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The KEP as a possible "pure language" or cipher


wenglund

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The purpose of this thread is not to debate whether the KEP were intended to be a way for the Lord to turn the people to a "pure language" (as prophesied in Zeph 3:9) and/or as a cipher, or whether the KEP did or could have viably served those purpose. These are matters for another time and place.

What I wish to do is to go ahead and grant, for the sake of argument, that the KEP were intended for those purposes and that their producers thought before-hand that they would work as intended, and go ahead here and explore why a "pure language" and/or cipher may have been useful or needed.

In short, the question of this thread is: "What value would be derived from Joseph and others producing a "pure language"/cipher?

I, personally, wish to examine this question within the larger context of the restored gospel of Christ, particularly in relation to the LDS understanding of the purpose for mortal existence. My intent is to determine what part a "pure language"/cipher may play in the necessary tension between the Tree of Knowledge and the Veil (to be explained below).

As I understand things, the ultimate purpose of the gospel is for us to become like our Heavenly Father, and this in and through the Son. We are to "be perfect" even as our Father in heaven is perfect. (Mt. 5:48)

For us to become like God requires that we gain knowledge of God and about God. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (Jn 17:3) Figuratively speaking, mankind has need to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil so as to become like one of the Gods. (Gen. 3--particularly v. 22)

God desires for us to know him and become like him, and he offers us the fruit of his tree.

However, seemingly paradoxically, when mankind is born into mortality, a veil of forgetfulness, symbolized by the veils of the temple, is placed over our minds so we cannot recall our pre-mortal existence and so we cannot see and walk with God. The veil exists so that we cannot directly know God.

In other words, while God desires that we come to know him, there is wisdom in his keeping himself "hidden" from us--and this for at least these three reasons. First, so we can walk by faith and not sight (2 Cor. 5:7 and thereby come to know him in ways transcendent to sight. Second, so as to protect the sacred and separate it from the profane (keeping what is "holy" from the "dogs" and the "pearls" from being cast before the "swine"--Mt. 7:6). And, third, to prevent the over-burdening of responsibility and mis-use of power that may come with mankind receiving more knowledge than they are able to bear at a given point in their development (metering of knowledge line-upon-line and no faster than we can run).

There exist, then, a necessary tension between God providing mankind with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and the Veil he places over our minds.

You may rightly ask: "What does the Tree of Knowledge and the Veil have to do with "pure language" and ciphers?

Well, I intentionally set the question up in a specific sequence so as to provide a hint, but I will expound on it in my next post.

Feel free to offer your own thoughts as the thread proceeds.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Wade,

The word "cipher" has essentially two meanings. One is a code or cryptic way of writing. The other is something empty, void, or meaningless. It occurs to me that while the former sort of cipher might well serve a legitimate religious function, the latter sort of cipher is in some respects the richer one.

Consider Nightlion's "Apocalrock". I would say that this rock is essentially devoid of inherent meaning. But that, in a sense, is its power. Its very emptiness of meaning is what makes it so ripe for the imputation of meaning by a spiritually effusive mind. The power of this sort of cipher is that it calls forth meaning from the mind of the supplicant. It does not simply tell us what is right; it draws rightness forth from the depths of our own spiritual resources. It provokes us to think for ourselves, and to discover "revelation" within ourselves. IMO, Joseph Smith's papyri served as this sort of cipher. They were not codes, but symbols serving to catalyze Joseph's (and perhaps his scribes') theological imagination.

This kind of cipher also seems especially appropriate as a vehicle to communicate the incomprehensible depths of God's nature. When humans speak of God, they always seem to be groping for words to concretely describe a reality that is beyond concrete description. One concept of the "pure" language is that it allows for precise, easily-understandable, common-sense communication of factual propositions. But another is that it is deeply ambiguous, symbolic, and multi-faceted, thus making it more suitable for the communication of truth that transcends mere facts or propositions. This is how I understood the spiritual gift of "tongues" as a Pentecostal. We often quoted the words of the Apostle Paul: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Significantly, Joseph Smith identified "tongues" with the pure language. I think this latter concept of "pure language" was Joseph's understanding. The grammatical rules he devised for "Egyptian" make it a language with many degrees of meaning, deep symbolic richness, and vast ambiguity. It was not a language designed for precise, mechanical translation, but one that could be translated only intuitively and with the help of revelation. It was not for clearly communicating facts about God, but for catalyzing a direct inner encounter with him.

So in some respects, I think the use of the term "cipher" for the EAG documents is quite insightful and informative. It just needs to be understood in the right sense of the word. :P

Peace,

-Chris

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Hi Chris,

You are amazing. I was going to mention the dual application of ciphers in this post, and so you set me up nicely.

In a sense, a cipher acts as a "veil"--a way of keeping knowledge from some people, and this for purposes of preserving faith, protecting the sacred, and preventing overwhelming responsibility and misuse of the power of knowledge.

Ciphers can also, as you suggest, act as a Tree of Knowledge, and provide a way of disseminating special knowledge to select people.

What you may have also gathered is that "pure language" has the same dual application. It is like a Tree of Knowledge in that it is a way of communicating special knowledge to those who know the "pure language", and like a cipher, it keeps that special knowledge from people who don't know the "pure language". So, in some respects, "pure language" and ciphers are synonymous.

Anyway, I would like to concentrate on ciphers, and explore some of the different types of ciphers that have been manifest throughout religious history--ciphers that act as both Trees of Knowledge and Veils.

The first and most pronounced cipher that I have found comes in the literal or figurative story of the confounding of the languages at the time of the tower of Babel, as told in Gen. 11. Where once the people spoke a common or "pure language", and were easily able to convey knowledge to one another, and consequently "nothing [was] restrained from them, which they have imagined to do" (v.6), God determined to "confound their alanguage, that they may not understand one another

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Hi All,

Throughout Judeo/Christian history, particularly early on, there was a rich oral tradition, where spiritual matters were often passed along by word of mouth rather than in writing. To a lesser extent, this oral tradition continues today in various religious faiths, and for LDS it is most evident in our temple ceremonies.

Religious oral traditions, or the spoken word, are like a Tree of Knowledge for disseminating special knowledge and insights into the things of Gods. They provide a way for those with ears to hear, that they may hear (Mt 13:19), and a way for the sheep to hear the shepherds voice and follow him (Jn 10:27).

They also act as a Veil-like cipher in that they may be selectively spoken to only those that are intend to hear (Christ's sheep, for example) and not to those that aren't , and what is spoken is stored in the mind where it is not accessible generally by outsiders, and is at times bound under oath of secrecy.

The same is somewhat true for written religious traditions, particularly in terms of canons of scripture. These written traditions make it possible, as with the Tree of Knowledge, for those with eyes to see, that they may see.

However, because the written word has greater outside accessibility, additional Veil-like cipher measures need be employed so as to preserve faith, protect the sacred, and avoid over-bearing responsibility and misuse of the power of spiritual knowledge.

In my next post, I will point out more specifically some of the additional Veil-like ciphers most commonly employed with written traditions, though at times applicable to oral traditions as well.

I hope you are finding this as illuminate as I do. And, please know that I value your contributions.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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One of the less obvious Veil-like cipher methods used particularly in the written word is to break complex spiritual notions into puzzle pieces and scatter them somewhat randomly throughout a lengthy and ongoing narrative (not unlike what I seem to have going here). God's revelations to his people over the ages, as recorded in holy scripture, seemingly intentionally haven't come in the form of a systematic theology where knowledge about God is layed out in a logical and coherant manner, but piecemeal, and couched in the continuing story of the Father and Son's dealings with his children.

However, because of the complexity of this kind of cipher method, it is useful to have a cipher key. In modern times, particularly with the aid of computers, keys for this kind of cipher commonly take the form of a Topical Guides, indexes, or searchable databases, where in a way the bits and pieces of the ideational puzzles are collected together under a single topic and linked to similar topics.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, a cipher key for this and other spiritual ciphers (see below), is the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which acts not only as a guide in collecting up the scattered pieces of doctrinal knowledge, but also as a light to illuminates the pearls of divinely bestowed wisdom, for those willing to pray and search and study spiritual things out in their minds.

Other cipher keys intended generally for God's people include: prophets, seers, and revelators, and duly ordain teachers, preachers, and evangelists, operating under the auspices of, and by the power and authority of, the holy priesthood.

Cipher keys intended for restricted use include Interpreters and Seer Stone and other forms of Urim and Thummim.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Yet another religious cipher is one often employed by Christ during his mortal ministry. Jesus often spoke in parables, and when asked by his disciples why he did so, "He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." (Mt 13: 10-13) In other words, parables and allegories and symbolism were intended as both a Tree of Knowledge for the initiates and a Veil-like cipher for the non-initiates.

Closely tied to the other ciphers previously mentioned, is a kind of esoteric cipher, where, in order to fully and correctly grasp certain in-depth notions about God and his gospel, which are strategically distributed throughout the scriptures and other locales, though more particularly in modern revelation, requires ostensive and experiential growth in faith. Think of it as analogous to high-level theories of physics that are incomprehensible to your average person, and the cipher key to understanding them is developmental--i.e. learning line upon line, precept upon precept, until a sufficient knowledge base and cognitive infrastructure is established so as to facilitate comprehension and synthesis.

"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."(2 Ne. 28:30)

Religiously speaking, this esoteric cipher can be a function of cultural as well as spiritual intellect. As explained in the BoM:

"great are the words of Isaiah" (3 Ne 23:1). However, "Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews." (2 Ne. 25:1). "I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews." (ibid. v. 5) "Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy." (ibid. v.4)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Hi All,

Even with the few visits to this thread, it seems evident that I am somewhat alone in my interest in pursuing this topic. And, that is understandable.

So, instead of gobbling up more space here, I will take this private and perhaps upload my findings online somewhere once I have completed my research, and maybe post a link here to it if people are interested.

Just to let you know where I am heading with this, this thread was designed to be the first of a four part series.

Part One is intended to set forth foundational religious precepts for why ciphers are needed--as metaphorically depicted in the tension between the Tree of Knowledge and the Veil. Ciphers not only function as a viable means for conveying special knowledge to special people, but also to preserve faith, protect the sacred, and prevent misuse of that special knowledge. There is, then, parallels that may be drawn between ciphers and "pure language". Most of the ciphers mentioned in Part One are those devised by God, often unbeknownst to mankind (I have been a student of the restored gospel, and the divine ciphers never fully occurred to me until last week).

Part Two is intended to consider man-made ciphers within the general historical context of Judeo-Christian faith traditions. I will be pointing out how the initial purpose of ciphers was to keep special religious knowledge sacred/secret, but later they were used for political and safety reasons. And, they were employed not only by the dominant sects, but more particularly by heretical sects and secret religious societies.

Part Three is intended to look at specific religious-historical contexts directly relevant to the KEP. In particular, I will be looking at the possible use of ciphers by 1) Abraham and those in his mileau; 2) Egyptians; and 3) Joseph Smith and others in his day.

Finally, in Part Four I intend to show how the KEP has the look and feel of a cipher or "pure language" (both in terms of acting as a Tree of Knowledge and a Veil), and why it's production may have been undertaken, and why the project may have eventually been abandoned--going beyond the seemingly obvious impracticality of it, to exploring the possibility that the need for a KEP-like cipher/"pure language" may have been negated with the onset of building temples.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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