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Moses 1: A Technical Approach to the Elusive Speaker


Matthew J. Tandy

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For the Mods: While this topic is "for" certain people, this is only due to their being the most ardent supporters of a particular point of view, and they have requested that someone to directly address their arguments. It is my intention to do so in this thread, for the benefit of everyone and general LDS dialog.

For JeffK, Handys003, et al.: You are stalwart proponents of the view that God the Father is not personally present, nor speaking in Moses 1. Thus, I hope that you will participate in this thread.

FOR EVERYONE: The past threads on this topic have become filled with insults and personal attacks on all parties. In this thread, none will be tolerated, and I will ask the moderators to ban anyone from this thread who goes down that path and possibly to have the offending post deleted. I am looking for a scholarly approach to the topic. There will be no snide remarks, back-handed insults, fake compliments, and especially no calling into question ANYONE'S faithfulness or testimony. No matter what you may personally feel about a person or their testimony or their approach in general, this is not the place to deride them or their opinion. If you can't respect the rules of this thread, then don't participate. I was going to put this in the pundit's forum for a higher level of discussion, but have chosen to make it accessible for everyone. Don't waste it.

PURPOSE and APPROACH: While I will be coming from the angle that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost all make appearances in Moses 1, not just the Savior, the purpose of this thread is not to prove it one way or the other. The purpose is to demonstrate that both options are plausible, granting each party that both have the possibility of being true and within the realm of both LDS belief and supported by the source text, secondary sources, and logic in general. If you intend to argue that your view is the only one acceptable in the church, then do not participate. Let us all be adults and converse as such, reasoning with one another in good spirit. Also, all posters should take the approach that is asked, they MUST address a particular counter, no matter who posted it, before moving on to other topics (with everyone recognizing that sometimes we might be writing a response while others are too and the order can get mixed up).

I will begin for us: First I will address the pericope in question (Moses 1), followed by references to scriptures supporting E+Y (Elohim + Yahweh) as opposed to sole-Y. Please note that the initial analysis of the text is going to be a face-value evaluation, i.e.: if the only revelation we ever had was Moses 1, what would be the most logical conclusions? I will then address various sources references by those in support of sole-Y to demonstrate that the authoritative statements do not in fact contradict an E+Y view, while non-authoritative statements over-reached while still making important points for general doctrinal purposes.

Moses 1: Evaluating the text on a standalone basis:

1 THE words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain,

2 And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.

3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?

4 And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.

5 Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.

7 And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.

8 And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.

9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

1.a) So far only

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In the other thread,I proposed a reading in which Moses 1 was a parallel/emendation/expansion/composite of the Burning Bush/Moses' First Vision, like unto Joseph Smith's earlier accounts of his own First Vision, where only 'The Lord' is present, but then in later versions the full version is clarified along with the progression revelation and public teaching of distinct personages.

We begin in Moses 1 with the words of the Father, introducing the concept of the Only Begotten, and his authority. When the Lord later appears to Moses and gives instruction, (such as in the Exodus accounts/versions) it will be the Son.

Due to its jiving with the precedence of First Vision lore, It seemed to be received as a valid possibility by those on both sides. It allows for Divine Investiture, without needing to invoke it in this particular case. And as I said there, "If this becomes even a possibility with those who sternly believe it isn't the Father speaking, then at least they may not have to view others who understand it differently as being blind heretics who reject the prophets and are unfamiliar with their scriptures."

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I think this is a good thread, and you have marshalled the evidence admirably, Matt.

This alone may account for a certain reluctance of others to post here.

I just want to go on record as saying that I am not declaring as the "truth" that it was God the Father who spoke to Moses in Moses 1. It just seems to me that, unless we bring certain presupposition to the text, a reasonable person would walk away with no other conclusion.

[And with all respect to Nackhadlow, I think the same could be said for an interpretation that both the Father and the Son are represented in Moses 1. Would that occur to anybody from the text alone? Or would the reader have to bring to the text a presupposition based on Joseph Smith's First Vision (post 1832 accounts). :P ]

If, on the other hand, we bring to the text the presupposition that it could not have been the Father, but must have been the Son, then the conclusion would seem to be foregone; in fact, one would not even need to read the chapter at all in order to know it was the Son who addressed Moses.

In this way, one does not really need to read the scriptures to know what they say.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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[And with all respect to Nackhadlow, I think the same could be said for an interpretation that both the Father and the Son are represented in Moses 1. Would that occur to anybody from the text alone? Or would the reader have to bring to the text a presupposition based on Joseph Smith's First Vision (post 1832 accounts). :P ]

Definitely conceded. Just trying to find a possibility that could be held without one side or the other screaming Heretic!

I still hold that it's not a description of a literal historical event, is couched in language appropriate for Joseph's developing understanding, used for theological training of the early saints, and that the speaker is simply "God", a composite of Father/Son.

(Speaking of the JST being used for training purposes: I was just reading in Joseph Smith Translation Genesis 14:37-40 today, where Abraham lives the United Order, and gives all of his surplus to Bishop Melchizedek, keeper of the storehouse....written the same month when the same Law was revealed to the saints in Kirtland. What better an example for the saints to follow than Abraham!)

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I made the passing comment in the other thread that D&C 130:3 opens the door for the Father to be very involved in personal visitations, along with the Son. It may well be that the Son's role is more to intercede in situations (have to point role, so to speak), but to never replace the relationship with the Father that we are all supposed to have. Hence, I find it to be a distinct possibility that the Father is personally involved in Moses 1, while acknowledging that the principle and concept of the Son acting as proxy is also valid and does happen many times.

Also interesting to me, at least, has been John 20:17 and the emphasis of the Savior concerning the relationship of Him and us to God the Father.

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Matthew, thank you for the work you put into this analysis. It's a valuable resource for both sides of the debate. With respect to the last few sentences of your post, contrary to what you said, the GD manual's instruction on this issue does make it seem as if somebody involved in the creation of the manual thinks the YHWH-as-sole-speaker view is doctrinal, and I'm inclined to think that that just is the doctrine of the Church.

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Matthew, thank you for the work you put into this analysis. It's a valuable resource for both sides of the debate. With respect to the last few sentences of your post, contrary to what you said, the GD manual's instruction on this issue does make it seem as if somebody involved in the creation of the manual thinks the YHWH-as-sole-speaker view is doctrinal, and I'm inclined to think that that just is the doctrine of the Church.

And I'm unaware of any ex cathedra statement of the First Presidency and Twelve . . . or of a General Conference vote on the issue of whether we have one or two Divine Speakers.

USU "Just 'cause it's in a seminary manual or somesuch doesn't mean its binding doctrine" 78

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And I'm unaware of any ex cathedra statement of the First Presidency and Twelve . . . or of a General Conference vote on the issue of whether we have one or two Divine Speakers.

USU "Just 'cause it's in a seminary manual or somesuch doesn't mean its binding doctrine" 78

Makes me want to start another "what is doctrine?" thread...I think that horse still has some life in it.

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I think trying to read our modern definitions of YHWH and Elohim into the text is simply a bad case of presentism. I don't think that the text makes a significant effort to distinguish roles, and there isn't much need for it to do so for us to understand the text ..

Amen! clapping.gif

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Ben,

I appreciate your response. Sadly, I am very short on time right now and don't have the ability to respond in turn to the appropriate lengths, but let me give a few quick thoughts:

1) On the ascension, it's a minor point. I think it can be read either way and personally am indifferent. the purpose was to demonstrate that it was not the same experience as at the burning bush, but rather came later, making this at the very least his second major experience with being in the presence of divinity. I would though note that Moses says he was transfigured in this account, which from a purely modern reading indicates that he was physically there and was changes, just as Peter, James, and John were on the Mount. I think it's an interesting correlation, where both accounts have regular humans translated and taken into the presence of God. I believe that they too likely at least heard the voice of Gof the Father while in the presence of Christ. Not doctrinal, but can certainly be backed up from various latter-day apostles and such.

2) We must read Moses not as a standard Old Testament text but rather as a modern revelation on an ancient theme. Everything in Moses 1 is new and not in Genesis, so it has to be evaluated differently then minor corrections or retellings of an existing story.

3) Along the same lines, I already pointed out that there was no consistency in how YHWH and Elohim were referred to in the Old Testament. So I completely agree with you that applying present understandings in a rigid framework risks creating a false interpretation. The sole reason that I used the Elohim/YHWH terms was to signify to the moder LDS reader who I feel is talking when, not because I believe they are valid terms for identifying a specific person necessarily in ancient scripture. Otherwise I would have had to use the God/Jesus motif which gets even more confusing.

4) Regarding the comparisons to the temptation of Christ, I think they are very astute and bring up some interesting parallels and contrasts to the temptation of Moses that I hadn't really considered. I also completely agree on the Divine Council aspect, which I hinted at but felt was more than the discussion with the people involved merited. Regardless, the context of the phrasing clearly indicates that the being speaking is not referring to himself in the same breath as a third-person "mine Only Begotten". and saying to only worship the himself. It defies all logic, especially internally. In fact, building on the Divine Council concept and ascension motif, I would say the argument is even strong that we have the high God speaking at the beginning.

5) The question then is one of internal reading. Does it appear, from purely internal sources, that there is more than one divine or angelic entity present and speaking? To this then, I say it is clearly so. And if there is more than one, who are they? I suppose you could say the first speaker is YHWH and the second is an angel, but there's not really a reason to believe so. Again, if it indicates more than one divine entity, we then move on to figuring out who's who. And if it indicates only one, then which one?

As for a need to know who is talking to understand the text, I mostly agree. Certainly having a solid understanding of who's who when makes a difference to some degree on how Moses himself may have taken things. However, the message for us remains the same no matter who is speaking, which I have also repeatedly said. The whole purpose of this thread is because certain individuals were essentially calling into question the logic, intelligence, and faith of those who didn't accept that Jesus is the only one who ever has made contact directly with man after the Fall. I am attempting to demonstrate that there is at least one, if not many plausible and logical views which are supported by both scripture and prophets, thus no need to be overly dogmatic about any single one. I think your contributions contribute greatly to that purpose.

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While I will be coming from the angle that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost all make appearances in Moses 1, not just the Savior, the purpose of this thread is not to prove it one way or the other. The purpose is to demonstrate that both options are plausible, granting each party that both have the possibility of being true and within the realm of both LDS belief and supported by the source text, secondary sources, and logic in general.

Here is my first contribution towards demonstrating the opposite, that only one option is plausible within the realm of LDS doctrine, which is that only Jesus Christ makes an appearance in this chapter.....

Preparation

1. Prayerfully study the following scriptures from the Pearl of Great Price:

a. Moses 1:1

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2) We must read Moses not as a standard Old Testament text but rather as a modern revelation on an ancient theme. Everything in Moses 1 is new and not in Genesis, so it has to be evaluated differently then minor corrections or retellings of an existing story.
Only if we assume that what is in Moses is a modern kind of interpretive reading and a redactive text. These are not necessarily assumptions I would be willing to make on every point. Unless we want to abandon in this case the issue of whether or not God actually spoke to Moses and what God said to him, this is a rather risky proposition to make, don't you think?

This is why I am rather convinced that this refers to the call of Moses to go and be the god (elohim) to pharaoh and later for Aaron to go as his prophet. And in that light, this text speaks to issues which would have been far more understandable to Moses with his semitic cultural background than would be necessarily available to us.

Our other option is to simply throw the notion of historicity aside, and to say, as you do, that it is only an ancient theme, but a modern revelation. And the language wasn't really for Moses, but for modern LDS (or at least those LDS contemporary to Joseph Smith). But even if we make the language contemporary to Joseph Smith, it doesn't help us to introduce distinctions on the part of the names of God which are really only formalized more than a half century after Joseph is dead.

3) Along the same lines, I already pointed out that there was no consistency in how YHWH and Elohim were referred to in the Old Testament. So I completely agree with you that applying present understandings in a rigid framework risks creating a false interpretation. The sole reason that I used the Elohim/YHWH terms was to signify to the moder LDS reader who I feel is talking when, not because I believe they are valid terms for identifying a specific person necessarily in ancient scripture. Otherwise I would have had to use the God/Jesus motif which gets even more confusing.
But, I think that we have equally useful terms in the language of "God the Father" and any number of terms for "God the Son" which don't cause us problems because they aren't Hebrew words that are rather arbitrarily assigned as they are in LDS theology. When we are dealing with Old Testament stories, the use of these terms tends to cause confusion, not to reduce it.

Anyway, that is all. I don't really have disagreements with your other points.

And BCSPace - I am fairly confident that Talmage was wrong on this point. I am not tied to his opinion when reading the text. And I think it is somewhat inappropriate to force a reading of the canon based entirely on something which is not canonical. Talmage in particular used some of the best scholarship of his day. And we understand now that this scholarship that he used was wrong on several points which make it into his various writings. This doesn't mean that we need to reject his writings, we simply need to be aware of the fact that were he to have had the advantage of the last 80 years of scholarship, his texts would have been considerably different.

Ben M.

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And BCSPace - I am fairly confident that Talmage was wrong on this point. I am not tied to his opinion when reading the text. And I think it is somewhat inappropriate to force a reading of the canon based entirely on something which is not canonical. Talmage in particular used some of the best scholarship of his day. And we understand now that this scholarship that he used was wrong on several points which make it into his various writings. This doesn't mean that we need to reject his writings, we simply need to be aware of the fact that were he to have had the advantage of the last 80 years of scholarship, his texts would have been considerably different.

The citation from Talmage in the passage from the Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual that BC Space quoted is not Talmage's own commentary, per se; rather it is from an Appendix in Talmage's book that quotes in its entirety the June 30, 1916, Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve on the Father and the Son, wherein the principle of divine investiture of authority is taught and explained.

Incidentally, one need not go to Talmage's Articles of Faith these days to find that doctrinal exposition. As I was reminded yesterday by one of the managers in the Correlation Department, it was printed in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith manual that we studied in priesthood meeting and Relief Society a few years ago. Also, it was reprinted in the Ensign just a few years ago.

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And BCSPace - I am fairly confident that Talmage was wrong on this point. I am not tied to his opinion when reading the text. And I think it is somewhat inappropriate to force a reading of the canon based entirely on something which is not canonical. Talmage in particular used some of the best scholarship of his day. And we understand now that this scholarship that he used was wrong on several points which make it into his various writings. This doesn't mean that we need to reject his writings, we simply need to be aware of the fact that were he to have had the advantage of the last 80 years of scholarship, his texts would have been considerably different.

I have no problem that you think this way. I myself think the Church is wrong on a couple of small (hopefully) points. I simply wanted to point out that the Church itself has explicit doctrine on this matter. So the context of this discussion becomes a little more serious; those who hold to the pov that Jesus is not the only one speaking here are in direct conflict with LDS doctrine.

For sure we can't blame our teachers (not saying anyone has) for teaching Jesus only in Moses 1. A faithful teacher, no matter what scholarship they have and agree with, is going to teach it when it comes up because he/she knows what the doctrine is. For the same and similar reasons respectively (explicit doctrine and no doctrine), I can't teach a local flood or evolution (or creationism) in class even though my scholarship leads me to reject a global flood and accept evolution.

We can certainly hope that the Church will take a look at some of these issues to see if the doctrine is based on actual inspiration or scholarship or acceptance of traditional teachings. Even if it's the latter, a change in doctrine is not always going to necessary. My personal opinion on this particular issue is that the Jesus only doctrine is the likely truth of the matter since the notion of divine investiture is found elsewhere in the scriptures such as:

7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

John 14:7-10

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There's a series of interviews with the author of it on the Heavenly Ascents blog... quite interesting! (also hints that someone in-the-know confirmed that a future Joseph Smith Papers volume will include more of Book of Abraham text than previously published...)

Given the comprehensive nature of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, I think this goes without saying -- assuming, of course, that there is more of the text than has previously been published.

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Given the comprehensive nature of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, I think this goes without saying -- assuming, of course, that there is more of the text than has previously been published.

I had never never heard it brought up that there was more of the text in existence. This is a new and exciting prospect for me, as one who has loved poring over Revelations & Translations v.1, and the JST Manuscript typescripts.

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Incidentally, one need not go to Talmage's Articles of Faith these days to find that doctrinal exposition. As I was reminded yesterday by one of the managers in the Correlation Department, it was printed in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith manual that we studied in priesthood meeting and Relief Society a few years ago. Also, it was reprinted in the Ensign just a few years ago.

Here's the lesson from the manual. I can't find it reprinted in the Ensign anywhere.

Does anyone know if a "Doctrinal Exposition" is to be considered as strong as a "Doctrinal Proclamation" or "Doctrinal Declaration"?

"Exposition" sounds more like a thought exercise to me, and there would still be room for doubt or debate. In this article, it's referred to as an "extended discussion" on the subject. And from searching the Church website, it appears this is the only time the phrase "Doctrinal Exposition" is used in reference to something like this.

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Here is my first contribution towards demonstrating the opposite, that only one option is plausible within the realm of LDS doctrine, which is that only Jesus Christ makes an appearance in this chapter.....

The problem here, I think, is that you may be arguing from the conclusion.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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