Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Jaredite Scriptures and Tsohar

A Pre-Mosaic Bible

The Bible, as we have it, begins with the Pentateuch (or the Torah to the Jews), which is the five books of Moses. Similarly, the Brass Plates referenced in the Book of Mormon also seems to begin with the Pentateuch (1 Nephi 5:10-11). Assuming traditional Mosaic authorship of these books,1 our Bible potentially dates as far back as some time between the 17th and 13th centuries B.C. (depending on standard Christian and Jewish chronologies). Since Genesis includes history long before Moses' day, one may wonder whether he drew upon extant writings or possibly oral traditions to document the Book of Genesis. Fortunately for Latter-day Saints, the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1:1 through 6:13 brought about the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.2 From this book of scripture we learn that Moses was on an exceedingly high mountain where he spoke with the Lord face to face, and while conversing with the Lord, was given a vision of the creation, the garden of Eden, the fall of man, and ultimately "beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created..." (Moses 1:8). Accordingly, it seems reasonable that Genesis could have been documented by Moses based on his vision.  On the other hand, it is possible that Moses had access to ancient texts that he relied on, in part, to formulate Genesis.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Date of the First Vision

"It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day,
early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty" (JS-H 1:14).

Joseph Smith's "first vision," the foundational event of the restoration, may have been in April 1820.  We do not have any contemporary documentation regarding this event, or any subsequent documentation from Joseph regarding the date of this event.  We do, however, have Orson Pratt stating almost fifty years later that it occurred in April of 1820:1

Temple Themes in the Scriptures

A subject that cannot merit enough attention in our scripture studies is the identification of temple themes.  In reading the scriptures we generally identify something here or there that relates to our temple worship; however, many scholars have contributed articles in various venues that elaborate on these themes.  It may be surprising to see that temple themes are pervasive throughout all of our canonical books of scripture.  The purpose of this post is to point the reader to some of these great articles to supplement our scripture studies from a temple worship perspective. 

Seeing Third Nephi as the Holy of Holies in The Book of Mormon:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Eight-Pointed Star, Melchizedek, and Divine Light

Cefal├╣ Cathedral, Sicily, Italy, ca. 12th century - Melchizedek1

The "concept of Divine Light," according to Constantin Marinescu Marin, "...reveals the way the human being had been experiencing luminosity as an attribute that was shared "by all things considered divin[e] and holy.""2   According to Marin, in the ancient world there were two types of "stellar symbols," connected with divine light, including the "star with eight points expressing the concept of a supernatural radiance emanating from a deity as per se, disregarding the being of the deity.  This type of star is unfailing in Christian art and it is called along this work, the Star of Nativity."  The second symbol is the "eight-pointed star, formed by two squares overlapped diagonally, [and] is another type which expresses a dual meaning, the being of the deity and his energy."3  Both were eight-pointed stars, but fashioned differently.  The star that Marin refers to as the "star with eight points," or the Nativity Star, is depicted in the following 12th century late-Byzantine style mosaic in Palermo, Italy:

Monday, April 30, 2012

The 1824 First Vision Reference - Joseph Smith, Sr. and Martin Harris

April 30, 2012
by Tim Barker

In my post, The First Vision in the Formative Years of the Church, I discussed the various accounts of the First Vision related by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as well as by his contemporaries (such as Orson Pratt and Orson Hyde).  In addition to these accounts there were other early Latter-day Saints, as well as non-Latter-day Saints, who made reference to the First Vision during the prophet's life.  Later reminiscences were also recorded by those who knew the Prophet and were familiar with this foundational event.  My post was an overview of these various references and accounts of the First Vision and provided a summary of research that has been available through various resources, such as BYU Studies, Dialogue, Sunstone, and FAIR.  I added some additional information discovered through my own efforts in researching this topic as well.The purpose of this post is to further discuss one of these particular accounts in greater detail.

1824 - Martin Harris and Joseph Smith, Sr.

The chronologically latest published account refers to the chronologically earliest discussion of the First Vision in Willard Bean's 1938 book, A.B.C. History of Palmyra and the Beginning of Mormonism.  This is the earliest published source for the 1824 account between Martin Harris and Joseph Smith, Sr.  The relevant excerpt from Bean's book is provided below:2

Monday, March 5, 2012

Legendary Lives of the Patriarchs - Melchizedek

March 5, 2012
by Tim Barker

In 1871, the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould published one of his many works, Legends of Old Testament Characters From the Talmud and Other Sources, Vol. II: Melchizedek to Zechariah.  In this collection, he provides an array of ancient sources that illustrates various views held on the character of Melchizedek.  Speculation ranges from Melchizedek being the same person as Enoch, Shem, and even the Savior Jesus Christ.  All of the information included below feeds into the complex puzzle of the identity of Melchizedek and his career and role as a priest of the God Most High.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Fake Death of Martin Harris

February 16, 2012
by Tim Barker

Martin Harris died in Clarkston, Utah, in 1875, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In 1837 he had been excommunicated from the Church and spent most of his life in Kirtland, Ohio, until he was rebaptized in 1870, after which he moved to Utah where he spent the remainder of his life.  As one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon (having seen the plates with the engravings thereon, and having heard the voice of God testify that it was translated by His gift and power), Martin's life was often under spotlight.  He had been given considerable attention during the early days of the Church because he mortgaged his farm to pay for the publication of the Book of Mormon.  Pomeroy Tucker, a resident of Palmyra, stated that "nothing could be done in the way of printing [The Book of Mormon] without his aid..."1  In 1841, Reverend John Clark, also of Palmyra, recalled a conversation with Harris after he had returned from meeting with Charles Anthon in 1828.  Clark noted that Harris was willing to "take the spoiling of his goods" in support of Joseph Smith and the publication of the Book of Mormon.  He insisted that Martin, "was determined that the book be published, though it consume all his worldly substance."2