Book of Moses and Abraham

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Curt Sunshine
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by Curt Sunshine » 22 Jun 2009, 16:09

Frankly, the whole issue hinges on whether or not someone thinks our scriptures actually teach monotheism, and I think none of our scriptures teach montheism in the classic sense. Of those we have, the Bible is the one that teaches polytheism the most openly and obviously, so I personally take the assertions of the authors with a HUGE grain of salt. I understand their reasoning, but I think they are ignoring more scriptures (especially from the Bible) than they are including in their analysis.

Also, frankly, this is not relevant to the central issue of the validity of the Book of Moses and Abraham, as the earliest books of the Bible are the ones that teachy polytheism the most openly - which would mean that the PoGP also should teach polytheism, being from that same time period - with Joseph gradually understanding the difference between the messed up monotheism of his time and the more correct original view. That, at least, is one possible, legitimate intgerpretation.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

LadyWisdom
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by LadyWisdom » 22 Jun 2009, 19:14

The only insights I have was already shared, Valoel. My faith is alway evolving. I put the conflict with other standard works on my proverbial shelf for years and I do believe that the BofM are clearly monotheistic as evidenced by all the scriptures I shared, I do think like someone mentioned the whole Book of Abraham thing is a disaster and i also think that the bible is/or teaches a monotheistic view of God. The OT does talk about polytheism in the many stories because Israel often lost track of who God was and started to worship many gods, but all of these were condemned and were referred to by the Hebrew prophets as false deities such as Baal and others, ones worshiped for agriculture or fertility, etc. The only legit reference I know of that questions that there might be more than one God or a divine council of Gods is in Psalm 82 and I have an explanation for that I have researched out.

Edited for clarity.
Last edited by LadyWisdom on 22 Jun 2009, 22:02, edited 1 time in total.

LadyWisdom
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by LadyWisdom » 22 Jun 2009, 19:19

[moderated: off topic - Valoel]

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by Curt Sunshine » 22 Jun 2009, 19:37

I apologize for being this blunt, but:

That certainly is one interpretation, but, again, it is irrelevant to this particular thread. It is one possible reading out of many I have seen - and it depends entirely on the interpretor's desire to read that meaning into it. As the writer says, the word is translated in multiple ways, and almost all of those translations would fit the context of those verses - literally, almost all of them. It is interesting to observe that every interpretation of those verses matches EXACTLY the theology of the person doing the interpreting. I'm fine with that (really), but it's important to make that point.

One more time, the whole issue of mono/polytheism is irrelevant to this thread, since the PofGP and the OT passages dealing with it are quite consistent in how they deal with it. If someone rejects both, as you do, they are being consistent - and I commend you for that. What I'm saying is that it's not an issue of one not being in harmony with the other (or not being in harmony with the NT, in my opinion) - so let's drop it on this thread, please.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

LadyWisdom
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by LadyWisdom » 22 Jun 2009, 22:32

spacious maze asked:
Are the books of Moses and Abraham being taught as truth? Are they included in lessons, missionary discussions, mormon views? Mentioned or taught at all? Or has the church sidelined and watered-down the importance of the Pearl of Great Price entirely, eventually leaving it behind? And do you believe it as true and divinely wrought as the Bible and Book of Mormon?
I think that both they are taught and yet as the same time dismissed at times. Bit and pieces are in lessons and in the LDS culture for sure, but they are not in missionary discussions or they certainly were not in mine, I had no real idea or heard of the PofGP when I was taught some 30 years ago. Based on what Pres.Hinckley said to Larry King, it does some of the PoGP is now sidelined somewhat, except much of the book of moses is the basis for and used in the temple endowment. Pres.Hinckley seemed to ashamed to admit that theosis was definitely part of the church's teachings at one point and really still is. It is not in scripture, so much but was preached by JS, I already answered at least the BofA part, I certainly cannot not trust or put it on the same level as the other two.

[moderated: off topic - Valoel]

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just me
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by just me » 22 Jun 2009, 23:48

Valoel wrote:I think a good number of active members know a very general overview of where the Book of Abraham and Book of Moses came from. I don't think many know the more detailed history and controversies.

I personally think the Book of Moses is least problematic. Joseph claimed only to receive direct revelation about this as his source. I think the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon are much more difficult. He claimed to translate those from ancient records -- something tangible that can later be picked apart more easily outside a purely spiritual/religious context.

I think both books in the Pearl of Great Price contain fascinating mystical material. These days, I see them on par with anything else that is religious "scripture." I am much less literal in my beliefs right now. I think scriptures contain divine truths in a metaphorical sense. I am not so hung up on them being factually correct or historical.

To reword it briefly, I am not so concerned about how people create or access the impulses of the divine. I am more concerned about the information being useful to me in my spiritual progress. Scriptures to me are more like poems than technical manuals. Both contain truths, just different types of truth.
I agree with all of this. Saved me some typing. :mrgreen:
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by Heber13 » 23 Jun 2009, 08:43

spacious maze wrote:has the church sidelined and watered-down the importance of the Pearl of Great Price entirely, eventually leaving it behind? And do you believe it as true and divinely wrought as the Bible and Book of Mormon?
Everyone's responses and the discussion on polytheism is all so interesting to me. I strongly believe polythiesm is consistently taught throughout all the scriptures with correct interpretations, but that is a subject for another thread. It is clearly the established mormon doctrine, and frankly, makes the most sense to me.

Going back to your original questions, though, I see no evidence the PoGP is being watered down, or left behind. It is still used in missionary discussions and seminary and gospel doctrine. They are part of the standard works.

It is good to learn a little more of the history and how they came about. I admit, I only slightly remember the stories of their origin, and am interested in reading more about them.

But your question about whether it is "divinely wrought" like the bible or BoM is interesting to me. Book of Mormon is unique in origin, as a translation from golden plates from an angel to Joseph (one of many ways God can work). What about the bible? What are the origins of the OT and how is that any more "divinely wrought" than the Books of Abraham or Moses? They are all collected and assembled as God's word to His children because they contain bits and pieces of doctrine important for us to understand the nature of God and the purpose of our existence. There are important bits and pieces in the Pearl of Great Price that compliment and clarify the other scriptures, providing a "more correct" interpretation of the other scriptures. I guess I fall into the camp of being less hung up on the methods of origin, and more intently concerned with the knowledge and spirit provided in those words.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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spacious maze
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by spacious maze » 23 Jun 2009, 22:35

Wow, great replies. Really appreciate the insight. I actually just finished up "Rough Stone Rolling", which has given birth to many more questions, and then i re-read the books of Moses and Abraham. I have to admit, pretty cool stuff. I don't find the doctrine to be too conflicting. And yes, I see polytheism all over the Bible too, it's not problematic for me since I tend to take all cannon as reprocessed through the imperfect mind of man.

But this makes it hard for me to commit to the idea of a one true religion. An argument could be made that if the church were to ease off the literal interpretations, they could loose grip on the church as a large working organized entity. This is a bit off topic, but after bits of papyri were translated by egyptologists and found to be polytheistic funeral texts, the church had to alter its claims that the Book of Abraham wasn't a direct translation. Include this with the fact that the golden plates were never actually used during translation, and that they were never literal seen by the witnesses, and you have to ask what importance do physical relics play in the church? Were they even necessary? Could Smith have received revelation without them around? How reliant are we on the facts of their physicality? Do we read the Book of Mormon, a physical written historical account, or are we reading a giant revelation to Smith? Did the restoration of the gospel come from the actual content in these physical sources, or by the sole fact that a miracle of revelation had occurred?

This is why the origins on the books of Moses and Abraham intrigue me. Why even mention papyri if its content isn't applicable to the faith? I hope this makes sense to you guys. Thanks

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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by swimordie » 24 Jun 2009, 00:37

Makes perfect sense and I'm guessing most of the people here on this forum are here because of all of those questions you raised.
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Book of Moses and Abraham

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jun 2009, 05:12

I think I've said this before in some thread, but I view Joseph as a visionary mystic - and I view the physical "translated" items as "props" or "prompts" for his visions / revelations. It's a little complicated for me, since I can accept the BofM as an actual historical record (especially since I have believed in the Limited Geography Model from my fairly early childhood - long before I ever heard that term, since it is the only interpretation that makes sense to my parsing nature), while not believing the Books of Abraham and Moses to be the same. I believe Joseph thought he was actually "translating" (that he assumed the Book of Mormon model was the norm), and I am totally fine with that given how much I love the content of the PofGP.

Ultimately, I don't really care much about it, since I think he was sincere and because I just think what he produced is, as my children would say, abso-freaking-lutely awesome.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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