Taking a Critical Look At the Veracity of the Book of Abraham

One day in the mid 1980’s shortly after I began to search the scriptures a little more seriously, I was browsing through a used bookstore. While I was looking through a copy of the Old Testament the owner of the store approached me and engaged me in a conversation about the Bible.

He declared that the Bible was filled with errors and that it was not a credible religious history. I challenged him and said I believed it was.

I acknowledged that there had been some translation errors over the centuries and perhaps some intentional alterations and deletions by conspiring scribes and leaders of the great whore, but in general, I believed the Bible to be trustworthy, particularly the Joseph Smith Version which had largely corrected many of the problems.

I then I asked him to give me an example of an egregious contradiction in the Holy writ when the JST is taken under consideration.

He jumped at the opportunity even though he clearly was not very familiar with the JST.

We both agreed that the creation story in Genesis is meant to be literal, foundational and significant.

He then opened the Bible to the book of Genesis and showed me how Genesis Chapter one declared that man was created in the image of God during the sixth day. Following that, chapter 2:1 informs us that “the heavens and the earth were finished

The account then moves forward to the seventh day in verse 2 noting that God “ended his work which he had made. And he rested on the seventh day from all of his work that he had made” yet in verse 5 informs us that during that seventh day, “there was not a man to till the ground” Verse 7 says “and the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. ”

The account goes on to tell how God planted a garden and grew every tree that is pleasant, etc. It further informs us that God only formed the man Adam out of the dust of the ground, not all men. The others would not be created until AFTER Adam has eve taken from his rib and they begin to procreate AFTER the fall.

There you have it” declared the book store owner. “That chronology is completely inconstant and contradictory.”

What?

Man was created on the sixth day yet during the seventh day there was not yet a man to till the ground so God created Adam from the dust of the earth????

I then asked him if he had studied the JST or even the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price very much and he admitted that he had not.

I then replied something to the effect of, “the apparent discrepancy that you have pointed out must certainly cause a dilemma for protestants that have nothing but the King James Bible to rely on, but it is clearly explained and resolved in the Book of Moses. It informs us that there were two creations. First, a spiritual creation in heaven, followed by a physical creation.”

I then obtained a Pearl of Great Price with the JST account of the creation and read him some passages of scripture. One of which I had previously to memorized for my mission-

” 5. 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.
6. 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;

8. And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul; the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also;

9. Nevertheless, all things were before created, but spiritually were they created and made, according to my word.

He looked shocked as he pondered the issue for a few minutes and then said, I hadn’t put that together.

I have since come to realize that there are an awfully lot of things that most of us have not put together which is why we need to continually study the scriptures.

Don’t Run and Hide from “Apparent Contradictions”

Over the years I have come to realize that many of the apparent discrepancies that we find in the scriptures which appear to be contradictions, actually have logical explanations that take us to the next level of understanding that we simply have not yet put together.

Something else I have learned is to never sweep uncomfortable conundrums under the table and run from them. Rather, we should embrace the apparent discrepancies as  opportunities to gain greater insight. We should use them as study topics to search the scriptures.

I have had countless experiences like the one above when reading the scriptures and they almost always result in finding a pearl of great price. (no pun intended)

Many of the erroneous interpretations that we make in the scriptures are predicated upon false teachings that we have been indoctrinated with.

Does the Book of Abraham Contradict the Bible?

Recently a very astute reader of this blog that calls himself Mike brought to my attention some apparent discrepancies between parts of the Book of Abraham and the Book of Genesis.

I love the fact that he uses the foundational scriptures as the standard and doctrinal template by which all other scripture is to be judged.

He is able to read scriptures that he has had a predisposed bias, with fresh eyes and a new perspective despite the indoctrination that one is bombarded with as a member of the church. I believe God wants us to be critical thinkers while being beseeching his spirit for illumination.

I felt that the research that this brother had done would provide a great example of critical thinking and so I posted it, despite the fact that I had not taken the time to do my own critical examination of the points he made.

I am really glad I did post it.

Hopefully some of you have used the dilemmas presented in his research for your scripture study

I think I accomplished my goal by posting his observations.

However, I may have gone overboard in my diatribe regarding my ongoing learning curve and the fact that I am sure my thinking has evolved over the years. I suggested that if I were to go back and re-read all of my old posts, I would probably have to clean many things up that I now see differently.

This caused a reader to send me an email asking if I still believe in the unconditional promises referring to the return of Joseph Smith.

Of course I do.

I did not mean to imply that I no longer believe the major tenants that I have covered in this blog over the last ten years. I have not had numerous radical changes of thought during the time I have been blogging. I was only pointing out that I am always scrutinizing previous interpretations and sometimes I do need to self-correct when I find a more enlightened interpretation. .

Getting back to the critique of the Book of Abraham, I took a few minutes to re-read portions of JST Genesis and portions of the Book of Abraham last Sunday morning while sitting out by the campfire. Sadly I only had about an hour or two to ponder some of the observations and concerns that the Mike shared in his email.

Although I have still not done an exhaustive search of all the issues that the reader brought up, I did have some thoughts and even one major ah-ha! That I would like to share.

Is there One God or Many Gods?

The following is a snippet from the email I got from Mike:

I believe that the quote in D&C 121:28 is in reference to the Saints being handed over to Satan. There is no pressing question or doubt about whether there be one God or many gods. Throughout the scriptures, the doctrine of one God is manifestly clear. The scriptures highlight the oneness of the Father and the Son. The scriptures do not present them as multiple Gods. Why, in 1839, would this be such an important question to have answered?

I disagree with the assertion that 121:28 was just a smokescreen given to deliver the Saints over to Satan. I think there were many saints of the restoration that were questioning whether or not there were other independent Gods in the universe besides the God of Israel.

Section 121:26-9 says this:

26 God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;

27 Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;

28 A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.

29 All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Again, I do not believe the above passages had to do with turning the saints over to Satan. Notice how the general question of whether there are other gods beside God, appears to be answered a few passages later:

32 According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest.

That passage is amazing because it confirms two things:

  1. There are other gods beside the Eternal God
  2. There was a pre-earth council of gods

Actually, the Old Testament confirms that the “Sons of God” existed in the pre-existence. Notice the follow passage in Job:

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

As I see it, the concept of there being pre-earth gods is pretty clear cut. Sons of God are obviously gods.

I believe the Book of Abraham narrative of a pre-earth council of spirits and souls is supported in the above passage from Job.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in fact the Book of Abraham narrative uses “souls” as a descriptive for “gods” and “spirits” as a descriptive for “morning stars“. Further, Joseph Smith is credited with stating that there are two types of beings in heaven, Spirits and Angels. Again, there seems to be some degree of consistency.

Interestingly, acclaimed Bible scholar Michael Heiser also interprets the above passage to prove that there are multiple gods and there was a pre-earth council. This is quite remarkable given the fact that many evangelical scholars would consider these views to be heretical.

So why does Section 121 pose the question of whether there be one God or many gods, and suggest that the question will be answered in a time to come, and then appear to answer the question a few verses later in the following verse?

I would suggest that the real question has been hidden by bad punctuation.

I don’t think the question in 121:28 was

whether there be one God or many gods

I think it was

whether there be one God or many Gods

The real question is not whether there are other lesser, sons of God than the great eternal God. That question had already been answered pretty clearly in scripture.

The question being posed is, are there other independent “G”ods like the Father who are not his offspring or his progenitors.

The answer to that was not quite as obvious to some of the saints even though God declares that there are not other Gods “BESIDE ME” (outside of my domain)

That is the great question that was to be answered in a time to come.

I believe that I have documented in past blog posts and in my book that there are no other Gods beside the great Eternal God.

Did other gods help to Create the Earth?

Something else very important is revealed in the Book of Job. It reveals that the sons of God in the council of God did NOT participate in the creation of the heavens and the earth!

They might more accurately be described as cheerleaders.

The morning stars and the sons of God shouted for joy as they witnessed the Father/Son God lay the foundations of the earth!

This narrative is completely consistent with JST Genesis account which informs us that the Father God created the heavens and the earth and He did it through his Son God.

This provides a very important part of the template and standard by which we are to judge the narrative in the Book of Abraham.

Does this mean that the Book of Abraham account of the pre-earth council is incorrect?

Does the Book of Abraham narrative actually say that the pre-earth council helped to create the heavens and the earth?

What Does “The Gods” Mean in the Book of Abraham?

The Book of Abraham uses the phrase “the gods” many times throughout its narrative. The early use of the term has reference to multiple pagan gods.

The first time the phrase is used in a positive way referring to the creation of the earth by “the Gods” is in Abraham 4:1

I have always assumed that the phrase “the Gods” in that passage was referring to a council of many gods (even the sons of God). I had been taught that they participated with the Father and Son in creating the earth:

1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

However, since Mike has suggested that such an interpretation is not congruent with the JST Genesis account, I decided to take a closer, contextual look at how the phrase “the Gods” was being used.

Modern Chapters, Versification and Punctuation is an Abomination

Before sharing my most recent ah-ha, let me reiterate how much I loathe the modern chapter breaks, versification and punctuation with which our scriptures have been bastardized. Much of this versification and punctuation seems to break up the flow of the narrative and change the inflection of meaning. It often promotes the uninspired precepts of men and the doctrinal bias of those that have inserted them.

Because of this I usually read scripture stripped of punctuation, versification or chapter breaks. It is amazing how much these things can alter the meaning of scripture. I do this to allow the spirit to guide the interpretation.

One of the many examples of how a chapter insertion disrupts the flow of a narrative is Abraham 4:1

Lets look at the previous passages and narrative in the previous chapter that leads up to that passage speaking of “the Gods” that organized and formed the heavens and the earth to see if it is really saying what we might think it is saying.

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

This time when I read this chapter I noticed two declarations that God made to the council as well as a declaration he did NOT make to them.

  1. He was going to make some of these soulsrulers“.
  2. He declared that Abraham and other spirits had been “chosen” before they were born.

Nothing is said about either of these groups playing a part in the creation of the world, only in discussing the creation of the world and the gospel plan of being proven and having the opportunity to be added upon.

I had previously convoluted those declarations to mean that these souls and spirits were going to help create the heavens and the earth. But that is not what the passages are saying.

It is one thing to become a ruler or to be chosen. It is quite another to be invited to create the heavens and the earth.

Continuing on with the narrative in the Book of Abraham.

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

Again, in the past, because of my indoctrinated bias, I assumed that the “we” in “we will go down…and .. make an earth whereon these may dwell..” was referring to everyone in the council of the souls and spirits, or at least to one of those groups.

However, as I look at it with fresh eyes, having the benefit of the context provided by JST Genesis and the Book of Job, and other scriptures, I can now see how it could actually be saying that the one composite God was informing the souls who had apparently been through an earthly probation, that He and the Father were going to go down and make an earth for “thesespirits to dwell.

Why had I previously assumed that the passages were identifying the many souls and spirits as helping to create the heavens and earth?

Because I had always been taught that! Our underlying beliefs often skew how we interpret things.

Who introduced that concept into the church?

Mike has suggested that Joseph Smith Jr. might have taught this along with the “God was once a mortal man” dogma in the King Follett Sermon in conjunction with delivering the saints over to Satan:

Frankly, that makes perfect sense to me.

The tricky thing about parsing the words of Joseph Smith after the rejection of the Gospel in 1834 is that you get some amazingly profound truths mingled with some heretical teachings that are not congruent with the word of God.

The burden is on us to parse and discern every point of doctrine.

To complicate things further, we often make the same false assumptions about what Joseph Smith was saying that we make when we interpret scripture. Context is everything.

Notice the following statements attributed to Joseph Smith in one of his discourses.

The head one of the Gods brought forth the [g]ods.” That is the true meaning of the words. Baurau signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council.

I will transpose and simplify it in the English language. Oh, ye lawyers, ye doctors, and ye priests, who have persecuted me, I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. The head God called together the [g]ods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world.

With a predetermined bias, one might assume that the above declaration is stating that the gods in the grand council helped to create the heavens and the earth. But does it actually state that?

No.

It says nothing about creating the heavens and the earth, it is simply saying that a council was held to discuss the bringing forth of the world… the term world often has reference to people, not land. Besides, nothing definitive about the actual involvement in the creation process by these gods is stated.

Continuing with Joseph’s discourse-

“The grand councilors sat at the head in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at the time.”

I still see no problem with the contemplation of the worlds by the council.

Continuing with Joseph’s discourse-

I have got the oldest book in the world; but I [also] have the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments. Come here, ye learned men, and read, if you can. I should not have introduced this testimony, were it not to back up the word rosh—the head, the Father of the Gods. I should not have brought it up, only to show that I am right.

In the beginning the heads of the [g]ods organized the heavens and the earth.

Did you catch that?

Brilliant!

The “heads” (plural) of the “gods” (plural) organized the heavens and the earth.

Bingo.

The heads of the gods is the Father/Son God…. The Godhead

He (they) is/are the ones that organized the heavens and the earth, not the other sons of god.

Joseph Smith himself is making a differentiation.

There is the involvement of the council of gods contemplating the bringing forth of the “worlds”

There is also the actual organizing of the heavens and the earth by the “heads” of the gods.

Continuing with Joseph’s discourse-

“Now the learned priests and the people rage, and the heathen imagine a vain thing.. If we pursue the Hebrew text further, it reads, “Berosheit baurau Eloheim ait aushamayeen vehau auraits.”—”The head one of the Gods said, Let us make a man in our own image.” I once asked a learned Jew, “If the Hebrew language compels us to render all words ending in heim in the plural, why not render the first Eloheim plural?” He replied, “That is the rule with few exceptions; but in this case it would ruin the Bible.” He acknowledged I was right. I came here to investigate these things precisely as I believe them. Hear and judge for yourselves; and if you go away satisfied, well and good.

Astounding.

Joseph Smith is declaring the Head God to be the Head Gods. The head God is a composite being composed of the Father and the Son

Continuing with Joseph’s discourse-

“In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through—Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, its sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods. All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth.

Joseph Smith is proving from the Hebrew that the “head one of the Gods“, (or “heads of the Gods”) is a plural, composite God. Is this not what the scriptures teach us about the Father and the Son? The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father!

He is also using the Hebrew to show that the Heads of the Gods appointed one God for us. Is he not making a cryptic reference to the narrative in the Book of Abraham?

whom shall I send?”

The reply from the one like unto the Son of Man-

“Here I am send me”

He sent his Son!

The Son is clearly the one that has been appointed to be our one God (who is composite with the Father)

Scripture informs us that it is only through the name of the Son that we can be saved.

17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. (Mosiah 3:17)

8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

9 And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ. (Mosiah 5:8-9)

Michael Heiser Shakes Up the Evangelical Christians

Bible scholar Michael Heiser has published a book titled “The Unseen World” which would have been considered heretical by biblical Christians just a few decades ago. However his documentation is so compelling that he is getting very little flack from his peers.

He speaks of God’s “Divine Council“, even his entourage. https://www.thedivinecouncil.com/

He claims that the Old Testament teaches of a dual God at the head and also of a pre-earth divine council of gods.

In fact he makes many declarations that are quite similar to the ones that Joseph Smith made centuries ago. Instead of being shunned and branded a heretic, he is celebrated by many top evangelical scholars.

Here is a snippet from Michael Heiser’s book wherein he speaks of another passage that supports the pre-earth council of the gods:

“Several Old Testament passages describe this administrative structure existing in the heavenly realm, as well. Psalm 82 is perhaps the clearest- and perhaps the most startling. As I related in the first chapter, it’s the passage that opened my own eyes. The psalm refers to Yahwey’s administration as a council. The first verse reads

‘God (Elohim) stands in the divine assembly; he administers judgment in the midst of the gods (elohim)’

You no doubt noticed that, as I pointed out in chapter one, the word Elohim occurs twice in this verse. You also probably recognize Elohim as one of God’s names, despite the fact that the form of the word is plural.”

Heiser points out that even though “Elohim” usually means plural, it can mean singular. He then goes on to rationalize that the first use of Elohim in that passage must be singular while the second is plural.

I disagree.

Even Heiser struggles to shrug off the indoctrination of orthodoxy.

I am convinced that both uses of the word in that passage are plural. Here is my rendition of what is being said in Psalms-

“The Father/Son Gods stand in the divine assembly; they administer judgment in the minds of the sons of god”

If we learn anything when doing an exhaustive search into what God has told us about himself, it is that he is a composite being. The spiritual personage of the Father dwells in the physical personage of the Son making them a plural singular. The Father and the Son are ONE God, yet they consist of two Gods who can and do function individually from time to time.

Lets continue on in the Book of Abraham narrative, working our way to verse one in chapter four ..

27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.

28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

You will notice that the above narrative switches to God and the two entities that offer to be sent [as the savior and redeemer of the world.]

God choses his only begotten Son over the would-be usurper, who kept not his first estate.

This narrows the focus of the narrative to the Father and the Son and it brings us to the original passage in question.

Sadly, the chapter heading insertion helps the reader to forget that the narrative is now down to two beings. The Father and the Son who he chooses to send.

Continuing on-

1 And then the Lord said [to His Son]: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, [the Father and His only Begotten Son] that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

That’s right.

I am suggesting that the term “the Gods” in the Book of Abraham is not referring to some pre-earth council of many Gods that all participated in the creation of the earth, rather, it is referring specifically to the Father/Son God. They are the Gods that created the heavens and the earth.

This appears to be what Joseph Smith was teaching when he said:

the heads of the [g]ods organized the heavens and the earth

Those two Gods make up the only true God. The only true God of the Bible is a composite God consisting of the Father and the Son.

This is taught in Lectures on faith and the New Testament, yet it is difficult to retain this concept when reading other texts with differing semantics.

This interpretation brings “the Gods” terminology in the Book of Abraham into conformity with the JST creation account in Genesis with informs us that the Father creates all things through His Son

1 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 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. (Moses Chapter 2)

That passage appears to contain conflicting descriptives.

First the Father informs us that He created the heaven and the earth by His Only Begotton. Yet in the same breath, He declares that He created the Heaven and earth.

Which is it?

Is this a contradiction?

Not at all.

It is depicting the mysterious composite being that is the only true God.

As Colossians 2:1-10 says

The mystery of God is in understanding that in Christ, “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily

It is the Father who is a personage of spirit who dwells in the Son, who is a personage of tabernacle.

While the Book of Moses uses one form of descriptive to make a mysterious point, is it not just as illuminating for the Book of Abraham to refer to this composite being as “the Gods“?

If my interpretive supposition is correct I find it astoundingly refreshing and clarifying that the Book of Abraham would use this descriptive of “the Gods” to refer to the Father /Son God instead of the typical descriptives in scripture that assure us that the Father and Son are ONE while continuing to speak of them as being separate and distinct beings.

Again, if this radical interpretation is correct, it shows that the Book of Abraham is in conformity with the JST Book of Genesis about this point. The Father, who dwells within the Son created all things by the Son.

I remain convinced that there are other lesser gods, (with a small “g”) than the head God (or Gods) that is composed of the Father and the Son.

I believe that the lesser gods that shouted for joy were the “sons of God”, not other independent Gods.

I remain convinced that the head God(s) called together a pre-earth council to contemplate the organization of the worlds.

I am now convinced that the council of lesser gods did NOT participate in the creation of the heavens and the earth.

I am convinced that the term “the Gods” as used in the Abraham narrative is referring to the “head Gods” which is the Father and the Son (and Holy Ghost)

I am convinced that the pre-earth council narrative described in the Book of Abraham is true and accurate and very revelatory and illuminating. I believe many of those souls are among God’s rulers and that Abraham and other spirits were chosen to do a great work before this earth was created. In my mind it is not a coincidence that the Book of Abraham came forth in conjunction with the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham.

I now enjoy an even deeper understanding of the text in the Book of Abraham and a deeper appreciation for the pre-earth council and the creation of the heavens and the earth. This is because Mike challenged me to re-read and scrutinize a text that I have previously taken for granted.

Thank you Mike.

Mike made other critical observations which I will probably tackle later after I have more time to do some research.

Although I am even more convinced now than before that the book is inspired, I feel that I now have a greater understanding of how the phrase “the Gods” is used in it. Additionally, I now feel certain that the creation of the heavens and the earth was not a group effort outside of the FATHER/SON GOD.

I have a greater appreciation for God’s admonition to understand how and what He is.

Here are a few more of my personal takeaways from this most recent exercise

  1. Don’t take anything for granted in the teachings of modern prophets or the scriptures. We all suffer from many decades of indoctrination, but it is time to question and scrutinize everything. We have a tendency to hang on to some of the false traditions of our Fathers that need to be scrutinized
  2. The JST of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the revelations that God gave to Joseph Smith Jr. in the D&C, are the foundational scriptures by which all doctrines must conform. All three of these canons of scripture came forth prior during Joseph’s revelatory sweet spot. They all came forth prior to the to the rejection of the fulness by the end of 1834 . The doctrines in the Book of Abraham must conform to these three canons of scripture.
  3. Each of the individual doctrines in our foundational scriptures need to be congruent with the general doctrinal narrative and subjected to the law of two or three witnesses.
  4. While many of the inspired teachings of Joseph Smith are illuminating and essential in clarifying passages of scripture, he was also used as an instrument by God in delivering the Saints over the Satan for a little season. For that reason, one cannot categorically accept every teaching that is attributed to him as being true without scrutinizing them to make sure they are consistent with God’s written word.

Thank you, Mike, for being bold enough to challenge a sacred cow.

For now, it is still sacred to me.

This could change as I continue searching and pondering.

I welcome scripturally founded opinions on this topic from readers regardless of whether you agree with me or not.

Keep Watching

22 Responses to Taking a Critical Look At the Veracity of the Book of Abraham

  1. Mike says:

    Watcher, thank you for a thoughtful, scriptural consideration of one of my concerns. I like the way you see things here and I’m going to take it further into my studies.

    Part of of my difficulty is in re-considering the long-held beliefs I’ve had. I’ve been trying to verify the church’s teaching that we, as spirits, participated in a pre-earth council and were presented with the plan of salvation. The church narrative goes that Satan presented his plan and a third part (of us) chose to go with him over God’s plan.

    My challenge has been to validate that teaching with the scriptures. And I’ve been struggling to get scriptural justification for it.

    Part of my problem, I think, is that I saw the council of the gods as equivalent to what the church teaches. I currently think that it is a different thing.

    From JST Genesis (Moses) we learn that God has created many worlds and many of them have already passed away. Where are His creations from those worlds? Is it possible they compose the hosts of Heaven? Are they the sons of God?

    From my studies of the creation account, I see our spirits, that is those of us who have our mortal probation on this planet, being created on the 6th day. Flesh, our physical body, was created after the first 7 days of creation.

    For the pre-earth council, I can’t resolve how we could have been there as spirits if we weren’t created until the 6th day.

    I also have a problem with the church’s narrative of us having to choose between God’s plan and Satan’s plan because in the JST we learn that we received our agency in the Garden of Eden. How could we, as spirits, make a choice without having been given agency?

    However, if there was a council of the gods that composed those other creations of God, who had gone through a mortal probation and had kept their first estate – who had righteously followed God and were now His sons, then they would have been given their agency during their probations. They could, perhaps, maintain that same agency in Heaven.

    It would then be that one of them, Satan, came forward and presented an alternate plan, with the evil intention of usurping God. He convinced a third part of the hosts of Heaven, those who had become sons of God, to follow him.

    This narrative is starting to make sense to me, but it still has flaws. Isaiah talks of Satan being cast out of his grave. It seemed like he and his followers would have a mortal probation here on this earth.

    I’m still pretty low on the learning curve and throwing my raw thoughts out there. Your article has helped me advance a little and I’m hoping I can keep putting the pieces together.

  2. I too took Mike’s supposition with utmost carefulness.

    As a strong believer in the the first few chapters of the Book of Abraham, I remained puzzled by a few of the discrepancies in the creation account at its close.

    Although I’d come to the conclusion that, “the Gods,” represented the Father and the Only Begotten, I hypothesized that this was a future creation of a future earth, which placated any concern that there might indeed be contradictions between the chronological order of events of creation between Abraham and Moses.

    But Mike gave me the opportunity to really seek it out conclusively.

    My half-thought-out theory falls flat: the creation account was the creation of this earth. I really don’t think its all that logical after all to muse that creation will ever vary between earths…(Yet I still remain open to the possibility for things to go differently after the point of man being given agency–all of it still nonetheless taking place in the wisdom of God who knows all things.)

    That Elohim (Christ and the Father) “cause” Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish doesn’t indicate that they were behind the temptation to partake of the fruit and transgress, only that they caused the desire of man to want children. Man (Adam & Eve) wrongfully used their *caused desire* through agency in a way that transgressed the commandments. There might have been another way.

    The contradiction between the naming of animals before the separation of Eve highlights another scenario. Yet *both* took place. So I finally saw these apparent contradictions as more pieces to the larger puzzle of everything the creation entailed. I’m grateful for the study Mike inspired.

    *

    I recently went and cleaned up a lot of the posts on my own blog that represented a learning curve of seeing a larger perspective. Like you, I haven’t had radical changes. But I found it prudent to be more careful with speaking on topics I haven’t made up my mind on, and signify when I am musing rather than speaking emphatically. In the end, I mostly decided to take down the majority of what I’ve written and attempt a more conscientious approach in the future.

    It is a liberation to not seek a following, to have no worries of *losing credibility* as the false prophets always will.

    There’s no telling how much someone like Denver Snuffer could have progressed and evolved if he could have simply admitted to himself and others the degree to which he constantly erred. As soon as one refuses to accept greater light, the light already received is taken. (D&C 1:33) Presuming oneself to be a prophet ultimately leads to an inability to discern further truth.

    • Mike says:

      I still don’t think the Abraham account is fully rehabilitated. While I like what Watcher did, I see it as straining to get the truth out of it. The Abraham account provides less clarity than the JST.

      I can see a couple of reasons. One explanation, is that Abraham account was given to a stiff-necked people. They were given an account that could easily be interpreted by them as what they wanted it to say. So they fit it in nicely with the King Follett discourse and Lorenzo Snow’s couplet leading them to worship a false god. If, on the other hand, we hold fast to the Lectures on Faith as Watcher has done, then we can get the truth out of it.

      This view holds Joseph as a prophet still delivering God’s word, and the people are stumbling over blocks of their own creation.

      Another option is that Joseph’s eyes were covered, he had lost the prophetic mantle. The work had lost its inspiration from God and became a work of man’s. Similar to Mauricio’s work, though not nearly as bad. In this scenario, Joseph has succumbed to the effects of the atonement statute and has taken up the sins of the people. He is actively, whether aware or not, leading them down a false path, but one which they readily and eagerly go.

      I’m good with either of those explanations, as it doesn’t affect my respect and admiration of Joseph the prophet. I’m really comfortable with him literally fulfilling what Moroni said that he would be known for good and for bad. That he would really do bad things, and that he is still a true prophet. Understanding the reason for his failings, makes him more admirable, at least to me. I don’t need Joseph to be perfect for him to be a prophet, there is only one being who walked this earth who needed to be perfect and who truly was.

      Prophets can and do err.

      I don’t think there is a good way to resolve the impossible claim that Eve was separated from Adam both before and after the forming and naming of all the animals. My own thoughts, based on some of the scriptures, is that the JST is correct.

      On the sixth day, when God created the spirits of man, He created them as composite spirits:

      JST Genesis 1:
      29 And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.

      These composite spirits were given the commandment to be fruitful:

      30 And I, God, blessed them and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

      After the seventh day, God then forms the physical body of Adam and creates the Garden of Eden. He places Adam in the Garden of Eden and gives him another commandment:

      JST Genesis 2:
      19 And I, the LORD God, commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat;
      20 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it;
      21 Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it;
      22 For in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

      This is Adam, as a composite being with a physical body, having now been given two commandments from God: be fruitful and multiply and to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

      In verse 21, God is giving Adam his agency to choose. In the JST version, God notes that Adam needs a help meet, but then goes and forms all of the animals first. I believe, that Adam witnessed the formation of all the animals and observes the pattern of male and female for each animal. He learns how it is possible to be fruitful and to multiply.

      However, he cannot do so as a composite being, he has both male and female within one body. He needs to be separated, just like the pattern he observed with all the animals.

      After God causes a deep sleep to come upon Adam and He removes Eve from him, Adam realizes that he can now fulfill Gods commandments. He states:

      JST Genesis 2:
      29 And Adam said, This I know now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.
      30 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

      How does Adam know anything about a father and a mother, husband and wife? Where did he get those ideas? I believe the answer is in the pattern he observed of all the animals. There is a father (male) and a mother (female). Once his physical body had been separated, he understood that mankind would follow that pattern. For man, the mother and father form an inseparable union, for they need to return to the likeness of their Creator. Their children, would leave their parents, find a spouse and form another union that can return to its original form.

      I think it is straining far too hard to say that Eve was separated from Adam, including Adam falling into a deep sleep, both before AND after the formation of all the animals. I see much more depth and truth to the JST account.

  3. Ric says:

    “The spiritual personage of the Father dwells in the physical personage of the Son making them a plural singular.”
    “It is the Father who is a personage of spirit who dwells in the Son, who is a personage of tabernacle.”
    These two statements caught my attention and I’m curious to know are you also saying that the Fathers spirit indwelled in Jesus, the Sons, spirit before ( the pre-earth spirit the finger of which the brother of Jared saw touch the stones to give light) he was tabernacled with his mortal body. I can understand the logic of the Father indwelling in Jesus’ physical body but I question the implication of the Fathers spirit indwelling in another spirit body, that is, the spirit body of Jesus before his mortal birth in the spirit world????

    Ric

    • Sorry about the delay in posting your question RIC I have been traveling.

      It is my opinion that Christ had some sort of a personage of tabernacle even before he came to this earth to take upon himself flesh.

      I have never done an extensive keyword search to see how well that is supported by scripture.

      I hope to do so within the next few days.

      Great question.

      • Mike says:

        Watcher, I’ve come to the same conclusion. In part, I get this from the usage of Tabernacle in the Lectures on Faith. It doesn’t say that He is a personage of flesh. I went to the definition of tabernacle in the 1828 Websters:

        TAB’ERNACLE, noun [Latin tabernaculum, a tent, from taberna, a shop or shed, from tabula, a board; or rather from its root. See Table.]

        1. A tent. Numbers 24:5. Matthew 17:4.

        2. A temporary habitation.

        3. Among the Jews, a movable building, so contrived as to be taken to pieces with ease and reconstructed, for the convenience of being carried during the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness. It was of a rectangular figure, thirty cubits long, ten broad, and ten high. The interior was divided into two rooms by a vail or curtain, and it was covered with four different spreads or carpets.

        It is also applied to the temple. Psalms 15:1.

        4. A place of worship; a sacred place.

        5. Our natural body. 2 Corinthians 5:1. 2 Peter 1:13.

        6. God’s gracious presence, or the tokens of it. Revelation 21:3.

        7. An ornamented chest placed on Roman catholic altars as a receptacle of the ciborium and pyxis.

        TAB’ERNACLE, verb intransitive To dwell; to reside for a time; to be housed; as we say, Christ tabernacled in the flesh.

        Christ is the only begotten of the Father. He was begotten BEFORE the earth was.

        JST Genesis 1
        2 I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God. By mine Only Begotten I created these things.

        God is calling Him the Only Begotten from before the foundation of the earth.
        JST Genesis 5
        43 And God cursed the earth with a sore curse and was angry with the wicked, with all the sons of men whom he had made; for they would not hearken unto his voice nor believe on his Only Begotten Son, even him whom he declared should come in the meridian of time, who was prepared from before the foundation of the world.

        The reference to Only Begotten is not just that Christ is God’s only Son in the flesh here on earth. I believe Christ was Begotten before the foundation of the earth, for God to use that temporary habitation. The tabernacle was, in part, the flesh upon the earth, but it would also be used in other instances besides that.

        Moses 1:
        32 And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
        33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.

        It appears that everything God has created, He did so through the Son, His Only Begotten.

    • I think Mike just saved me some time by condensing why I believe the Son had some type of tabernacle prior to coming to earth.

      • MD says:

        I also suspect that Christ had some sort of tangible body before being born of Mary. In addition to the examples we have in the Old Testament of God eating, wrestling, and other physical interactions with humans, we have this curious language in Ether 3:
        14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

        15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

        16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

        17 And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.

        How did Jesus show himself unto the Nephites? He had them all touch his body before he taught them. If I understand Moroni correctly, he’s saying Jesus had the brother of Jared touch his body as well, perhaps in some sort of “see, you really are made in my image” experience.

      • Mike and MD-

        Thanks for providing the supporting data for Ric that I was too negligent to look up!

        I think the evidence is pretty clear that Christ had some sort of tabernacle that was more dense than spirit and perhaps less dense than flesh and bones before he took upon himself flesh.

        That would indicate that perhaps things are not as black and white as we might otherwise assume with regard to the construct of spirits vs souls and even the make up of the various classes of angels.

        The fact that there might be varying degrees of element reminds us that there is a lot yet to be revealed.

  4. Mike says:

    I’ve had a chance to do some more reading and research. First, though, I think Watcher addressed a different issue/concern. What I mentioned was a rule of thumb I’ve developed to raise my antenna and look very closely at the doctrine. That is areas where I see places that have led the Saints to worship a false god. I believe most of us agree that the current LDS church does not worship the same God as described in the Lectures on Faith. I believe that they worship someone much closer to Satan, and I believe that is all part of the fulfillment of the prophecy in the Book of Commandments. I believe that Joseph Smith was an instrument in God’s hand in turning the Saints over to Satan. I believe this may be a point of contention. It is not, however, the main point as far as my trouble with the creation account from Abraham.

    I began my study of the creation accounts believing Abraham to be revealed scripture. It was only after over a year of study that I kept seeing all of the contradictions and changes. It is the cumulative substance of changes that led me to my conclusion. It isn’t any one in particular. I can see how someone might try to knock down one here or there, but it’s all of them taken together that really makes the case. There really is no substitute for sitting down and setting them all side-by-side and studying them word for word.

    Watcher’s great approach to explaining the usage of ‘the Gods’ in the book of Abraham to really mean God the Father and God the Son doesn’t actually help the Abraham account. The object is to compare it to the JST. So, while Abraham makes us search and strain to see the truth, the JST just lays it out for us:
    JST Genesis 1:
    27 And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so.

    This is crystal clear. The “us” is God speaking to the Only Begotten. The JST is filled with this sort of clarity while the Abraham account is filled with difficult to understand passages and words.

    My initial e-mail didn’t include all of the problems in Abraham. I now believe the problems crop up elsewhere in the earlier parts of Abraham as well.

    Would you characterize the God you worship as perplexed, apprehensive, or fearful?

    Abraham 4:2
    And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.

    ‘Brooding’ is never used anywhere else in the scriptures. It’s really odd to describe the mind of God in such a manner! From the 1828 Websters:

    BROOD’ING, ppr. Sitting on; covering and warming; dwelling on with anxiety.

    ANXI’ETY, noun angzi’ety. [Latin anxietas, from anxius, solicitous; Latin ango. See Anger.]

    1. concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness. it expresses more than uneasiness or disturbance, and even more than trouble or solicitude. it usually springs from fear or serious apprehension of evil, and involves a suspense respecting an event, and often, a perplexity of mind, to know how to shape our conduct.

    I’m not sure why these sorts of characteristics of the Deity were left out of Lectures on Faith. =)

    I’m starting to see problems cropping up as soon as we get past the record of Abraham that we have records of from the 1835 translation.

    JST Genesis 12:9 is consistent with the KJV as it’s Abraham’s idea to pass his wife off as his sister. This is a half-truth. The Book of Abraham lays this half-truth at the feet of God, see Abraham 2:22-24.

    Abraham 3:22 speaks of organized intelligences before the world was. This is out of tune with the timeline where God created the heaven and the earth on the first day. It is also in the passive voice, leaving it unclear who or what organized these intelligences. It does not expressly credit God with their creation.

    Abraham 3:24 has one “like unto God”. This phrase is used nowhere else in the scriptures. We assume it must be the Only Begotten, but the Abraham account is ambiguous.

    Abraham 3:23 has God standing among the souls, the organized intelligences. Then one “like unto God” says “unto those who were with him”, WE will go down, for there is space there, and WE will take of these materials, and WE will make an earth whereon these may dwell

    Contextually, it is difficult to see that God and the one “like unto God” are talking about themselves when they say ‘WE’ and they are NOT speaking to the assembled souls as part of the ‘WE’. It is this passage that gives the LDS the false doctrine that Adam, Abraham, and possibly even some of us were involved in the creation of this earth.

    Later, in Abraham 3:27 it again has “And one answered like unto the Son of Man…”. Well, is it the Son of Man or is it someone else like him?

    One might be able to fit all this ambiguity into the true account, but the fact remains that there is clarity and light in the JST. I don’t see the same in the Book of Abraham. Perhaps it was there deliberately because it was given to the stiff-necked house of Israel and the Saints who had rejected the gospel law.

    Interestingly, I researched some more about the timeline of scriptures. According to this article, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1986/01/how-we-got-the-book-of-moses?lang=eng
    the Brighamite faction didn’t see the Moses account of creation, the one in the JST, until 1851:
    “However, there is one sizable portion of the Moses material (now identified as Moses 2:1 to Moses 4:13) that had not appeared in the early periodicals and in fact had never been printed until just four months previously, when Elder Richards, as editor, published it in the Millennial Star in March 1851.5”

    I find it really interesting that portions of the JST of Genesis were printed in the early 1830s. However, the creation account was not printed until 1851. Yet the Abraham creation account is printed in 1842. The early saints had 9 years of indoctrination with the Abraham creation account BEFORE they saw the creation account from the book of Moses.

    • “Abraham 3:22 speaks of organized intelligences before the world was. This is out of tune with the timeline where God created the heaven and the earth on the first day. It is also in the passive voice, leaving it unclear who or what organized these intelligences. It does not expressly credit God with their creation.”

      When I read it in conjunction with other accounts it became apparent to me that the heaven and earth being spoken of had to do with the heaven and earth of this probation but that there had been countless other heavens and earths previously created. That being the case, it is not unreasonable to suppose that intelligences had previously been organized before this heaven and the earth was created, in fact, the “souls” spoken of would have to have been created before.

      “Abraham 3:24 has one “like unto God”. This phrase is used nowhere else in the scriptures. We assume it must be the Only Begotten, but the Abraham account is ambiguous.”

      It is not unusual to see independent phases that never show up again.

      Ambiguous terms are found throughout all of the canons of scripture in accordance with Gods purposes.

      That phrase is very similar to the phrase “like unto the son of man” which shows up not only in the same Book of Abraham account but also in the Book of Revelation:

      And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
      Rev. 14:14

      Another very similar phrase shows up in Daniel:

      13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

      “Watcher’s great approach to explaining the usage of ‘the Gods’ in the book of Abraham to really mean God the Father and God the Son doesn’t actually help the Abraham account.”

      Why not?

      I disagree.

      I personally think it is profound and I think I did a great job of proving that it is profound.

      Either you are not seeing something that I am seeing or visa versa.

      Keep in mind that when you began this critique, you were unconvinced that there was a pre-earth council of gods even though that concept is very basic and easily proven in scripture without the BofA.

      When you look at that profundity of the term “the gods” along with the astounding correlation previously shown between the terminology and definition found in Section 110, and the fact that the Book of Abraham came forth just as so many Abrahamic priesthood issues were arising in the church as the dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham is being secretly ushered in, seems to me that one needs to take the canon very seriously…

      You may want to consider the possibility that you are not seeing a bigger picture because you are so focused on a smaller one.

      In your attempts to find lots of little dots that you don’t think connect, you may not be seeing the connection of dots to a much bigger picture.

      Again, keep in mind that this record came forth at the time the church was being down-graded from fulness of gospel/priesthood to the Abrahamic patriarchal priesthood.

      The administrative priesthood of the church was being changed from Melchizedek to Abrahamic/Patriarchal.

      Under normal circumstances I would see no need for another account of the creation to come forth, however, with the Abrahamic Dispensation emerging as a backdrop, is it possible that the Book of Abraham is viewing the creation looking through the eyes of a patriarchal perspective instead of Melchizedek perspective?

      I am not saying that the Book of Abraham account of creation is better or more accurate or more enlightened than JST Genesis.

      I have never believed that it is.

      I love the JST Genesis account and do not think it can be improved upon, although it may not provide all of the details.

      But at the same time, I don’t think the subtle differences in terminology and perspective necessarily makes the BofA part of the falsehoods that delivered the saints over to Satan rather than it possibly representing a down-graded form of narrative.

      None of the canons of scripture are perfect and there are many terms that are not necessarily consistent between canons of scripture.

      The D&C uses “soul” as spirit and body while the Book of Mormon uses it as “spirit”. Does that categorically mean that one of those canons of scripture is true while the other is false?

      Is one less important in shedding forth light?

      It seems to me that you may be over-thinking this.

      Again, I have not taken the time to research each of your concerns. It just is not a priority to me at this time. The Book of Abraham occupies very little of my interest right now compared to some other issues on my mind. In fact, I don’t recall the Lord every commanding Joseph to canonize it. Therefore, I find its usefulness to be somewhat ancillary to the basics that we need to know.

      Nevertheless, I like to mine any additional info and clarity from it that I can as long as it does not conflict with the established canons.

      Many of your concerns seem rather trivial to me. Kind of feels like you are just trying to stack the deck with little problems that really are not problems.

      Nevertheless, you have obviously put more study into this than me, if your research and the promptings of the Holy Ghost has led you to conclude that the Book of Abraham is false then good for you. Go for it.

      So far, I find your concerns very interesting but ultimately uncompelling and I personally find the BofA to be quite illuminating and it answers numerous issues for me and seems to fit well into the historical timeline of the restoration.

      • I love this idea, Watcher…that the Book of Abraham was for a church whose eyes were to then view creation through a Patriarchal perspective within the Abrahamic dispensation.

        It could be said:

        Genesis — Levitical understanding of creation
        Abraham — Patriarchal understanding of creation
        Moses — Melchizedek account of creation

        That may be the key.

        *

        Another definition to keep in mind, Mike, is that brood (or brooding) doesn’t necessarily have to indicate something negative. “To sit over, cover, and cherish.”

        How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
        (Luke 13:34)

        The word “brother” has its roots from the word brood, implying family.

        These definitions all align to paint a picture of the Spirit covering and cherishing the earth, which is, “the mother of men.” (Moses 7:48)

        Perhaps the minor connotation of “anxiety” only highlights the bleak aspect that darkness was reigning before the Spirit came over the deep. I wouldn’t say the text is implying that the Father and Son were literally feeling anxiety.

        Maybe that connotation is teaching us to observe the profundity in chaos being organized.

        Perhaps, even, “the spirit of the Gods brooding,” was the spirits of the sons of God that would have felt anxiety as God laid the foundations of the earth. Perhaps the text was originally meant to have periodic distinctions back and forth between, “the gods,” [sons of God] and, “the Gods,” [Father and Son].

        I find it very likely the text is not as perfect as it could have been. Since it’s not official cannon, published without a go-ahead from God, why would it be? We should expect it to have some formatting problems.

        But I don’t find it likely that we have another Section 132 on our hands. I think it’s better to have it as is than not at all. It doesn’t represent the fulness of scripture; it’s just another piece to a puzzle. It’s not as useful to us as the Book of Moses, but is it not valuable to see how Abraham first comprehended creation?

        In the end, we don’t need to obsess with definitions of words. It’s illuminating to read scripture through a fresh view of what these words more closely represent, rather than through our personal experiences with the same language, but being militant with definitions can represent the same pitfalls as preconceived definitions. We need to fuse all the definitions available to us, to remove all bias, and then allow the Spirit to teach what God is really trying to say.

      • Thank you for adding those perspectives G.

        Great stuff to ponder!

      • Mike says:

        I do agree that you did a wonderful and profound analysis of “the Gods”. I really like it. However, I don’t think it addresses the bulk of the issues with the Abraham account. Perhaps you are correct that these are all small, insignificant problems.

        Based on the article that I first referenced which analyzed how Joseph might have produced the Abraham translation, I don’t believe he wrote all of Abraham 2:19 and on in 1842. I believe that he had completed the translation in 1835. What I believe he had time to do in 1842, where he spent about a day and a half editing it, was to make small changes.

        I think those are what I am seeing. So it would be natural that the bulk of it is still valuable, but I don’t feel the need to defend these small points that don’t sit right.

        I don’t need to accept that Eve was separated from Adam twice, I don’t need to accept that God causes them to be fruitful, thus taking away their agency (there’s one entity who clearly sought to take away agency). I don’t need to see God as telling Abraham to tell a half-truth. And so on. It liberates me to see the larger narrative, the profound truth you found and others, without twisting myself up in knots to deal with all the inconsistencies.

        It also makes sense in the timeline of being downgraded to the gospel of Abraham and at the same time being handed over to (or being prepared to be) Satan that he got in and made a few changes that would help to take away the light that the Saints had previously had.

        Maybe others can see these inconsistencies and contradictions in some better light, but to me it is more straight forward and consistent to identify the errors and not need to try to make them fit. I spent a long time studying them and not coming up with anything satisfactory.

        It wasn’t until I looked into the history of the account and what documents we had that I saw all of what I had been studying has no documentation until 1842. That’s the “Aha” moment where I realized that this account could have been altered and these pieces that didn’t fit really shouldn’t.

        Also, the point about the council of Gods is that it doesn’t match what I was taught all my life in the LDS church. There it is taught that we participated in this council, we were presented the plans, we made a choice to follow Christ, some of us even participated in the creation of this earth. This LDS doctrine just doesn’t match with the scriptures. I’ve been trying to find any scriptural support for it, and it’s in Abraham where I think the LDS church finds it. Your recent work shows how the LDS church misreads it (though I don’t think it’s unreasonable how they misread it).

        This could support a case that Abraham was written the way it was to allow the Saints to easily misinterpret it. Now, was that the way God wanted it, or did the enemy go in and sow the seeds?

        Either way, I think it’s wonderful that we are breaking through and seeing the light that was once there. Hopefully much more light is soon to come.

      • Mike says:

        When the scriptures use those phrases, “like” and “like unto”, do we really believe that it is referring to Jesus or is it what it says, and one who is like unto Him?

        Revelation 14:14
        Speaks of one, like unto the Son of Man, sitting upon the cloud with a gold crown and a sickle in his hand. If we conclude that this is Christ, then why is an angel telling God what to do?

        Revelation 14:
        15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

        I don’t think Revelation 14:14 is talking about Jesus, but one like unto the Son of Man. I suspect it could be Joseph Smith or one of the laborers of the vineyard.

        I also believe that Daniel is not talking about Christ either. Once again, it sounds a lot like Joseph Smith to me:

        JST Daniel 7:
        13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
        14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

        It sounds like the one like the Son of man is brought before the Ancient of days. Who would be authorized to bring Christ before someone else? Then this one like the Son of man is given a kingdom which shall not pass away, which shall not be destroyed.

        When the angel interprets the vision for Daniel, he states:
        JST Daniel 7:
        18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

        The saints are given the kingdom! The one like unto the Son of man heads up the saints. Who is it? That sure sounds like Joseph Smith. And doesn’t that fit so well with Jesus offering the infinite and eternal atonement and Joseph Smith, who like Jesus, offered an atonement but was different because it wasn’t infinite or eternal. Thus, he is like, but not identical to, the Son of man.

        Can we do the same with the usages in the Book of Abraham and literally believe that it is talking about someone else, when it says “like” or “like unto”? Or are we forced to conclude that it isn’t someone like, but it is actually that someone, making the “like” unnecessary and confusing?

      • “one like unto the Son of man”

        I agree the wording seems ambiguous and confusing.

        I have also tried to insert Joseph Smith into that spot and I am open to it.

        However I see a huge problem with it.

        Chapter 1 of the Book of Revelation clearly identifies and labels Christ as the one “like unto the Son of man”. ( If you disagree, I would like to review the chapter verse by verse to show all the reasons why it is referring to Christ as the one like the son of man)

        Further, that same chapter establishes the fact that it is Christ who comes in the clouds of heaven using similar terminology as described in the Daniel passages.

        It is difficult for me to believe that the scriptures are using the same identifying code phrase for Joseph Smith that it uses for Jesus Christ.

        I have recently had another thought that might explain the use of the term “son of man” in such a context.

        The term “Son of Man” usually has specific reference to Christ’s earthly body from a mortal woman (even though he did not have mortal blood flowing through his veins).

        That being the case, the passage may be differentiating the glorified body of element of Christ’s body when he comes in the clouds of heaven from the earthly tabernacle that he occupied during his earthly ministry.

        I am not saying that is the correct interpretation, only that it is a possibility.

        frankly, I think it is unlikely that Joseph Smith is ever described as being the one like the Son of Man although I have not completely ruled it out.

      • Having said all that, I will now play the devils advocate

        Chapter 19 presents a being that looks and speaks as if he is Jesus Christ, yet when the prophet kneels to worship him the reply is

        “See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

        this display of divine investiture and celestial cloning supports the possibility that in every case, “one like or like unto the son of man” could in fact be someone filled with the fulness.

        Which makes the Abraham narrative that includes phases like “one like God” and “one like the Son of Man” all the more intriguing.. 😉

  5. Mike says:

    I haven’t studied Revelation 1 enough to take one side or the other. On initial inspection, I would suspect Joseph Smith is one of the seven candles rather than the one like unto the Son of Man. So that may be a point in your favor.

    On the other hand, I believe there are passages about Joseph Smith that can easily be confused with the Savior. For example, in 2 Esdras there are these passages:

    2 Esdras 12:
    31 And the lion, whom thou sawest rising up out of the wood, and roaring, and speaking to the eagle, and rebuking her for her unrighteousness with all the words which thou hast heard;
    32 This is the anointed, which the Highest hath kept for them and for their wickedness unto the end: he shall reprove them, and shall upbraid them with their cruelty.
    33 For he shall set them before him alive in judgment, and shall rebuke them, and correct them.
    34 For the rest of my people shall he deliver with mercy, those that have been pressed upon my borders, and he shall make them joyful until the coming of the day of judgment, whereof I have spoken unto thee from the the beginning.

    2 Esdras 13:
    10 But only I saw that he sent out of his mouth as it had been a blast of fire, and out of his lips a flaming breath, and out of his tongue he cast out sparks and tempests.

    25 This is the meaning of the vision: Whereas thou sawest a man coming up from the midst of the sea:
    26 The same is he whom God the Highest hath kept a great season, which by his own self shall deliver his creature: and he shall order them that are left behind.
    27 And whereas thou sawest, that out of his mouth there came as a blast of wind, and fire, and storm;
    28 And that he held neither sword, nor any instrument of war, but that the rushing in of him destroyed the whole multitude that came to subdue him; this is the interpretation:

    35 But he shall stand upon the top of the mount Sion.
    36 And Sion shall come, and shall be shewed to all men, being prepared and builded, like as thou sawest the hill graven without hands.
    37 And this my Son shall rebuke the wicked inventions of those nations, which for their wicked life are fallen into the tempest;
    38 And shall lay before them their evil thoughts, and the torments wherewith they shall begin to be tormented, which are like unto a flame: and he shall destroy them without labour by the law which is like unto me.

    I see similarities to the power of Joseph Smith described in Esdras with the description in Revelation 1:
    13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
    14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
    15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
    16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shining in his strength.

    The passages in Esdras of “the anointed” and “my Son” can be applied to Christ, but are, in this case, in reference to Joseph Smith. I’m not saying these are exactly the same as the “one like unto” phrase. However, on surface reading of the Esdras account, I think a lot of people could mistakenly assume it was Christ.

    It’s also coming from a source that may not be fully reliable, somewhat how I am seeing the Abraham account. =)

    I believe Daniel, Esdras, and Revelation have a lot of references to Joseph Smith since they deal so much with the last days. I haven’t spent as much time as I need to in studying these.

  6. Mike says:

    If you still have patience with me and my researching the Abraham account, one thing I’m focused on is identifying the false traditions of my fathers that I grew up believing and trying to figure out where they came from. You are a lot further on the path to having the scales fall from your eyes and maybe my efforts aren’t the most worthwhile. But it intrigues me and I feel it will help me scrap as many of the false beliefs I’ve had as I can.

    In Abraham 3:21-22 God is speaking to Abraham about all the organized intelligences. In verse 23, God tells Abraham that Abraham was among those organized intelligences, that Abraham was one of the noble and great ones. In verse 24 we have one like unto God standing among the organized intelligences.

    What the LDS church gets from this is that all of our spirits are those organized intelligences. Jesus is one of those organized intelligences. The LDS church teaches that Jesus was the first organized intelligence, thus he is our elder brother. Satan is also one of the organized intelligences, thus he is a spirit brother of Jesus.

    The LDS church then has these organized intelligences going down and creating the earth.

    I think all of this is false doctrine. I see it steming from the book of Abraham.

    Christ was not an organized intelligence, or spirit, or soul. He was begotten of the Father, the ONLY begotten of the Father. I don’t know exactly what or how that was done, only that Christ is a unique creation (and I see better now how Christ was indeed created and had a start) and from the beginning was a Personage of Tabernacle. God has used the Only Begotten to create all things.

    What you did, and I agree with you, is identified the organized intelligences as those who had lived their probation on other worlds. These would be sons of God who had exercised their agency righteously. They could indeed be considered noble and great ones.

    Could Abraham really be one of them? Some of this confusion from Abraham, I think leads to Steven Fisher’s idea of the Generations of God (along with believing the King Follett discourse). I’ve read his ideas several times, but I don’t see the light in them. I don’t believe we have multiple probations on different worlds and advance from righteous post-atonement spirits, to pre-atonement prophets, to an Adam, to a Christ, then to a God the Father.

    That doctrine doesn’t feel right to me at all.

    So how do I make heads or tails out of the different timelines and scenarios presented in the book of Abraham? If we agree that there were sons of Gods, heirs to all that God has, before the world was, and that they, and not our pre-mortal spirits, are what is talked about in the council of the Gods, then what do we do with the book of Abraham putting Abraham there with them?

    I think I have the answer in that this was slipped in there precisely to lead the Saints astray. It was given to take away the light they had and today many are following the false traditions of their fathers.

    One additional point/question, as I reviewed the creation account in relation to these intelligences and the creation of man on the sixth day, it occurred to me that ‘man’ is typically singular. Yet when I read it I’m assuming that God created all of our spirits because there is a plural reference. Understanding that the plural is due to a composite spirit, is it possible that God only created one spirit on the sixth day? Because if He created all of our spirits then, why does he say “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…” to the composite spirits?

    If all of the spirits were created how could they multiply? If it was just one spirit, how was it to multiply? Is it possible that after God separates Eve from Adam, there is not just a physical procreation that happens but also a spiritual one? Could that be why in Abraham it uses the passive voice when speaking of the organized intelligences? God begins the organization and then allows it to take its course?

    I’m speculating here, and there may be other passages later on that better clarify this. It just seems like a possibility from a literal reading of the text. And it resolves one of my complaints about Abraham in a positive way.

    This then puts Satan as one of the sons of God and not one who should have a probation here on this earth. So it’s still not 100% clear in my mind. It means that after proving himself in a probation, he rebels and throws away his inheritance. That would also play in to KJV Genesis 6:2 and those other sons of God.

    • “These would be sons of God who had exercised their agency righteously. They could indeed be considered noble and great ones
      Could Abraham really be one of them? ”

      I am not sure the text is saying that Abraham was one of the noble and great ones. I think that designation had to do with the “souls” who had already past through probation.

      I think Abraham was a spirit” that was “good” and “chosen”.

      We don’t know if the “souls” that were noble came down to this earth to facilitate the spirits in their probation. If they did, that is why I alluded earlier to the fact that I see a distinct difference between those like Melchizedek, Elijah, and Enoch who had fulness of priesthood power VS Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the house of Israel. They appear to be those that are working out their salvation…

      “Some of this confusion from Abraham, I think leads to Steven Fisher’s idea of the Generations of God (along with believing the King Follett discourse). I’ve read his ideas several times, but I don’t see the light in them. I don’t believe we have multiple probations on different worlds and advance from righteous post-atonement spirits, to pre-atonement prophets, to an Adam, to a Christ, then to a God the Father.”

      I agree with you. those ideas are unscriptural IMO

      That doctrine doesn’t feel right to me at all.

  7. Cathy says:

    We are limited by our current constrict of time. Jesus Christ is not, so he can ‘visit’ different times.

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