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David Bokovoy

Adam as a Divine King

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David:

Your post got me thinking about origin myths. The ones I am familiar with are all very specific to a particular people. It seems that the ancient story-telling didn't really care about how all people were created, on the the "real" people (who are, of course, whoever is telling the tale).

We look at the story of Adam as the first of all humanity, but that is from a very distant perspective and after a lot of transformations. In the context of the earliest tellers of the tale, it should have been the story of the creation of Israel - and indeed the creation of Adam and Eve leads directly to the story of Israel.

Therefore, we have Adam as the divine king - of the house of Israel - and being established by very God at the beginning of time. It is almost as though Israel was a late-comer to the Near Eastern party and had to establish a connection for their own divine right of rule.

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This is a response to Smith

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It is almost as though Israel was a late-comer to the Near Eastern party and had to establish a connection for their own divine right of rule.

Brant,

Interesting point but does that not see the record then created as a matter of expediency for Israel only and not recognising it as divinely inspired or scripture or the real story? (If you get what I mean?)

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Brant,

Great insights!! I think we have alot of information to sustain your view. I'll post a bit more supporting your interpretation. Thanks.

Smith,

Sincere thanks for showing an interest in this discussion. It really is a fun topic.

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Smith:

does that not see the record then created as a matter of expediency for Israel only and not recognising it as divinely inspired or scripture or the real story?

Of course Israel saw it as a "real story." That is hardly in question. The issue would be whether the Bible's version of the "real story" exactly reflects the way God did things or not. I confess that I don't know. I do know that this story teaches lessons about God's relationship to man and the establishment of God's purpose for man on the earth. There are several occasions in the Old Testament where the issue of the precise historicity of an event might be questioned, but the story cannot. I find that I learn much more about Israel when I assume that there is truth in their history rather than when I dogmatically insist that their history was always "true."

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I find that I learn much more about Israel when I assume that there is truth in their history rather than when I dogmatically insist that their history was always "true."

Hi Brant,

By that I presume you mean the recorded history of Israel was always true. Am I wrong? Assuming I am right and understanding you correctly brings me to say that I hadnt thought of things that way but on a bit of reflection I guess I have always taken (seeing as the garden is being discussed here) that Moses wrote the book and being a prophet he surely wrote what happened accurately. But then bearing in mind that the kind of things that seem to have happened to Deuteronmy as Margaret Barker suggests could quite as easily have happened over time to any of the other books then we may not have the full, accurate story, as you suggest. Therefore lending more weight in my mind to the need for the PoGP etc. to lend weight the accounts in the Bible. Or do I misread things?

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Hence, reading the story of Eden through Mesopotamian lenses brings important textual insights. 

Do you see the story of Eden as a Mesopotamian story?

Why do you find that viewing the Eden story through a Mesopotamian lens brings important textual insights when LDS doctrine teaches that the story took place on the other side of the world - far, far away from Mesopotamia?

To me, it's a little like saying that viewing the revolutionary war story through 18th century Japanese traditions brings important textual insights.

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Smith:

I think that the history of the books of the Bible is just as interesting as the history of Israel. I think that there are times when the two histories overlap and there are times when they don't. The theology is still true when history is theologized and follows different canons than our modern histories.

TheRyeGuy:

Regardless of the physical location, the story's location is in the Middle East. Reading it through that lense places a number of things into a context that is instructive for the way the symbols in the story persisted throughout the Bible.

There was a recent movie remake of Romeo and Juliet that used a modern setting and modern costumes for the play. Perhaps if you see the Bible's account as a cultural dressing to make the story understandable to those who told it, you might be able to see how the background might be useful.

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It seems to me that the biblical view of Adam as a divine king has important links with LDS theology.

Adam often causes Mormons to cringe a bit because of the old Adam-God doctrine, but Adam has long been shrouded in mystery. Brigham Young thought he was a resurrected being, brought from another world. Astronomers now believe the planet on which we now reside took the place of another world and that our moon is a foreign body. (If you have Netflix, order the DVD documentary, "If the Earth Had No Moon.")

When Joseph Smith revealed that Adam not only was Michael the Archangel, but the Ancient of Days, we realized that he is someone much greater than we had thought. According to Daniel, Christ will come before the Ancient of Days, but we're given no more information by Daniel. According to latter-day revelation, this will occur at Adam-Ondi-Ahman just prior to the Lord's return in glory in Jerusalem. During this priesthood meeting, all the keys of authority which people have held will be conferred upon Christ and at that instant, Satan no longer will rule the Earth.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

...as the patriarchal head of the human family -- the first man, "the first and oldest of all, the great, grand progenitor" -- Adam is known as the Ancient of Days. (D. & C. 27:11; Teachings, pp. 157-159, 167-169.) In this capacity he will yet sit in formal judgment upon "ten thousand times ten thousand" of his posterity, and before him at Adam-ondi-Ahman will be brought the Son of Man to receive "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him." (Dan. 7:9-14.)

The kingdom that Christ will be given was the one that Daniel prophecied as the "stone without hands" which will fill the Earth prior to the Lord's coming.

Cold Steel

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I don't think we Mormons "cringe" at mention of Adam because of that unfortunate Adam-God detour.

Adam is prominent in all of our theology, which is why David Bokovoy can discover an item about Adam as a Divine King and immediately see the relationship to LDS thought.

Very interesting topic, David. Thank you.

Beowulf

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I have to ask the scholors here.

First some observations:

We know that when Israel demanded a king to be "like other nations" God gave into that request establishing first Saul and then David as Kings in Israel.

We also hear that pre-Josiah Israel was much more polytheistic.

The creation story as told in our Book of Abraham is far more polytheistic than the one taught in Genesis or the Book of Moses.

Now my Question:

Is it possible that with the establishment of the monarchy that the creation story was also modified in order to support the "Divine King" and give Israel the same kind of claim to divine recognition that say Persians claimed through their religion? And that God granted this "version" of the creation as it would in time become a "type" for the "Divine King" that Christ would ultimately become?

Spoken from complete ignorance.

-SlackTime

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I was hoping David would field this one - maybe he'll save me yet <grin>. From the viewpoint of a historian, we can talk about the nature of changes, but there isn't a lot of information that would tell us what God's opinion was about the matter. I think that is still theology and speculative theology is fun stuff - but you can get more understandable history if you just look at the evidence.

In this case, I know that the King tends a tree of life in his garden and is the dispenser of the benefits of the tree. The Old World isn't my primary interest, so David will definitely have to weigh in on this one, but I don't remember any issue of two trees in the Mesopotamian king-gardens. I think that the symbolism relating the king to the tree of life was important and borrowed. I see it as continuing through Israel's history and forming one of the evidentiary underpinnings for Jesus as Messiah/king. I don't think that the association of Jesus with the water of life and bread of life (manna as substitute for the fruit if the tree of life) is an accident at all. I think it was a symbolic declaration of Jesus's rightful place as king - because he was the tree/dispenser of the tree's life-giving elements.

Returning to the Garden story, there is a major difference in the Israelite story because there are two trees and the Israelite Garden is in conflict - and is destined to be abandoned.The Israelite stroy emphasizes the conflict, not the king as healer. While that is part of the story, what we have in the Bible has a different theological imperative/purpose.

I think there was some reworking of traditions going on, but that there is a fundamental difference in the Israelite story that is essential to God's purposes and not borrowed as the king-elements appear to have been.

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Yes, there are numerous legends about "trees of life" from both the old and new worlds. Many stories, too, on the flood. I don't find the "divine king" very likely because Adam was the grand patriarch. Kings have wanted ecclesiastical authority for generations and some got it only because they declared it (like King Henry VIII). It helps, though, if there's a legend.

We also have to remember that Mesopotamian legends aren't really any better than any other legends. People from that part of the world certainly have an interest in promoting their locations as the ancient site of the Garden, but the actual site was, according to Joseph Smith, a half world away. My favorite Garden of Eden treatment compared the garden to a temple.

I also don't think the Book of Abraham is more polytheistic than any other source. The pluraity of gods has always been offset by the "oneness" of God. For example, we, the sons of God, will, upon our resurrections become "one with God" in the same sense that Jesus and the Father are one.

Neither David nor Solomon were success stories. The former was prevented from building the temple because of murder and the latter attained a peak of greatness followed by a rule of, well, senility. Solomon never achieved a priestly role and by the time Christ appeared, the current temple had been built by King Herod, hardly a paragon.

C.S.

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Hello TheRyeGuy,

To me, it's a little like saying that viewing the revolutionary war story through 18th century Japanese traditions brings important textual insights.

You raise an important question regarding the appropriateness of reading the Eden story through Mesopotamian lenses. I thought I would add a bit more to Brant's great comments.

I believe the reason that we should recognize the validity of reading Genesis 2-3 with the help of Mesopotamia is due to the fact that Mesopotamia serves as a major source of inspiration for much of the Pentateuch.

Here are a few examples:

Genesis chapter one features the word tiamat/tehom from Enuma Elish.

Genesis chapter one follows the same literary pattern from Enuma Elish.

Eden takes place in Mesopotamia.

The Biblical flood story reflects Mesopotamian myths.

The tower of Babel describes the construction of a Babylonian ziggurat.

Mesopotamia is the original homeland of Abram.

Exodus

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Hello CS,

Elder McConkie refers to the trees as "figurative," whereas the Lord told Moses that the account in the book that bears his name is true. Anyone want to take a bite out of that?

God

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Thanks guys, you've given me much to think about.

Coldsteel: You say Solomon never gained priestly status, but everything I've studied suggests that kingship in Israel and all of the surrounding cultures was a priestly office and that the earthly king sat in his earthly throne as a type or symbol of the heavenly king in the celestial temple. I think this is somewhat reflected in Saul's taking it upon himself to make sacrifice. He believed that King held some priestly significance and thus felt able to proceed without Samuel. That he was mistaken is perhaps a matter of degree rather than totally wrong. Kind of like a father giving his family the sacrament without asking his Bishop first when they were sick at home. But I admit that it is conjecture.

Even when we accept at face value Joseph's talk about the Garden in Missouri, the legends and myths of Eden come down to us from, and we have to assume were influenced by, mesopotamia. I don't see how the Eden myth it could be any other way.

Again, thanks all, I'm signing off to spend time with my family.

-SlackTime

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Another piece of important evidence supporting the biblical view of Adam as a divine king derives from Ezekiel 28: 11-19. These verses present Ezekiel

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David:

Does Ezekiel's use of Eden imagery suggest that the ancient view of a divine king might have been slightly different than our modern perception? We know the European monarchs as "divine kings" which meant a divine right, not a divine quality. We know their humanity all too well.

The ancient world would not have know their kings personally. In the religiously charged world, that would allow them to be a liminal being - a god-but-not-god. In Mesoamerica there are a class of gods that I call demi-gods - they were of divine substance but operated in the earthly sphere. When Adam partakes of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he receives the promise of the Tree - he becomes like the gods, knowning good and evil. Perhaps the understanding of the duality of the situation was that there was a shift towards divine with the knowledge of the gods, but a foot in mortality with death. Thus, as a divinely appointed king, Adam (and other divine kings) would be more than human even though they obviously suffered death. Certainly the king-as-demi-god would not be surprising in the ancient world. I wonder if some of that informed early Israelite kingship (and fed the eventual attempt to focus ritual on the king instead of the high priest - following Barker's reading, as I remember it).

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Hey Brant, thanks for the nice exchange.

Does Ezekiel's use of Eden imagery suggest that the ancient view of a divine king might have been slightly different than our modern perception? We know the European monarchs as "divine kings" which meant a divine right, not a divine quality. We know their humanity all too well.

I think so. In the Near East, it

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David BOkovoy:

Though Frankfort may have exaggerated the connection between the deification process and the sacred marriage, clearly, the evidence supports the general assumption that the king-- whether figuratively or literally, participated in a sexual act that effectively lead to a transformation in status or position.

Ahhhhhhh, hence the reasons for the ancient Israelites to have the worship of the Goddess in the Temple of Solomon (1st temple). Hence the reasons for the Asherah as wife and consort, and the sacred male and female prostitutes...... the idea was to have an entire nation of divine beings of Israel, as the TRUE SON of God, collectively, as well as individually. Hence the cherubim in the ancient temple as male and female God and Goddess making love, as husband and wife, for the celestial example for the earthly counterparts, following Peatai's and Seaich's startling, enlightening and astonishingly well informed discussions.....Leonora Leet, Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah, discusses this in quite some detail along with Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest, Mark Smith, Origins of israelite Monotheism, and ole whatshisname...... :P William Dever, Did God Have a Wife?, which he answers archaeologically in the absolute affirmative. It is a celestial, eternal family after all............

Interesting topic, as usual, David. I always find your ideas stimulating. Thank you for sharing them in such good will and scholarship.

Best,

Kerry (I enjoy your posts too Brant)

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David BOkovoy:
Though Frankfort may have exaggerated the connection between the deification process and the sacred marriage, clearly, the evidence supports the general assumption that the king-- whether figuratively or literally, participated in a sexual act that effectively lead to a transformation in status or position.

Ahhhhhhh, hence the reasons for the ancient Israelites to have the worship of the Goddess in the Temple of Solomon (1st temple). Hence the reasons for the Asherah as wife and consort, and the sacred male and female prostitutes...... the idea was to have an entire nation of divine beings of Israel, as the TRUE SON of God, collectively, as well as individually. Hence the cherubim in the ancient temple as male and female God and Goddess making love, as husband and wife, for the celestial example for the earthly counterparts, following Peatai's and Seaich's startling, enlightening and astonishingly well informed discussions.....Leonora Leet, Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah, discusses this in quite some detail along with Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest, Mark Smith, Origins of israelite Monotheism, and ole whatshisname...... :P William Dever, Did God Have a Wife?, which he answers archaeologically in the absolute affirmative. It is a celestial, eternal family after all............

Interesting topic, as usual, David. I always find your ideas stimulating. Thank you for sharing them in such good will and scholarship.

Best,

Kerry (I enjoy your posts too Brant)

Okay, I'll wade into this one. Kerry, tell me what you think the connection is or what conclusions you are drawing between Asherah, sacred prostitutes and male/female god/goddess making love as an "example" for their earthly counterparts...and the celestial family.

Lady

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Hi ya lady! Good to see you again....... the connection? It is as the scripture says, "as on earth as it is in heaven." The earthly is the counterpart of the heavenly. What is done on earth is done in heaven. Male and female on earth, male and female in heaven, etc. At least to my meager understanding that is how I understand it. Rather anthropomorphic, I admit, but then, it is the biblical way, minus much of the speculative exegesis which the Bible is forced to wear in a straightjacket.......

Lord "How's that for an answer? No bad huh......right? right?! :P " Kerry

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Hi ya lady! Good to see you again....... the connection? It is as the scripture says, "as on earth as it is in heaven." The earthly is the counterpart of the heavenly. What is done on earth is done in heaven. Male and female on earth, male and female in heaven, etc. At least to my meager understanding that is how I understand it. Rather anthropomorphic, I admit, but then, it is the biblical way, minus much of the speculative exegesis which the Bible is forced to wear in a straightjacket.......

Lord "How's that for an answer? No bad huh......right? right?! :P " Kerry

I'm trying not to make assumptions here. What do you think the significance of the sacred prostitutes was/is?

Lady

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