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David Bokovoy

The Book Of Moses

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In light of my recent interest in the Book of Moses, a friend asked if I would be at all interested in posting a response to a thread on the Book of Moses from another board. Though I disagree with his/her assessment, the author raises some interesting points worthy of consideration.

Question: Joseph Smith claimed that his "Book of Moses" was an inspired restoration of a corrupted original text (namely, Genesis) authored by Moses. Was his claim true?

The authorâ??s assessment of the Book of Moses is very problematic.

In reality, Joseph Smith did not claim that his â??Book of Mosesâ? was an inspired restoration of a corrupted original text authored by Moses.

Joseph couldnâ??t have made this claim because â??The Book of Mosesâ? did not exist. The title "The Book of Moses" was coined by Elder James E. Talmage as a description of the opening chapters of Joseph Smithâ??s inspired revision of the Bible presented in the Pearl of Great Price.

While some Latter-day Saints have admittedly assumed that the Prophetâ??s inspired translation restored an original text, evidence suggests that this is not a correct interpretation.

In truth, the JST appears to often restore truths which were once said or done but never recorded in the Bible. The Prophet himself declared that â??from what we can draw from the scriptures relative to the teachings of heaven we are induced to think, that much instruction has been given to man since the beginning which we have not.â? The Evening and the Morning Star 2, no. 18 (March 1834): 143.

The following quote proves even more enlightening:

â??Upon my return from Amherst Conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiledâ? Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 10.

Note that the Prophet specifically states that his translation presents information that had been â??lost before [the Bible] was compiled."

Rather than a restoration of ancient texts, the JST makes greater sense as an example of an inspired workbook that reveals the theological discoveries of an inspired prophet of God.

Evidence that the Book of Moses does not present a restoration of an original text is seen through Joseph Smithâ??s revision of Genesis 1:1-3:

â??In the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest. And the earth was without form, and void; and I caused darkness to come up upon the face of the deep; and my Spirit moved upon the face of the water; for I am God. And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was lightâ? (Moses 2:1-3)

However, Moses 2:1-3 does not reflect how the text originally read. According to Joseph Smith, Genesis 1:1 originally read â??the head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods!â? Teachings, 348.

Since "the head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods" is not how Moses 2:1-3 reads, clearly Joseph did not believe that he had in fact restored the original version of Genesis 1:1-3 in the Book of Moses. The Prophet simply produced an inspired revision.

In truthâ??as I have attempted to illustrate in a previous threadâ??the Book of Moses transforms the opening chapters of Genesis into a temple text.

Joseph Smith appears to be aware that all is not exactly right with the Bible's text (mostly because it doesn't agree with his "revelations" - but that's a different story). Anyway, his proposal is that "careless translators" and "interpolators", or people with theological prejudices, have changed, in some cases dramatically, what was once a coherent, consistent, and pure text.

As illustrated through the above quotes, the Prophetâ??s views concerning the Bible were much more complex than the author assumes.

To make a long story short, we now have far older Biblical texts than were available in Joseph's time, and they all pretty much explode Joseph's hypothesis. While there are some textual discrepancies between copies of the Bible, what is remarkable is how few there are in our oldest texts.

In contrast to the authorâ??s assumption, the oldest biblical texts do not â??explode Josephâ??s hypothesisâ? that the scriptural books of the Bible have experienced several strong editorial hands that have oftentimes significantly altered the original text.

In reality, the standard scholarly view concerning the development of the biblical texts is much more congruent with Josephâ??s ideas than the author realizes. As explained by Biblicist Michael Fishbane, when it comes to the Bible â??even more than textual annotations, theological changes underscore the fact that those persons most responsible for maintaining the orthography of the texts tampered with their wording so as to preserve the religious dignity of these documents according to contemporary theological tastesâ? Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 67.

Interestingly, I have not found any real acknowledgement from LDS apologists of the "Documentary Hypothesis", presumably because of its disturbing (not to say lethal) implications for Joseph's "Book of Moses."

This is simply not true. Many of usâ??myself includedâ?? are in fact major supporters of the Documentary Hypothesis. The author is apparently unfamiliar with the impact of Margaret Barkerâ??s views concerning the Deuteronomistic reforms on recent LDS thought.

In any case, if anyone wants to further research the Documentary Hypothesis, I recommend "Who Wrote The Bible?" by Richard Elliot Friedman, as well as the other book of his I mentioned above.

I would recommend that anyone who reads Friedmanâ??s book recognize that while it is a serviceable introduction to the basics of the Documentary Hypothesis, Friedmanâ??s views as a whole do not reflect the mainstream consensus.

Harold Bloom has also written about "J".

Harold Bloom is not a Biblicist and his translation is quite problematic.

You can also find follow up information in reference books like the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary and Commentary (these are valuable reference books).

The HarperCollins Study Bible produced with the Society of Biblical Literature is in fact a valuable resource.

The Israelite historians are staunch monotheists, and Elohim and YHWH are simply different names, used by different writers, to refer to the same Israelite deity.

This is simply not correct.

Israelite historians were not staunch monotheists. Some later Jewish editors of the Bible reworked some of the texts to support a monotheistic perspective in the Bible, but even these later editors were not strict monotheists by contemporary standards.

The author simply does not understand the views of contemporary Biblicists. As William Dever has explained:

"A generation ago, when I was a graduate student, biblical scholars were nearly unanimous in thinking that monotheism had been predominant in ancient Israelite religion from the beginningâ??not just as an â??ideal,â? but as the reality. Today all that has changed. Virtually all mainstream scholars (and even a few conservatives) acknowledge that true monotheism emerged only in the period of the exile in Babylon in the 6th century B.C., as the canon of the Hebrew Bible was taking shape. . . . I have suggested, along with most scholars, that the emergence of monotheismâ??of exclusive Yahwismâ??was largely a response to the tragic experience of the exile." William G. Dever, Did God Have a Wife? Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 294â??95, 297.

One important example of this trend seems to have occurred in Deuteronomy 32 where, â??almost certainly, the unintelligible reading of the [Masoretic Text] represents a â??correctionâ?? of the original text (whereby God presides over other gods) to make it conform to the later standard of pure monotheism: There are no other gods!â? Bernard M. Levinson, â??Deuteronomy,â? in The Jewish Study Bible, ed. Adele Berlin and Marc Z. Brettler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 441.

I could spend 20 pages detailing every textual evidence that argues against the Book of Moses' claims.

This is only because the author has misrepresented what the Book of Moses truly is. Given my understanding of the text, I could go on for hundreds of pages illustrating examples of ways in which the Book of Moses reveals the Prophetâ??s inspiration.

Again, as discussed in a previous thread, thematically, the Book of Moses begins with a temple encounter in which Moses speaks with God face to face through the veil. The temple imagery continues throughout the Book of Moses.

As of late, I have been impressed with Moses 5:26 which describes Abel â??who walked in holiness before the Lord.â? In view of the profound temple imagery witnessed throughout the Book of Moses, this verse proves especially interesting.

For Latter-day Saints, the concept of a ritual walk before the Lord reflects the temple journey itself. As Brigham Young explained:

"Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell (emphasis added)"

Throughout the Old Testament, the notion of walking with God appears as an important religious motif. Temple priests were expected to walk with God â??in peace and equityâ? (Malachi 2:6). The book of Genesis reports the Lordâ??s command given to Abram: â??I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfectâ? (Gen 17: 1; emphasis added). According to the blessing given to Joseph, not only Abraham, but also his son Isaac successfully fulfilled this spiritual mandate: â??And [Jacob] blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walkâ?¦â? (Gen 48: 15).

In prophetic literature, the notion of walking before God provides an important element in Isaiahâ??s visionary witness concerning the latter-day House of the Lord:

"And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3; see also Micah 4:2; emphasis added).

Since in ancient Israel, the temple was considered to be the house of God, the concept of appearing before God provides a prevalent temple theme throughout the Old Testament. In biblical Hebrew, the term lipne, which means literally â??to the face of" or "at the front of,â? carries the grammatical nuance, â??in the presence ofâ? or â??before.â? The prepositional phrase denotes the "face to face" encounter at the veil.

Throughout the Old Testament, lipne frequently appears in connection with the divine name Jehovah rendered in the King James Version of the Bible as Lord in capital letters:

"And the Priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD and it shall be forgiven him for anything of all that he hath done in trespassing therein" (Lev. 6:7; emphasis added)

"And thou shalt put the two stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his shoulders for memorial." (Ex. 28:12; emphasis added)

As a result of the direct link between the temple and Godâ??s presence in ancient Israel, biblical scholar M. Haran has observed:

"Any cultic activity to which the biblical text applies the formula â??before the Lordâ?? can be considered an indication of the existence of a temple at the site, since this expression stems from the basic conception of the temple as a divine dwelling-place and actually belongs to the templeâ??s terminology;" M. Haran, Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry into the Character of Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School (1978): 26; see also Mervyn D. Fowler, â??The Meaning of lipne YHWH in the Old Testament,â? Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (1987): 384-390

Therefore, the expression to walk before the Lord provides an important, albeit subtle, connection with the biblical notion of the temple journey. Significantly, the description of Abel in the Book of Moses also features the term â??holiness.â?

From a biblical perspective, only God himself is intrinsically holy.

Hence, as Phillip Peter Jenson has explained: â??The holy is defined as that which belongs to the sphere of Godâ??s being or activityâ? Graded Holiness: A Key to the Priestly Conception of the World, 48.

Therefore, from a biblical perspective, a personâ??s holiness is directly dependent upon his relationship to the House of God, the sphere of Godâ??s being or activity.

In sum, each of the elements walking, holiness, and before the Lord featured in Moses 5:26 points to a subtle theological link with both ancient and modern temple worship.

This fact is even more impressive when considered through the theological lens provided by the Book of Moses that transforms the opening chapters of the Bible into a temple drama.

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... it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men had been taken

from the Bible, or lost before it was compiledâ? ...

Note that the Prophet specifically states that his translation presents information that had been

â??lost before [the Bible] was compiled."...

It depends upon how you choose to read the "or" in the sentence.

I might say: "Eat your spinach -- or, in other words, that green stuff on your dinner plate."

I might say: "Eat your spinach -- or, you'll get no apple pie tonight."

The use of the "or" in the two sentences is different. -- Reorganized LDS would traditionally read such

a recorded statement as meaning: "points were either taken from the compiled Bible, OR ELSE they

were lost from the Plan of Salvation before the Bible was compiled. RLDS traditionally have believed

that the compiled scriptures Jesus made use of were pure and undefiled -- and so nothing of great

importance was "lost from the text" before his time. In other words, the work of the G&A Church was

primarily a post-Jesus process, and not a pre-Jesus work of darkness.

See also the Introduction to the first edition of the "New Translation" (or "Inspired Version" as it was

later sometimes called) for an official RLDS statement on such matters.

Also, I would recommed Elder R. C. Durham's "History of the Joseph Smith Translation..."

UD

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Aloha Uncle Dale and thanks for the recommendations.

Nice to read your posts; I hope youâ??re feeling better. Got to get to bed. 5 to 6 foot surf in Rhode Island tomorrow morning, so Iâ??ll be up by 4:00. Itâ??s not Hawaii, but itâ??ll do.

Best.

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Are you going to repost this excellent post over on "the board that must not be named"?

Are you going to respond to any of the points? I know I plan on it.

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Aloha Uncle Dale and thanks for the recommendations.

Nice to read your posts; I hope youâ??re feeling better. Got to get to bed. 5 to 6 foot surf in Rhode Island tomorrow morning, so Iâ??ll be up by 4:00. Itâ??s not Hawaii, but itâ??ll do.

Best.

Whoa...duuude...another surfer on board. I have a friend, age 70, that travels around the world and is dying to take me out to San Onofre.

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In reality, Joseph Smith did not claim that his â??Book of Mosesâ? was an inspired restoration of a corrupted original text authored by Moses. Joseph couldnâ??t have made this claim because â??The Book of Mosesâ? did not exist. The title "The Book of Moses" was coined by Elder James E. Talmage as a description of the opening chapters of Joseph Smithâ??s inspired revision of the Bible presented in the Pearl of Great Price.

Robert Matthews has noted that "the material that now constitutes the Book of Moses was revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet as part of his translation of the Bible. Originally it consisted of three separate revelations. . . . The second revelation is titled: 'A Revelation given to the Elders of the Church of Christ on the first Book of Moses, Chapter First'," covering the material found in Moses 2-4 (see Robert J. Matthews, "What Is the Book of Moses?" in Studies in Scripture, Vol. 2: The Pearl of Great Price, ed. Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson [salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998], 26-27).

It would be odd to refer to Genesis 1 in the title of the revelation as "the first Book of Moses, Chapter First" if Joseph Smith did not, in fact, believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Indeed, Moses 2:1 clearly points to Moses as the original author of the material restored by the revelation. So I don't see anything problematic with Tal's statement that the Book of Moses claims to be "an inspired restoration of a corrupted text authored by Moses."

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In German, the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are typically referred to as 1. Mose, 2. Mose, 3. Mose, 4. Mose, and, not surprisingly, 5. Mose -- very commonly by people who don't believe in their Mosaic authorship. It's just convention.

In any event, I don't see any necessary contradiction between believing that Moses wrote down a text and believing that that text was "lost from the Bible" even before the Bible was compiled, so that the book of Moses is not a restoration of a defective biblical text.

Whatever.

Several excellent points here, David. Incidentally, a critic on another board is boasting that Nevo has pretty well shut you down. From what I can tell, Nevo posted his note at about 1:12 AM, your time. I think it shameful that you've failed to respond when it's already 2:40.

Proverbs 26:14.

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In German, the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are typically referred to as 1. Mose, 2. Mose, 3. Mose, 4. Mose, and, not surprisingly, 5. Mose -- very commonly by people who don't believe in their Mosaic authorship. It's just convention.

Sure, people who don't believe in their Mosaic authorship now, because inventing new names to use instead would confuse people, but how about when the names became 1. Mose, 2. Mose, etc. in the first place? Do you imagine they were called this just because, heck, they had to be called something and Moses 1-5 was as good as anything else? In Joseph Smith's time, are you saying people in German called the books the 5 books of Moses "just because", as a convention, without actually doing it because they believed the books to have been written by Moses?

David's reply doesn't consider some of the meat of Tal's original post. For instance, Tal points out that under the Documentary Hypothesis, the author who said that God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit was not the same as the author who said God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply the earth. The author who has God commanding them to be fruitful and multiply doesn't even discuss their Fall at all, just that they are created, and then commanded to use their procreative powers. The author that has God commanding them not to eat of the tree doesn't mention them being commanded to be fruitful and multiply. The double-bind where they are faced with two mutually exclusive commandments is not actually in the original works by the two authors, and makes the most sense, by far, if the double-bind is seen to be written by someone who thinks that both accounts were by the same author, with an implied chronological ordering that has both commandments being given before the Fall.

I think that this evidence is very strong, and argues forcefully for Joseph Smith believing that the first books of the Bible were in fact written by Moses, and his attempts to fix, or correct them.

In any event, I don't see any necessary contradiction between believing that Moses wrote down a text and believing that that text was "lost from the Bible" even before the Bible was compiled, so that the book of Moses is not a restoration of a defective biblical text.

Sure, if you want, you can try to argue that this is a "just so" creative work by Joseph Smith, and that regardless of what authors, as discussed in the Documentary Hypothesis, wrote what, and where these creation myths came from, and in what form, and how they were joined together and later interpreted as we now see us interpreting them, you can say that Moses really did mean what Joseph Smith wrote, and Joseph Smith just received that through revelation, and this is all true because Joseph Smith said so. In the end, you can always appeal to Joseph Smith being a prophet to justify whatever he wrote, as long as it's not something you have to disavow as the mistaken opinion of a fallible man.

Whatever.

Indeed. The faithful will look to written responses by David Bokovoy and others and say hey, someone really smart disagrees with Tal, there must be a reason for it, and without taking this jigsaw puzzle piece and putting it in the puzzle and seeing the larger picture it's helping to create, will just dismiss the whole thing and probably not think about it again. But I think that Tal's post was actually very powerful, and makes a powerful argument that Joseph Smith was making this up, and it fits perfectly into the larger picture that has him making all kinds of other stuff up too, particularly the Book of Abraham, his "revelations" on polygamy, and so forth.

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Dr. Peterson, how do you suppose this evidence would look if Joseph Smith really had just made it up? Is there any chance it would look pretty much the way Tal described it?

And similarly, how do you think the evidence in the Book of Abraham fiasco would look if Joseph Smith really had just made it up? Do you think it would look pretty much the way Larson described it?

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Time for one quick post this morning.

David's reply doesn't consider some of the meat of Tal's original post.

Clearly, Seth, you and I differ on the issue of what constitutes meat.

For instance, Tal points out that under the Documentary Hypothesis, the author who said that God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit was not the same as the author who said God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply the earth. The author who has God commanding them to be fruitful and multiply doesn't even discuss their Fall at all, just that they are created, and then commanded to use their procreative powers. The author that has God commanding them not to eat of the tree doesn't mention them being commanded to be fruitful and multiply. The double-bind where they are faced with two mutually exclusive commandments is not actually in the original works by the two authors, and makes the most sense, by far, if the double-bind is seen to be written by someone who thinks that both accounts were by the same author, with an implied chronological ordering that has both commandments being given before the Fall.

Indeed, I did not respond to this issue (I felt my comments had already reached a point where some might lose interest in a single post). Suffice it to say that while I believe strongly in the importance of recognizing that the Pentateuch features multiple documentary sources, in the end, we have a single source that has been compiled by an editor/redactor.

In fact, an important part of biblical criticismâ??known as redactional criticismâ?? involves interpreting the text as a literary unit. This is just as important as source criticism (perhaps more so for a religious congregation that accepts the Bible as authoritative scripture).

While I recognize the importance of identifying the command to multiply and replenish the earth as an edict that derives from a different source than the Eden story (in fact I'm a big advocate of the critical approach), in the end, we have two contradictory sources that have been brought together which do create a theological quandary, interpreted appropriately in my opinion by Latter-day Saint commentators who approach the Bible from a religious perspective as a single unit.

I think that this evidence is very strong, and argues forcefully for Joseph Smith believing that the first books of the Bible were in fact written by Moses, and his attempts to fix, or correct them.

Clearly Joseph Smith did not believe that Moses wrote the book of Genesis as it presently stands. However, the mere fact that Joseph Smith did not recognize the observations first summarized in 1886 by German source critic Julius Wellhausen clearly does not mean that Joseph Smith was uninspired.

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It would be odd to refer to Genesis 1 in the title of the revelation as "the first Book of Moses, Chapter First" if Joseph Smith did not, in fact, believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.

Clearly my use of the word â??coinedâ? in the opening post was not the best choice. Elder Talmage added the title to the Pearl of Great Price. The book was first identified by Elder Richards who complied the PofGP as â??Extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch and The words of God, which he spake unto Moses . . .â?

I stand corrected. :P

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Indeed. The faithful will look to written responses by David Bokovoy and others and say hey, someone really smart disagrees with Tal, there must be a reason for it, and without taking this jigsaw puzzle piece and putting it in the puzzle and seeing the larger picture it's helping to create, will just dismiss the whole thing and probably not think about it again. But I think that Tal's post was actually very powerful, and makes a powerful argument that Joseph Smith was making this up, and it fits perfectly into the larger picture that has him making all kinds of other stuff up too, particularly the Book of Abraham, his "revelations" on polygamy, and so forth.

Yes...people not looking further into the issue clearly negate David's points...

[ie- you're doing the same thing, only replace "David" with "Tal."

Who is Tal? Is it Bachman? If so, he really needs a new hairstyle. It looked really greasy and gross. :P

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the Book of Abraham fiasco

I object to using that term to describe the critics' positions on the Book of Abraham. Let's try to eschew question-begging and prejudicial language of this type, okay?

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Clearly Joseph Smith did not believe that Moses wrote the book of Genesis as it presently stands. However, the mere fact that Joseph Smith did not recognize the observations first summarized in 1886 by German source critic Julius Wellhausen clearly does not mean that Joseph Smith was uninspired.

I recall reading an article in the Theologische Literaturzeitung about fifteen or twenty years ago, in which the Finnish scholar Heikki R

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David correctly identifies the majority of the Talibachman essay as a futile exercise in setting up a strawman. I believe two other things should also be noted in reference to this topic:

1. As I have repeatedly noted in terms of the Book of Abraham, it is also the case with the Book of Moses that we need not suppose that Joseph Smith knew exactly what he was restoring when he received the revelation that he ultimately entitled â??The Book of Moses.â? In the process of â??translatingâ? (really â??revisingâ?) the Old Testament, he simply received the text that purports to be a restoration of the writings of Moses. From that point, we are left to determine whether or not there is a relationship between the writings of Moses thus restored and what was finally assembled (many centuries later) as the Pentateuch. Current scholarship obviously concludes that, if Moses did author an account of the creation and the subsequent antediluvian period, that account was not the source for the Genesis of the Old Testament.

Nevo writes:

It would be odd to refer to Genesis 1 in the title of the revelation as "the first Book of Moses, Chapter First" if Joseph Smith did not, in fact, believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.

However, this is a faulty conclusion, for both the reasons I cite above and the second item I shall note below. Again, Joseph Smith was restoring a text that considerably predates the formulation of our present-day Genesis, and purports to be the original writings of Moses. The question then becomes: â??What texts did Moses actually possess from which he would have crafted his own account of the antediluvian period? And, of course, the answer is The Book of Enoch.

Therefore:

2. The truly astounding aspect of the restored Book of Moses is how it has subsequently been confirmed as an authentic ancient text in terms of the Book of Enoch. In addition to the seminal Enoch the Prophet by Hugh Nibley, Margaret Barker has now (independent of any LDS tradition) produced a body of work which dovetails nicely with Nibleyâ??s early observations vis-

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2. The truly astounding aspect of the restored Book of Moses is how it has subsequently been confirmed as an authentic ancient text in terms of the Book of Enoch. In addition to the seminal Enoch the Prophet by Hugh Nibley, Margaret Barker has now (independent of any LDS tradition) produced a body of work which dovetails nicely with Nibleyâ??s early observations vis-

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Talibachman

I like that!

Given his remarks in the PBS documentary on The Mormons, it's remarkably apropos.

Funny!

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For one attempt to demonstrate the existence of ancient Near Eastern motifs in the Book of Moses, see â??On the Motif of the Weeping God in Moses 7,â? in Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., Revelation, Reason, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen (Provo: FARMS, 2002), 285-317.

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Suffice it to say that while I believe strongly in the importance of recognizing that the Pentateuch features multiple documentary sources, in the end, we have a single source that has been compiled by an editor/redactor.

So, because we have a single source (Genesis) as the fruits of some unknown ancient Israelite editor, it's just fine for someone to interpret two different story fragments of a creation myth as if they were in fact one single creation myth composed of the elements of both of the original, separate sources? This doesn't work, in my opinion. More on that in just a moment.

In fact, an important part of biblical criticismâ??known as redactional criticismâ?? involves interpreting the text as a literary unit. This is just as important as source criticism (perhaps more so for a religious congregation that accepts the Bible as authoritative scripture).

I guess the question is whether you're interested in finding out what the original authors actually believed, or only how their writings are now interpreted, by people who believe the material was all written by the same person, with a certain implied chronology. A religious congregation that believes that this is "God's Word" doesn't have to care, of course - they can believe what they want, on no other basis than they believe it, and that's the end of it.

While I recognize the importance of identifying the command to multiply and replenish the earth as an edict that derives from a different source than the Eden story (in fact I'm a big advocate of the critical approach), in the end, we have two contradictory sources that have been brought together which do create a theological quandary, interpreted appropriately in my opinion by Latter-day Saint commentators who approach the Bible from a religious perspective as a single unit.

It depends really if you're just trying to support the modern LDS approach to the scripture, ie: the apologetic approach, or whether you care at all what the original authors actually believed and meant when they wrote their stories. If you believe that the original, ancient authors of the separate fragments actually believed in this quandary, then you should be able to support that somehow, and not just by saying hey, Joseph Smith said they did, and he would know, because he is, you know, a Prophet. This is the point, after all, of these various sorts of textual criticism, is it not?

If you don't wish to approach this sort of criticism with an open mind, interested in discovering, to the extent possible, what was meant and intended by the original authors, then why bother with it at all? Just read what Joseph Smith wrote, bear your testimony to the world that you "know" it's true, and be done with it.

Clearly Joseph Smith did not believe that Moses wrote the book of Genesis as it presently stands.

Just how clear is this? Was the belief that Moses wrote the books common in Joseph Smith's time? It's clear that Joseph Smith believed that Adam and Eve were the first humans on earth (which is wrong), and it's clear that Joseph Smith believed that Noah saved the human race from a global, catastrophic flood which killed everyone on earth who wasn't in the ark (which is wrong). How do we know that Joseph Smith didn't also believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible?

However, the mere fact that Joseph Smith did not recognize the observations first summarized in 1886 by German source critic Julius Wellhausen clearly does not mean that Joseph Smith was uninspired.

Joseph wasn't inspired enough to know that the whole Adam and Eve story is only a creation myth, and not historical fact. He wasn't inspired enough to know that Noah saving mankind from extinction in the ark was a myth. I see no basis in our historical record of Joseph Smith to believe he was any more inspired on any other Biblical topic. But I realize that all that is simply not important to apologists, whose prime directive is to defend their beliefs, at any cost.

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Sethbag:

Joseph wasn't inspired enough to know that the whole Adam and Eve story is only a creation myth, and not historical fact.

Who says it is only â??â?¦ a creation myth, and not historical fact.â?? I believe that Adam and Eve were very real, very historical characters â?? the primal parents of the human race.

He wasn't inspired enough to know that Noah saving mankind from extinction in the ark was a myth.

I also believe that Noah was a very real, very historical character; that he built an ark and thereby saved his family from a flood.

I see no basis in our historical record of Joseph Smith to believe he was any more inspired on any other Biblical topic.

I see much basis for the belief that Joseph Smith was inspired.

But I realize that all that is simply not important to apologists, whose prime directive is to defend their beliefs, at any cost.

And exactly where is this â??prime directiveâ? formalized? I, for one, never took such an oath. Nor would I. Nor do I believe that the apologetic case is so flimsy as to warrant it. Quite to the contrary.

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Sethbag,

Joseph wasn't inspired enough to know that the whole Adam and Eve story is only a creation myth, and not historical fact. He wasn't inspired enough to know that Noah saving mankind from extinction in the ark was a myth. I see no basis in our historical record of Joseph Smith to believe he was any more inspired on any other Biblical topic. But I realize that all that is simply not important to apologists, whose prime directive is to defend their beliefs, at any cost.

At least pretend to be credible! Your ridiculousness via foot stomping and gnashing of teeth is only going to further cloud your reputation as an able and objective poster. How could you even begin to support such inflamatory ridiculousness? Whining and crying isn't going to do any good, so let's skip the hyberboles and polemics and get back to the issues. Immaturity and hubris may have driven you out of the church, but it isn't going to be tolerated here. To leverage argumentum ad ignorantium to such extremes begs the qualification of your competence in critical thinking--a poor measure to bet one's salvation.

PacMan

P.S. In other words, put up or shut up. I'm excited for you to prove such "myths."

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1. As I have repeatedly noted in terms of the Book of Abraham, it is also the case with the Book of Moses that we need not suppose that Joseph Smith knew exactly what he was restoring when he received the revelation that he ultimately entitled â??The Book of Moses.â?

Ah yes, the Dude's "Rainman, calendar idiot" model of what I have termed the Accidental Prophet.

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Ah yes, the Dude's "Rainman, calendar idiot" model of what I have termed the Accidental Prophet.

Yes, we are all quite aware of your view on the topic. You're quite certain that God should give prophets revelation only in the manner you find acceptable, and preferably with several tangible items of irrefutable evidence to back up every claim of inspiration.

I can't imagine why God doesn't see things the same way you do ...

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