Cover image: Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827): Finding the Shipwrecked Sailor.
This article is the second in a series discussing the history and meaning of ancient and modern temple ordinances. For the previous article, Bounded Flexibility in Adjustments to Temple Ordinances, HERE. The present article is adapted in part from Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Freemasonry and the Origins of Latter-day Saints Temple Ordinances. Available at Eborn Books, FAIR Bookstore, and other Latter-day Saint booksellers—and online at Amazon.com.
A previous article reviewed how the Lord has permitted authorized Church leaders to adjust the details of temple work to meet the needs of different times, cultures, and practical circumstances (read that article here). Such adjustments “are continuing evidence that the Lord is actively directing His Church.”[i] In the coming weeks we will discuss some of the general aspects of the “order of the house of God”[ii] that have remained an essential part of temple worship since ancient times. In this article, we will focus on the Creation, the Fall and the Atonement—the three elements that constitute the basic teaching outline of ancient and modern temples.
The Shipwrecked Sailor and the Modern Temple Goer
Our situation in coming to earth, with no memory of how and why we were sent here, can be compared to that of a shipwrecked sailor who lands on an unknown shore (see figure 1). The bewildered mariner “awakens from a deep sleep and discovers treasure strewn about, relics from a civilization he can barely remember. One by one he picks up the relics—gold coins, a compass, fine clothing—and tries to discern their meaning.”[iii] Though the individual objects may stir faint glimmers of recognition, they have no practical meaning until the sailor begins to regain the memory of the homeland from which he came. Before he can make heads or tails of them, he needs to know something of his culture, his parentage, his past, and the reason he set out to sea in the first place.
Similarly, it is ineffective for any of us—having no recollection of our premortal life—to learn the truths of the temple in a piecemeal fashion. It is not a matter of figuring out what specific symbols mean one by one, as if we were trying to memorize the periodic table of elements for a chemistry class. Rather, it is coming to grasp how the truths, events, ordinances, covenants, and doctrines evoked by these symbols fit together as an elegant whole. In sum, the symbols used in temple teaching cannot be appreciated in isolation, but only within the context of the plan of salvation to which they belong.[iv] Elder Bruce C. Hafen wisely counseled:[v]
I have for years encouraged people preparing to receive their temple endowment to study the Book of Moses. The book gives them unique and rich doctrinal perspective for understanding the endowment—the concepts of heavenly ascent, the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, the purposes of mortality and its trials, ritual prayer, sacrifice, obedience, consecration, priesthood, revelation, building Zion, and preparing to meet God.
Figure 2. Nathan Richardson (1978–): The Location View of the Plan of Happiness.[vi]
Location Based vs. Christ-Centric Views of the Plan of Salvation
Elder Hafen’s counsel reminds us that not every approach to teaching the plan of salvation is equally effective. For example, consider the depiction above of what Nathan Richardson has called a “location-based view” of the plan of salvation[vii]—or, as Alma calls it, the “great plan of happiness.”[viii]
Of course, there is nothing factually wrong with this view. It is a clear and easy to understand diagram of where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. However, as Richardson observed, it fails to mention the essential roles of Jesus Christ in bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man.”[ix] The “location-based view” is a way of thinking about the plan of salvation that, regrettably, leaves out its very heart.
Figure 3. Adapted from Nathan Richardson (1978–): The Three Pillars of Eternity.[x]
Elder Bruce R. McConkie brought attention to the fact that there is a different, Christ-centered way of teaching the plan of salvation that appears several places in scripture.[xi] This approach emphasizes what he called the “three pillars” of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.[xii]
Figure 4. Jesus Christ demonstrated the extent of His love through the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement: a. He was the Father’s principal agent in the Creation;[xiii] b. The coats of skins provided by the Father to Adam and Eve after the Fall symbolized Jesus’ suffering, death, and promise of protection;[xiv] c. Heavenly messengers carried news of Father’s message that Adam and Eve’s vulnerability to the temptations of mortality could be surmounted through the strengthening blessings of Christ’s Atonement as received in priesthood ordinances.[xv]
The temple endowment serves as a corrective to other methods of gospel teaching by showing us how the Atonement of Jesus Christ fits into the context of the Creation and the Fall. In the endowment, we learn of the purpose of Creation and how Jesus Christ Himself carried out the work of the Creation on behalf of the Father.[xvi] We learn why the Fall was not a colossal mistake, as some have misunderstood, but rather was an essential part of the Father’s plan that was assured when Jesus Christ was chosen as our Savior in premortal heavenly councils.[xvii] Finally, by learning the Gospel and applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our individual lives, each participant in temple ordinances traces the footsteps of Adam and Eve in a reverse direction to the Fall—from the mortal world back into the presence of the Father.
A brief overview of the three pillars of eternity provides an ideal starting point for teaching the overall meaning of the temple.
The temple endowment narrative begins with an explicit recital of the events of Creation.[xviii] Those participating in the endowment for the first time will be better prepared to understand why this is the case if they know that the story of Creation was a near universal feature of temple rites in the ancient Near East.[xix] Beginning with the beginning reminds worshipers that the universe was divinely created for a benevolent purpose—namely, as described in modern revelation, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”[xx]
In Old Babylon, the story of Creation recited in ritual contexts included an account of “how Marduk achieved preeminence among the gods of the heavenly council through his victorious battles against the goddess Ti’amat and her allies and of the subsequent creation of the earth and of humankind as a prelude to the building of Marduk’s temple in Babylon.”[xxi] These and other analogous events described in traditions from Egypt and the ancient Near East can be compared to the Pearl of Great Price accounts of the selection of Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer and the casting down of Satan as a prelude to the Creation.[xxii]
Ancient Near East traditions are also in general harmony with the proposal that the intent of Creation is the building and furnishing of a cosmic temple. For example, Old Testament scholar Margaret Barker’s suggests that the architecture of the tabernacle and Israelite temples is modeled on Moses’ vision of the creation.[xxiii] In this view, the results of each day of Creation are symbolically reflected in temple furnishings. For example, the light of day one of Creation might be understood as the glory of God and those who dwelled with Him in the celestial world prior to their mortal birth.[xxiv] According to this logic, the temple veil that divided the temple Holy of Holies from the Holy Place would symbolize the “firmament” that was created to separate the heavens from the earth in its original, terrestrial state.[xxv]
A closer look at the word “firmament” in Hebrew confirms this interpretation as plausible. Joseph Smith translated Abraham 4:6 as “expanse” instead of “firmament.” The Prophet’s choice of the word “expanse” seems to have been based on the Hebrew grammar book that he used during his study of Hebrew in Kirtland.[xxvi] According to biblical scholar Nahum Sarna: “The verbal form [of the Hebrew term] is often used for hammering out metal or flattening out earth, which suggests a basic meaning of ‘extending.’”[xxvii] This could well apply to the idea of the spreading out of a curtain or veil, consistent with the imagery in Moses 7:30. In light of correspondences between the story of Creation in Genesis and the making of the Tabernacle in Exodus, the concept of the firmament as a veil merits further study as a contrasting alternative to other biblical descriptions where it is often understood (misunderstood?) as a solid dome.[xxviii]
Figure 5. Adapted from Michael P. Lyon (1952–): The Days of Creation and the Temple, 1994.
Louis Ginzberg’s reconstruction of ancient Jewish sources is consistent with this overall idea,[xxix] as well as with the suggestion of several scholars that a narrative of the Creation story something like Genesis 1 may have been used within temple ceremonies in ancient Israel:[xxx]
 God told the angels: On the first day of creation, I shall make the heavens and stretch them out; so will Israel raise up the tabernacle as the dwelling place of my Glory.[xxxi]
 On the second day I shall put a division between the terrestrial waters[xxxii] and the heavenly waters, so will [my servant Moses] hang up a veil in the tabernacle to divide the Holy Place and the Most Holy.[xxxiii]
 On the third day I shall make the earth to put forth grass and herbs; so will he, in obedience to my commands, … prepare shewbread before me.[xxxiv]
 On the fourth day I shall make the luminaries;[xxxv] so he will stretch out a golden candlestick [menorah] before me.[xxxvi]
 On the fifth day I shall create the birds; so he will fashion the cherubim with outstretched wings.[xxxvii]
 On the sixth day I shall create man; so will Israel set aside a man from the sons of Aaron as high priest for my service.[xxxviii]
From this perspective, when God finished the Creation, what came of it was an earthly temple that was laid out and furnished in symbolic likeness to the heavenly temple. That earthly temple, the result of Creation, was none other than “Eden.” Its Holies of Holies was the celestial top of the figurative mountain of God, and its Holy Place was a Garden of terrestrial glory located on its eastern slope.[xxxix]
Carrying this idea forward to a later time, Exodus 40:33 describes how Moses completed the Tabernacle. The Hebrew text exactly parallels the account of how God finished the Creation.[xl] Genesis Rabbah comments on the significance of this parallel: “It is as if, on that day [i.e., the day the Tabernacle was raised in the wilderness], I actually created the world.”[xli] With this idea in mind, Hugh Nibley famously called the temple “a scale-model of the universe,”[xlii] a place for taking bearings on the cosmos and finding one’s place within it.
The idea that the process of creation provides a model for subsequent temple building and ritual[xliii] is found elsewhere in the ancient Near East. For example, this is made explicit in Hugh Nibley’s reading of the first, second, and sixth lines of the Babylonian creation story, Enuma Elish: “At once above when the heavens had not yet received their name and the earth below was not yet named … the most inner sanctuary of the temple … had not yet been built.”[xliv] Consistent with this reading, the account goes on to tell how the god Ea founded his sanctuary (1:77),[xlv] after having “established his dwelling” (1:71), “vanquished and trodden down his foes” (1:73), and “rested” in his “sacred chamber” (1:75). Note that the language of Enuma Elish directly parallels Moses 3:5, thus making it clear that this much disputed verse on “spiritual creation” is meant to convey that Eden was laid out as a temple.[xlvi]
Figure 6. Walter Rane (1949–): In Similitude. Adam and Eve obediently offered sacrifice for “many days” before an angel
appeared to them to explain why they had been commanded to do so.[xlvii]
The Fall of Adam and Eve and the Atonement of Christ
Some find it strange that Latter-day Saints, while professing to be Christians, have adopted the story of Adam and Eve rather than the life of Jesus Christ as the central focus of the temple narrative. Elder Hafen responded to this concern as follows:[xlviii]
Years ago, a friend said to me, “Christ is at the center of the temple. And Christ is at the center of the gospel. So why doesn’t the temple endowment teach the story of the life of Christ? What’s all this about Adam and Eve?” At that time, neither of us could answer his question.
But Marie and I now feel settled with this answer: the story of the life of Christ is the story of giving the Atonement. And the story of Adam and Eve is the story of receiving the Atonement. Their story is our story, too. We can look at them and say, “That’s the story of my life.” And when we’re in the temple, we can naturally think of ourselves as if we were Adam and Eve.
The Fall as a “necessary good.” Consistent with Elder Hafen’s description, the modern temple endowment features the story of the Fall and Redemption of Adam and Eve as its narrative focus.[xlix] For Latter-day Saints, the events that brought “opposition” into the world[l] came through the exercise of choice by Adam and Eve and were, in fact, a “necessary ‘evil’”[li]—or, more accurately, a necessary good. We believe that sin is an individual responsibility, not the result of evil forces beyond one’s control. Our scriptures teach that the purpose of earth life is to “prove” humankind “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”[lii] Through reliance on the strengthening grace and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ,[liii] the means to overcome sin and death is provided and the way is opened for human salvation and exaltation. The test provided by this temporary earthly probation requires a fallen world, one that the devil himself helped institute through his temptation in the Garden of Eden. In his efforts to thwart Adam and Eve’s progression, Satan unwittingly advanced God’s plan.[liv]
For this reason, Latter-day Saints, like many fellow Christians, know that the story of the Fall “is not an account of sin alone but a drama about becoming a being who fully reflects God’s very own image. Genesis is not only about the origins of sin; it is also about the foundations of human perfection. The work that God has begun in creation, he will bring to completion. … [E]arly Jewish and Christian readers [were] aware of this while most of their modern counterparts have not been.”[lv] Indeed, the Book of Moses is explicit about this development, stating that after the Fall “the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost. And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance.”[lvi]
Adam’s acceptance of the ordinance of baptism of the water and the Spirit is recounted and celebrated in the Book of Moses,[lvii] as are allusions to subsequent priesthood ordinances that were intended to lead Adam and Eve to the glorious end of the covenant pathway that leads to exaltation. Thus, we are told that Adam was “after the order of him who was without beginning of days,” and that he was “one” in God, “a son of God.” Through this same process—after having both received every required ordinance and having successfully completed their own unique suite of probationary tests during earth life—all who seek the Lord with their whole heart will find Him[lviii]—having become, through that process, not merely God’s children but, in addition, His sons and daughters.[lix]
Ancient antecedents to the temple story of Adam and Eve. It’s important to know that putting Adam and Eve center stage in temple worship is not a new idea. Indeed, the story of Adam and Eve may be seen as the implicit context for temple worship in ancient Israel. Without an understanding of the Fall, the atoning rites of the temple would be unintelligible. Thus, according to non-Latter-day Saint scholar L. Michael Morales, the annual Day of Atonement was an event that, for the children of Israel, “called upon both memory and faith: memory, a looking back to the first Adam’s failure and expulsion from divine Presence in Eden; faith, a looking forward to the remedy for that expulsion.”[lx] Later, Jewish sectarians at Qumran developed additional rituals of heavenly ascent based on the explicit hope that they could regain, through their worship, “all the glory of Adam.”[lxi]
Earlier Christians also connected the themes of the Fall and the Atonement of Jesus Christ in a multitude of texts, songs, and “mystery plays” that paired the Fall of Adam with the Atonement of Christ, especially during the Christmas season.[lxii] The most widely known group of extracanonical accounts of Adam and Eve’s experiences after they leave the Garden of Eden is the Life of Adam and Eve, which probably dates from a first-century Hebrew original and exists in many later versions.[lxiii] A major theme of this series of stories concerns the unsuccessful attempts of Satan to deceive Adam and Eve. They become increasingly immune to his wiles through the knowledge and protective power provided by angelic visitations and the knowledge, covenants, and power received through ordinances.[lxiv] These same themes are prominent in the temple endowment.
Latter-day Saint scholar David Calabro has made a careful analysis of these Christian texts, including the Book of Moses and (implicitly) the Latter-day Saint endowment narrative. Underscoring the common context in which early Christians used these stories of Adam and Eve, Calabro found that “they are all oriented in a specific way to ritual performances.”[lxv]
Having briefly summarized the reasons why we can be comfortable in concluding that the Creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Atonement of Christ have long been at the heart of temple narrative, we are prepared to consider significance of the covenant path through ancient and modern temples in the next article in the series.
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———. 1986. “The greatness of Egypt.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 271-311. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008.
Ostler, Blake T. “Clothed upon: A unique aspect of Christian antiquity.” BYU Studies 22, no. 1 (1981): 1-15.
Polen, Nehemia. “Leviticus and Hebrews… and Leviticus.” In The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology, edited by Richard Bauckham, Daniel R. Driver, Trevor A. Hart and Nathan MacDonald, 213-25. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009. http://books.google.com/books?id=N_jDnh8qMFMC. (accessed July 2).
Richardson, Nathan. 2010. Understanding the Fall: Two Views of the Plan of Salvation (23 December 2010). In Latter-day Saint Philosopher. http://www.ldsphilosopher.com/two-views-of-the-plan-of-salvation/. (accessed December 24, 2019).
Ricks, Stephen D. “Liturgy and cosmogony: The ritual use of creation accounts in the ancient Near East.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 118-25. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.
Robinson, Stephen E. “The Book of Adam in Judaism and early Christianity.” In The Man Adam, edited by Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, 131-50. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1990.
Sarna, Nahum M., ed. Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989.
Seixas, Joshua. A Manual of Hebrew Grammar for the Use of Beginners. Second enlarged and improved ed. Andover, MA: Gould and Newman, 1834. Reprint, Facsimile Edition. Salt Lake City, UT: Sunstone Foundation, 1981. https://books.google.com/books/about/A_manual_Hebrew_grammar_for_the_use_of_b.html?id=fN1GAAAAMAAJ. (accessed August 31, 2020).
Smith, Joseph, Jr. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007.
———. 1805-1844. The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2008-. https://www.josephsmithpapers.org.
———. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969. https://scriptures.byu.edu/tpjs/STPJS.pdf. (accessed October 29, 2021).
Smith, Mark S. The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010.
Speiser, Ephraim A. “The Creation Epic (Enuma Elish).” In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard. 3rd with Supplement ed, 60-72, 501-03. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972.
Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1971.
Vermes, Geza, ed. 1962. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Revised ed. London, England: Penguin Books, 2004.
Walton, John H. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.
———. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.
———. Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011.
Weinfeld, Moshe. “Sabbath, temple and the enthronement of the Lord: The problem of Sitz im Leben of Genesis 1:1-2:3.” In Mélanges bibliques et orientaux en l’honneur de M. Henri Cazelles, edited by André Caquot and Mathias Delcor. Alter Orient und Altes Testament 212, 502-12. Kevelaer: Butzon and Bercker, 1981.
[i] R. M. Nelson, Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation, p. 95.
[ii] J. Smith, Jr., Papers 2008-, Journal 1835-1836, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1835-1836/35 (accessed May 17, 2019); J. Smith, Jr., Teachings 2007), p. 419; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 12 November 1835, p. 91. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:127-128, the term “order of the house of God” is used in reference to certain formalities of the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, however “order” is used more broadly in relation to temple and priesthood matters elsewhere in the revelations (for example, Doctrine and Covenants 85:7; 132:8, 19).
[iii] P. Yancey, introduction to G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. xiii.
[iv] The importance of discerning authentic patterns in the pieces is discussed by Georges Florovsky (G. Florovsky, Bible, pp. 77–78):
Denouncing the Gnostic mishandling of Scriptures, St. Irenaeus introduced a picturesque simile. A skillful artist has made a beautiful image of a king, composed of many precious jewels. Now, another man takes this mosaic image apart, re-arranges the stones in another pattern so as to produce the image of a dog or of a fox. Then he starts claiming that this was the original picture, by the first master, under the pretext that the gems (the psêphides) were authentic. In fact, however, the original design had been destroyed—lysas tên hypokeimenên tou anthrôpou idean. This is precisely what the heretics do with the Scripture. They disregard and disrupt “the order and connection” of the Holy Writ and “dismember the truth”—lyontes ta melê tês alêtheias. Words, expressions, and images—hrêmata, lexeis, parabolai—are genuine, indeed, but the design, the hypothesis, is arbitrary and false (Adv. Haeres., 1. 8. 1). St. Irenaeus suggested as well another analogy. There were in circulation at that time certain Homerocentones, composed of genuine verses of Homer, but taken at random and out of context, and re-arranged in arbitrary manner. All particular verses were truly Homeric, but the new story, fabricated by the means of re-arrangement, was not Homeric at all. Yet, one could be easily deceived by the familiar sound of the Homeric idiom (1.9.4). It is worth noticing that Tertullian also refers to these curious centones, made of Homeric or Virgilian verses (De Praescr., XXXIX). Apparently, it was a common device in the polemical literature of that time. Now, the point which St. Irenaeus endeavored to make is obvious. Scripture had its own pattern or design, its internal structure and harmony. The heretics ignore this pattern, or rather substitute their own instead. In other words, they re-arrange the Scriptural evidence on a pattern which is quite alien to the Scripture itself. Now, contended St. Irenaeus, those who had kept unbending that “canon of truth” which they had received at baptism, will have no difficulty in “restoring each expression to its appropriate place.” Then they are able to behold the true image. The actual phrase used by St. Irenaeus is peculiar: prosarmosas tôi tês alêtheias sômatiôi (which is clumsily rendered in the old Latin translation as corpusculum veritatis). But the meaning of the phrase is quite clear. The somation [Greek, typically meaning “small body”] is not necessarily a diminutive. It simply denotes a “corporate body.” In the phrase of St. Irenaeus, it denotes the corpus of truth, the right context, the original design, the “true image,” the original disposition of gems and verses.
[v] B. C. Hafen et al., Adam, Eve, the Book of Moses, p. 162.
[vi] Used with permission of Nathan Richardson. From N. Richardson, Two Views.
[vii] Used with permission of Nathan Richardson. Adapted from ibid..
[viii] Alma 42:8, 16.
[ix] Moses 1:39.
[x] Used with permission of Nathan Richardson. From N. Richardson, Two Views.
[xi] See, for example, 2 Nephi 2:22-26; Alma 18:36, 39; 22:13; Mormon 9:12, Doctrine and Covenants 20:17-18, 20-25; Moses 6:54-59; Articles of Faith 1:1-3.
[xii] Elder McConkie wrote (B. R. McConkie, New Witness, pp. 81-82):
We view the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as the center … of revealed religion. It brings to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.…
But had there been no fall, there could have been no Atonement. The fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world, and it is from these deaths that man and all forms of life are ransomed through the atonement. … Adam brought mortality; Christ brought immortality.…
But if the earth and man and all living things had not been created in their … paradisiacal state, in a state of deathlessness, there could have been no Fall.
The Fall, with its resultant probationary estate, is the child of the original and primeval creation, and the Atonement is the child of the Fall.… Salvation comes because of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement; these three are each part of one divine plan.
[xiii] Walter Rane (1949–): Jehovah Creates the Earth. ©2000 by Intellectual Reserve.
[xiv] William Blake, 1757-1827: The Clothing of Adam and Eve, 1803. The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.
[xv] God Instructing Adam and Eve, late 12th century. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Add. 144.a. Fol., with the assistance of Mme Zerkane and Ingrid Appert, as well as the help of Elizabeth Witchell of the Warburg Institute. Previously published in R. Green et al., Hortus, Vol. 1, Original fol. HD 17r. (Figure 21), see also Vol. 2, p. 31, Figures 17-18. From the Bastard Calques plate 12, tracings of the original made ca. 1840.
[xvi] See for example, John 1:3, 10; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2; 2 Nephi 9:5; Mosiah 3:8, 5:15, 26:23; Ether 3:16; Doctrine and Covenants 38:3, 76:24, 88:7-10, 93:9; Moses 1:33, 2:1.
[xvii] See, for example, 2 Nephi 2:22-26.
[xviii] See J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1971), p. 83.
[xix] See, e.g., J. H. Walton, Ancient, pp. 123-127; H. W. Nibley, Meanings and Functions, pp. 1460-1461. For more on the structure and function of the story of Creation found in Genesis 1 and arguably used in Israelite temple liturgy, see, e.g., J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One; M. S. Smith, Priestly Vision. W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars provides perspectives on other biblical accounts of creation. See J. H. Walton, Genesis 1, pp. 17-22, for a useful table that highlights similarities and differences among creation accounts in the ancient Near East. Cf. W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars, pp. 21-32.
[xx] Moses 1:39.
[xxi] J. M. Bradshaw et al., Investiture Panel, p. 11.
[xxii] See Moses 4:1–4; Abraham 3:22–28.
[xxiii] M. Barker, Revelation, pp. 24-25; M. Barker, Hidden, p. 18. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 146-149. Of course, the temple-centric view of the Pentateuch is not the exclusive model of Creation presented in the Bible, as scholars such as Brown and Smith explain (W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars; M. S. Smith, Priestly Vision).
[xxiv] See J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014), pp. 51–53.
[xxv] See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, p. 104.
[xxvi] J. Seixas, Manual, p. 21:10. See the discussion in M. J. Grey, Approaching Egyptian Papyri, pp. 420-424.
[xxvii] N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 8.
[xxviii] From this perspective, Enoch’s description in Moses 7:30 is particularly intriguing: “And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there” (emphasis added).
Note that the Israelite temple veil was replete with cosmic and creation symbols (M. Barker, Boundary). Materially, the temple veil was a “curtain” like the other curtains used for the Tabernacle, consistent with the NET Bible translation of “veil” as “special curtain” in Exodus 26:31. The translators note that the difference between the veil and other curtains is primarily functional: “The word פָרֹכֶת (pārōkhet) seems to be connected with a verb that means ‘to shut off’ and was used with a shrine. This curtain would form a barrier in the approach to God (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 26:31, p. 289)” (NET Bible, NET Bible, Exodus 26:31, n. 38).
References in Exodus 24:10, Job 6:13; 37:18, and Ezekiel 1:22, 25, 26 describe the “firmament” as a polished dome, somewhat like smoothly hammered metal (Jeremiah 10:9) or sapphire. The concept of the firmament as a solid dome is also supported by references that describe heavenly “waters” literally as “water,” thus the need to fit the sky with “windows” that could open and close as needed for rainfall (e.g., Genesis 7:11, 8:2; Malachi 3:10). However, some late Jewish traditions put forth the idea that in some Creation contexts it may have referred to what Latter-day Saints would call “unorganized matter” (see e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, p. 98).
[xxix] L. Ginzberg, Legends, 1:51. See also W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars, pp. 40-41; P. J. Kearney, Creation; C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Cosmology of P, pp. 10-11. According to Walton, “the courtyard represented the cosmic spheres outside of the organized cosmos (sea and pillars). The antechamber held the representations of lights and food. The veil separated the heavens and earth — the place of God’s presence from the place of human habitation” (J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, p. 82).
Note that in this conception of creation the focus is not on the origins of the raw materials used to make the universe, but rather their fashioning into a structure providing a useful purpose. The key insight, according to Walton, is that: “people in the ancient world believed that something existed not by virtue of its material proportion, but by virtue of its having a function in an ordered system… Consequently, something could be manufactured physically but still not ‘exist’ if it has not become functional. … The ancient world viewed the cosmos more like a company or kingdom” that comes into existence at the moment it is organized, not when the people who participate it were created materially (ibid., pp. 26, 35; cf. J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 5 January 1841, p. 181, Abraham 4:1).
It has long been observed that in the contexts of bara’ [the Hebrew term translated “create”] no materials for the creative act are ever mentioned, and an investigation of all the passages mentioned above substantiate that claim. How interesting it is that these scholars then draw the conclusion that bara’ implies creation out of nothing (ex nihilo). One can see with a moment of thought that such a conclusion assumes that “create” is a material activity. To expand their reasoning for clarity’s sake here: Since “create” is a material activity (assumed on their part), and since the contexts never mention the materials used (as demonstrated by the evidence), then the material object must have been brought into existence without using other materials (i.e., out of nothing). But one can see that the whole line of reasoning only works if one can assume that bara’ is a material activity. In contrast, if, as the analysis of objects presented above suggests, bara’ is a functional activity, it would be ludicrous to expect that materials are being used in the activity. In other words, the absence of reference to materials, rather than suggesting material creation out of nothing, is better explained as indication that bara’ is not a material activity but a functional one (J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, pp. 43-44).
In summary, the evidence … from the Old Testament as well as from the ancient Near East suggests that both defined the pre-creation state in similar terms and as featuring an absence of functions rather than an absence of material. Such information supports the idea that their concept of existence was linked to functionality and that creation was an activity of bringing functionality to a nonfunctional condition rather than bringing material substance to a situation in which matter was absent. The evidence of matter (the waters of the deep in Genesis 1:2) in the precreation state then supports this view” (ibid., p. 53).
[xxx] E.g., M. Weinfeld, Sabbath, pp. 508-510; S. D. Ricks, Liturgy; P. J. Kearney, Creation; J. Morrow, Creation.
[xxxi] Exodus 40:17-19.
[xxxii] Jewish commentators have sometimes taken the term “waters” in the creation account to refer generally to the matter out of which all things were created. For a discussion and sources, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, p. 98.
[xxxiii] Exodus 40:20-21.
[xxxiv] Exodus 12:8, 25:30
[xxxv] For a discussion how the notion of “priestly time” is reflected in the story of the creation of the luminaries, see M. S. Smith, Priestly Vision, pp. 93-94, 97-98.
[xxxvi] Exodus 25:31-40, 37:17-24.
[xxxvii] Exodus 25:18-22, 37:6-9.
[xxxviii] See Exodus 40:12-15. See also M. S. Smith, Priestly Vision, pp. 98-102. “Through Genesis 1 we come to understand that God has given us a privileged role in the functioning of His cosmic temple. He has tailored the world to our needs, not to His (for He has no needs). It is His place, but it is designed for us and we are in relationship with Him” (J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, p. 149).
[xxxix] For more on the symbolic geography of Eden, see, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, Tree of Knowledge; J. M. Bradshaw, Moses 6–7 and the Book of Giants, pp. 1124–1134.
[xl] Moses 3:1. See J. D. Levenson, Temple and World, p. 287; A. C. Leder, Coherence, p. 267; J. Morrow, Creation. Levenson also cites Blenkinsopp’s thesis of a triadic structure in the priestly concept of world history that described the “creation of the world,” the “construction of the sanctuary,” and “the establishment of the sanctuary in the land and the distribution of the land among the tribes” in similar, and sometimes identical language. Thus, as Polen reminds us, “the purpose of the Exodus from Egypt is not so that the Israelites could enter the Promised Land, as many other biblical passages have it. Rather it is theocentric: so that God might abide with Israel. … This limns a narrative arc whose apogee is reached not in the entry into Canaan at the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of Joshua, but in the dedication day of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 9-10) when God’s Glory — manifest Presence — makes an eruptive appearance to the people (Leviticus 9:23-24)” (N. Polen, Leviticus, p. 216).
In another correspondence between these events, Mark Smith notes a variation on the first Hebrew word of Genesis (bere’shit) and the description used in Ezekiel 45:18 for the first month of a priestly offering (bari’shon): “‘Thus said the Lord: ‘In the beginning (month) on the first (day) of the month, you shall take a bull of the herd without blemish, and you shall cleanse the sanctuary.’ What makes this verse particularly relevant for our discussion of bere’shit is that ri’shon occurs in close proximity to ’ehad, which contextually designates ‘(day) one’ that is ‘the first day’ of the month. This combination of ‘in the beginning’ (bari’shon) with ‘(day) one’ (yom ’ehad) is reminiscent of ‘in beginning of’ (bere’shit) in Genesis 1:1 and ‘day one’ (yom ’ehad) in Genesis 1:5” (M. S. Smith, Priestly Vision, p. 47).
Hahn notes the same correspondences to the creation of the cosmos in the building of Solomon’s Temple (S. W. Hahn, Christ, Kingdom, pp. 176-177; cf. J. Morrow, Creation; J. D. Levenson, Temple and World, pp. 283-284; C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Glory, pp. 62-65; M. Weinfeld, Sabbath, pp. 506, 508):
As creation takes seven days, the Temple takes seven years to build (1 Kings 6:38). It is dedicated during the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles (1 Kings 8:2), and Solomon’s solemn dedication speech is built on seven petitions (1 Kings 8:31-53). As God capped creation by “resting” on the seventh day, the Temple is built by a “man of rest” (1 Chronicles 22:9) to be a “house of rest” for the Ark, the presence of the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:2; 2 Chronicles 6:41; Psalm 132:8, 13-14; Isaiah 66:1).
When the Temple is consecrated, the furnishings of the older Tabernacle are brought inside it. (R. E. Friedman suggests the entire Tabernacle was brought inside). This represents the fact that all the Tabernacle was, the Temple has become. Just as the construction of the Tabernacle of the Sinai covenant had once recapitulated creation, now the Temple of the Davidic covenant recapitulated the same. The Temple is a microcosm of creation, the creation a macro-temple.
[xli] J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 1, 3:9, p. 35.
[xlii] H. W. Nibley, Meaning of Temple, pp. 14-15; cf. H. W. Nibley, Greatness, p. 301; T. D. Alexander, From Eden, pp. 37-42. Speaking of the temple and its furnishings, Josephus wrote that each item was “made in way of imitation and representation of the universe” (F. Josephus, Antiquities, 3:7:7, p. 75). Levenson has suggested that the temple in Jerusalem may have been called by the name “Heaven and Earth,” paralleling similar names given to other Near East temples (see J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, pp. 180-181 n. 12).
[xliii] H. W. Nibley, Return, pp. 71–73. See also J. H. Walton, Ancient, pp. 123–127; H. W. Nibley, Meanings and Functions, pp. 1460–1461; S. D. Ricks, Liturgy. For more on the structure and function of the story of Creation found in Genesis 1 and arguably used in Israelite temple liturgy, see J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One; M. S. Smith, Priestly Vision. W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars provides perspectives on other biblical accounts of creation. See J. H. Walton, Genesis 1, pp. 17–22 for a useful table that highlights similarities and differences among creation accounts in the ancient Near East. Cf. W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars, pp. 21–32.
[xliv] H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, p. 122. The term giparu, rendered by Nibley as “inner sanctuary” (ibid., p. 122; compare E. A. Speiser, Creation Epic, 1:1, 2 6b, pp. 60–61), has been translated variously in this context by others as “bog,” “marsh,” or “reed hut.” The latter term more accurately conveys the idea of an enclosure housing the sanctuary or residence of the en(t)u priest(ess) of the temple. For more about the temple connotation of the Babylonian reed hut and its significance for the story of the flood in the Bible and other ancient flood accounts, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 216-221.
[xlv] See E. A. Speiser, Creation Epic, p. 61 n. 4.
[xlvi] See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, First Days and Last Days, p. 46.
[xlvii] Moses 5:5–8.
[xlviii] B. C. Hafen et al., Adam, Eve, the Book of Moses, p. 7.
[xlix] J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1971), pp. 83–84.
[l] 2 Nephi 2:11.
[li] See J. M. Bradshaw et al., Mormonism’s Satan, especially pp. 1–3.
[lii] Abraham 3:25.
[liii] 2 Nephi 25:23.
[liv] J. M. Bradshaw et al., Mormonism’s Satan.
[lv] G. A. Anderson, Perfection, p. 8. See also Moses 1:39.
[lvi] Moses 5:58–59.
[lvii] Moses 6:64– 66.
[lviii] Jeremiah 29:13.
[lix] Moses 6:67–68. For more discussion of this distinction, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified, pp. 50, 54, 97–99.
[lx] L. M. Morales, Who Shall Ascend, p. 184. For Christians, of course, a complete and permanent remedy to the consequences of the Fall could be made possible only through “the last Adam’s [that is, Jesus’] re-entry into God’s abode with His own blood for Atonement” (ibid., p. 184).
[lxi] G. Vermes, Complete, Rule of the Community (1QS), 4:22-26, p. 103. For a more detailed study of the meaning of this concept in the context of the theology of the Qumran Community and of early Christians, see C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Glory.
[lxii] See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, Adam and Christ, Eve and Mary at Christmas Time (23 December 2009).
[lxiii] G. A. Anderson et al., Synopsis; M. D. Johnson, Life; S. C. Malan, Adam and Eve; S. E. Robinson, Book of Adam.
[lxiv] For example, the Life of Adam and Eve tells of how Adam and Eve, following their transgression and expulsion from Eden, spent a specified number of days of penance standing in the Jordan River. During Eve’s penance, Satan appears as an angel of light to persuade her to leave the river prematurely. Stephen Robinson notes the significant warning that Adam had previously given her: “‘Take great care of thyself. Except thou seest me and all my tokens, depart not out of the water, nor trust in the words, which are said to thee, lest thou fall again into the snare.’ Thus, properly equipped, Eve does not succumb to Satan the second time, according to the Slavonic version” (S. E. Robinson, Book of Adam, p. 142. See also B. T. Ostler, Clothed, p. 6). In another version of the story, Adam implies that Eve was to wait in the water until “an angel of God” came to bring her out (M. Herbert et al., Irish Apocrypha, p. 10).
[lxv] D. Calabro, This Thing Is a Similitude, p. 490. See also D. Calabro, Moses, Mountains.
MMarch 7, 2023