[Page 1]Abstract: In this article, we will examine affinities between ancient extracanonical sources and a collection of modern revelations that Joseph Smith termed “extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch.” We build on the work of previous scholars, revisiting their findings with the benefit of subsequent scholarship. Following a perspective on the LDS canon and an introduction to the LDS Enoch revelations, we will focus on relevant passages in pseudepigrapha and LDS scripture within three episodes in the Mormon Enoch narrative: Enoch’s prophetic commission, Enoch’s encounters with the “gibborim,” and the weeping and exaltation of Enoch and his people.
There are few other branches of Christianity that revere Holy Scripture as do the Latter-day Saints. Paradoxically, no other Christian faith has felt such liberty—or rather such necessity—to add to and even revise it continually. This is because Latter-day Saints are not fundamentally a “People of the Book” ((Muslims refer to Jews and Christians (along with themselves) as ahl al-kitab, meaning roughly “The People of the Book,” thus recognizing these groups as having faith rooted in genuine revelation from God. See Richard C. Martin, ed. Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. 2 vols. (New York, City: Macmillan Reference USA, Gale Group, Thomson Learning, 2004), 1:27–29. The “Book” in question is not the Qur’an or any single work of scripture but rather the complete and perfect heavenly archetype from which all authentically revealed texts that have been sent down “gradually” since the time of Adam, were originally derived, see at-Tabataba’i Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur’an, trans. Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi. 3rd ed. (Teheran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 1983), 5:8–9, 79–80; cf. Qur’an 25:32; John Wansbrough, Qur’anic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2004), 83, 170; Brannon M. Wheeler, ed., Prophets in the Quran: An Introduction to the Quran and Muslim Exegesis. Comparative Islam Studies (London: Continuum, 2002), 3–4; Qur’an 3:315–136, 85:21–22. Though Muslims believe that Jews and Christians have since embraced many errors because of subsequent corruption of their respective books of scripture (at-Tabataba’i, Al-Mizan, 3:79–80, 5:10–11, 6:184–219; Tarif Khalidi, ed. and trans. The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Convergences: Inventories of the Present [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001], 20), their faiths are held in higher esteem than the faiths of those who do not accept Abraham, Moses, or Jesus. See Qur’an 2:105; Zachary Karabell, Peace Be upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence (New York City: Knopf, 2007), 19–20; Daniel C. Peterson, “Muhammad,” in The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad as Religious Founders, ed. David Noel Freedman and Michael J. McClymond (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 590–91).)) but instead [Page 2]a “People of Continuing Revelation.” ((Dallin H. Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation.” Ensign, January 1995, 7.)) In other words, not only do they subscribe to the idea of an enlarged canon through official acceptance of three additional books of scripture besides the Bible, but they also accept the concept of an open and growing canon, ((2 Nephi 29:3–14; Alexander B. Morrison, “The Latter-day Saint Concept of Canon,” in Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2001), 3–4. By way of contrast to the common Christian belief in a closed canon, Peterson laments that: “The creation of a canon commences when revelation is thought to have come to a halt, and in turn the concept of a canon reinforces the notion that revelation has ceased,” Peterson, “Muhammad,” 597.)) regarding efforts to “harden on the all-sufficiency or only-sufficiency of any part of scripture” as tantamount “to prais[ing] the cup and reject[ing] the fountain.” ((Madsen, “Introductory Essay,” xv. Madsen further explains: “Mormons seem to be biblicistic and literalistic. But it is the recognition that the Bible is in central parts clear narrative, an account of genuine persons involved in genuine events, that is characteristic … Creation was an event; the Resurrection occurred. The religious experiences chronicled in the book of Acts are acts in a book. The Bible, the point is, becomes thus a temporal document just as much as it is spiritual. And the same can be said for other Mormon scriptural writings. They too are “time-bound”; they cannot be understood in a non-historical way. They arise from and, it is hoped, return to the concrete realities of the human predicament” (p. xv). For more about LDS perspectives on the historicity of scripture, see Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, “Excursus 13: Some Perspectives on Historicity,” Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses: In God’s Image and Likeness 1 (Salt Lake City: Eborn Publishing, 2010), 552–53.)) Thus, members [Page 3]of the Church hold that sacred texts are not only susceptible to a “plainer translation” (D&C 128:18), but also open to the possibility of significant expansion and elaboration through the living spirit of prophecy. ((Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1986), 36–37.)) To Latter-day Saints, a closed and immutable canon is inconsistent with the idea of God’s continuing revelation as expressed in our ninth Article of Faith: “We believe in all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” ((Thus, Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s comment: “Today we carry convenient quadruple combinations of the scriptures. But one day, since more scriptures are coming, we may need to pull little red wagons brim with books,” Neal A. Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990), 18. He added, “Of course, computers may replace wagons,” Neal A. Maxwell, The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 298.))
In a paper written in 1985, George Nickelsburg explored a similar stance in primitive Christianity. This is the idea that “the early Christians, and some Jews before them, based their exclusivistic stance on the claim they had received divine revelation.” ((George W. E. Nickelsburg,“Revealed Wisdom as a Criterion for Inclusion and Exclusion: From Jewish Sectarianism to Early Christianity,” in “To See Ourselves as Others See Us”: Christians, Jews, “Others” in Late Antiquity, ed. Jacob Neusner and Ernest S. Frerichs (Chico, CA: Scholars, 1985), 73, emphasis added.)) Prominent among the sectarian Jews who accepted this claim were those who accepted purported revelations found within the collection of books we now call 1 Enoch as well as the people of Qumran who preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls. [Page 4]Likewise, Nickelsburg asserts that early Jewish Christians, while more open to Gentile outsiders, appear “to have adopted the sectarian Jewish approach that asserted the validity of its position by claiming divine revelation. Salvation was tied exclusively to the person and activity of Jesus of Nazareth.” ((Nickelsburg, “Revealed Wisdom,”89.)) Nickelsburg’s description of the twofold irony of the Christian position will not be lost on those who realize its resemblance to the relationship between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity: “A young, upstart group . . . was asserting that it was more authentic than its parent group. And this attitude of superiority and exclusivism was derived, in part, from ideas and attitudes already present in the parent body.” ((Nickelsburg, “Revealed Wisdom,” 73.))
Of course, in saying this, it must be recognized that Latter-day Saints share a core of essential, biblically based beliefs in common with other Christians. Paramount among these beliefs is that salvation comes only “in and through the grace of God” (2 Nephi 10:24. Cf. Ephesians 2:8) and “the name of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17. Cf. Acts 4:12). We also agree with Nickelsburg’s commendable charge to all Christian scholars to “build wisely, responsibly, and with love both for those within the immediate community of faith and for those within the broader community.” ((Nickelsburg, “Revealed Wisdom,” 91.)) However, it must be recognized that the bold claim of continuing revelation is not a mere footnote to LDS teachings but the very heart of the faith. Mormons realize that denying this claim would be, to use the apt metaphor of Nickelsburg, more than “simply pulling a little theological splinter that has been the source of great irritation” in the interest of promoting “a new, wiser, and more loving and ecumenical age,” but rather tantamount to performing “radical surgery on a vital organ of [Page 5]the faith.” ((Nickelsburg, “Revealed Wisdom,” 91.)) In submitting to such surgery, the patient would not be risking his life, but rather ending it.
That the enthusiastic stance of welcome in the LDS faith for additional discoveries of the word of God includes parts of the Apocrypha—and also perhaps, certain more problematic pseudepigraphal writings of complex and uncertain provenance—is affirmed in a revelation that Joseph Smith received in 1833:
Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha—There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. . . . Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom. (D&C 91:1–5)
Although Mormons do not count any of the pseudepigraphal works of Enoch among the books of their canon, the prophetic word that “whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit” (D&C 91:5) from the Apocrypha leads us to consider seriously what light extracanonical writings can shed on our scripture, doctrine, and teachings—and vice versa. In such matters, seership and scholarship can go comfortably hand in hand. As Terryl S. Givens astutely observed: “Our contemporary condescension in this regard was clearly foreign to a prophet who showed the world he could translate gold plates written in Reformed Egyptian, then[, a few years later,] hired a Jewish schoolmaster to teach him Hebrew.” ((Terryl L. Givens, “Dialectic and Reciprocity in ‘Faithful Scholarship’: Preexistence as a Case Study,” paper presented at the Annual Conference of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, Provo, UT, March 22, 2007.))
[Page 6]Givens notes that this paradoxical “two-pronged approach” to the search for religious truth is characteristic of Mormonism. It is “a group embrace of a rhetoric of absolute self-assurance about spiritual truths” revealed directly from God—“coexisting with a conception of education as the endless and eternal acquisition of the knowledge that leads to godhood.” The seriousness with which Joseph Smith took both aspects of this two-pronged approach
is to be fathomed from its timing and growing direction in the context of his own prophetic career: after the youthful leader had established his credentials as Prophet and translator, after he had personally manifested his power to reveal the fulness of saving truth directly from heaven, and after he claimed receipt of authority to perform all saving ordinances in the new church. At that moment when he had powerfully demonstrated to his followers the irrelevance of priestly training, clerical degrees, and scholarly credentials . . . ((Terryl L. Givens, People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 74.))
he opened a school where he along with his followers could acquire a classroom education. ((See, e.g., D&C 88:79.)) In a revelation given at the subsequent dedication of the first Mormon temple, the charge to the Saints to embrace a two-pronged vision of learning was made explicit: “[S]eek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” ((D&C 109:7, 14. See also D&C 88:118.))
Carrying that vision of learning forward to our day, an enthusiastic cadre of Latter-day Saint scholars has essayed to discover and understand affinities between LDS expansions of biblical narratives and ancient sources from outside the Bible. [Page 7]With these efforts in mind, Truman G. Madsen wisely provided both caution and encouragement to such scholars:
Surface resemblance may conceal profound difference. It requires competence, much goodwill and bold caution properly to distinguish what is remotely parallel, what is like, what is very like, and what is identical. It is harder still to trace these threads to original influences and beginnings. But on the whole the Mormon expects to find, not just in the Judeo-Christian background but in all religious traditions, elements of commonality which, if they do not outweigh elements of contrast, do reflect that all-inclusive diffusion of primal religious concern and contact with God—the light “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). If the outcome of hard archeological, historical, and comparative discoveries in the past century is an embarrassment to exclusivistic readings of religion, that, to the Mormon, is a kind of confirmation and vindication. His faith assures him not only that Jesus anticipated his great predecessors (who were really successors) but that hardly a teaching or a practice is utterly distinct or peculiar or original in his earthly ministry. Jesus was not a plagiarist, unless that is the proper name for one who repeats himself. He was the original author. The gospel of Jesus Christ came with Christ in the meridian of time only because the gospel of Jesus Christ came from Christ in prior dispensations. He did not teach merely a new twist on a syncretic-Mediterranean tradition. His earthly ministry enacted what had [Page 8]been planned and anticipated “from before the foundations of the world,” ((See, e.g., John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20; Alma 22:13; D&C 130:20; Moses 5:57; Abraham 1:3.)) and from Adam down. ((Truman G. Madsen, “Introductory Essay,” in Reflections on Mormonism: Judeo-Christian Parallels, Papers Delivered at the Religious Studies Center Symposium, Brigham Young University, March 10-11, 1978, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978), xvii. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Some say that the kingdom of God was not set up on the earth until the day of Pentecost … but, I say in the name of the Lord, that the kingdom of God was set up on the earth from the days of Adam to the present time. Whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed His word and gave power and authority to administer in His name, and where there is a priest of God—a minister who has power and authority from God to administer in the ordinances of the gospel and officiate in the priesthood of God, there is the kingdom of God. . . . Where there is a prophet, a priest, or a righteous man unto whom God gives His oracles, there is the kingdom of God; and where the oracles of God are not, there the kingdom of God is not,” Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1969), 22 January 1843, pp. 21–22).))
In this article, we will examine affinities between ancient extracanonical sources and a collection of modern revelations that Joseph Smith termed “extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch.” ((Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Documentary History), 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), December 1830, 1:133.)) This article builds on the work of scholars intrigued by LDS accounts of Enoch, in particular the pioneering insights of Hugh W. Nibley. Regrettably, after he completed his initial studies of the relationship between ancient documents and Joseph Smith’s Enoch revelations in 1978, ((Nibley’s chief works on Enoch have been conveniently collected in Hugh W. Nibley, Enoch the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book), 1986.)) Nibley turned his attention to other subjects and never again took up a sustained study of Enoch. Now, more than thirty years later, it is time to revisit his findings with the benefit of subsequent scholarship. Following an introduction to the LDS Enoch revelations, we will focus on relevant passages in pseudepigrapha [Page 9]and LDS scripture within three episodes in the Mormon Enoch narrative:
- Enoch’s prophetic commission
- Enoch’s encounters with the gibborim
- The weeping and exaltation of Enoch and his people
Introduction to the LDS Enoch Revelations
Both in the expansive nature of its content and the eloquence of its expression, Terryl and Fiona Givens consider the LDS account of Enoch as perhaps the “most remarkable religious document published in the nineteenth century.” ((Terryl L. Givens and Fiona Givens, The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life (Salt Lake City: Ensign Peak, 2012), 24.)) It was produced early in Joseph Smith’s ministry—in fact in the same year as the publication of the Book of Mormon—as part of a divine commission to “retranslate” the Bible. ((Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, 1–9. Joseph Smith’s “translation” did not involve the study of original manuscripts in ancient languages but was the result of his prophetic gifts.)) Writing the account of Enoch occupied a part of the Prophet’s attention for a month from 30 November to 31 December 1830. Later, the first eight chapters of the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis, which included two chapters on Enoch, were separately canonized as the Book of Moses. ((Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, 8–9.))
Joseph Smith’s “Book of Enoch” provides “eighteen times as many column inches about Enoch . . . than we have in the few verses on him in the Bible. Those scriptures not only contain greater quantity [than the Bible] but also . . . contain . . . [abundant] new material about Enoch on which the Bible is silent.” ((Maxwell, Flood, 31. For the quantitative comparison, Elder Maxwell cites a letter to him dated August 12, 1988, from Robert J. Matthews, late LDS scholar of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Richard L. Bushman computes a roughly similar ratio: “In Genesis, Enoch is summed up in 5 verses; in Joseph Smith’s revision, Enoch’s story extends to 110 verses,” Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, A Cultural Biography of Mormonism’s Founder (New York City: Knopf, 2005), 138.)) [Page 10]This material was not derived from deep study of the scriptures ((The proportion of Joseph Smith’s book of Enoch that could have been derived straightforwardly from the five relevant verses in the Bible is very small. Moreover, Joseph Smith’s mother wrote that as a boy he “had never read the Bible through in his life: he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study,” Lucy M. Smith, Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001); Martha Coray/ Orson Pratt 1853 version, p. 344. Contra Michael Quinn’s claim cited in Lucy’s Book, 344 n. 47, Philip Barlow sees “no reason to doubt such memories,” though he does note the “potent biblicism” of his environs, recollections by a neighbor of Bible study in the Smith home, and how young Joseph “searched the scriptures” as he experienced the “revivalistic fires of the surrounding ‘burnt-over district,’” Philip L. Barlow, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 13. It is hard to imagine, however, that the story of Enoch would have been a focus of attention for any early encounters that Joseph Smith had with the book of Genesis in his home or community. Observe also that the “restrained, assured, and polished” nature of Joseph Smith’s prose from his later years (Barlow, Mormons and the Bible, 15) was not evident in his early personal writings to the degree found in his very first translations and revelations. Indeed, Joseph Smith’s wife Emma testified that during the time he was fully engaged in translation, her husband “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, ‘a marvel and a wonder,’ as much so as to anyone else,” Joseph Smith, III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma.” Saints’ Herald 26 (1879), 290.)) or from exposure to the extracanonical Enoch literature, ((In his master’s thesis, Salvatore Cirillo cites and amplifies the arguments of D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View rev. and enl. ed. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998), 193 that the available evidence that Joseph Smith had access to published works related to 1 Enoch has moved “beyond probability—to fact.” He sees no other explanation than this for the substantial similarities that he finds between the Book of Moses and the pseudepigraphal Enoch literature (Salvatore Cirillo, “Joseph Smith, Mormonism and Enochic Tradition,” MA thesis, Durham University, 2009, 126, at http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/236/1/Thesis_Final_1_PDF.pdf). However, reflecting on the “coincidence” of the appearance of the first English translation of 1 Enoch in 1821, just a few years before Joseph Smith received his Enoch revelations, see Richard Laurence, ed. The Book of Enoch, the Prophet: Translated from an Ethiopic Manuscript in the Bodleian Library, the Text Now Corrected from His Latest Notes with an Introduction by the [Anonymous] Author of ‘The Evolution of Christianity,’ (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1883) at http://archive.org/details/bookofenochproph00laur, Richard L. Bushman nonetheless concludes: “It is scarcely conceivable that Joseph Smith knew of Laurence’s Enoch translation,” Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 138. Perhaps even more significant, is the fact that the principal themes of “Laurence’s 105 translated chapters do not resemble Joseph Smith’s Enoch in any obvious way,” Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 138. Cf. Jed L. Woodworth, “Extra-biblical Enoch Texts in Early American Culture,” in Archive of Restoration Culture: Summer Fellows’ Papers 1997-1999, ed. Richard L. Bushman, (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, 2000), 190–92. Indeed, apart from the shared prominence of the Son of Man motif in BP and the Book of Moses and some common themes in Enoch’s visions of Noah (see more on these resemblances below), the most striking resemblances to the Prophet’s revelations are found not in 1 Enoch, but in related pseudepigrapha such as 2 Enoch (first published at the end of the 19th century) and the Qumran Book of the Giants (discovered in 1948). Woodworth concludes: “While I do not share the confidence the parallelist feels for the inaccessibility of Laurence to Joseph Smith, I do not find sharp enough similarities to support the derivatist position. The tone and weight and direction of [1 Enoch and the Book of Moses] are worlds apart. . . . The problem with the derivatist position is [that] … Laurence as source material for Joseph Smith does not make much sense if the two texts cannot agree on important issues. The texts may indeed have some similarities, but the central figures do not have the same face, do not share the same voice, and are not, therefore, the same people. In this sense, the Enoch in the Book of Moses is as different from the Enoch of Laurence as he is from the Enoch in the other extra-Biblical Enochs in early American culture. Same name, different voice,” p. 192. Note also that since Joseph Smith was aware of the quotation from 1 Enoch in Jude 1:14–15 (Smith, Documentary History, December 1830, 1:132), the most obvious thing he could have done to bolster the case for the antiquity of the Book of Moses account if he were a conscious deceiver would have been to include that citation somewhere within his revelations on Enoch. But this he did not do.)) [Page 11]nor was it absorbed from Masonic or hermetical influences. ((For example, John L. Brooke seeks to make the case that Sidney Rigdon, among others, was a “conduit of Masonic lore during Joseph’s early years” and then goes on to make a set of weakly substantiated claims connecting Mormonism and Masonry; John L. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). These claims, including connections with the story of Enoch’s pillars in Royal Arch Masonry, are refuted in William J. Hamblin, Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton, “Mormon in the Fiery Furnace or Loftes Tryk Goes to Cambridge.” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6/2 (1994): 52–58; cf. William J. Hamblin, Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton, “Review of John L. Brooke: The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844,” BYU Studies 34/4 (1994): 178–79. Non-Mormon scholar Stephen Webb agrees with Hamblin, et al., concluding that “actual evidence for any direct link between [Joseph Smith’s] theology and the hermetic tradition is tenuous at best, and given that scholars vigorously debate whether hermeticism even constitutes a coherent and organized tradition, Brooke’s book should be read with a fair amount of skepticism,” Stephen H. Webb, Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 260) See also Barlow, Decoding; Bushman, Mysteries; Jan Shipps, Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000), 204–17. For a debunking of the idea that LDS temple ordinances are a simple derivation from Freemasonry, see Matthew B. Brown, Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2009). Brown’s more in-depth manuscript dealing with this topic still awaits publication.)) [Page 12]Rather, according to the eminent Yale professor and Jewish literary scholar Harold Bloom, Joseph Smith’s ability to produce writings on Enoch so “strikingly akin to ancient suggestions” stemmed from his “charismatic accuracy, his sure sense of relevance that governed biblical and Mormon parallels.” Having studied the life and revelations of the Prophet, Bloom concludes: “I hardly think that written sources were necessary.” While expressing “no judgment, one way or the other, upon the authenticity” of LDS scripture, he found “enormous validity” in these writings and could “only attribute to [the Prophet’s] genius or daemon” his ability to “recapture . . . crucial elements in the archaic Jewish religion . . . . that had ceased to be available either to normative Judaism or to Christianity, and that survived only in esoteric traditions unlikely to have touched [Joseph] Smith directly.” ((Harold Bloom, The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (New York City: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 98, 99, 100, 101.))
Before proceeding further with our examination of extracanonical affinities with the Enoch chapters in the Book of Moses, some cautionary words relating to the Prophet’s translation process are in order. Though some revelatory passages in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible seem to have [Page 13]remarkable congruencies with ancient texts, we think it is fruitless to rely on JST Genesis as a means for uncovering an Enoch Urtext. Mormons understand that the primary intent of modern revelation is for divine guidance to latter-day readers, not to provide precise matches to texts from other times. Because this is so, in fact we would expect to find deliberate deviations from the content and wording of ancient manuscripts in Joseph Smith’s translations in the interest of clarity and relevance to modern readers. As one LDS apostle expressed it, “the Holy Spirit does not quote the Scriptures, but gives Scripture.” ((Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979), 350.)) If we keep this perspective in mind, we will be less surprised with the appearance of New Testament terms such as “Jesus Christ” in Joseph Smith’s revelations when the title “the Son of Man” would be more in line with ancient Enoch texts. ((Although the primary referent for the term Son of Man in LDS teachings and revelation is Jesus Christ, we will discuss below how it is applied more generally to others who have acquired that title in likeness of Enoch; e.g., Margaret Barker, The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity (London: SPCK, 1987), 38–44; George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam, eds. 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37–82 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press), 2012, 60:10, p. 233, 71:14, p. 321, pp. 327–28 n. 13–14; James A. Waddell, A Comparative Study of the Enochic Son of Man and the Pauline Kyrios (London: Clark, 2011), 51–60.))
The LDS accounts of Enoch combine both ancient elements and the results of subsequent prophetic shaping to enhance intelligibility and relevance for our day. This should not be a foreign concept to readers of the Book of Mormon familiar with the history of how its editors wove separate, overlapping records from earlier times into the finished scriptural narrative. ((The authors and editors of the Book of Mormon knew that the account was not preserved primarily for the people of their own times but rather for later generations (e.g., 2 Nephi 25:31; Jacob 1:3; Enos 1:15–16; Jarom 1:2; Mormon 7:1, 8:34–35). More specifically, LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us,” Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of our Religion,” Ensign 16, November 1986. Of course, not all tradents of scripture worked under equal influence of the spirit of inspiration. Joseph Smith recognized that in the transmission of Bible texts over the centuries: “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors,” Smith, Teachings, 15 October 1843, 327.)) Indeed, the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi explicitly [Page 14]admitted such prophetic shaping when he wrote: “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). ((Nephi left us with significant examples in which he deliberately shaped his explanation of Bible stories and teachings in order to help his readers understand how they applied to their own situations (e.g., 1 Nephi 4:2, 17:23–44).))
As evidence for this perspective, we note Philip Barlow’s conclusions that during the process of Bible translation, Joseph Smith made several types of changes. These changes ranged from “long revealed additions that have little or no biblical parallel, such as the visions of Moses and Enoch, and the passage on Melchizedek” to “common-sense” changes and interpretive additions, to “grammatical improvements, technical clarifications, and modernization of terms”—the latter the most common type of change. ((Barlow, Bible, 51–53.)) Of course, even in the case of passages that seem to be explicitly revelatory, it remained to the Prophet to exercise considerable personal effort in rendering these experiences into words (cf. D&C 9:7–9). As Kathleen Flake puts it, Joseph Smith did not see himself as “God’s stenographer. Rather, he was an interpreting reader, and God the confirming authority.” ((Kathleen Flake, “Translating time: The Nature and Function of Joseph Smith’s Narrative Canon,” Journal of Religion 87/4 (October 2007): 507–8; cf. Grant Underwood, “Revelation, Text, and Revision: Insight from the Book of Commandments and Revelations,” BYU Studies 48/3 (2009): 76–81, 83–84. With respect to the English translation of the Book of Mormon, Royal Skousen argues that the choice of words was given under “tight control,” Royal Skousen, “Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 22–31. By way of contrast, however, Skousen questions whether one should assume that every change made in the JST constitutes revealed text. Besides arguments that can be made on the basis of the modifications themselves, questions exist regarding the reliability and degree of supervision given to the scribes involved in transcribing, copying, and preparing the text for publication. Differences are also apparent in the nature of the translation process at different stages of the work. For example, while a significant proportion of the Genesis passages canonized as the Book of Moses look like “a word-for-word revealed text,” evidence from a study of two sections in the New Testament that were translated twice indicates that the later “New Testament JST is not being revealed word-for-word, but largely depends upon Joseph Smith’s varying responses to the same difficulties in the text,” Royal Skousen, “The Earliest Textual Sources for Joseph Smith’s ‘New Translation’ of the King James Bible,” FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 456–70. For the original study, see Kent P. Jackson and Peter M. Jasinski, “The Process of Inspired Translation: Two Passages Translated Twice in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,” BYU Studies 42/2 (2003): 35–64.))
[Page 15]Though Joseph Smith was careful in his efforts to render a faithful translation of the Bible, he was no naïve advocate of the inerrancy or finality of scriptural language. ((Gerrit Dirkmaat gives examples of Joseph Smith’s efforts to revise and update his Doctrine and Covenants revelations as they were prepared for publication, Gerrit Dirkmaat, “Great and Marvelous are the Revelations of God.” Ensign 43, January 2013, 56–57.)) His criterion for the acceptability of a given translation was pragmatic rather than absolute. For example, after quoting a verse from Malachi in a letter to the Saints, he admitted that he “might have rendered a plainer translation.” However, he said that it was satisfactory in this case because the words were “sufficiently plain to suit [the] purpose as it stands,” (D&C 128:18). This pragmatic approach is also evident both in the scriptural passages cited to him by heavenly messengers and in his preaching and translations. In these the wording of Bible verses was often varied to suit the occasion. ((Perhaps the most striking example is found in citations of Malachi 4:5–6, a key prophecy relating to the restoration of the priesthood: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (KJV Malachi 4:5–6). Cf. Luke 1:17; 3 Nephi 25:6; D&C 27:9; 110:15; 128:17. See also Smith, Teachings, 2 July 1839, 160; 20 January 1844, 330; 10 March 1844, 337; 7 April 1844, 356. Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. . . . And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming,” 1838; Joseph Smith, Jr., Karen Lynn Davidson, David J. Whittaker, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen. Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844. The Joseph Smith Papers, Histories 1, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman, (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 1832–1844, History Drafts 2 and 3, pp. 224–225; Smith, Documentary History, 1:12. Smith, Teachings, 27 August 1843, 323: “Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers”; 20 January 1844, 330: “Now, the word ‘turn’ here should be translated ‘bind,’ or ‘seal’”; 10 March 1844, 337: “He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children.” For a discussion of the idea of “sealing” children and fathers and the power of Elijah, see Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Eborn Publishing, 2012), 45–51.))
[Page 16]For this reason, we should not presume that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible is currently in any sort of “final” form—if indeed such perfection in expression could ever be attained within the confines of what Joseph Smith called our “little, narrow prison, almost as it were, total darkness of paper, pen and ink; and a crooked, broken, scattered and imperfect language.” ((Smith, Documentary History, 27 November 1832, 1:299.)) As Robert J. Matthews, a pioneer of modern scholarship on the JST, aptly put it: “[A]ny part of the translation might have been further touched upon and improved by additional revelation and emendation by the Prophet.” ((Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible—A History and Commentary (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1975), 215.))
There is an additional reason we should not think of the JST as transmitted to us in its “final” form. Our study of the translations, teachings, and revelations of Joseph Smith has convinced us that he sometimes knew much more about certain sacred matters than he taught publicly. For example, in some cases, we know that the Prophet deliberately delayed the publication of early temple-related revelations connected with his work on the [Page 17]JST until several years after he initially received them. ((For example, Danel Bachman has argued convincingly that nearly all of D&C 132 was revealed to the Prophet as he worked on the first half of JST Genesis, see Danel W. Bachman, “New Light on an Old Hypothesis: The Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage,” Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978): 19–32. This was more than a decade before 1843, when the revelation was shared with Joseph Smith’s close associates.)) Even after Joseph Smith was well along in the Bible translation process, he seems to have believed that God did not intend for him to publish the JST. Writing to W.W. Phelps in 1832, he said: “I would inform you that [the Bible translation] will not go from under my hand during my natural life for correction, [revision], or printing and the will of [the] Lord be done.” ((Smith, Writings, 31 July 1832, 273. This is consistent with George Q. Cannon’s statement about the Prophet’s intentions to “seal up” the work for “a later day” after he completed the main work of Bible translation on 2 February 1833: “No endeavor was made at that time to print the work. It was sealed up with the expectation that it would be brought forth at a later day with other of the scriptures. . . . [See D&C 42:56–58.] [T]he labor was its own reward, bringing in the performance a special blessing of broadened comprehension to the Prophet and a general blessing of enlightenment to the people through his subsequent teachings,” George Q. Cannon, The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1907), 129. Bradshaw has elsewhere argued the likelihood that the focus of the divine tutorial that took place during Joseph Smith’s Bible translation effort was on temple and priesthood matters—hence the restriction on general dissemination of these teachings during the Prophet’s early ministry, see Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, 3–6; Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Book of Moses (Salt Lake City: Eborn Publishing, 2010), 13–16.)) Although in later years Joseph Smith reversed his position and apparently made serious efforts to prepare the manuscript of the JST for publication, his own statement makes it clear that initially he did not feel authorized to share publicly all that he had produced—and learned—during the translation process. Indeed, a prohibition against indiscriminate sharing of some of the most sacred revelations, which parallels similar cautions found in pseudepigrapha, ((For example, 4 Ezra records that the Lord commanded Moses to reveal openly only part of his visions on Mt. Sinai; the rest was to be kept secret. Similarly, Ezra is reported to have been told that certain books were to be read by the “worthy and unworthy” whereas others were to be given only “to the wise,” Bruce M. Metzger, “The Fourth Book of Ezra,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983), Ezra 14:6, 45–47, pp. 553, 555. Rabbinical arguments to this effect are summarized in Abraham J. Heschel, Heavenly Torah as Refracted Through the Generations, trans. Gordon Tucker (New York: Continuum, 2007), 656–57. See also Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004), 223–24. For examples of other scriptural passages that speak of restrictions on making revelations known, see 2 Corinthians 12:4; 3 Nephi 17:16–17; 28:13–16; Ether 3:21–4:7.)) is made explicit in the Book of Moses when [Page 18]it says of sacred portions of the account: “Show them not unto any except them that believe.” ((Moses 1:43. See also Moses 4:32: “See thou show them unto no man, until I command you, except to them that believe.”)) Such statements are consistent with a remembrance of a statement by Joseph Smith that he intended to go back and rework some portions of the Bible translation to add in truths he was previously “restrained . . . from giving in plainness and fulness.” ((The quoted words are from Mormon Apostle George Q. Cannon’s remembrance: “We have heard President Brigham Young state that the Prophet before his death had spoken to him about going through the translation of the scriptures again and perfecting it upon points of doctrine which the Lord had restrained him from giving in plainness and fulness at the time of which we write,” Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, 129 n.))
Taken together, these reasons suggest that in our exploration of ancient affinities with modern revelation, we should be wary of claims that the JST or the book of Enoch in particular constitutes a restoration of the “original” text of the Bible or of any extracanonical text. With this limitation in mind, any resemblances between the JST and ancient texts become all the more significant.
We will begin our study with an examination of the prophetic commission of Enoch.
Enoch’s Prophetic Commission
Joseph Smith’s account of Enoch’s prophetic commission begins as follows: “And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed [Page 19]in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him. And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people” (Moses 6:26–27).
Curiously, the closest biblical parallel to the wording of these opening verses is not to be found in the call of any Old Testament prophet but rather in John the Evangelist’s description of events following Jesus’s baptism where, like Enoch, he saw “the Spirit descending from heaven” and that it “abode on him” (i.e, Jesus; John 1:34). ((Cf. Matthew 3:16. See Richard D. Draper, S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 92.)) Two additional parallels with Jesus’s baptism follow: first in the specific mention of a “voice from heaven” (Matthew 3:27), then in the proclamation of divine sonship by the Father (Mark 1:11). ((Cf. Mark 9:7. Compare Moses 1:4, 6. See also Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32; D&C 93:15; Margaret Barker, The Risen Lord: The Jesus of History as the Christ of Faith (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity, 1996), 46–49.)) The connection between Enoch’s divine encounter and the baptism of Jesus becomes intelligible when one regards the latter event, as do Margaret Barker and Gaetano Lettieri, as an “ascent experience” ((Barker, Risen Lord, 46–49; Margaret Barker, The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom of God (London: SPCK, 2007), 91–94; Gaetano Lettieri, “The Ambiguity of Eden and the Enigma of Adam,” in The Earthly Paradise: The Garden of Eden from Antiquity to Modernity, ed. F. Regina Psaki and Charles Hindley (Binghamton, NY: State University of New York at Binghamton, 2002), 26–29.)) consistent with the idea of baptism as a figurative death and resurrection (Romans 6:4–6). From this perspective, Enoch’s prophetic commission may be seen as given him in the context of a heavenly ascent.
In his masterful commentary on the book of Ezekiel, Walther Zimmerli “distinguishes between two types of prophetic call in the Bible—the ‘narrative’ type, which includes a dialogue with God or other divine interlocutor; and the ‘throne [Page 20]theophany’ type, which introduces the prophetic commission with a vision of the heavenly throne of God.” ((Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 1: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel Chapters 1-24, trans. Ronald E. Clements (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1979), 97–100.)) Following Norman Habel, Stephen Ricks distinguishes six characteristic features of the narrative call pattern:
- the divine confrontation
- the introductory word
- the commission
- the objection
- the reassurance
- the sign ((Stephen D. Ricks, “The Narrative Call Pattern in the Prophetic Commission of Enoch.” BYU Studies 26/4 (1986): 97. For an interpretation of Ezekiel 1 as a heavenly ascent, see Silviu N. Bunta, “In Heaven or on Earth: A Misplaced Temple Question about Ezekiel’s Visions,” in With Letters of Light: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Jewish Apocalypticism, Magic, and Mysticism in Honor of Rachel Elior, ed. Daphna V. Arbel and Andrei A. Orlov (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011).))
Drawing on Ricks’s discussion in which he shows how the six features apply in the account of the commissioning of Enoch, we will highlight selected details of this pattern. Following the “divine confrontation” (Moses 6:26), and the “introductory word” (Moses 6:27–30). Enoch’s “objection” reads as follows “And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?” (Moses 6:31).
Obvious similarities with the calls of Moses and Jeremiah present themselves in this verse. Moses responds to his call as follows: “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). Later Moses objects more specifically in saying that he [Page 21]was “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Jeremiah complains by saying: “Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child”( Jeremiah 1:6). Enoch combines the objections of Moses and Jeremiah, adding that “all the people hate me” (Moses 6:31).
LDS readers have often puzzled over Enoch’s self-description as a “lad”—though he was sixty-five at the time. This is the only instance of the term lad in the teachings and revelations of Joseph Smith. The use of this term by Joseph Smith is of special interest considering the prominence of “lad” as a title for Enoch in the pseudepigraphal books of 2 Enoch and 3 Enoch. ((See Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: F. I. Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” 2 Enoch 10:4 (shorter recension), 119; P. Alexander, “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch,” 3 Enoch 2:2, p. 357; 3:2, p. 257; 4:1, p. 258; and 4:10, p. 259. Charles Mopsik, ed., Le Libre hébreu d’Hénoch ou Livre des Palais: Les Dix Paroles, ed. (Lagrasse: Éditions Verdier, 1989), 48D 1, 156. For discussions of these and other ancient references to Enoch as a “lad,” see, e.g., Gary A. Anderson, “The Exaltation of Adam,” in Literature on Adam and Eve: Collected Essays, ed. Gary A. Anderson, Michael E. Stone, and Johannes Tromp (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 107–108; Mopsik, Hénoch, 188–90; Nibley, Enoch, 208–209; Andrei A. Orlov, The Enoch-Metatron Tradition (Tübingen: Mohr, 2005), 133–36. Psalm 89:19 provides an intriguing possibility of parallel with the title of lad/youth given to Enoch in vision. Citing a vision “of old” (see Lane T. Dennis, Wayne Grudem, J. I. Packer, C. John Collins, Thomas R. Schreiner, and Justin Taylor, English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008], 89:19, p. 1050; John H. Eaton, The Psalms: A Historical and Spiritual Commentary with an Introduction and New Translation [London: Clark, 2003], 89:19, p. 317) that was given to His “holy one” (KJV), the Lord is quoted as saying that He has exalted a baḥur from among the people. Baḥur is an interesting word—it is usually translated as “chosen,” but perhaps in the context of this verse may be more accurately rendered “youth” or “young man,” see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 104c, d; Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, Johann Jakob Stamm, M. E. J. Richardson, G. J. Jongeling-Vos, and L. J. de Regt, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 1:118. Cf. Eaton’s translation: “I have set a youth [emending ‘ezer to naar] above the warrior; I have raised [exalted] a young man [baḥur] over the people,” Eaton, Psalms Commentary, 89:19, p. 317; “I have exalted a young man from among the people,” NIV Study Bible, Psalm 89:19, p. 889. One might, in fact, conjecture a play on words between baḥir in v. 3 and baḥur in v. 19. The youth who is set above the warrior (Hebrew gibbor) recalls Enoch’s victory over the gibborim in the Book of the Giants and in the Book of Moses (as well as David’s youthful triumph over the giant Goliath). Of course the motif of the exaltation of the anointed one is relevant to the stories of Enoch’s heavenly ascent in the Book of Moses and in the pseudepigrapha. For a summary of other ancient traditions relating to resentment of the exaltation of the younger rival over the older one, see Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, 225, 540–41, 582–83.)) [Page 22]Gary A. Anderson of Notre Dame writes the following about the references in 2 Enoch:
The acclamation of Enoch as “lad” ((Or the equivalent term youth in other translations.)) is curious. It certainly recalls the question that began the story: “Why are you called ‘lad’ by [those] in the heights of heaven?” It is worth noting that of all the names given Enoch, the title “lad” is singled out as being particularly apt and fitting by the heavenly host. Evidently the seventy names were of a more general order of knowledge than the specific title “lad.” . . . In any event, the reason our text supplies for this title is deceptively simple and straightforward: “And because I was the youngest among them and a ‘lad’ amongst them with respect to days, months, and years, therefore they called me ‘lad.’ ” ((Anderson, “Exaltation,” 107.))
Although Anderson reports that “[m]ost scholars have not been satisfied with the simple and somewhat naïve answer the text supplies” ((Anderson, “Exaltation,” 107.)) and have instead formulated a variety of more elaborate hypotheses for the name, Enoch’s explanation for his title of “lad” in the Joseph Smith account fits the “simple and straightforward” explanation given in 2 Enoch.
God’s “reassurance” to Enoch in light of his “objection” reads as follows: “And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. [Page 23]Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance” (Moses 6:32).
God’s promise that “no man shall pierce thee” recalls a corresponding event in a Mandaean account of Enoch’s call. Note that his description as “little Enoch,” corresponding to Enoch’s title of “lad” here appears in the context of his prophetic call while on the course of a journey, ((“When I saw myself thus surrounded by enemies, I did flee. . . . And after that, with my eyes on the road, I looked to see . . . if the angel of Life would come to my aid. . . . Suddenly I saw the gates of heaven open,” Jacques P. Migne, “Livre d’Adam,” in Dictionnaire des Apocryphes (Paris: Migne, 1856), 21, p. 167.)) just as it does in Joseph Smith’s Enoch account: “Little Enoch, fear not. You dread the dangers of this world; I am come to you to deliver you from them. Fear not the wicked, and be not afraid that the floods will rise up on your head; for their efforts will be vain: it shall not be given them to do any harm to thee.” ((Migne, “Livre d’Adam,” 21, p. 167. See also Nibley, Enoch, 210.)) Later in the same Mandaean account Enoch’s cosmic enemies confirm the fulfillment of the divine promise of protection for Enoch when they admit their utter failure to thwart the prophet and his fellows: “In vain have we attempted murder and fire against them; nothing has been able to overcome them. And now [i.e., after he and his people have ascended to heaven] they are sheltered from our blows.” ((Migne, “Livre d’Adam,” 21, p. 170.))
When Enoch is told: “Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled,” the obvious parallel is with Moses, who was also told that the Lord would “be with” his mouth and teach him what to say (Exodus 4:12). However, an equally good parallel is found again in the Enoch literature. In 2 Enoch 39:5, Enoch avers: “it is not from my own lips that I am reporting to you today, but from the lips of the Lord I have been sent to you. For you hear my words, out of my lips, a human being created exactly equal to yourselves; but I have heard from the fiery lips of the Lord.” ((Andersen, “2 Enoch, 39:5 (longer recension),” 162.))
[Page 24]Joseph Smith’s Enoch will manifest God’s power not only through his words but also through his actions: “The mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course” (Moses 6:34). Later in the Book of Moses we read the fulfillment of this promise: “So great was the faith of Enoch that . . . the rivers of water were turned out of their course”(Moses 7:13). Compare the striking similarity of Enoch’s experience in the Book of Moses to the Mandaean account: “The [Supreme] Life replied, Arise, take thy way to the source of the waters, turn it from its course. . . At this command Tavril [the angel speaking to Enoch] indeed turned the pure water from its course.” ((Migne, “Livre d’Adam,” 21, 169. See also Nibley, Enoch, 210.))
We find no account of a river’s course turned by anyone anywhere in the Bible; the only two places it appears are in this pseudepigraphal account and in its counterpart in Joseph Smith’s revelations—in both instances within the story of Enoch.
Next, Enoch’s eyes are washed and “opened”: “And the Lord spake unto Enoch, and said unto him: Anoint thine eyes with clay, and wash them, and thou shalt see [Cf. John 9:6–7]. And he did so. And he beheld the spirits that God had created; and he beheld also things which were not visible to the natural eye; and from thenceforth came the saying abroad in the land: A seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people” (Moses 6:35–36).
As a sign of their prophetic calling, the lips of Isaiah (see Isaiah 6:5–7) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:9) were touched to prepare them for their roles as divine spokesmen. However, in the case of both Joseph Smith’s revelations and the pseudepigrapha Enoch’s eyes “were opened by God” ((George W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001), 1:2, p. 137.)) to enable “the vision of the Holy One and of heaven.” ((Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, p. 137.)) The words of a divinely given [Page 25]song recorded in Joseph Smith’s Revelation Book 2 ((Manuscript Revelation Books, Facsimile Edition. The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2009), Revelation Book 2, 48 [verso], 27 February 1833, pp. 508–509; spelling and punctuation modernized. Cf. Abraham 3:11–12. The preface to the entry in the revelation book says that it was “sung by the gift of tongues and translated.” An expanded and versified version of this song that omits the weeping of Enoch was published in Evening and Morning Star, 1:12, May 1833. Frederick G. Williams argued that both the original and versified version of this song should be attributed to his ancestor of the same name, see Frederick G. Williams, “Singing the Word of God: Five Hymns by President Frederick G. Williams.” BYU Studies 48/1 (2009): 57–88. On the other hand, the editors of the relevant volume of the Joseph Smith Papers note: “An undated broadside of the hymn states that it was ‘sung in tongues’ by David W. Patten and ‘interpreted’ by Sidney Rigdon [“Mysteries of God.” Church History Library]. This item was never canonized,” Manuscript Revelation Books, p. 377 n. 65.)) are in remarkable agreement with 1 Enoch: “[God] touched [Enoch’s] eyes and he saw heaven.” ((Manuscript Revelation Books, Revelation Book 2, 48 [verso], 27 February 1833, pp. 508–509, spelling and punctuation modernized.)) This divine action would have had special meaning to Joseph Smith, who alluded elsewhere to instances in which God touched his own eyes before he received a heavenly vision. ((Joseph Smith’s eyes were apparently touched at the beginning of the First Vision, and perhaps also prior to receiving D&C 76. Regarding D&C 76, see D&C 76:19–20 and J. Smith, Jr. (or W. W. Phelps), A Vision, 1 February 1843, stanzas 15–16, p. 82, reprinted in Larry E. Dahl, “The Vision of the Glories,” in The Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 297. Thanks to Bryce Haymond for pointing out the latter reference. With respect to the First Vision, Charles Lowell Walker recorded the following: “Br. John Alger said while speaking of the Prophet Joseph, that when he, John, was a small boy he heard the Prophet Joseph relate his vision of seeing the Father and the Son. [He said t]hat God touched his eyes with his finger and said ‘Joseph, this is my beloved Son hear him.’ As soon as the Lord had touched his eyes with his finger, he immediately saw the Savior .… [Br. Alger said] that Joseph while speaking of it put his finger to his right eye, suiting the action with the words so as to illustrate and at the same time impress the occurrence on the minds of those unto whom he was speaking,” Charles L. Walker, Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 2 vols, ed. A. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1980), 2 February 1893, 2:755–756; punctuation and capitalization modernized.))
[Page 26]The description of the anointing of the eyes with clay in the Book of Moses recalls the healing by Jesus of the man born blind (John 9:6–7). ((See Draper et al., Pearl of Great Price, 95.)) Craig Keener observes that “by making clay of the spittle and applying it to eyes blind from birth, Jesus may be recalling the creative act of Genesis 2:7” ((Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary. 2 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003), 1:780.)) (cf. John 20:22), a fitting analog to the spiritual rebirth of Enoch in Joseph Smith’s revelation.
Having examined ancient affinities in the prophetic commission of Enoch, we will turn our attention in part 2 of this article to the events of his subsequent teaching mission and to the exaltation of Enoch and his people.
(An expanded and revised version of material contained in this article will appear as part of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, et al., Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2 (forthcoming). Translations of non-English sources are by the first author unless otherwise noted.)