The Garden of Eden as a Model for the Temple in Israel and Old Babylon

Book of Moses Essay #55

Moses 3:8-15

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In Essay #32, we discussed the view of Latter-day Saint scholar Donald W. Parry that the outbound journey of the Creation and the Fall is mirrored in the inbound journey of the Tabernacle, the prototype for later Israelite temples.1  The Garden of Eden can be seen as a natural “temple,” where Adam and Eve lived in God’s presence for a time. Significantly, each major feature of Eden (e.g., the river, the cherubim, the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Life) corresponds to a similar symbol in the Israelite temple (e.g., the bronze laver, the cherubim, the veil,2  the menorah3 ).

Elsewhere in the ancient Near East, Creation, garden, and temple themes were also combined, as illustrated in this famous Mari Investiture panel from Old Babylon, created in the Abrahamic era. A study of this panel can enrich our study of the temple-like description of the Garden of Eden in Moses 3, preparing us for the temple themes we will encounter in the story of the Fall (Moses 4).

Figure 2. Line-drawing of the Mari Investiture Panel.

Garden and Temple Themes in Old Babylon

This mural was found the Court of the Palms at Mari, where excavations began in 1933. It dates from about 1800 BCE, possibly during the reign of King Yahdun-Lim.4  Most scholars believe that it represents the ritual by which the king’s right to rule was renewed each year.

Al-Khalesi argues that the central scene of the mural depicts “a religious ceremony taking place inside [an inner sanctuary] as viewed through an open door.”5  He concludes that the scene in the Investiture mural is a “figurative representation of the actual architectural form of the [inner sanctuary] and the statues which were originally set up inside it.”6  Since the ritual would have been witnessed by only a few people, al-Khalesi thinks that “the purpose of the mural was to illustrate the actual act of the ceremony—a given moment” to those standing outside.7

In the exact geometric center of the panel, we see a statue representing the goddess Ishtar conferring royal insignia on the king, highlighting the prime importance of this event in the annual kingship ritual.8  Below the investiture scene, in the lower half of the mural, we see “figures holding jars from which flow four streams,” with a seedling9  growing out of the middle, recalling the streams that flowed out from underneath the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.10  In the context of the Investiture Panel, the streams could be seen as suggesting the theme of ritual washings or libations as a prelude to the renewal of kingship.11

Note that the two sides of the Investiture panel are mirror images. The sequence of movement from the more public to the most private portions of the palace complex would correspond to a stepwise movement from the outer edges of the Investiture Panel toward its sacred center.

J. R. Porter writes of how the scene depicted in the mural “strikingly recall[s] details of the Genesis description of the Garden of Eden. In particular, the mural depicts two types of tree,” one type clearly being a date palm analogue to the Tree of Life. In the symmetrical side panels at the far left and right of the mural, two men climb each of the two date palms.12 In many traditions, sacred trees are identified with a human king,13 or with the mother of a king, whether human or divine.14  Like the two figures witnessing the investiture, two other individuals near date palms raise their hands in supplication,15  suggesting a parallel between the tree and the king himself. Like the Tree of Life, the king is an “archetypal receiver and distributor of divine blessing.”16  The palm tree on the right can clearly be seen as harboring a bird.17

As an intriguing parallel to the notion of the Tree of Knowledge as the veil of the sanctuary, note that two exemplars of the second type of tree are placed in immediate proximity to the most holy place — suggesting the possibility that they represented treelike wooden posts that would have supported a veil.18  These two trees are “guarded by mythical winged animals[—the Assyrian version of the] cherubim”19  who would be responsible for “the introduction of worshippers to the presence of a god.”20

Sequence of Ritual Events

Though differing in important details, scholars of Mari are in general agreement that the areas in the ritual complex have been laid out so as to accommodate a ceremonial progression of the king and his entourage toward the innermost sanctuary.21  We will review some of the themes of the king’s journey, including

·         Creation

·         A garden with a central tree bearing sweet fruit

·         Sacrifice

·         A veil held up by a second kind of “tree”

·         Renewal of kingship.

Creation. Although we know little directly about the details of the Old Babylonian investiture ritual performed at Mari, it is certain that the fourth22  of the twelve days of the later Babylonian New Year akītu festival always included a rehearsal of the creation story, Enuma Elish (“When on high…”),23  a story whose theological roots reach back long before the painting of the Investiture Panel.24  In its broad outlines, this ritual text is an account of how Marduk achieved preeminence among the gods of the heavenly council through his victorious heavenly battles, and the subsequent creation of the earth and of mankind as a prelude to the building of Marduk’s temple in Babylon.25  The epic ends with the conferral upon Marduk of fifty sacred titles, including the higher god Ea’s own name, accompanied with the declaration: “He is indeed even as I.”26  Seen in this light, a better title for Enuma Elish might be “The Exaltation of Marduk.”27

Figure 3. Margueron’s reconstruction of the Court of the Palm with an artificial tree in the “exact center” of the open air space.

Garden with a central tree bearing sweet fruit. A tree, either real or artificial, typically took the central position in palace courtyards of the Babylonians and Assyrians,28  recalling the biblical account of the Tree of Life “in the midst” (literally “in the center”) of the Garden of Eden.29

In this attempted visual reconstruction of the Court of the Palm at Mari, the sacred date palm with its sweet fruit is placed in the exact center. A single date palm tree “often yielded more than one hundred pounds of fruit per year over a productive lifetime of one hundred years or more. Akkadian synonyms for ‘date palm’ included ‘tree of abundance’ (iṣu mašrû) and ‘tree of riches’ (iṣu rāšû)—appropriate names for the vehicle of agricultural success and richness.”30

The Investiture Panel is shown just to the right of the entry to the fore throneroom. Though the central palm no doubt dominated the courtyard symbolically and visually, the courtyard might also have been filled with potted trees and plants to create a luxurious garden.

The motif of eating sacred fruit is preserved in the Sumerian myth of Enki and Ninhursag, where Enki was cursed because he ate the carefully nurtured plants of Ninhursag, the mother-goddess.31  However, according to both early Mesopotamian and later Palestinian texts, date palms were not only a source of sweet fruit but also they sometimes were climbed to obtain access to a source of wisdom or warning that was termed “the conversation of palm trees.”32  The action of eating sweet fruit or honey from such a tree was associated in the Bible with the “opening of the eyes” and the attainment of “supernatural vision.”33  More generally in the ancient Near East, sacred trees were seen as a source of energy, grace, and power.34

Sacrifice. Following the king’s ordeal and a recital of the events of the creation, the royal party would make its advance from the gardenlike open space in the courtyard with its central palm. This is consistent with a sacrificial scene painted on the walls of the courtyard that has been “interpreted as representing the king … leading a ‘procession of several temple servants towards’ an enthroned god.”35  Texts from Mari tell us that the queen was the one who furnished sacrifices for the “Lady of the Palace,”36  presumably meaning the goddess Ishtar.

A veil held up by a second kind of “tree.” Scholars contrast the realism in the Investiture Panel depiction of the date palm to the representation of the second type of “Sacred Tree,” which seems to be “imaginary” or artificial in kind.37

As to the function of the second type of sacred tree, al-Khalesi concludes that it was “meant to symbolize a door-post.”38  From archaeological evidence, he conjectures that such posts could have provided supporting infrastructure for a partition made of “ornamented woven material.”39  This recalls the kikkisu, a woven reed partition ritually used in temples through which the Mesopotamian flood hero received divine instruction.40  Al-Khalesi cites the presence of a rectangular chink in the pavement of the inner throne room as evidence for the presence of tree-like gatepost.41  He conjectures that such posts could have provided supporting infrastructure for a partition made of “ornamented woven material.” If symmetrically placed, the gateposts would have defined a portal of about two meters in width.42  The neo-Hittite temple at ‘Ain Dara provides a parallel to such an arrangement in its screened-off podium shrine located at the far end of its main hall.43  In essence, the veil shielded the “Holy of Holies” of the Mari palace from public view, suggesting the same symbolic function as the Tree of Knowledge, which in Genesis hid the Tree of Life from view.44

Figure 4. Guardians of the gate with trees rising up immediately behind them. The central figure in the image labeled as A is the standing god.

Priests acting in the role of cherubim, shown above next to the treelike posts of the veil, would be responsible for “the introduction of worshippers to the presence of a god.”45

Figure 5. The upper register of the central portion of the Investiture Panel, showing the king being invested by the victorious Ishtar in the presence of intercessory goddesses and a divinized royal figure (at right).

Renewal of kingship. This scene seems to “depict a king being invested by the Mesopotamian fertility goddess Ishtar:46  Eve has been associated with such divine figures.”47

As one part of his initiation ceremony, the king would have touched or grasped the hand of the statue of the god of the palace. Within the innermost sacred chamber, the king raises his right hand, perhaps in an oath-related gesture.48  At the same time, his left hand receives the rod and coil that signified his worthiness for the prerogatives of his office. These two items of regalia are measurement tools used in construction, corresponding in their general function to the later symbols of the square and compass. They served as symbols of divinely authorized power.49

Conclusion

John Walton observed that “the ideology of the temple is not noticeably different in Israel than it is in the ancient Near East. The difference is in the God, not in the way the temple functions in relation to the God.”50   Of course, resemblances between authentic, revealed religion in Old Testament times and the religious beliefs and practices of other peoples do not simply imply that the Israelites got their religion from their neighbors. Rather, to believing Latter-day Saints, they provide “a kind of confirmation and vindication”51   that the Gospel was preached in the beginning and that ancient evidence of distorted fragments of truth found outside of biblical tradition may be the result of subsequent degeneration and apostasy.

 

Adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ronan J. Head. “The investiture panel at Mari and rituals of divine kingship in the ancient Near East.” Studies in the Bible and Antiquity 4 (2012): 1-42. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/sba/vol4/iss1/1/.

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Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Published in D. W. Parry, Garden, pp. 134–135. We have modified Lyon’s original drawing by moving the Tree of Life to the top of the mountain. It was originally placed slightly downhill. For the rationale for this modification, see J. M. Bradshaw, Tree of Knowledge.

Figure 2. Drawing from J. R. Porter, Guide, p. 28. With permission.

Figure 3. Image from J.-C. Margueron, Mari, p. 892. Muller, agreeing with Margeueron, accounted for the seeming discrepancy between the single palm tree of the palace and the symmetric doubling of the palm tree in the Investiture Panel by citing rotation and flattening as principles of artistic perspective in the ancient Near East (B. Muller, Aspects, pp. 135, 138). Differing from al-Khalesi, however, they applied this same principle to the statue of the goddess with the flowing vase and concluded that there was only one such statue, rather than two, and that it stood on a pedestal within room 64, facing the opening from courtyard 106 (J.-C. Margueron, Mari Métropole, pp. 508, 511 figure 499; B. Muller, Aspects, p. 138).

Providing evidence for artificial palm trees at Mari is a “stone column base… cut in imitation of palm scales,” suggesting that “columns resembling palm-tree trunks would have been quite at home here,” and the fact that the left side of the doorway into the Dagan temple seems to have been decorated with palm trunks (Harvey Weiss, cited in M. Giovino, Assyrian Sacred Tree, p. 187).

Regarding the “exact center,” see J.-C. Margueron, La Peinture: Rhythme, p. 106. Cf. B. Muller, Aspects, p. 138; J.-C. Margueron, Mari Métropole, p. 511 figure 499. Margueron qualifies this conclusion, stating that the tree was “almost in the center of the courtyard” (J.-C. Margueron, Mari, p. 892).

Figure 4. Image from M.-T. Barrelet, Peinture, p. 27 figure 11. With permission.

Figure 5. Image in J.-C. Margueron, Mari Métropole, p. 478. With permission.

Footnotes

 

1 D. W. Parry, Garden, p. 135. Cf. J. M. Lundquist, Reality; J. A. Parry et al., Temple in Heaven; T. Stordalen, Echoes, pp. 112-116, 308-309; T. D. Alexander, From Eden, pp. 20-23; G. K. Beale, Temple, pp. 66–80; G. J. Wenham, Sanctuary Symbolism; J. A. Parry et al., Temple in Heaven; R. N. Holzapfel et al., Father’s House, pp. 17–19; J. Morrow, Creation; D. R. Seely et al., Crown of Creation.

2 For more on the correspondence between the symbolism of the Tree of Knowledge and the temple veil, see J. M. Bradshaw, Tree of Knowledge. See also Essay #58.

3 In most depictions of Jewish temple architecture, the menorah is shown as being outside the veil—in contrast to the Tree of Life, which is at the holiest place in the Garden of Eden. However, Margaret Barker cites evidence that, in the first temple, a Tree of Life was symbolized within the Holy of Holies (e.g., M. Barker, Hidden, pp. 6–7; M. Barker, Christmas, pp. 85–86, 140; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 366–367). Barker concludes that the Menorah (or perhaps a second, different, representation in arboreal form?) was both removed from the temple and diminished in stature in later Jewish literature as the result of a “very ancient feud” concerning its significance (M. Barker, Older, p. 221, see pp. 221–232). Mandaean scripture describes a Tree of Life within the heavenly sanctuary as follows: “They … lifted the great veil of safety upward before him, introduced him, and showed him that Vine,” meaning the Tree of Life (M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, GL 1:1, p. 429:3–20; cf. E. S. Drower, Prayerbook, 49, pp. 45–46).

4 Long presumed to have been created in about 1760 BCE during the reign of its last independent sovereign, King Zimri-Lim, it has now been convincingly dated by Margueron to a period decades earlier, most likely during the reign of Zimri-Lim’s father, the great Yahdun-Lim (J.-C. Margueron, La Peinture et l’Histoire, p. 23). For a ritual interpretation and comparative analysis of the Mari Investiture Panel, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., Investiture Panel.

5 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 38. The ceremony may have taken place during an Babylonian New Year’s festival called the “Offerings of Ishtar” (S. Dalley, Mari and Karana, p. 134). Known in greater detail from later periods, the New Year’s festival represented the annual renewal of kingship.

6 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 38, emphasis in original.

7 Ibid., p. 61.

8 Image from J.-C. Margueron, Mari Métropole, p. 510.

9 See Alma 32:41-42. Related imagery on a seal of Gudea suggests the idea that the sprout represents the new king (J. M. Bradshaw et al., Investiture Panel, p. 30).

10 Cf. Moses 3:10, 1 Nephi 11:25.

11 A restoration of the mural revealed fish in the water. Note also that the entire mural “is surrounded by a border of running spirals, probably symbolizing water, and there is another band of dome-like motif with a knob at the top and the bottom of the mural. It is interesting to note that the latter motif is somewhat similar to the tassels which adorn the robe of Idi-ilum’s statue from Mari” (Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 38).

12 Associated in some cultures with the idea of heavenly ascent and the attainment of divine vision. See, e.g., E. A. S. Butterworth, Tree, p. 213.

13 Cf. Daniel 4:20, 22: “The tree… is thou, O king.” See also Judges 9:7-21, E. D. Clark, Cedars; T. Stordalen, Echoes, pp. 89-92, 100-101, 291; G. Widengren, King and Tree of Life, pp. 42-50.

14 N. Wyatt, Space, p. 170; cf. 1 Nephi 11:8-22, M. Barker, Joseph Smith, p. 76; M. Cazenave, Encyclopédie, p. 44; D. C. Peterson, Asherah 1998; D. C. Peterson, Asherah 2000 H. Schwartz, Tree, p. 50. See also Qur’an 19:23-26, A. a.-S. M. H. at-Tabataba’i, Al-Mizan, 6:146.

15 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, pp. 45, 54, 56; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 355-356. Al-Khalesi concludes that this supplication “was on behalf of the worshipper” (Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 15).

16 T. Stordalen, Echoes, p. 101.

17 The bird, painted in blue, “has been identified as the ‘hunter of Africa’” and “was seen over the ruins of Mari in 1951” (Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 11). Others have identified it as a dove, a symbol associated with Ishtar. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 42-43, 166, 209, 246, 473, 654.

18 This second type of tree with its prominent blossoms is identified by al-Khalesi simply as the “Sacred Tree” (Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, pp. 11, 43). Al-Khalesi notes the realism of the date palm but sees the “sacred tree” as “imaginary” in nature (ibid., p. 11). Al-Khalesi reproduces a figure of the façade wall of the Sin temple at Khorsabad where palm trees positioned immediately above identical goddesses with flowing vases flank the entrance to the ante-cella.

19 Cf. Moses 4:31.

20 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 67. Barrelet—citing texts associated with Gudea, a ruler of the city of southern city of Lagash, ca. 2144-2124 BCE—conjectures that the three composite animals symbolize the three major areas of the ritual complex where the investiture took place (M.-T. Barrelet, Peinture, p. 24).

21 Scholars agreeing on this general interpretation include Barrelet, Parrot, Margueron, Muller, and al-Khalesi. See, e.g., B. Muller, Aspects, p. 138 note 24; Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, pp. 61-65. While some of our specific conclusions and comparisons are unique to the present study, our overall interpretation follows most closely that of al-Khalesi.

22 Although the akītu festival was very often held on the New Year, particularly for national deities such as Marduk or Assur, it could be “observed at various times of the year, depending on the deity and city… As in ancient Israel, the Mesopotamians maintained two calendars—civil and religious—and as a result, it turns out that first-millennium Babylon actually held two akītus, a primary one during Nisanu 1-12 (the first civil month) and another during Tashritu 1-12 (the seventh civil month, the first religious month). The two months obviously corresponded to the vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox, underscoring the solar and, by implication, agricultural dimensions of the rituals” (K. L. Sparks, Ancient Texts, p. 166).

23 E. A. Speiser, Creation Epic.

24 Consistent with Lambert’s earlier findings, Yingling adduces internal evidence relating to the role of Marduk that Enuma Elish in its current form can be dated to no earlier than 1126–1105 BCE (E. O. Yingling, Give Me). However, speaking of the late and varied primary texts that provide ritual prescriptions for akītu rites, Sparks writes: “[O]ur image of the akītu is a composite result of dovetailing disparate sources, but the image is essentially a valid one. Scholars are also quite certain that these late copies of the akītu reflect much older ritual traditions” (K. L. Sparks, Ancient Texts, p. 167). For example, Howard Jacobson cites Sumerian elements in the introductory theogony that hearken back to the great god list An and additional echoes of the Ninurta myth Lugal-e. He also refer to what may be allusions to early Akkadian and Old Babylonian themes. A later Assyrian version of the tale finds the name of Marduk replaced by that of the god Ashur, and in Ugarit we find the motif of the battle between the storm god and the sea in the story of Ba’al and Yam (see H. Jacobson, Pseudo-Philo, pp. 167-168). See N. Wyatt, Arms for an extensive discussion and a collection of relevant texts from across the Levant that serve to set the major themes of Enuma Elish in a context stretching back to at least the third millennium BCE.

Thorkild Jacobsen reminds us of how the interpretation of the stories may change even when the stories themselves remain relatively intact (T. Jacobsen, Treasures, pp. 19-20):

It is not only that older elements disappear and are replaced with new; often the old elements are retained and exist side by side with the new; and often too, these older elements, though seemingly unchanged, have in fact come to mean something quite different, have been reinterpreted to fit into a new system of meanings. To illustrate with an example from our own Western cultural tradition, the story of Adam and Eve is retained unchanged since Old Testament times, but the [first chapters] of Genesis [have] been progressively reinterpreted by St. Paul, by St. Augustine, and by Milton (not to speak of modern theologians) so that [they have] come to carry a wealth of theological and anthropological meaning related to the essential nature of man, very different from what the story could possibly have meant in its earlier… cultural setting.

In approaching ancient Mesopotamian materials, it should be kept in mind that the older elements of culture survive, and that they may be reinterpreted over and over; for we find among these materials religious documents, myths, epics, laments, which have been handed down almost unchanged in copy after copy for as much as a thousand or fifteen hundred years, and it is often difficult to say with certainty whether a document originated in the period from which it seems to come, or whether it was in fact from earlier times.

25 Later, Marduk was granted the privilege of having his own temple built, in likeness of the temple of Ea (H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, 10, pp. 126-127). Of course, such temples were not directly built by divine hands, but rather by the king, on behalf of the gods, as one of his central duties. In return for his service and fidelity, the fruits of the victory won by the gods were transmitted to the new king, both through divine sanction for his kingship—expressed explicitly in the rituals of investiture—and also through the commission given him to build a royal palace, its function paralleling in the secular world that of the temple in the religious domain (I. J. Winter, King, p. 253).

Marduk’s life is, of course, a recapitulation of events from the story of the god Ea. It is quite possible that the version of the creation story told at Mari featured Ishtar rather than Marduk as its principal character—see S. Dalley, Esther’s Revenge, p. 148.

26 E. A. Speiser, Creation Epic, 7:140, p. 72. Philippe Talon observes (P. Talon, Enūma Eliš, p. 266):

Everything Ea… accomplished [was] later accomplished by Marduk, on a grander scale. Apsû and Mummu announce Tiamat and Kingu and they are vanquished in the same way, by magic. Ea has created his dwelling with the body of Apsû as Marduk will create the intelligible world with the body of Tiamat, the exact correspondence of the Apsû being the Ešarra. The deeds of Ea are thus a prefiguration of the great deeds of Marduk, who will receive as his last name the name of his father in Tablet VII.

Continuing his exploration of the means by which it seems possible that “something of the original Mesopotamian concept of the divine left its mark in the Western mind” (ibid., p. 277), Talon writes (ibid., p. 276):

The Chaldaean doctrine does not directly reflect Mesopotamian cosmology in itself, but is rather like an echo. Fragment 7 of the Oracles says: “Because the Father created everything in perfection and gave it to the second Intellect, whom you call the first, all of you, human race.” On which Psellus comments: “After having worked the whole creation, the first Father of the Triad gave it to the Intellect, the one that the human race, ignorant of the preeminence of the Father, calls the first God.” Psellus, being of Christian faith, is here linking the Oracle with his own doctrine and he adds: “Because in the book of Moses, the Father gives the Son the idea of the production of creatures, and the Son becomes the artisan of creation.” This agrees with the role of Marduk in the Babylonian myth if we see him as the Demiurge, the Twice-Beyond who created the universe, distinct from Aššur/ Marduk, the One from which the other gods emanate in the diagram elaborated by S. Parpola. It also agrees well with Enuma Elish, if we understand the Father as Ea and the son, the Creator, as Marduk. It is Ea who advises his son and gives him the plan, the idea, leading to his victory over Tiamat. Later, at the end of the myth, Marduk eventually assumes the name of his Father, Ea, and thus all of his powers.

27 R. J. Clifford, Creation, p. 93. Rennaker laments that “in spite of the fact that it was one of the few texts that we know was read in public each year (especially during the years of the Jewish Babylonian Exile), [Enuma Elish] hasn’t received an incredible amount of scholarly attention since… the early 1900s… When it has been examined, almost all of the scholarly focus is on Marduk, with its temple imagery being treated only secondarily” (J. Rennaker, February 24 2012).

Eaton finds it notable that “the story does not contain any death and resurrection of Marduk, nor a union with his consort” (J. H. Eaton, Kingship, p. 91). However, this does not mean that these ideas were not widespread in Old Babylonian culture. Regarding the notion of life after death in Mesopotamia, Lapinkivi writes:

[T]he widespread scholarly notion that belief in a resurrection did not exist in Mesopotamia but that all dead human souls stayed eternally in the Netherworld is contradicted by the Mesopotamian texts themselves: for instance, the kings Sulgi and Isbi-Erra ascended to heaven after death; Dumuzi died only temporarily and, according to one tradition, ascended to the highest heaven to be its gatekeeper. Ascent to heaven is the central theme in the Etana and Adapa myths. Utnapstim, the sage of the Gilgamesh Epic, was made divine and granted eternal life after the Flood. In the poem Ludlul bel nemeqi (“I will praise the lord of wisdom [i.e., Marduk]”) from the Kassite period (ca. 1595-1155 BC), the righteous sufferer pairs descent to the Netherworld with ascent to heaven, implying that both ideas were famliar to him (II 46-47): “In prosperity they speak of going up to heaven, under adversity they complain of going down to the Netherworld.” Later in the text (IV 33-36), the sufferer claims that only Marduk (the divine king) and Zarpanitu (= Ishtar of Babylon) can restore the dead to life or grant life. In short, the evidence indicates that the Mesopotamians believed humans had souls that were separate from the body because they were able to leave the body in dreams or ecstatic experiences. The soul survived after death and continued its existence in the Netherworld or in heaven.

In this context, it should be kept in mind that, while the human soul, according to the Hebrew Bible—as in Mesopotamia—generally ended up in the Netherworld, a different fate was reserved for select individuals such as Enoch and Elijah… According to Josephus’ (ca. 38-101 CE) Discourse to the Greeks concerning Hades:

“The souls of all men are confined [in the Netherworld] until a proper season, which God has determined, when he will make a resurrection of all men from the dead, … raising again those very bodies, … giving justly to those who have done well an everlasting fruition, but allotting to the lovers of wicked works eternal punishment [cf. John 5:28-29; Alma 40:11-26].”

On various forms of sacred marriage in Mesopotamia, see B. Pongratz-Leisten, Sacred Marriage; P. Lapinkivi, Sumerian.

28 S. Dalley, Mesopotamian Gardens, p. 2.

29 Moses 3:9; cf. Revelation 22:1-2; Ezekiel 47:1, where the source of these waters is respectively identified as the “throne of God” and the temple. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 167-168; J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes, pp. 69-89 for more on this motif.

30 T. Stordalen, Echoes, p. 82; cf. B. N. Porter, Date Palms, p. 134.

31 J. B. Pritchard, ANET, 197-219, p. 40.

32 B. L. Visotzky, Conversation. According to Dalley, the “tree was so important in ancient Mesopotamia that it was personified as a god, Nin-Gishzida, ‘trusty tree,’ and had the power of human speech” (S. Dalley, Mesopotamian Gardens, p. 2). Indeed, one of the most popular pieces of Old Babylonian literature was the debate between the tamarisk and the date palm, which king planted in his courtyard after a heavenly council had granted the first kingship to men at the beginning (W. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom, pp. 151-164). The shade of the tamarisk is the setting for a king’s banquet, and at Mari we are, of course, not surprised to find evidence that “the king and his entourage often ate their meals in the garden” (S. Dalley, Mesopotamian Gardens, p. 2; see depiction of such an event in M. Giovino, Assyrian Sacred Tree, figure 29).

Such traditions continued into later times. Notes Visotzky (B. L. Visotzky, Conversation, p. 212; cf. H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), p. 288):

For a period of close to five hundred years, stories from Semitic religious communities preserved (in Palestinian Aramaic, koine Greek, and rabbinic Hebrew) snatches of the conversation of palm trees. The palms speak in dreams to one another and in broad daylight to those who would transgress against them. What seems to bind the dialogues together is that in every case, the ultimate hearer is a towering religious figure.

An example of the theme of warning is illustrated in the Genesis Apocryphon, a Jewish text from Qumran where we find Abram dreaming of a cedar and a date palm, representing himself and his wife Sarai. It is only through the pleadings of the palm tree that the cedar is spared from the axes of the woodcutters (F. G. Martinez, Genesis Apocryphon, 19:14-17, p. 232). A similar theme is found in the later biography of Mani, where Elchasai the Baptist climbs a date palm and is apparently warned that he should not cut it down for wood (R. Cameron et al., CMC, pp. 11, 13.). The theme persists centuries later in the Persian Shahnama epic (A. Ferdowsi, Shahnama (1905-1925), pp. 517-519), where a talking tree rebukes Alexander the Great “for his lust of conquest and prophesies his death in a distant land” (E. Edson et al., Cosmos, p. 55, caption to Figure 29).

On the other hand, the function of the trees as a source of wisdom is shown in the Pistis Sophia, which reports that God spoke “mysteries” to Enoch “out of the Tree of Gnosis [Knowledge] and out of the Tree of Life in the paradise of Adam” (C. Schmidt, Pistis, 2:99, p. 495; G. R. S. Mead, Pistis, 2:246, p. 205).

33 See, e.g., E. A. S. Butterworth, Tree, p. 74, see also pp. 75, 78. Butterworth discusses this idea in the context of Genesis 3:6-7, 21:19; Numbers 24:3-4; 1 Samuel 14:25-29; and 2 Kings 6:17-20.

34 See the conclusions of Albenda, as cited in M. Giovino, Assyrian Sacred Tree, pp. 172-173.

35 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 63, citing a study by Moortgat.

36 Durand, cited in N. Marinatos, Minoan Harem, p. 43. Marinatos sees it as no coincidence that the women’s apartments at Mari were not far from the Throne Room suite, where the sacrificial banquet would have taken place (ibid., p. 44).

37 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, pp. 11, 43; cf. Barrelet’s “arbres fictifs” (M.-T. Barrelet, Peinture, pp. 12, 27; cf. Parrot “arbre stylisé” (A. Parrot, Palais, Peintures murales, p. 59). Giovino refutes arguments by scholars who frequently conflate this second type of sacred tree with the date palm. Among other evidence, she includes several examples where, as in the Mari Panel, both kinds of trees appear together (see, e.g., M. Giovino, Assyrian Sacred Tree, pp. 113-128 and figures 58-60).

38 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 18; cf. M.-T. Barrelet, Peinture, pp. 26-27; M. Giovino, Assyrian Sacred Tree, pp. 195-196. See also T. D. Alexander, From Eden, p. 22 n. 20.

39 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 18; cf. M.-T. Barrelet, Peinture, pp. 26-27; M. Giovino, Assyrian Sacred Tree, pp. 195-196.

40 H. W. Nibley, Lehi 1988, p. 362.

41 As evidence for one of the gateposts, al-Khalesi cites a drawing in a study by Parrot that includes a tiny rectangular chink (approximately 12 cm. wide and 25 cm. long) in the pavement at a distance of 4.80 m. from the northern wall of the room (the wall between Rooms 64 and 65). A gatepost at a similar distance from the opposite wall would have defined an opening of about 2 m. that was centered in the room. Al-Khalesi also observes that pieces of wooden beams lying on the floor that Parrot identified as part of the roofing beams of the room could have also been part of the partition structure (Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 57).

42 Ibid., p. 57.

43 J. Monson, New ‘Ain Dara Temple.

44 See Essay #58.

45 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 67. Barrelet—citing texts associated with Gudea, a ruler of the city of southern city of Lagash, ca. 2144-2124 BCE—conjectures that the three composite animals symbolize the three major areas of the ritual complex where the investiture took place (M.-T. Barrelet, Peinture, p. 24).

46 See Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, pp. 58-60 for arguments in favor of the identification of this goddess with Ishtar. Note, among other conventions, the lion under her foot. By way of contrast, the Egyptian Book of the Dead shows that “the cat who split the ished-tree and released the god also beheads the god’s mortal enemy, the Apophis serpent, beneath the same ished-tree,” its paw resting heavily on the head of the serpent in accompanying illustrations (H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), pp. 311-312). For related motifs in Jewish and Christian sources, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 266-267.

47 J. R. Porter, Guide, p. 28.

48 See S. D. Ricks, Oaths, pp. 49-50; P. Y. Hoskisson, Nīšum Oath.

49 Y. M. al-Khalesi, Palms, p. 58. Wyatt discussses these items as divine arms that relate the king’s military action to the mythic combat of the gods (N. Wyatt, Arms, p. 159): “The actual handing over of the weapons (taken by the king from the hands of the divine image?) indicates a process of direct transmission by touch, comparable to rites of laying of hands, as in investitures, and enthronement rites in which kings sit on the divine throne” (ibid., p. 160 n. 28). Based on fragmentary textual evidence, Wyatt conjectures three elements in the ritual (ibid., pp. 159-160):

Firstly, the king is escorted by the god to the throne of his father, where he presumably takes his seat. This suggests that he approaches the throne accompanied by the image of the god, perhaps holding his hand;

Secondly, he is given the “divine weapons,” which are identified as those used by the god in the mythical Chaoskampf [i.e., primeval battle between the god and the forces of chaos]. Something of their power and efficacy is evidently to be transmitted to the king;

Thirdly, he is anointed, in the first extra-biblical allusion to the anointing of a king. This most distinctive of Israelite and Judahite rites is now given a pedigree going back a millennium. This is the thus the formal inauguration of [the king’s] reign…

Differing from Wyatt in the interpretation of the “rod and ring,” Slanski concludes, from both linguistic and archaeological evidence, that the “ring” in the hand of Ishtar could well be an ancient chalk line (K. E. Slanski, Rod and Ring, pp. 47-48), symbolizing the just rulership of the king. As emblems that symbolically conjoin the acts of measurement and temple foundation-laying with the processes of cosmic creation, the Mesopotamian rod and ring can be profitably compared to temple surveying instruments in the biblical book of Ezekiel (see, e.g., D. I. Block, Ezekiel 25-48, pp. 512, 515) as well as to the analogous figures of the square and circle (or compass) (H. W. Nibley, Circle).

Note that the battle axe that hangs down from Ishtar’s left hand in the mural would have been a more fitting symbol of war. Since there is no explicit link between the Mari Investiture Panel and the text on which Wyatt bases his interpretation, Ronan J. Head and I have tentatively concluded that, just as the painting seems to depict an established rite involving the “rod and ring” that authorized the king to build a palace and establish his just rule, so there may have been an analogous ceremony to which Wyatt’s text alludes, where the god would stretch out his battle-axe to the king in preparation for war. A biblical parallel to the dichotomy between building and waging war can be found in the story of King David, who was forbidden by God from constructing a temple because of his career as a warrior. For this reason, Solomon his son, a “man of rest,” was eventually given the commission to build the earthly House of God (1 Chronicles 22:8-9).

50 J. H. Walton, Ancient, p. 129.

51 Summarizing the LDS attitude toward ancient and modern revelation of religious truths, Truman G. Madsen wrote (E. Benz, Imago Dei (1978), pp. xvi, xvii):

To say that the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness is restored is to say that something has been lost and regained — but it is not to say that everything has. The Mormon believes that after every outpouring of divine light there is a record of degeneration and loss, the signs of which he thinks he can see in every generation. But Mormons have resisted from the outset the sectarian impulse: the isolation of a text or principle and the insistence that they alone possess and practice it. Exultant at a new revelatory downpour, the Mormon sees the implication: unless the same truths, authorities, and powers can be found in prior times and places; unless there have been genuine prophets, apostles and holy men who were, for all their individual traits, in touch with divine outpourings; unless there have been saints of former as well as of latter days — unless these things are so, Mormonism is without foundation. In other words, Mormonism has no claim to be a viable religion in the present unless it has been a viable religion in the past. And this is not just a halfhearted concession that there has been sort of, or part of, or a shadow of the fulness of the Gospel. It is to say that some, at least, among the ancients had it all. It is to match the thesis that from the early (and supposedly crude) beginnings things have become better; just as often they have, instead, become worse. Spiritual anabolism and catabolism have been at work in the religious life from the beginning. …

If the outcome of hard archaeological, historical, and comparative discoveries in the past century is an embarrassment to exclusivistic readings of religion, that, to the Mormon, is a kind of confirmation and vindication. His faith assures him not only that Jesus anticipated his great predecessors (who were really successors) but that hardly a teaching or a practice is utterly distinct or peculiar or original in his earthly ministry. Jesus was not a plagiarist, unless that is the proper name for one who repeats himself. He was the original author. The gospel of Jesus Christ came with Christ in the meridian of time only because the gospel of Jesus Christ came from Christ in prior dispensations. He did not teach merely a new twist on a syncretic- Mediterranean tradition. His earthly ministry enacted what had been planned and anticipated “from before the foundations of the world,” (e.g., John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20; Alma 22:13; D&C 130:20; Moses 5:57; Abraham 1:3) and from Adam down.

Spiritual Creation

Book of Moses Essay #54

Moses 3:5-7

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

This magnificent painting by Gaetano Previati shows the heavenly hosts as part of the light that appeared at the beginning of Creation. Some ancient sources assert that the heavenly hosts — variously described as including the angels, the sons of God, and/or the souls of humanity — were part of that light.1  Wesley Williams explains:2

The pneumatikos or spiritual first Adam, born on the first day, is associated [with] the light of Genesis 1:3. The latter reading is based on a pun on the Greek word phōs, used in the [Septuagint] translation of Genesis 1:3 meaning both “light” and “man.”3  Thus, the product of God’s command, “Let there be light (phōs),” was a divine Light-Man, an anthropos enveloped within and consisting of light. This interpretation is Jewish and can be found as early as the second century BCE.

In this Essay, we will discuss the spiritual creation of the Garden of Eden and the origin of the spirits of humankind before the foundation of the world. We hope that the discussion will shed light on Moses 3:5, one of the most misunderstood verses in the Creation chapters:

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air.

“And Every Plant of the Field Before It was in the Earth”

every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. The passage beginning with this verse might be paraphrased as follows:

Before there were any troublesome weeds, before grain replaced the fruits of the Garden of Eden, before God caused the needed rain to fall, and before man was commanded to till the ground, I, God, made all things spiritually, and created the children of men in heaven. No flesh — that is no mortal beings, whether people, beasts, fish, or birds — yet dwelt on the earth.

The explanation provided in this verse forms the opening bracket to the account that ends in Moses 4:29 with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden. The emphasis on how easy their life was before they left the perfect, terrestrial world in which they had been placed highlights the fact that neither the troublesome weeds (that depend on rain) nor the life-sustaining grains (that depend upon human cultivation) would make their appearance until after the Fall, when humankind became subject to toil, grief, and death.

“For I, the Lord God, Created All Things, of Which I Have Spoken, Spiritually”

In my personal view there is no scriptural basis for the notion that allusions to “spiritual creation” in Moses 3:5 describe a separate creation of individual entities made of “spirit” corresponding to each created thing, including, e.g., rocks, plants, and the earth itself. Instead this verse describes the premortal creation of “all things” that God had spoken about in their spiritual state, including the premortal spirits of humankind and some other forms of life, the physical creation of Eden, and everything it contained. This is consistent with the view of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who “conceded that the word ‘spiritual’” in Moses 3:5 has “a dual meaning and applies to both the premortal life and the paradisiacal creation … [while emphasizing] that the ‘more pointed and important meaning’ is that of a ‘paradisiacal creation.’”4  The paradisiacal creation resulted in a world of terrestrial glory, the same glory to which the earth will be restored during the Millennium.

Everything placed in the Garden of Eden was considered “spiritual” in the sense that it was in a state of relative perfection before the Fall.5  We are told in Moses 3 that man, the trees, and the animals became “living souls” when they were formed out of the elements of the paradisiacal world.6  However, the statement that all these things were created from spiritual elements does not necessarily imply that they each possessed individual spirits. Only humans and animals are said in scripture to possess individual spirits that preexisted their physical bodies.7

Some readers see the planning process for the formation of the heavens and the earth as resulting in a “blueprint” that can be taken as constituting a sort of spiritual creation. Though advance planning doubtless took place, such a process is never referred to in scripture “spiritual creation.”

Note that the period of time mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 77:6 refers to “the seven thousand years” of the earth’s “temporal existence,” rather than to the period of its existence in a spiritual state. Thus, this seven-thousand-year period does not include the timeframe of the physical creation of the terrestrial world in which Adam and Eve lived, nor the time that led up to their Fall. Therefore, this rough description of time periods does not rule out a creation process for the earth that began billions of years ago.

Death Before the Fall

Scriptural descriptions of the Garden of Eden seem to imply that there was something different about the way “time” was perceived before and after the Fall.8  While it is logical from our perspective to speak of “beginning” phases and “last” phases of God’s work, from his eternal perspective the “works have no end, neither beginning” but are “one eternal round.” Besides this aspect of “time,” something about the “state” and “sphere”9  of the Garden of Eden was different. Lehi explained that had it not been for the Fall, “all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.”10  Some take this verse as an argument that death on earth did not occur before the Fall. However, this interpretation seems to be based on a misunderstanding.11

Differing views have been expressed by prophets and apostles with regard to the question of death before the Fall. For example, President Harold B. Lee gave the following description of the effects of Adam and Eve’s transgression on the rest of creation:12

Besides the Fall having had to do with Adam and Eve, causing a change to come over them, that change affected all human nature, all of the natural creations, all of the creation of animals, plants — all kinds of life were changed. The earth itself became subject to death. … How it took place no one can explain, and anyone who would attempt to make an explanation would be going far beyond anything the Lord has told us. But a change was wrought over the whole face of the creation, which up to that time had not been subject to death. From that time henceforth all in nature was in a state of gradual dissolution until mortal death was to come, after which there would be required a restoration in a resurrected state.

President Lee’s clear statement about the effects of the Fall is difficult to reconcile with the presence of ancient fossils that unquestionably predate man’s arrival, arranged in progressive complexity in the earth’s strata. Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve, a geologist by training, expressed the following observations in 1931:13

The oldest … rocks thus far identified in land masses reveal the fossilized remains of once living organisms, plant and animal. … These lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation. From the fossilized remains of plants and animals found in the rocks, the scientist points to a very definite order in the sequence of life embodiment, for older rocks, the earlier formations, reveal to us organisms of simplest structure only, whether of plants or animals. These primitive species were aquatic; land forms were of later development.

Those who, like President Lee, have made statements strongly expressing the view that no death existed on earth before the Fall should not be portrayed as intrinsically unsympathetic to science, but more fundamentally as resisting any views that compromise authoritatively expressed doctrines relating to the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. Likewise, scientifically-minded people of faith such as Elder Talmage are not seeking to subordinate the claims of faith to the program of science, but naturally desire to circumscribe their understanding of truth—the results of learning by “study and also by faith”14  — into “one great whole.”15

In 1910, the First Presidency affirmed that to the extent that demonstrated scientific findings can be harmonized with “divine revelation [and] good common sense,” they are accepted “with joy.”16  In this regard, Elder Lee spoke approvingly of a story recounted by Latter-day Saint scientist Harvey Fletcher about President Joseph F. Smith’s reply to questions posed to him at BYU about the topic of evolution:17

After listening patiently he replied: “Brethren, I don’t know very much about science. It has not been my privilege to study… deeply… any of the sciences, but this I do know, that God lives, and that His Son instituted this church here upon the earth for the salvation of men. Now Brethren, you have that testimony, and I’ve heard you bear it. It’s your job to try and see how these seeming difficulties can be overcome.”

“For in Heaven Created I Them, and There Was Not Yet Flesh upon the Earth”

Though some readers have seen Moses 2:26-27 as a reference to the creation of the spirits of humankind, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith commented:18

There is no account of the creation of man or other forms of life when they were created as spirits. There is just the simple statement that they were so created before the physical creation. The statements in Moses 3:5 and Genesis 2:4 are interpolations thrown into the account of the physical creation, explaining that all things were first created in the spirit existence in heaven before they were placed upon this earth.

Joseph Smith taught that there is some aspect of the spirit’s existence that was not created, although the exact nature of this eternal part of man has not been authoritatively settled.19  In the Book of Moses, the fact that all mankind existed as spirits in “heaven” before they came to earth is stated in simple terms.20  The Book of Abraham relates that when God breathed the “breath of life” into man, it meant that He took Adam’s spirit and placed it into his body.21

While little is said about the process by which the spirits (and bodies) of humankind came to be, more detail is given about social organization and preparatory events that took place in the premortal life.22  The Prophet summarized:23

The organization of the spiritual and heavenly worlds, and of spiritual and heavenly beings, was agreeable to the most perfect order and harmony: their limits and bounds were fixed irrevocably, and voluntarily subscribed to in their heavenly estate by themselves, and were by our first parents subscribed to upon the earth.

Thus, “Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all, and our glorious Mother Eve,” among the “noble and great ones” who excelled in intelligence in their premortal life, were foreordained to their mortal roles.24  Having received perfect physical bodies of a terrestrial glory, Adam and Eve were placed in a specially-prepared proving ground where, until the time of their transgression, they would live in the spiritual state that prevails in terrestrial worlds.25

 

Adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS, pp. 134–145, 198–200, 540–545.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS, pp. 134–145, 198–200, 540–545.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 222–223.

References

Barker, Margaret. An Extraordinary Gathering of Angels. London, England: MQ Publications, 2004.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/download/140123IGIL12014ReadingS.

Fossum, Jarl E. The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Intermediation and the Origin of Gnosticism. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 36. Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1985.

Godfrey, Kenneth W. “The history of intelligence in Latter-day Saint thought.” In The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God, edited by H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate, Jr., 213-35. Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1989.

Harrell, Charles R. “The development of the doctrine of preexistence, 1830-1844.” BYU Studies 28, no. 2 (1988): 1-25.

Hunter, Howard W. The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1997.

Hyde, Paul Nolan. “Intelligences.” In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow. 4 vols. Vol. 2, 692-93. New York City, NY: Macmillan, 1992. http://www.lib.byu.edu/Macmillan/. (accessed November 26).

Lee, Harold B. The Teachings of Harold B. Lee. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1996.

———. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000.

Smith, Joseph F., J. R. Winder, and A. H. Lund. “Words in Season from the First Presidency.” Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Evening News, December 17, 1910, 3.

Smith, Joseph Fielding, Jr. Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1954-1956.

Smith, Joseph, Jr., Andrew F. Ehat, and Lyndon W. Cook. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, 1980. https://rsc.byu.edu/book/words-joseph-smith. (accessed August 21, 2020).

Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.

Talmage, James E. The Articles of Faith. Salt Lake City, UT: The Deseret News, 1899. https://archive.org/details/articlesfaithas00talmgoog. (accessed September 25, 2016).

Williams, Wesley. 2005. The Shadow of God: Speculations on the Body Divine in Jewish Esoteric Tradition.  In The Black God. http://www.theblackgod.com/Shadow%20of%20God%20Short%5B1%5D.pdf. (accessed December 21, 2007).

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Rome, Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna e contemporanea . With the permission of the Ministero per I Bene e le Attività Culturali.

Footnotes

 

1 See, e.g., M. Barker, Angels, p. 29.

2 W. Williams, Shadow.

3 This pun has been described in more detail by several modern scholars. See, e.g., this concise explanation by Jarl Fossum: “G. Quispel has argued that the myth of the origination of the heavenly Man as the primordial light presupposes a pun on phōs, meaning both ‘man’ (φώς) and ‘light’ (φῶς): ‘And God said: ‘Let phōs come into being!’ And phōs came into being’ (Genesis i.3)” (J. E. Fossum, Name of God, p. 280).

4 C. R. Harrell, Preexistence, p. 20. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 135, 198–199 n. 3–9.

5 J. F. Smith, Jr., Doctrines, 1954, 1:76.

6 Moses 3:7, 9, 19. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, p. 200 n. 3–12.

7 Doctrine and Covenants 77:2. Regarding the scope of the word “creature” in this verse, including the question of whether every form of microscopic life is associated with an individual spirit or whether every particle of matter is “alive” in some sense, see ibid., p. 199 n. 3–10. Note that in Moses and Abraham the term “living creature” is reserved for animals, not plants.

8 Doctrine and Covenants 29:30–35.

9 On the likely meaning of “sphere” in this context, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 139–144.

10 2 Nephi 2:22.

11 See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 199–200 n. 3–11.

12 H. B. Lee, Teachings 2000, 23 June 1954, p. 20.

13 J. E. Talmage, Articles of Faith (1899), pp. 336.

14 Doctrine and Covenants 88:118.

15 H. W. Hunter, Teachings 1997, 30 August 1984, p. 182.

16 J. F. Smith et al., Words in Season.

17 H. B. Lee, Teachings 1996, 6 June 1953, p. 340. See also ibid..

18 J. F. Smith, Jr., Doctrines, 1954, 1:75–76.

19 See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp.540–543. See also K. W. Godfrey, Intelligence; P. N. Hyde, Intelligences.

20 Moses 3:5.

21 Abraham 5:7.

22 See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp.544–545.

23 J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 9 October 1843, p. 325. Cf. J. Smith, Jr. et al., Words, Times and Seasons 4 (15 September 1843): 331–332, p. 253.

24 Doctrine and Covenants 138:38–39; Abraham 3:22–23.

25 2 Nephi 2:23-25.

Is the Transition Between Moses 2 and 3 a Clumsy Stitch or a Skillful Shift?

Book of Moses Essay #53

Moses 3:4-5

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In this Essay, we explore what is often considered to be the opening of a “second” Creation account in Genesis and the Book of Moses (Moses 3:4–5). Modern scholars have written at length about differences between the accounts that seem to point to the joining of multiple ancient sources. However, identifying and teasing out multiple hypothetical sources behind Genesis is only one aspect of the problem of understanding this marvelous work of scripture: not only do we need to sort out the sources, we also need to know how to take in the texts — in other words, to better understand why the sources might have been put together in their current form. Below, we will describe four different perspectives on this question.

1. Seeing the Transition as a Narrative Seam Between Different Biblical Sources

Bible readers have long wondered why there are two creation narratives in Genesis — the first in Genesis 1 and the second beginning in Genesis 2. The two accounts differ in perspective, focus, vocabulary, style, and use of the divine name (i.e., God vs. Lord God). Repetitions and seeming contradictions are also apparent. These observations are long-recognized issues in biblical scholarship and can be seen as providing support for the idea that the book of Genesis was compiled from multiple, overlapping sources.1  Although scholars differ on the details of what is commonly called the Documentary Hypothesis,2  they are nearly all in agreement that the book of Genesis as we have it was put together at a much later time than Moses could have lived. Richard Friedman has been among the most successful authors to date in explaining these complex ideas to non-specialists.3

2. Seeing the Transition as Providing a Richer Conception of Creation

However, even those who find the Documentary Hypothesis compelling have good reason to admire the resulting literary product on its own terms. For example, in the case of the two Creation chapters, Friedman himself writes that in the scriptural version of Genesis we have a text “that is greater than the sum of its parts. … [T]he combination of the from-the-sky-down and the from-the-earth-up accounts produces a much richer and much more whole conception of Creation than we would have if there were only one account. Also, placing the cosmic conception first creates the impression of the wide camera view narrowing in. This feeling of narrowing in … continue[s] through the [later] stories, contributing to the rich-in-background feeling.”4

3. Seeing the Transition as a Prelude to the Story of How Evil Entered a Perfect Creation

A central point made obvious by the juxtaposition of the two Creation narratives is that, “in contrast to Mesopotamian thought, … the emergence of evil [on earth] is subsequent to Creation and not part of the creative process itself. … What the … author [of the second account] sets out to explain, using familiar mythic topoi in the manner of the sages, is how evil could be generated in a Creation declared (seven times) to be good. In this sense, therefore, one may say that the [second] narrative contains the reflection generated by the [first] Creation recital.”5  Taken together, the accounts preserved in Moses 2-4 describe the transition of Adam and Eve from a divinely established state of order and sovereignty to a world of inevitable decay and unrighteous dominion.6

4. Seeing the Transition as a Purposive Shift in a Dramatic Presentation of a Temple Text

Richard Friedman’s observation that the transition from a top-down “wide camera view” of Creation to a “narrowing in” to a detailed story of the creation given from a more personal perspective is significant to those who believe that Genesis and Moses may contain echoes of an ancient temple text.7  Though sometimes the joining of these two separate Creation accounts is seen as little more than a clumsily exposed stitch in a narrative seam, there may be more editorial subtlety and skill shown in the way they were put together than what is immediately apparent.

Hugh Nibley explained the apparent discontinuity between the two Creation accounts as a purposive shift, seeing the interlude that separates the stories in verses 3-7 as stage directions composed to accompany a drama that was part of ancient temple ritual.8  As the curtain closes on the drama’s prologue outlining the seven days of Creation, the narrator pauses to explain that all things were created spiritually prior to their natural appearance on the earth.9  Following this interlude, the curtain reopens for a change of scene in the second part of the creation drama: we are now viewing the details of the story of the creation of man not from the vantage point of heaven, but instead as it is seen from the Garden.10

Conclusion

So, which of these four perspectives is most correct? In actuality, there is no compelling reason why any of them must be rejected outright. Indeed, the genius of the introduction to the story of the Fall is that it brilliantly serves multiple purposes at the same time. Whether we experience this passage as readers or instead as participants in a temple drama, our hearts and minds are prepared by a thoughtful appreciation of these transition verses for the extensive and indispensable description of the Garden of Eden that follows in Moses 3 and for the dramatic scenes of the Fall that lie ahead in Moses 4.

 

Adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS, pp. 133–134, 153–154.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS, pp. 133–134, 153–154.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The LDS book of Enoch as the culminating story of a temple text.” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 39-73. http://www.templethemes.net/publications/140224-a-Bradshaw.pdf (accessed September 19, 2017).

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, p. 224.

Nibley, Hugh W. “Abraham’s temple drama.” In The Temple in Time and Eternity, edited by Donald W. Parry and Stephen D. Ricks, 1-42. Provo, UT: The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 1999. Reprint, Nibley, Hugh W. “Abraham’s temple drama.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 445-482. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008, p. 36.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, p. 224.

References

Blenkinsopp, Joseph. “P and J in Genesis 1:1-11:26: An alternative hypothesis.” In Fortunate the Eyes that See: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman, edited by Astrid B. Beck, Andrew H. Bartelt, Paul R. Raabe and Chris A. Franke, 1-15. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1995.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The LDS book of Enoch as the culminating story of a temple text.” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 39-73. http://www.templethemes.net/publications/140224-a-Bradshaw.pdf. (accessed September 19, 2017).

Brodie, Thomas L. Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary. Oxford, England: Oxford University Pres, 2001.

Burke, Kenneth. 1961. “The first three chapters of Genesis: Principles of governance stated narratively.” In The Bible: Modern Critical Views, edited by Harold Bloom. Bloom’s Modern Critical Views, ed. Harold Bloom, 15-19. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.

Carr, David M. The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Cassuto, Umberto. 1941. The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, 1961.

———. 1944. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Vol. 1: From Adam to Noah. Translated by Israel Abrahams. 1st English ed. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, 1998.

Faulconer, James E. “Adam and Eve—Community: Reading Genesis 2-3.” Journal of Philosophy and Scripture 1, no. 1 (Fall 2003). http://www.philosophyandscripture.org/Issue1-1/James_Faulconer/james_faulconer.html. (accessed August 10).

Friedman, Richard Elliott. The Hidden Book in the Bible. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

———, ed. Commentary on the Torah. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001.

———. The Bible with Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.

———. 1987. Who Wrote the Bible? San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. 1962, 1965, 1995. Heavenly Torah as Refracted Through the Generations. 3 in 1 vols. Translated by Gordon Tucker. New York City, NY: Continuum International, 2007.

Jackson, Kent P. The Restored Gospel and the Book of Genesis. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2001.

Kikawada, Isaac M., and Arthur Quinn. 1985. Before Abraham Was: The Unity of Genesis 1-11. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1989.

Nibley, Hugh W. “Abraham’s temple drama.” In The Temple in Time and Eternity, edited by Donald W. Parry and Stephen D. Ricks, 1-42. Provo, UT: The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 1999. Reprint, Nibley, Hugh W. “Abraham’s temple drama.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 445-482. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008.

———. 1971. “Myths and the scriptures.” In Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum and Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 1, 37-47. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

———. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

———. 1980. “Before Adam.” In Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum and Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 1, 49-85. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 1-284. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990.

Sarna, Nahum M., ed. Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

Schmid, Konrad. “Genesis in the Pentateuch.” In The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation, edited by Craig A. Evans, Joel N. Lohr and David L. Petersen. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum, Formation and interpretation of Old Testament Literature 152, eds. Christl M. Maier, Craig A. Evans and Peter W. Flint, 27-50. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/image/garden-of-eden-clawson-art-6232196?lang=eng (accessed 8 November 2020). Use for personal and noncommercial purposes authorized.

Footnotes

 

1 John Sailhamer aptly summarizes the situation when he writes (J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 5):

Genesis is characterized by both an easily discernible unity and a noticeable lack of uniformity. … The unity of the Book of Genesis… should be seen in its compositional strategy as a whole rather than in an absolutely smooth and uniform narrative. … The picture of the narratives of Genesis that emerges … is that of a carefully wrought account of Israel’s history fashioned from the narratives and genealogical tables of Israel’s own ancestral archives.

Such an idea should not be foreign to readers of the Book of Mormon, where inspired editors have explicitly revealed their weaving of separate overlapping records into the finished scriptural narrative (K. P. Jackson, Genesis, pp 58-61). In contrast to the carefully controlled prophetic redaction of the Book of Mormon, however, we do not know how much of the subsequent editing of the Old Testament may have taken place “with less inspiration and authority” (ibid., p. 63).

For a summary of Jewish sources documenting the idea that Moses used previously extant records in composing Genesis, see A. J. Heschel, Heavenly Torah, pp. 650-653.

2 Scholarly conversation on the Documentary Hypothesis and other important issues in Higher Criticism is, of course, ongoing. Although broad agreement persists on many issues, the state of research on the composition of the Pentateuch continues to evolve in important ways. In 2012, Konrad Schmid gave the following assessment (K. Schmid, Genesis, pp. 28-29):

Pentateuchal scholarship has changed dramatically in the last three decades, at least when seen in a global perspective. The confidence of earlier assumptions about the formation of the Pentateuch no longer exists, a situation that might be lamented but that also opens up new and—at least in the view of some scholars— potentially more adequate paths to understand its composition. One of the main results of the new situation is that neither traditional nor newer theories can be taken as the accepted starting point of analysis; rather, they are, at most, possible ends.

That said, there is little doubt that the basic ideas of source criticism behind the Documentary Hypothesis are here to stay. Cf. D. M. Carr, Formation, pp. 102–125.

3 R. E. Friedman, Who; R. E. Friedman, Hidden; R. E. Friedman, Sources.

4 R. E. Friedman, Commentary, p. 16; cf. T. L. Brodie, Dialogue, pp. 123-132. Apart from source considerations, arguments from literary analysis have been made to explain the seeming duplication and reversal of Creation events in Moses 3. For example, James Faulconer concludes (J. E. Faulconer, Adam and Eve, p. 3):

There may be contradictions within the text, but the more obvious those contradictions are, the less likely it is that they are contradictions that undo the text. It is too much to assume that the redaction of Genesis was a product of blindness. A considerable amount of “cut and paste” work was surely involved in the creation of the Genesis story, but unless we can come to no other reasonable conclusion, we should assume that the text is cut and pasted in this way rather than some other for a reason. Thus, it would be a mistake to think that the elements of the narrative merely contradict each other. The story we have before us is one text that calls to be read as such.

For more detailed analyses of literary arguments for the unity of the final form of the records that make up the book of Genesis, see U. Cassuto, Documentary; U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, pp. 84-94; I. M. Kikawada et al., Before Abraham.

5 J. Blenkinsopp, P and J, p. 7.

6 K. Burke, Governance, p. 17.

7 For an extensive discussion of the Book of Moses as a temple text, see J. M. Bradshaw, LDS Book of Enoch.

8 H. W. Nibley, Myths, p. 42; cf. H. W. Nibley, Drama, p. 36.

9 Genesis 2:4-5; Moses 3:4-5.

10 H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), p. 284; H. W. Nibley, Before Adam, p. 72. Bible scholar Nahum Sarna comments (N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 16): “This change in perspective is signaled by the inversion [in Genesis and Abraham (though not in Moses)] of the regular sequence “heaven and earth” in the opening sentence. The almost unique expression ‘earth and heaven’ suggests pride of place [in the account that follows] for terrestrial affairs.”

The Seventh Day

Book of Moses Essay #52

Moses 3:1-3

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

What Does It Mean to Say That God “Rested”?

In ancient Near East creation accounts, “rest” is not only the motive for undertaking Creation in the first place, but also the happy end that follows Creation as the culminating event of the triumphant victory of order and divine dominion over chaos. In the biblical account, as in ancient Near East accounts such as Enuma Elish,1  God rests (or “ceased”3 ) when His work was finished.1  When He does so, taking His place in the midst of creation and ascending to His throne, a temple made with divine hands comes into full existence as a functional sanctuary4  — a “control room of the cosmos,”5  as Walton terms it.

This current scholarly understanding of the process outlined in Genesis 1 as the organization6  of a world fit to serve as a dwelling place for God is in contrast to the now scientifically7  and theologically8  discredited traditional view that the biblical story merely describes in poetic terms the discrete steps of an ex nihilo material creation followed by a simple cessation of activity. Instead, from this updated perspective we can regard the seventh day of creation as the enthronement of God and the culmination of all prior creation events.9  True rest is finally achieved only when God rules supreme in His divine temple — and His righteous and duly-appointed king rules on earth.

The Order and Perfection of Creation

The goodness of the completed Creation is beautifully expressed in literary form through the symbolism of numbers, the heptad, representing divine perfection.10  “[T]he narrative’s seven literary units feature seven times the formula for the effectuation of the divine will and the statement of divine approval; and the six days of Creation culminate in the climactic seventh.”11  Other details of the Hebrew text highlight the same theme:12

The first sentence has seven words in Hebrew                                     7
The second sentence has fourteen words in Hebrew                     7 x 2
The account of Creation is given in 56 verses                                 7 x 8
The name of God (Elohim) appears 35 times                                  7 x 5
Earth (erets) appears 21 times                                                            7 x 3
Heavens (shamayim, raqia) appears 21 times                                  7 x 3
Good (tov) seven times                                                                             7
The seventh paragraph in Hebrew corresponds to the 7th day13        7

In order to emphasize the central focus of the chapter, the length of the description of each period of Creation grows longer as the story progresses: “The first two days are briefly recounted (with 31 and 38 words respectively). The next three days (days 3, 4, and 5) are approximately double that length (69, 69, and 57 words, respectively); and the account of the final creative day (day 6) is doubled again (149 words).”14

Were Adam and Eve Created on the Sixth or the Seventh Day?

Doctrine and Covenants 77:12 seems to imply that it was God’s work thus far, rather than the seventh day itself, that was sanctified. Additionally, the verse can be taken to say that the creation of man’s physical body took place at the beginning of the seventh day rather than the end of the sixth: “as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth.” Because the verse seems to contradict the standard interpretation of Moses 2:26-27 as being an account of the physical creation of mankind on the sixth day, some have concluded that there is either a semantic or “grammatical ambiguity” in the revelation— e.g., perhaps “finished” should be understood as “ended.”15  It is also possible that there was some error of transcription, since “early manuscript copies of section 77 have not survived.”16  Or perhaps, as Stephen Whitlock has suggested in a personal communication, the creation of humankind described in Moses 2:26–27 was considered to be something different and apart from the forming of Adam “out of the dust of the earth.”

“I, God, Blessed the Seventh Day, and Sanctified It”

The culmination of the week of divine activity is not an act of creation, but rather the blessing and sanctification of the day when Creation had ceased. Unlike the specific blessings to man and the animals given in Moses 2:22, 28, this blessing “is undefined and pertains to time itself. … God, through His creativity, has already established His sovereignty over space; the idea here is that He is sovereign over time as well.”17

To “sanctify” something is to declare it not merely good (as was done for the products of the six days of Creation) but rather to make it holy. From this perspective, Truman G. Madsen explained, “far from [it] being a day of strict injunctions, which are joyless duties imposed on duties of the prior day, the Sabbath is the reward for, the outcome of, indeed the climax of all other preparatory creations. It is not an imposed stoppage. It is what all the preparation was designed for, and therefore it has great value. It was, indeed, made for man.”18

Conclusion

In the book of Hebrews, readers are urged to enter into the “Lord’s rest.”19  Writes Catherine Thomas: “They had tarried too long in the foothills of spiritual experience. Having ‘tasted of the heavenly gift, … the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,’20  they could no longer delay resuming the climb lest they lose the promise. … The promise of entering into the “rest of the Lord” that Paul refers to repeatedly is that same promise explained in Doctrine and Covenants 88:68-69: “Therefore, sanctify yourselves… and the days will come that you shall see [God]; for he will unveil his face unto you’.”21

 

This article is adapted and updated from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS, pp. 151–153.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS, pp. 151–153.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, https://archive.org/details/150904TempleThemesInTheBookOfMoses2014UpdatedEditionSReading, pp. 204–209.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 219–220.

Madsen, Truman G. 1994. “The gospel and the Sabbath.” In Five Classics by Truman G. Madsen, 330-46. Salt Lake City, UT: Eagle Gate, 2001.

References

Alter, Robert, ed. The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary. New York City, NY: W. W. Norton, 2019.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/download/140123IGIL12014ReadingS.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. hhttps://archive.org/download/131203ImageAndLikeness2ReadingS.

Cassuto, Umberto. 1944. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Vol. 1: From Adam to Noah. Translated by Israel Abrahams. 1st English ed. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, 1998.

Cook, Lyndon W. The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Provo, UT: Seventy’s Mission Bookstore, 1981.

Dorsey, David A. The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A Commentary on Genesis-Malachi. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Hurowitz, Victor. “I Have Built You an Exalted House”: Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopotamian and Northwest Semitic Writings. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 115, ed. David J. A. Clines and Philip R. Davies. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1992.

Kahne, Marcel. “La Genèse et la symbolique de la création.” In Iduméa-Études, edited by Bruno Kahne. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 10-13. Castelnau d’Estretefonds , France: Iduméa, 2004.

Madsen, Truman G. 1994. “The gospel and the Sabbath.” In Five Classics by Truman G. Madsen, 330-46. Salt Lake City, UT: Eagle Gate, 2001.

Robinson, Stephen E., and H. Dean Garrett. A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants. 4 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2001-2005.

Sarna, Nahum M., ed. Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

Speiser, Ephraim A. “The Creation Epic (Enuma Elish).” In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard. 3rd with Supplement ed, 60-72, 501-03. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Thomas, M. Catherine. “Hebrews: To ascend the holy mount.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 479-91. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

———. Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011.

Zlotowitz, Meir, and Nosson Scherman, eds. 1977. Bereishis/Genesis: A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources 2nd ed. Two vols. ArtScroll Tanach Series, ed. Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1986.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872): Der Sabbath, 1852–1860. http://geoffreyholsclaw.net/being-the-temple-for-the-world-3b/ (accessed 1 November 2020). No known restrictions.

Footnotes

 

1 E. A. Speiser, Creation Epic, 1:75, p. 61.

2 R. Alter, Hebrew Bible, Genesis 2:3, 1:13.

3 See V. Hurowitz, I Have Built, pp. 95, 330–31.

4 J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, pp. 84, 88; J. H. Walton, Genesis 1, pp. 116-118.

5 J. H. Walton, Genesis 1, p. 115.

6 See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M8-18, p. 246.

7 J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, p. 538.

8 Ibid., Commentary Moses 2:1-f, pp. 94–95.

9 J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, pp. 72–73, 75; J. H. Walton, Genesis 1, pp. 116-117, 178-184.

10 See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Endnote 2-23, p. 129.

11 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 4.

12 M. Kahne, Symbolique. See also U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, pp. 14-15.

13 See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Endnote 2-24, p. 129.

14 D. A. Dorsey, Structure, p. 48.

15 S. E. Robinson et al., Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, 2:347.

16 L. W. Cook, Revelations, p. 312.

17 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 15.

18 T. G. Madsen, Sabbath, p. 332; cf. M. Zlotowitz et al., Bereishis, p. 82; Mark 2:27.

19 Hebrews 4:3, 10.

20 Hebrews 6:4-6.

21 M. C. Thomas, Hebrews, pp. 479-480.

Science and the Creation of Man

Book of Moses Essay #51

Moses 2:26-27

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

The beautiful copper engraving above by Noël Pisano was made from meticulous observation of one of the many prehistoric paintings in the caves of Pech-Merle, in the heart of the massif central of southern France.1  Although the cave walls and ceilings contain many images of greater sophistication, this simple tracing of a single hand is singularly arresting. Its original is solidly dated to 25,000 years ago, yet in standing to examine it in close quarters, the gap of time between oneself and the skilled artist is suddenly erased, and we are brought to admire the beauty and subtlety of his technique. To create this work, the artist had to crawl into the cavern by candlelight. After contemplating his design and choosing the ideal place for its execution, he placed his hand on the wall to serve as a stencil. To create the colored outline, he projected pigment onto the rock by blowing, perhaps with the help of a sprayer held tight in his lips.2  This well-honed technique allowed a negative of the hand, surrounded by symbols whose meaning is now is lost to us, to be preserved tens of thousands of years later as an ancient snapshot, the sole remaining memory of the life of this individual.

In another chamber, we find what is undoubtedly a family portrait. Fourteen hands of adults and children are found together here, in a deep, submerged section of the cavern now accessible only during periods of drought. The creators of such relics “almost certainly intended them to last for generations.”3  Elsewhere in the cave, visitors are moved to discover a dozen footprints of an adolescent boy drawn into this place by unknown rites, hostile forces of nature, or the mere boldness of curiosity — and preserved intact for twelve thousand years in the clay of the cavern floor.4a>

As a witness of the great effort and care sometimes made to honor the dead in this era, Hariri notes the 1955 discovery in Sungir, Russia of:5

a 30,000 year-old burial site belonging to a mammoth-hunting culture … [Among other things, i]t contained two skeletons, buried head to head. One belonged to a boy aged about twelve or thirteen, and the other to a girl of about nine or ten. The boy was covered with 5,000 ivory beads. He wore a fox-tooth hat and a belt with 250 fox teeth (at least sixty foxes had to have their teeth pulled to get that many). The girl was adorned with 5,250 ivory beads. Both children were surrounded by statuettes and various ivory objects. A skilled craftsman (or craftswoman) probably needed about forty-five minutes to prepare a single ivory bead. In other words, fashioning the 10,000 ivory beads that covered the two children, not to mention the other objects, required some 7,500 hours of delicate work, well over three years of labor by an experienced artisan!

Hugh Nibley, with his deep love of God’s creatures,6  had great sympathy for these ancient individuals and pondered long and hard about how their stories fit in with those of Adam and Eve. For a thoughtful perspective on this issue, we can do no better than to cite him directly:7

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, in his Essay on the Christian System, said that the two fatal flaws of Christianity were (1) denying spirit and mind to any other creatures but ourselves and (2) allowing life on no other world but our own. …

This … should be no concern [for us]. …

Do not begrudge existence to creatures that looked like men long, long ago, nor deny them a place in God’s affection or even a right to exaltation — for our scriptures allow them such. Nor am I overly concerned as to just when they might have lived, for their world is not our world. They have all gone away long before our people ever appeared. God assigned them their proper times and functions, as He has given me mine — a full-time job that admonishes me to remember His words to the overly eager Moses: “For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.”8

It is Adam as my own parent who concerns me. When he walks onto the stage, then and only then the play begins. He opens a book and starts calling out names. They are the sons of Adam, who also qualify as the sons of God, Adam himself being a son of God. This is the book of remembrance from which many have been blotted out.

From a similar perspective, it is significant that the Book of Mormon, as a history of those who were Nephites by lineage or “adoption,” records only incidentally the story of the Lamanites and their associates.9  So also the Book of Moses tells us very little about the history of the Cainites or of the children of Adam that were born before Cain and Abel10  who “followed Satan by choice and were disqualified as sons of God.”11  The account instead focuses on the inauguration of temple ordinances among the righteous, which began, as Nibley indicates, “when God set them apart, gave them a blessing, gave them a new name, [and] registered them in the new Book of the Generations of Adam.”12

In light of what scripture tells us, how do we account for the results of genetic studies indicating that every person who has ever lived on earth is descended from a common population of, perhaps, 10,000 founders who lived 100,000 to 150,000 years ago — long before Adam and Eve entered mortality?13  Drawing on the richer sources of scripture produced through modern revelation, Nibley raises a series of questions with an eye to finding scriptural support for surviving non-Adamic and non-Noachian lineages that might help explain such findings:

What about those people who lived before Cain and Abel?14  What about those who disappeared from sight?15  What about those who were not even warned of the Flood?16  … What about the comings and goings of Enoch’s day between the worlds?17  Who were his people … ?18  … What about the creatures we do not see around us?19  Speaking of Noah, … “the Lord said: Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come.”20  Methuselah boasted about his line as something special.21  Why special if it included the whole human race? These blessings have no meaning if all the people of the earth and all the nations are the seed of Noah and Enoch. What other line could the Messiah come through? Well, there were humans who were not invited by Enoch’s preaching.22

Nibley no doubt was wondering whether some of these shadowy peoples described in scripture might be neither descendants of Noah nor of Adam but rather distantly related contemporaries whose descendants may have mixed at various times with the Adamic lineage.23  Of relevance is the reminder by Ryan Parr that blessings promised through of descendance from patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are to be ultimately confirmed through the making and keeping of sealing ordinances and associated covenants, not by genetics, since specific “nuclear DNA finding its way from any one of these progenitors to any descendant of today is extremely unlikely from a biological perspective.”24  Happily, the promises made to the faithful posterity of the patriarchs are not about inheriting fragments of Abrahamic DNA but rather about receiving a fulness of Abrahamic blessings, assured in the end through the keeping of covenants.25  Otherwise, the doctrines that describe the possibility of adoption into the Abrahamic lineage would be meaningless.26

 

This article is adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “Science and Genesis: A personal view.” In Science and Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, and Man, edited by David H. Bailey, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, John H. Lewis, Gregory L. Smith and Michael L. Stark. Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposia 1, 135-92. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016. www.templethemes.net, pp. 140–143. https://archive.org/details/CosmosEarthAndManscienceAndMormonism1.

Further Reading

Bailey, David H., Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, John H. Lewis, Gregory L. Smith, and Michael L. Stark, eds. Science and Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, and Man. Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposia 1. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016, pp. 140–143, 446–484. https://archive.org/details/CosmosEarthAndManscienceAndMormonism1.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 139–143, 526–530.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, p. 188.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1980. “Before Adam.” In Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum and Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 1, 49-85. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 224–230.

References

500,000-Year-Old Neanderthal Viruses Found in Modern Human DNA — (Did We Interbreed?) (November 19, 2013). In The Daily Galaxy. http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/11/-500000-year-old-neanderthal-viruses-found-in-modern-human-dna-did-we-interbreed-share-a-language-ge.html. (accessed November 20, 2013).

Cahn, Isabelle, and Olivier Morel. L’art des cavernes. Toutes mes histoires de l’art. Paris, France: Éditions Courtes et Longues, 2006.

Callaway, Ewen. 2013. Ancient Humans had sex with mystery species, new DNA study shows (November 19, 2013). In Huffington Post (Science). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/19/ancient-humans-sex-mystery-species-dna_n_4302031.html. (accessed November 20, 2013).

Clottes, Jean. L’Art des Cavernes. Paris, France: Phaidon, 2008.

Collins, Francis S. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. New York City, NY: Free Press, 2006.

Félix, Thierry, and Jean-Luc Aubarbier. Préhistoire en Périgord, Quercy, Charentes et Poitou. Itinéraires et découvertes. Rennes, France: Éditions Ouest-France, 2011.

Funderburg, Lise. “The changing face of America.” National Geographic, October 2013, 80-91.

Hariri, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. New York City, NY: HarperCollins, 2015.

Interbreeding?: The relationship between modern humans and Neanderthals. In Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/genetics/ancient-dna-and-neanderthals/interbreeding. (accessed November 20, 2013).

Nibley, Hugh W. 1972. “Man’s dominion or subduing the earth.” In Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, edited by Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 13, 3-22. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

———. 1980. “Before Adam.” In Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum and Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 1, 49-85. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

———. 1986. “Return to the temple.” In Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 12, 42-90. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1992. https://mi.byu.edu/book/temple-and-cosmos/. (accessed August 21, 2020).

Parr, Ryan. “Missing the boat to ancient America… just plain missing the boat.” The FARMS Review 17, no. 1 (2005): 83-106.

Sorenson, John L. An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1985.

Teyssedou, René, Jean-Claude Fauri, and André Urien. Guide de Visite de la Grotte du Pech-Merle, Cabarets – Lot. Menton, France: Éditions du Castelet, 2009.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. a. Pisano, Noël. “Prehistoric Engravings (Unpublished broadside).” Siorac en Périgord, France, n.d. Copy in the possession of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw; b. J. Clottes,, L’Art, p. 103.

Footnotes

 

1 For a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated survey of European paleolithic art, see J. Clottes, L’Art.

2 The description of how the image was created is drawn from I. Cahn et al., L’Art, p. 16.

3 Y. N. Hariri, Sapiens, p. 100.

4 Free translation of T. Félix et al., Préhistoire, pp. 106-107, with additional details provided by R. Teyssedou et al., Guide de Visite.

5 Y. N. Hariri, Sapiens, pp. 57-58.

6 See, e.g., H. W. Nibley, Dominion.

7 H. W. Nibley, Before Adam, pp. 50, 51, 82-83.

8 Moses 1:31.

9 J. L. Sorenson, Ancient, pp. 50-56.

10 Moses 5:12, 16.

11 H. W. Nibley, Before Adam, p. 78 and Moses 7:33, 37.

12 H. W. Nibley, Return, pp. 62-63 and Moses 5:5-9. Cf. Revelation 20:12.

13 For example, F. S. Collins, Language, p. 126 writes:

Population geneticists, whose discipline involves the use of mathematical tools to reconstruct the history of populations for animals, plants, or bacteria, look at … facts about the human genome and conclude that they point to all members of our species having descended from a common set of founders, approximately 10,000 in number, who lived about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago. This information fits well with the fossil record, which in turn places the location of those founding ancestors most likely in East Africa.

Collins (ibid., pp. 125-126) draws out an implication of this finding:

At the DNA level, we are all 99.9 percent identical. That similarity applies regardless of which two individuals from around the world you choose to compare. Thus, by DNA analysis, we humans are truly part of one family. This remarkably low genetic diversity distinguishes us from most other species on the planet, where the DNA diversity is ten or sometimes even fifty times greater than our own. An alien visitor sent here to examine life forms on earth might have many interesting things to say about humankind, but most certainly he would comment on the suprisingly low level of genetic diversity within our species.

Collins is noted for his leadership of the Human Genome Project. Currently, he is director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A critic of both Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design, he is a proponent of theistic evolution or evolutionary creation, and describes himself as a “serious Christian.” The well-known atheist “Christopher Hitchens referred to Francis Collins as a ‘Great American’ and stated that Collins was one of the most devout believers he had ever met … [Hitchens said] that their friendship despite their differing opinion on religion was an example of the greatest armed truce in modern times” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Collins#Christianity [accessed January 18, 2016])

14 Moses 5:12.

15 Moses 7:21.

16 Moses 7:12, 22.

17 Moses 7:27.

18 Moses 6:41.

19 It is unclear who Nibley is referring to, unless he is talking about lines of hominids who have become extinct.

20 Moses 7:51-53.

21 Moses 8:2-3.

22 Moses 7:22.

23 J. H. Walton, Lost World of Adam and Eve, p. 185 describes such a scenario:

In some models Adam and Eve are thought of as two of the members of a small population of humans and that through the course of time as generation followed generation, their descendants spread through the population and other lines died out such that today everyone has genetic material from these two. This view attempts to place Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 among an en masse creation of humans and still retain the idea that Adam and Eve are the parents of us all. It affirms that Adam and Eve were (among) the first humans and that (through a complex process) we are all descended from Adam and Eve. Though it looks nothing like the traditional biblical interpretation, it makes similar affirmations while at the same time accommodating common descent and affirming that the history evident in the genome actually took place.

With reference to a much earlier time than the era of Adam and Eve (no later than approximately 30,000 BCE), there is a growing consensus among researchers that there was a limited amount of interbreeding between the ancestors of today’s humans and Neanderthals that led to modern humans carrying 1-4% of Neanderthal genes (Interbreeding?, Interbreeding?). The authors of one study believe they have “pinpointed the skeletal remains of the first known human- Neanderthal hybrid. … The finding came from northern Italy, where some 40,000 years ago scientists believe Neanderthals and humans lived near each other, but developed separate and distinctly different cultures” (500,000-Year-Old Neanderthal, 500,000-Year-Old Neanderthal). Other researchers “suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia” (E. Callaway, Ancient Humans).

24 R. Parr, Missing, pp. 94-97.

25 See, e.g., 4 Nephi 1:35–38.

26 Of course, the chances that someone on earth today is not already a descendant of Abraham are vanishingly slim. See L. Funderburg, Changing Face for a vivid photo essay illustrating the rapid growth of multiracial self-identification in America since it was first included in the US Census in 2000.

“Male and Female Created I Them”

Book of Moses Essay #50

Moses 2:27

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

“And I, the Lord God, caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam. … And the rib which I, the Lord God, had taken from man, made I a woman.”1  Giorgio Vasari describes the scene above by contrasting the poses of Adam and Eve: “One [is] almost dead from being imprisoned by sleep, while the other comes alive completely reawakened by the benediction of God. The brush of this most ingenious artisan reveals the true difference between sleep and awakening, as well as how stable and firm His Divine Majesty may appear when speaking in human terms.”2

Upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that the symbolism of the painting extends beyond the Creation and looks forward to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the birth of the Church that would carry out the divine commission to carry the Gospel to the world. In his analysis of the painting, Gary A. Anderson notes some details that are “highly unusual”:

Adam lies slumped around a dead tree, an odd sight for a luxuriant garden where death was, as of yet, unknown. The only way to understand this tired figure is to see him as a prefigurement of Christ, the “second Adam,” who was destined to hang on a barren piece of wood. “The sleep of [Adam],” the fourth-century theologian St. Augustine observed, “clearly stood for the death of Christ.”3  … If this is how we are to read this image of Adam, perhaps a similar interpretation holds for Eve.

To get our bearings on this we must bear in mind two facts. First, Mary as the “second Eve” is she who gives birth to Christ. Second, Mary as the “symbol of the church” is she who emerges from the rib of Christ on the Cross[, symbolized by the blood and water that issued from His side]. In this central panel of the Sistine ceiling, we see both the first and second Eve emerging from the ribs of Adam. …

Further support for this comes from the history of the chapel itself. It was built on the model of Solomon’s Temple and was dedicated on August 15, 1483, the feast day of the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin Mary in Heaven. A favored image of Mary in Christian devotional practice was Mary as the ark or tabernacle of God. Like the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, the throne upon which God almighty took his seat, Mary was the seat in which God took human form. Like the Temple itself, she housed the verum corpus or the “true body” of God.”4  Significantly, this image is the center point of the entire chapel ceiling.

Having touched on the beautiful symbology that illustrates the central roles of Eve and Mary in the plan of salvation, this Essay will now explore the crucial interrelationships of men and women — and, in turn, their relationship to the rest of Creation— through the lens of the Restored Gospel.

The Intended “Oneness” of Man and Woman in Time and Eternity

Up to the point where Adam is formed, the order of Creation is decidedly hierarchic. However, the final creative act, where a rib is separated out from the man to make the woman,5  is portrayed in a fashion that demonstrates the relationship of Adam and Eve as “equal partners.”6  President Spencer W. Kimball taught that: “The story of the rib, of course, is figurative.”7  Nahum Sarna elaborates: “The mystery of the intimacy between husband and wife and the indispensable role that the woman ideally plays in the life of man are symbolically described in terms of her creation out of his body. The rib taken from man’s side thus connotes physical union and signifies that she is his companion and partner, ever at his side.”8

Other textual clues also set this creative act apart from all the rest. For one thing, we know that the man and the woman are created in the image of God—in other words, that they are both “after his kind.”9  And, just as important, we learn that since the man and the woman are not only of the same kind, but also bone of the same bone and flesh of the same flesh, they are not to separate from one other, but are to become “one” in a perfect unity that approaches identity.10  With the creation of Adam and Eve completed, God can declare His work as being not merely “good” (as He had done on previous days of Creation11 ), but rather as “very good.”12

In verse 27, we encounter two phrases that successively juxtapose the oneness and plurality of man and woman: “created I him” and “created I them.” In light of the interplay between “him” and “them” in this verse, one strand of rabbinic tradition proposes that “man was originally created male and female in one.” Thus, in the creation of woman, this tradition suggests that “God… separated the one (female) side,”13  a view that resembles Greek traditions that tell of originally androgynous humans who were split because of their rebellion, older Egyptian texts where the male earth god (Geb) and the female heaven (Nut) were separated in the beginning of Creation,14  and Zoroastrian texts that describe the couple as having been at first “connected together and both alike.”15  However, we think it more straightforward to conclude that the three lines of this stately poetic diction in the Book of Moses are structured as they are in order to successively draw our attention to three things:

1.       to the creation of man in the Divine (“in our image, after our likeness”);

2.       to the fact that this resemblance exactly parallels the one that exists between the Father and the Son (“in mine own image,” in the image of mine Only Begotten”); and

3.       to the essential distinction of gender (“male and female”).16

With specific respect to the oneness of man and woman in Latter-day Saint teachings, Elder Erastus Snow expressed that “there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts: a man and a woman, the male and the female.”17  This statement parallels a statement in the Jewish Talmud commenting that “a man without a wife is not a man, for it is said, ‘male and female He created them … and called their name Man’18  [i.e., only together, as man and wife, is he called ‘Man’].”19

“Male and Female”: The Eternal Nature of Gender

Both men and women are created in the divine image and likeness, which for even some non-Latter-day Saint scholars has implications not only for human nature but also for the character of God.20  The 1909 and 1925 First Presidency statements commenting on the origin of man both include the assertion that: “All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.”21

Though masculine verbs and adjectives are used with God’s name (also masculine), evidence exists that the Ugaritic goddess Asherah was sometimes worshipped as a female consort to Jehovah in preexilic times.22  Allusions to a female deity are also seen by some in biblical references to Wisdom23  and in the texts of mystic Judaism referring to the Shekhinah.24 Although Jeremiah spoke out against the worship of the “queen of heaven,”25  Daniel Peterson points out that prophetic opposition to the idea does not seem to appear before the eighth century BCE.26  From his study of this verse, the eminent biblical scholar David Noel Freedman concludes: “Just as the male God is the model and image for the first man, so some divine or heavenly female figure serves as the model and likeness for the human female, the first woman.”27

Is gender an essential, primordial attribute of every human being? The First Presidency’s proclamation on the family clearly affirms that gender is an eternal aspect of the spiritual identity of each individual.28  This is consistent with Elder James E. Talmage’s 1914 statement: “Children of God have comprised male and female from the beginning. Man is man and woman is woman, fundamentally, unchangeably, eternally.”29

Bill T. Arnold further observes that the terms “male and female” used for Adam and Eve “emphasize their sexuality in a way ‘man and woman’ would not.”30  Sarna further notes:31

No … sexual differentiation is noted in regard to animals. … The next verse shows [human sexuality] to be a blessed gift of God woven into the fabric of life. As such, it cannot of itself be other than wholesome. By the same token, its abuse is treated in the Bible with particular severity. Its proper regulation is subsumed under the category of the holy, whereas sexual perversion is viewed with abhorrence as an affront to human dignity and as a desecration of the divine image of man.

“Be Fruitful, and Multiply, and Replenish the Earth”

The Hebrew phrase for “be fruitful and multiply” (peru urebu) may be a deliberate play on the “without form and void” (tohu vabohu) of v. 2: “In this case, the living creatures of God’s Creation are hereby empowered to perpetuate God’s life-giving creativity by bringing still more life into the world, by filling up and inhabiting that which was previously empty and uninhabitable.”32  “The difference between the formulation here and God’s blessing to the fish and fowl in verse 22 is subtle and meaningful. Here God directly addresses man and woman.”33

The word “replenish” can be misleading to modern English speakers. While it is often used today to mean “refill,” the Hebrew term male means simply to “fill” or “make full.” Thus, Sarna renders the command in this verse as “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth.”34  Laurence Turner observes that although keeping this commandment will not be easy in light of the pain of childbirth,35  the murderous dispositions of some men,36  the threat of famine and floods,37  and the failure of mankind to disperse and “fill the earth” as they were commanded to do,38  the book of Genesis demonstrates that “God intervenes to make sure it is obeyed, willingly or not.”39

Importantly, Roger R. Keller notes that the commandment anticipates the departure of Adam and Eve from Eden, since they “were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, not the Garden.”40

“Subdue [the Earth], and Have Dominion … Over Every Living Thing”

The commandment to “subdue” the earth conveys the idea of settlement and agriculture, as described in Moses 3:5, 15.41  In light of subsequent events in Genesis, Turner concludes:42

Although humans increasingly dominate the animal creation and eventually rule despotically (an intensification of the original command), there is an ironic sense in which animals, through the serpent, exercise an ongoing dominion over the humans (a reversal of the original command). … Also, the earth becomes increasingly difficult to dominate. It overwhelms most of humanity in the Flood, and all of humanity in death.

Elaborating on the traditional description of humankind’s “dominion,” the pseudepigraphal Cave of Treasures has God speaking the following words to Adam: “Adam, behold; I have made thee king, and priest, and prophet, and lord, and head, and governor of everything which hath been made and created; and they shall be in subjection unto thee, and they shall be thine, and I have given unto thee power over everything which I have created.”43

However, challenging common misunderstandings of what this concept means in practice, Hugh W. Nibley comments: “A favorite theme of Brigham Young was that the dominion God gives man is designed to test him, to enable him to show to himself, his fellows, and all the heavens just how he would act if entrusted with God’s own power; if he does not act in a godlike manner, he will never be entrusted with a Creation of his own, worlds without end.”44  Similarly, James E. Faulconer observes that “in ruling over the world, humans are its gods, those through whom Creation is either condemned or destroyed. In this, humans are like God: we and the world are judged through our dominion; God and the world are justified by His.”45

Nibley further observes that the word “dominion” comes from the Latin dominus (“lord”), “specifically ‘the lord of the household,’ in his capacity of generous host … [responsible as] master for the comfort and well-being of his dependents and guests.”46  According to Sarna, the word expresses:

the coercive power of the monarch, consonant with the explanation just given for “the image of God.” This power, however, cannot include the license to exploit nature banefully, for the following reasons: the human race is not inherently sovereign, but enjoys its dominion solely by the grace of God. Furthermore, the model of kingship here presupposed is Israelite, according to which … the limits of [the rule of the monarch] are carefully defined and circumscribed by divine law, so that kingship is to be exercised with responsibility and is subject to accountability. Moreover, man, the sovereign of nature, is conceived at this stage to be functioning within the context of a “very good” world in which the interrelationships of organisms with their environment and with each other are entirely harmonious and mutually beneficial, an idyllic situation that is clearly illustrated in Isaiah’s vision of the ideal future king.47  Thus, despite the power given him, man still requires special divine sanction to partake of the earth’s vegetation, and although he “rules” the animal world, he is not here permitted to eat flesh.48

To have “dominion” in the priesthood sense means to have responsibility,49  specifically as God’s representative on earth.50  As Nibley succinctly puts it: “Man’s dominion is a call to service, not a license to exterminate.”51

Conclusion

The effects of the inception of light and its division from darkness “in the beginning” cascade through the remaining days of Creation as each episode recounts the successive generation of new and finer-grained distinctions that define created elements through the principle of separation.52  Indeed, the process of division and separation began even before the Creation, when those who kept their first estate were separated from those who did not.53  Moreover, the theme continues after the ending of the Creation account, as the focus of the narrative moves from the actions of God to those of Adam and Eve. Exercising the agency that has been granted them, they partake of the forbidden fruit, and are cast out of the Garden, experiencing an immediate separation from the presence of God and, eventually, a separation of body and spirit at death.

Explaining that the principles of division and separation that drive the dynamics of Creation are not meant to govern the relationship of husband and wife, God declared “that it was not good that man should be alone.”54  Indeed, as Catherine Thomas observes, a primary objective of mortality seems to have been precisely “to foster the conditions in which the man and the woman may achieve interdependence,” thus affording each individual an opportunity to rise to “the challenge of not only perfecting ourselves individually but also perfecting ourselves in relationships. .… Relationships were given to us to develop us in love.”55

That the opportunity to perfect ourselves in relationships necessarily extends beyond our family circle is witnessed by this statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith:56

Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing of his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.

And, going further, should not our love of all God’s children be further enlarged to encompass “all creatures of our God and King.”?57

 

This article is adapted and updated from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net, pp. 87, 89, 114–117, 127, 180–182.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 87, 89, 114–117, 127, 180–182.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 211–217.

Hafen, Bruce C., and Marie K. Hafen. “Crossing thresholds and becoming equal partners.” Ensign 37, August 2007, 24-29.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1972. “Man’s dominion or subduing the earth.” In Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, edited by Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 13, 3-22. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1980. “Patriarchy and matriarchy.” In Old Testament and Related Studies, edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum and Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 1, 87-113. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 224–230.

References

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Augustine. ca. 410. “The City of God.” In Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, edited by Philip Schaff. 14 vols. Vol. 2, 1-511. New York City, NY: The Christian Literature Company, 1887. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994.

Barker, Margaret. Where shall wisdom be found? In Russian Orthodox Church: Representation to the European Institutions. http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/7.aspx. (accessed December 24, 2007).

———. The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Which God Gave to Him to Show to His Servants What Must Soon Take Place (Revelation 1.1). Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 2000.

———. “Wisdom, the Queen of Heaven.” In The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy, edited by Margaret Barker, 229-61. London, England: T & T Clark, 2003.

———. Temple Theology. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 2004.

———. Christmas: The Original Story. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2008.

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Blech, Benjamin, and Roy Doliner. The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican. New York City, NY: HarperOne, 2008.

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Cannon, Elaine Anderson. “Mother in Heaven.” In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow. 4 vols. Vol. 2, 961. New York City, NY: Macmillan, 1992.

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Christensen, Kevin, and Shauna Christensen. “Nephite Feminism Revisited: Thoughts on Carol Lynn Pearson’s View of Women in the Book of Mormon.” FARMS Review of Books 10, no. 1 (1998): 9-61. http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/pdf.php?filename=MjQ3Njk2NDg3LTEwLTIucGRm&type=cmV2aWV3. (accessed December 24).

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De Vecchi, Pierluigi, and Gianluigi Colalucci. Michelangelo: The Vatican Frescoes. Translated by David Stanton and Andrew Ellis. New York City, NY: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1996.

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Faulconer, James E. “Adam and Eve—Community: Reading Genesis 2-3.” Journal of Philosophy and Scripture 1, no. 1 (Fall 2003). http://www.philosophyandscripture.org/Issue1-1/James_Faulconer/james_faulconer.html. (accessed August 10).

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Nibley, Hugh W. 1972. “Man’s dominion or subduing the earth.” In Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, edited by Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 13, 3-22. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

———. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004.

———. 1988. “The meaning of the atonement.” In Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9, 554-614. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989.

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Sarna, Nahum M., ed. Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

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Seaich, John Eugene. Ancient Texts and Mormonism: Discovering the Roots of the Eternal Gospel in Ancient Israel and the Primitive Church. 2nd Revised and Enlarged ed. Salt Lake City, UT: n. p., 1995.

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Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1840. Letter, Hancock County, Illinois, to the Quorum of the Twelve, England, 15 December 1840. In The Joseph Smith Papers. https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-quorum-of-the-twelve-15-december-1840/. (accessed September 28, 2020).

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Snow, Erastus. 1878. “There is a God; communion with Him an inherent craving of the human heart; man in his image; male and female created he them; spirit and flesh; mortal and immortal (Discourse delivered in the meetinghouse, Beaver City, Beaver county, Utah, on Sunday Morning, 3 March 1878).” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 19, 266-79. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966.

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Talmage, James E. “The eternity of sex.” Young Woman’s Journal 25, October 1914, 600-04. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/YWJ/id/17248/rec/25. (accessed 27 September 2020).

Thomas, M. Catherine. “Women, priesthood, and the at-one-ment.” In Spiritual Lightening: How the Power of the Gospel Can Enlighten Minds and Lighten Burdens, edited by M. Catherine Thomas, 47-58. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1996.

Turner, Laurence. Announcements of Plot in Genesis. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 96, ed. David J. A. Clines and Philip R. Davies. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1990. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/14343346.pdf. (accessed July 28, 2017).

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Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Public domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo,_Creation_of_Eve_00.jpg (accessed September 7, 2020).

Footnotes

 

1 Moses 3:21-22.

2 P. De Vecchi et al., Michelangelo, p. 151.

3 See Augustine, City, 22:17, p. 496.

4 G. A. Anderson, Perfection, pp. 5–8.

5 Moses 3:21-22.

6 G. B. Hinckley et al., The family: A proclamation to the world. Proclamation of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve presented at the General Relief Society Meeting, September 23, 1995. Cf. S. W. Kimball, Teachings (1982), 26 February 1977, p. 315. Compare B. Blech et al., Secrets, p. 202.

7 S. W. Kimball, Blessings, p. 71.

8 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 22.

9 Moses 2:26-27.

10 Moses 3:23-24. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 2:27-a, p. 115; J. R. Holland, Souls, pp. 17-18. Compare H. W. Nibley, Atonement, p. 568; M. Zlotowitz et al., Bereishis, p. 111.

11 Moses 2:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25.

12 Moses 2:31.

13 A. Cohen, Chumash, Genesis 2:21, p. 11. See J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 1, 8:1, p. 73. See W. A. Meeks, Androgyne, p. 185 for relevant discussion, including evidence that rabbis had access to a version of the Septuagint with the reading: “male and female created I him.”

14 Plato, Symposium, 189d-190a, pp. 85-87; H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, 7, pp. 88-89.

15 F. M. Müller, Bundahis, 15:2, p. 53. See references to related concepts in additional cultures in J. E. Seaich, Ancient Texts 1995, pp. 916-918.

16 Cf. U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, pp. 57-58. See D. N. Freedman, Humanity, p. 23; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 2:27-b, p. 115.

17 E. Snow, ES 3 March 1878, p. 270.

18 See Moses 6:10.

19 Yevamos 63a, cited in M. Zlotowitz et al., Bereishis, p. 167; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:11. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Endnote 2-19, p. 128.

20 See, e.g., R. E. Friedman, Commentary, pp. 16-17.

21 H. J. Grant et al., Evolution, p. 244; J. F. Smith et al., Origin, p. 203. Additional information relating to the Latter-day Saint concept of a “Mother in Heaven” can be found in K. L. Barney, Mother in Heaven; E. A. Cannon, Mother in Heaven; J. M. Derr et al., Relief Society, pp. 57-58, 449 nn. 129, 131; G. B. Hinckley, Daughters; D. L. Paulsen, Are Christians Mormon, pp. 96-107. Compare M. Barker, Christmas, pp. 39-44.

22 D. C. Peterson, Asherah 1998, pp. 202-209. See also e.g., Deuteronomy 16:21; 1 Kings 14:15, 23; 2 Kings 17:15-16.

23 Ḥokhmah in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek—see, e.g., Proverbs 8:1-31.

24 See, e.g., H. Schwartz, Tree, pp. 45-59.

25 Jeremiah 44:17ff.

26 D. C. Peterson, Asherah 1998, p. 201. See also M. Barker, Wisdom; M. Barker, Revelation, pp. 204-206; M. Barker, Queen; M. Barker, Temple Theology, pp. 75-93; D. N. Freedman, Humanity, pp. 22-25 (cited in J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Moses 2 Gleanings, pp. 122-123). For a discussion of related themes in the Book of Mormon, see K. Christensen et al., Nephite Feminism. For a brief summary of the role of female deities in Israelite worship, see, e.g., W. J. Hamblin et al., Solomon’s Temple, pp. 60-63.

27 D. N. Freedman, Humanity, p. 24. Some rabbinical sources see the female figure of Wisdom as assisting God in Creation, while others argue vehemently that God had no help of any kind (J. L. Kugel, Instances, pp. 160-162).

28 G. B. Hinckley et al., The family: A proclamation to the world. Proclamation of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve presented at the General Relief Society Meeting, September 23, 1995.

29 J. E. Talmage, Eternity of Sex, p. 602.

30 B. T. Arnold, Genesis, p. 35.

31 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 13. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 2:26-b, p. 112, 3:23-c, p. 183.

32 B. T. Arnold, Genesis 2009, p. 42.

33 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 13.

34 Ibid., p. 13.

35 See Moses 4:22.

36 See Moses 5:31-32, 47; 6:15; 8:18.

37 See Moses 8:4, 30.

38 See Genesis 11:1-9.

39 L. Turner, Announcements, p. 49.

40 R. R. Keller, Teaching, p. 103. Cf. D. H. Oaks, Plan, p. 73; 2 Nephi 2:23.

41 V. P. Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, p. 140. Cf. Doctrine and Covenants 26:1. On dominion, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 2:26-d, p. 114.

42 L. Turner, Announcements, pp. 48-49.

43 E. A. W. Budge, Cave, p. 53.

44 H. W. Nibley, Dominion, p. 10.

45 J. E. Faulconer, Adam and Eve, 7. For collections of statements from secular and religious sources on man’s stewardship for animals and for the earth, see G. E. Jones, Animals; R. D. Stratton, Kindness.

46 H. W. Nibley, Dominion, p. 7.

47 Isaiah 11:1-9.

48 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, pp. 12-13. See Moses 2:29-30; cf. Genesis 9:3-4.

49 J. F. Smith, Jr., Way 1935, p. 221.

50 G. J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, pp. 30-31; Hirsch, cited in M. Zlotowitz et al., Bereishis, p. 70.

51 H. W. Nibley, Dominion, p. 18; cf. T. L. Brodie, Dialogue, p. 136.

52 See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 85-87, 127 n. 2-15.

53 Abraham 3:26-28.

54 Moses 3:18.

55 M. C. Thomas, Women, pp. 54, 55, 56. Elder Bruce C. Hafen also discusses the importance of husbands and wives becoming interdependent, equal partners in marriage, as contrasted with the ideas of independence or dependence. See B. C. Hafen, Covenant, p. 174; B. C. Hafen et al., Crossing, p. 26.

56 J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 15 December 1840, p. 174. Cf. J. Smith, Jr., Letter to the Twelve, 15 December 1840, p. [2].

57 Hymns (1985), Hymns (1985), #62.

“Let Us Make Man in Our Image, After Our Likeness”

Book of Moses #49

Moses 2:26

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In this Essay, we will discuss the Moses 2 account of the creation of Adam and Eve. We will focus on the interpretation of two difficult phrases in verse 26: “let us make man” and “in our image, after our likeness.” We will show how the Book of Moses and the teachings of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ shed light on the longstanding scholarly controversies about these verses. First, a digression on the most famous painting of the creation of Adam.

Of Michelangelo’s immortal depiction, De Vecchi eloquently writes:1

Perhaps the best-known of the scenes in the Sistine Chapel, The Creation of Adam must also have aroused particular admiration among the artist’s contemporaries, who discerned in it the materialization of one of the highest ideals of Renaissance culture: the ‘dignity’ of man, created by God ‘in his own image.’ … [The] exaltation of the spiritual faculties of man was never separated from that of the beauty of the human body, ‘the mirror of God’ and the culmination of the Creation. …

Vasari describes Adam as ‘a figure whose beauty, pose, and contours are of such a quality that he seems newly created by his Supreme and First Creator rather [than] by the brush and design of a mere mortal.’ Seen against an indistinct natural background that is only just hinted at, as if it were the dawn of the world, the youthful, athletic figure reclining on a grassy slope, almost on the edge of an abyss, seems as if he is about to rise from the ground. He holds out his arm toward that of the Lord, who, borne aloft amidst a flight of angels [or the premortal spirits of humanity2 ], stands out brightly against the shell of shadow of his huge purple mantle. The remarkable invention of the outstretched arm and the forefingers about to meet becomes a metaphor for the vital energy that passes from the Creator to the creature fashioned in his image, awakening his heroic vigor. … [Adam’s] adolescent face, seen in profile, still lacking a definite expression, contrasts with the mature, intensely energetic one of the Lord, with his gray hair and long beard streaming in the air.”

Although Adam and the Father are the central figures of this panel, much attention has been given to the beautiful and enigmatic female figure who is intently regarding the creation of the first man while wrapped in the loving embrace of God’s left arm. Her identity has variously been given as the immortal Sophia (Wisdom),3  or as the premortal Eve. Relying on the analysis of the structure of the three Sistine Chapel Adam and Eve panels by art historian Leo Steinberg,4  Gary A. Anderson observes:5

Just to the right of Eve sits an infant who is also held by God the Father, though this time with just the thumb and index finger. The extension of his fingers corresponds exactly to the way a priest would grasp the Eucharistic wafer. In other words, this child is Mary’s boy, the Christ child. Strikingly, he is the only figure on the entire ceiling who looks directly down into the gaze of the viewer. And so our question as we ponder the women in these three panels: Are they Eve, the first woman and spouse of Adam, or Mary, the Mother of Jesus and symbol of the Church? Or perhaps more accurately, are these women in truth both Eve and Mary?

Anderson concludes that just as Christ is portrayed in scripture as the second Adam,6  Mary is being depicted here as the second Eve.

A final note about the fresco from the historian of sacred art, Marko Ivan Rupnik:7

When, in 1512, Michelangelo finally completed the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, one of the best known paintings of all time, the cardinals supervising the work admired the magnificent fresco for several hours. Afterward, they wanted to meet the master, Michelangelo. They reproached him, saying: Do it over again!

Their dissatisfaction, of course, was not for the work as a whole, but for a seemingly unimportant detail. Michelangelo had drawn the panel of the creation of man with the fingers of God and Adam touching each other. The cardinals said that the fingers should not touch. Indeed, they required not only that the fingers be separated, but also that the finger of God would be fully extended, while the last joint of the finger of Adam would bend back.

A simple detail but with a surprising meaning: God is always there, but it is man who must decide to search for him. If he so desire, he can reach out and touch the finger of God, but otherwise he can spend his whole life without searching. Thus, the last joint of Adam’s contracted finger represents free will.

Figure 2. The Fingers of God and Adam

“Let Us Make Man”

Readers may wonder whether the reference is only to Adam or to both Adam and Eve. The term, “man” (Hebrew ‘adam), as it is used in this context, is meant to encompass both man and woman, as shown in verses 27–28 and Moses 6:9, “where it is construed with plural verbs and terminations.”8  By way of contrast, the use of the Hebrew term ‘ish to mean “man” in the everyday sense is eventually introduced only after the woman (‘ishah) is created. President Spencer W. Kimball further explained that man, as used here, was not meant to describe “a separate man, but a complete man, which is husband and wife.”9

With respect to the “us” in the phrase, the Book of Moses, unlike Genesis, explicitly identifies the other participant in the discussion as God’s “Only Begotten.”10

Notably, both other instances of the use of this plural formula in Genesis involve important decisions about the fate of humanity: the expulsion from Eden11  and the dispersal after the destruction of Babel.12  Despite the fact that Joshua Seixas’ Hebrew Grammar, which Joseph Smith studied in Kirtland, describes the Hebrew equivalent of the English “Elohim” as a singular noun with a plural form,13  the Prophet came to interpret the term as a plural.14

The plural form of this expression has long been an interpretive problem for commentators that look at the Old Testament through the lens of strict monotheism. The phrase is often explained by way of analogy to “the royal we” used by a king or queen in self-reference, however this does not explain why it occurs only in the early chapters of Genesis and nowhere else.15  Moreover, the point of the verse at hand is to show “the unique correspondence between God and man, not the majesty of God.”16

A view consistent with Latter-day Saint scripture17  is to imagine the setting for the verse as God addressing not only the premortal Jesus Christ but, in addition, a heavenly council.18  It is significant, observes Faulconer, that: “Human creation is not a simple act of God’s fiat; rather, creation is a subject of consideration and discussion. … God creates humanity in response to others, rather than as a mere act of self-will. Even in the beginning there is already relation: there is no absolute beginning, not even in the beginning.”19

Describing this scene, the Prophet stated: “The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world.”20  Friedman likewise writes: “In pagan myth, the chief god, when formally speaking for the council of the gods, speaks in the plural.”21  Since, for most Christian and Jewish commentators, the idea of a plurality of gods is unacceptable, a court of angels is often imagined in place of a polytheistic council — though one is forced to admit that the concept of many gods is hinted at elsewhere in the Old Testament.22  Further describing the composition of a council of gods, Margaret Barker argues that the ancient religion of Israel, prior to alterations by reforming Deuteronomists, clearly distinguished between the “Most High God” and several Sons of God, the chief of which was Yahweh (Jehovah).23  She marshals evidence to show that the early Jewish converts to Christianity who retained shreds of the ancient belief naturally saw Jesus Christ as the bodily manifestation of Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel.24

The abrupt change of style between the description of the creation of animals (“Let the earth bring forth …”) and that of man (“Let us make …”) signals the unique status of the man and the woman, created in God’s image and likeness as the pinnacle of the “manifestly ascending gradational order” of Creation.25  Moreover, the phrasing of Abraham’s account (“Let us go down and form man. … So the Gods went down to organize man”26 ), together with the additional detail about the creation of Adam and Eve provided in Moses 3, make strikingly clear the increased personal and direct involvement of God in the creation of man. The idea in and of itself does not necessarily conflict with scientific evidence that seems to rule out the concept of a “special creation” for the human body, however, as Kent Jackson comments:27

Whatever the process for creating humans may have been, the scriptures are clear in differentiating between that process and the process by which other life was made.

“In Our Image, After Our Likeness”

Unlike the earlier creatures who were each made “after [their] kind,”28  man and woman were made in God’s image and likeness.29  The Prophet Joseph Smith made it clear that this phrase applied not only to the physical appearance of Adam and Eve, but also to their spiritual nature which was, in the beginning:30

innocent, harmless, and spotless, bearing the same image as the God’s. And when man fell he did not lose His image, but [only] His character, still retaining the image of his Maker … And through the atonement of Christ, and the resurrection and obedience in the Gospel, we shall again be conformed to the [full] image of … Jesus Christ, then we shall have attained to the [full] image, glory, and character of God.

About this “double movement” of image and likeness, Faulconer observes: “humans begin like God and, at the same time, they come to be like him.”31  Notice that these phrases are reversed when the birth of Seth is described: “in his [Adam’s] own likeness, after his own image.”32

Moses 6:9 is more specific than 2:26 in saying that man was created “in the image of his [God’s] own body.”33  Joseph Smith spoke very plainly about the meaning of these words:34

God Himself who sits enthroned in yonder heavens is a Man like unto one of yourselves— that is the great secret! If the veil were rent today and … you would see Him in all the person, image, fashion, and very form of a man, like yourselves. For Adam was a man formed in his likeness and created in the very fashion and image of God.

Non-Latter-day Saint scholar Philip Munoa concurs, citing Levison who concluded that “The image itself consists of physical similarity to God.”35  He recalls the tradition in Genesis Rabbah 8:10 that:36

Adam’s likeness to God is so exact that Adam must be put to sleep so that the angels might worship the right person. … In [Yalqut Shim’oni] 1:20 on Genesis 2:9 the angels exclaim, when they notice Adam’s resemblance to God, ‘Are there two powers in heaven?’”

Jacob Neusner finds it “stunning” that the rabbinical commentators took this idea so literally, affirming that even “the angels did not know man from God,” stating, “I cannot imagine a more daring affirmation of humanity.”37

Moses 2:27 equates the image of God to the image of the Only Begotten: “in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten.”38  This recalls similar teachings in Philo and the Gnostics that “the Logos is the Shadow/Image of God,39  [while] the man of [Moses 2:26-7] is the shadow/image of the Logos, a shadow of a shadow, as it were.”40

Conclusion

We close with a statement from the great Hebrew Bible scholar, Nahum Sarna, who described the import of the Genesis description of man’s creation in the image and likeness of God in terms that will ring true to Latter-day Saints. He comments:41

The words used … to convey these ideas can be better understood in the light of a phenomenon registered in both Mesopotamia and Egypt where the ruling monarch is described as “the image” or “the likeness” of a god. … Without doubt, the terminology employed in Genesis 1:26 is derived from regal vocabulary, which serves to elevate the king above the ordinary run of men. In the Bible this idea has become democratized. All human beings are created “in the image of God”; each person bears the stamp of royalty.

 

This article is adapted and updated from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net, pp. 88, 111–114.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 88, 111–114.

Brown, S. Kent, and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. “Man and Son of Man: Probing Theology and Christology in the Book of Moses and in Jewish and Christian Tradition.” In Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses, edited by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, David Rolph Seely, John W. Welch and Scott Gordon, in preparation. Orem, UT; Springville, UT; Redding, CA; Toole, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, Book of Mormon Central, FAIR, and Eborn Books, 2021.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 211–217.

References

Anderson, Gary A. The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

Barker, Margaret. The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 1987.

———. The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God. Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press, 1992.

Blech, Benjamin, and Roy Doliner. The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican. New York City, NY: HarperOne, 2008.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.

De Vecchi, Pierluigi, and Gianluigi Colalucci. Michelangelo: The Vatican Frescoes. Translated by David Stanton and Andrew Ellis. New York City, NY: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1996.

Etheridge, J. W., ed. The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch, with the Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum from the Chaldee. 2 vols. London, England: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1862, 1865. Reprint, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2005. http://www.targum.info/pj/psjon.htm. (accessed August 10, 2007).

Faulconer, James E. “Adam and Eve—Community: Reading Genesis 2-3.” Journal of Philosophy and Scripture 1, no. 1 (Fall 2003). http://www.philosophyandscripture.org/Issue1-1/James_Faulconer/james_faulconer.html. (accessed August 10).

Freedman, David Noel. “The status and role of humanity in the cosmos according to the Hebrew Bible.” In On Human Nature: The Jerusalem Center Symposium, edited by Truman G. Madsen, David Noel Freedman and Pam Fox Kuhlken, 9-25. Ann Arbor, MI: Pryor Pettengill Publishers, 2004.

Friedman, Richard Elliott, ed. Commentary on the Torah. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001.

Gross, Jules. 1938. The Divinization of the Christian According to the Greek Fathers. Translated by Paul A. Onica. Anaheim, CA: A & C Press, 2002.

Hamori, Esther J. “When Gods Were Men”: The Embodied God in Biblical and Near Eastern Literature. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 384, ed. John Barton, Reinhard G. Kratz, Choon-Leong Sow and Markus Witte. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter, 2008.

Heiser, Michael S., and David E. Bokovoy. “Scholarly Exchange.” FARMS Review 19, no. 1 (2007): 221-323.

Irenaeus. ca. 150-200. “Against Heresies.” In The Ante-Nicene Fathers (The Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325), edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. 10 vols. Vol. 1, 315-567. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Company, 1885. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

Jackson, Kent P. The Restored Gospel and the Book of Genesis. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2001.

Kimball, Spencer W. “The blessings and responsibilities of womanhood.” Ensign 6, March 1976, 70-73. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1976/03/the-blessings-and-responsibilities-of-womanhood?lang=eng. (accessed September 7, 2020).

Larson, Stan. “The King Follett Discourse: A newly amalgamated text.” BYU Studies 18, no. 2 (Winter 1978): 193-208.

Louth, Andrew, and Marco Conti, eds. Genesis 1-11. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament 1, ed. Thomas C. Oden. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Madsen, Truman G. “The Latter-day Saint view of human nature.” In On Human Nature: The Jerusalem Center Symposium, edited by Truman G. Madsen, David Noel Freedman and Pam Fox Kuhlken, 95-107. Ann Arbor, MI: Pryor Pettengill Publishers, 2004.

Mathews, Kenneth A., ed. The New American Commentary: Genesis 1-11:26. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996.

Munoa, Philip B. Four Powers in Heaven: The Interpretation of Daniel 7 in the Testament of Abraham. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series 28, ed. Lester L. Grabbe and James H. Charlesworth. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.

Neusner, Jacob. 1991. Confronting Creation: How Judaism Reads Genesis. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004.

Paulsen, David L. “Divine embodiment: The earliest Christian understanding of God.” In Early Christians in Disarray, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, 239-93. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2005.

Philo. b. 20 BCE. “Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis (Legum Allegoriae).” In Philo, edited by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker. 12 vols. Vol. 1. Translated by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker. The Loeb Classical Library 226, ed. Jeffrey Henderson, 140-478. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929.

Rupnik, Marko Ivan. A Arte Como Expressão da Vida Litúrgica. Brasilia, Brasil: Edições Cnbb, 2019.

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 1-284. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990.

Sarna, Nahum M., ed. Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

———. “The mists of time.” In Genesis: World of Myths and Patriarchs, edited by Ada Feyerick, 49-82. New York City, NY: New York University Press, 1996.

Seixas, Joshua. A Manual of Hebrew Grammar for the Use of Beginners. Second enlarged and improved ed. Andover, MA: Gould and Newman, 1834. Reprint, Facsimile Edition. Salt Lake City, UT: Sunstone Foundation, 1981. https://books.google.com/books/about/A_manual_Hebrew_grammar_for_the_use_of_b.html?id=fN1GAAAAMAAJ. (accessed August 31, 2020).

Smith, Joseph, Jr., Andrew F. Ehat, and Lyndon W. Cook. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, 1980. https://rsc.byu.edu/book/words-joseph-smith. (accessed August 21, 2020).

Smith, Joseph, Jr. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007.

———. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.

Smith, Mark S. The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Steinberg, Leo. “Who’s who in Michelangelo’s creation of Adam: A chronology of the picture’s reluctant self-revelation.” Art Bulletin 74, no. 4 (December 1992): 552-66.

Williams, Wesley. 2005. The Shadow of God: Speculations on the Body Divine in Jewish Esoteric Tradition.  In The Black God. http://www.theblackgod.com/Shadow%20of%20God%20Short%5B1%5D.pdf. (accessed December 21, 2007).

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Public domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo_-_Creation_of_Adam_(cropped).jpg (accessed September 7, 2020).

Figure 2. No known restrictions. https://www.tucucu.com/en/2020/06/27/the-mystery-in-the-sistine-chapel-is-behind-the-finger-of-god/

Footnotes

 

1 P. De Vecchi et al., Michelangelo, p. 163.

2 See B. Blech et al., Secrets, p. 200. On the seeming “brainlike” shape of God’s mantle that encloses the divine personages and its possible symbolism relating to the origins of the future descendants of Adam and Eve, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Endnote 2-21, pp. 128-129.

3 See B. Blech et al., Secrets, pp. 197, 199.

4 L. Steinberg, Who’s Who.

5 G. A. Anderson, Perfection, p. 4.

6 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45-47.

7 M. I. Rupnik, A Arte Como Expressão da Vida Litúrgica, p. 145. Original text is in Portuguese. Translated freely from an Italian version of the text, with thanks to Solange Bambina Poulaert and Chris Miasnik.

8 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 12.

9 S. W. Kimball, Blessings, p. 71.

10 Moses 2:26.

11 Moses 4:28. Cf. Genesis 3:22.

12 Genesis 11:7. See N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 12.

13 J. Seixas, Manual, Genesis 1:1, p. 85.

14 E.g., J. Smith, Jr. et al., Words, Thomas Bullock Report, 16 June 1844, pp. 378-379. Cf. J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 16 June 1844, pp. 371-372.

15 R. E. Friedman, Commentary, p. 12.

16 K. A. Mathews, New American, p. 161.

17 E.g., Doctrine and Covenants 121:32; Abraham 4:26.

18 D. N. Freedman, Humanity, pp. 18-21. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 2:27-b, p. 115.

19 J. E. Faulconer, Adam and Eve, 5. Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Origin of Man and Chrysostom, Sermons on Genesis 2:1, cited in A. Louth et al., Genesis 1-11, p. 28.

20 J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 7 April 1844, p. 348. Cf. J. Smith, Jr. et al., Words, Thomas Bullock Report, 16 June 1844, p, 379.

21 R. E. Friedman, Commentary, p. 12.

22 See M. S. Heiser et al., Exchange; M. S. Smith, Monotheism; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 1:6-f, p. 48; 4:11-b, p. 253; 4:28-a, p. 276.

23 E.g., M. Barker, Older, pp. 174-176.

24 E.g., M. Barker, Angel, pp. 190-212.

25 Sarna, 1989 #296}, p. 11.

26 Abraham 4:26-27.

27 K. P. Jackson, Genesis, p. 82. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 3:7-a, p. 157.

28 See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 2:11-c, p. 107.

29 J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 37.

30 J. Smith, Jr. et al., Words, 9 July 1843, p. 231, punctuation modernized, bracketed words added for clarification. J. Smith, Jr., Teachings 2007, p. 52 interprets and punctuates the citation differently, and changes “retaining” to “retained” (cf. T. G. Madsen, LDS View, p. 105).

31 J. E. Faulconer, Adam and Eve, 10. Cf. Irenaeus, Heresies, 5:6:1, pp. 531-532; Moses 4:28. See also Origen, On first principles 3:6:1, Diadochus of Photice, On spiritual perfection 4, Gregory of Nyssa, On the Origin of Man—all three cited in A. Louth et al., Genesis 1-11, pp. 29-30, 33.

32 Moses 6:10.

33 Cf. Targum Yerushalmi: “in the likeness of the presence of the Lord” (J. W. Etheridge, Onkelos).

34 J. Smith, Jr., 7 April 1844, as amalgamated in S. Larson, King Follett, p. 200.

35 See also D. N. Freedman, Humanity, pp. 16-17, cited in J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Moses 2 Gleanings, pp. 123-124.

36 P. B. Munoa, Four Powers, p. 101.

37 J. Neusner, Confronting, p. 63. See E. J. Hamori, Embodied God and D. L. Paulsen, Embodiment for historical overviews of the doctrine of divine embodiment. See also D. N. Freedman, Humanity, pp. 16-17; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Introduction, p. 10; Commentary 1:6-g, p. 48; 1:12-c, p. 53; Excursus 7: Time and Eternity, p. 537; Excursus 30: Adam-God Theory and the Heavenly and Earthly Adam, p. 603.

38 Cf. John 14:7-10.

39 E.g., Philo, Interpretation, 3, 96, p. 61.

40 W. Williams, Shadow, citing Philo, De opificio mundi 25 (1:6). Philo, however, did not have resemblance (see J. Gross, Divinization, p. 76, citing De opificio mundi 69 [1:18]). See also Ether 3:15-16.

41 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 12. See also N. M. Sarna, Mists, p. 51; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 6:10-a, p. 482.

“This I Did by the Word of My Power”

Book of Moses Essay #48

Moses 2:5

With contribution by Matthew L. Bowen and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Distinction and separation are the central themes of the creation account:1  “And I, God, said: Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night” (Moses 2:14). In Michelangelo’s masterful depiction, God dramatically extends his arms in opposite directions, majestically assigning the golden ball of the sun to rule the day, and the gray moon to rule the night. To achieve a “special otherworldly effect,” the moon was “painted without paint”—in other words, it is the actual color of the bare plaster surface beneath the fresco itself.2

Although, from a Latter-day Saint perspective, it is hard to imagine a more “traditional” depiction of creation, Michelangelo’s portrait is thoroughly unacceptable to rabbinic Judaism. For one thing, Ellis observes, the anthropomorphic portrayal violates both the second commandment and also the idea that God is “unknowable, unimaginable” and “visually unportrayable.” Additionally, God is shown as effecting creation through action rather than by the sole means of “potent speech-acts that enact the creative power of language.” Thus, he explains, Michelangelo’s God is both inexplicably busy and “un-Jewishly mute.”3  “For the Jew,” writes Susan Handelman, “God’s presence is inscribed or traced within a text, not a body. Divinity is located in language, not person.”4

Tempering this distinction between Latter-day Saint and Jewish thought, however, is the theme of God’s “word,” a thread that runs through every chapter in the Book of Moses. Continuing the discussion of the topic from a previous article,5  this Essay will explore the role of the divine word in Creation.

“There Are Many Worlds That Have Passed Away By the Word of My Power” (Moses 1:35)

The Lord’s description of the cosmic scale and endless continuum on which creation by the divine word transpires constitutes one of the most stunning aspects of the Visions of Moses. As noted previously, Hebrews 1:2 and 11:3 mention “worlds” in plural, but the phrases “worlds without number,”6  “many worlds,”7  and later “millions of earths like this”8  belong to the Book of Moses. This concept, as Draper, Brown, and Rhodes note, “was not a part of traditional Christian teaching”9  and a “doctrine unknown in the days of Joseph Smith.”10  These expressions and the statements in which they occur correspond to the chronological infinitude expressed by Isaiah as ʿad-ʿôlmê ʿad11 —sometimes translated “world without end” (KJV), “worlds without end,”12  or “to all eternity” (NRSV).

This imagery resonates with the cosmic picture being given us by contemporary astronomy and the deep-space telescopes more than anything else that we find in ancient scripture.13  The Lord mentions “many worlds” that are “innumerable … unto man” but “numbered unto me”—worlds cycling through a course of creation and uncreation:14

But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them. … The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

This language also resonates with Jesus’ words to his disciples as recorded in Matthew 24: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,”15  or as clarified in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST): “Although, the days will come, that heaven and earth shall pass away; yet my words shall not pass away, but all shall be fulfilled.”16  That last phrase, “but all shall be fulfilled,” added to the JST Matthew text represents one of the most important thematic aspects of the divine “word” in the Book of Moses. A revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith “beginning September 26, 1830,”17  quotes or paraphrases the text of Moses 1 revealed just months earlier: “But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit.”18  Jesus’s endless “words” in premortality, mortality, and postmortality are the ongoing creative process in the cosmos. He is the creative force.

Thus, the revelation to Moses of an endless procession of “earth[s] … and the heavens thereof” forestalls the notion that the “heavens and the earth [being] finished” in the forthcoming creation account somehow amounts to an end to divine creative activity, as Genesis 3:1 and the notion of “Sabbath”—from the Hebrew verb šābat, “cease,” “come to the end of an activity”—might seem to imply.19  As Jesus said to the Jerusalem religious elite who challenged his Sabbath day activities, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”20  The Book of Moses’ view of the creative “Word” parallels its view of the written “words” of God with its implicit notion of “canon”: “there is no end to my works, neither to my words.” There is no end to creation. There is no end to scripture or revelation—the revealed word.21  The universe is an open canon.

“This I Did By the Word of My Power, and It Was Done as I Spake” (Moses 2:5)

The Book of Moses transitions from the initial “Visions of Moses” to Joseph Smith’s inspired revision of the Genesis 1 creation account—which constitutes a continuation of the preceding vision—with the Lord commanding Moses to write his “words” and reemphasizing the executive role of the Only Begotten in in a never-ending creation process: “And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words [things] which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest.”22  The Lord’s ongoing words to Moses represent a continuation of his endless “words” and a never-ending creation—his “works.” This establishes the framework for the creation account in which the spoken word and the creative process remain eminently intertwined.

Kathleen Flake has observed that “like the Book of Mormon’s Israelite exodus to America, the JST’s creation narrative has always informed the Latter-day Saint ethos.”23  The Lord’s words in Moses 2:1 breathe new life into the abstract opening statement of the Hebrew Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Lord himself appropriates “the beginning”—Hebrew rēʾšît—as a name-title for himself. Here too he is the subject of the verb “create”—Hebrew bārāʾ, the verb of which God is always the subject or implied agent in the Bible24 —but he takes personal ownership of his creative acts through the 1st person verb form. This invites comparison to the creation scenes in Isaiah 40-66,25  and the use of the first person in Isaiah 43:7, 45:8, 12; 54:16 (compare especially Isaiah 45:8, 12). Joseph Smith’s Genesis revision restores a backdrop that accommodates other creation texts in the Hebrew Bible like Psalms 148:5, 8: “for he commanded [ṣiwwâ], and they were created [wĕnibrāʾû] … Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word [ʿōśâ dĕbārô].”

The closely correlated “works” and “words” of Moses 1:4-5, 48—“works” and “words” brought to pass through the “Word of my power”26  (Moses 1:32, 35; 2:5)—supplies additional revelatory context for the creation by the divinely spoken yĕhî, “Let there be” (Moses 2:3, 6, 9, 14), widely familiar from the Genesis account (Genesis 1:3, 6, 14). The tight pairing of the jussive yĕhî, “Let there be…” and wayhî “and there was” paints a dramatic verbal picture of the genetic relationship between “words” and “work.”27

The Septuagint (LXX) version of the Bible rendered Hebrew yĕhî with the verb genēthētō (hence the name of the book “Genesis”). The Vulgate translation rendered Greek genēthētō with the 3rd person “fiat,” whence the theological notion expressed as “creation by fiat.” Recognition of this verb form helps us to appreciate nature the Lord’s Prayer as a kind of “creation” text: “Thy will be done [Genēthētō to thelēma sou ]28 in earth, as it is in heaven.”  Moreover, such recognition reframes Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane as a “creation”-type text: “thy will be done [genēthētō to thelēma sou].”29  Matthew certainly intended his audience to see the Lord’s prayer and Jesus’ prayer to the Father in Gethsemane as inextricably linked by the shared phrase genēthētō to thelēma sou. In submitting his will completely to the Father, Jesus effected and completed the atoning30  of the physical and spiritual creation, without which neither could “answer the end”31  or “fill the measure of [their] creation.”32

Notably, two JST passages further help us envisage the Lord’s prayer and Jesus’ prayer(s) in Gethsemane as “creation”-type texts. First, from the cross JST Matthew 27:54 records “… a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished [tetelestai, John 19:3033 ], thy will is done, yielded up the ghost.” John 19:30 employs the same verbal root –teleō as the LXX creation account (“And the heavens and the earth and all their order [kosmos] were finished [synetelesthēsan] … And God finished [synetelesen] on the seventh day”). Jesus reports to the Father as he “finishes” a new creation before entering into “rest” on the Sabbath.34  The second passage returns the creation language of Jesus’ prayers to the premortal existence and the council in heaven (“in the beginning”) where Jesus, the Father’s “my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning,” humbled himself before the Father: “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.”35  The close relationship between Jesus Christ’s roles as Creator and Redeemer, between creation and redemption, suddenly comes into stark focus.

The thematic use of the creation-by-word verb yĕhî in Genesis 1 inevitably ties the creative process to the divine name or Tetragrammaton, Yhwh (often rendered Jehovah or more recently Yahweh) and its meaning. Frank Moore Cross explains the form of the name Yhwh as “a causative imperfect of the Canaanite-Proto-Hebrew verb hwh/hwy ‘to be’”36  with the basic meaning “He creates” or “he who causes to happen.”37  David Noel Freedman and Michael P. O’Connor insist that “In Hebrew … yahweh must be a causative, since the dissimilation of yaqṭal to yiqṭal did not apply in Amorite [i.e., West Semitic], while it was obligatory in Hebrew. The name yahweh must therefore be in the Hebrew hiphil form. Although the causative of hwy is otherwise unknown in Northwest Semitic (with the exception of Syriac, which is of little relevance here), it seems to be attested in the name of the God of Israel.”38  Nevertheless, the precise origin of the name yhwh and its possible relationship to the Mesopotamian deity Ea (Enki) remains a matter of discussion and exploration.39

Whatever the case, the onomastic wordplay on Yhwh in terms of the verb form ʾehyeh (“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM [ʾehyeh ʾăšer ʾehyeh]: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM [ʾehyeh] hath sent me unto you”) confirms that ancient Israelites thought of the name Yhwh in terms of the verb hwy/hyy, whatever the origin of the name Yhwh (or Yah). This constitutes the conceptual backdrop against which the foregoing jussive creation fiats (“let there be…”) should be understood: a name expressing the idea of creating or bringing to pass through the speaking of the very word of which the name itself is a manifestation.

In this vein, the text of Moses 2 reiterates the executive role of the Son in his accomplishing the divine will by means of the phrase “this I did by the word of my power”: “And I, God, called the light Day; and the darkness, I called Night; and this I did by the Word of my power, and it was done as I spake; and the evening and the morning were the first day.”40  The phrase “and it was done as I spake” here preserves and replicates the tight cause-effect relationship between word and work evident is the tight pairing of “I, God, said let there be … and there was”). Jeffrey M. Bradshaw suggests that the added phrase “this I did by the Word of my power” functions “as a more or less synonymous parallel to the expression that ‘it was done as I spake.”41  The reiterated variants of the stereotyped Genesis 1 phrase “and it was so [wayhî kēn]” in Moses 2—“and it was done” (v. 6); “and it was so even as I spake” (vv. 7, 11, 31); “and it was so” (vv. 9, 15, 24)—further emphasize the power of the divine “word” to bring to pass each divine “work.”

“And the Stars Also Were Made Even According to My Word” (Moses 2:16)

In addition to the “worlds without number” or “many worlds” which the Lord claims as his creations in Moses 1:33, 35, he avers his creation of the great luminaries in the heavens upon which those worlds necessarily depend. He accordingly makes the following geocentric statement regarding the creation of the luminaries: “And I, God, made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the greater light was the sun, and the lesser light was the moon; and the stars also were made even according to my word.”42

Unlike the Genesis account, where the names of the great lights have been suppressed, possibly due to the connection of šemeš (“sun”; Ugaritic špš) and yārēaḥ (“moon”) with the divinized Sun (Shammash) and the divinized Moon (cf. Akkadian, Sîn), which were widely worshipped. Suppression of the names “sun” and “moon” in the biblical text is rendered superfluous in Book of Moses text with the declaration that the sun, moon, and stars all came into being “even according to my word.” God and his divine Word are the only deities that the text has in view. The divine passive, “were made according to my word” further allows for a very lengthy creative process. We see something similar in the Lord’s subsequent description of spiritual creation (cf. Moses 3:7).

Conclusion

Even some of the most doubting of scientists have stated their willingness to keep their mind open to the possibility of a God — so long as it is a God “worthy of [the] grandeur”43  of the Universe. For example, the well-known skeptic Richard Dawkins stated: “If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.”44  Similarly, Elder Neal A. Maxwell approvingly quoted the unbelieving scientist Carl Sagan, noting that he:45

perceptively observed that “in some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said — grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed’? Instead, they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’”

Joseph Smith’s God was not a little god. His God was a God who required our minds to “stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity”46  — that is more of a stretch than the best of us now can even imagine.

This article is adapted from Bowen, Matthew L. “‘By the word of my power’: The many functions of the divine word in the Book of Moses.” Presented at the conference entitled “Tracing Ancient Threads of the Book of Moses’ (September 18-19, 2020), Provo, UT: Brigham Young University 2020.

Further Reading

Bailey, David H., Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, John H. Lewis, Gregory L. Smith, and Michael L. Stark, eds. Science and Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, and Man. Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposia 1. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016, pp. 259-351. https://archive.org/details/CosmosEarthAndManscienceAndMormonism1.

Bowen, Matthew L. “‘Creator of the first day’: The glossing of Lord of Sabaoth in Doctrine and Covenants 95:7.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 22 (2016): 51-77. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/creator-of-the-first-day-the-glossing-of-lord-of-sabaoth-in-dc-957/.

Bowen, Matthew L. “‘By the word of my power’: The divine word in the Book of Moses.” Presented at the conference entitled “Tracing Ancient Threads of the Book of Moses’ (September 18-19, 2020), Provo, UT: Brigham Young University 2020.

Holland, Jeffrey R. “‘My words… never cease’.” Ensign 28, May 2008, 91-94. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2008/05/my-words-never-cease?lang=eng.

Maxwell, Neal A. “Our Creator’s Cosmos (Twenty-Sixth Annual Church Educational System Conference, Brigham Young University, 13 August 2002).” Religious Educator 3, no. 2 (August 13, 2002 2002): 1-17. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/re/vol3/iss2/3/.

References

Bailey, David H., Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, John H. Lewis, Gregory L. Smith, and Michael L. Stark, eds. Science and Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth, and Man. Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposia 1. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016. https://archive.org/details/CosmosEarthAndManscienceAndMormonism1. (accessed September 6, 2020).

Barker, Margaret. The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God. Louisville, KY: Westminster / John Knox Press, 1992.

Blech, Benjamin, and Roy Doliner. The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican. New York City, NY: HarperOne, 2008.

Botterweck, G. Johannes, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. 11 vols. to date vols. Translated by John T. Willis and et_al., 1974-2001.

Bowen, Matthew L. “‘Creator of the first day’: The glossing of Lord of Sabaoth in Doctrine and Covenants 95:7.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 22 (2016): 51-77. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/creator-of-the-first-day-the-glossing-of-lord-of-sabaoth-in-dc-957/. (accessed September 6, 2020).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.

Chadwick, Jeffrey R. “Dating the death of Jesus Christ.” BYU Studies Quarterly 54, no. 4 (2015): 135-91. https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/dating-death-jesus-christ. (accessed September 5, 2020).

Cross, Frank Moore. Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6e92/855210ba9dd75f919dbc166ab37da472cea9.pdf. (accessed September 6, 2020).

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

Ellis, Richard S. “Images at work versus words at play: Michelangelo’s art and the artistry of the Hebrew Bible.” Judaism 51, no. 2 (2002): 162-74. http://www.math.umass.edu/~rsellis/images-vs-words-long.html. (accessed August 9).

Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

Flake, Kathleen. “Translating time: The nature and function of Joseph Smith’s narrative canon.” Journal of Religion 87, no. 4 (October 2007): 497-527. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/divinity/facultynews/Flake%20Translating%20Time.pdf. (accessed February 22, 2009).

Gee, John. “The geography of Aramaean and Luwian Gods.” Presented at the Aramaean Borders Defining Aramaean Territories in the 10th – 8th Centuries BCE Conference Organized as Part of the Research Project GA ČR P401/12/G168 ‘History and Interpretation of the Bible,’ 22-23 April 2016, Prague, Czech Republic 2016. http://cbs.etf.cuni.cz/assets/files/Program%20Aramaean%20Borders.pdf. (accessed September 6, 2020).

Holland, Jeffrey R. “‘My words… never cease’.” Ensign 28, May 2008, 91-94. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2008/05/my-words-never-cease?lang=eng. (accessed July 9, 2020).

———. “‘My words… never cease’.” In Broken Things to Mend, edited by Jeffrey R. Holland, 184-90. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008.

Isaacson, Walter. Einstein: His Life and Universe. New York City, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

Krauss, Lawrence M., and Richaard Dawkins. 2007. Should Science Speak to Faith? (Extended version).  In Scientific American Online. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanId=sa013&articleID=44A95E1D-E7F2-99DF-3E79D5E2E6DE809C&modsrc=most_popular. (accessed July 27, 2007).

Maxwell, Neal A. “Our Creator’s Cosmos (Twenty-Sixth Annual Church Educational System Conference, Brigham Young University, 13 August 2002).” Religious Educator 3, no. 2 (August 13, 2002 2002): 1-17. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/re/vol3/iss2/3/. (accessed September 6, 2020).

Nugent, Tony Ormond. Star-god: Enki/Ea and the Biblical God as Expressions of a Common Ancient Near Eastern Astral-theological Symbol System (Ph.D. Dissertation). Syracuse, NY: Seracuse University, 1993. https://surface.syr.edu/rel_etd/52/. (accessed September 6, 2020).

Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.

Townes, Charles H. “The convergence of science and religion.” Improvement Era 71, February 1968, 62-69.

Van Biema, David. “God vs. Science (Debate between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins).” Time, November 13 2006, 49-55.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

Welch, John W. “”Thy mind, o man, must stretch”.” BYU Studies 50, no. 3 (2011): 63-81. https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/thy-mind-o-man-must-stretch. (accessed September 6, 2020).

Wilson, Daniel J. “Wayhî and theticity in biblical Hebrew.” Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 45, no. 1 (2019): 89-118. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334441983_Wayhi_and_Theticity_in_Biblical_Hebrew. (accessed September 5, 2020).

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Public domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo,_Creation_of_the_Sun,_Moon,_and_Plants_01.jpg.

Footnotes

 

1 J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 85-87.

2 B. Blech et al., Secrets, p. 195.

3 R. S. Ellis, Images.

4 Ibid.

5 Essay #42.

6 Moses 1:33.

7 Moses 1:35.

8 Moses 7:30.

9 R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 33.

10 Ibid., p. 33.

11 Isaiah 45:17: “But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end [ʿad-ʿôlmê ʿad].” Cf. Ephesians 3:21: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end [tou aiōnos ton aiōnōn]. Amen.”

12 D&C 76:112 pluralizes KJV “world without end” as “worlds without end.”

13 D. H. Bailey et al., Science and Mormonism 1, pp. 259-351.

14 Moses 1:35, 37-38.

15 Matthew 24:35.

16 Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:35.

17 From the heading to Doctrine and Covenants 29 (2013 edition).

18 Doctrine and Covenants 29:30.

19 J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, pp. 73-74. See also M. L. Bowen, Creator of the First Day. Walton writes:

The Hebrew verb šābat (Genesis 2:2) from which our term “sabbath” is derived has the basic meaning of ‘ceasing’ (Joshua 5:12; Job 32:1). Semantically it refers to the completion of certain activity with which one had been occupied. This cessation leads into a new state which is described by another set of words, the verb nûḥa and its associated noun mĕnûḥâ. The verb involves entering a position of safety, security, or stability, and the noun refers to the place where that is found. The verb šābat describes a transition into the activity or inactivity of nûḥa. We know that when God rests (ceases, šābat) on the seventh day in Genesis 2, he also transitions into the condition of stability (nûḥa) because that is the terminology used in Exodus 20:11. The only other occurrence of the verb šābat with God as the subject is in Exodus 31:17. The most important verses to draw all of this information together are found in Psalm 132:7-8, 13-14:

Let us go to his dwelling place
Let us worship at his footstool—
‘Arise, O Lord, and come to your resting place,
you, and the ark of your might.’
For the Lord has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling:
‘This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned for I have desired it.’

Here the ‘dwelling place’ of God translates a term that describes the tabernacle and temple, and it is where his footstool (the ark) is located. … Thus, this Psalm pulls together the ideas of divine rest, temple, and enthronement. God’s ‘ceasing’ (šābat) on the seventh day in Genesis 2:2 leads to his “rest” (nûḥa), associated with the seventh day in Exodus 2:11. His ‘rest’ is located in his ‘resting place’ (mĕnûḥâ) in Psalm 132. After creation, God takes up his rest and rules from his residence. This is not new theology for the ancient world—it is what all people understood about their gods and their temples.

20 John 5:17.

21 See, e.g., J. R. Holland, Words; J. R. Holland, Words (Broken).

22 Moses 2:1.

23 K. Flake, Translating Time, p. 503.

24 Genesis 1:5, 21, 27; 2:3-4; 5:1-2; 6:7; Exodus 34:10 (God implied subject of passive verb forms); Numbers 16:30; Deuteronomy 4:32; Psalm 51:10; 89:12, 47; 102:18; 104:30; 148:5; Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 4:5; 40:26, 28; 41:20; 42:5; 43:1, 7, 15; 45:7-8, 12, 18; 48:7; 54:16; 57:19; 65:17-18; Jeremiah 31:22; Ezekiel 21:19, 30; 28:13, 15; Amos 4:13; Malachi 2:10.

25 See, e.g., Isaiah 40:6, 8; 41:20; 42:5; 43:1, 7, 15; 45:7-8, 12, 18; 48:7; 54:16; 57:19; 65:17-18.

26 “Word” in “Word of my power” is capitalized in OT1 at Moses 2:5 (S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, OT1 Page 3 (Moses 1:37-2:12), p. 86).

27 Cf. D. J. Wilson, Wayhî and Theticity.

28 Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2.

29 Matthew 26:42.

30 Cf. Deuteronomy 32:43: “[The Lord] will be merciful unto [wĕkipper, literally, atone] his land, and … his people. M. Barker (The Great High Priest, p. 31-32) writes: “The principle of temple practice, ‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ meant that the act of atonement, in reality the work of the Lord (Deut. 32:43), was enacted on earth by the high priest. This was the suffering and death that was necessary for the Messiah.”

31 D&C 49:16.

32 D&C 88:19, 25.

33 John 19:28-30: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

34 This observation holds whether Jesus died on Friday (traditional) or on Thursday as argued recently in J. R. Chadwick, Dating the Death. See also Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54-56; John 19:31.

35 Moses 4:2.

36 F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth, p. 65.

37 M. Barker, Angel, p. 104.

38 David Noel Freedman and Michael P. O’Connor, “YHWH” in G. J. Botterweck et al., TDOT, 5:513.

39 T. O. Nugent, Star-god; J. Gee, Geography of Aramaean and Luwian Gods

40 Moses 2:5.

41 J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, p. 102. Bradshaw writes, “Two interpretations are possible. On the one hand, this phrase, added in the book of Moses, can be seen as a more or less synonymous parallel to the expression that ‘it was done as I spake.’ On the other hand, it could be taken to indicate that the light and darkness were ‘made’ in a different fashion than the entities created on subsequent days.”

42 Moses 2:14.

43 R. Dawkins in D. Van Biema, God vs. Science, p. 55. As a matter of scientific principle, Dawkins has classed himself as a TAP (Temporary Agnostic in Practice), though he thinks the probability of a God is very small, and certainly in no sense would want to be “misunderstood as endorsing faith” (L. M. Krauss et al., Science (online)).

44 L. M. Krauss et al., Science (online). Though personally rejecting the notion of a personal God, Albert Einstein is an example of one whose deeply-held “vision of unity and order” (C. H. Townes, Convergence, p. 66) — which throughout his life played an important role in shaping his scientific intuitions (see, e.g., W. Isaacson, Einstein, p. 335) — was chiefly motivated by his profound sense of awe and humility in the face of the lawful and “marvelously arranged” universe (ibid., p. 388):

Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.

Often more critical of the debunkers of religion than of naïve believers in God, he explained: “The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’ — cannot hear the music of the spheres” (ibid., p. 390).

45 N. A. Maxwell, Cosmos, p. 1.

46 See J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 25 March 1839, p. 137. For an insightful discussion of this imperative, see J. W. Welch, Thy Mind.