoch was temporarily “clothed upon with glory,” allowing him to receive visions of the near and far future. These visions and their parallels in the ancient Enoch literature will be discussed in detail in subsequent Essays. In this Essay, we will discuss Enoch’s transfiguration.
The scene of “celestial clothing” that is described in ancient and modern Enoch accounts recalls a vision of President Lorenzo Snow, then an apostle. The vision occurred during his near-fatal illness in Iowa. His journal records:
My spirit seems to have left the world and introduced into that of Kolob. I heard a voice calling me by name, saying: “He is worthy, he is worthy, take away his filthy garments.” My clothes were then taken off piece by piece and a voice said: “Let him be clothed, let him be clothed.” Immediately, I found a celestial body gradually growing upon me until at length I found myself crowned with all its glory and power. The ecstasy of joy I now experienced no man can tell, pen cannot describe it.
Enoch Is Made a Son of God, in His Perfect Image and Likeness
Immediately following the description of the process whereby Adam became a “son of God,” Enoch testified that many others “have believed and become the sons of God.” Then, in verses 2–3, we read of Enoch’s own transfiguration:
2 As I was journeying, and stood upon the place Mahujah, and cried unto the Lord, there came a voice out of heaven, saying—Turn ye, and get ye upon the mount Simeon.
3 And it came to pass that I turned and went up on the mount; and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory;
The pseudepigraphal books of 2 and 3 Enoch purport to describe the process by which Enoch was “clothed upon with glory” in more detail. As a prelude to Enoch’s introduction to the secrets of creation, both accounts describe a “two-step initiatory procedure” whereby “the patriarch was first initiated by angel(s) and after this by the Lord” Himself. As this process culminates, Enoch, both in ancient sources and modern scripture, receives “a right to [God’s] throne.”
In 2 Enoch, God commanded His angels to “extract Enoch from (his) earthly clothing. And anoint him with my delightful oil, and put him into the clothes of my glory.” John Collins further elaborates:
The oil, we are told is “greater than the greatest light.” When Enoch is clad in his new garments, he tells us: “I gazed at all of myself, and I had become like one of the glorious ones, and there was no observable difference.” … [These words] describe the transformed, angelic state as donning a garment of glory. Compare also the desire of Paul to put off the “earthly tent” of the body, “because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
Philip S. Alexander speaks of Enoch’s transfiguration as an “ontological transformation which blurred the distinction between human and divine,” amounting to “deification.” In the first chapter of the Book of Moses, Moses underwent a similar transformation. He explained that if he had seen God without such a change, he would have “withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and … I was transfigured before him.” After Enoch was changed, he resembled God so exactly that he was, in some accounts, mistaken for Him.
Sealing As “Imprinting”
Enoch became a “son of God” through the sealing power, having been remade in God’s “image and likeness.” In this sense, sealing can be seen not only as the means of “linking” but also as the result of “imprinting.”
Although it is not unusual for lesser blessings, ordinances, and ordinations to be sealed upon the heads of individuals, the supreme manifestation of the sealing power occurs when one’s calling and election is “made sure” or, in other words, when one is “sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy.” To be sealed in this ultimate sense requires taking upon oneself both the divine name and the divine form—just as Jesus Christ was “the express image” of the Father.
In former times, seals provided a unique stamp of identity on important documents—the image of the author being transferred, as it were, to the document itself. Similarly, Luke T. Johnson sees the scriptural concept of sealing as both an empowering and an “imprinting” process, recalling Alma’s words about receiving God’s “image” in our countenances.
Using similar imagery, Paul described his beloved Corinthian saints as “the epistle of Christ … , written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” These saints, “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord” were to be “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
“Thou Hast … Given unto Me a Right to Thy Throne”
In Moses 7:59, Enoch declares “I know thee” and speaks of the “right” that God has given him to the divine throne. Note that Enoch did not then receive the divine throne itself, but rather was granted a promissory right to receive it at some future time. Importantly, the verse specifies that it is “not of [him]self ” but “through the Lord’s own grace.”
Perhaps the earliest mention of Enoch (or an Enoch-like figure) having been granted a divine throne comes from a tablet found at Nineveh, which could be dated before 1100 BCE. It tells of how Enmeduranki, king of Sippar (who has been identified with Enoch by some scholars) was received by the gods Šamaš and Adad. Among other honors bestowed on him, they “[set him] on a large throne of gold.”
The Book of Moses motif of granting access to the divine throne is also very much at home in the pseudepigraphal Enoch literature. For example, in the 1 Enoch Book of Parables 45:3, we are told that God’s Chosen One “will sit on the throne of glory.” And in 3 Enoch, Enoch declares: “He (God) made me a throne like the throne of glory.” Hugh Nibley showed these resemblances to Matthew Black, a prominent Enoch scholar, and later said that they “really knocked Professor Black over. … It really staggered him.”
Summarizing the ancient Jewish literature relevant to Enoch’s exaltation, Charles Mopsik concludes it should not be seen as a unique event. Rather, he writes that the “enthronement of Enoch is a prelude to the transfiguration of the righteous—and at their head the Messiah—in the world to come, a transfiguration that is the restoration of the figure of the perfect Man.” Following this ideological trajectory to its full extent, Latter-day Saints see the perfect Man (with a capital “M”), into whose form the Messiah and Enoch and all the righteous are transfigured, as God the Father, of whom Adam, the first mortal man, is a type. Fittingly, as part of Joseph Smith’s account of Enoch’s vision, God proclaims His primary identity to be that of an “Endless and Eternal” Man, declaring: “Man of Holiness is my name.”
In Latter-day Saint theology, as anciently, such a transfiguration is a sign of love and trust made in response to an individual’s demonstration of a determination to serve Him “at all hazard.” Only such will be privileged to hear the personal oath in the Father’s own voice that they shall obtain the fulness of the joys of the celestial kingdom “for ever and ever.”
This article is adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 103–104, 116–117.
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Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Matthew L. Bowen. "Beauty and Truth in the Book of Moses: Enoch Unfolds the Plan of Salvation." In Proceedings of the Fourth Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 10 November 2018, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. Temple on Mount Zion 5, in preparation. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Bookswww.templethemes.net.
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Howe, Eber Dudley. Mormonism Unvailed: Or a Faithful Acccount of that Singular Imposition and Delusion, from Its Rise to the Present Time, with Sketches of the Charaters of Its Propagators, and a Full Detail of the Manner in Which the Famous Golden Bible Was Brought Before the World. To Which Are Added, Inquiries into the Probability That the Historical Part of the Said Bible Was Written by One Solomon Spaulding, More Than Twenty Years Aog, and by Him Intended To Have Been Published as a Romance. Painesville, OH: Telegraph Press, 1834. https://archive.org/details/mormonismunvaile00howe. (accessed September 21, 2014).
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———. "On the sacred and the symbolic." In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 535-621. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994. Reprint, Nibley, Hugh W. “On the Sacred and the Symbolic.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 340-419. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008.
———. 1986. "Return to the temple." In Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 12, 42-90. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1992. http://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1123&index=5. (accessed July 26, 2016).
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Robert J. Matthews describes the context of this change in scribes as follows (R. J. Matthews, Book of Moses, p. 101):
[The translation to date had taken] place at Fayette, New York. Then John Whitmer, having been called previously, left New York on a mission to the Kirtland, Ohio, area.
At this point Sidney Rigdon came into the picture. He had joined the Church in Ohio a few weeks earlier (on 14 or 15 November 1830), and had arrived in Fayette [by 7] December 1830. Soon after his arrival, he was appointed by revelation to be a scribe for the Prophet Joseph Smith (see Doctrine and Covenants 35:19–20; J. Smith, Jr. et al., Manuscript Revelation Books, 7 December 1830, pp. 50–53) and began to record what was revealed as the Prophet translated the Bible. Sometime after Sidney Rigdon’s arrival (and before 30 December) the Prophet Joseph received, as part of the Bible translation, an extended revelation about Enoch.
John Whitmer recorded the following about the scribal duties of Sidney Rigdon in recording Moses 7:2–69 (J. Smith, Jr. et al., Assigned Histories, 1832-1844, John Whitmer, History, 1831–circa 1847, p. 17, spelling and punctuation modernized. Cf. B. N. Westergren, From Historian, p. 7):
Now, after the Lord had made known what he would that his servant Sidney should do [see Doctrine and Covenants 35], he went to writing the things which the Lord showed unto his servant the seer [Joseph Smith]. The Lord made known some of the hidden things of the <his> kingdom of God; for he unfolded the prophecy of Enoch the seventh from Adam. After they had written this prophecy, they the Lord spake to them again, and gave further directions [Doctrine and Covenants 47, 30 December 1830].
Given the fact that Moses 7 describes a people who were “of one heart and of one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them” (Moses 7:18), Richard S. Van Wagoner, a biographer of Sidney Rigdon, concluded that Sidney must have had a significant influence on the contents of that chapter (R. S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p. 73. Cf. S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith., pp. 46–47):
That Rigdon could have been merely “Sidney the Scribe,” a penman whose sole function was to take down dictation, is implausible. A biblical scholar with a reputation for erudition, he was more learned, better read, and more steeped in biblical interpretation than any other early Mormon, despite his common school education.
While presenting no evidence to support his premise, Van Wagoner goes on to imply that it was a combination of Rigdon’s cajoling (“Once the Enoch prophecy was received, Rigdon could not rest until Smith agreed to move church headquarters to the Western Reserve. … The most important factor in the eventual migration west … may have been the fact that most Rigdon followers in the Kirtland area believed in communalism” [R. S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p. 74]) and Joseph Smith’s self-deceived belief in his prophetic mantle (“Smith throughout his life saw God’s guiding hand in his every action and was quick to assume God’s voice to amplify his own verities” [ibid., p. 74]) that were behind the revelation that commanded them to “go to the Ohio” (Doctrine and Covenants 37:1). In all these arguments, Van Wagoner cites only a later statement by a disgruntled historian from the former religious movement with which Rigdon was associated, who Van Wagoner himself admits was “wielding a vengeful knife” in his unsupported accusations, in support of the larger implication that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon’s prime motivation for going to Ohio was to enrich themselves [ibid., p. 74. See A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples, p. 214. Cf. E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, p. 112]. Correcting the perception in this and other statements from “polemicists [who] described [Joseph Smith’s] life as opulent,” historian Kenneth Winn observes that “the prophet lived in only modest comfort in Ohio” [K. H. Winn, Exiles, p. 68. Cf. pp. 68–70].)
It is telling, however, that, despite accusations of some early opponents of the Prophet, that Sidney Rigdon was the genius behind the Book of Mormon (now deemed highly improbable by virtually all current historians), we are aware of no contemporary sources suggesting that Sidney Rigdon rather than Joseph Smith was the prime mover behind the revelations of Enoch (Kent Jackson, personal communication). Indeed, unless one attributes wholly cynical motivations to Rigdon for his new attachment to the Church, it would seem improbable that he, with his superior education and formal knowledge of the Bible, would have become a whole-hearted convert and serve as scribe to Joseph Smith were he not convinced of the authenticity of the latter’s gift of seership.
Though Sidney served from the outset as a powerful spokesman for Joseph Smith and as an exegete for his revelations (Doctrine and Covenants 35:23; 100:9, 11; 124:104; J. Smith, Jr. et al., Assigned Histories, 1832-1844, John Whitmer, History, 1831–circa 1847, pp. 17–18), the Lord’s instructions to Sidney Rigdon in Doctrine and Covenants 35: 13, 17, 20 were that God intended to “call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised” to do His work; that “the fulness of my gospel” would be sent forth “by the hand of my servant Joseph; and in weakness have I blessed him”; and that, by way of contrast, Sidney’s role was not a revelator—he would “write” for the Prophet. By this means “the scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom”—implying that the translation would be accomplished through revelation of the hidden things of God, and not through the human wisdom and learning. Unfortunately, Sidney sometimes struggled with this order of things, because “his doctrinal understandings … did not always fit with the revelations Joseph Smith received” (M. L. Staker, Hearken, p. 314).
When evaluating whether Sidney Rigdon had a significant influence on Moses 7, considerations such as the following should also be taken into account:
- The logic of the Enoch narrative continues uninterrupted through the transition from Moses 6 to Moses 7, and the style remains more or less consistent throughout (see, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw et al., Beauty and Truth). Though we are aware of no formal stylometry analysis of the two chapters, it seems unlikely based on our examination of the text that such an analysis would demonstrate significant differences in style between Moses 6 and 7.
- Evidence of influence of Sidney Rigdon’s ideas about communal sharing of good hinges one verse in Moses 7—verse 18—which offers only a very general picture of Enoch’s community. Moreover, it is neither the only nor the most prominent theme in the chapter (see Essays #23–30). As far as Rigdon’s impact on later practices of the Saints in Ohio, it should be remembered that communal societies of in the Kirtland area, earlier organized by Rigdon and based on the common-stock principle, had seen somewhat of a disappointment. They differed significantly from those governed by the law of consecration and stewardship, revealed to Joseph Smith in more detail in Doctrine and Covenants 42 (see, e.g., L. J. Arrington et al., Building the City of God, pp. 15–40; L. J. Arrington, Joseph Smith, Builder, p. 116; R. J. Matthews, Contributions of the JST, pp. 328–329; R. L. Bushman, Rough Stone, p. 149; M. V. Backman, Jr., Heavens, pp. 64–65; J. B. Allen et al., Story, pp. 84–85).
- Moses 7 does not seem to exhibit stylistic affinities to the writings of Sidney Rigdon. Samuel Morris Brown writes that he is “unpersuaded by suggestions … that Rigdon drove the content for the Prophecy of Enoch.” He finds that Moses 7 “comports well with the Visions of Moses [Moses 1], which was completed before Rigdon’s arrival” (S. M. Brown, Joseph Smith’s Translation, p. 168 n. 26). (Note, however, that ibid., p. 168 mistakenly describes the “Prophecy of Enoch” as starting with Moses 6 rather than Moses 7.)
The word seal, which is so important, is simply the diminutive of sign, sigillum from signum. It is a word rendered peculiar in Deuteronomy. Like the other tokens, it can represent the individual who bears the king’s seal, who bears the authority. Its particular value, however, is as a time-binder. The seal secures the right of a person to the possession of something from which he or she may be separated by space and time; it guarantees that he shall not be deprived of his claim on an object by long or distant separation. The mark on the seal is the same as that which he carries with him. And when the two are compared, his claim is established, but only if neither of the tokens has been altered.
The new heart and Spirit in Ezekiel 36 are the vehicles of God’s inwardly established commandments and the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 is identified with those commandments inscribed in human hearts. In this association, the stone with the extraordinary value of endurance appears as a condition of a hardened heart. According to Jeremiah, the New Covenant with new heart and Spirit has to come about because of Israel’s breaking of the Mosaic Law, the Old Covenant, due to their stubborn hearts. Here, the stone tablets clearly refer to the tablets of the Law which Moses received at Mount Sinai.
According to Lee, the believer’s transformation in v. 18 (ibid., p. 69):
results from gazing upon the glory of the risen Christ with an unveiled face [i.e., as opposed to their requiring, in their unrighteousness, a veil to cover the face of the glorified Moses], a risen Christ who is now the Lord in Paul’s Gospel.
389. H. W. Nibley, Return, p. 58. D&C 19 makes it clear that “every man must repent or suffer … even as I” (D&C 19:3, 17). Remember that in Isaiah’s prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ, the Lord is appareled in red garments. Of the unrepentant wicked who will not accept their Redeemer, the Lord says: “their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments” (Isaiah 63:3).
In His high priestly prayer, Jesus said (John 17:3. Compare D&C 132:23-24): “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained (B. R. McConkie, New Witness, p. 492):
This doctrine is that mortal man, while in the flesh, has it in his power to see the Lord, to stand in His presence, to feel the nail marks in His hands and feet, and to receive from Him such blessings as are reserved for those only who keep all His commandments and who are qualified for that eternal life which includes being in His presence forever.
What is of special note here is that Shamash and Adad brought Enmeduranki into their council or assembly. Hence, he had with them a closer association than humans could normally enjoy.