Hello Faith Promoting Friends,
Well, despite a glorious introduction as a new contributor, I’m afraid I’ve not done much more than put up a few thoughts critiquing the way we, as Latter-day Saints, traditionally use Job 19:26 as a proof text for the resurrection.
Alas, not very exciting,or productive, I know.
Yet friends, it’s the New Year, and time therefore for Yours Truly to repent and set a goal to participate more fully in this worthwhile forum.
So here we go!
Recently, I was especially interested in the December 11th post by my friend G. Wesley who raised some interesting points by drawing our attention to the issue of what to do with the JST and the GNT. G. Wesley finishes his intriguing post with a question, i.e. “what of [the JST] and the Hebrew Bible”?
I would like to use that question as a springboard to share my conviction that despite my appreciation for the JST, I cannot accept the work as a restoration of an original biblical text. Whatever we do with the JST, we cannot employ the Book of Moses in an effort to restore the earliest form of Genesis. When all is said and done, the Book of Moses is a 19th century revision of the KJV of the opening chapters of the Bible.
Taking the first two chapters of the book as a guide, Genesis begins with an amalgamation of two separate versions of creation, the second, which commences in Genesis 2:4b, actually predates and appears to have directly influenced the version that now opens the Bible with the famous clause, “In the beginning…”
The Book of Moses attempts to bridge the obvious literary gap between these two disparate sources by identifying the creation story in Genesis 1:-2:4a as purely “spiritual” in nature (see Moses 3:5). This attempt to reconcile two historically distinct sources reveals that Moses does not predate Genesis 1-2.
End of story.
Yet even adopting a traditional view that ignores the observations of contemporary biblical scholarship, it is clear via the Prophet Joseph himself that whatever the Book of Moses does, it does not restore what Joseph himself identified as the original version of the text.
Towards the end of his ministry, the Prophet Joseph declared that prior to the days of uninspired tampering, the earliest version of Genesis 1:1 read: “The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods” (Teachings, 348).
Now, if we consider Moses 2:1 in light of this teaching, a verse which would, if the Book of Moses contained a restored original text, reproduce the earliest version of Genesis 1:1, we gain the following insight:
“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 2:1)
And there we have it. No mention of heads, or of gods, or even of councils. Moses 2:1 revises Genesis 1:1 to simply read as a first person divine narrative. So clearly even if we ignore the implications of biblical scholarship and simply rely upon the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith himself, when it comes to the Book of Moses, the JST does not restore an original text.
Hence, if we cannot use the JST to recreate the earliest biblical manuscripts, what can believing Latter-day Saints do with the JST?
Well, I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. Heck, I don’t even assume to hold the best answers. But I do have a few ideas that have worked for me personally that I’ve gained while pondering the matter. I’ll share these ideas in part two.
In the meantime,
Happy New Year to all!!