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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Under This Head Ye Are Made Free"

One of many recent discoveries regarding ancient wordplays in the Book of Mormon is presented by Matthew L. Bowen in "The Scalp of Your Head: Polysemy in Alma 44:14–18," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 20 (2016): 39-45. He treats a couple examples where Semitic wordplays involving concepts like "head" and "chief" appear to have been used for additional effect in the Book of Mormon.

According to Bowen:
Alma 44:12–14 recounts a prophetic threat uttered by “one of Moroni’s soldiers” to the defeated Lamanite leader Zerahemnah and his soldiers after Moroni’s soldier had taken off a part of Zerahemnah’s scalp with his sword. His soldier’s prophecy and its reported fulfilment verses later in Alma 44:18 turn on the words “chief” and “head.” Both “head” in the anatomical sense and “head”/“chief” in a sociological leadership [Page 40]sense are represented by a single word in Hebrew (ʾš)1 and Egyptian (tp),2 both languages that the Nephites themselves said they used.3
In this brief note, I propose that the intensity of the fear aroused in the Lamanite soldiers and the intensity of Zerahemnah’s redoubled anger are best explained by the polysemy (i.e., the range of meaning) of a single word translated “chief” in Alma 44:14 and “heads” in Alma 44:18. Mormon’s use of the latter term in Alma 44:18 completes the fulfilment of the soldier’s prophecy, a polysemic wordplay initiated with his use of a term translated “chief” in Alma 44:14.
In response, I offered this comment to Matthew:
The “head” under which we are made free in Mosiah 5:8 always seemed like an odd phrase to me. Understanding its apparent Semitic roots is now quite helpful.

Mosiah 5:
7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

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.
Bowen then responded:
I agree that it is helpful to see Mosiah 5:7-8 in terms of Helaman 13:38, as well as the polysemy of Alma 44:14-18. And I wonder if there might be even more to this.
 Helaman 13:38, mentioned by Bowen, gives a title of Jesus as "our great and eternal head.”

I thought of Bowen's closing words, "I wonder if there might be even more to this," this morning as I was reading Brant Gardner's excellent book, Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2015), pp. 270-271, where Gardner discusses the Mesoamerican tradition of kings representing deity in ritual settings that often involve wearing a mask of the head of a god:
The living Mesoamerican king became, in ritual circumstances, the living and present deity. There were rituals where the king not only put on the mask of deity but, for ritual time and in ritual space, became that deity—commonly called god impersonation or “deity concurrence.” In deity concurrence, a ritual specialist, typically the ruler, puts on an engraved mask or elaborate headdress and transforms himself into the god whose mask or headdress is being worn. There is a glyphic formula that essentially says, “His holy image (u-b’aah-il), [that of] God X, [is upon] Ruler Y.” The Maya used the head metaphorically as a mark of individuality, and it stood as a representation of the whole body. In their minds, they were not playacting—they would actually become that god, acting as he would act and performing the godly duties pertaining to that particular deity. As Houston, Stuart, and Taube state, “There is no evident ‘fiction,’ but there is, apparently, a belief in godly immanence and transubstantiation, of specific people who become, in special moments, figures from sacred legend and the Maya pantheon.” There are many situations where deity concurrence takes place and a wide variety of deities are impersonated, such as wind gods, gods of incense burning, gods of ball playing, even major gods such as the sun god or the supreme creator deity, Itzamnaaj.50 This practice goes back to the Formative period (1500 B.C.–A.D. 200), as cave paintings in Oxtotitlan dating to the eighth century B.C. attest.51 Against that context, Alma’s question “Have you received his image in your countenances?” (Alma 5:14) and its rhetorical companion, “Can you look up, having the image of God [Jehovah] engraven upon your countenances?” (v. 19), become highly nuanced. Alma may have been referencing a concept that he expected his listeners to understand and attempted to shift that understanding into a more appropriate gospel context. The masks and headdresses that deity impersonators wore were literally graven; numerous ancient Maya ceramics depict artists in the act of carving them. [footnotes omitted]
Coming back to King Benjamin's speech, note the double use of head: "And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free." Christ is the head that frees us, and there were apparently competing "heads" that Mosiah warns against, for none of those other heads have power to save.

While the Hebrew and Egyptian use of the word "head" seems similar to the range of meanings we give it in English, in my vernacular at least, "head" feels like it should be followed by "of," as in "head of the Church," "head of our faith," etc. To speak of Christ simply as "our head" or "the head" feels odd to me. I'd rather say "our leader" or use some other noun. But if King Benjamin is speaking from the perspective of a culture in Mesoamerica, familiar with kings who represent and act as gods by placing the mask of a god's head upon their head, then this phrase seems more meaningful and natural. 

There are numerous examples in Gardner's work where considering  Mesoamerican culture adds insights and depth to the Book of Mormon text. It seems like there is always more than meets the eye in the Book of Mormon.

96 comments:

bearyb said...

It seems like there is always more than meets the eye in the Book of Mormon.

Agreed. And different things every time I read it!

Everything Before Us said...

To speak of Christ simply as "our head" or "the head" feels odd to me. I'd rather say "our leader" or use some other noun.

"We are in Christ Jesus, members of him, our blessed Head...."

A Spiritual Treasury for the Children of God, by William Mason. New York. 1822

"Having thus set forth the advantages of which the converts he addresses had become partakers, and the union of Jew and Gentile into one church, under one Head."

A Sermon Preached at the Visitation of the Lord Bishop of London on Tuesday July 14th, 1818. By J. B. Hollingworth.


"Is the congregation of all the faithful under Christ Jesus the invisible Head...."

Summary of the History of the English Church, by Johnson Grant, 1811.



"under this head" shows up a lot in writings between 1750 and 1820. It was a common expression, not always used in relation to Christ, but as you can see above, sometimes it was.


NotARobotUsually said...

Kinda new here, but was curious, isn't there a scripture about Christ being the Chief Cornerstone or something like that? Be a cool word play to be Head Cornerstone.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Everything, thanks for the helpful research. There is also Acts 4:11, where the stone (Christ) has "become the head of the corner" (or chief cornerstone, cf. 1 Peter 2:7) and 1 Cor. 11:3: "The head of everyman is Christ ... and the head of Christ is God" (which BTW reminds us that Christ and God are two distinct Beings). And there is Ephesians 4:15, "the head, even Christ." Ephesians 5:23 has "Christ is the head of the church" (cf. Col. 1:18). Col. 2:19 refers to Christ as "the Head."

Even with all that support for Christ as Head in the translation of the Book of Mormon, "under this head" still struck me as a bit odd. But searching through books and documents before 1830 shows that the phrase does occur, including in Early Modern English, just FYI.

One interesting example is The Whole Duty of Man laid down in a plain way for the use of the meanest reader ... With Private Devotions published by T. Garthwait, 1664. The Google Books link to it was found by searching for "under this head," but Google does not offer the full text. Archive.org has an 1821 reprinting, with an preface "To the Bookseller" dated March 7, 1657 (p. iv) from H. Hammond, whom I suppose was the author or compiler.

In The Whole Duty, the phrase "under this head" occurs in a section talking about theft: "Under this head of Theft may be ranked the receivers of stolen goods...." So here we have "head of", not just "head."

Other examples of the use of "head" include "Christ our Head" (p. 77) and a reference to Christ as Mary's "blessed Lord and Head" (p. 446). "Thou art the Head" (p. 452). There are also many examples in which "head" is used to describe the topic of discussion, followed by "of." Thus we have "the head of duty" (p. 125 and again on p. 192), "the head of humility" (p. 139), "the head of concealment" (p. 228), "the head of prayer" (p. 308), "the head of justice" (p. 351). The author speaks of "the head of a whole troop of sins" (p. 358), where "head" has the role of "chief."

So yes, the Book of Mormon usage of the word is consistent with the translation of the Book of Mormon into modern English drawing upon KJV English / Early Modern English, as it should be in most cases. But the context of those words still resonate with Mesoamerican issues (e.g., the image of God engraved upon one's countenance as discussed in Bowen's article, and the relationship to being "under" a head that makes you free).

Anonymous said...

I think trying to make a link to a pagan Mayan ritual is a bit of a stretch. More likely and consistent is its comparable use in Genesis:

Genesis 4:5
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

Genesis 31:2
2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.

Genesis 31:5
5 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.

Anonymous said...

Really grasping here, Jeff.

bearyb said...

"Really grasping" for what, do you suppose?

All Jeff is doing here is trying to "add insights and depth" to our understanding, or at least appreciation, of the scriptures. He is not trying to "prove" anything. Use of the word "grasping" would connote some kind of desperation to accomplish something. I do not see any evidence of that at all.

Anonymous said...

1626, Nicholas Byfield
And so we are brethren with the Angels, as they also are joined under this head Christ Jesus.

Darren said...

Anomynous @7:46 PN, June 16, 2016;

I am not discrediting a connection between Alma and Genesis but as an fyi, Matt Bowen also wrote and excellent article, also found at Mormon Interpreter, involving the word Cain. It is well worth the read.

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/getting-cain-and-gain/

Darren said...

Jeff;

I think you did an excellent job connecting Bowen's wordplay of "head" and "chief" with Gardner's Mesoamerican setting from his Book of Mormon as History book.

Jeff Lindsay said...

The relationship between Cain and countenance does not account for the highly interested use of "engraven" to describe one's countenance in the Book of Mormon. That was a key point in Bowen's article.

Anonymous said...

Given the traditional Israelite reaction to those who worship using graven images, "building on common beliefs" in this situation seems like it would be atypical:

Exodus 20:4
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Deuteronomy 7:25
25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God.

Deuteronomy 12:3
3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

Deuteronomy 27:15
15 Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.

More likely is its biblical usage:

Exodus 32:16
16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

Exodus 28:9
9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:

Exodus 28:36
36 ¶And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, Holiness to the Lord.

Isaiah 49:16
16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Jeremiah 17:1
1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;

James Anglin said...

Is the wordplay in question here just the fact that "head" can mean both bodily head and chief or leader? If so, I can see the wordplay; but I don't see how it's specifically Semitic. The same double meaning exists in English, both now and in Joseph Smith's time.

I'm not even clear how it makes one appreciate the text more to learn that a familiar English pun also existed in Hebrew and Egyptian. We already got all the wordplay, as English wordplay. What does it add, to add Hebrew?

bearyb said...

If I understand the gist of Jeff's post correctly, it is not only the wordplay that is significant, but the surrounding cultural influences of the time that may have imbued the words with more meaning than we might currently appreciate in our day and time.

Everything Before Us said...

There is no clear evidence that the Mayan people were ever performing Law of Moses rituals. They were building pyramidal structures for worshipping false gods, like the sun or the moon.

I laugh when I see Arnold Friberg's representation of Christ descending upon the temple in Bountiful. He shows Jesus showing up at, and therefore putting his seal of approval upon, a Sumerian-style temple high upon a ziggurat. The temple of a group of Jews would not have been constructed in this fashion.

Alma, if he even did exist, would not have been referencing pagan rituals in order to prove his point. It would be like a Mormon priesthood leader referencing Satanic rituals to prove his point.

Think!

bearyb said...

He's back!

bearyb said...

So, then, EBU, you must agree that the biblical reference to baptisms for the dead referenced by Paul must have had some merit, simply because he referenced them, right?

Everything Before Us said...

Only if you'll agree that Mayan rituals had some merit because Alma referenced them.

It is a very human thing to make weak arguments from time to time. Paul has his moments.

bearyb said...

How convenient of you to say so.

What I get from you is that as long as you agree with a particular statement by whoever, they must be right. But if you don't agree, then at best they were just having a "humanly weak" moment. Unless you really don't like them, then they were being downright evil and deceitful.

I don't suppose Jesus ever used mundane, earthly things to teach eternal truths, did He?

Everything Before Us said...

I don't think you understand my meaning. If when Paul mentions baptisms for the dead, and actually removes himself from the practice and those who practice it by using the pronoun "they" rather than "we," then this verse can be used by you to show that Paul supports baptisms for the dead, then I suppose it is safe to assume that since Alma may be referencing pagan, non-Jewish rituals to make his own point, then Alma was in support of these pagan, non-Jewish rituals, and practiced them himself.

Everything Before Us said...

Bearyb,

As long as I feel I am right, then those who agree with me will be perceived by me to be right. I accept the fact that we may both be wrong together. If I don't agree with someone, than either I or that person is having a humanly weak moment. Or one of us in error. If I really don't like someone, then yes...it may be because I perceive that person to be downright evil and deceitful.

Jesus did use mundane earthy things to teach eternal truths. That is different from misleading others to believe you endorse a ritual that you do not, or a doctrine that you do not. Pretending to be God, like the Mayans did, is quite different from talking about agricultural practices. I'm sure you realize this.

James Anglin said...

Jeff says in his post that he thinks the Hebrew wordplay works better than the English because in English he expects "head" to mean "leader" only in "head of" constructions, like "head of department", "head of sales". But I think I've heard "department head", and even "our head" (meaning our boss). Those might be more British uses; but they might well have been current in 1830s New England. I think the value added by the Hebrew connection seems slight at best, here.

Apart from "heads" referring to both leaders and body parts, the other idea is about the image of God being in people's countenances, or even engraved on people's countenances. Was this somehow a reference to Mayan religious masks? I rather agree with the suggestion from EBU, that it seems out of character for a Judaeo-Christian prophet to use pagan practices even as a metaphor.

What I could perhaps instead imagine, though, is that the reference to Mayan masks was not a similarity but a contrast. The pagans engraved divine images on masks which they wore over their real faces, but the real God's image is to be expressed (somehow) in the faces themselves. This might in principle be a significant point, which would be in line with Jesus's own frequent contrasting between outward appearance and inward reality.

On the other hand, if Alma were really trying to draw such a contrast, it really seems to me that he could have done it much better by making it explicitly, and saying something like, "have you received his image, not in an outward mask which ye put on and take off as the Gentiles do with their idols, but in the very flesh of your own countenances?" If that was what he meant to imply, then I can't see any reason not to hammer the point explicitly like that. It would be a good point vividly made. So why leave it as an implicit contrast which has to be read into the text from outside it?

Convinced Mormons may well feel compelled by archaeological evidence to assume a larger pagan culture which surrounded the Book of Mormon people. These Mormon folks may well then be edified by considering Alma's words to have included an implicit contrast with Mayan masks. For non-Mormons, however, the allusion seems far-fetched, because the Book of Mormon just doesn't mention all these surrounding Mayan pagans. And that's pretty weird.

If the Mayans were there, swinging their obsidian-studded club-swords and using tapirs and deer to pull chariots, why doesn't the Book of Mormon ever mention them directly? If Mayan culture was so familiar to Alma's audience that he didn't even have to mention pagan masks explicitly for people to get the contrast, why don't any Book of Mormon people travel between Mayan cities and Zarahemla? If the Mayan cities were inaccessible because of jungle and mountains, then none of their cultural memes could have been familiar to Nephites and Lamanites. There was no Netflix back then.

bearyb said...

As long as I feel I am right, then those who agree with me will be perceived by me to be right. I accept the fact that we may both be wrong together. If I don't agree with someone, than either I or that person is having a humanly weak moment. Or one of us in error. If I really don't like someone, then yes...it may be because I perceive that person to be downright evil and deceitful.

All that is very nice, as long as you are willing to consider that your perceptions may or may not reflect "things as they really are, and things as they really will be." (Jacob 4:13)

Everything Before Us said...

I think that is a given for everyone of us as human beings.

Anonymous said...

There is no clear evidence that the Mayan people were ever performing Law of Moses rituals.
Exactly right. In fact, it would have been impossible for them to do so because they didn't have sheep or Levites. This is a big problem for the mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, which is very clear about the Nephites having practiced the law of Moses for centuries.

Everything Before Us said...

Anon,

Mormon apologists would say that the Nephites didn't need the Levitical Priesthood to officiate in the Law of Moses, because they had the Melchizedek Priesthood, just like the Old Testament Prophets.

The unfortunate thing is that the apologists also need apologetics to defend this idea, because nowhere in the Bible or Book of Mormon does it say that the prophets or Lehi had the Melchizedek Priesthood. And the apologists will admit this point.

It is all made up - this business about Melchizedek Priesthood.

In fact, if you read Hebrews 7, you'll see that someone with Melchizedek Priesthood could not have been officiating in the offices of the Levitical Priesthood, because the two Priesthoods were incompatible. And Hebrews even says that if Jesus were amongst us, he would not be performing the rituals of the Mosaic temple.

Checkmate.

Anonymous said...

The LDS claim is that the Melchizedek is the same priesthood Jesus had and used to perform miracles and ordinances. Are you saying he couldn't have officiated in Levitical priesthood rites if he so chose? That's a ridiculous claim. I'm pretty sure he had power and authority to do whatever he wanted. Not choosing to officiate in those rites because he knows he is there to fulfill them and introduce a higher version of worship is another story.

Anonymous said...

The LDS claim is that the Melchizedek is the same priesthood Jesus had and used to perform miracles and ordinances. Are you saying he couldn't have officiated in Levitical priesthood rites if he so chose? That's a ridiculous claim. I'm pretty sure he had power and authority to do whatever he wanted. Not choosing to officiate in those rites because he knows he is there to fulfill them and introduce a higher version of worship is another story.

James Anglin said...

The notion that priesthood is a power which one can use to perform miracles seems to be uniquely Mormon. I've never heard of any other religion defining priesthood in that way. So it's something that Mormons may want to bear in mind, talking about any kind of priesthood with non-Mormons. You may need to explain what you even mean by the term.

Everything Before Us said...

The idea that the priesthood is a power with which to perform miracles is akin to white magic. In George Oliver's Antiquities of Freemasonry, published in 1801, Oliver talks about two different kinds of masonry, the pure form passed down through Seth, and the corrupted form from Cain. Samael Aun Weor, influential occultist, also talks about different forms of "tantra." White Tantra and Black Tantra.

The idea that there are two powers in the world that human beings can tap into in order to do miraculous things is a very magickal idea.

Anon...I think you need find a good modern-day translation of Hebrews and read chapters 1-10 carefully in one sitting. And then do this several times. Pay very close attention to the overall argument being made across the chapters. Levitical Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood are two different things. One is not the appendage of the other. Levitical Priests cannot perform Melchizedek Priesthood roles. The one who hold Melchizedek Priesthood (Jesus alone) has not need to perform Levitical Priesthood roles, for that covenant is obsolete.

The latter (Melchizedek) completely replaced the former (Levitial). And the two cannot exist side-by-side.

But the two are similar. There is one High Priest in each system. There are many priests in each system.

In the New Covenant, Jesus is the one high priest. There cannot be more than one. The role of the High Priest is to intercede at the throne of God on behalf of mankind. Only one person can perfectly fulfill that role. Jesus.

The believers are the priests. This is why Peter calls us a "Royal Priesthood."

Anonymous said...

Believing that miracles can be performed by a power given and controlled by God makes a whole lot more sense than miracles happening randomly and for no reason. The Old and New Testaments are full of examples of people who tap into God's power "on demand." Mormons call that ability Priesthood. I'm not sure how others would refer to it. There are also scriptural examples of people who attempt to imitate or even buy this ability. How do outsiders define it?

EBU, it sounds like you are attempting to put limits on what God and Christ can do. If the law was fulfilled in Christ and the lower and higher priesthoods can't exist simultaneously, why did Christ attend the Levitical temple? Why did he defend said temple instead of attempting to destroy it or lead people away from it?

James Anglin said...

If you're a junior executive in a big company, the higher executives above you may delegate a certain authority to you, or may retain it for themselves. If the authority is delegated, then you can exercise it yourself without requiring their case-by-case authorization. If the authority is not delegated, and you want something done that requires it, you have to ask the people above you, every time. And every time, they might say No, no matter how good the case seems to you.

Whichever way your company goes, there is no question of the company acting randomly and for no reason. The issue is whether you, as the junior executive, can perform certain acts independently, or whether you can only ask, and a higher power will decide. Similarly, priesthood power as Mormons conceive it is not the only alternative to random miracles. The issue is whether miraculous power is delegated, or not. All the other religions I know consider that God does not delegate miraculous power to humans. We can only ask, every time.

Clearly God has delegated other powers to humans, though. We can decide for ourselves what to do, under the ordinary laws of nature, and that can sometimes be a power little short of miraculous. So there is precedent for God delegating powers to us. The Mormon theory of priesthood isn't obviously absurd, or anything. Neither is it obviously valid. It's different from all the other theories I know about how priesthood works, and about how miracles work.

If Mormons are talking about priesthood with non-Mormons, the basic Mormon theory is going to need more explanation than you might think, if you've always just assumed that this is what priesthood has to mean, to anyone. And if you've never realized that there are other coherent theories besides the Mormon one, you might want to hear about them, in turn.

Everything Before Us said...

EBU, it sounds like you are attempting to put limits on what God and Christ can do. If the law was fulfilled in Christ and the lower and higher priesthoods can't exist simultaneously, why did Christ attend the Levitical temple? Why did he defend said temple instead of attempting to destroy it or lead people away from it?

He attended the temple because he was a Jew. The law wasn't fulfilled until his death. (Death of the testator, remember...).

I am not putting limits on what God and Christ can do. I am simply informing you about what the Bible says on these matters. If you don't agree with the Bible, that is certainly your prerogative. Mormons generally do not agree with the Bible, so it wouldn't be a first.

Everything Before Us said...

Now...if you can show me where Jesus not only attended the temple, but also used his Melchizedek Priesthood to officiate in its rituals, then you are on to something. But I don't think it is there.

Anonymous said...

James,

You've done an excellent job of describing the Mormon concept of priesthood above. One always must ask for a blessing and it is always dependent on the will of God whether or not that petition is answered. They also believe that a desired outcome will happen if (listed from lesser to greater importance) 1)the person making the petition has the priesthood 2)the person making the petition is "worthy" (currently living the commandments to the best of their ability) and has sufficient faith 3)the person, thing or group receiving the blessing is worthy and has sufficient faith (if applicable) and 4)it is the will of God for the blessing to be fulfilled. This is a pattern that can be seen throughout scripture. Most times, miracles or blessings do or don't happen as a result of these 4 things.

Anonymous said...

EBU

I was just responding to your statement:

"The latter (Melchizedek) completely replaced the former (Levitial). And the two cannot exist side-by-side."

They obviously existed side-by-side and Christ gave an implicit endorsement by defending the temple. He even perfomed healings in the temple, so to Mormons, that is clear evidence of both priesthoods present in one place living in harmony.

He attended the temple though there is no description of him officiating:

Mark 11:11. And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple

Everything Before Us said...

Anon...

You are having trouble thinking outside your Mormon paradigm. They didn't "obviously" exist side-by-side. They only "obviously" existed side-by-side to a Mormon, for whom they still exist side-by-side today.

The Law was not fulfilled until the blood of Christ was shed. That is when the veil of the temple was rent, proclaiming the end of the Levitical Order.

Christ endorsed the temple because the Levitical Order had not yet been done away, for he had not yet shed blood.

James Anglin said...

@Anonymous 8:00 —

Thanks for the succinct summary of a Mormon theory on miracles. I can see that it makes some sense and could perhaps be deduced from Scripture. Is it the standard Mormon theory (if that exists)?

For myself I would say that your 4) overrides the other three so completely that I don't think I'd even bother mentioning them in the same list with it. I might say that God's will may itself be affected by some other conditions; if I can continue my analogy, the higher executives who decline to delegate their authority may still exercise it in response to a well-presented business case. For God and miracles, the analog for a well-presented argument might instead be faith. There does seem to be a lot of Scriptural warrant for miracles being helped by faith.

I don't see any Scriptural evidence that God's inclination to perform miracles is swayed by worthiness. To imagine that human worthiness can make God do what we want with the universe seems about as silly, to me, as a three-year-old thinking that if he keeps the tray on his high chair clean then his parents will let him drive the car. And the parable of the Pharisee and the publican keeps hitting me, you know?

What I don't see is any role at all for your 1) (holding the priesthood). It doesn't fit with the other three points, even as a lesser factor; insofar as it's a factor at all, it really is a form of delegation, where people are more likely to get miracles just by virtue of their own office. And I don't see much if any Scriptural warrant for miracles being granted to priesthood holders, except perhaps by a circular logic that decides that every Scriptural miracle-worker must have held the priesthood, even if no non-Mormons have ever considered them priests.

Anonymous said...

EBU

You are the one who said Christ is the high priest. I was attempting to work within the parameters you set. If Christ was the high priest, by your definitions there could be no other high priest in existence. Why then did he attend the Levitical temple which was presided over by Levitical priesthood (and presumably a Levitical high priest)? How could both exist at the same time? Did Christ only become a high priest after his death?

What I understand from your last paragraph above is that Christ endorsed a Levitical temple in life but not in death, is that correct? It doesn't sound correct and doesn't make much sense. Didn't he introduce his gospel while he was living?

Anonymous said...

James,

Nothing I wrote above is "official" doctrine, nor is it spelled out explicitly like that anywhere that I know of. It is merely my observation based on a lifetime of attending and being taught in the church.

As for personal righteousness determining God's bestowal of blessings, I defer to Christ who said "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." There seems to be a relationship between obeying commandments and obtaining blessings from above.

Everything Before Us said...

Christ didn't introduce the gospel. The Gospel is the good news that we have been forgiven for our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Again...watch out for that Mormon paradigm. Mormons have a different definition of Gospel then Christians. To a Mormon, the Gospel, in its fullness is "all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom." (LDS.org)

That is not the Gospel as defined by Christianity, the Bible, nor even the Book of Mormon.

Christ is the High Priest, yes. Your confusion with what I am saying results again from a certain Mormon-y expectation you have. Christ became the High Priest NOT because he has authority and power to perform ordinances and rituals in a temple, but because he approached the throne of God to mediate on our behalf. The old covenant had a veil in a temple made with hands. The new covenant has the flesh of Jesus as the veil through which we are reconciled to God not through the rituals of a temple built with hands. .

Read Hebrews. Seriously. This is vital doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Different anon here. My question is, if Jesus was the only high priest after that order, and if that order didn't exist until after his resurrection, what was Melchizedek? How could he be a high priest after an order that didn't yet exist?

James Anglin said...

@ Anonymous 7:47 —

John's gospel does indeed have Jesus saying that those who obey him are his friends. And I'll accept that this kind of obedience is what we mean here by "worthiness". So, okay: worthiness (in that sense) makes a person a better friend of Jesus. I still don't see how this means that miracles follow worthiness, however, because I don't see how being Jesus's friend would make God more inclined to bless me with miracles.

Sure, if God were a self-centered so-and-so who always knew which side of his bread had the butter, then he might well think, "Arright, Jones down there is my son's buddy, so I'll send some good stuff Jones's way." But it seems to be a huge part of Jesus's whole teaching, even a central part, that God does not think that way at all. Blessed are the poor and the persecuted; God makes his sun shine on good and evil; the lost sheep and the lost coin get all the attention; the prodigal son gets the fatted calf; the publicans and the prostitutes are forgiven while the duly tithing Pharisees are condemned; the unrighteous steward is praised and the eleventh-hour laborers are paid the same as the ones who worked all through the hot day.

Everything Before Us said...

Melchizedek is a challenging character. Paul frequently references characters from the Old Testament to show how they are types or foreshadows of Christ, or he uses them to shed insight on the New Covenant. He does this with Adam, Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Ishmael, Hagar, Sarah. And of course he does it with Melchizedek.

But we know that Paul references these characters allegorically sometimes, and not literally, because at least in the case of Hagar and Sarah, he even says that the story can be interpreted allegorically. And he proceeds to interpret it allegorically. Galatians 4:21-31.

I really think it is a stretch to say that Paul, when he speaks of Melchizedek, is speaking of a Priesthood in the sense that Mormons believe. Like his references to Sarah and Hagar, he is referencing the story of Melchizedek in order to make a point. And if you read it closely, you'll see what his point is.

Paul says that Melchizedek is without genealogy, that he has an endless life. Now, Mormons will claim that this is an error, and what Paul really meant was that MK's Priesthood is not passed down from Father to Son, and that it is an endless Priesthood. It isn't that MK is immortal. His Priesthood is immortal. That the Mormon take on it.

But you absolutely cannot interpret it this way. First of all, it doesn't say this at all! It indeed says that MK has an endless life. It has to say this, because in subsequent verses, the point Paul making is that Jesus has Priesthood like unto MK precisely because Jesus himself also has the power of an endless life.

Paul goes on to say how in the Old Covenant, there were many priests, and there had to be, because they kept dying! But Jesus is a Priest forever, because of his endless life, and therefore he holds his Priesthood forever.

What is endless in these verses is the lifespan of those who hold the Priesthood, not the Priesthood itself. The Priesthood is made endless because those who hold it(MK and Jesus) have the power of an endless life.

The Mormon interpretation of the MK passages in Hebrews is simply wrong. It doesn't hold up when you consider everything that Paul is saying.

Now, do we think that Paul really believed that MK was indeed an immortal being? I don't know, but I think like in the case with Sarah and Hagar, Paul is referencing the legends of MK in order to make a point. The point he is making (and this is backed up by Hebrews 7:9-11) is that the Abraham was blessed by MK, and the greater always blesses the lesser, and the Levites were yet in the loins of Abraham when this happened, so MK was greater than the Levites, and therefore, since MK wasn't from the tribe of Levi (he couldn't have been) which sprung forth from the loins of Abraham, clearly the Levites weren't "all that and then some."

There was something greater than the Levites.

Christ, also, wasn't a Levite, and just like the stories of MK, which describe him as having no genealogy and no mortality, Christ received his Priesthood NOT through his ancestry, but through an oath (and Paul quotes Psalms 110 to prove the oath).

As a Mormon it is hard to read the Bible outside the Mormon paradigm. It is especially hard to read Hebrews outside the Mormon paradigm. But you have to read it this way. Because it simply isn't saying what Mormons have been told it is saying.

So, Anon 12:12. It is difficult to answer your questions, because your questions come from within the Mormon paradigm, which is wrong from the very beginning. It first assumes a literal MK, and then it changes the text erroneously in the Joseph Smith Translation. It is such an unbelievable mess, few who have been indoctrinated into Mormonism can ever clear away the error to see what the passage actually says. One really needs to totally level the entire structure before one can even begin to see what Paul is saying here in Hebrews.



Anonymous said...

I don't think we need to worry about Mormon paradigm or not for this conversation. EBU, many times you have griped at Mormons on this blog for disputing what the Bible says, yet in other instances you yourself have disputed what the Bible says. In this case it looks like your saying "Paul was probably just kidding when he said Melchizedek and Jesus were of the same order." I note that you also state Paul may have been using local legends that may not have been true to make a point, yet you say Alma couldn't have done the same.

Anyway, you didn't really address the questions, so let's try this again. Was Melchizedek a Priest of any sort, or was he not? It's not just Hebrews that says he was, mind you. Genesis says so too. So if he was a Priest, under what covenant was he a Priest? The law of Moses wasn't around, and Christ hadn't been resurrected yet. You have said that the Levitical Priesthood was associated with the law of Moses, that Christ's Priesthood was associated with his law, that His law did not come into effect until his resurrection, and that Priesthood must be associated with a law or covenant or testament. I actually agree with most of that, except the part where we had to wait until the resurrection for the law of Christ to be effective. Mormons don't have a problem with the law of Christ operating before the law of Moses. The Book of Mormon suggests multiple times that the people before Christ's coming could act as though he had already come. See Jarom 1:11 and Mosiah 16:6, for example. So under what covenant or law did Melchizedek's Priesthood operate? Was Paul (or whoever wrote Hebrews) wrong that Melchizedek and Jesus were Priests of the same order? Or was he just wrong about Melchizedek having Priesthood altogether, making Moses wrong about that too? Was there any Priesthood before Moses? If so, once again I ask- what was the associated covenant?

Please keep in mind that I am not worried about the "Mormon" definition of Priesthood. I am fine with the definition of interceding on behalf of the people to God. I actually think that definition is a good summary of what Mormon priesthood holders try to do, so we may not disagree on what Priesthood is as much as you think. So was Melchizedek doing that or not? If so, how?

Everything Before Us said...

Anon 11:36, or should I call you Vance?

Chryses was called priest, too, Do you believe that he had Melchizedek Priesthood? Or haven't you read the Illiad yet. Chryses was a priest of Apollo who gets pulled into the opening pages of the Illiad while Agammemnon and Achilles are arguing over who gets to keep the sex slaves.

The OT also calls Balaam a prophet. But Balaam wasn't an Israelite, was he? No he wasn't. So, tell me, how could an non-Israelite have the required Melchizedek Priesthood necessary to be a prophet?

You have a very insular understanding of the Bible as a Mormon. You have a very myopic definition of terms. You need to approach the Bible without any loyalty to any group. Just be loyal to what the text actually says.

Everything Before Us said...

Jeff wasn't claiming that Alma was referencing "local legends." Jeff was claiming that Alma was referencing real, non-Jewish pagan rituals to false gods. Big difference.


Vance...I know this is you. Or I am a fool.

Anonymous said...

Nope, not Vance. I guess we can assume it's the latter. The Bible doesn't say Chryses was a Priest. The Illiad doesn't say Chryses was a priest of God most High. The Bible does say Melchizedek was. To paraphrase you, your problem is not with me but with the Bible. Balaam was not an Israelite. Neither was Melchizedek. Neither was Jethro, but he was allowed to offer sacrifices to God. I thought we were in agreement that the restrictions of the Levitical Priesthood didn't apply to that of Melchizedek. Isn't that part of Paul's point? That Jesus, who was not a Levite, could have Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. That priesthood is not confined to lineage so I don't see why Balaam couldn't have had that priesthood. However, it's a moot point because in Mormon theology Prophet is not a priesthood office. Anyone who has a testimony of Christ is a Prophet. I'm ready for you to answer my questions now.

Everything Before Us said...

"The priesthood-of the Jews ended forever shortly after the Jews had Jesus crucified by the Romans. Since that there has been no priesthood, no sacrifices, no Temple. But ... this priesthood of which you are now a part is something which began more than 3,000 years ago and is older than Moses and the Ten Commandments.
Again, let me impress upon you, most strongly, this is not “just another degree.” We teach no philosophies, no pagan beliefs, no theories. This High Priesthood is something very special for you have been selected, instructed. anointed, and blessed at the sacred altar and made a High Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek. I charge you that there is a solemn obligation upon you to follow the teachings of this degree and remember that you have been anointed and set apart for a special purpose, a very high purpose, to exert a high morality and a deep and strong determination to conduct yourself as one set apart."


-Roland E. Darrow, Royal Arch Mason, Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Alberta.

Anonymous said...

Oh, are we throwing out random quotes now?

"Albuquerque. See, I can do it too. Snorkel."

-Riley Poole, National Treasure

Anonymous said...

The issue of whether holders of the Melchizedek priesthood could officiate in the rituals of the law of Moses is really beside the point, which is that the Book of Mormon never says that they do. In the Book of Mormon, the job of a priest after the order of Melchizedek or the son of God is to teach and call to repentance. There's no mention of their performing animal sacrifice. This represents a departure from the practices in Jerusalem at the time Lehi left. At that time, the priesthood was hereditary, and the job of a priest was to perform Mosaic rituals. In the Book of Mormon, the priesthood isn't hereditary. In addition, according to the apologetic revisionists, the sacrificial animals required by the law of Moses weren't even available. So the bottom line is that in order for the Nephites to keep the Mosaic law for 6 centuries, the law would have to have been modified. Such a modification would have required a revelation from God. No such revelation is ever recorded.

Is it plausible that the law of Moses could have been modified and the modification not recorded? No. Nephi had to kill Laban so that the Nephites would have a written version of the law of Moses (1Nephi 4:15-17). The modified law would also have to be written down and have the status of scripture.

Everything Before Us said...

Thank you Anon 9:03.

Everything Before Us said...

Was Melchizedek a Priest of any sort, or was he not? It's not just Hebrews that says he was, mind you. Genesis says so too. So if he was a Priest, under what covenant was he a Priest?

You tell me. Under what covenant was he a priest? Not the Abrahamic covenant, for he was greater than Abraham. I don't have an answer for this. You don't have an answer for this. Any answer you might have for this would be pure speculation because scripture doesn't tell us. There is the covenant God made with Noah (and some traditions claim MK is actually Shem), but the Noahic Covenant as set forth in Genesis doesn't talk about Priesthood. I guess that is just another example of "plain and precious" truth being removed. It is amazing how anytime the Bible falls short in including Mormon doctrine, or the Bible teaches something contrary to Mormon doctrine, you can always fall back on the notion that the Bible is corrupt, and if it weren't corrupt, it would perfectly reflect what you believe as a Mormon.

Zedek means "righteousness," but it also refers to a Phoenician god named sdq, or sydyk. MK may have been a priest of the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe that inhabited the land that was to become Jerusalem. Later Sydyk is equated with the Roman Jupiter, the "most high God" of the Romans.

We are dealing here with the deep records of time in a land where each tribe had its own personal deity and its own personal Priesthood. These Mormon narratives and interpretations are just far too simplistic. Everything is interpreted with the sole focus of propping up the Mormon narrative.

You might be interested to know that just about every occultic group around has MK legends that it refers to in order prop itself up. The Masons, Rosicrucians, etc. Seriously...Google "Melchizedek and the occult," or "Melchizedek and Freemasonry." Hours of interesting reading. Everyone wants to lay claim to MK. He represents a power that they all want to tap into.

The Zionitic Brotherhood commune, established by German Pietists in the 1700's in Ephrata PA, just a few miles from where the Whitmers lived, even claimed to have Melchizedek Priesthood.

If we take the words of Hebrews at face value, there is no indication that there was any understanding in the early Christian church that "priesthood after the order of Melchizedek" had been granted to human beings. None. This is very odd. It is clear that Jesus has this Priesthood, but you'd think if Paul were trying to convince the Jews that the Christians, and not the Levites, now had the authority, he'd come out and make this point very clear that he and Peter and others have this Priesthood. But he doesn't.




Anonymous said...

"There's no mention of their performing animal sacrifice"
It's true the BoM doesn't explicitly link Melchizedek Priesthood to animal sacrifice, but it is clear that the people made animal sacrifices (See 1 Nephi 2:7, 1 Nephi 5:2, Mosiah 2:3, 3 Nephi 9:19). Additionally, Melchizedek priesthood is the only kind spoken of in the Book of Mormon, so as Elder Oaks might say, "What other authority could it be?".

"In the Book of Mormon, the job of a priest after the order of Melchizedek or the son of God is to teach and call to repentance"
You are correct that they were called to do that. Specifically, they were called to "teach [God's] commandments unto the children of men." Like performing ritual sacrifice according to the law of Moses. Alma 13 also says the ordinances of the high priesthood were given "after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God..." Guess what else the Book of Mormon says was intended to help people look forward on the Son of God? The law of Moses! (See 2 Nephi 11:4, 2 Nephi 25:24-25, Jacob 4:5, Jarom 1:11, Alma 34:14 for examples) So it's no stretch to understand that Melchizedek priesthood could be involved in the ordinances of the day.

"In addition, according to the apologetic revisionists, the sacrificial animals required by the law of Moses weren't even available. So the bottom line is that in order for the Nephites to keep the Mosaic law for 6 centuries, the law would have to have been modified. Such a modification would have required a revelation from God. No such revelation is ever recorded"
Interesting point. I don't think it needed to be modified to allow non-Levites to make sacrifices, though. After all, Jethro, David, and Elijah all did it, and possibly Solomon. More interesting is your point about the animals. I agree it's possible there was a need for modification, depending on what animals were really available. If a modification happened, I am sure it was recorded. What is not so clear is that the specifics would need to go in the abridged record that was written for our day.

Anonymous said...

"If we take the words of Hebrews at face value, there is no indication that there was any understanding in the early Christian church that "priesthood after the order of Melchizedek" had been granted to human beings. None."

Except that it was granted to Melchizedek. I'm pretty sure he was a human being.

"Zedek means "righteousness," but it also refers to a Phoenician god named sdq, or sydyk. MK may have been a priest of the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe that inhabited the land that was to become Jerusalem. Later Sydyk is equated with the Roman Jupiter, the "most high God" of the Romans."

I see. So Paul was using worship of a pagan Roman god to make his point? Or maybe he was equating Jesus' priesthood with the worship of a Phoenician god or a god of the Jebusites? After all, Jesus and Melchizedek were priests after the same order.

"the Noahic Covenant as set forth in Genesis doesn't talk about Priesthood"

So then priesthood and covenant are not always linked? I thought your earlier argument was that they were. Maybe I misunderstood. You're right that I don't know a name for the covenant associated with Melchizedek's priesthood duties, but I'm not the one challenging Paul and Moses on whether he was an actual priest authorized by the One God. Also, did the sacrifices Noah offered have no priestly connection? How did he offer sacrifice?

Anonymous said...

"You might be interested to know that just about every occultic group around has MK legends that it refers to in order prop itself up. The Masons, Rosicrucians, etc. Seriously...Google "Melchizedek and the occult," or "Melchizedek and Freemasonry." Hours of interesting reading. Everyone wants to lay claim to MK. He represents a power that they all want to tap into."

I might also argue that Christianity has a legend about Melchizedek that it uses to prop itself up. You can read about it in Hebrews.

Everything Before Us said...

Look, I understand the logic of the Mormon position. I am just surprised at the lack of evidence for it. What good would it be for the Great and Abominable Church to remove from the Bible all references to Priesthood authority prior to the Law of Moses when such references would do amazing things in fortifying their claims to have this authority?

Think about this. The foundational difference between Catholics and Mormons is that one of them is wrong when they claim to have authority. Authority is essential to both religions' claims. They are united in this. Any scripture removed to conceal the truth that Priesthood authority is on the earth would hurt both causes.

So...who in the world would've removed these verses? Catholic scribes? Of course not! Mormons and Catholics basically make the same claim: God's authority is on earth and we have it. But there is a serious lack of proof for this claim in the Bible.

The Book of Mormon suggests multiple times that the people before Christ's coming could act as though he had already come.

Well, that is all fine and good. But you must first prove the truthfulness of the BoM. The Bible is not a proprietary book. It is accepted by the entire Christian world. All Christian sects have a common text they can go to in order to hash out their differences. However, Mormons alone have the Book of Mormon. It is a proprietary book. So to prove your case by referencing your own book is kind of a circular path.

So under what covenant or law did Melchizedek's Priesthood operate? Was Paul (or whoever wrote Hebrews) wrong that Melchizedek and Jesus were Priests of the same order? Or was he just wrong about Melchizedek having Priesthood altogether, making Moses wrong about that too? Was there any Priesthood before Moses? If so, once again I ask- what was the associated covenant?

You claim there was Priesthood before Moses, so you tell me what the associated covenant was. I don't understand what is going on here. You are asking me questions about things you believe, wanting me to give you the answers. You believe this, what is YOUR answer? What covenant directed MK's priesthood? Where can we find this in the Bible?

MK and Jesus were priests of the same order. But why does Paul make this claim?

Because:

1. They had an endless life.
2. They were not from the tribe of Levi.

In that way, MK and Jesus were priests of the same order. That is Paul's argument. Now....Is Thomas Monson from the tribe of Levi? No. So, he satisfies that requirement. Does Thomas Monson have the power of an endless life?

No. He doesn't. Paul teaches that God alone possesses immortality. (1 Tim. 6:16) We are immortal, but not of our own power. God alone is immortal of his own volition. That is the difference.

Now, what in the world is Paul talking about when he says that MK has no beginning of days or end of life? I don't know. No one knows. Look it up! The debate rages to this very day.

Occultic groups have their whacked out theories. Christians have their whacked out theories. Everyone has theories, but there is no consensus. But the text is clear. MK Priesthood can only be possessed by one who has the power of an endless life.

And that is Jesus Christ. He is the High Priest forever. The High Priest entered into the temple sanctuary under the Old Covenant to make restitution for the sins of the people. Jesus enters into the sacred sanctuary, the very throne of God, to make restitution for the sins of the people once for all.

That is the job of the High Priest. Can you do this with your Melchizedek Priesthood? Can you enter the sanctuary and make blood atonement for the people?

Remember, Paul warns the Thessalonians that the "man of sin" that will be revealed in the last day in connection with the "mystery of iniquity" will sit in the temple of God.



Anonymous said...

"So...who in the world would've removed these verses? Catholic scribes? Of course not!"

I don't claim that there were verses like that removed. But although no one is called a priest before Melchizedek, they did priestly things, starting no later than Cain and Abel.

"Well, that is all fine and good. But you must first prove the truthfulness of the BoM. The Bible is not a proprietary book. It is accepted by the entire Christian world. All Christian sects have a common text they can go to in order to hash out their differences. However, Mormons alone have the Book of Mormon. It is a proprietary book. So to prove your case by referencing your own book is kind of a circular path."

My point was that you, if not most Christians, claim there was no priesthood before Moses. Maybe even no covenant. Or am I wrong about that? If that is your claim, it makes interpretation of Genesis 14 and Hebrews difficult. For a Mormon, there is no problem. We believe that the ancient Jews and people before them could all be saved by Christ's atonement because it extends backwards as well as forwards in time. Those before him could look to Him as though He already was. We believe that priesthood and covenant have always been around, and that their point is to lead us to Christ. Of course if the Book of Mormon is not true, none of that matters. But if it is true, that raging debate is resolved.

"You claim there was Priesthood before Moses, so you tell me what the associated covenant was. I don't understand what is going on here. You are asking me questions about things you believe, wanting me to give you the answers. You believe this, what is YOUR answer? What covenant directed MK's priesthood? Where can we find this in the Bible?"

I asked you my question because you are adamant that priesthood and covenant go hand in hand. That is your belief as well as mine. Therefore Melchizedek must have had a covenant accompanying his priesthood, or else he had no priesthood. Pauls says he had priesthood, so there must have been a covenant, unless you don't believe the Bible. What covenant? The same covenant that directed Jesus' priesthood. Where can we find that in the Bible? In Hebrews, where it says that Melchizedek and Jesus were priests after the same order.

"In that way, MK and Jesus were priests of the same order. That is Paul's argument. Now....Is Thomas Monson from the tribe of Levi? No. So, he satisfies that requirement. Does Thomas Monson have the power of an endless life? No. He doesn't. Paul teaches that God alone possesses immortality. (1 Tim. 6:16) We are immortal, but not of our own power. God alone is immortal of his own volition. That is the difference. Now, what in the world is Paul talking about when he says that MK has no beginning of days or end of life? I don't know. No one knows."

President Monson does/doesn't have the power of an endless life in the same way that Melchizedek does/doesn't. As you say, God is the only one who is immortal of His own volition. That excludes Melchezedek, unless you believe as some argue that he actually WAS Christ (Christophany). Do you believe that, EBU? If you do, then maybe you have a leg to stand on. If not, then Melchizedek, who was not God, had "power of an endless life." So God could grant President Monson or anyone else the power of an endless life as easily as He could grant it to Melchizedek.

Anonymous said...

"The High Priest entered into the temple sanctuary under the Old Covenant to make restitution for the sins of the people. Jesus enters into the sacred sanctuary, the very throne of God, to make restitution for the sins of the people once for all. That is the job of the High Priest. Can you do this with your Melchizedek Priesthood? Can you enter the sanctuary and make blood atonement for the people?"

Could Melchizedek do it? Could the high priests of the Levitical order do it? No. But they were not actually providing the people with forgiveness. The blood of Christ does that. The high priests were pointing the people to Christ. God called high priests before Moses to do that, He called them after Moses to do that, and He can call them to do that today. No high priest replaces Christ. Of course He is the Great High Priest for those who came before and those who came after. Paul also say Christ is THE Apostle. That doesn't mean there weren't other Apostles called to point the way to Him. Paul was even called to be an apostle AFTER the resurrection.

"Remember, Paul warns the Thessalonians that the "man of sin" that will be revealed in the last day in connection with the "mystery of iniquity" will sit in the temple of God."

That implies that in the last days, there will be a temple of God.

Everything Before Us said...

Well, if there is a temple of God in the last days, and the temple spoken of is the Mormon temple, then it appears that the "man of sin" commonly interpreted to mean the anti-Christ, will be coming out of LDS Church. And he will deceive many after the manner of Satan because they receive not the love of truth, so God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, so that they all might be damned who believed not the truth.

See the problem?

Anonymous said...

I don't see the problem. If it really is the temple of God, that means the church is true. Of course there have been people who put on a face of being worthy to enter the temple when they weren't, and who have subsequently violated their covenants and led people away from God. Sounds like fulfillment of prophecy to me.

bearyb said...

It is amazing how anytime the Bible falls short in including Mormon doctrine, or the Bible teaches something contrary to Mormon doctrine, you can always fall back on the notion that the Bible is corrupt, and if it weren't corrupt, it would perfectly reflect what you believe as a Mormon.

I do not believe that is an accurate statement. Obviously, the Church maintains that the information offered in the Bible is incomplete, and that many "plain and precious truths" have been removed over time.

But I don't think one can say that all doctrines currently taught in the Church would have at some time been in the Bible, or the writings that constitute it. As I understand it, this dispensation includes some things that have never before been revealed, and there is more to come. There are even statements in the Book of Mormon where the writer was constrained by the spirit not to write something, or else language was being used that "cannot be written."

If there is something we claim to believe based on modern revelation that is not clearly stated in the Bible, or in the Book of Mormon, so be it.

Anonymous said...

...but it is clear that the people made animal sacrifices...Melchizedek priesthood is the only kind spoken of in the Book of Mormon, so as Elder Oaks might say, "What other authority could it be?".

The problem is that there's no recorded transition from the sacrifices being performed by Levitical priests to being performed by holders of Melchizedek priesthood. The theological importance of such a transition implies that it should be recorded in a book of scripture.

You are correct that they were called to do that. Specifically, they were called to "teach [God's] commandments unto the children of men." Like performing ritual sacrifice according to the law of Moses.

"performing ritual sacrifice according to the law of Moses" does not equal "teaching the commandments." That is your interpolation, motivated by a naked attempt at harmonization. The commandments are taught in church nowadays, but nobody is sacrificing sheep.

What is not so clear is that the specifics would need to go in the abridged record that was written for our day.

I expected somebody to make this argument, but I don't find it plausible because such a modification would have gone into the small plates of Nephi. The modification would have come during Nephi's time, and Nephi says that the small plates contained the spiritual or ecclesiastical writings. That's where the revelation would have been recorded, and the small plates weren't abridged. They were translated in lieu of the lost 116 pages.

Everything Before Us said...

As I understand it, this dispensation includes some things that have never before been revealed, and there is more to come.

Yes. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, this is the official explanation. On the other days of the week, the following, found on LDS.org, is the official explanation:

"The fulness of the gospel has been preached in all ages when God's children have been prepared to receive it. In the latter days, or the dispensation of the fulness of times, the gospel has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith."

Anonymous said...

I don't think there was a transition. Lehigh was acting by the same authority as Elijah.

Commandments and ritual sacrifice are not the same. But at the time there was a commandment to do sacrifices. That commandment was obviously taught.

It would have gone in the small plates if it was of great spiritual worth. The plates were small. Minutiae such as which animals should be used for what could be recorded elsewhere in more accessible places.

Anonymous said...

I'll go ahead and preempt your forthcoming claim that the law should have been sacred enough to be in the small plates. Sacred? Yes. But not universally applicable. He needed the room for things that would be of worth to anyone, like teaching about Jesus.

Everything Before Us said...

But the doctrine of eternal marriage, the only way to achieve exaltation or eternal life, apparently wasn't of worth to anyone.

Anonymous said...

I guess if one line of attack isn't working, jump to another, eh EBU? I actually think 1 Nephi 7 and 8 speak pretty profoundly about the importance and eternal nature of families. Right between the two chapters that describe the small plates. In the 1830 edition, in fact, it is all one chapter. It's like Nephi is saying "I am going to tell you something of eternal importance," then he tells us about going to get wives, and about Lehi's concern for his family's eternal welfare and his ability to partake of eternal life with them, and then he says "I just told you something really important." But maybe that's just me. Unfortunately, I have to go now. Thanks for the discussion. T'was fun.

Anonymous said...

James,

Tardy reply to post 3:25am 6/28/16.

Keep in mind that the verse I cited above about Christ's friends is preceded by "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Christ is referring to the greatest miracle of all--his ability to forgive us our sins. So yes, we must obey Christ's commandments to take part in that miracle.

As to the other stories you referenced. God does cause the sun to shine on all. He loves all his children equally. He doesn't treat them all equally, however. The fact that there is a hell is proof of this. He wants all his children to be Christ's friends but he doesn't force us to do so. He is concerned more about the lost sheep and the prodigal because he wants them to return. Note that neither is left in their sinful state. He rejoices that they are returned to righteousness.

The publicans are condemned and others not, again based on [current] behavior. Christ knows our hearts and which of us are truly his friends and which are just going through the outward motions. He requires outward as well as inward conversion.

My favorite example you cited is the 11th hour laborers who are paid the same as those who labored all day. This is true and seems somewhat counterintuitive, but a key fact to remember is that they all did the work. The blessing (or miracle) followed the choice of righteousness. The master didn't pay those who didn't work.

James Anglin said...

I can't accept the existence of hell as proof of anything, because I can't possibly believe in hell, at least in any traditional sense. The traditional concept of hell is the worst blasphemy I know: since even the worst possible mortal sinner can do only a finite amount of harm, to punish that finite crime with the infinite harm of eternal punishment is infinitely evil. To attribute such infinite evil to God is the worst slander of God that I can imagine.

I'm not sure I understand the rest of your argument, though. I think we agree that God cares about human character and about human behavior. God wants us to be better people. What I don't see is the quid-pro-quo link whereby God rewards greater worthiness with more frequent miracles. That might make sense as an incentive program, to encourage us to be better people; but it seems to me to be a major theme of Jesus's teaching, that God does not in fact apply that kind of incentive program. Instead God rewards people in ways that are flagrantly uncorrelated with worthiness; perhaps even anti-correlated, because God puts more effort into trying to retrieve the lost than into rewarding the faithful.

Of course, you can probably uphold the concept that worthiness brings miracles by defining "worthiness" to include things like instantaneous faith or repentance, and not just long-term compliance with moral standards, such as faithful tithing. I would disagree with that kind of definition, since if a business partner stole money from me and then felt sorry, I might call him repentant, but I would not call him a worthy partner. But okay, you can define terms however you like. If you want to stretch "worthiness" to include repentance, then I'd say that it's only the repentance kind of worthiness that brings miracles, and not the faithful tithing kind. And so I'd still end up striking out one of the four points in that list you gave.

bearyb said...

James, you might appreciate the non-traditional view of hell held by the LDS Church. Most other Christian faiths reject our point of view on it mainly because we regard it as temporary.

As for the "4 points of miracles," I believe they were laid out as particularly pertaining to priesthood blessings (an ordinance), though that was never said. There are all kinds of miracles manifested though, many having nothing to do with ordinances at all.

bearyb said...

@ EBU:

The ol' "fulness of the gospel" argument again?

The only logical reason you could pose such an argument is because of perceived differences of opinion as to what constitutes the "fulness" of the Gospel.

Perhaps the gospel should defined very narrowly as only the main highlights of our need for, the availability of, and how we can access the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That seems to be the case in the scriptures I remember reading. That little bit covers a whole lot, though, and can even be shortened to the Two Great Commandments.

So, in the interest of efficiency, why didn't God just tell us the Two Great Commandments and leave it at that?

If the Bible and the Book of Mormon each contain the "fulness of the gospel" (as the Church claims), then the definition of "fulness" has to mean something other than "all information from God."

If you believe the Bible contains a fulness of the gospel as in "all information from God," how are we to understand the passage in I Corinthians 2:9? "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Shouldn't God's preparations for us be a part of the gospel?

If everything of eternal importance is in the Bible, why this statement?

There are additionally, of course, the examples I mentioned before where certain things were not even written down. If they were important enough to mention at all, why weren't we allowed to have them at that time?

You speak as one of those mentioned in 2 Nephi 27:27 who say, in reference to the marvelous work and a wonder the Lord will do, "Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay."

I suppose we'll all figure it out eventually.

bearyb said...

And, EBU, before you make the claim that if the gospel so narrowly defined was never lost and therefore didn't need to be restored, please consider at least this:

"Among all the factors contributing to the Apostasy, three are preeminent: first, the loss of the understanding of the true nature of God and thus of our own nature and purpose; second, the loss of apostolic authority and the special witness it provides; and, third, the loss of the fulness of the gifts of the Spirit. It is interesting to me that these three things were among the very first restored in our dispensation. These three essential characteristics of the true Church bear directly on our experience and understanding of faith, reason, knowledge, and truth." From here.

Everything Before Us said...

The only logical reason you could pose such an argument is because of perceived differences of opinion as to what constitutes the "fulness" of the Gospel.


"In its fulness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom."

True to the Faith (2004) Lds.org

Everything Before Us said...

"Among all the factors contributing to the Apostasy, three are preeminent: first, the loss of the understanding of the true nature of God and thus of our own nature and purpose; second, the loss of apostolic authority and the special witness it provides; and, third, the loss of the fulness of the gifts of the Spirit. It is interesting to me that these three things were among the very first restored in our dispensation. These three essential characteristics of the true Church bear directly on our experience and understanding of faith, reason, knowledge, and truth."

Mr. Williams, from whose speech the above is found, needs a history lesson. The understanding of the nature of God evolved between 1830 and 1844, undergoing several permutations. The apostles were not called until 5 years after the establishment of the church.

bearyb said...

Another interesting quote from the link mentioned above:

"The truth of Mormonism does not rest on reason. We do not draw our authority, our identity, or our mission from any set of propositions or from any interpretation of doctrine. We do not draw upon theology at all as justification for our truth claims. The truth of Mormonism rests on the occurrence of certain events. Chief among the founding events are these: the Father and the Son either appeared to Joseph Smith in New York or They did not; there either were gold plates holding a history of real people or there were not; apostles and prophets laid hands on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery or they did not. We can go beyond this. The truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ itself rests on the occurrence of events. There was a Man, Jesus, or there was not; He overcame the whole of sin and darkness in the garden or He did not; the tomb was empty or it was not. The truth of an event is very different from the truth of a proposition. The truth of propositions is established by reason and argument. The truth of events is established by witnesses. Because of the restoration of the true gospel, we are blessed with an abundance of witnesses. This is why the apostolic authority of special witnesses and the restoration of the gifts of the Spirit are essential to the true church. Scriptures also witness of these things, and we Latter-day Saints have an embarrassment of riches where scripture is concerned."

bearyb said...

@ EBU re: your True to the Faith quote -

Isn't it amazing that we've been given such an expansion of knowledge, line upon line, precept upon precept?

Or, we could have just been given the Two Great Commandments. I think more is better.

James Anglin said...

I do find the Mormon concept of hell much more tolerable than that of many mainstream Christian denominations. I don't understand how so many Christians can cheerfully swallow a doctrine which, if it were true, would mean that God was a cosmic evil power who would never deserve worship. The marketing advantages of hell as an infinite threat, to scare people into joining or remaining in the church, seem to outweigh the moral implications of hell. In fairness, though, I don't think that all that many Christians really take hell that seriously. Some do, however. That freaks me out. However religious they may be, they just cannot have thought very much or very seriously about what they claim to believe.

The discussion about miracles and worthiness began with the Mormon concept of priesthood as a power, whereby for example a Mormon priesthood holder could expect to be granted miracles more often than a non-priesthood-holder, other things being equal. From there the discussion shifted to the issue of just what factors might make miracles more likely. I accepted faith, and the will of God, as important factors; I rejected priesthood and worthiness. So we came to talk about worthiness.

Everything Before Us said...

The Mormon concept of Hell is nice. The Mormon concept of Damnation is not. Unlike in Christianity, the two are different.

In Mormonism, one can be saved and damned at the same time. D&C 76 says all are saved. D&C 132 says those who are not exalted are damned. Since exaltation and salvation are not the same thing, one can be both saved and damned in Mormonism.

This was Joseph Smith's way of reconciling the strong Calvinistic belief in heaven/hell which he inherited from his mother with the belief in universal salvation he inherited from his father's side of the family.

It is really clever. Mormon missionaries can tell investigators that Mormons believe everyone will be saved. That sounds nice. And then, when the investigators become members, they can be taught that they will be damned if they are not exalted. If they fail to live up to all they've promised to do, they will be cut off from their families forever.

So, I agree with James...Mormons have not better a system then the rest of Christianity. In fact, in some ways it is far more twisted.

Everything Before Us said...

Isn't it amazing that we've been given such an expansion of knowledge, line upon line, precept upon precept?

Or, we could have just been given the Two Great Commandments. I think more is better.


I absolutely disagree. First of all, it might indeed be better if the more you have is actually the truth. However, when John says that love is the fulfillment of the law, I think he really means what he says. When James says that pure religion is to take care of the widows, I think he means what he says.

In Mormonism, taking care of widows is an expression of religion but it is not at all the religion itself. The Mormonism is a Kabbalistic-style attempt to make sense of a senseless universe by presenting us with a before, now, and after that stretches into eternity in both directions. Mormonism is the "vain speculations" that Paul speaks of, and warns us against.

The servants of Satan will appear as ministers of righteousness. That means they will look like they are righteous people speaking God's holy truth. That means they will deceive people. It isn't the obviously wicked we all need to be concerned about. But Mormonism only concerns itself with avoiding the obvious deceptions of sin and wickedness.

But Satan's servants do not come in this disguise. Jesus hung out with the sinners. The people Mormons are told to avoid, Jesus associated with.

Satan's servants are usually the "righteous" religious leaders. The Bible says so. And these are the people Jesus reprimands time and again.

Everything Before Us said...

If you believe the Bible contains a fulness of the gospel as in "all information from God," how are we to understand the passage in I Corinthians 2:9? "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Shouldn't God's preparations for us be a part of the gospel?

If everything of eternal importance is in the Bible, why this statement?


As I said to someone else: gotta watch for that Mormon paradigm you are stuck in.

I don't believe in a "fullness" of the Gospel. Gospel is just an Old English word for "good news." The good news is that Christ died and was resurrected for us for the forgiveness of our sins. So says Paul in Corinthians.

That is it. Period.

Sure, that doesn't answer a lot of questions. But those questions and the answers to those questions have nothing to do with the good news of salvation.

In that verse you quote, it is talking about the state of being for those who are saved in Christ. We don't know how good it is going to be. But that has nothing to do with the gospel, which is salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Only if one believes that there is something left to be done, some unfinished business that wasn't taken care of on the cross, will one start searching for a "fullness."


James Anglin said...

@bearyb 8:41 —

The claim that a witness is reliable would seem to be a proposition.

Everything Before Us said...

1 Nephi 7 and 8 speak pretty profoundly about the importance and eternal nature of families. Right between the two chapters that describe the small plates

Reading the doctrine of eternal family into these chapters is a real stretch. No one reading it would come away with the doctrine, unless they were first fully indoctrinated into the doctrine.

I'm sorry. But this just isn't convincing. Chapter 7 gives the reason for going back to get Ishmael's family. God wanted Nephi and Sam to have babies in the land of promise. It doesn't say anything about exaltation.

Reading the 'eternal family' doctrine into that is like reading it in the story of Rebekah at the well. Or even in the story of Sleeping Beauty. Or any other story in which a man and a woman fall in love.

bearyb said...

The claim that a witness is reliable would seem to be a proposition.

Perhaps you could "propose" a better method for the convincing of others who were not able to be there?

A lot of resources and efforts are expended to retain witnesses in temporal matters, so apparently there is some value in having them.

No matter, the examples mentioned would never be sufficient enough for convincing others even with witnesses. There were even witnesses who saw some of these things and yet were not convinced.

The best that can be done is to initiate a desire for others to know for themselves - to obtain their own "witness."

bearyb said...

1 Timothy 6:16

"Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting."

So, here is the passage in Timothy to which you refer, and interpret it to say that Christ only is immortal.

But if we read in 2 Timothy 1:10 we find:

"But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"

Whose death did He abolish? To whom did He bring life and immortality?

Back in 1 Timothy 6:

18 "That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

19 "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (emphasis added)

It seems to say here that something is done by someone that through their efforts they "may lay hold on eternal life." It actually says that. But you would have us believe are our efforts of no consequence at all?



And, as long as we're talking about things the Bible actually says - since you seem to hold on to that and nothing else - what actually happened to Moses at the end of his mortal life?

Deuteronomy 34:

5 "So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.

6 "And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

7 "And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."

So, the Bible says Moses actually died.

How, then, did Moses (or Elias, for that matter) appear at the Transfiguration of Christ?

Matthew 17:3 "And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him." The Bible actually says that. Neither of them (Moses nor Elias) could have been resurrected yet, so how could this be?

bearyb said...

I don't believe in a "fullness" of the Gospel.

You've made that abundantly clear, EBU. But there's still time. It could happen.

Everything Before Us said...

1 Timothy 6:16

"Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting."

So, here is the passage in Timothy to which you refer, and interpret it to say that Christ only is immortal.

But if we read in 2 Timothy 1:10 we find:

"But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"

Whose death did He abolish? To whom did He bring life and immortality?


First of all, the verse in Timothy is referring to God the Father, not the Son. And yes...Jesus did bring us immortality. But that proves my point. We don't have it in ourselves unless it is given to us. God has immortality as an essential and eternal aspect of who God is. It is part of his nature in a way it isn't a part of our nature. No one gave it to him. But it is his to give out. God ALONE possesses immortality.

Everything Before Us said...

18 "That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; willing to give the LDS church 10% of all they earn for life, willing to participate in secret rituals, willing to get married in a secret ritual for eternity, willing to wear the sacred garment as instructed, etc, etc.....

19 "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (emphasis added)

I fixed these scriptures for you to accurately reflect Mormon doctrine.

You're welcome.

Everything Before Us said...

Your question about Moses is kind of silly. It seems to suggest that you think only a resurrected being can appear to others. But even in your D&C, Joseph Smith says that spirits not yet resurrected can appear to people. Remember...if you reach out to shake their hand, they won't offer their own hand back.

Everything Before Us said...

I don't believe in a "fullness" of the Gospel.

You've made that abundantly clear, EBU. But there's still time. It could happen.



I believe the gospel is complete in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the "good news," which is what "gospel" means in the first place. You, of course, add other connotations to that word. I think you need to find a new word.

You know...the Brits call a flashlight a torch. And we all call machines that take pictures a phone now.

Sometimes we change the definition of words, but we don't change the word to catch up. This is what has happened.

You don't really believe in the Gospel, Bearby, if the Gospel is what you say it is. You are using the same word, but the word is a emptied of its original meaning as an embalmed corpse is of its blood supply. And thus, it might behoove you to read Galatians 1.

bearyb said...

Only if one believes that there is something left to be done, some unfinished business that wasn't taken care of on the cross, will one start searching for a "fullness."

But there is much to be done. Not on THE cross, because Christ "finished His preparations unto the children of men." (D&C 19:19) He accomplished the Atonement. But He didn't walk away after that. He has a lot more to do, and all of it for our benefit. He didn't love us just once. He still loves us and wants us back home.

But we have a lot to do as well. The main thing is repent. We also need to learn of Him. We need to be humble. In addition, we need to overcome our weaknesses, which we can't fully do without His help. He wants us to spread His word throughout the world. We need to love others as He loves us. We need to exercise faith. We need to follow His example in all things. We need to become "even as He is." We need to change, to "put off the natural man." It takes effort on our part as well as His.

He will not make us do any of it, but He cannot give us everything He otherwise might if we don't. In fact, we probably won't want everything He could give us if we don't. It's up to us. He invites; We choose to either respond or not.

bearyb said...

Even in your D&C, Joseph Smith says that spirits not yet resurrected can appear to people.

Yes, I believe that. Do you?

bearyb said...

Besides, the Bible doesn't actually say it was the spirits of Moses and Elias. Why would you assume it was?

bearyb said...

I suppose you are welcome to change any verse to say what you want it to say. I was only showing you some things the Bible actually does say and, as usual, you deflected or ignored the point. It's a free world, I suppose.

Everything Before Us said...

Nor does the Bible say it was the resurrected Moses and Elias. Why would you assume it was?

Nor does the Bible say that is what the spirit of Christ that preached to them that were dead, does it? But we know it couldn't be the resurrected CHrist that did it. So,...the Bible doesn't distinguish between spirts and resurrected beings who appear after their deaths.

Thus, you assume that Moses was resurrected. It is an assumption. In no way supported by anything in the text. And yet, you accuse me of changing verses to say what I want them to say?

Goodness...Mormons are experts at doing that.

bearyb said...

The following was taken from an article entitled "The Fulness of Times" from the December 1989 Ensign:

Differences between Angels and Spirits

The word angel means “messenger.” It is often used to refer to any heavenly messenger, but in the strict technical sense, as defined in Doctrine and Covenants 129, an angel is a resurrected or translated being with a body. There are also ministering spirits, who do not currently have bodies of flesh and bones. Such have passed through mortality and are awaiting the resurrection.

The Prophet Joseph taught that there is an order that must be observed in the teaching of the gospel among beings of different types, and that Jesus himself observed it. The general pattern is for mortals to teach mortals, spirits to teach spirits, and resurrected beings to minister among other resurrected beings. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 191.)

There are times, however, when it is necessary for beings of a higher order to minister to beings of a lower. It appears from what has been revealed that if priesthood or keys are to be restored to earth, a resurrected or translated being is employed because of the laying on of hands; however, spirits can convey knowledge or deliver messages, but not lay on hands. (See D&C 129.) Because of the necessity of the ordinance of laying on of hands, we know that John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Moses, Elias, Elijah, and any others who conferred priesthood and keys on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were resurrected or translated beings, not merely spirits.

Usually, then, angels or spirits do not minister to mortals (especially if there are other mortals who can do what is needed), but when the need arises, the Lord or his angels give direct and personal guidance to the prophets. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 265.)


Actually, it is not clear in the Biblical text what form Moses and Elijah appeared in. However, they could not have been resurrected beings because Christ hadn't been resurrected yet, and He was to be the first.

Because of our understanding of what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration, namely the conferring of priesthood keys, it follows that Moses and Elias would have been in bodily form for the purpose as translated beings.

My only purpose in mentioning all this is that even though the Bible "actually says" that Moses died, such was not the case.

(And there is the supporting biblical matter of John the Beloved, who still "tarries" on the earth, awaiting Christ's Second Coming.)