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David Bokovoy

Internal Evidences For The BofA

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This is not unexpected, since JS had already evidenced an awareness of the connections between the heavens and the priesthood, as well as an interest in other inhabited spheres. For example, in 1840 he had joined the Freemasons (whose interest in key-words is well known):

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There is also no question that Joseph was aware of 1 Corinthians 15:41:

"There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory."

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The likelihood of a plurality of inhabited worlds was a hot topic in Joseph's day.

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This suggests to me that even prior to his translation of the relevant portion of the BoA, JS was contemplating the possibility that there are many gods, and also thinking about this in connection to a plurality of worlds. Perhaps the fact that God is the "God of all other gods" aided JS in coming to this realization. More significantly, however, I think it was tied to his ongoing study (and revision) of the Genesis creation narrative.

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This post fascinates me. You have a talent for taking any piece of theology, and explaining it away by pointing thing similar. David's point is that Joseph Smith correctly taught a biblical-like concept of the divine council. Whether or not Joseph was a prophet, that alone is fascinating. Yet it sounds like to you, you can reach into a database of possible historical and theological connections, and show how this is not fascinating at all. That Joseph Smith is theological prodigy, able to correctly piece together information decades before scholars begin to do the same.

I don't mean this as an attack. I've said before that I like and respect your posts, and I find them to be well thought out and directly responding to roots of an issue. It just seems that you have the ability to reason away anything that puts Joseph Smith in favor. Her Amun pointing out that Joseph Smith related a cow with the sun brought a reply that many things in Egyptian theology can be related to the sun. A reference to facsimile 2 fig 6's translation as the 4 cardinal directions brought a reply that Joseph Smith heard of ancient civilizations in Mexico, and that he could have conceivably used their concept of idolatry and the 4 quarters of the earth to make this guess. David's divine council link in the Book of Abraham brought the above reply showing how Joseph Smith could have made the divine council guess long before scholars did.

Personally, this all reminds me of a scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", where the father would take any word, and show that the root of that word is Greek. One frustrated girl picked "kimono" as her word, and sure enough, the father explained how kimono is rooted in Greek. It seems we can pick out any Joseph Smith theological hit, and you can show how it can be explained by something Joseph Smith could have been influenced by.

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David,

I hope that you can answer this question regarding your comments. I have noticed, like yourself, that much of Israelite cosmology and theology comes from Mesopotamian sources including the belief in a divine council. The great difference seems to be the role of these councils. Mesopotamian councils created man to serve the gods...

When heaven had been separated from the earth, . . .

(and) the mother goddess had been brought into being; . . .

[Then] the great gods, . . .

Seated themselves in the exalted sanctuary

And recounted among themselves what had been created. . . .

What (else) shall we do? . . .

Let us slay (two) Lamga gods.

With their blood let us create mankind.

The service of the gods be their portion,

For all times. . . .

On the other hand the Hebrew deity and council is arranged in such a way that the heavens end is to assist man.

Can you think of a reason for the difference in purpose?

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Helix,

The misses seem to outnumber the hits, but the game appears to have been rigged from the start because if Joseph Smith missed on certain theological points, the general response is that this is because those teachings were lost through an apostasy, which is why there is no explicit biblical mention of them. If he â??hitsâ? then it is because God inspired him to â??restoreâ? them. But I think the point CK is making is that there is no gripping rationale to suppose Smith scored on these â??hits,â? because of divine revelation. They could have just as easily, and more probably, been the results of his correspondences with Rabbis, such as his Hebrew professor. Smith had at least some familiarity with Kabbalism, so it is wrong to maintain that nobody in the 19th century would have ever considered the possibility in a divine council.

It is misleading to insist the notion was completely foreign to all religions and Biblical scholars in Joseph Smithâ??s day. This assertion seems to be made for the purpose of adding more â??fascinationâ? to the teaching.

I'd say his theology was interesting at best, but hardly fascinating or of divine origin. Harold Bloom found Smith's insights interesting as well, but he never considered this proof of his prophetic claims.

It just seems that you have the ability to reason away anything that puts Joseph Smith in favor.

You can be rest assured that for those of us who do not argue to save testimonies, it seems that apologists like David Bokovoy are doing the same thing, only in the opposite direction. In other words, it seems they are trying to reason away anything that puts Joseph Smith out of favor. Though I do not think the intention is to put him out of favor. I think the intentions we all share is the search for truth. It is just that sometimes putting Smith out of favor is a result of that search, just as putting him in favor is sometimes the result.

The question here is what is more probable?

Is it more probable that Joseph Smith taught these things because God decided to call him as a prophet to reveal truths already accepted by Kabbalists?

Or is it more probable that Smith taught these things because he drew from the culture of his time?

Since we are playing around with similarities and probabilities, let me ask you a couple of questions.

Did you know that by 1842 there are only two books in the history of publication that suggest Godâ??s throne is at the center of the Universe?

Did you know that by 1842 there are only two books in the history of publication that suggest spiritual beings are â??intelligencesâ??

One was published a decade before the other, and the author of the later owned a copy of it. The two books I am speaking of are the Book of Abraham and Philosophy of a Future State, which was written by an eminent 19th century Philosopher named Thomas Diick. Oliver Cowdery in December 1836 quoted some lengthy excerpts from it in the Messenger and Advocate [Dec. 1836: 423-25]. These two â??parallelsâ? are not only fascinating, they are overwhelming. These theological teachings are not fond in the Ancient Near East. They are found in a book which Joseph Smith owned, and borrowed from. Was this philosopher also inspired by God to opine on these cosmological points?

For those who choose to believe the â??criticsâ? have not adequately addressed â??what the text actually says,â? (internal evidences) I suggest you take a look through this article:

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Personally, this all reminds me of a scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", where the father would take any word, and show that the root of that word is Greek. One frustrated girl picked "kimono" as her word, and sure enough, the father explained how kimono is rooted in Greek. It seems we can pick out any Joseph Smith theological hit, and you can show how it can be explained by something Joseph Smith could have been influenced by.

I think that you are oversimplifying the situation. It is not a matter of "pick and compare", there are some serious considerations going on here. The main point is that there are certain markers one would look for in the comparisons of ancient documents with the writings of JS.

There is a certain rubric that is established here as a basic rule of observation in these posts. In the ancient cosmology there are such rubrics. Whether it is by random association or purposeful (my POV) JS follows these rubrics almost exactly. That is what people like David et al are looking at. For example, David points out very succinctly in this thread as well as others that there were certain beliefs in the ancient world, in this case, Divine Council, that had several points of commonality among other beliefs and these can be measure. Joseph's writing when compared to these commonalities has reflected these paradigms.

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I'd say his theology was interesting at best, but hardly fascinating or of divine origin. Harold Bloom found Smith's insights interesting as well, but he never considered this proof of his prophetic claims.

Harold Bloom's genius notwithstanding how would you establish the prophetic nature of an individual? In JS's case there are well-established criteria that has been established for JS's prophetic calling and nature.

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I actually agree with your assessment. I believe that Joseph Smith did not create a real translation at all. I also believe that Joseph most likely believed that he had created a real translation of the papyri.

But this is not what we are taught at institute classes. We are taught that it is the real translation, word for word. Are you going against what the church teaches?

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They could have just as easily, and more probably, been the results of his correspondences with Rabbis, such as his Hebrew professor.

Apparently, Joseph did discuss the issue of divine council of deities with his Hebrew professor. Here was the result:

â??I once asked a learned Jew, â??If the Hebrew language compels us to render all words ending in heim in the plural, why not render the first Eloheim plural?â?? He replied, â??That is the rule with few exceptions, but in this case it would ruin the Bible.â??â? Teachings, 385.

Apparently Josephâ??s Hebrew professor was not too keen on the Prophetâ??s views, so I seriously doubt Joseph simply picked up the notion from â??the results of his correspondences with Rabbis, such as his Hebrew professor.â?

How many Rabbis do you know today that believe in a council of gods?

Smith had at least some familiarity with Kabbalism, so it is wrong to maintain that nobody in the 19th century would have ever considered the possibility in a divine council.

I certainly did not suggest that nobody in the 19th century would have ever considered the possibility of a divine council of Gods.

I would like you to provide proof, however, that anyone in the 19th century including the Kabbalists whose traditions Joseph Smith was apparently so well steeped in, provided such a correct Old Testament perspective of the divine council as the one depicted in the BofA.

Thanks in advance.

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David,

I hope that you can answer this question regarding your comments. I have noticed, like yourself, that much of Israelite cosmology and theology comes from Mesopotamian sources including the belief in a divine council. The great difference seems to be the role of these councils. Mesopotamian councils created man to serve the gods...

On the other hand the Hebrew deity and council is arranged in such a way that the heavens end is to assist man.

Can you think of a reason for the difference in purpose?

Hello Ace,

It's a great question. I see the issue a little bit differently. I believe that man is an earthly extension of the divine council in the Hebrew Bible. I provide a detailed explanation in my forthcoming review of Michael Heiser's critique of the LDS use of Psalm 82.

Regards,

--David

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Harold Bloom's genius notwithstanding how would you establish the prophetic nature of an individual?

Well for starters, you would expect there to be some indisputable evidence that cannot more easily be explained by natural means. Some people choose to believe Smith's "hits" can only be explained by divine intervention, but that is only because they so choose.

In JS's case there are well-established criteria that has been established for JS's prophetic calling and nature.

So far there has been nothing that cannot be explained by natural means. There is no absolute mystery that compells one to insist he must have been receiving data from on High.

This is why LDS missionaries ask their students to rely on a testimony. They do not try to convince them that Joseph Smith was a prophet because "such and such" evidence cannot be explained any other way.

The "God told me so" testimony has to come first, and then after that all subsequent evidence, whether or pro or con, is filtered and processed through that testimony.

This is why it is virtually impossible to convince some apologists what seems obvious to most. For some, no amount of evidence will dissuade because rationale is looked down upon in the Church. The "reasoning of men" is always mentioned in a negative context at Church, whether it be in scriptures or in conference. Thus, the testimony is a powerful thing.

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But this is not what we are taught at institute classes. We are taught that it is the real translation, word for word. Are you going against what the church teaches?

I don't know what is taught in your institute classes. I know what is taught in my institute classes and it does not violate what the Church teaches.

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David,

I do not see the one-to-one correspondence between the BoA and the Ugaritic worldview that you seem to see.

In the BoA, the cosmos are symbolic of priesthood organization.

In Ugarit, the heavenly host is literally a host of deities.

Now, one could argue that deities and priesthood leaders are roughly equivalent in LDS theology, so one could explain away that difference. However, the literal vs symbolic correspondence is very important. I doubt that anyone in JS's day could have failed to make at least some symbolic connections between divine beings and the cosmos, especially since the traditional interpretation of a passage in Isaiah has Satan and his angels falling like stars from heaven. The point of my rebuttal to your OP is that these kinds of symbolic connections were well-known in JS's day and were a topic of considerable interest to him. The late developments in understanding the ancient Near East have to do with discovering that the ancients literally believed that the stars were deities. We find nothing of the kind in the BoA.

Helix,

It just seems that you have the ability to reason away anything that puts Joseph Smith in favor. Her Amun pointing out that Joseph Smith related a cow with the sun brought a reply that many things in Egyptian theology can be related to the sun. A reference to facsimile 2 fig 6's translation as the 4 cardinal directions brought a reply that Joseph Smith heard of ancient civilizations in Mexico, and that he could have conceivably used their concept of idolatry and the 4 quarters of the earth to make this guess. David's divine council link in the Book of Abraham brought the above reply showing how Joseph Smith could have made the divine council guess long before scholars did.

My explanations for Her Amun's bullseyes are somewhat distorted in your retelling of them. In any case, these cases are all very closely related. They are all explained by a singular fact: namely, that Joseph Smith had a fascination with the cosmos and their meaning, and so did ancient peoples. Note that I have revised my opinion of how Joseph came to conclude that the hypocephalus contained astronomical information. I told you in an earlier thread that it may have been because of the similarity to the Mexican calendar. I now believe that he obtained this information from Michael Chandler himself. Said Oliver Cowdery in his letter to the Messenger and Advocate,

In April of the same year Mr. Chandler paid the duties upon his Mummies, and took possession of the same. Up to this time they had not been taken out of the coffins nor the coffins opened. On opening the coffins he discovered that in connection with two of the bodies, were something rolled up with the same kind of linnen, saturated with the same bitumen, which, when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus, previously mentioned. I may add that two or three other small pieces of papyrus, with astronomical calculations, epitaphs, &c. were found with others of the Mummies.

This comes in the middle of a narration of how the papyri arrived in Kirtland, prior to any mention of Joseph Smith having come in contact with them. A previous newspaper article in the Painesville Telegraph indicated that some experts had looked over the documents and translated a few lines of the "epitaph." Cowdery also says,

Seven of the said eleven were purchased by gentlemen for private museums, previous to Mr. Chandler's visit to this place, with a small quantity of papyrus, similar, (as he says,) to the astronomical representation, contained with the present two rolls, of which I previously spoke, and the remaining four by gentlemen resident here.

Here Cowdery puts a comment about the astronomical representation into Chandler's mouth. I suspect that the description "epitaphs, astronomical calculations, &c." originated with the experts who looked at the papyri and was communicated to Cowdery or to JS vis a vis Chandler. What's more, we read from Cowdery that "Josephus says that the descendants of Seth were virtuous, and possessed a great knowledge of the heavenly bodies." Since Abraham teaching astronomy to the Egyptians is in the first few pages of the same work by Josephus, I think it's fair to suggest that Cowdery had read that part as well. Joseph Smith proceeded to use this information as a creative springboard for elaborating on the principles that interested him at the time, namely temple arcana, priesthood, and the plurality of gods.

-CK

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Just for the record, Family of 4, here is what should be taught in LDS institute classes:

â??How did the Prophet translate the Ancient writings? The Prophet Joseph Smith never communicated his method of translating these records. As with all other scriptures, a testimony of the truthfulness of these writings is primarily a matter of faith. The greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of physical evidence nor historical background, but in prayerful consideration of its content and power.â? The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2000): 28.

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Just for the record, Family of 4, here is what should be taught in LDS institute classes:

â??How did the Prophet translate the Ancient writings? The Prophet Joseph Smith never communicated his method of translating these records. As with all other scriptures, a testimony of the truthfulness of these writings is primarily a matter of faith. The greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of physical evidence nor historical background, but in prayerful consideration of its content and power.â? The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2000): 28.

you mean we are allowed to think for our selves on the HOW of the BoA? <_<

Scandalous!!!!! :unsure:

LOL :P

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Leonidas, you make some excellent points. I liked the link you provided.

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In the June 1, 1843 edition of the Times and Seasons, Joseph Smith quotes from the Zohar, which is widely considered the most important work of Kabbalah. This strongly suggests that he had a particular interest in Kabbalism.

Apparently, Joseph did discuss the issue of divine council of deities with his Hebrew professor.

No such thing is apparent from this citation. The statement you provided is not a â??discussionâ? about the divine council at all. It is a simple question about Hebrew grammar. The Kabbalistic notion of a divine council is not dependent on Gen 1:1 rendered in the plural.

But thanks for bringing this up, because it gives us the opportunity to find out where Joseph Smith claimed to have received this doctrine. Joseph Smith continues,

â??In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through--Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, its sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods. All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth.â? http://www.boap.org/LDS/Joseph-Smith/Teachings/T6.html

So from this we have his own testimony to the fact that he got this concept from the Bible, along with his own understanding of the Hebrew grammar. Nowhere did he say â??God revealed this to me,â? so how could it possibly be proof he was a prophet?

How many Rabbis do you know today that believe in a council of gods?

Not all Rabbis are fans of Jewish Mysticism, and not all consider the Zohar authoritative. But Joseph Smith was particularly familiar with the Zohar and Kabbalism, where the concept of the divine council preexisted.

Kabbalism and the Divine Council

I certainly did not suggest that nobody in the 19th century would have ever considered the possibility of a divine council of Gods.

But you seemed to be suggesting, or strongly insinuating, that the possibility that Smith could have deciphered this from the Bible is so remote that divine revelation is the best explanation. Your theory doesnâ??t address the numerous problems found in the same work that has clearly borrowed from other works, like Josephus and the Philosophical work by Thomas Diick.

I would like you to provide proof, however, that anyone in the 19th century including the Kabbalists whose traditions Joseph Smith was apparently so well steeped in, provided such a correct Old Testament perspective of the divine council as the one depicted in the BofA.

Youâ??re the one making the insinuations that it was probably the result of divine revelation, so I think you need to be the one to provide proof; proof that Smith couldnâ??t have received this concept from elsewhere.

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But Joseph Smith was particularly familiar with the Zohar and Kabbalism, where the concept of the divine council preexisted.

Really? Ive started a new thread on the subject of "Joseph the Kabalist", mind showing some evidence?

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1.

Youâ??re the one making the insinuations that it was probably the result of divine revelation, so I think you need to be the one to provide proof; proof that Smith couldnâ??t have received this concept from elsewhere.

It seems unreasonable to me to suggest that, unless one is able to demonstrate conclusively that concept X could not possibly have been derived from a non-revelatory source, it is intellectually indefensible to believe that concept X was received by revelation. Such negative proof is rarely if ever available for any significant question of provenance in any field of intellectual history.

2.

The claim that Joseph Smith knew Kabbalah and the Zohar is, at best, highly questionable.

See, for example, William Hamblin, "Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection," The FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996):

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publicatio...=8&number=2

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It seems unreasonable to me to suggest that, unless one is able to demonstrate conclusively that concept X could not possibly have been derived from a non-revelatory source, it is intellectually indefensible to believe that concept X was received by revelation.

I said nothing of intellectual defense. I simply asked that we employ a little inductive logic and ask a simple question:

What is more likely?

That God told him this or that he somehow absorbed these things through natural means? Well, luckily, we can allow Joseph Smith to answer that question for us. By his own words, he clearly derived this teaching from natural means. He read a book (the Bible) and he employed grammar skills he had acquired from another human being (Hebrew teacher).

To ignore the natural factors while leaping to the fantastical conclusion of divine revelation seems a bit odd for a scholar of any discipline.

Extraordinary claims require expraordinary evidence. I would not assume my daughter learned to sing "Row, Row Row your boat" from God himself, just because nobody she knows seems to know it. I would investigate further to determine whether or not someone who speaks her language, taught her the song. Saying "God must have taught her" is not an intellectually defensible conclusion, just because nobody else has provided the natural means from which she learned it.

On the other hand, if I had a testimony that she was Eliphalet Oram Lyte reincarnated, I suppose no amount of evidence to the contrary would matter anyway.

The claim that Joseph Smith knew Kabbalah and the Zohar is, at best, highly questionable.

True. But it is not nearly as questionable as the claim that Joseph Smith received this doctrine via divine revelation, despite his own claims to the contrary.

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What is more likely?

That God told him this or that he somehow absorbed these things through natural means?

That depends on one's sense of the prior probabilities.

I doubt that we agree on those -- I note your revealing reference to "the fantastical conclusion of divine revelation" -- so the question is not as open and shut (nor as inevitably congenial to your position) as you seem to hope.

Well, luckily, we can allow Joseph Smith to answer that question for us. By hiw own words, he clearly derived this teaching from natural means. He read a book (the Bible) and he employed grammar skills he had acquired from another human being (Hebrew teacher).

I don't see how that settles any important question related to the Book of Abraham.

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Did you know that by 1842 there are only two books in the history of publication that suggest Godâ??s throne is at the center of the Universe?

Really? Where does the BoA say Kolob the center of the Universe? I'm sorry, but the link you provided made assumptions that aren't there, such as the universe being infinite, when the BoA did not say such a thing.

Did you know that by 1842 there are only two books in the history of publication that suggest spiritual beings are â??intelligencesâ??

No, according to your link, **** only described beings inhabiting other planets as intelligences. This is very different than the concept of intelligences Joseph Smith described. And discussion of intelligences on other planets were not limited simply to ****'s Philosophy of a Future State.

There is much more I'd like to respond to, as I felt that much of what you said was misrepresenting my position or stretching arguments too far. However, I am at work, and probably won't have time to respond until at least until tomorrow evening.

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I doubt that we agree on those -- I note your revealing reference to "the fantastical conclusion of divine revelation" -- so the question is not as open and shut (nor as inevitably congenial to your position) as you seem to hope.

Again, a little exercise in inductive logic never hurt anyone; well, maybe to some with already made up minds. I simply proposed that everyone take the Pepsi challenge and drop the paranoia of it being poisonous testimony-threatening Kool-Aid.

I don't see how that settles any important question related to the Book of Abraham.

It settles the question that is central to this discussion. Does this teaching demonstrate divine revelation? Clearly not, thus the entire point of this thread is moot. According to Joseph Smithâ??s own explication, he was simply reading what was clearly stated in the Bible while using the grammar tools provided him by his Hebrew teacher. He saw no angel, he didnâ??t pray for guidance, and he alluded to no scriptural â??unfolding.â?

It becomes a huge game of circular reasoning to insist Smithâ??s teachings prove divine simply because they are in the Bible, given the fact that Joseph Smith was an ardent student of the Bible. This is why focus is removed from the Bible and placed onto the â??Ancient World.â?

The title of this thread is â??What the critics fail to tell you.â?

I think that at this point, most people are wondering what this is supposed to mean. The critics are supposed to tell people that Joseph Smithâ??s Book of Abraham mentions teachings found in the KJV, which he also studied profusely?

What a bunch of disingenuous hacks they must be!

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No such thing is apparent from this citation. The statement you provided is not a â??discussionâ? about the divine council at all. It is a simple question about Hebrew grammar.

My heavens! The citation derives from Josephâ??s famous sermon concerning the plurality of Gods (see Teachings 369-376). It provides Josephâ??s report of a "discussion" that he had with â??a learned Jewâ? (presumably his Hebrew professor Joshua Sexias). T

Contrary to your suggestion, the issue of whether elohim can refer to God or Gods in the plural is certainly not a mere question concerning Hebrew grammar.

The Kabbalistic notion of a divine council is not dependent on Gen 1:1 rendered in the plural.

And Josephâ??s view of the divine council is not dependent upon Kabbalah. Remember you were going to prove that it was.

So from this we have his own testimony to the fact that he got this concept from the Bible, along with his own understanding of the Hebrew grammar. Nowhere did he say â??God revealed this to me,â? so how could it possibly be proof he was a prophet?

Iâ??m sorry. But you need to think this through. On the one hand you state that Joseph Smith simply took the concept of a divine council of Gods from the Zohar and on the other you suggest that Joseph received this knowledge from the Bible itself.

Once again, I have no problem suggesting that Joseph learned a great deal concerning the divine council through his study of the Bible.

Kabbalism and the Divine Council

Again, Iâ??m sorry. But this site does not prove that Josephâ??s view of the divine council derives from Jewish mysticism. The author simply discusses his theological views and provides links to several sites (including Michael Heiser's) that discuss the knowledge biblical scholars now have concerning the role of the Divine Council as a fundamental symbol within Israelite cosmology.

If you wish to interact on this board, youâ??ll need to back up your claims. Show us where the Zohar presents a comparable view to the depiction of the divine council of deities featured in the Book of Abraham or cease from making such assertions.

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I am actually deeply involved with this belief that smith had a connection to the kabbla

If I had a picture of the tree of life I could draw a comparison to the plan of salvation. The side branches connect exactly to temple Ideals which I will not identify here.

But there is a female and male half of the tree and both are equal in power approaching God. There is a rumor of calling and election Cermonies amplifying the women role in mormon salvation to an equal point in priesthood. But of this I can only speculate.

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Really? Where does the BoA say Kolob the center of the Universe? I'm sorry, but the link you provided made assumptions that aren't there, such as the universe being infinite, when the BoA did not say such a thing.

It suggests it strongly, or else how would you imagine the BoA cosmology where Kolob is the location of Godâ??s throne and the surrounding stars are distanced according to glory. If Kolob isnâ??t at the center, then where?

No, according to your link, **** only described beings inhabiting other planets as intelligences. This is very different than the concept of intelligences Joseph Smith described. And discussion of intelligences on other planets were not limited simply to ****'s Philosophy of a Future State.

Focusing on dissimilarities will not mitigate the obvious similarities. Again, find me any other pre-1842 publication anywhere, which refers to spiritual beings as â??intelligences.â? Another similarity is that this book describes the intelligences as progressive beings who eventually reach perfection. That has LDS theosis written all over it.

Here is what Hansen, an LDS scholar, has said on this matter. Iâ??ll let the readers decide:

â??The progressive aspect of Joseph's theology, as well as its cosmology, while in a general way compatible with antebellum thought, bears some remarkable resemblances to Thomas ****'s Philosophy of a Future State, a second edition of which had been published in 1830," Joseph Smith owned a copy of this work, and Oliver Cowdery in December 1836 quoted some lengthy excerpts from it in the Messenger and Advocate [Dec. 1836: 423-25]. Hansen continues:

Some very striking parallels to Smith's theology suggest that the similarities between the two may be more than coincidental. ****'s lengthy book, an ambitious treatise on astronomy and metaphysics, proposed the idea that matter is eternal and indestructible and rejected the notion of a creation ex nihilo. Much of the book dealt with the infinity of the universe, made up of innumberable stars spread out over immeasurable distances. **** speculated that many of these stars were peopled by "various orders of intelligences" and that these intelligences were "progressive beings" in various stages of evolution toward perfection. In the Book of Abraham, part of which consists of a treatise on astronomy and cosmology, eternal beings of various orders and stages of development likewise populate numerous stars. They, too, are called "intelligences." **** speculated that "the systems of the universe revolve around a common center... the throne of God." In the Book of Abraham, one star named Kolob "was nearest unto the throne of God." Other stars, in ever diminishing order, were placed in increasing distances from this center.

According to the Book of Abraham, the patriarch had a knowledge of the times of various planets, "until thou come nigh unto Kolob which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord's time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest." One revolution of Kolob "was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord's time according to the reckoning of Kolob." God's time thus conformed perfectly to the laws of Galilean relativity and Newtonian mechanics."

Scientific cosmology began its leap forward just when Mormon doctrine was becoming stabilized. The revolution in twentieth-century physics precipitated by Einstein dethroned Newtonian physics as the ultimate explanation of the way the universe works. Relativity theory and quantum mechanics, combined with advances in astronomy, have established a vastly different picture of how the universe began, how it is structured and operates, and the nature of matter and energy. ... This new scientific cosmology pose a serious challenge to the Mormon version of the universe.

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Helix,

The misses seem to outnumber the hits, but the game appears to have been rigged from the start because if Joseph Smith missed on certain theological points, the general response is that this is because those teachings were lost through an apostasy, which is why there is no explicit biblical mention of them. If he â??hitsâ? then it is because God inspired him to â??restoreâ? them. But I think the point CK is making is that there is no gripping rationale to suppose Smith scored on these â??hits,â? because of divine revelation. They could have just as easily, and more probably, been the results of his correspondences with Rabbis, such as his Hebrew professor. Smith had at least some familiarity with Kabbalism, so it is wrong to maintain that nobody in the 19th century would have ever considered the possibility in a divine council.

It is misleading to insist the notion was completely foreign to all religions and Biblical scholars in Joseph Smithâ??s day. This assertion seems to be made for the purpose of adding more â??fascinationâ? to the teaching.

I'd say his theology was interesting at best, but hardly fascinating or of divine origin. Harold Bloom found Smith's insights interesting as well, but he never considered this proof of his prophetic claims.

I'm curious, just what "theological" misses do you perceive? I'm not talking about archeology or anthropology, I'm talking theology. As near as I can see, Joseph has a pretty good track record of accurately reconstructing the past.

For example, it is fairly well proved that the ancient jew and the primative Christians believed in an anthropomorphic god. It is fairly well established that a form of theosis was believed among the same groups. Joseph's theological insights regarding First Temple judaism seem pretty well supported. His insights about the theological conditions of pre-exilic Jerusalem are also supported. Baptism for the Dead as an ancient rite is also attested to. His insights into Melchezidek & Enoch and their importance in Jewish history.

In all honestly, it seems like he's got quite a few more theological hits than you give him credit for.

C.I.

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