Monday, August 30, 2021

The Only Begotten -- Part 1

Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father. Since I have heard this expression so often, I was surprised to see that it is less frequently used in the standard works than I thought. It is only found six times in the entire KJV Bible, all in the New Testament. Since we quote John 3:16 so often ("For God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son..."), we might get the impression that it is more common than that.

In the Book of Mormon, "Only Begotten" is found 9 times. But it is all over the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. 25 times in total in those 8 chapters. I find that interesting for reasons that I will try to explain in this post.

One obvious point is the mismatch between the Old Testament and the Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Moses is basically a more detailed version of Genesis chapters 1-6. This means that if the Book of Moses is meant to be a restoration of a more ancient version of Genesis, "the only begotten" must have been systematically removed to produce the version of Genesis that we have today. Even in the Book of Moses passages that we have almost verbatim in Genesis, the only begotten comes in addition. 

Compare, for instance, Moses 2:26 with Genesis 1:26

And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness

or Moses 3:18 with Genesis 2:18

And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten, that it was not good that the man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him. 
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

We see the yellow part including "Only Begotten" is an addition in the Book of Moses in a passage that is otherwise almost verbatim the same. Or perhaps it is more correct to say that the yellow parts appear removed in our current version of Genesis.

These examples are preceded by Moses 1 containing a prologue to the creation account that is not found in Genesis at all. In this chapter, Moses speaks with God and asks him about his creations. The "Only Begotten" is mentioned nine times in that chapter. It seems to be the standard name for the Messiah in the revelations to Moses and the creation account. It is striking that all the parts of the Book of Moses containing this name are not found in our current version of Genesis.

But it is not only a name that God used when talking to Moses. It goes all the way back to Adam. 

And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. (Moses 5)

Again, this is a story in the middle of the events we read about in early Genesis, but is not found in our current version, despite its significance. As far as I can tell, this is the first event in the history of mankind where man has been explicitly informed of the coming of Jesus Christ. He is not yet known by that name but is called the Only Begotten of the Father. Later in the history of a covenant people, various names have been used at different times. There are clearly certain trends as shown in this post.

The use of the Only Begotten is another clear trend. It seems to have been one of the preferred names for the future Messiah in the beginning. So why is this not found in the Old Testament? Lord Wilmore made similar observations about references to Adam and Eve and the questions he asks to figure out why these references are practically absent from the Old Testament are valid in this case too: 

Was it because the temple doctrines once had by ancient Israelites ended up suppressed and stripped away?  Was this doctrinal tradition preserved on the brass plates?

A closer look at the use of "Only Begotten" in the Book of Mormon leads me to conclude that this tradition in all likelihood indeed was preserved on the brass plates. Even though the Nephites may have preferred different names, the Only Begotten often comes up when the Nephite writers refer back to the ancient times. Considering its prevalence in the Book of Moses, that only makes sense. We will look at some of these Book of Mormon examples.

Alma 12-13

4 of the 9 uses of "Only Begotten" are found in these chapters. Alma's sermon starts out with a question about the tree of life and "our first parents" (Alma 12:20-21). He explains how God started revealing the plan of salvation after they were cast out from the garden and that his only begotten Son was a central component in that plan. He also explains how God from the beginning called men after "the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father" (Alma 13:9). Reading these two chapters, you don't need much imagination to envision Alma having studied an account similar to what we have in Moses 6

33 But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son (Alma 12)

1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people...

Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen. (Alma 13)

51 And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh. 
52 And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth... 

62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time...

67 And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity. (Moses 6)

Jacob 4

This chapter uses "Only Begotten" twice. Just like Alma 12 it is prefaced with a reference to prophets of old.
...not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son...Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son (Jacob 4:4-5, 11)


I covered 6 out of 9 uses of "Only Begotten" in the Book of Mormon. The remaining 3 do not refer back to ancient times directly, but there are some interesting intertextual connections that we will consider in a second part. The examples should suffice, though. In ancient scriptures covering the beginning of times there was talk of the Only Begotten Son of the Father who would redeem mankind. Its complete absence in our current Old Testament leads me to conclude that it was stripped away by the hands of what Nephi calls the great and abominable church. When the Book of Mormon uses the term, it is often within a context of referring back to those ancient days that the Nephites probably could read about on the brass plates. There are many indications that the brass plates contained a text more similar to our current Book of Moses in tPoGP than the Old Testament.

Gold and the Two Ways -- part 1

I'm studying gold (and other precious things) as a symbol connected with the doctrine of the two ways. From a materialist point of view, gold is perhaps the most precious substance known to man. It doesn't rust, it shines brilliantly, and it is rare enough to be quite valuable.

From a spiritual point of view, gold is a substance, but spiritual things are of greater importance. Several things are explicitly referred to as more important than gold:

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psalm 19)

72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. (Psalm 119)

7 so that the genuineness of your faithbeing more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1, NRSV)

Peter draws other parallels between our faith and gold -- both are "tested by fire." He goes on to make another comparison to gold: 

18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. (1 Peter 1, NRSV)

Job 28

This chapter is a poem praising God's wisdom. It begins by talking about gold and other precious materials found in the earth:

1 Surely there is a mine for silver,
and a place for gold to be refined.
2 Iron is taken out of the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Miners put an end to darkness,
and search out to the farthest bound
the ore in gloom and deep darkness. (Job 28, NRSV)

In other words, humans go to great lengths to search for worldly treasure. But will they go to such lengths to find something of even greater worth?

12 12 But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Mortals do not know the way to it,
and it is not found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15 It cannot be gotten for gold,
and silver cannot be weighed out as its price.
16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or sapphire.
17 Gold and glass cannot equal it,
nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
the price of wisdom is above pearls. 
(Job 28, NRSV)

When we are ready to value God's wisdom over all other things, we will be ready to seek this heavenly treasure:


20 Where then does wisdom come from?
And where is the place of understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
and concealed from the birds of the air.
22 Abaddon and Death say,
‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’
23 God understands the way to it,
and he knows its place.
24 For he looks to the ends of the earth,
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he gave to the wind its weight,
and apportioned out the waters by measure;
26 when he made a decree for the rain,
and a way for the thunderbolt;
27 then he saw it and declared it;
he established it, and searched it out.

28 And he said to humankind,
‘Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding.' (Job 28, NRSV)

I love the ending to this poem.  Wisdom and understanding are hidden and concealed for our mortal eyes, perhaps obscured by the glint of gold. The creator of all things established wisdom from the beginning to help us overcome death and chaos. (Abaddon is a name for a place of destruction and the archangel of the abyss.)

The pattern relating gold and the two way takes shape in this poem -- when we love God and His ways more than gold, we will give away our gold to find this hidden wisdom.  On the contrary, when we love gold more than God we will attempt in vain to adorn ourselves in gold in the futile that we will increase our value thereby. In the next post, we'll take a closer look at this ancient wisdom as it appears in the Old Testament and Book of Moses.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

A deeper look into the Words of Mormon -- Part 3

In part 1, I asked several questions in the introduction and have really only attempted to answer the last: Where exactly do the small plates end and the large plates start? Since this is complicated and speculative, I spent part 2 also dealing with that question. To answer the rest, we will have to rewind much more than only two centuries. We need to go back to the 4th century AD. I have already written a biographical sketch of Mormon, especially in relation to the Nephite records. (See this post). I will not repeat all that but instead try to get into more details on the process of adding the small plates of Nephi to his abridgment of the large plates of Nephi.

As pointed out in the linked post about Mormon and the Nephite records, it seems that Mormon abridged the large plates of Nephi late in life, at least for the most part, probably while he was in his seventies. The Nephites are almost extinct at that point, which is probably why he directs much of his more personal writings to his future readers rather than the Nephites. When Mormon is about half way through his abridgment, he discovers the small plates of Nephi. I can imagine this happening because this was at a point in Nephite history that becomes more complex and more writings are added. King Mosiah-I and his group fled the land and discovered Zarahemla. Some time later there was a group that went back to possess the land of their first inheritance. We know that there is a separate record of Zeniff from this time period and there were probably other records as well. While Mormon is searching among the records to get a better overview, he discovers the small plates of Nephi as commented in the beginning of the Words of Mormon.

Where did Mormon write this?

On which set of plates did Mormon engrave the words at the beginning of the Words of Mormon? There are different theories. The one I spent the most time on in parts 1 and 2 suggests that they were written on the small plates as an addendum by Mormon. It is also indicated in the text:

And now, I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written; for after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi. And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me (WoM 1:3-4)

There may be other ways to interpret this, but I would think that "these plates", referencing the small plates of Nephi, indicates that Mormon is engraving his words on them. At the end of the Book of Omni, Amaleki speaks about the small plates of Nephi and says that they are full. If so, how could Mormon fit those additional words? Perhaps there was simply insufficient space to start a new book but just enough for that addendum by Mormon. Another possibility would be Mormon making and adding an extra page. Since Mormon made his own set of plates on which he engraved the abridgment of Nephite history, we know he was capable of it.

According to the alternative theory I presented in part 2, Mormon engraved those words on his plates with the abridgment of Nephite history. I don't think that theory matches the wording of the quoted passage ("...after I had made an abridgment...I found these plates").

When did Mormon write this?

From the quoted passage, it is clear that Mormon speaks about a past event: "after I had made an abridgment...down to the reign of king Benjamin". So when writing this, the abridgment at least to the point where king Benjamin enters the scene is a thing of the past. We still don't know if he has finished the whole abridgment. But there are bits and pieces of information we can put together.

At some point during this period, Mormon and Moroni are fighting at different fronts against the Lamanites. Mormon writes an epistle the Moroni later decided to include in what is now Moroni 9. In verse 24, he writes
I trust that I may see thee soon; for I have sacred records that I would deliver up unto thee.

It seems to me that Mormon is done with the abridgment at this point. It is probably one of the records he wants to "deliver up". Based on the wording, I conclude that this letter was written before the first half of the Words of Mormon

And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites. (WoM 1:1)

As Mormon is making his addendum to the small plates, he has been reunited with his son, Moroni. "I have witnessed almost all the destruction" indicates that they are likely preparing for the last battle at Cumorah where all remaining Nephites gathered. At this point, Mormon has finished his abridgment of the Nephite history until the end of 4 Nephi. Verse 9 in the Words of Mormon may then seem confusing, but it makes much sense in context

And now I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi; (WoM 1:9)

Does this mean that Mormon has not completed the abridgment after all? No, it means that he has not finished his own record, the Book of Mormon (within the Book of Mormon). This book is also an abridgment from a fuller account on the large plates of Nephi. I believe at this point he has finished what is now chapter 5 and possibly written some of chapter 6. Compare WoM 1:9 with Mormon 6:1

And now I finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites.

Mormon 6 is about the final battle on Cumorah. Mormon writes it along with an invitation to his future readers in chapter 7 before Moroni finally takes over. Here is a simple timeline

  • After a long life filled with warfare, Mormon makes a set of plates and starts engraving an abridgment of the large plates of Nephi
  • Half-way through, he discovers the small plates of Nephi
  • Being almost done with his writings (ca Mormon 5), he sends an epistle to his son saying that he has records to give him and hope they can meet soon. Most likely they are fighting battles on different fronts
  • At the final gathering at Cumorah, he is reunited with his son, Moroni. He adds a few words to the small plates of Nephi (Words of Mormon) explaining how he found them and why he is including them. 
  • He fights the final battle at Cumorah and engraves chapters 6 and 7 of the Book of Mormon after the event, before his son Moroni takes possession of the plates and Mormon is killed.

Were the small plates of Nephi physically attached to the large?

This is a very difficult question to answer but I am inclined to answer no. There is a major inplication, however: If the small plates were not attached to Mormon's plates, the probably also were not dug up by Joseph Smith in the hill Cumorah! All the witnesses describe a set of plates bound in a D-shaped ring. If there was an additional set of plates, not physically attached to the rest, the witnesses would surely have noticed and said something about it. They gave other details like the approximate weight and size and more than half being sealed. 

I also find it unlikely that Mormon physically bound the small plates of Nephi together with the rest. First of all, Mormon had already made his plates when he discovered the small plates of Nephi. It is therefore unlikely that they were the exact same size. If not the same size, they would look weird bound together. Notice also the wording: 
But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record (WoM 1:6)

Mormon puts the small plates together with his plates. What does he mean by that? The same wording is used a few verses later

Wherefore, it came to pass that after Amaleki had delivered up these plates into the hands of king Benjamin, he took them and put them with the other plates (WoM 1:10)

We know that king Benjamin did not physically attach the small plates to the large ones. Otherwise Mormon would have known about them instead of discovering them later when searching through the various records. So Mormon is apparently using the terms in a sense comparable to stacking two books on top of each other and carrying them together. 

But if Joseph Smith did not dig up the small plates of Nephi in Cumorah, how did he get them? This is something I got from an online discussion involving Don Bradley, who has also come to believe that the small plates of Nephi was a separate set. Consider this verse in the D&C

And then, behold, other records have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate. (D&C 9:2)

These are the Lord's words through Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery. If not the small plates of Nephi, what records is this verse referring to? Could it be that Joseph Smith at some point between the loss of the 116+ pages and Oliver's arrival in Pennsylvania was visited by the angel Moroni to receive the small plates of Nephi? The problem with this theory is that there is no historical record of such an event. Joseph did not include it in his history. But I am sure he did not record every interaction with heavenly beings, of which there were many. It is also difficult to find a better competing theory for reasons already laid out here, so for now I am inclined to believe that the small plates were a separate set, Joseph only dug up the plates of Mormon (the abridgment of the large plates of Nephi) in Cumorah, and received the small plates of Nephi at some point later.

That concludes my long, entangled dissection of the small, mysterious book called the Words of Mormon. At least I learned quite a bit from my recent studies of this topic and have a better overview of what I at least think happened.


Subtle evidence that the latter-day Gentiles are meant to be a covenant people

32 (And these are the words which I spake unto my servant Moses, and they are true even as I will; and I have spoken them unto you. See thou show them unto no man, until I command you, except to them that believe. Amen.) (Moses 4)

As I finished up my most recent three part post series about Adam and Even in the scriptures, an idea grabbed my attention. It has a lot to do with the verse above, which is the final verse in Moses 4 contained in parentheses.  

The other important context has to do with the target audience in each sermon in the Book of Mormon that contains references to Adam and Eve:

  • 2 Nephi 2:15-26 (Lehi speaking to his son Jacob)
  • 2 Nephi 9:9,21 (Jacob speaking to Nephites)
  • Jacob 4:3-5 (Jacob speaking to Nephites)
  • Mosiah 3:11-26; 4:7 (King Benjamin speaking to his people/s as they enter a covenant)
  • Mosiah 16:3 (Abinadi speaking to apostate Nephite priests)
  • Alma 12:21-26 (Alma-2 speaking to rebellious Nephites)
  • Alma 42:2-7 (Alma-2 speaking to his son Corianton)
  • Helaman 14:16-18 (Samuel the Lamanite speaking to wicked Nephites)
  • Mormon 3:20 (Mormon writing to latter-day Gentiles)
  • Mormon 9:11-14 (Moroni writing to latter-day Gentiles)
  • Ether 8:25 (Moroni writing to latter-day Gentiles)
  • Moroni 8:8 (Mormon writing to his son Moroni)
  • Moroni 10:3 (Moroni writing to latter-day Gentiles)

Do you see a pattern? Aside from the Gentiles, the audience is always comprised of covenant-keepers or those who were once covenant-keepers.

I see a message embedded in the fact that the last of these prophets spoke to us in the same way and about the same topics their predecessors spoke to other covenant-keepers. We are part of the house of Israel. We belong in the fold of God. That we have these words is an indication that the latter-day work has commenced (see Ether 4:17). This fits with the purposes outlined in the Title Page:

Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations

Furthermore, this detail gives us a plausible explanation for why/how these doctrines came to be suppressed/lost.  Suppose they were given to given from the beginning with the instruction that they only be shown to believers.  As apostasy set in, it wouldn't take long for these hidden doctrines to come to be viewed with suspicion and eventually left behind altogether.  

There is a pretty close parallel in the early Christian church that is well documented, where esoteric teachings and rites were widely practiced at first, but eventually considered heretical and excised from the practice of Christianity.

Even in the church today there are quite a few mainstream believing members who consider the temple problematic. This could be a pattern. Unlike previous dispensations, though, we know there won't be another global apostasy, so it becomes an individual question.  Will we embrace these doctrines and seek to understand them?  Or will we reject them and lose the understanding they offer?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A deeper look into the Words of Mormon -- Part 2

The main takeaway from part 1 is this: Martin Harris did not lose all the translated pages. A small part was not brought to Palmyra. It is the part leading up to and perhaps also consisting of some of our current Book of Mosiah. The part leading up to our current Book of Mosiah is currently found in the second half of the Words of Mormon, at least according to the theory I presented in part 1. Consequently, the first part of the Words of Mormon are Mormon's addendum to the small plates of Nephi to explain why he included them, while the second part was Mormon's abridgment of the large plates of Nephi, the hypothetical 117th page, if you will (even though we now know there were probably many more than 116 lost pages, we will refer to a hypothetical 117th page for simplicity).

It would be unlikely that this 117th page started with a new chapter. At least Oliver Cowdery did not usually write chapter headings on the next page when there was still space on the current page. It is in fact likely that the 117th page started in the middle of a sentence. But this would cause a strange disruption in the transition from the small to the large plates that, according to the discussed theory, would be found in the middle of our current Words of Mormon. This is not something that we see. Wherever this transition is, it all seems quite smooth. Lyon and Minson, in their article, believe that the transition point is found between verses 11 and 12. Let's have a look. 

11 And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written.

12 And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.

13 And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban.

The theory is that the Words of Mormon, his added commentary to the small plates actually ends with verse 11. It does seem like a natural ending. Both Mormon and Moroni typically finished their writings with references to the judgement. (The Book of Mormon title page, Mormon's final words in Mormon 7:10 and Moroni's final words in the last verse of the Book of Mormon all have references to judgement day).

According to the article by Lyon and Minson, the 117th page started with what is now found in verse 12 quoted above, meaning that it started with a new sentence. This is entirely possible, but it does not fit with the impression that "this Benjamin" in verse 12 refers to verse 11. If these two verses originally were completely disjointed, the reference in verse 12 must have been to something at the end of the lost pages. But it would be a strange coincidence that Benjamin in fact was mentioned in verse 11 when verse 12 makes such a reference. Personally, I see that as the biggest weakness of the whole theory.

Brant Gardner responded to the Lyon and Minson article here, not to criticize it, but to also point out that the interpretation of the data is influenced by our view of the Book of Mormon translation process. He believes that the latter half of the Words of Mormon is an inspired commentary by Joseph Smith, not found on any plates. Believing in a more "tight" translation model myself, I personally don't favor that, but I do believe there is a middle ground here. Perhaps some of it is an added commentary by Joseph or Oliver to make the transition work.

In the comment section of Gardner's article there is a bit of discussion between himself and Lyon. Reading that has led me to believe that there is a little bit of commentary by Joseph Smith (or Oliver Cowdery) to make a smooth transition. As mentioned, it is likely that the 117th page would start mid-sentence somewhere. It was probably about King Benjamin, since King Benjamin is the main character in the first part of Mormon's abridgment that we have. Perhaps this 117th page started in the middle of a passage about internal conflict among King Benjamin's people. To make a smooth transition, Joseph or Oliver summed up that part in what we now read as verse 12 and perhaps 13, before going back to the previously written part by Martin Harris. There would probably have been space on the paper after Words of Mormon 1:11 before the next page that was in the middle of Mosiah.

Royal Skousen also comments on the uniqueness of verse 12. "Somewhat of contentions" in our current version was "somewhat contentions" in the printer's manuscript. This is the only time in the Book of Mormon that "somewhat" is followed by a noun. I don't know if this is something that was typical for Joseph Smith's language, I have not been able to check for examples of this construction in any of his writings. But for now, I believe that at least verse 12 could be an insert replacing a half sentence or more that could not be used, all to make a smooth transition back to the 117th page and the rest of the translation of Mormon's abridgment from there.

There is a lot of speculation here, of course, but this is a scenario that at least does not seem unlikely. One question remains: Why did this part end up in the Words of Mormon? Why not write "Book of Mosiah" as a new heading before WoM 1:12? Since this was in the middle of a chapter, Joseph and Oliver probably didn't want to add a new heading. After all, Oliver would usually just write "chapter" whenever Joseph said so during the dictation, consistent with the original chapter division on the plates. The crossing out of the chapter number and insertion of "the Book of Mosiah" in the printer's manuscript shows that there must at least have been some confusion in the original manuscript about how to structure this.

I have been spending the most time on the theory that I find the most plausible. But there is another one written in a more recent paper. Here, the theory is that all of our current Words of Mormon are from Mormon's abridgment of the large plates of Nephi and a part of the original Mosiah chapter 2. Mormon basically is just making a commentary in the middle of his abridgment similar to 3 Nephi 5:12 and on. Personally, I find 3 problems with this theory

  1. WoM 1:1 states that Mormon is about to deliver the records to his son, leading to the idea that he is about to finish his abridgment, not that he is in Mosiah, about half-way through Nephite history. The paper tries to make a case for an archaic meaning of "about to" but I am not fully convinced
  2. In the first part of WoM, Mormon refers to the small plates of Nephi as "these plates" several times as if he is currently writing on them.
  3. In 3 Nephi 5, Mormon introduces himself by name. That would not be necessary if he already had used, "I, Mormon" on the abridgment like we see in WoM 1:1, 9 and 11.
The theory discussed for the main part in these two posts, is the one I find the most plausible. But there might be other possibilities that nobody has thought about. The Words of Mormon is still a bit of a mystery. I have spent two posts discussing this from the perspective of the translation of the plates. I will spend the next post discussing the initial proceedings by Mormon.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Adam and Eve in the scriptures, part 3

This is the final post in a series about references to Adam and Eve in the scriptures. Part 1 offered a numerical overview. Part 2 looked qualitatively at references to Adam and Eve in the Bible and the Doctrine & Covenants. This final part will first look at references to Adam and Eve in the Book of Moses and Book of Abraham, and then we'll conclude with a look at the Book of Mormon.

Book of Moses

Moses 1:34 -- The first man of all men is called Adam.

Moses 3:19-23 -- Adam named all living things; Eve was created from one of Adam's ribs.

Moses 4:6-31 -- Satan beguiles Adam and Eve; the ground is cursed for their sake; they are clothed with coats of skins; they are driven out.

Moses 5 -- Adam and Eve obey the law of sacrifice and are taught by angels. Cain slays Abel and secret combinations are formed.

Moses 6 -- Adam and Eve hearken unto the voice of the Lord and repent. They teach their children the Gospel. Adam is baptized.

Moses 7:1 -- 

And it came to pass that Enoch continued his speech, saying: Behold, our father Adam taught these things, and many have believed and become the sons of God, and many have believed not, and have perished in their sins, and are looking forth with fear, in torment, for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God to be poured out upon them.

Book of Abraham

Abraham 1:3, 26 -- The priesthood came to Abraham through Adam.

Abraham (Facsimile 2) -- Key-words of the Holy Priesthood were given to Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Abraham 5:13-21 -- Creation account.

Book of Mormon

Doctrinal topics found in connection with references to "Adam" or "Eve" or "first parents" abound in the Book of Mormon. It's impressive to see how often and how deeply the doctrine connects.  There is also a conspicuous amount of overlap with doctrinal concepts in the Book of Moses.

2 Nephi 2:15-26 (Lehi)

  • God created all things “to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man” including opposition in all things. 

  • Satan seeks our misery.

  • In mortality mankind is given the opportunity to repent.

  • Men are that they might have joy.

  • Christ came to redeem mankind.

2 Nephi 9:9,21 (Jacob)

  • Satan seeks our misery.

  • Satan beguiled our first parents.

  • He “transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light”

  • Christ suffered the pains of all mankind.

Jacob 4:3-5 (Jacob)

  • “All the holy prophets” had a hope of Christ’s glory.

Mosiah 3:11-26; 4:7 (King Benjamin -- quoting an angel in ch. 3)

  • The natural man in each of us can be “put off” through:

    • The Atonement of Jesus Christ

    • Yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit

    • Becoming submissive meek, and humble

  • The atonement was prepared “from the foundation of the world for all mankind who ever were, are, or will be.

Mosiah 16:3 (Abinadi)

  • Satan beguiled Adam and Eve and caused their fall

Alma 12:21-26 (Alma-2)

  • Death came about by the fall.

  • Space was granted unto man to repent

  • The purpose of life is to prepare to meet God and prepare for the endless state that comes after the resurrection.

Alma 42:2-7 (Alma-2)

  • Becoming cut off from God’s presence allowed mankind to “[become] subjects to follow their own will”

Helaman 14:16-18 (Samuel the Lamanite)

  • Adam’s fall cut us off from the presence of the Lord.

  • Christ brought about the resurrection and conditions of repentance to bring us “back into the presence of the Lord”

Mormon 3:20 (Mormon)

  • Every soul must stand before the the judgment seat of Christ to be judged

Mormon 9:11-14 (Moroni)
  • The fall came by Adam, the redemption of Adam came by Christ

Ether 8:25 (Moroni)

  • Satan beguiled our first parents.

Moroni 8:8 (Mormon -- quoting the word of the Lord)

  • The curse of Adam is taken from little children through Christ.

Moroni 10:3 (Moroni)

  • God was merciful to Adam


I can't help but marvel at the amount of deep yellow in that Book of Mormon list.  There is a tight connection between references to deep gospel doctrine and Adam and Eve.  This is essentially absent from the Old Testament.  Why? Was it because the temple doctrines once had by ancient Israelites ended up suppressed and stripped away?  Was this doctrinal tradition preserved on the brass plates?

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