Frequently Asked Questions
- What aspects of your background and experience in science led you affected your interest in the stories of the early chapters of Genesis?
- How would you evaluate the compatibility or relationship between Mormonism and Science? Are they mutually exclusive?
- What is the Book of Moses?
- Does the JST restore the original text of Genesis?
- Was the Pentateuch, as we have it, authored entirely by Moses?
- Are the characters and events of the Old Testament historical?
- Can the Book of Moses be characterized as “inspired pseudepigrapha”?
- Are there reasons to believe that Moses 1 has some basis in antiquity?
- Are there reasons to believe that the story of Enoch found in Moses 6–7 has some basis in antiquity?
- What can we surmise about the process Joseph Smith used to translate the Bible?
- Was any of the understanding Joseph Smith relied on in making His translation of the Book of Moses received directly as the result of a vision?
- Is the Book of Moses in a “final” form?
- In summary, what should we make of the Book of Moses?
Feel free to submit questions, comments, or corrections here.
What aspects of your background and experience in science led you affected your interest in the stories of the early chapters of Genesis? (Return to top)
During my daily work at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, I’m caught up in thinking about and implementing new science and technology ideas that can complement and augment human physical, cognitive, and social capabilities. It’s a dream job, and I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone I know. However, it’s a challenge in the sense that I can’t stand still. Although it’s true that every innovation builds to a degree on the past, the pace of change is so rapid that I find myself constantly throwing away the results of recent ideas and developments that can now be replaced with better approaches.
In addition to the obvious spiritual enrichment that I find in studying the scriptures and other ancient documents, it is wonderful and satisfying to work on something where knowledge is much more cumulative than in my daily work. Though, of course, there are exciting new findings that appear every day in the world of scripture exegesis and ancient studies, I can have the sense over time of continually building up a deeper understanding of the diverse puzzle pieces that constitute major keys to understanding the world of religious history and teachings over the centuries. Complementing the keys that come from study are those that come from faith, as I try to discern the hand of God in such things, and as I relate the spiritual experiences of the past to divine guidance and teachings in the immediate context of my own life.
I like what Donald Knuth, a well-known computer scientist when I was younger, wrote in the preface to his book of Bible commentary: “I can’t say that my scientific background makes me a better Bible student, but I don’t think it’s a handicap either.”[i] The apostle Paul advocated a very empirical approach to spiritual things: “Prove [i.e., examine, put to the test] all things; hold fast that which is good.”[ii] I feel greatly blessed to have been raised in a community of faith that values truth and goodness, and in a church that, because of its unique status in being led by modern revelation, does not have any reason to fear the bright light of close examination. I feel fortunate to be able to say with conviction that the moorings of my own faith are as deeply grounded in my daily experience as is my knowledge of everyday things.
How would you evaluate the compatibility or relationship between Mormonism and Science? Are they mutually exclusive? (Return to top)
Science and Mormonism have nearly always been on very friendly terms, with Church members sharing the deep conviction that, as expressed by former scientist and apostle Elder James E. Talmage, “within the gospel of Jesus Christ there is room and place for every truth thus far learned by man, or yet to be made known.”[iii] With respect to the idea that the Church is required to welcome religious and moral truth from all sources, President Brigham Young stated:[iv]
“Mormonism”… embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation… no matter who has it. If the [unbeliever] has got truth, it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by [other churches], and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church… All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church… “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel.
With specific regard to scientific truth, President Young’s approach was no less open and all-embracing. As Barlow summarizes:[v]
Brigham Young’s position was in one sense more “liberal” even than that of [many contemporaries]. Not a scholar himself and easily put off by what he saw as scholars’… pretentious ways, Young still wished to distance the Mormon response to science from what he took to be the common Christian reaction. Widespread infidelity in the world did not surprise him, he said, because religious teachers often advanced notions “in opposition to… facts demonstrated by science,” making it difficult for honest, informed people to embrace the claims of religion. Geology, to take a specific instance, “is a true science; not that I would say for a moment that all the conclusions and deductions of its professors are true, but its leading principles are; they are facts.…” “[Our] geologists… tell us that this earth has been in existence for thousands and millions of years… [and Mormonism] differ[s] from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with the facts of science.”
Moreover, President Young said:[vi]
The idea that the religion of Christ is one thing, and science is another, is a mistaken idea, for there is no true religion without true science, and consequently there is no true science without true religion.
Subsequent Presidents and General Authorities of the Church have advanced similar views about the ultimate compatibility of religious and scientific truths and, with notably few exceptions, have maintained markedly positive attitudes toward both the methods and conclusions of mainstream science and the advance of modern technology. A barometer for the positive attitude toward science among the membership of the Church has been a series of studies over the last several decades documenting numbers of scientists with backgrounds in different faith groups.[vii] In nearly every scientific meeting that I attend, Mormons are overrepresented when compared with our percentage of the general population.
With respect to the creation accounts in scripture, the Latter-day Saints have avoided some of the serious clashes with science that have troubled other religious traditions. For example, we have no serious quarrel with the concept of a very old earth whose “days” of creation seem to have been of very long, overlapping, and varying duration.[viii] Joseph Smith is remembered as having taught that the heavenly bodies were created long prior to the earth: “… the starry hosts were worlds and suns and universes, some of which had being millions of ages before the earth had physical form.”[ix] Consistent with this stance, LDS scientist David Bailey has very competently summarized scientific inadequacies and theological incompatibilities of the creationist movement in both its “young earth” and “intelligent design” forms.[x] Despite what some advocates of a creationist agenda would have people believe, to question specific features of the theories they have advanced is not tantamount to rejecting the concept of a Divine Creator. Many devout scientists and other scholars have found different ways to reconcile their scientific views on the origin of the universe with their belief in God.[xi]
With respect to beliefs about the origin of man, the relevant article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism emphasizes the point that acceptance of essential doctrinal claims rather than belief in a particular modus operandi for the creation of man is ultimately the determinant of Mormon orthodoxy.[xii] As evidence of current LDS openness to the study of the latest scientific advances in relevant fields, note that the first formal class in evolution was instituted at BYU in the fall of 1971 with the First Presidency’s approval, and is currently a required part of the core curriculum of all BYU students in the biological sciences. Evolutionary biology has since become “one of the largest and most successful graduate programs at BYU,”[xiii] with professors publishing in major evolutionary conferences and journals. Givens provides a brief summary of efforts of Mormon scientists that “not only incorporate evolutionary science, but break new ground in the field.”[xiv] While some differences of opinions exist among members of the Church on such matters, the key point is that such differences are not used as an ecclesiastical measure of orthodoxy.
What is the Book of Moses? (Return to top)
As a starting point, it is essential to understand that the Book of Moses is an extract from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST).[xv] In the JST, a high priority of time and attention was specifically accorded to the translation of Genesis 1–24. For example, a close look at the number of verses modified in the translation process reveals that more than half of the changed verses in the JST Old Testament and 20% of those in the entire JST Bible are contained in Moses 1 and Genesis. As a proportion of page count, changes in Genesis occur four times more frequently than in the New Testament, and twenty-one times more frequently than in the rest of the Old Testament. The changes in Genesis are not only more numerous, but also more significant in the degree of doctrinal and historical expansion. Looking at it from the perspective of translation time rather than the number of revised verses, the same picture holds. By mid-1833, three years after the process of translation started, Joseph Smith felt the JST was sufficiently complete that preparations for publication could begin.
From the perspective of the known durations of periods when each part of the translation was completed, the first 24 chapters of Genesis occupy nearly a quarter of the total time for the entire Bible. Though we cannot know how much of Joseph Smith’s daily schedule the translation occupied during each of its phases, it is obvious that Genesis 1–24, the first 1% of the Bible, must have received a significantly more generous share of the Prophet’s time and attention than did the remaining 99%.[xvi]
During the process of translation, Joseph Smith made several types of changes. These changes ranged from “long revealed additions that have little or no biblical parallel, such as the visions of Moses and Enoch” and the passage on Melchizedek, to “common-sense” changes and interpretive additions, to “grammatical improvements, technical clarifications, and modernization of terms” – the latter being the most common type of change.[xvii] Of course, even in the case of passages that seem to be explicitly revelatory, it remained to the Prophet to exercise considerable personal effort in rendering these experiences into words.[xviii] As Kathleen Flake puts it, Joseph Smith did not see himself as “God’s stenographer. Rather, he was an interpreting reader, and God the confirming authority.”[xix]
Does the JST restore the original text of Genesis? (Return to top)
LDS teachings and scripture clearly imply that Moses learned of the Creation and the Fall in vision and was told to write it. Moreover, there are revelatory passages in the Book of Moses that have remarkable congruencies with ancient texts. However, I think it fruitless to rely on JST Genesis as a means for uncovering a Moses urtext. Even if, for example, the longer, revelatory passages of chapters 1, 6, and 7 of the Book of Moses were found to be direct translations of ancient documents it is impossible to establish whether or not they once existed as an actual part of some sort of “original” manuscript of Genesis.
Mormons understand that the primary intent of modern revelation is for divine guidance to latter-day readers, not to provide precise matches to texts from other times. Because this is so, we would expect, rather, to find deliberate deviations from the content and wording of ancient manuscripts in Joseph Smith’s translations in the interest of clarity and relevance to modern readers. As one LDS apostle expressed it, “the Holy Spirit does not quote the Scriptures, but gives Scripture.”[xx] If we keep this perspective in mind, we will be less surprised with the appearance here and there of New Testament terms such as “Jesus Christ” in Joseph Smith’s chapters on Enoch when the title “the Son of Man” would be more in line with ancient Enoch texts.[xxi]
Was the Pentateuch, as we have it, authored entirely by Moses? (Return to top)
An impressive array of evidences for the seeming heterogeneity of sources within the first five books of the Bible have converged to form the basis of the Documentary Hypothesis, a broad scholarly consensus whose most able current popular expositor has been Richard Friedman.[xxii] However, even those who find the Documentary Hypothesis – or some variant of it – compelling have good reason to admire the resulting literary product on its own terms. For example, in the case of the two Creation chapters, Friedman himself writes that in the scriptural version of Genesis we have a text “that is greater than the sum of its parts.”[xxiii] Sailhamer aptly summarizes the situation when he writes that “Genesis is characterized by both an easily discernible unity and a noticeable lack of uniformity.”[xxiv]
To date, most LDS commentaries have treated the Bible primarily from a canonical perspective. In other words they have focused on interpreting the Bible as a finished product, largely ignoring the important but rather complex questions about how primary sources may have been authored and combined to form the scriptural text as we have it today. By writing a series of volumes on the authorship of the Old Testament, LDS scholar David E. Bokovoy intends to rectify this deficiency, bringing the results of scholarship in higher criticism into greater visibility within the LDS community.[xxv] By applying his considerable expertise to the problem of making the issues and results of higher criticism available to non-specialists and tailoring his findings to an LDS readership, Bokovoy helps readers understand how those who accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of God can derive valuable interpretive lessons from modern scholarship. Although our conclusions and approaches differ on specific issues (especially his characterization of the book of Moses as “inspired pseudepigrapha” – more on this below), I feel a commonality his sympathy for all those who seek to love and understand scripture “by study and also by faith.”[xxvi]
The idea that a series of individuals may have had a hand in the authorship and redaction of Genesis should not be foreign to readers of the Book of Mormon, where inspired editors have explicitly revealed the process by which they wove separate overlapping records into the finished scriptural narrative. The authors and editors of the Book of Mormon knew that the account was preserved not only for the people of their own times, but also for future generations,[xxvii] including our own.[xxviii]
With this understanding in mind, it should be apparent to LDS readers that events such as the story of the Flood, in the form we have it today, might be read not only as an actual occurrence but also “as a kind of parable”[xxix] – its account of the historical events shaped with specific pedagogical purposes in mind. “If this is so,” writes Blenkinsopp, “it would be only one of several examples in P [one of the presumed sources of the Genesis account] of a paradigmatic interpretation of events recorded in the earlier sources with reference to the contemporary situation.”[xxx] More simply put, Nephi plainly declared: “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.”[xxxi] Indeed, Nephi left us with significant examples where he deliberately shaped his explanation of Bible stories and teachings in order to help his hearers understand how they applied to their own situation.[xxxii]
Of course, in contrast to the carefully controlled prophetic redaction of the Book of Mormon, we do not know how much of the editing of the Old Testament may have taken place with less inspiration and authority.[xxxiii] Joseph Smith wrote: “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.”[xxxiv]
Scholarly conversation on the Documentary Hypothesis and other important issues in higher criticism is, of course, ongoing. Although broad agreement persists on many issues, the state of research on the composition of the Pentateuch continues to evolve in important ways. In 2012, Konrad Schmid gave the following assessment:[xxxv]
Pentateuchal scholarship has changed dramatically in the last three decades, at least when seen in a global perspective. The confidence of earlier assumptions about the formation of the Pentateuch no longer exists, a situation that might be lamented but that also opens up new and – at least in the view of some scholars – potentially more adequate paths to understand its composition. One of the main results of the new situation is that neither traditional nor newer theories can be taken as the accepted starting point of analysis; rather, they are, at most, possible ends.
That said, there is little doubt that the basic ideas of source criticism behind the Documentary Hypothesis are here to stay.
Are the characters and events of the Old Testament historical? (Return to top)
In answering this question, we should consider the fact that Joseph Smith has left accounts of personal visions and manifestations that include many prominent characters of the Book of Mormon[xxxvi] and the Bible.[xxxvii] Of course, when determining whether the “people and events portrayed in narrative about the real past are fictional or literary constructs,” our decisions “must be driven by our best assessments of what the biblical narrator intended … We may still find reason to discuss whether the author of Job intends every part of the book to represent real events in a real past or whether it is literature built around a historical core. The point is that any conclusion that seeks to maintain authority will conform to the demonstrable intentions of the narrator.”[xxxviii] So far as I have been able to determine, in the case of modern scripture, named figures from ancient times are consistently represented as historical individuals.
The idea that scriptural figures may sometimes be more accurately regarded as the authorities rather than the direct authors or scribes for biblical books associated with their names is not inconsistent, in my view, with LDS acceptance of the Bible as scripture “as far as it is translated [and transmitted] correctly.”[xxxix] Though I have no quarrel with the idea that the Old Testament, as we have it, might have been compiled at a relatively late date from many sources of varying perspectives and levels of inspiration, I accept that its major figures were historical and that the sources may go back to authentic traditions (whether oral or written), associated with these figures as authorities. John Walton and D. Brent Sandy express their views of this process as follows:[xl]
Authority is not dependent on an original autograph or on an author writing a book. Recognition of authority is identifiable in the beliefs of a community of faith (of whom we are heirs) that God’s communications through authoritative figures and traditions have been captured and preserved through a long process of transmission and composition in the literature that has come to be accepted as canonical. That authority can be well represented in translation, though it can be undermined to the extent that interpretation (necessary for a translation to take place) misrepresents the authority ….
Documents used in the compilation of Genesis are likely identified in the text itself (in eleven occurrences of “This is the account of …”). No identification of the source of the traditions represented in the individual documents is offered, and this is not unusual. Documents such as those found in the first part of the book (Genesis 1–11) as well as those in the second part (Genesis 12–50) would correspond well, if only generally, to the sort that would be familiar in the ancient world. Likewise no indication is given in the book itself of the time or circumstances under which these documents were compiled into the book as we know it. Earliest tradition associated the work with Moses, and given the stature of Moses that is not unreasonable, but we need not decide the matter. As discussed above, his role is best understood as tradent [i.e., transmitter of traditions], not likely that of actually generating the traditions (though he may have generated some of them – we particularly think of the creation accounts in this regard) … Compilation of those documents into the complex literary work we call Genesis may not have happened for many centuries, though the traditions would have been well known.[xli]
These views about the authorship of the Old Testament are consistent with the increasing recognition of the importance of the role of oral transmission in the preservation of religious traditions that were later normalized by scribes – both with respect to the Bible[xlii] and the Book of Mormon.[xliii] It should also be noted that vestiges of otherwise lost oral traditions[xliv] are sometimes included in extracanonical texts.[xlv] Significantly, such writings rarely if ever constitute de novo accounts. Rather, they tend to incorporate diverse traditions of varying value and antiquity in ways that make difficult the teasing out of the contribution that each makes to the whole.[xlvi] As a result, even relatively late documents rife with midrashic speculations unattested elsewhere,[xlvii] unique Islamic assertions,[xlviii] or seemingly fantastic Christian interpolations[xlix] may sometimes preserve fragments of authentically inspired principles, history, or doctrine, or may otherwise bear witness of legitimate exegetically derived[l] or ritually transmitted[li] realities.
In trying to imagine more concretely how authority and authorship may have come together in the writing of prophetic teachings and revelations that may have originated, in part, in oral sources, we have modern day analogs. Consider, for example, the fact that Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo sermons were neither written out in advance nor taken down by listeners verbatim as they were delivered. Rather, they were copied as notes and reconstructions of his prose (sometimes retrospectively) by a small number of individuals, generally including an official scribe.[lii] These notes were in turn shared and copied by others.[liii] Later, as part of serialized versions of history that appeared in church publications, many (but not all) of the notes from such sermons were expanded, amalgamated, and harmonized; prose was smoothed out; and punctuation and grammar were standardized. Sometimes the wording of related journal entries from scribes and others was changed to the first person and incorporated into the Documentary History of the Church[liv] in order to fill in gaps, an accepted practice at the time.[lv]
Over the years, various compilations drew directly from these published accounts[lvi] while, more recently, transcriptions of contemporary notes (including sources that were unavailable to historians who produced the standard amalgamated versions) were also collected and published.[lvii] Translations of these accounts into different languages sometimes created new difficulties.[lviii] The important point in all this is that while each of these published accounts of the Prophet’s Nauvoo sermons has been widely used to convey his teachings to church members on his authority, it is likely that none of these accounts was written or reviewed by him personally.[lix] Moreover, less than two hundred years after these sermons were delivered, multiple variants in their content and wording – none of which completely reflect the actual words spoken – are in common circulation. In some cases, imperfect transcriptions of Joseph Smith’s words led to misconstruals of doctrine by early Church leaders and, in consequence, have been explicitly corrected by later Church leaders. One need look no further than the March 2014 edition of the Ensign for an apostolic correction of this sort.[lx]
What this example is intended to show is how easily divergence in written records can happen, even in the best case where like-minded “scribes,” recording events as they occurred, are doing the best they can to preserve the original words of a prophet. This phenomenon also helps explain the great lengths that Joseph Smith went to in order to preserve an accurate written record of the doings of his day.
Can the Book of Moses be characterized as “inspired pseudepigrapha"? (Return to top)
In a discussion on Bible authorship, it is appropriate to introduce another class of ancient writings known today as pseudepigrapha. James Charlesworth notes that the term “pseudepigrapha” (literally “with false superscription”[lxi]) has a “long and distinguished history,”[lxii] with changes in the way it has been applied to various writings over the years that mirror major shifts in the general field of biblical studies itself.[lxiii] David Bokovoy defines pseudepigrapha as: “a revised version of … documentary sources as revelations dictated by earlier prophetic figures.”[lxiv] This is similar in spirit to the definition in the American Heritage Dictionary, namely “spurious or pseudonymous writings, especially Jewish writings ascribed to various biblical patriarchs and prophets.”[lxv] Importantly, however, the tenor of these definitions would seem to exclude the following situation:[lxvi]
For example, if the sixth-century Daniel[lxvii] was the authority figure who gave oracles that were duly recorded in documents that were saved until the second century, when someone compiled them into the book we have now and perhaps even included some updated or more specific information (provided by recognized authority figures in that time), that would not constitute pseudepigraphy or false attribution.[lxviii] If that sort of process was an accepted norm, the attribution claims are not as specific and comprehensive as we may have thought when we were using more modern models of literary production. Authority is not jeopardized as long as we affirm the claims that the text is actually making using models of understanding that reflect the ancient world.
Considerable diversity of opinions regarding the specific revelatory process by which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and works attributed to Moses and Abraham is accommodated among Mormon scholars.[lxix] However, some of David Bokovoy’s conclusions about the translation process of the books of Moses and Abraham may be difficult for many readers to accept. Bokovoy argues that these works of scripture should be characterized as inspired pseudepigrapha[lxx] – in other words, that these books, though affirmed as containing divine truths, are falsely attributed to those two prophets. Putting it another way, this argument attempts to make the case that the content of these two books is not ultimately derived from the experiences and teachings of Moses and Abraham, but rather that they consist of descriptions of what Joseph Smith believed these prophets would have written if given the chance.[lxxi] For example, as applied to Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, Bokovoy argues that:[lxxii]
the issue of the book of Moses’ status as inspired scripture can be seen as independent from the question of its historicity as the literal words of the Bible. To quote LDS scholar Phillip Barlow, “If certain truths were not originally included in the Bible, they are truths nonetheless and readers will be edified by studying them; it is not the text of the Bible as such, but rather the truths of God that are sacred.”[lxxiii] To this might be added, if ancient prophets did not originally write certain truths within scripture, they are truths nonetheless, and studying them will edify readers. Though the attributed author may serve as a conduit by conceptually bridging dispensations together, it is not the author of the text but rather the truths of God that are sacred.
With respect to the book of Moses, Bokovoy makes the case that casting a fully modern source as an ancient text fulfilled a significant rhetorical function: “The Book of Moses not only defends the inspired nature of Genesis’s prehistory, it elevates the text to a revelatory status by using the biblical prophet Moses as a conduit for Joseph’s own revelations that corrected the Bible.”[lxxiv] This is consistent with the view of Christopher C. Smith,[lxxv] who takes the textual history of Joseph Smith’s United Firm revelations[lxxvi] as an instance of “inspired fictionalization” within the Prophet’s revelations, intentionally used “in order to [make them] sound like ancient texts.”[lxxvii] However, the analog between the United Firm revelations and the book of Moses is not convincing. There seems to be no compelling reason why the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants would have needed the kind of additional legitimization that Bokovoy claims was the motivation for a deliberate archaizing of the book of Moses text. This is especially true since the principals named in the United Firm manuscripts knew of the original wording of the revelations and doubtless were aware of the changes made at the time of their publication. In my view, the practical need for discretion in light of potential anti-Mormon opposition specifically mentioned by Orson Pratt,[lxxviii] an intimate of the Prophet who witnessed the events relating to the modifications to these revelations firsthand, sufficiently justifies the later efforts made to obfuscate the contemporary setting of the revelations.
Another difficulty with a description of the Book of Moses as an inspired pseudepigraphon is that tends to paint LDS readers into discrete camps. As a label, the term “pseudepigrapha” has an all-or-nothing feel. For that reason, it fails to capture a more nuanced view that could allow for the possibility of not only significant theological connections with ancient Israel – a position explicitly adopted by Bokovoy – but also authentic historical material reflecting memories of events in the lives of Moses and Abraham embedded in the text that Joseph Smith produced (even though he produced it in the nineteenth century). The result of this oversimplification is a sort of caricature that doesn’t fit well with relevant LDS scholarship on these books.
As scholars have observed,[lxxix] the Prophet’s Bible translation in general, and the book of Moses in particular, is not a homogeneous production. Rather, it is composite in structure and eclectic in its manner of translation: some chapters contain long sections that have little or no direct relationship to the text of Genesis (i.e., the vision of Moses and the story of Enoch), while other chapters are more in the line of clarifying commentary that takes the text of the King James Version as its starting point, incorporating new elements based on Joseph Smith’s prophetic understanding.[lxxx] Classing the entire book of Moses with a single label obscures the complex nature of the translation process and the work that resulted from it,[lxxxi] just as study of the Bible without taking into account its multiple sources obscures its richness. I will have more to say about the translation and composition of the book of Moses below.
Of course, what is most at stake here in the use of the label pseudepigrapha to describe the book of Moses is authority. While the term “pseudepigrapha“ may be a useful construct for textual studies, it doesn’t work as well for the characterization of scripture, where the question of authority is far more significant. Latter-day Saints recognize authority in works of modern scripture because they were produced by a modern prophet, without having to establish a priori that they connect in some fashion to authorities from ancient times. This important point is eloquently argued by Bokovoy.[lxxxii]
In his volume on the translation of the Book of Mormon, Brant Gardner summarizes a perspective that bounds his views of the conceptual distance between plate text and its English translation. The ideas expressed are also relevant to Joseph Smith’s production of the book of Moses:[lxxxiii]
The most extreme version of a conceptual theory of translation would make the plates extremely remote and essentially unrelated to the English text. It might even suggest that it was not really a translation, but simply a story based on real events.
The danger of that slippery slope is apparent in the way [Elder John A.] Widtsoe applied the brakes by declaring Joseph’s text “far beyond” his normal capabilities. That same desire to set the brakes while accepting some distance between the plate text and the translation can be seen in Robert Millet’s description of the process:[lxxxiv]
We need not jump to interpretive extremes because the language found in the Book of Mormon (including that from the Isaiah sections or the Savior’s sermon in 3 Nephi) reflects Joseph Smith’s language. Well, of course it does! The Book of Mormon is translation literature: practically every word in the book is from the English language. For Joseph Smith to use the English language with which he and the people of his day were familiar in recording the translation is historically consistent. On the other hand, to create the doctrine (or to place it in the mouths of Lehi or Benjamin or Abinadi) is unacceptable. The latter is tantamount to deceit and misrepresentation; it is, as we have said, to claim that the doctrines and principles are of ancient date (which the record itself declares) when, in fact, they are a fabrication (albeit an “inspired” fabrication) of a nineteenth-century man. I feel we have every reason to belive that the Book of Mormon came through Joseph Smith, not from him. Because certain theological matters were discussed in the nineteenth century does not preclude their revelation or discussion in antiquity.
It should be made clear that Bokovoy explicitly rejects the idea that the Prophet was a conscious deceiver in presenting the books of Moses and Abraham as ancient works. For example, with respect to the book of Abraham, he concludes that while “Joseph believed he was producing a literal translation,” we “should not assume … that the Prophet fully understood the revelatory process in which he was engaged.”[lxxxv] Likewise, in his apparent leaning to an understanding of the Book of Mormon as an expanded modern redaction of an ancient core source,[lxxxvi] it is concluded from a statement of the Prophet where he refrained from relating the details of translation[lxxxvii] that “Joseph himself most likely did not understand the exact manner by which he translated the Book of Mormon.”[lxxxviii] However, others have argued – more plausibly in my view – that Joseph Smith was reluctant to share specific details of these events, not because he failed to understand them,[lxxxix] but rather because of his respect for their sacred nature.[xc]
Are there reasons to believe that Moses 1 has some basis in antiquity? (Return to top)
With respect to Moses 1, a long passage that is not rooted directly in the text of the Bible, the outline of events in Moses 1 fits squarely in the tradition of ancient “heavenly ascent” literature and its relationship to temple theology, rites, and ordinances.[xci] It is significant that this account, along with the rest of the Book of Moses, was revealed to Joseph Smith more than a decade before the full temple endowment was administered to others in Nauvoo.[xcii]
Although stories of heavenly ascent bear important similarities to temple practices, they make the claim of being something more. While ancient temple rituals dramatically depict a figurative journey into the presence of God, the ascent literature tells the stories of prophets who experience actual encounters with Deity within the heavenly temple – the “completion or fulfillment” of the “types and images” in earthly priesthood ordinances.[xciii] In such encounters, the prophet may experience a vision of eternity, participation in worship with the angels, and the conferral of certain blessings that are “made sure” by the voice of God Himself.[xciv]
Building on the earlier work of Jared Ludlow[xcv] and Hugh Nibley[xcvi], David Larsen and I have explored significant resemblances between the first chapter of the Book of Moses and the Apocalypse of Abraham (hereafter AA).[xcvii] The major structural and conceptual resemblances include a spirit world prologue, a fall to earth, the details of the protagonist’s personal encounter with Satan, and a journey of heavenly ascent. Many additional resemblances in detail accompany these parallels in larger structural features, of which I will give a few examples.[xcviii]
In both accounts, the prologue to the prophet’s heavenly ascent features a setting on a high mountain[xcix] and an aretology.[c] A scene of sacrifice is explicitly described in AA[ci] and may be reasonably inferred in the Book of Moses.[cii] In a spirit world scene, the prophet is commissioned[ciii] and told that he will be shown a vision of eternity.[civ]
Then, in a scene that was important enough to the editors of the Sylvester Codex to associate with a specific illustration, we are told that the prophet “fell down upon the earth, for there was no longer strength in me.”[cv] Similarly, “Moses … fell unto the earth … And … it was for the space of many hours before Moses did … receive his natural strength.”[cvi]
Satan then appears, disrupting the scene and commanding worship.[cvii] The prophet questions Satan’s identity,[cviii] and his own godlike status is contrasted with that of his adversary.[cix] Satan is reprimanded for his deceit and told to depart for the first time.[cx] The prophet is reminded by God of the difference between his status and that of Satan.[cxi] Satan is commanded to depart a second time.[cxii] Satan makes a final, vain attempt to gain the worship of the prophet.[cxiii] In the Book of Moses, this is followed by a description of Satan’s frightening tantrum and final departure[cxiv] that is paralleled in an Enoch account.[cxv]
After the departure of Satan, Moses calls upon God.[cxvi] I understand the reference of where Moses “lifted his eyes unto heaven” in v. 24 as an allusion to the process of heavenly ascent, following the interpretive lead given by AA (“the angel took me with his right hand and set me on the right wing of the pigeon … and carried me up”[cxvii]). The imagery in AA resembles that given by Nephi to describe a similar experience (“upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away”[cxviii]). Although Moses had previously seen God, he now is shut out by the heavenly veil, hearing only God’s voice.[cxix]
In Moses 1:27, we are told: “And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth.” Remarkably, the book of Moses phrase “as the voice was still speaking” parallels a nearly identical phrase – “And while he [the angel] was still speaking” – in AA.[cxx] In both cases, the phrase might make sense as a stock expression having to do with an exchange of words as one is preparing to pass from one side of the heavenly veil to the other.[cxxi] This idea is suggested in AA by the fact that the phrase immediately precedes Abraham’s recitation of certain words taught to him by the angel in preparation for his ascent to receive a vision of the work of God. In such accounts, once a person has been thoroughly tested, the “last phrase” of welcome is extended to him: “Let him come up!”[cxxii] Significantly, following Abraham’s ascent, when he passes back through the heavenly veil in the opposite direction on his return to the earth, the expression “And while he was still speaking” recurs.[cxxiii]
The change in perspective as Moses passes upward through the heavenly veil is related in subtle beauty in the book of Moses. Previously, as he stood on the earth, Moses had “lifted up his eyes unto heaven.”[cxxiv] Now, after ascending to heaven, he “cast his eyes” down to see the earth and all of its inhabitants.[cxxv] Similarly, in AA the prophet is told: “Look now beneath your feet at the expanse and contemplate the creation and those who inhabit it.”[cxxvi]
Moses’ vision is perfectly in line with ancient accounts that speak of a “blueprint” of eternity that is worked out in advance and shown on the inside of the heavenly veil:[cxxvii] “Those who passed beyond the veil found themselves outside time. When Rabbi Ishmael ascended and looked back he saw the curtain on which was depicted past, present and future. ‘All generations to the end of time were printed on the curtain of the Omnipresent One. I saw them all with my own eyes’…[cxxviii] [Similarly,] Enoch was taken up by three angels and set up on a high place whence he saw all history, past, present and future.”[cxxix]
Moses witnessed its entire history from beginning to end like Adam, Enoch, the Brother of Jared, John the Beloved, and others.[cxxx] Moroni taught that those with perfect faith cannot be “kept from within the veil” (i.e., cannot be kept from passing through the veil[cxxxi]) – meaning the heavenly veil behind which God dwells, whose earthly counterpart is the temple veil that divides the holy place from the holy of holies.[cxxxii] Seeing all this, Moses asks “Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so…[cxxxiii] ?” Likewise in AA, Abraham asks, “Eternal, Mighty One! Why did you ordain it to be so?”[cxxxiv]
At this point, we observe a significant difference between the book of Moses and AA. On the one hand, Moses will receive a partial answer to his question about “by what” God made these things through a vision of the Creation.[cxxxv] He will also be told something about “why these things are so.”[cxxxvi] On the other hand, in AA, the dialogue between Abraham and the Lord centers, not on the creation and purpose of the universe, but rather on recent events of local concern, including the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and the future of Israel.[cxxxvii] This seems just the kind of material that a first- or second-century redactor might have included.[cxxxviii]
Following his experience at the heavenly veil, Moses enters the presence of God. The granting of the privilege to Moses of seeing God is paralleled both in Old Testament accounts such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, and in pseudepigraphal writings such as 1 Enoch. In a second major difference with the Book of Moses, however, AA explicitly rejects any visualization of God, and insists on the “revelation of the divine Voice” alone.[cxxxix] AA seems to be insisting on a theological point when he has Yahoel tell Abraham: “the Eternal One… himself you will not see.”[cxl]
Just as Moses is then shown the events of the Creation and the Fall,[cxli] AA describes how the great patriarch looked down to see the affairs of what is called in modern revelation the “kingdoms of a lower order.”[cxlii] The Lord’s voice commanded Abraham to “look,” and a series of heavenly veils were opened beneath his feet.[cxliii] Like Moses, Abraham is shown the heavenly plan for creation – “the creation that was depicted of old[cxliv] on this expanse” (21:1[cxlv]), its realization on the earth (21:3-5),[cxlvi] the Garden of Eden (21:6), and the spirits of all men with certain ones “prepared to be born of [Abraham] and to be called [God’s] people (21:7-22:5)” When Abraham is told again to “Look… at the picture,” he sees Satan inciting the Fall of Adam and Eve (23:1–14),[cxlvii] just as Moses saw these events following his own heavenly ascent.[cxlviii]
From his own study of affinities between the Apocalypse of Abraham and modern scripture, Hugh Nibley concluded: “These parallel accounts, separated by centuries, cannot be coincidence. Nor can all the others.”[cxlix]
While most scholars assign a late date to the composition of the original Hebrew or Aramaic text of the Apocalypse of Abraham (i.e., within a few decades of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE), the discovery of this and similar texts commends caution in foreclosing the possibility that elements in the first chapter of the Book of Moses may preserve authentic ancient traditions associated with Mosaic authority, preserved in manuscripts of a similar nature.
Another possibility, of course, is that the experience of Moses in chapter 1 was never put to writing until it was revealed by God to Joseph Smith. Such an idea would not be inconsistent with the prologue in Moses 1:1, which reads: “The words of God, which he spake unto Moses.”[cl] As David Bokovoy observes:[cli] “Moses 1 constantly invokes the voice of an omniscient narrator speaking about Moses in the third person … This pattern stands in stark contrast to the first-person biographical formulation of Joseph’s subsequent scriptural text, the Book of Abraham. Hence, when read critically, the text itself does not view Moses as its author.”
There is much additional work to be done to bring our understanding of the translation process of the Book of Moses to a level approaching our current, more extensive knowledge about the translation of the Book of Mormon.[clii] What is important for the present discussion is to know that, whether or not Moses himself recorded his vision in writing, there are reasonable possibilities other than concluding that the account in Moses 1 is a simple pseudepigraphic retrojection of Joseph Smith onto the life of the ancient prophet.
Are there reasons to believe that the story of Enoch found in Moses 6-7 has some basis in antiquity? (Return to top)
Another notably long revelatory section of the Book of Moses contains the story of Enoch,[cliii] an account whose resemblances to other Enoch texts have provoked a variety of explanations.[cliv] The most popular of these explanations asserts that Joseph Smith derived these chapters from acquaintance with the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch. In his master’s thesis,[clv] Salvatore Cirillo cites and amplifies the arguments of Quinn[clvi] that the available evidence that Joseph Smith had access to published works related to 1 Enoch has moved “beyond probability – to fact.” He sees no other explanation than this for the substantial similarities that he finds between the Book of Moses and the pseudepigraphal Enoch literature.[clvii] However, reflecting on the “coincidence” of the appearance of the first English translation of 1 Enoch in 1821, just a few years before Joseph Smith received his Enoch revelations, Richard L. Bushman concludes nonetheless:[clviii] “It is scarcely conceivable that Joseph Smith knew of Laurence’s Enoch translation.”
Perhaps even more significant in rejecting 1 Enoch as a source for Moses 6-7 is the fact that the principal themes of “Laurence’s 105 translated chapters do not resemble Joseph Smith’s Enoch in any obvious way.”[clix] Indeed, apart from the shared prominence of themes relating to the Son of Man motif in the 1 Enoch Book of Parables[clx] and the Book of Moses, the most striking resemblances to the Prophet’s revelations are found not in 1 Enoch, but in related pseudepigrapha such as 2 Enoch (first published in English at the end of the 19th century)[clxi] and the Qumran Book of the Giants (an Enochic book discovered in 1948).[clxii]
The primary motifs in the Book of Moses’ account of Enoch’s call, teachings, and glorification are illustrated throughout older texts. For example, Stephen Ricks has shown how the six characteristic features of the Old Testament narrative call pattern identified by Norman Habel are shown in the commissioning of Joseph Smith’s Enoch.[clxiii] According to Samuel Zinner,[clxiv] the ideas behind the unusual wording of this commission arose in a matrix of the ancient Enoch literature.[clxv]
Enoch’s self-description as a “lad” – the only instance of the term “lad” in the teachings and revelations of Joseph Smith – reflects the prominence of his title of “lad” in 2 and 3 Enoch.[clxvi] Gary A. Anderson of the University of Notre Dame finds these latter references “curious,” noting that “of all the names given Enoch, the title ‘lad’ is singled out as being particularly apt and fitting by the heavenly host.”[clxvii]
In the account of Enoch’s teaching mission, there are several interesting resemblances with the fragmentary Book of the Giants.[clxviii] These resemblances range from general themes in the story line (secret works, murders, visions, earthly and heavenly books of remembrance that evoke fear and trembling, moral corruption, hope held out for repentance, and the eventual defeat of Enoch’s adversaries in battle, ending with their utter destruction and imprisonment) to specific occurrences of rare names and expressions in corresponding contexts.[clxix] Note that these resemblances with the Book of the Giants are not drawn at will from a large corpus but rather are concentrated in a scant three pages of Qumran fragments.
One of the most striking of these correspondences is in the name and role of “Mahijah/Mahujah,” the only named character besides Enoch himself in Joseph Smith’s story of Enoch.[clxx] Hugh Nibley observes:[clxxi] “The only thing the Mahijah in the Book of Moses is remarkable for is his putting of bold direct questions to Enoch. And this is exactly the role, and the only role, that the Aramaic Mahujah plays in the story.”
In the Book of Moses, Enoch described how, as he and Mahujah “cried unto the Lord,”[clxxii] they were told to go to Mount Simeon. There, as Enoch stood upon the mount, the heavens opened and he was “clothed upon with glory.”[clxxiii] 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, these ancient accounts describe a “two-step initiatory procedure” whereby “the patriarch was first initiated by angel(s) and after this by the Lord”[clxxiv] Himself. 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.”[clxxv] Joseph Smith’s Enoch was given a right to the divine throne,[clxxvi] and, in 3 Enoch, God makes a throne for the seer and sits him down upon it.[clxxvii]
With regard to the visions of Enoch, the Book of Parables holds special interest for students of the Book of Moses. Both books describe visions of Enoch with a central figure and a common set of titles. The title “Son of Man,” which is a notable feature of the Book of Parables,[clxxviii] also appears in marked density throughout Enoch’s grand vision in the Book of Moses.[clxxix] The titles “Chosen One,”[clxxx] “Anointed One,”[clxxxi] and “Righteous One”[clxxxii] also appear prominently in both texts. Consistent with the conclusions of Nickelsburg and VanderKam about the use of these multiple titles in the Book of Parables,[clxxxiii] the Book of Moses applies them all to a single individual. Moses 6:57 gives a single, specific description of the role of the Son of Man as a “righteous judge.”[clxxxiv] This conception is highly characteristic of the Book of Parables, where the primary role of the Son of Man is also that of a judge.[clxxxv]
Genesis implies that Enoch escaped death by being taken up alive into heaven.[clxxxvi] In a significant addition to the biblical record, the Book of Moses states that the entire city of Enoch was eventually received up into heaven.[clxxxvii] Two late accounts preserve echoes of a similar motif. In A. Jellenik’s translation of Jewish traditions, Bet ha-Midrasch,[clxxxviii] we find the account of a group of Enoch’s followers who steadfastly refused to leave him as he journeyed toward the place where he was going to be taken up to heaven. Afterward, a group of kings came to find out what happened to these people. After searching under large blocks of snow they unexpectedly found at the place, they failed to discover remains of Enoch or of his followers. In a Mandaean Enoch fragment,[clxxxix] a group of Enoch’s adversaries complain that the prophet and those who had gone to heaven with him have escaped their reach: “By fleeing and hiding the people on high have ascended higher than us. We have never known them. All the same, there they are, clothed with glory and splendors … And now they are sheltered from our blows.” In addition to these limited accounts alluding to a group who seemingly rose with Enoch to heaven, David Larsen provides a valuable discussion that includes “examples in early Jewish and early Christian literature that depict this motif in a different way. Although they do not feature Enoch or his city explicitly, there is a recurring theme in some of the texts that corresponds to the idea of a priestly figure who leads a community of priests in an ascension into the heavenly realm.”[cxc]
What can we surmise about the process Joseph Smith used to translate the Bible? (Return to top)
With respect to the process of translation for the Book of Mormon, Brant Gardner posits a view of functionalist equivalence – “unless a very specific, detailed textual analysis supports an argument that particular words or passages are either literalist or conceptual.”[cxci] Royal Skousen differs in his understanding of the translation process, arguing that the words chosen for the English text were generally given under “tight control.”[cxcii]
That said, however, both Skousen and Gardner would agree, I think, that one should not assume that every change made in the JST constitutes revealed text, tightly controlled. Besides arguments that can be made on the basis of the modifications themselves, there are questions regarding the reliability and degree of supervision given to the scribes who transcribed, copied, and prepared the text for publication. Differences are also apparent in the nature of the translation process that took place at different stages of the work. For example, whereas a significant proportion of the Genesis passages canonized as the Book of Moses look like “a word-for-word revealed text,” evidence from a study of two sections in the New Testament that were translated twice indicates that the later “New Testament JST is not being revealed word-for-word, but largely depends upon Joseph Smith’s varying responses to the same difficulties in the text.”[cxciii]
Was any of the understanding Joseph Smith relied on in making His translation of the Book of Moses received directly as the result of a vision? (Return to top)
Some aspects of the book of Moses, possibly including the comprehensive understanding of the Creation and the Fall that both Moses and Joseph Smith received, may have first come in vision and only later have been put into words. Regarding such visionary experiences, Lorenzo Brown remembered Joseph Smith as saying:[cxciv]
After I got through translating the Book of Mormon, I took up the Bible to read with the Urim and Thummim. I read the first chapter of Genesis, and I saw the things as they were done, I turned over the next and the next, and the whole passed before me like a grand panorama; and so on chapter after chapter until I read the whole of it. I saw it all!
However, even if this account is accurate, I do not think that Joseph Smith recorded in a direct fashion everything that he saw and understood relating to the material in the Book of Moses. In the chapters where the Book of Moses closely parallels the Genesis account (i.e., Moses 2-5, 8 vs. Moses 1, 6, 7), he seems to have emended the biblical text only to the degree he felt necessary and authorized to do so, running roughshod, as it were, over the divisions of biblical source texts generally accepted by scholars. For example, rather than compose a completely new account of Creation and the Fall in the Book of Moses, Joseph Smith wove changes based on his prophetic insights piece-by-piece into the existing Genesis account.[cxcv] As a result, in his effort to fulfill his divine mandate to “translate” scripture, the Prophet gives us enough revised and expanded material in the Book of Moses to significantly impact our understanding of important doctrinal and historical topics, but does not rework existing KJV verses to the point they become unrecognizable to those familiar with the Bible.[cxcvi]
Is the Book of Moses in a “final” form? (Return to top)
It would be a mistake to assume that the Book of Moses is currently in any sort of “final” form – if indeed such perfection in expression could ever be attained within the confines of what Joseph Smith called our “little, narrow prison, almost as it were, total darkness of paper, pen and ink; and a crooked, broken, scattered and imperfect language.”[cxcvii] As Robert J. Matthews, a pioneer of modern scholarship on the Joseph Smith Translation, aptly put it, “any part of the translation might have been further touched upon and improved by additional revelation and emendation by the Prophet.”[cxcviii]
Though Joseph Smith was careful in his efforts to render a faithful translation of the Bible, he was no naïve advocate of the inerrancy or finality of scriptural language.[cxcix] For instance, although in some cases his Bible translation attempted to resolve blatant inconsistencies among different accounts of the Creation and the life of Christ, he did not attempt to merge these sometimes divergent perspectives on the same events into a single harmonized version. Of course, having multiple accounts of these important stories should not be seen a defect or inconvenience. Differences in perspective between such accounts – and even seeming inconsistencies – composed “in [our] weakness, after the manner of [our] language, that [we] might come to understanding,”[cc] can be an aid rather than a hindrance to human comprehension, perhaps serving disparate sets of readers or diverse purposes to some advantage.
In translating the Bible, Joseph Smith’s criterion for the acceptability of a given reading was typically pragmatic rather than absolute. For example, after quoting a verse from Malachi in a letter to the Saints, he admitted that he “might have rendered a plainer translation.” However, he said that his wording of the verse was satisfactory in this case because the words were “sufficiently plain to suit [the] purpose as it stands.”[cci] This pragmatic approach is also evident both in the scriptural passages cited to him by heavenly messengers and in his sermons and translations. In these instances, he often varied the wording of Bible verses to suit the occasion.[ccii]
There is another reason we should not think of the Book of Moses as being in its “final” form. My study of the translations, teachings, and revelations of Joseph Smith has convinced me that he sometimes knew much more about certain sacred matters than he taught publicly. Indeed, in some cases, we know that the Prophet deliberately delayed the publication of early temple-related revelations connected with his work on the JST until several years after he initially received them.[cciii] Even after Joseph Smith was well along in the translation process, he seems to have believed that God did not intend for him to publish the JST in his lifetime. For example, writing to W. W. Phelps in 1832, he said: “I would inform you that [the Bible translation] will not go from under my hand during my natural life for correction, revisal, or printing and the will of [the] Lord be done.”[cciv]
Although in later years Joseph Smith reversed his position and apparently made serious efforts to prepare the manuscript of the JST for publication, his own statement makes clear that initially he did not feel authorized to share publicly all he had produced – and learned – during the translation process. Indeed, a prohibition against indiscriminate sharing of some revelations, which parallels similar cautions found in pseudepigrapha,[ccv] is explicit in the Book of Moses when it says of one sacred portion of the account: “Show [these words]s not unto any except them that believe.”[ccvi] Such admonitions are consistent with a remembrance of a statement by Joseph Smith that he intended to go back and rework some portions of the Bible translation to add in truths he was previously “restrained … from giving in plainness and fulness.”[ccvii]
In summary, what should we make of the Book of Moses? (Return to top)
Our acceptance of the book of Moses as part of the LDS scriptural canon and, more generally, the premise that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible might contain something more than a naïve personal update on passages that perplexed the Prophet has not only been a source of amusement for many non-Mormons, but also has drawn criticism even from some within the tradition of the Restoration. Consider the following quotation from former Community of Christ President W. Grant McMurray who, in a 2006 address to the John Whitmer Historical Association, said:
I grew up being taught that not only did we have the original church restored, but we were also given the Bible in its perfected, pristine form resulting from Joseph Smith’s call to translate it under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We have known for decades that it is not a restoration of the original text. That would be even more compelling a statement if there were such a thing as an original text of the Bible. What we do have is a theological commentary by Joseph Smith, demonstrably incomplete, that got some of the most significant scriptural language, particularly the theology of grace so beautifully expressed in the Pauline letters and butchered in the Inspired Version. It is time to identify it properly as a product of Joseph Smith’s fertile and creative mind. I have not preached from it for decades. There are many fine versions available based on current scholarship and with poetic and literary power. The Inspired Version should have no standing as an authoritative Biblical version for the Church.[ccviii]
While recognizing that the above statement of President McMurray does not represent the view of all members of the Community of Christ, sadly, it still expresses the opinion of many people today.
It is my firm witness that the book of Moses is a priceless prophetic reworking of the book of Genesis, made with painstaking effort under divine direction. Having spent the last few years in focused study of the early chapters of JST Genesis, I have been astonished with the extent to which its words reverberate with the echoes of antiquity – and, no less significantly, with the deepest truths of my own experience. I believe that the Book of Moses is a priceless prophetic reworking of the book of Genesis, made with painstaking effort under divine direction. Although neither “complete” nor “inerrant,” it is a text of inestimable value that constitutes a centerpiece of my personal scripture study.
With respect to yet unrevealed portions of the book of Abraham, a companion to the book of Moses, Hugh Nibley reminds us:
Important parts of the Pearl of Great Price which are still being held back include “writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is [sic] to be had in the holy Temple of God,”[ccix] “ought not to be revealed at the present time.”[ccx] Years ago, when we cited some passages from what we called an Egyptian endowment,[ccxi] without elaborating, many Latter-day Saints quietly recognized their own temple endowment. Important things are still expressly withheld which “ought not to be revealed at the present time”; these include Facsimile 2, figures 12–21. For some of the secrets there is a standing invitation: “If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.”[ccxii] That was over a century and a half ago, and the invitation to search is still open.[ccxiii]
Footnotes (Return to top)
[i] Knuth, Donald E. 3:16 – Bible Texts Illuminated. Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 1991, p. 2.
[ii] 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
[iii] Talmage, James E. 1931. “The earth and man (originally published in Deseret News, November 21, 1931, pp. 7-8).” In The Essential James E. Talmage, edited by James P. Harris, 241–55. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1997, p. 252.
[iv] Young, Brigham. 1867. “Remarks delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, 8 April 1867.” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 11, 371–75. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 375 or Young, Brigham. 1941. Discourses of Brigham Young. Edited by John A. Widtsoe. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1977, p. 3.
[v] Barlow, Philip L. Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991, pp. 90-91. See Young, Brigham. 1871. “Remarks delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, 14 May 1871.” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 14, 114-18. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966, pp. 115-117.
[vi] Young, Brigham. 1874. “Discourse delivered in the new Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, 3 May 1874.” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 17, 51–56. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 52.
[vii] See, e.g., the summary in Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. In God’s Image and Likeness: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2010, pp. 526-527, 707–708.
[viii] Alma 40:8; McConkie, Bruce R. “Christ and the creation.” Ensign 12, June 1982, p. 11; Young, Brigham. 1876. “Personal revelation the basis of personal knowledge; philosophic view of Creation; apostasy involves disorganization and returns to primitive element; one man power (Discourse by Brigham Young, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, September 17, 1876).” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 18, 230-35. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 23.
[ix] Tullidge, Edward W. 1877. The Women of Mormondom. New York City, NY: n.p., 1997, p. 178.
[x] Bailey, David H. Latter-day Creationism. In The Mormon Organon. http://sciencebysteve.net/?p=379. (accessed December 2, 2008).
– The LDS Church and Evolution (27 July 2008). In Papers by David H. Bailey. http://www.dhbailey.com/papers/dhb-lds-evolution.pdf. (accessed December 2, 2008).
– What’s wrong with Intelligent Design? (11 May 2008). In Papers of David H. Bailey. http://www.dhbailey.com/papers/dhb-intell-design.pdf. (accessed December 2, 2008).
– “Mormonism and the new creationism.” Dialogue 35, no. 4 (2002): 39-59.
– “God is not a great deceiver: What’s wrong with intelligent design.” Unpublished manuscript in the possession of the author. 2005.
[xi] For examples of views from Mormon scholars and scientists, see http://mormonscholarstestify.org/
[xii] Sorenson, John L. “Origin of Man.” In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow. 4 vols. Vol. 3, 1053-54. New York City, NY: Macmillan, 1992. http://www.lib.byu.edu/Macmillan/. (accessed November 26, 2007), p. 1053.
[xiii] Ash, Michael R. “The Mormon myth of evil evolution.” Dialogue 35, no. 4 (2002), pp. 32-33.
[xiv] Givens, Terryl L. People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 209-210, 378-379 nn. 59-64.
[xv] For a summary of the background of the JST and its relationship to the Book of Moses, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 1–9.
[xvi] I have argued for the possibility that the increased emphasis accorded to certain sections of the Bible in the translation effort could be seen as part of divine tutorial for the Prophet on temple and priesthood matters, given early in his ministry (J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014), pp. 13-16).
[xvii] P. L. Barlow, Bible (2013), pp. 55–57.
[xviii] See, e.g., D&C 9:7-9.
[xix] K. Flake, Translating Time, pp. 507-508; cf. G. Underwood, Revelation, pp. 76-81, 83-84. With respect to the Book of Mormon, scholars differ in their understanding about the degree to which the vocabulary and phrasing of Joseph Smith’s translation was tightly controlled. However, there is a consensus among LDS scholars that at least some features of the plate text of the Book of Mormon survived translation (B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, pp. 150-152, 197-204). See more on this issue below.
[xx] H. M. Smith et al., Commentary, p. 350.
[xxi] Compare Gardner’s analysis of Book of Mormon usage of the name/title “Jesus Christ” (B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, pp. 241–242). For more on this issue, see the discussion of Moses 6-7 below. Note that acceptance of the general primacy of conceptual rather than literal equivalence in translation undercuts one of the primary tools of the textual critic, i.e., vocabulary analysis (ibid., pp. 233-239).
[xxii] E.g., R. E. Friedman, Who; R. E. Friedman, Hidden. For a recent LDS perspective on the Documentary Hypothesis and higher criticism in general, see D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy. For reviews of the book, see K. L. Barney, Authoring; J. M. Bradshaw, Sorting.
[xxiii] R. E. Friedman, Commentary
[xxiv] J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 5.
[xxv] The first volume in the series is D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy.
[xxvi] D&C 88:118. The implication of scripture, however, is that learning spiritual matters from book study is ultimately a poor cousin to learning by faith – i.e., study “out of the best books” is only necessary because “all have not faith.” Though himself a great advocate of schools for the teaching of practical subjects in Kirtland and Nauvoo, on matters of learning for the eternities Joseph Smith wanted the Saints to gain knowledge by direct revelation – to come to the point where they could throw away their crutches, take up their beds, and walk: “The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching” (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 3 October 1841, p. 191). Note that the original source for this quote actually reads “the only way” (J. Smith, Jr., Words, 3 October 1841, p. 77, emphasis added).
[xxvii] E.g., 2 Nephi 25:8, 21–22; Jacob 1:3; Enos 1:15-16; Jarom 1:2; Mormon 7:1, 8:34-35.
[xxviii] E.g., E. T. Benson, Book of Mormon—Keystone.
[xxix] J. Blenkinsopp, The structure of P, p. 284.
[xxx] Ibid., p. 284.
[xxxi] 1 Nephi 19:23.
[xxxii] E.g., 1 Nephi 4:2, 17:23-44. André LaCocque describes how the Bible “attributes to historical events (like the Exodus, for instance) a paradigmatic quality” (A. LaCocque, Captivity of Innocence, p. 71). “[A]ny conceptual framework which merely purports to reconstruct events 'as they really were' (Ranke),” writes Michael Fishbane, “is historicistic, and ignores the thrust of [the Bible’s] reality. For the Bible is more than history. It is a religious document which has transformed memories and records in accordance with various theological concerns” (M. A. Fishbane, Sacred Center, p. 6).
[xxxiii] Cf. B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, p. 295.
[xxxiv] J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 15 October 1843, p. 327. Cf. 1 Nephi 13:24-28. Of course, there are similar difficulties that have come into play in the textual, editing, and publishing history of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants (e.g., Section 27), a fact that should help us better understand the idea of a textual history described by source criticism for the Old Testament. As Ben McGuire explains: “Within the short history of our scripture we see numerous such changes (even with the existence of printing technology) that help us to understand that these changes occur quite naturally – and are not necessarily the results of translational issues or corrupt priests. We can, of course, completely identify the history of some of these changes, we can detail corruptions in the Book of Mormon that have occurred from the original manuscript. We can speculate about the existence of these errors where the original manuscript does not exist, and so on. And the fact that we can talk about [D&C] 27 as a composite work is itself another symptom of the process by which our texts come into existence in a way that doesn’t reflect a single author with a single pen, providing us with the perfect word of God" (B. L. McGuire, 17 March 2014).
[xxxv] K. Schmid, Genesis, pp. 28-29. Cf. D. M. Carr, Formation, pp. 102-125.
[xxxvi] These included Lehi, Nephi, Moroni, and apparently others. See T. G. Hatch, Visions, pp. 129-131.
[xxxvii] These included, among others, the Old Testament figures of Adam, Noah, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Elias, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Elijah. New Testament figures included John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Paul, Stephen, Philip, Matthew, James the Lesser, Matthias, Andrew, Mark, Jude, Bartholomew, Thomas, Luke, Simon, Barnabas, and others of the Apostles – and, of course, Jesus Christ Himself. See ibid., pp. 135-155. For additional accounts of divine manifestations to the Prophet, see J. W. Welch et al., Opening.
[xxxviii] J. H. Walton et al., Lost World of Scripture, p. 304.
[xxxix] Articles of Faith 1:8. In this connection, D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 131 cites the following from President Gordon B. Hinckley (G. B. Hinckley, Great Things, p. 81):
The Christian world accepts the Bible as the word of God. Most have no idea of how it came to us. I have just completed reading a newly published book by a renowned scholar. It is apparent form information which he gives that the various books of the Bible were brought together in what appears to have been an unsystematic fashion. In some cases, the writings were not produced until long after the events they describe. One is led to ask, “Is the Bible true? Is it really the word of God?” We reply that it is, insofar as it is translated correctly. The hand of the Lord was in its making.
[xl] J. H. Walton et al., Lost World of Scripture, pp. 68, 69.
[xli] With respect to Genesis in particular, “it is fairly obvious that the book of Genesis serves as a kind of introduction or prologue to what follows in Exodus through Deuteronomy” (K. Schmid, Genesis, p. 29). “Nevertheless,” continues Schmid in his highlighting of one prominent theme in the most recent thinking on the topic (ibid., pp. 30, 32, 45), “the function of Genesis to the Pentateuch is apparently not exhausted by describing it as an introduction to the Moses story .… Genesis … shows … clear signs of having existed as a stand-alone literary unit for some portion of its literary growth. Genesis is a special book within the Pentateuch: it is the most self-sufficient one .… In current scholarship, it is no longer possible to explain the composition of the book of Genesis from the outset within the framework of the Documentary Hypothesis.” For a broader survey of current research, see J. C. Gertz, Formation. For details of textual transmission and reception history of Genesis in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, see C. A. Evans et al., Book of Genesis, pp. 303-632.
[xlii] E.g., K. van der Toorn, Scribal Culture; R. S. Hendel, Historical Context, pp. 73-84; D. M. Carr, Formation, pp. 4-7, 13–36. J. S. Thompson, 21 March 2014, however, qualifies this conclusion as follows: “While the Pentateuch does seem to have an anonymous narrator/editor who speaks of Moses and others in third person, the prophetic books have more first person narrative and autobiographical flavor that lends itself to the possibility of direct prophetic authorship.”
[xliii] E.g., B. A. Gardner, Literacy. Of course, LDS scripture also emphasizes the important role of written scripture going back to the earliest times (e.g., Moses 6:5-8, 46).
[xliv] Note that valuable religious traditions are not confined to accounts from Abrahamic lands and faiths (see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Endnote 0-36, p. 29). As God pointedly told Nephi: “I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it” (2 Nephi 29:12, emphasis mine; cf. Alma 29:8, G. E. Jones, Apocryphal, pp. 28-29; cf. B. H. Roberts, Defense, 1:512; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 16 February 1832, pp. 10-11, 22 January 1834, p. 61). Considering this fact, it should not be at all surprising if genuinely revealed teachings, promulgated at one time but subsequently lost or distorted (see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Endnote 0-37, p. 29), may sometimes appear to have survived in heterodox strands of religious traditions the world over (see S. W. Kimball et al., God’s Love; S. J. Palmer, Expanding, p. v; O. F. Whitney, Discourse (April 1928), p. 59; Diversity, Diversity).
Robert F. Smith, http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sorting-out-the-sources-in-scripture/#comment-13917, 6 March 2014, observes that “ancient Near Eastern creation stories generally differ in details, but agree in the broad schema – as Speiser shows in his Anchor Bible translation-commentary on Genesis (E. A. Speiser, Genesis, pp. 9-13). The same is true of the various Flood and Tower stories… What would be truly odd would be the lack of divergent accounts.”
[xlv] In evaluating evidence of antiquity for traditions preserved in extracanonical literature, scholars must maintain the careful balance articulated by Nickelsburg: “One should not simply posit what is convenient with the claim that later texts reflected earlier tradition. At the same time, thoroughgoing skepticism is inconsonant with the facts as we know them and as new discoveries continue to reveal them: extant texts represent only a fragment of the written and oral tradition that once existed. Caution, honest scholarly tentativeness, and careful methodology remain the best approach to the data” (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, Judaism, pp. 25-26).
[xlvi] For a discussion of the difficulties in teasing out, e.g., Jewish from Christian contributions to the pseudepigrapha, see R. A. Kraft, Pseudepigrapha.
[xlvii] For example, Schwartz asserts that “a great many rabbinic myths, as found in the Midrashim, are not new creations of the rabbis, as might appear to be the case. Rather they are simply the writing down of an oral tradition that was kept alive by the people, when there was no need to suppress it any longer" (H. Schwartz, Tree, p. lxiv). Moreover, he points out that “the rabbinic texts themselves claim that these traditions are part of the Oral Torah, handed down by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, and are therefore considerably ancient" (ibid., p. lxxxiv).
[xlviii] For example, Reeves has concluded “that the Qur’an, along with the interpretive traditions available in Hadïth, commentaries, antiquarian histories, and the collections of so-called ‘prophetic legends’ (qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā'), can shed a startling light on the structure and content of certain stories found in Bible and its associated literatures (such as Pseudepigrapha and Midrash). [Thus, the] Qur’an and other early Muslim biblically-allied traditions must be taken much more seriously as witnesses to ‘versions of Bible’ than has heretofore been the case” (J. C. Reeves, Flowing Stream; see also T. Khalidi, Muslim Jesus, pp. 7-9, 16-17). Wasserstrom refers to “arguments to the effect that active reading of ‘biblical’ or ‘extrabiblical’ narratives by Muslims was an exercise which reflexively illuminates those ‘original’ sources’” and cites Halperin’s argument that transmitters of these stories in the Islamic tradition “tended to make manifest what had been typically left latent in the Jewish version which they had received” (S. M. Wasserstrom, Muslim Literature, p. 100). For a discussion of the complex two-way relationship between Jewish pseudepigrapha and Muslim literature, see ibid. generally. For a specific discussion of Islamic sources and interpretation in Genesis, see C. Bakhos, Genesis, The Qur'an.
[xlix] For example, as Lipscomb observes, even some of the late medieval compositions that “do not derive directly from earliest Christianity” may be of “great importance … in the antiquity of some of the traditions they contain, the uniqueness of some of their larger contribution to the development and understanding of Adam materials and of medieval Christianity” (W. L. Lipscomb, Armenian, pp. 1–6).
[l] See, e.g., J. L. Kugel, Instances, p. 156. Kugel observes: “To make sense of these [brief and sometimes] offhand references—indeed, even to identify them as containing exegetical motifs – it is necessary to read the text in question against the background of the whole body of ancient interpretations” (ibid., p. 156).
[li] See, e.g., H. W. Nibley, Myths, p. 42.
[lii] J. Smith, Jr., Words, pp. xvii-xviii.
[liii] Ibid., p. xvii.
[liv] J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History.
[lv] D. C. Jessee, JS History.
[lvi] E.g., J. Smith, Jr., Teachings; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings 2007; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings 1997.
[lvii] J. Smith, Jr., Words.
[lviii] E.g., J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 643-644, 750.
[lix] According to D. C. Jessee, JS History, p. 441, Joseph Smith and his scribes had only progressed to the date August 5, 1838 in the history by the time of the Prophet’s death.
[lx] See D. A. Bednar, Faithful Parents, pp. 30-33. While Joseph Smith is not the direct author of most of the material in the volumes containing his teachings, I think he would be properly regarded as the authority behind them. More often than not, I do think his teachings are reasonably represented, even if the words are not exactly as spoken. In some cases, in fact, he could be regarded as the author, since some of the teachings in these books were taken from texts written directly by him or his scribes. On the other hand, of course, in a few cases pieces originally drafted in part by others appear under his name (e.g., J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 1 March 1842, 4:536-541, which draws in part from material in a pamphlet by Orson Pratt (see J. Smith, Jr. et al., Histories, 1832-1844, pp. 519-520) and J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 29 November 1843, 6:88-93, written by William W. Phelps with input from the Prophet (see R. L. Bushman, Rough Stone, p. 512)).
[lxi] See Eusebius, History, 6:12, p. 190.
[lxii] J. H. Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, p. xxiv.
[lxiii] For good summaries of the history of the usage of the term, see ibid., pp. xxiv-xxv; R. Bauckham et al., Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, pp. xvii-xx. The trend in the application of the term “pseudepigrapha” to characterize ancient writings is tending to greater inclusivity since, as Bauckham et al. observe, “there is simply no 'magic bullet' (such as date of composition, authorship, genre, etc.) which allows us as historians rather than theologians to distinguish between canonical ancient revelatory books and noncanonical ones” (ibid., p. xix). Complicating the search for a clear dividing line are examples like 1 Enoch, a book once highly prized by Christians to the point of being quoted in the New Testament, but which is no longer included in the biblical canon except by the Ethiopic Christian Church.
[lxiv] D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 142.
[lxv] American Heritage Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary. The definition adds: “but composed within approximately 200 years of the birth of Jesus Christ.” This is a typical criterion in collections of pseudepigrapha.
[lxvi] J. H. Walton et al., Lost World of Scripture, p. 305
[lxvii] Many scholars see Daniel as a fictional character.
[lxviii] In a footnote, Walton refers to Craig Blomberg’s term: “benign pseudonymity.”
[lxix] See, e.g., J. Gee, Guide; B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power; R. Skousen, Tight Control.
[lxx] See D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, pp. 141–147, 169-173.
[lxxi] See ibid., pp. 144-146, 172.
[lxxii] Ibid., p. 159.
[lxxiii] P. L. Barlow, Bible, p. 57.
[lxxiv] D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 146.
[lxxv] C. C. Smith, Inspired Fictionalization. The study updates the 1983 article, D. J. Whittaker, Substituted Names, with new findings from the Joseph Smith Papers Project.
[lxxvi] D&C 78, 82, 92, 96.
[lxxvii] D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 129.
[lxxviii] O. Pratt, The Seer, 2:3, pp. 228: these changes were made “on account of our enemies, who were seeking every means to destroy the Prophet and the Church.” Cf. Orson Pratt to Brigham Young, 20 November 1842, cited in D. J. Whittaker, Substituted Names, p. 106 n. 11.
[lxxix] E.g., P. L. Barlow, Bible (2013), pp. 55–57.
[lxxx] B. L. McGuire, 17 March 2014 cautions against the adoption of extremes at either end of the spectrum with respect to translation issues. “On the one end of the spectrum we could (as believers) hold to a view in which [the Books of Moses and Abraham] are modern pseudepigrapha – a notion which contradicts what appears to be the opinion of the text held by Joseph Smith and his contemporaries (and this makes us appropriately uncomfortable … ). On the other end, the view that they are wholly revealed translations of ancient texts seems, at least on the surface, to be unsupportable.”
[lxxxi] Cf. K. L. Barney, Authoring. In his review of ATOT, Barney summarizes his more open view of the Prophet’s translations as follows: “Since with Joseph’s revealed 'translation' projects we are not talking about conventional translations but textual productions grounded in the 'gift of seeing,' I think it is important to remain open-minded as to what that might mean in any given case. Perhaps Joseph has restored material that is authentic to an ancient prophet; perhaps he has restored material that is authentic to antiquity generally if not that prophet in particular; or perhaps he has used the method of pseudepigrapha as the medium to convey his own prophetic insights.”
[lxxxii] D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, pp. 158-159, 170-173, 189.
[lxxxiii] B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, pp. 151–152.
[lxxxiv] R. L. Millet, Book of Mormon, Historicity and Faith, p. 5.
[lxxxv] D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 172.
[lxxxvi] Ibid., pp. 211–214; cf. B. T. Ostler, Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion; B. T. Ostler, Updating. For a critique of this view of the Book of Mormon translation process, see S. E. Robinson, “Expanded”. B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, p. 244-246 gives a few examples that seem to indicate modern expansion, but on the whole sees the Book of Mormon translation as closer to the underlying plate text than Ostler (ibid., pp. 150-152, 244-247, 282–283).
[lxxxvii] J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 25-26 October 1831, 1:220.
[lxxxviii] D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 214.
[lxxxix] Though I would agree that the Prophet may have found it difficult to put a description of the specific sensory and cognitive processes by which revealed text was produced, it is more difficult to argue that he did not understand, for example, the role of manuscripts and artifacts he relied on in his translation of the Book of Mormon. It seems equally unlikely that he did not understand the relationship between the Egyptian papyri and the Book of Abraham.
[xc] See, e.g., R. O. Barney, Joseph Smith’s Visions; R. Nicholson, Cowdery Conundrum. See also J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, p. 8. Of course, there is no reason to throw doubt on the idea that the translation process relied on instruments and procedures such as those described by Joseph Smith’s contemporaries. However, by restricting his description to the statement that the translation occurred “by the gift and power of God” (J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 4 January 1833, 1:315, in a parallel to the wording found in Omni 1:20 that was later taken up in the account and testimony of the Three Witnesses (J. Smith, Jr. et al., Histories, 1832-1844, pp. 318-323). See also D&C 1:29, 20:8), the Prophet disclaimed the futile effort to make these sacred events intelligible to others who had not experienced what he had. Instead he pointed our attention to what mattered most: that the translation was accomplished by divine means.
[xci] Ginzberg reports traditions of “several ascensions of Moses”: a first “at the beginning of his career,” a second “at the revelation of the Torah,” and the third “shortly before his death” (L. Ginzberg, Legends, 5:417). For a brief overview of accounts that interpreted Moses’ ascent to Sinai as an ascent to the holy of holies, see M. Barker, Great High Priest, pp. 218-219. For useful general summaries of ascent literature, see W. J. Hamblin, Temple Motifs; J. F. McConkie, Premortal; M. Barker, Temple Theology; M. Barker, Risen. For an interpretation of the Islamic hajj pilgrimage as a form of ascent, see S. A. Ashraf, Inner, p. 125, and for the Islamic story of Habib, who “entered [Paradise] alive,” see M. Ibn Ishaq ibn Yasar, Making, pp. 227-228. For a discussion of Moses’ vision on Sinai as an ascent and rebirth, see P. Borgen, John and Philo, pp. 60-65. For a detailed commentary on Moses 1, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 32-81. See also H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, 17, p. 205; J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural.
[xcii] See J. M. Bradshaw, LDS Book of Enoch.
[xciii] H. W. Nibley, Apocryphal, p. 312; cf. pp. 310-311. See W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 85:14-16, p. 159.
[xciv] 2 Peter 1:10. See J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 59-65.
[xcv] J. W. Ludlow, Visions.
[xcvi] H. W. Nibley, To Open; H. W. Nibley, Abraham 2000, pp. 1–73.
[xcvii] J. M. Bradshaw et al., Apocalypse of Abraham. For a brief summary, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Excursus 54, pp. 694-696.
[xcviii] For the English translation, I have used A. Kulik, Retroverting, Apocalypse of Abraham chs. 9-23, pp. 16-27 unless otherwise noted. The first English translation of the Apocalypse of Abraham was made in 1898. Notably, this translation did not appear in a scholarly journal, but rather in the Improvement Era, an official publication of the Church (E. H. Anderson et al., Abraham).
[xcix] Moses 1:1; AA 9:8.
[c] Moses 1:3; AA 9:3.
[ci] AA 9:5.
[cii] Cf. Abraham, Facsimile 2, figure 2.
[ciii] Moses 1:6; AA 9:6.
[civ] Moses 1:4; AA 9:6.
[cv] AA 10:1–3.
[cvi] Moses 1:9-11.
[cvii] Moses 1:12; AA 13:4-5.
[cviii] Moses 1:13; AA 13:6.
[cix] Moses 1:13-14; AA 13:7.
[cx] Moses 1:16: “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not.” AA 13:12-13: “Depart from [Abraham]! You cannot deceive him.”
[cxi] Moses 1:16; AA 13:14.
[cxii] Moses 1:18: “Depart hence, Satan.” AA 14:7: “vanish from before me!”
[cxiii] Moses 1:19; AA 14:9-10.
[cxiv] Moses 1:20, 21: “Moses … commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan … And now Satan began to tremble.”
[cxv] See R. H. Charles, Enoch, 13:3 (Gizeh), p. 288. Nibley’s English translation reads (H. W. Nibley, To Open, pp. 10-11; cf. R. H. Charles, Apocrypha, 2:196 n. 13:1): “And Enoch said to Azazel, Depart! … Then he departed and spoke to all of them [i.e., his followers] … and trembling … seized them.” Nibley’s reading is perfectly coherent. However, Nickelsburg does not see the logic of the Gizeh variant, calling the passage “nonsense” (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, n. 13:1a, p. 234).
[cxvi] Moses 1:24-26.
[cxvii] AA 15:2-3.
[cxviii] 2 Nephi 4:25.
[cxix] Moses 1:25.
[cxx] R. Rubinkiewicz, Apocalypse of Abraham, 17:1, p. 696
[cxxi] Compare H. W. Nibley, Message 2005, pp. 449-457.
[cxxii] M. E. Stone, Fall of Satan, p. 47; cf. Revelation 4:1: “Come up hither”; Matthew 25:21: “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
[cxxiii] R. Rubinkiewicz, Apocalypse of Abraham, 30:1, p. 704.
[cxxiv] Moses 1:24.
[cxxv] Moses 1:27-28.
[cxxvi] AA 21:1.
[cxxvii] H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, 10, p. 117; cf. J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 27 November 1832, 1:299. Scholem writes that “this cosmic curtain, as it is described in the Book of Enoch, contains the images of all things which since the day of creation have their pre-existing reality, as it were, in the heavenly sphere. All generations and all their lives and actions are woven into this curtain… [All this] shall become universal knowledge in the Messianic age” (G. Scholem, Trends, p. 72).
[cxxviii] P. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 45:6, p. 299.
[cxxix] M. Barker, Temple Theology, p. 28; see also M. Barker, Boundary, pp. 215-217. Nibley discusses parallels between the picture presented to Abraham and the “great round” of the hypocephalus (H. W. Nibley et al., One Eternal Round, pp. 42ff.).
[cxxx] D&C 107:56, Moses 7:4-67, Ether 3:25, 1 Nephi 14:25, 1 Nephi 14:26, Luke 4:5, M. C. Thomas, Brother of Jared.
[cxxxi] Ether 3:20; cf. Moses 3:26.
[cxxxii] P. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 45:1, p. 296 n. a.
[cxxxiii] Moses 1:30.
[cxxxiv] AA 26:1.
[cxxxv] See Moses 2.
[cxxxvi] See Moses 1:39.
[cxxxvii] AA 27:1–31. Nibley nonetheless sees parallels between these passages in the Apocalypse and the books of Moses and Abraham (H. W. Nibley, Abraham 2000, pp. 25-26).
[cxxxviii] By way of contrast, questions addressed to God in the Islamic Mother of Books provide a closer parallel to the material found in the book of Moses: “My Lord, … From where did he make the spirits? What was the origin of his creation?” (W. Barnstone et al., Mother, p. 685).
[cxxxix] A. A. Orlov, Gods of My Father, p. 53; see also A. A. Orlov, Praxis.
[cxl] AA 16:3, emphasis mine.
[cxli] Moses chapters 2-4. Other ancient writings affirm what the book of Moses says about how the stories of the Creation and the Fall were revealed in vision. For example, the book of Jubilees prefaces a recital of the Creation and other events of Genesis with the Lord’s instructions to Moses to record what he would see in vision (O. S. Wintermute, Jubilees, 2:52, p. 54).
[cxlii] D&C 130:9.
[cxliii] AA 19:1, 4-5, 9; cf. Abraham 3:1–18.
[cxliv] I.e., formerly shadowed, sketched, outlined, prefigured (R. Rubinkiewicz, Apocalypse of Abraham, p. 699 n. 21a).
[cxlv] Cf. Abraham 5:3-5.
[cxlvi] Cf. Abraham 3:22–23.
[cxlvii] A. Kulik, Retroverting, pp. 26-28.
[cxlviii] The same basic pattern can also be observed in Jubilees, where it is made explicit in the opening part of the book that the revelation to Moses about Creation and other matters was given through direct speech by God and disclosures by an angel of the presence (J. C. VanderKam, Book of Jubilees, 1:1–5, pp. 1–2, 2:1ff., p. 7ff.), as is observed in ATOT (D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 146) and also has been discussed in E. D. Clark, Prologue. The theme of Moses having received the words by direct revelation continues throughout the book. Indeed, VanderKam notes that, after the opening scenes in the Prologue and 1:1–2:1, there are “22 direct or indirect reminders that the angel is dictating to Moses” (J. C. VanderKam, Book of Jubilees (2001), p. 24).
[cxlix] H. W. Nibley, To Open, p. 15.
[cl] By way of contrast, the account of Creation given in the Book of Moses seems to interact directly with its KJV equivalent. In the prologue of Moses 2:1 and throughout the rest of the chapter, we seem to be reading the result of the Prophet’s layering onto the KJV account, not only additional theological concepts, but also bridging context that reinforces the idea that Moses received an account of Creation by direct revelation from God, whether or not the creation account as we have it constitutes the exact words of that revelation.
[cli] D. E. Bokovoy, Authoring Genesis-Deuteronomy, p. 139.
[clii] B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power. Gardner sees deeper inquiry into Joseph Smith’s role as a translator as “one of the next important discussions that LDS scholars must have. We really have to work out Joseph as a translator based on data rather than assumptions. It will be our own form of Higher Criticism. In this case, however, we won’t be discovering the human editorial process but attempting to understand the divine process that merged revelation and translation into Joseph’s textual production” (B. Gardner, 19 March 2014).
[cliii] Book of Moses, chapters 6 and 7. For more on the story of Enoch, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2.
[cliv] For example, J. L. Brooke, Refiner’s Fire seeks to make the case that Sidney Rigdon, among others, was a “conduit of Masonic lore during Joseph’s early years” and then goes on to make a set of weakly substantiated claims connecting Mormonism and Masonry. These claims, including connections with the story of Enoch’s pillars in Royal Arch Masonry, are refuted by William J. Hamblin et al. (W. J. Hamblin et al., Mormon in the Fiery Furnace; W. J. Hamblin et al., Review of John L. Brooke; cf. P. L. Barlow, Decoding; J. Shipps, Sojourner, pp. 204-217) and Jed Woodworth (J. L. Woodworth, Enoch, pp. 188-189). Non-Mormon scholar Stephen Webb agrees with Hamblin et al., concluding that “actual evidence for any direct link between [Joseph Smith’s] theology and the hermetic tradition is tenuous at best, and given that scholars vigorously debate whether hermeticism even constitutes a coherent and organized tradition, Brooke’s book should be read with a fair amount of skepticism” (S. H. Webb, Jesus Christ, p. 260). For a debunking of the idea that LDS temple ordinances are a simple derivation from Freemasonry, see M. B. Brown, Exploring. Brown’s more in-depth manuscript dealing with this topic still awaits publication. For a summary of the contents of the major Enoch pseudepigrapha and selected points of relevance for LDS readers, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 468-477.
[clv] S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith.
[clvi] D. M. Quinn, Magic 1998, p. 193.
[clvii] E.g., S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith., p. 126: “substantial similarities between the [pseudepigraphic Books of Enoch (BE)] and [the LDS Extract from the Prophecy of Enoch (EPE)] are irrefutable proof of influence. The extensive relationship between Noah and Enoch and its expression in the EPE mimics many aspects of [1 Enoch]. The concept of the Son of Man and its application in the EPE with Enoch is further proof that Smith had acquired knowledge of [1 Enoch]. Nibley’s own point that Mahujah and Mahijah from the EPE share their name with Mahaway in the [Qumran Book of the Giants (BG)] is further evidence that influence occurred. And additional proof of Smith’s knowledge of the BG is evidenced by his use of the codename Baurak Ale.”
Note in particular the difficulty in arguing influence of the Book of the Giants on the Book of Moses Enoch account, since the former was not discovered until 1948. Cirillo does not attempt an explanation for how influence might have occurred in this case. The only attempt to explain such a phenomenon of which I am aware comes from two separate remembrances of the well-known Aramaic scholar Matthew Black, who collaborated with Jozef Milik in the first translation of the fragments of the Book of the Giants into English in 1976. Black was approached by Gordon Thomasson after a guest lecture at Cornell University, during a year that Black spent at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton (1977-1978) (W. McKane, Matthew Black). According to Thomasson’s account (G. C. Thomasson, Items on Enoch – Some Notes of Personal History. Expansion of remarks given at the Conference on Enoch and the Temple, Academy for Temple Studies, Provo, Utah, 22 February 2013 (unpublished manuscript, 25 February 2013); ibid.):
I asked Professor Black if he was familiar with Joseph Smith’s Enoch text. He said he was not but was interested. He first asked if it was identical or similar to 1 Enoch. I told him it was not and then proceeded to recite some of the correlations Dr. Nibley had shown with Milik and Black’s own and others’ Qumran and Ethiopic Enoch materials. He became quiet. When I got to Mahujah (Moses 7:2), he raised his hand in a “please pause” gesture and was silent. Finally, he acknowledged that the name Mahujah “could not have come from 1 Enoch. He then formulated a hypothesis, consistent with his lecture, that a member of one of the esoteric groups he had described previously [i.e., clandestine groups who had maintained, sub rosa, a religious tradition based in the writings of Enoch that pre-dated Genesis] must have survived into the 19th century, and hearing of Joseph Smith, must have brought the group’s Enoch texts to New York from Italy for the prophet to translate and publish.
At the end of our conversation he expressed an interest in seeing more of Hugh’s work. I proposed that Black should meet with Hugh [Nibley], gave him the contact information. He contacted Hugh the same day, as Hugh later confirmed to me. Soon Black made a previously unplanned trip to Provo, where he met with Hugh for some time. Black also gave a public guest lecture but, as I was told, in that public forum would not entertain questions on Moses.
In H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, pp. 267-269, Hugh Nibley recorded a conversation with Matthew Black that apparently occurred near the end of the latter’s 1977 visit to BYU. Nibley asked Black if he had an explanation for the appearance of the name Mahujah in the Book of Moses, and reported his answer as follows: “Well, someday we will find out the source that Joseph Smith used.”
[clviii] R. L. Bushman, Rough Stone, p. 138.
[clix] Ibid., p. 138. Cf. J. L. Woodworth, Enoch, pp. 190-192.
[clx] See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 117-119. In addition, of course, 1 Enoch and the Book of Moses share a common interest in the story of Noah and the Flood.
[clxi] See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, LDS Book of Enoch, pp. 36-39, 104.
[clxii] J. L. Woodworth, Enoch, pp. 190, 192 concludes: “While I do not share the confidence the parallelist feels for the inaccessibility of Laurence to Joseph Smith, I do not find sharp enough similarities to support the derivatist position. The tone and weight and direction of [1 Enoch and the Book of Moses] are worlds apart … The problem with the derivatist position is [that] … Laurence as source material for Joseph Smith does not make much sense if the two texts cannot agree on important issues. The texts may indeed have some similarities, but the central figures do not have the same face, do not share the same voice, and are not, therefore, the same people. In this sense, the Enoch in the Book of Moses is as different from the Enoch of Laurence as he is from the Enoch in the other extra-biblical Enochs in early American culture. Same name, different voice.”
[clxiii] S. D. Ricks, Narrative Call.
[clxiv] S. Zinner, Underemphasized parallels, p. 5.
[clxv] See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 35-36.
[clxvi] See F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 10:4 (shorter recension), p. 119, P. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 2:2, p. 357, 3:2, p. 257, 4:1, p. 258, and 4:10, p. 259, and C. Mopsik, Hénoch, 48D 1, p. 156 (97). See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M6-7, p. 93.
[clxvii] G. A. Anderson, Exaltation, p. 107. Robert F. Smith notes that the title “lad” in 2 and 3 Enoch “might be compared with Book of Mormon Alma ‘Lad, Young Man,’ which may be short for hypothetical Hebrew ˁAlma' 'El 'Lad of 'El,' the Ugaritic epithet of King Kirta, ˁlm 'il 'Lad of El,' and taking a hint from Mosiah 17:2 'and he was a young man.’ (Matt Bowen sees a pun)" (Robert F. Smith, http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sorting-out-the-sources-in-scripture/#comment-13917, 6 March 2014).
[clxviii] For recent scholarship on these resemblances, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, 41–49. Pioneering insights on Enochic parallels can be found in the writings of Hugh W. Nibley. He wrote a series of magazine articles on resemblances between ancient Enoch writings and the Book of Moses for the Church’s Ensign magazine in 1975-1977, receiving Milik’s English translation of the Book of the Giants only days before the publication deadline for the last article in the series. As a result, of the more than 300 pages he devoted to Enoch in the volume that gathered his writings on the subject, only a few pages were dedicated to the Aramaic “Enoch” fragments. H. W. Nibley, Enoch, pp. 276-281. Regrettably, after he completed his initial research at that time, Nibley turned his attention to other subjects and never again took up a sustained study of Enoch.
[clxix] See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 41–45, 47.
[clxx] See Moses 6:40, 7:2 and ibid., pp. 42-45. S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith., p. 97, following L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, p. 27, considers that the most conspicuously independent content” in the Book of the Giants, “unparalleled in other Jewish literature,” is the names of the giants, including Mahaway [i.e., Mahujah].” Moreover, according to Cirillo: “The name Mahaway in the [Book of the Giants] and the names Mahujah and Mahijah in the [book of Moses] represent the strongest similarity between the [LDS revelations on Enoch] and the [pseudepigraphal books of Enoch] (specifically the [Book of the Giants]).”
[clxxi] H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, p. 278.
[clxxii] Moses 7:2. On reading Mahujah as a personal name rather than a place name, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M6-13, p. 94.
[clxxiii] Moses 7:3.
[clxxiv] A. A. Orlov, Enoch-Metatron, p. 102.
[clxxv] F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 22:8 [J], p. 138. Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1–4. See J. J. Collins, Angelic Life, p. 293.
[clxxvi] Moses 7:59.
[clxxvii] P. S. Alexander, From Son of Adam, 10:1, 3, pp. 263-264.
[clxxviii] G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 46:2-4, p. 153; 48:2, p. 166; 60:10, p. 233; 62:5, 7, 9, 14, p. 254; 63:11, p. 255; 69:26-27, 29, p. 311; 70:1, p. 315; 71:14, 17, p. 320.
[clxxix] Moses 7:24, 47, 54, 56, 59, 65.
[clxxx] Moses 7:39. Cf. Moses 4:2. See G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 39:6, p. 111; 40:5, p. 130; 45:3-4, p. 148; 49:2, 4, p. 166; 51:5a, 3, p. 180; 52:6, 9, p. 187; 53:6, p. 194; 55:4, p. 198; 61:5, 8, 10, pp. 243, 247; 62:1, p. 254.
[clxxxi] I.e., Messiah. See Moses 7:53. See ibid., 48:10, p. 166; 52:4, p. 187.
[clxxxii] Moses 6:57; 7:45, 47, 67. See ibid., 38:2, p. 95; 53:6, p. 194. The term also appears by implication in 39:6, p. 111; 46:3, p. 153; 49:2, p. 166; 62:2-3, p. 254.
[clxxxiii] Ibid., 119, emphasis added. The entire discussion is found on pp. 113-123. For additional discussion of the “Son of Man” title from an LDS perspective, see S. K. Brown, Man and Son of Man. For more on the debate surrounding this title, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M7-16, p. 191.
[clxxxiv] Cf. John 5:27: “And [the Father] hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” For a comparison of the claims of Jesus in this verse to related ideas in the Old Testament (Moses, Daniel) and the pseudepigraphal literature, see C. S. Keener, John, 1:651–652.
[clxxxv] E.g., G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 69:27, 311: “… and the whole judgment was given to the Son of Man.” For a summary of this issue, see ibid., p. 119.
[clxxxvi] Genesis 5:24.
[clxxxvii] Moses 7:69.
[clxxxviii] A. Jellinek, BHM 4, 4, pp. 131–132. Cf. M. M. Noah, Jasher, 3:24-38, pp. 7-8. For a new English translation by David Calabro, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M7-23, pp. 193-194.
[clxxxix] J. P. Migne, Livre d'Adam, 21, p. 170.
[cxc] D. J. Larsen, Enoch and the City of Zion (2014), p. 30.
[cxci] B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, p. 247. For instance, Gardner considers, among other types of examples, the proper names of the Book of Mormon as specific instances of literal translation. He also finds examples of structural elements (e.g., chiasms and other literary features) in the Book of Mormon that are neither random nor “part of the common repertoire available to a writer in upstate New York in the 1830s. They represent features of the plate text that have survived the translation process” (ibid., p. 204). For summary discussions of the detailed analysis of this issue given throughout the book, see especially ibid., pp. 227-247, 279-283.
[cxcii] R. Skousen, Tight Control.
[cxciii] R. Skousen, Earliest, pp. 456-470. For the original study, see K. P. Jackson et al., Two Passages.
[cxciv] Lorenzo Brown in “Sayings of Joseph, by Those Who Heard Him at Different Times,” Joseph Smith Jr. Papers, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT, cited in K. Flake, Translating Time, p. 506 n. 31. Flake notes: “Brown’s statement is based on his recollection in 1880 of a conversation that occurred in 1832. For a discussion about the reliability of this account, see R. J. Matthews, Plainer, pp. 25-26, n. 12. Elder Orson F. Whitney reported a similar experience in more recent times – see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, p. 177.
[cxcv] This process seems similar to Gardner’s suggestions about how Joseph Smith seems to have translated biblical texts found within the Book of Mormon (e.g., B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, pp. 215-225).
[cxcvi] In this connection, it is interesting to consider how well Joseph Smith’s contemporaries might have received his translation of, e.g., the story of the Creation and the Fall had he produced a de novo account as opposed to layering prophetic insights onto the KJV text in a more limited fashion.
[cxcvii] J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 27 November 1832, 1:299.
[cxcviii] R. J. Matthews, Plainer, p. 215.
[cxcix] For example, Gerrit Dirkmaat gives examples of Joseph Smith’s efforts to revise and update his Doctrine and Covenants revelations as they were prepared for publication (G. Dirkmaat, Great, pp. 56-57).
[cc] D&C 1:24.
[cci] D&C 128:18.
[ccii] See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote 0-12, p. 27.
[cciii] For example, Bachman has argued convincingly that nearly all of D&C 132 was revealed to the Prophet as he worked on the first half of JST Genesis (D. W. Bachman, New Light). This was more than a decade before 1843, when the revelation was shared with Joseph Smith’s close associates.
[cciv] J. Smith, Jr., Writings 2002, 31 July 1832, p. 273. This is consistent with George Q. Cannon’s statement about the Prophet’s intentions to “seal up” the work for “a later day” after he completed the main work of Bible translation on 2 February 1833: “No endeavor was made at that time to print the work. It was sealed up with the expectation that it would be brought forth at a later day with other of the scriptures … [See D&C 42:56-58.] [T]he labor was its own reward, bringing in the performance a special blessing of broadened comprehension to the Prophet and a general blessing of enlightenment to the people through his subsequent teachings” (G. Q. Cannon, Life (1907), p. 129). I have argued that the divine tutorial that took place during Joseph Smith’s Bible translation effort was focused on temple and priesthood matters – hence the restriction on general dissemination of these teachings during the Prophet’s early ministry. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 3-6; J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014), pp. 13-16.
[ccv] See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote 0-13, p. 28.
[ccvi] Moses 1:43. See also Moses 4:32: “See thou show them unto no man, until I command you, except to them that believe.”
[ccvii] The quoted words are from LDS Apostle George Q. Cannon’s remembrance (G. Q. Cannon, Life (1907), p. 129 n.): “We have heard President Brigham Young state that the Prophet before his death had spoken to him about going through the translation of the scriptures again and perfecting it upon points of doctrine which the Lord had restrained him from giving in plainness and fulness at the time of which we write.”
[ccviii] Cited in R. G. Moore, Comparative Look, pp. 111–112.
[ccix] Abraham, Facsimile 2, figure 8.
[ccx] Abraham, Facsimile 2, figure 9.
[ccxi] H. W. Nibley, Message 2005.
[ccxii] Abraham, Facsimile 2, figure 11.
[ccxiii] H. W. Nibley et al., One Eternal Round, pp. 18-19.