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Conference Talks:
The Bible Before and After
Interpretation and Translation in Antiquity and the Book of Moses
2021 Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses Conference
Avram Shannon

Avram Shannon spoke at the 2021 Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses Conference on Saturday, April 24, 2021.

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Moses, an extract from Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the biblical book of Genesis, is an important part of the revealed scriptures of the Restoration. As a revelatory expansion of the first few chapters of Genesis, reading and interpreting the Book of Moses can bring with it many of the questions related to the Book of Genesis, including questions raised by historical critical or source critical methodologies. There is value in these discussions, but critical methodologies have sometimes been used to push against the Book of Moses. In this paper I propose that this stance is not a necessity with regard to the Book of Moses. As I have previously argued, the Book of Moses (and Joseph’s translational output in general) is sometimes erroneously compared with the ancient Jewish literature of Midrash and Targum. Although much of this comparison is rooted in anti-Semitic conceptions of biblical interpretation, in this paper I suggest that there is value in exploring the approach of the Targum and the Midrashim to the difficulties of the biblical text that gave rise to historical criticism and applying that to the reading of the Book of Moses. In the end, like the ancient Jewish texts, the JST is more concerned with what the text means to Latter-day Saints than its specific compositional history.

All of the conference presentations were filmed, and both video and audio recordings of each presentation are available. Videos, audio recordings and transcripts are available at The videos are also available on the Interpreter Foundation YouTube channel at A YouTube playlist is available at

Presented at: 2021 Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses Conference
Saturday April 24, 2021
Conference Proceedings: Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses: Inspired Origins, Temple Contexts, and Literary Qualities, Volumes I and II at



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