Abstract: Over 30 years ago, Noel Reynolds compared matching non-Biblical phrases in the Book of Moses and Book of Mormon. Based on this analysis, Reynolds proposed a possible connection between the Book of Moses and hypothetical material on the brass plates that may have influenced some Book of Mormon authors. Reynolds’s work, “The Brass Plates Version of Genesis,” provided potentially plausible explanations for additional relationships between the Book of Moses and Book of Mormon that arose in two later Jeff Lindsay studies: one on the Book of Mormon account of Lehi1’s trail and another on the Book of Mormon’s intriguing use of the ancient theme of rising from the dust. The additional findings and connections presented here strengthen the original case Reynolds made for the ancient roots of the Book of Moses, roots that could have extended to the brass plates and then on to the Book of Mormon. Critics might dismiss such connections by asserting that Joseph merely drew from the Book of Mormon when drafting the Book of Moses; however, this view overlooks significant evidence indicating that the direction of dependence is the other way around. In light of the combined evidence now available, it is time to reconsider Reynolds’s original proposal and recognize the possibility that the Book of Moses is more deeply rooted in antiquity that many have recognized in the past.
[Page 2][Editor’s Note: This article is based on a presentation by Reynolds and Lindsay made at the Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses Conference, Provo, Utah, Sept. 18–19, 2020, presented by The Interpreter Foundation, Brigham Young University Department of Ancient Scripture, Book of Mormon Central, and FairMormon. A more detailed version, along with an edited transcript of the question-and-answer session that followed the presentation, can be found in the forthcoming conference proceedings.]
Research in recent decades shows the Book of Moses to be more than Joseph Smith’s alleged reworking of Genesis based on his personal views, his nineteenth-century environment, or some prophetic imagination. These advances include:
- Glimpses into apparent ancient wordplays that are still detectable behind the English translation,1 including a wordplay on the name of Moses that could not have been logically crafted based on the extant scholarship of Joseph’s day.2
- Surprising parallels to ancient records associated with Enoch, even including specific names such as Mahujah that Joseph either could not have had access to or, in some cases, most likely did not have access to.3
- Evidence from the tools of biblical and literary criticism that the text of Moses 1 has the characteristics and content of an ancient religious document, including artfully [Page 3]crafted chiasmus and other ancient Near Eastern literary tools such as a prophetic lawsuit.4
Nevertheless, many people — including even some faithful members of the Church — tout a naturalistic view of the Book of Moses without adequate attention to the possibility of other explanations for the texts.5 We [Page 4]propose here that an additional witness for the divine origins of the Book of Moses may be found in an unexpected source — the Book of Mormon.
Several years ago, while preparing a rebuttal to a Latter-day Saint scholar who claimed that the Book of Mormon account of Lehi1’s trail was implausible and even impossible,6 Lindsay noted a curious reference to Moses in 1 Nephi 4:2. This scripture had been used as evidence that the Book of Mormon is anachronistic for speaking of Moses and the Exodus as if the Exodus account were known in Nephi1’s day.7 While there is excellent evidence for ancient roots of the Exodus account,8 a significant puzzle remained after dealing with the objection: What was Nephi1 referring to when he described Moses as strong?
Therefore let us go up.
Let us be strong like unto Moses,
for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea
and they divided hither and thither,
and our fathers came through out of captivity on dry ground,
and the armies of Pharaoh did follow
and were drownded in the waters of the Red Sea. (1 Nephi 4:2)9
[Page 5]Nephi1 seems to be alluding to a text or tradition about the strength of Moses that would be readily recognized by his brethren. However, nothing from the Old Testament directly supports describing Moses with the adjective “strong.” A search in the King James Version (KJV) for the words strength or strong associated with Moses shows that the Pharaoh was strong (he would use a “strong hand” in Exodus 6:1); that Joshua was commissioned to be strong (see Deuteronomy 31:7, 23; Joshua 1:6– 7); that the sea was strong (see Exodus 14:27), as well as the wind (see Exodus 10:19); and that the Lord would lead Moses “with a strong hand” (Exodus 13:9; cf. Deuteronomy 7:18–19). However, the KJV says nothing about Moses, himself, being strong.
In fact, Moses was getting on in years in the Biblical account. By Exodus 17, the aging man needed the physical support of two other men to hold his staff up during a battle (see Exodus 17:12). It is difficult to picture him as physically strong as the Exodus begins, so where did Nephi come up with the concept of Moses being strong? Researching this question led Lindsay to find Reynolds’s 1990 article “The Brass Plates Version of Genesis,”10 recently reprinted in Interpreter.11 That article outlined the results Reynolds found during a preliminary study on the intertextual relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses. Since Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon before the Book of Moses, if there is a relationship in the language or themes of the two books, it would be most natural to expect the Book of Mormon to have served as a source of language and themes that the Book of Moses draws upon. However, Reynolds found surprising evidence that the opposite has occurred: The Book of Mormon, in many cases, appears to draw on language and themes in the Book of Moses, and sometimes there are indications that the flow is one way. In particular, as will be shown shortly, there are cases where the Book of Mormon appears to make allusions to concepts that are more fully developed in the Book of Moses, or where a passage in the Book of Mormon gains significant [Page 6]added meaning when the background provided by the Book of Moses is considered, indicating the Book of Moses as a possible source. There are no clear cases of the reverse, where the Book of Moses seems to draw upon details in the Book of Mormon.
In his article about the brass plates, Reynolds offers 33 distinct parallels of common language between the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon suggesting a relationship between the two texts that is not found in comparing the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon. He therefore proposed that an ancient text with some similarities to our modern Book of Moses may have been on the brass plates, and that the brass plates version of Genesis (or something similar to the Book of Moses) may have extensively influenced the Book of Mormon. Reynolds’s proposal appears to offer some promising ore to mine but seems to have received inadequate attention.
Applying Reynolds’s work to the issue of the strength of Moses led to a surprising find, presented shortly as parallel 34, and launched the present effort to more fully explore the possible relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses.
Recently, and apparently independently, David Calabro, in a discussion of the Garden of Eden themes in Lehi1’s dream, observed that in 2 Nephi 2:17–18 Lehi1 may have been drawing on language from Moses 4:4 where the works of Satan are described, consistent with Reynolds’s earlier proposal.12 But in general, few seem to have recognized that a text related to the Book of Moses may have been on the brass plates, influencing numerous Book of Mormon passages.
A Note on the Documents of the Book of Moses
The Book of Moses passages discussed herein come from the current Latter-day Saint printing of the Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Moses has a complex history with multiple documents involved, some of which had multiple corrections made at various times, as discussed by Kent P. Jackson.13 He notes that Joseph Smith’s Genesis translation began on a manuscript known as Old Testament Manuscript 1 (OT1), in which [Page 7]the Book of Moses is found on the first 21 pages written by four different scribes from Joseph’s dictation. This manuscript was later copied by John Whitmer into a new document, now known as Old Testament Manuscript 2 (OT2), with many changes in wording, including many simple errors, introduced by Whitmer. This document is available as “Old Testament Revision 2” on the Joseph Smith Papers website, the first 27 pages of which contain what is the Book of Moses.14 Joseph would later come back to the previously dictated text of the Book of Moses and make further changes and corrections, working with OT2 rather than OT1. It is likely that the changes to OT2 were made by the fall of 1833.15
What we have today as the canonized Book of Moses is largely based on the 1867 Committee Manuscript (CM) prepared by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which employed both OT1 and OT2. However, its editor, Joseph Smith III, removed many of the corrections and additions made by Joseph Smith to OT1. “The consequence was that his editing reverted many OT2 readings back to those found in OT1, thereby overruling much of his father’s work on the text,” especially in chapters 1 and 7.16 This issue in general does not appear to significantly affect the examples discussed in this paper. Relevant verses with noteworthy differences relative to OT2 will be noted. A third manuscript, OT3, was a copy of OT1 made by John Whitmer that became his private possession, not a text used in any Church publications.17
[Page 8]A Review of Key Findings from Reynolds’s Original Work
Reynolds’s original paper explored relationships between key phrases and concepts occurring in the Book of Moses with both the Book of Mormon and the King James Bible. He found dramatic evidence that multiple elements in the Book of Moses showed up prominently in the Nephite record while being absent from the Bible. Further, he found evidence on multiple fronts indicating the direction of dependency was not from the Book of Mormon to the Book of Moses, but vice versa.
Criteria for dependency that he used included the following:
- The greater the number of significant terms repeated in parallel phrasings in two texts, the less likely they are to be independent.
- The more precise the similarities between parallel phrasings in two texts, the less likely they are to be independent.
- The more deliberately shaped the repetition in parallel phrasings in two texts is, the less likely they are to be independent.
- The more similar the contexts in which parallel phrasings occur, the less likely they are to be independent.
- Author awareness of a brass plates source reduces the likelihood of independence.
- The more distinctive the terminology repeated in parallel phrasings in two texts, the less likely they are to be independent.
- Presence of weak or strong versions of the parallel terminology in the New Testament, and even more so, in the Old Testament, increases the possibility that the Book of Moses and Book of Mormon passages are independent. Although clear Old Testament parallels do not prove independence, their existence is considered sufficient reason to drop the occurrence altogether as evidence of dependence.
Reynolds gave each proposed parallel a score based on consideration of each of the seven criteria and selected the parallels with the highest scores to identify a group of parallels between the two texts that are highly persuasive on the basis of criteria ordinarily used by scholars evaluating possible sources of texts.
A first group of eleven Book of Mormon passages (shown in Table 1) provided strong parallels with the Book of Moses materials (the Book of Moses itself and the related material in the Joseph Smith Translation of [Page 9]the Bible). This first group is distinguished from a second group (shown in Table 2) in that none of these parallels finds expression in the Bible, with the noted exception of Moses 6:52 being found in Acts 4:12.
Table 1. Reynolds’s Proposed Parallels, Group 1 —
Concepts Not Directly Found Together in the King James Bible.
|No.||Concept18||Book of Moses||Book of Mormon|
|1||transgression-fall; fall-death||Moses 6:59||2 Nephi 9:6|
|2||order-days-years-eternity||Moses 6:67||Alma 13:7|
|3||Lord-from all eternity-to||Moses 7:29||Mosiah 3:5; Moroni 8:18|
|4||God-gave-man-agency||Moses 7:32||2 Nephi 2:16|
|5||Lord’s Spirit-withdraws-from-man||Moses 1:15||Mosiah 2:36; Alma 34:35; Helaman 4:24; 6:35; 13:8|
|6||children-whole-from the foundation||Moses 6:54||Moroni 8:8, 12|
|7||only name-given-salvation19||Moses 6:52||Mosiah 3:17|
|8||devil-father-of (all) lies||Moses 4:4||2 Nephi 2:18; 9:9; Ether 8:25|
|9||devil-lead-captive-his will||Moses 4:4||2 Nephi 2:27; Alma 12:11; 40:13|
|10||devil-deceive-blind-lead||Moses 4:4||3 Nephi 2:2|
|11||lies-lead-will-deceive-blind||Moses 4:4||1 Nephi 16:38|
Table 2. Reynolds’s Proposed Parallels,
Group 2 — Concepts that Also Have King James Bible Connections.
|No.||Concept||Book of Moses||Book of Mormon|
|12||earth-groans; rocks-rend||Moses 7:56||1 Nephi 12:4; 19:12; 3 Nephi 10:9|
|13||plan of salvation (redemption)||Moses 6:62||2 Nephi 11:5; Jacob 1:8; Jarom 1:2; Alma 12:25,26,30,32–33; 17:16; 18:39; 22:13; 24:14; 29:2; 34:16,31; 39:18; 41:2; 42:5,8,11,13,15,16,31|
|[Page 10]14||eternal life||Moses 1:39||2 Nephi 2:27–28; 10:23; 31:18, 20; Jacob 6:11; Enos 1:3; Mosiah 5:15, 15:23–25; 18:9, 13; 26:20; 28:7; Alma 1:4; 5:28; 7:16; 11:40; 13:29; 22:15; Helaman 5:8; 3 Nephi 9:14; 15:9; Moroni 9:25|
|15||unclean-dwell-presence-God||Moses 6:57||1 Nephi 10:21; 15:34; Alma 7:21|
|16||call on-all men-to repent||Moses 6:23||2 Nephi 2:21; Alma 12:33; 3 Nephi 11:32; Moroni 7:31|
|17||nowise-inherit-kingdom of God||Moses 6:57||Mosiah 27:26; Alma 5:51; 9:12; 39:9; 3 Nephi 11:38|
|18||things-temporal-spiritual||Moses 6:63||1 Nephi 15:32; 22:3; 2 Nephi 9:11–12; Mosiah 2:41; Alma 7:23; 12:16; 37:43; Helaman 14:16|
|19||people-dwell-in righteousness||Moses 7:16||1 Nephi 22:26|
|20||mine Only Begotten Son||Moses 6:52 (cf. Moses 1:33)||Jacob 4:5, 11; Alma 12:33|
|21||works of darkness||Moses 5:55||2 Nephi 9:9; 10:15; 25:2; 26:10, 22; Alma 37:21, 23; 45:12; Helaman 6:28, 30; 8:4; 10:3; Mormon 8:27|
|22||secret combination(s)||Moses 5:51||2 Nephi 26:22; Alma 37:30–31; Helaman 2:8; 3:23; 6:38; 3 Nephi 4:29; 5:6; 7:6, 9; 9:9; 4 Nephi 1:42; Mormon 8:27; Ether 8:18–19, 22, 24, 27; 9:1; 11:15; 13:18; 14:8, 10|
|23||wars and bloodshed||Moses 6:15||Jacob 7:24; Omni 1:3, 24; Mosiah 29:36; Alma 35:15; 45:11; 60:16; 62:35, 39; Helaman 6:17; Mormon 8:8; Ether 14:21|
|24||shut out-from-presence-God||Moses 6:49||2 Nephi 9:9|
|25||murder-get gain||Moses 5:31||Helaman 2:8; 7:21; Ether 8:16|
|26||seeking for power||Moses 6:15||Alma 46:4|
|27||carnal-sensual-devilish||Moses 5:13||Mosiah 16:3; Alma 41:13; 42:10|
|28||hearts-wax-hard||Moses 6:27||Alma 35:15|
|29||lifted up-imagination-his heart||Moses 8:22||Alma 1:6|
|[Page 11]30||natural man||Moses 1:14||Mosiah 3:19; Alma 26:21|
|31||Omner||Moses 7:9||Mosiah 27:34|
|32||Shum||Moses 7:5||Alma 11:5|
|33||and thus-it was (is)-amen||Moses 5:59||1 Nephi 9:6; 14:30; 22:31; Alma 13:9; Helaman 12:26|
While these concepts are explained in detail in Reynolds’s original publication, we’ll note a few highlights here. Moses 4:4 appears to be an especially important connection, where multiple details in the description of Satan and his modus operandi appear to have influenced the Book of Mormon:
One sentence from Moses seems to have spawned a whole family of formulaic references in the Book of Mormon: “And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:4). This language is echoed precisely by both Lehi and Moroni, who, when mentioning the devil, add the stock qualification: “which is the father of all lies” (cf. 2 Nephi 2:18; Ether 8:25), while Jacob says the same thing in similar terms (2 Nephi 9:9). Incidentally, the descriptive term devil, which is used frequently to refer to Satan in both Moses and the Book of Mormon, does not occur at all in the Old Testament. New Testament occurrences do not reflect this context.
The Book of Mormon sometimes separates and sometimes combines the elements of this description of the devil from Moses and portrays Satan as one deliberately [seeking to “deceive the hearts of the people” and to “blind their eyes”] that he might “lead them away” (3 Nephi 2:2). Particularly striking is the repeated statement that the devil will lead those who do not hearken to the Lord’s voice “captive at his will” (Moses 4:4). In Alma we find that those who harden their hearts will receive “the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction” (Alma 12:11). Much later, Alma invokes the same phrasing to warn his son Corianton of the plight of the wicked who, “because of their own iniquity,” are “led captive by the will of the devil” (Alma 40:13). In the passage discussed above, Lehi taught his son Jacob that men “are free to choose liberty [Page 12]and eternal life … or to choose captivity and death according to the captivity and power of the devil, for he seeketh that all men might be miserable” (2 Nephi 2:27).
A remarkable passage in the first part of the Book of Mormon pulls all these Book of Moses themes about Satan together — to describe someone else. The implication is unmistakable when Laman characterizes his brother Nephi as one who lies and who deceives our eyes, thinking to lead us away for the purpose of making himself “a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure” (1 Nephi 16:38). Laman insinuates that Nephi, who chastises his wayward brothers, is himself like the devil. And resistance against him is not only righteous, but required. This account has the added complexity that it is a speech of Laman, who is quoted here in a record written by the very brother he attacks. If we accept the possibility that this text is dependent on a passage from an ancient source related to the Book of Moses, we then recognize a major new dimension of meaning, not only in Laman’s speech, but in Nephi’s decision to preserve the speech, thus showing his descendants, and any other readers familiar with the Moses text, the full nature of the confrontation between the brothers, as well as the injustice of the attacks he suffered. The full irony is revealed when we reflect on the facts reported in Nephi’s record and realize that Laman’s false accusation against Nephi is an accurate self-description.20
Laman’s complaint about Nephi becomes meaningful and ironic when one realizes that he may be referring to a specific scriptural depiction of Satan that is not found in the Old Testament, but is in the Book of Moses — as if that description were in the brass plates. In this instance, the relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses shows a one-way nature.
The speech from Laman illustrates some of the reasons Reynolds gives for the one-way relationship between the two books:
It is clearly Moses that provides the unity and coherence to a host of scattered Book of Mormon references. It is the story [Page 13]of creation and subsequent events that supplies meaning to Book of Mormon language connecting (1) the transgression, Fall, and death; (2) explaining the origins of human agency; (3) describing the character and modus operandi of Satan; (4) explaining the origins and character of secret combinations and the works of darkness — to mention only a few of the most obvious examples. The Book of Mormon is the derivative document. It shows a number of different authors borrowing from a common source as suited their particular needs — Lehi, Nephi, Benjamin, and Alma all used it frequently, drawing on its context to give added meaning to their own writings.
Perhaps most significantly, we have at hand a control document against which to check this hypothesis. A few years after receiving [the Book of] Moses, Joseph Smith translated an Abrahamic text. In spite of the fact that this new document contained versions of some of the same chapters of Genesis that are paralleled in the Book of Moses, and in spite of the fact that the Book of Mormon has a large number of direct references to Abraham, the person, detailed textual comparison demonstrates that this second document does not feature any of the phrases and concepts that have been reported above linking Moses to the Book of Mormon textual tradition. Nor does the distinctive, non-Old Testament phraseology of the Book of Abraham show up in the Book of Mormon. The logic that would lead skeptics to conclude that these common concepts and expressions provide evidence that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses runs aground on Abraham, as the skeptical hypothesis would seem to require a similar pattern there. But such a pattern is not even faintly detectable.
It is also impressive that most of the influence from the Book of Moses in the Book of Mormon shows up early in the small plates and the writings of the first generation of Book of Mormon prophets — significantly, those who had custody and long-term, firsthand access to the brass plates. Many of the later passages that use Book of Moses terminology and concepts tend to repeat earlier Nephite adaptations of the original materials.21
[Page 14]While Table 2 has connections to the KJV that sometimes could account for the intertextuality, in many cases what the KJV offers is less complete than the Book of Moses. For example, Moses 6:49 tells us that Satan came among the children of men, tempting them to worship him, and thus men became “carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God.” Moses 5:13 has Satan deceiving the children of men, with the result that “men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.” Those three adjectives in the same order are found in Mosiah 16:3 and Alma 42:10 (cf. Alma 41:13 with “carnal” and “devilish”). The Book of Mormon’s use of that phrase points to the same context as in the Book of Moses. The closest language in the King James Bible has “earthly, sensual, devilish” in James 3:15.
The listing for “things-temporal-spiritual” refers to Moses 6:63, where the Lord draws a distinction between “things which are temporal and things which are spiritual.” Nephi1 makes the same distinction in 1 Nephi 15:32 and 22:3 using the phrase “things both temporal and spiritual.” King Benjamin later says that those who keep the commandments “are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” (Mosiah 2:41). Alma2 encouraged people to pray for what they needed, “things … both spiritual and temporal” (Alma 7:23). He also distinguished between spiritual and temporal death (see Alma 12:16) and between the temporal and spiritual things the Lord provides (see Alma 37:43). The two classes of things and the two classes of death are both combined by Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 14:16, which also invokes the phrase “cut off from the presence of the Lord,” similar to the phrase found in Moses 6:49. The concept of spiritual things occurs in the New Testament, but it is not paired with references to temporal things (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10–14).
In reviewing the parallels previously listed and others to be discussed, we found that an interesting feature is the tendency for a few Book of Moses passages to be used in multiple ways in the Book of Mormon and for some Book of Mormon passages to cite multiple phrases from the Book of Moses. We previously mentioned the multiple phrases of Moses 4:4. As discussed above, Moses 6:49 not only has “carnal, sensual, and devilish,” but it also has the phrase “shut out from the presence of God,” which is found in 2 Nephi 9:9 (“shut out from the presence of our God”) in the related context of becoming subject to Satan. Second Nephi 9:9 also refers to “secret combinations” and “secret works of darkness” related to other Book of Moses phrases, as well as the Book of Moses teaching about the misery of Satan, to be discussed herein.
[Page 15]Reynolds discusses many more parallels. Significantly, based on further exploration, it appears that his case may be stronger than initially realized.
Additional Potential Relationships between
the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses
In coping with the earlier-described question about the strength of Moses in 1 Nephi 4:2 and in light of Reynolds’s original study with its 33 parallels, we questioned whether something in the Book of Moses could have served as a source for Nephi1’s allusion when he told his brothers, “Let us be strong like unto Moses.” This led us to the results detailed shortly, but it also led us to an additional question: Might there be more?
Through collaboration that began after that tentative question, we now offer an update that may help encourage others to reconsider how they approach the Book of Moses. The resulting possible relationship- defining parallels are detailed in this paper.
Building on the 33 parallels originally identified by Reynolds, we start numbering the new parallels with 34 for the “strength of Moses.” Table 3 lists the additional concepts found in the Book of Mormon that show relationships with the Book of Moses that either are not found in the King James Bible or may be significantly stronger than possible KJV relationships.
Table 3. Additional Proposed Parallels
for the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon
|No.||Concept||Book of Moses||Book of Mormon|
|34||The strength of Moses||Moses 1:20–21, 25||1 Nephi 4:2|
|35||Chains of darkness, chains of hell, chains of the devil||Moses 7:26, 57||2 Nephi 1:13, 23; 9:45; 28:19, 22; Alma 5:7, 9–10; 12:6, 11, 17; 13:30; 26:14–15; 36:18|
|36||Veil of darkness||Moses 7:26, 61||Alma 19:6 (cf. Ether 4:15)|
|37||Song of redeeming love / everlasting joy, contrasted with chains of darkness/hell||Moses 7:53–57||Alma 5:7, 9, 26; 26:13–15; 36:18, 22|
|38||The use of satanic oaths and covenants in forming secret combinations||Moses 5:29, 49–52; 6:28–29||Alma 37:27, 29; Helaman 6:21, 25, 26; 4 Nephi 1:42; Ether 8:15–16, 20|
|39||The great antiquity of secret combinations and satanic covenants||Moses 5:28–31, 49; 6:15||2 Nephi 26:22; Helaman 6:27; Ether 8:9; 9:26; 10:33|
|[Page 16]40||Cain’s involvement in a secret combination to keep Abel’s murder secret||Moses 5:29||Helaman 6:27|
|41||The persistence of Satan’s secret combination not only with Cain but with other followers (with mechanisms for enforcement)||Moses 5:29, 49–52, 55; 6:15||Helaman 6:27; Ether 8:20–26 (on the enforcement system, see Helaman 6:24)|
|42||Knowing/distinguishing brothers in secret satanic covenants/combinations||Moses 5:51||Helaman 6:22|
|43||Shaking, trembling of heavens, earth, Satan, and the wicked / shaking off Satan’s chains, bands, and sin||Moses 1:21; 6:47–49; 7:41, 61||2 Nephi 1:13, 23; 9:44–45; 28:18–19|
|44||Misery (either for Satan or his followers)||Moses 7:37, 41||2 Nephi 2:5, 11, 13, 18, 23, 27; 9:9, 46; Mosiah 3:25; Alma 3:26; 9:11, 26:20; 40:15, 17, 21; 41:4; 42:1, 26; Helaman 3:29; 5:12; 7:16; 12:26; Mormon 8:38|
|45||Misery and woe||Moses 6:48||2 Nephi 1:13; Alma 9:11; Helaman 5:12; 7:16|
|46||The infinite nature of God’s love and the Atonement (Enoch’s “heart swelled wide as eternity” and his “bowels yearned” in tasting the grief of human wickedness / Christ’s “bowels of mercy” and infinite atonement)||Moses 7:28–41, particularly 41||Bowels of mercy: Mosiah 15:9; Alma 26:37; 34:15
Infinite atonement: 2 Nephi 9:7; Alma 34:10, 14
|47||Rage and Satan’s dominion over the hearts of men||Moses 6:15||1 Nephi 12:17; 13:27, 29; 14:7; 22:15, 26; 30:18; Mosiah 3:6; Alma 8:9; 10:24, 25; 12:11; 27:12; Helaman 6:21; 16:22, 23; 3 Nephi 1:22; 2:2–3; 6:15–16; 11:29; 4 Nephi 1:28, 31; Ether 8:15–26; 15:19; Moroni 9:3–4|
|[Page 17]48||Administering death||Moses 6:15||Alma 57:19; cf. Alma 47:18; 55:30, 32|
|49||Word returning “void,” in context of the Garden of Eden and the Fall||Moses 4:30||Alma 12:22–23, 26; 42:2–5|
|50||“Esteeming” scripture as a thing of “naught”||Moses 1:40–41||1 Nephi 19:6–9; 2 Nephi 33:2–3|
|51||“Raising up” a prophet to restore ancient scripture||Moses 1:41||2 Nephi 3:6–7, 12, 24|
|52||The workmanship of God’s hands||Moses 1:4; 7:32, 36–37, 40||Jacob 4:9|
|53||(Men) ordained … after the order (of the Son of God or of God)||Moses 8:19 (cf. Moses 6:67–68)||2 Nephi 6:2; Alma 13:1–2 (cf. Alma 4:20; 5:44; 6:1; 13:6–10,14; 43:2; 49:30; Helaman 8:18)|
|54||Natural (man, eyes, frame) vs. the spiritual / the spirit / spirits||Moses 1:10, 11 (cf. verse 14); 3:5, 7, 9; 6:36||Mosiah 3:19; Alma 19:6; 26:21; 41:4 (cf. Alma 42:9–10)|
|55||The roles of a seer||Moses 6:35–36; also Moses 6 and 7 generally||Mosiah 8:13–17; 28:10–16; Alma 37:22–26|
|56||Perished in their sins||Moses 7:1||Mosiah 15:26 (cf. Mosiah 13:28)|
|57||Sins/cursing answered upon the heads of parents/children||Moses 6:54; 7:37||2 Nephi 4:6; Jacob 1:19; 3:10; Mosiah 29:30–31 (cf. 1 Nephi 22:13; Alma 60:10; Mormon 8:40)|
|58||The glory of God and its relationship to eternal life||Moses 1:39; 6:59, 61||2 Nephi 1:25; Jacob 4:4, 11; 5:54; Alma 14:11; 22:14; 29:9; 36:28; Helaman 5:44; Moroni 9:25|
|59||Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth (all three)||Moses 1:22||Mosiah 16:2; Alma 40:13|
|60||Satan laughs and his angels rejoice||Moses 7:26||3 Nephi 9:2|
|61||The God/Lord who weeps/grieves for those who are lost||Moses 7:28–40||Jacob 5:7, 11, 13, 32, 46–47, 51, 66|
|62||“All things” bear witness of the Creator||Moses 6:63||2 Nephi 11:4; Alma 30:41, 44; Helaman 8:23–24|
|[Page 18]63||Power, wisdom, mercy, and justice||Moses 6:61–62||2 Nephi 2:12; 11:5; Mosiah 5:15; Jacob 4:10|
|64||Commanding the earth and the power of the word||Moses 7:13||1 Nephi 17:29; 2 Nephi 1:26; Jacob 4:6, 9; Words of Mormon 1:17; Alma 17:4, 17; 26:13; 31:5; 53:10|
|65||Spreading abominations and works (of darkness)||Moses 5:52||Helaman 6:28 (cf. Ether 8:18–22)|
|66||“Powers of heaven” and heavenly ascent and descent||Moses 7:27||3 Nephi 20:22; 21:23–25; 28:7–8|
|67||Salvation or damnation by “a firm decree”||Moses 5:15 (cf. Moses 6:29–30)||Alma 9:24; 29:4|
|68||Angels bearing testimony||Moses 7:27||Moroni 7:31|
|69||Residue of men / the people + angels bearing testimony||Moses 7:27–28 (cf. Moses 7:20, 22)||Moroni 7:31–32|
|70||Prepared from the foundation of the world||Moses 5:57||1 Nephi 10:18; Mosiah 4:6–7; 15:19; 18:13; Alma 12:30; 18:39; 22:13; 42:26; Ether 3:14|
|71||Gathered from the four quarters of the earth||Moses 7:62||1 Nephi 19:16; 22:25; 3 Nephi 5:24, 26; 16:5; Ether 13:11|
|72||Counsel + “ye yourselves”||Moses 6:43||Jacob 4:10|
|73||Fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them||Moses 7:1 (cf. Moses 7:34)||Alma 40:14|
|74||Numerous upon … the face of the land||Moses 6:15||Jarom 1:6; Mosiah 27:6; Mormon 1:7; Ether 7:11 (cf. Jarom 1:8; Alma 16:16; Helaman 11:32; 16:22–23)|
|75||Record + baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost||Moses 6:66||3 Nephi 11:35; 19:14|
|76||Caught up/away to an exceedingly high mountain||Moses 1:1||1 Nephi 11:1|
|77||Compound parallel 1: (a) the captivity of Satan, (b) the concept of “eternal life,” (c) the combination of “temporal” and “spiritual,” (d) hardness of hearts, and (e) blindness||(a) Moses 4:4; (b) Moses 1:39; (c) Moses 6:63; (d) Moses 6:15, 27; (e) Moses 4:4; 6:27||1 Nephi 14:7|
|[Page 19]78||Compound parallel 2: (a) devil as father of lies, (b) shut out from the presence of God, and (c) secret combinations, (d) works of darkness, and (e) misery for the wicked||(a) Moses 4:4; (b) Moses 5:4, 41; 6:49; (c) Moses 5:51; (d) Moses 5:51, 55; (e) Moses 7:37, 41||2 Nephi 9:9|
|79||Compound parallel 3: (a) Satan’s fall and his angels, (b) plan of salvation / merciful plan of God, (c) temporal vs. spiritual, and (d) clothed with glory/purity/robe of righteousness||(a) Moses 4:3–4; 7:26; (b) Moses 6:62; (c) Moses 6:63; (d) Moses 7:3||2 Nephi 9:6–14
(a) verses 8–9; (b) verses 6, 13, (cf. verse 28); (c) verses 10–12; (d) verse 14
|80||Compound parallel 4: (a) Satan will “rage in the hearts” of men, (b) chains of hell/destruction, and (c) Satan leading men into captivity||(a) Moses 6:15; (b) Moses 7:26; 57; (c) Moses 4:4||2 Nephi 28:18–23|
|81||Compound parallel 5: (a) the workmanship of God’s hands and (b) counsel||(a) + (b): Moses 1:4; 7:32–40||Jacob 4:9–10|
|82||Compound parallel 6: (a) creation of “all things” and (b) wisdom, power, justice, and mercy||Moses 6:61||Mosiah 5:15 (cf. Mosiah 4:9)|
|83||Compound parallel 7: (a) after the order (of the Son), (b) without beginning of days or end of years, (c) Only Begotten of the Father, (d) full of grace and truth, and (e) “Thus it is. Amen.”||(a) + (b): Moses 6:67; (c) + (d): Moses 5:6 (cf. Moses 1:6, 32; 5:6; 6:52; 7:11); (e): Moses 5:59||Alma 13:9|
|84||Compound parallel 8: (a) New Jerusalem, (b) gathered from four quarters of the earth, (c) cleansed through blood of the Lamb, and (d) fulfilled covenants||(a) + (b): Moses 7:62, (c): Moses 6:59, (d): Moses 8:2||Ether 13:10–11|
|85||Compound parallel 9: (a) call men to repentance, (b) fulfill covenants, (c) angels declare, (d) bear testimony||(a) Moses 6:23, (b) Moses 8:2, (c) Moses 5:58, (d) Moses 7:27, 62||Moroni 7:31|
|[Page 20]86||Compound parallel 10: Enoch and Samuel the Lamanite||Moses 6||Helaman 13–16|
|87–97||Weaker parallels to consider|
In examining proposed parallels, we wish to exclude those that can be readily derived from the King James Bible to which Joseph had access. When there are closely related phrases in the Bible, we will note them and discuss their relevance. A possible parallel will be less significant if the wording can be easily accounted as a common term in the Bible or possibly drawn from well-known concepts, but possibly more significant if it is unusual.
In exploring intertextuality between two revealed texts, there is certainly the possibility that some parallels may simply reflect Joseph’s preference for wording in describing common themes and concepts.22 Indeed, it is possible that some of the parallels discussed in this paper, especially when dealing with relatively common concepts, may be a reflection of Joseph’s choice in wording, particularly if the method of receiving revelation about a text involved using his own words to express revealed impressions or ideas, as has often been proposed. However, there is increasing evidence that at least for the Book of Mormon, Joseph’s translation method involved a good deal of “tight control” in which specific wording may have been provided through revelation, as opposed to general ideas being given that Joseph then expressed with his own words.23 In light of that evidence, we will favor the hypothesis that the wording of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses may frequently transcend Joseph’s vernacular. It is possible, of course, that tight control occurred for the dictation of the Book of Mormon but not for the Book of Moses, allowing Joseph to use his own words and perhaps to draw on language he had picked up from the Book of Mormon translation. For relatively general concepts, that possibility [Page 21]may be considered, but it may not account for the many unique or unusual elements considered in this paper.
Parallel 34: The Strength of Moses
In exploring possible origins for the strength of Moses alluded to in 1 Nephi 4:2, Moses 1:20–21 was found to contain two references to Moses receiving strength from the Lord. Then comes a surprise a few verses later:
And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God. (Moses 1:25)
Moses, who had received strength from the Lord, would later be made even stronger than the many waters that he would cross. If Nephi1 had access to a text with a similar account about Moses, his words in 1 Nephi 4:2 could be understood as an allusion to such an account.
In a recent paper, Mark Johnson observed that the three references in Moses 1 to strength involving Moses describe a three-tiered structure for “personal strength and spirituality” in which strength is described in patterns reminiscent of sacred geography, each tier bringing Moses closer to God.24 The first instance depicts Moses having “natural strength like unto man,” which was inadequate to cope with Satan’s fury. In fear, Moses called upon God for added strength, allowing him to gain the victory over Satan. Next, Moses is promised additional strength that would be greater than many waters. “This would endow Moses with powers to be in similitude of YHWH, to divide the waters from the waters (similar to Genesis 1:6) at the shores of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21).”25 Johnson sees the treatment of the strength of Moses as one of many evidences of ancient perspectives woven into the text of Moses 1.
In light of Johnson’s analysis, if something like Moses 1 were on the brass plates as a prologue to Genesis, to Nephite students of the brass plates, the reference to the strength of Moses might be seen as more than just a random tidbit. It would rather be seen as part of a carefully developed literary tool related to important themes such as the commissioning of prophets and becoming more like God through serving Him. If so, the concept of the strength of Moses may easily have been prominent enough to require no explanation to his brothers when Nephi1 alluded to it. In [Page 22]short, if something like the Book of Moses were on the brass plates, it could provide a source for Nephi1’s allusion, an allusion his brothers readily understood. That proposed source may help explain the concept of the strength of Moses, providing the detailed background story to which the Book of Mormon merely alludes. The direction of transmission most logically would be from that hypothetical source to the Book of Mormon.
Parallel 35: Satan’s Chains of Darkness
In Moses 7:26, Enoch sees Satan with “a great chain”: “And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.” A little later in Moses 7:57, we read of spirits in prison, held captive in “chains of darkness” until the judgment day. (This follows the heavens being “veiled” in verse 56.) Chains of darkness and Satan veiling the earth (perhaps with the chain of darkness) are striking images in Moses 7. In light of Reynolds’s original work, one might hope to find the imagery of chains of darkness and Satan’s veiling of the earth in darkness to be present in the Book of Mormon. Exploring that possibility initially led to disappointment, as the term “chains of darkness” is not found in the Book of Mormon. However, some related references may be significant.
Revelation 20:1 mentions a “great chain” used by the angel who casts Satan into the bottomless pit, and “chains of darkness” are mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6. These references, however, are possibly connected back to the Book of Enoch, which is cited in Jude 1:14. First Enoch, published in 1821 from a text in the Ge’ez language and often called “Ethiopic,”26 mentions great iron chains27 and is supposed to be [Page 23]tied to the source of the passages from 2 Peter and Jude,28 especially since Jude explicitly refers to an ancient book of Enoch. Both Peter and Jude write of angels who sinned and are held in chains of darkness until the judgment day, aligning well with the discussion of Satan’s rebellion in heaven in the Book of Moses and also with Moses 7:57 and the spirits in prison in “chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.”
In the KJV Old Testament, the connection between chains and darkness is not present. However, Psalm 107:10 could be relevant, for it speaks of rebellious souls who “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron.” Iron may refer to chains, and some other translations use “chains,” such as the New International Version (NIV):
Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. (Psalm 107:9–10 [NIV])
While the Book of Moses phrase “chains of darkness” does not occur in any single verse of the Book of Mormon, Lehi1’s speech to his sons in 2 Nephi 1 may be relevant. In verse 23, Lehi1 says, “Awake, my sons, put on the armor of righteousness, shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity and arise from the dust.” Here chains are associated with obscurity, a word that can mean darkness. The entry for obscurity in the 1828 dictionary of Noah Webster, for example, gives the first definition for obscurity as “darkness; want of light.”29
Second Nephi 1:23 ends an apparent chiasm, as outlined in Donald W. Parry’s valuable work Poetic Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon.30 Parry identifies a seven-step chiasm covering verses 13–23, with the outer [Page 24]verses strongly connected by the themes of arising and shaking off chains. Significantly, the obscurity or darkness linked to dust and chains in verse 23 is also parallel to “a deep sleep” in verse 13. In verse 13, Lehi1 urges his sons to “awake, awake from a deep sleep — yea, even from the sleep of hell — and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound.” “Sleep” and “hell” here are related to darkness and juxtaposed with chains.
Other sections of the Book of Mormon display related concepts. Further, based on Parry’s identification of poetic structures in the Book of Mormon, it appears that a majority of the references to chains occur in the form of chiasmus, with examples in 2 Nephi 1:13–23; 2 Nephi 9:44–46; 2 Nephi 28:16–20; Alma 5:7–9; and Alma 36 (see verse 18). Metal chains, while apparently not part of life in the New World for Book of Mormon peoples, long remained a part of Book of Mormon poetry.
Alma 5:7–9, for example, is shown by Parry to be a five-step chiasm. The following passage is shown using Parry’s formatting but with the punctuation and wording from Skousen:31
|7||Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God.|
|A Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless|
|B their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word.|
|C Yea, they were encircled about|
|D by the bands of death and the chains of hell,
and an everlasting destruction did await them.
|8||E Now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed?|
|E’ Behold, I say unto you: Nay, they were not.|
|9||D’ And again I ask: Was the bands of death broken? And the chains of hell|
|C’ which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you:|
|B’ Yea, they were loosed. And their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love.|
|A’ And I say unto you that they are saved.32|
The chiasm begins with the phrase “They were in the midst of darkness” in line A and then has both the “bands of death” and “chains of hell” in lines [Page 25]D and D’. It is through loosing them that the contrast to being in darkness is obtained — namely, being saved in line A’. Immediately before the reference to darkness, Alma2 discusses the Nephites in the city of Nephi and says that they were in a “deep sleep,” so both sleep and darkness are associated with the “chains of hell,” adding to the proposed parallel with “chains of darkness” as symbols of Satan’s captivity.
In considering the possible relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses and disregarding the chronology of the two (that is, being open to the possibility of a related ancient text on the brass plates predating the Book of Mormon), the vivid imagery of Satan with his terrible chains of darkness, if also present on the brass plates, could be a source for the poetical uses of chains in the Book of Mormon, where the concept of Satan’s “chains of darkness” is more subtly present. This seems to be the case with many of the further examples we will consider.
Parallel 36: The Veil of Darkness
As noted previously, Moses 7:26 tells us that Satan’s great chain “veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness,” and Moses 7:61 speaks of the “veil of darkness” that will cover the earth. A related concept occurs in Isaiah 25:7, which refers to the “veil that is spread over all nations.” Like the “covering cast over all people” in that verse, this veil is a hindrance to the spiritual progress of humanity and will be destroyed by the Lord in the end. The veil may implicitly be a veil of darkness or bring darkness. Second Corinthians 3:13–16 refers to the veil Moses put over his face and how the minds of the children of Israel were blinded. The verses say that we experience this same veil today when we read Moses, but we remove this veil when we turn to the Lord. Spiritual darkness can be said to be the implicit effect of that metaphorical veil.
The concept of veiling with darkness or a dark veil is more explicit in Alma 19:6, where we read of the “dark veil of unbelief being cast away from [King Lamoni’s] mind.” Also related is Ether 4:13–15, where Moroni tells the house of Israel that when they rend “that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness and hardness of heart and blindness of mind,” then they will know that the Father has remembered the covenant he made with their fathers (Ether 4:15). Here the veil directly causes blindness of mind.
[Page 26]Parallel 37: The Song of Redeeming Love Contrasted with the Chains of Hell
In line B’ of the previous chiasm of Alma 5:7–9, when the chains of hell are loosed, “their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love.”
The contrast between the chains of hell or darkness and songs of redeeming love or joy is found in Moses 7:53–57. In verse 53, the Lord tells Enoch that “whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me [the arise/ascend theme33] … shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy.” Enoch then asks when the Son of Man will come, and in vision he is then shown the Crucifixion of Christ (see verses 54–55). The “heavens were veiled” (verse 56), the earth groaned, and the rocks were rent.34 Then follows verse 57, which mentions spirits in prison “reserved in chains of darkness” until the Judgment Day. Shortly afterward, verse 61 describes the “veil of darkness” that will cover the earth.
The point of this proposed parallel is that both the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon share the contrast between the chains of hell and singing by those who are redeemed by Christ.
Singing is a common occurrence in the Bible, of course, but apparently not with this particular contrast. In Isaiah 51, following the call for the Lord’s arm to “awake, awake, put on strength” (verse 9), the redeemed of the Lord “come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head” (verse 11).35
One may object to differences in wording between “sing redeeming love” in the Book of Mormon and “songs of everlasting joy” in the Book of Moses. Are these really related? In response, note that both expressions refer to singing as a result of the redemptive work of the Savior, in contrast to Satan’s captivity with the chains of hell. As for “song” vs. “sing,” one is of course a noun while the other is a verb, but as in many languages, the words for sing and song are closely related in Hebrew (ריִׁש is the root [Page 27]for the verb, Strong’s H7891, and for the noun, Strong’s H7892, typically used for “sing” and “song,” respectively, in the KJV).36
Parallels 38–42: Multiple Connections on the Existence, Nature, and History of Satanic Oaths and Covenants
The existence of secret satanic covenants and their ancient history, including the involvement of Cain in one such murderous secret combination, is given in significant detail in Moses 5:28–32, 49–56 and also in Moses 6:15. Some of these concepts and details appear to be familiar to Book of Mormon writers, who not only use similar language such as “works of darkness” and “secret combinations,” as Reynolds has noted (see parallels 21 and 22 in Table 2), but also allude to the their ancient history several times. In so doing, they share several details found in the Book of Moses account.
Helaman 6:21–31, for example, describes the operations of the secret combinations in Nephite society. Among the highlights, this passage
- describes the existence and nature of the “secret oaths and covenants” (verses 25–26; cf. verse 21) of the secret combination known as the Gaddianton37 robbers.
- explains that their covenants and oaths were used to protect members in their murders and theft, allowing members to distinguish “brothers” within their murderous band (see verses 21–22).
- states that secret signs and words were used by those who had taken such covenants (see verse 22).
- [Page 28]reveals the existence of their own justice system based on “laws of their wickedness” to punish those who improperly revealed their secrets and crimes (verse 24).
- indicates that these secret oaths and covenants were “put into the heart of Gaddianton” by Satan (verse 26).
- relates that it was Satan who plotted with Cain to encourage him to murder Abel (verse 27).
- observes that Satan continues carrying on such “works of darkness and secret murder” (verses 29–30) and hands down the plots, oaths, covenants, and “plans of awful wickedness” from generation to generation as he gets “hold upon the hearts of the children of men” (verse 30).
This passage, along with others mentioned later in this study, shows multiple unique connections with the Book of Moses that are not found in the Bible and go beyond the connections previously noted by Reynolds. These additional connections between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses include the following connections.
Parallel 38: The Use of Satanic Oaths and Covenants in Forming Secret Combinations
Both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses are explicit about the use of oaths and covenants to form the satanic conspiracies described as “secret combinations” and “works of darkness.” Moses 5 describes the oath that Satan has Cain make (see verse 29), telling Cain to swear by his throat and having others also swear by their lives to keep their murderous plot secret. Cain’s descendant Lamech likewise “entered into a covenant with Satan” (verse 49) and later slew Irad, his great-grandfather (see verses 49–50), “for the oath’s sake” (verse 50). Not only Lamech but also “all them that had covenanted with Satan” were cursed by the Lord (verse 52). Later, when the Lord speaks to Enoch, He condemns the dark works of that era in which men “devised murder” (Moses 6:28) and ironically states that these wicked ones “by their oaths … have brought upon themselves death” (Moses 6:29).
As noted previously, Helaman 6:25 and Helaman 6:26 use the phrase “secret oaths and covenants” and Helaman 6:21 also mentions “their oaths and their covenants” as instrumental in the secret combination of the Gaddianton robbers.
That oaths and covenants were used in secret combinations is also made clear in Alma2’s statement in Alma 37 to his son Helaman2 as he transfers stewardship of sacred records, including the account from the Jaredites with extensive details on their secret combinations. He warns [Page 29]Helaman2 not to share those details but to “retain all their oaths and their covenants and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall retain from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed” (Alma 37:27). “These secret plans of their oaths and their covenants” are again mentioned in verse 29.
As the Nephites descend into wickedness, 4 Nephi 1:42 relates that “the wicked part of the people began again to build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gaddianton.” Finally, in describing the establishment of a deadly secret combination among the Jaredites, Moroni uses the term “oaths” in Ether 8:15, 16, and 20.
Both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses clearly teach that satanic oaths and covenants are used to establish and maintain the murderous secret combinations that both texts warn against.
Parallel 39: The Great Antiquity of Secret Combinations and Satanic Covenants
The Book of Moses teaches that Satan’s murderous secret combinations date back to Cain and continued to be present at least into Enoch’s day. Cain, after being chastised by the Lord for his improper sacrifice, “loved Satan more than God” (Moses 5:28) and was approached by Satan with an offer to form a secret combination with others with a satanic oath in order to have Satan’s assistance and to be able to kill Abel without fear of being caught (see Moses 5:29–31). This combination is later continued by Lamech, who, like Cain, becomes “the master of that great secret” that Satan had administered to Cain (Moses 5:49). Such murderous secret works would become widespread as Satan continued to have dominion over the hearts of men (see Moses 6:15).
These ancient origins are consistent with Helaman 6:27, which dates secret combinations back to Cain.
Works of darkness and secret combinations are referred to, as well, in 2 Nephi 26:22. There it states they were founded by Satan and were known “in times of old”:
And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old,
according to the combinations of the devil,
for he is the founder of all these things
—yea, the founder of murder and works of darkness—
yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord
until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.
Being known “in times of old” suggests that these secret combinations were mentioned on the brass plates, though details of their covenants and signs may [Page 30]not have been recorded there or on Nephite records, according to Helaman 6:26, to reduce the risk of others using that information to seek for power.
Records brought by the Jaredites also gave information about the secret covenants of ancient people. As the daughter of Jared works to establish a secret combination to murder her father, she speaks of “the record which our fathers brought across the great deep” and the “account concerning them of old” who “by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory” (Ether 8:9; see also Ether 8:17). Ether 9:26 mentions a later man, Heth, embracing the “secret plans of old” to slay his father and gain the throne. Ether 10:33 also speaks of wicked Jaredites who “adopted the old plans and administered oaths after the manner of the ancients and sought again to destroy the kingdom.” Such knowledge from the Jaredites may have also adversely affected later Nephite society.38
Parallel 40: Cain’s Involvement in a Secret Combination to Keep Abel’s Murder Secret
Though there is overlap with the previous point on the antiquity of secret combinations, the specific identification of Cain as the first man to enter into a secret combination is still a noteworthy connection to the Book of Moses. Helaman 6:27 specifically notes that it was Satan “who did plot with Cain that if he would murder his brother Abel, it should not be known unto the world.” This fits Moses 5:29 well:
And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.
[Page 31]Parallel 41: The Persistence of Satan’s Secret Combination not Only with Cain but with Other Followers
Moses 5:29 indicates that Satan’s plot with Cain involved Cain’s brethren, while later we read that it continued through his descendent Lamech (see Moses 5:49–51) “and began to spread among all the sons of men. And it was among the sons of men” (Moses 5:52), until “the works of darkness began to prevail among all the sons of men” (Moses 5:55). Moses 6:15 also tells us that secret works of darkness eventually became widespread and highly destructive.
Likewise, Helaman 6:27 tells us that Satan not only plotted with Cain for the murder of Abel but then “did plot with Cain and his followers from that time forth.” These satanic conspiracies also became widespread in their destructive influence among both the Jaredites and Nephites. Moroni wrote that “they are had among all people” (Ether 8:20), and he prophesied that they would be among our societies today (see Ether 8:20–26). Widespread indeed.
The oaths of satanic secret combinations involve death for violating the oath and, to persist, would logically have mechanisms to enforce the oath (see Moses 5:29). We see the oath being enforced when Lamech, Cain’s descendant and later leader of what is presumably the successor of Cain’s band, slays Irad, his great-grandfather, for revealing the secret to others (see Moses 5:49–51).
Likewise, Helaman 6:24 states that the Gaddianton robbers had their own justice system based on “laws of their wickedness” to punish those who improperly revealed their secrets and crimes (Helaman 6:24). The structure of the system, including the oaths, the opportunities for gain and power, and the means for enforcing secrecy helped these combinations spread widely not only in the very ancient societies described in the Book of Moses but also in two great civilizations in the Book of Mormon.
Parallel 42: Knowing/Distinguishing “Brothers” in Secret Combinations
Moses 5:51 states that “from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother.” This seems related to Helaman 6:22 regarding the brotherhood within secret combinations in which signs and oaths were used to distinguish or recognize one’s brothers in the combination:
And it came to pass that they did have their signs,
yea, their secret signs and their secret words—
[Page 32]and this that they might distinguish a brother
who had entered into the covenant,
that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do,
he should not be injured by his brother,
nor by those who did belong to his band who had taken this covenant.
Parallel 43: Shaking and Trembling
Many Book of Mormon passages involving dust, chains, and related motifs seem to involve shaking and trembling.39 Chains and the captivity of Satan are sometimes directly associated with shaking and trembling, as in 2 Nephi 1:13 (“Shake off the awful chains,” spoken by Lehi1 the “trembling parent,” who also urges his sons to “arise from the dust” in verse 14); 2 Nephi 1:23 (“Shake off the chains”); 2 Nephi 9:44–45 (“Shake off the chains,” which is parallel to shaking of garments and shaking off iniquities in verse 44); and 2 Nephi 28:18–19 (verse 18 says that the great and abominable church “must tumble to the earth,” and then verse 19 says that “the kingdom of the devil must shake, and … the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains”). The Book of Mormon blends dust and chains as symbols of captivity and death and refers to “shaking” in describing liberation from both. Isaiah 14 is also quoted in 2 Nephi 24, where Lucifer/the king of Babylon, now overthrown and brought down to the pit, is identified in verse 16 as the one who “made the earth to tremble” and “did shake kingdoms.”
In the Book of Mormon, shaking also plays a role, as in some references involving dust or chains mentioned earlier (2 Nephi 1:13, 23; 2 Nephi 9:44–45; and 2 Nephi 28:19). Other connections may be weaker than in other cases explored here and may not have been the likely source for Nephite expressions, although the relationship may still be considered. In the last days, the “heavens shall shake, and also the earth” as the heavens are “darkened, and a veil of darkness” covers the earth (Moses 7:61). “Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook” as Moses withstood him (Moses 1:21).40 When Enoch got a taste of the Lord’s [Page 33]perspective and understood the misery that wicked humans face, “his heart swelled wide as eternity [or “he beheld eternity,” per the OT241], and his bowels yearned, and all eternity shook” (Moses 7:41). The people also tremble as Enoch teaches them, warning of Satan’s temptations and explaining that through the Fall, we are made “partakers of misery and woe” (Moses 6:47–49). While these examples do not directly involve the liberating motifs of shaking off dust or chains found in some Book of Mormon passages (which are more aligned with Isaiah 52:2), they have some commonality with passages describing the Lord’s power and the fall of Satan’s dominion.
Parallel 44: Misery (Either for Satan or His Followers)
Another possible link to consider is the misery that Satan brings upon his followers and that Satan himself faces. “Misery” or “miserable” occurs several times in the KJV but not in the context of the fate of the wicked who yield to Satan, as is taught in ominous language in Moses 7:37:
But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?
This passage strongly implies that both mortals and Satan suffer misery for their rebellion. If the sins of wicked children are upon the heads of their wicked parents, are not all those sins upon the head of Satan, who “shall be their father”? Is not “their doom” collectively the doom of the wicked and of Satan? But Satan’s misery is also more graphically depicted in the opening chapter of the Book of Moses as Moses begins to see “the bitterness of hell” in his encounter with Satan (Moses 1:20). When Moses resists Satan, Satan cries “with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth” (Moses 1:22).
The line “Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom” (Moses 7:37) is a perfect antiparallel to the gospel message for those who follow Jesus Christ.
The occurrences of the term “misery” or “miserable” are much more common in the Book of Mormon than in the Bible and much more consistent with the Book of Moses’s usage. The number of occurrences in [Page 34]the Book of Mormon is not necessarily significant, since later writers may have been drawing on Lehi1’s heavy use of that term, but the usage by Lehi1 and others is generally quite consistent with teachings in the Book of Moses.
Heavy use of the word “misery” is found in the portion of Lehi1’s speech given in 2 Nephi 2, where misery is involved in several contrasts (2 Nephi 2:11, 13, 23) and being miserable is part of the punishment of the wicked (see verse 5). Misery is also presented as a goal of Satan for all humankind; for because “he had fallen from heaven” and had become “miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind” (verse 18), a goal reiterated in verse 27. Second Nephi 9, discussed later in this study, also twice associates Satan with misery (2 Nephi 9:9, 46). King Benjamin warns the wicked that they face a “state of misery” (Mosiah 3:25). Many references to misery come from the words of Alma2, a man who was a student of the brass plates, and his references include the misery of those who inherit the kingdom of the devil (see Alma 41:4), building on the principle of opposition that Lehi1 introduced. Alma 3:26 speaks of those fallen in war going to “eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which he listed to obey.” Other relevant examples include Alma 9:11; 26:20; 40:15, 17, 21; 42:1, 26; Helaman 3:29; 5:12; 7:16; 12:26; and Mormon 8:38. Moses 7:41 also mentions the misery of the wicked.
In the KJV, “misery” is usually used to describe an afflicted state in mortality and is not explicitly associated with following Satan. True, the basic idea of the wicked being damned naturally suggests that they will be miserable after this life, but the use of related language in the KJV does not seem as clearly related to the Book of Mormon as the Book of Moses does. For example, Romans 3:16 speaks of the wicked and states that “destruction and misery are in their ways.” But in context, this appears to be saying that the wicked spread destruction and misery in their mortal lives by hurting others rather than saying that they face misery and doom with Satan. Or, as the International Standard Version (ISV) puts it, “Ruin and misery characterize their lives.”42 James 5:1 warns rich men about the “miseries” that shall come upon them without clearly stating when or noting an association with Satan. Also relevant is Revelation 3:17, where the Lord speaks against the complacent church in Laodicea and warns that while the Laodiceans may feel rich and secure, in reality they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” But again, this is not directly describing the postmortal state [Page 35]of the wicked and is not explicitly connected with Satan. Thus, while it is certainly possible that the concept of the wicked being miserable or unhappy could be based on general concepts from the Bible, the specific language in the Book of Mormon does not appear to be drawing directly from the use of “misery” or “miserable” in the Bible but seems to be more closely connected to the teachings of the Book of Moses.
Parallel 45: Misery and Woe
When Enoch undertook to teach the people why “all men must repent” (Moses 6:50), he explained that as a consequence of the Fall of Adam, “we are made partakers of misery and woe” (Moses 6:48). Nephite prophets borrowed that same language four times in calling their people to repentance. Lehi1 called upon his rebellious sons to awake from “the sleep of hell” and to “shake off the awful chains” by which the devil carries the children of men “away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe” (2 Nephi 1:13). Before commanding the apostate Nephites at Ammonihah to repent, Alma2 told them that had it not been for God’s matchless power, mercy, and long-suffering toward them, they should have long since been “cut off from the face of the earth” and “been consigned to a state of endless misery and woe” (Alma 9:11). After reminding his sons about Amulek’s teachings about repentance, Nephi2 urged them to remember to build their foundations on “the rock of our Redeemer” so that “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, … when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless woe” (Helaman 5:12). Nephi2 also told the curious crowd around his garden tower that the devil had gained “great hold upon [their] hearts” and that he was “seeking to hurl away [their] souls down to everlasting misery and endless woe” (Helaman 7:15–16). Like the previous examples, he then called on them to repent: “O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord your God!” (verse 17).
There are several things to notice here. As with all the other phrasings featured in this paper, nonbiblical wording found in the Book of Moses is featured repeatedly in the writings of the Nephite prophets. Not only are the same words used four times in Nephite teaching but each occurrence is placed in the same immediate context as the Book of Moses example — the teaching of repentance as essential for human salvation. These clearly demonstrate the likelihood that the phrase “misery and woe” in the Book of Mormon is borrowed from the Book of Moses. But there is more.
[Page 36]While using the same basic phrase, the Nephites had apparently enriched and developed its meaning in three ways that show up in all four examples. The first is the way each of the four Nephite prophets linked the misery and woe resulting from wickedness to the influence of the devil. That linkage is immediate and explicit in three of the Book of Mormon examples and is brought in by Alma2 near the end of his speech when he clarifies that all men can be delivered by Jesus Christ, but “if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil” (Alma 9:28). Second, all four Nephite examples use “endless,” “eternal,” or “everlasting” to describe this misery and woe, and Nephi2 even calls it “everlasting misery and endless woe” (Helaman 7:16).
Finally, the recurring phrase “misery and woe” would appear to be a promising example of the frequent Old Testament figure of speech called hendiadys. In its simplest form, a hendiadys is a conjunction of two nouns that take on a combined meaning and cannot be translated accurately with equivalent terms for each noun in the pair. Examples could include “brimstone and fire” in Genesis 19:24 and spirit of “prophecy and revelation” (used as a hendiadys twelve times in the Book of Mormon).43 Such hendiadyses could be seen as their own terms with recognized usage that are accompanied by their own descriptors. It has already been demonstrated that the language of repentance in the Book of Mormon has almost a dozen widely repeated hendiadyses that greatly enrich the concept in the Nephite gospel.44 We don’t know what original language terms lie behind “misery and woe” in the Nephite text. But if we assume that the text has a Hebrew background, some obvious candidates suggest themselves.
The Old Testament has three different words usually translated as “woe,” and all have the same general meaning, announcing lamentation for one’s fate — often the consequences of one’s own sins. The obvious candidate for “misery” would be ra’ or rā’â, usually meaning “evil,” “misery,” or “distress.”45 Interpreting “misery and woe” as a hendiadys [Page 37]with these Hebrew terms in mind, the phrase could mean lamentation for one’s own evil or wickedness. Add to that one of the apparently stock Nephite adjectives (“eternal,” “everlasting,” or “endless”), and we get a very rich set of meanings for Nephite prophets to evoke when calling people to repentance by using the phrase “misery and woe.”
Parallel 46: The Infinite Nature of God’s Love and the Atonement
In Moses 7, the misery of the wicked not only caused God to weep (see Moses 7:28–31) but also, as we see in verse 41, caused Enoch to experience a transcendent taste of God’s compassion for humankind. Enoch saw the wicked with a touch of God’s perspective as he “looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned, and all eternity shook.”46
Powerfully expressing God’s love and perhaps pointing to His Son’s offering on the cross, Enoch stretches out his arms as his body and soul yearn for the welfare of others. Terryl and Fiona Givens describe this scene as “plumb[ing] the mystery of the weeping God” in which Enoch “is raised to a perspective from which he sees the world through God’s eyes.”47 His heart swells and his bowels yearn, again pointing to Christ’s suffering that gave Him the “bowels of mercy” mentioned several times in the Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 15:9; Alma 26:37; and Alma 34:15; cf. Alma 7:12 and 3 Nephi 17:6–7).
If something similar to this passage were present on the brass plates, it could have served as a basis for a few parts of the Book of Mormon that are linked to the brass plates. The Book of Mormon’s first reference to an “infinite atonement” occurs in 2 Nephi 9:7, a passage surrounded by other material that appears to be rich in Book of Moses themes. Those connections include Reynolds’s concept of “transgression-fall, fall-death” in Moses 6:59 that’s reflected in 2 Nephi 9:6 (see Table 1) and multiple concepts in 2 Nephi 9:9 (see Table 3; these will be discussed later). There are also references to the plan of salvation in 2 Nephi 9:6, [Page 38]13 (cf. Moses 6:62); the fall of Satan and his angels in 2 Nephi 9:8–9 (cf. Moses 4:3–4; 7:26); “temporal” versus “spiritual” death in 2 Nephi 9:11–12 (cf. Moses 6:63); and the chains of Satan in 2 Nephi 9:45 (see Moses 7:26, 57). Enoch was “clothed upon with glory” in Moses 7:3 as he saw the Lord in a theophany on a mountain, and in 2 Nephi 9:14, the righteous who enter the Lord’s presence will be “clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness,” also suggestive of the beautiful garments mentioned in a highly influential passage in Isaiah (see Isaiah 52:1–2), a passage of foundational importance in the Book of Mormon’s brilliant usage of the ancient theme of rising from the dust.48 Given the abundance of possible links to Book of Moses material in 2 Nephi 9, is it possible that the concept of an infinite atonement was on the brass plates and was possibly tied to Enoch’s vision? This connection is admittedly relatively speculative but may still have value.
Parallel 47: Rage and Satan’s Dominion over the Hearts of Men
Reynolds points to Moses 6:15 as a possible source for three important Book of Mormon concepts: satanic “secret works” (related to “secret combination[s]” in Moses 5:51), “seeking for power,” and “wars and bloodshed,” a phrase frequently used in the Book of Mormon, though sometimes with slight variations. Two more concepts in this verse may merit consideration: Satan’s “dominion” over men and his ability to rage “in their hearts.” The verse says, “And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power” (Moses 6:15).
The theme of dominion over men is akin to Satan’s quest for power over men, which Reynolds views as a theme from Moses 4:3, where Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man” and sought God’s own power. Satan’s “dominion” over man may be equally relevant, and that word may be used to reflect Satan’s corruption of the dominion that God has, a tiny portion of which God delegated to Adam and Eve (see Moses 2:26, 28). Moses 6:15 adds a dimension to Satan’s power over men by showing that his dominion has a relationship to anger, for his dominion is manifest as he “rage[s] in their hearts,” leading to wars, bloodshed, and so forth.
In light of Moses 6:15 and the link between Satan’s dominion and power over men and his anger-inducing influence on the hearts of men, [Page 39]a persistent pattern in the Book of Mormon becomes interesting, for most Book of Mormon references to Satan’s power over men also mention their hearts. Indeed, one of the first examples of this is 1 Nephi 14:7, which relates the “hardness of [men’s] hearts” to “the captivity of the devil” — Satan’s influence over the hearts of men again being a key tool toward achieving his aim of gaining dominion and making people his captives.
Many further examples are listed in Table 3 and are discussed in more detail in Lindsay’s publication on the theme of rising from the dust in the Book of Mormon.49
Parallel 48: Administering Death
Yet another term of interest in Moses 6:15 may strike modern readers as almost humorous: “A man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power.” This unusual term, not found in the King James Bible, occurs in Alma 57:19, where Helaman2 reports a battle in which his band of 2,060 stripling warriors “did administer death unto all those who opposed them.”
The word administer is not common in the KJV, occurring only in 2 Corinthians 8:19–20, where it is used in a positive sense (administering grace). The word occurs many times in the Book of Mormon, typically for positive concepts such as administering grace or justice. In addition to the combination of “administering” with “death” in Alma 57:19, a murder is committed in Alma 47:18 as Amalickiah has a servant “administer poison by degrees” to Lehonti, while Alma 55:30, 32 describes attempts by the Lamanites to “administer” poison (poisonous wine) to Nephite guards.
The account of Amalickiah’s murder of Lehonti is an excellent example of the murderous “secret works” of the wicked described in the Book of Moses, and it even begins with Amalickiah sending a “secret embassy” (Alma 47:10) in order to lure Lehonti into a secret deal with Amalickiah, in which Lehonti would appoint him as second in command, thereby allowing him to be first in command upon Lehonti’s death. Lehonti’s murder through “administering” poison closely fits what Moses 6:15 laments, for Amalickiah’s “hand was against his own brother [a fellow military officer in the Lamanite army], in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power” (Moses 6:15). The lethal “administering” of poison in Alma 47:18 in the same context found in the Book of Moses’s use of “administering death” increases the odds that the relationship may not be merely fortuitous but also reflects influence [Page 40]from the Book of Moses in the wording of the Book of Mormon. It is also a good example of a relationship that makes much more sense when viewed as a relationship in which the wording in the Book of Moses influences the Book of Mormon rather than the other way around.
Parallel 49: God’s Word Returning “Void”
The Book of Moses, Isaiah, and the Book of Mormon all use the concept of God’s “word” returning (or becoming) “void,” a concept not found elsewhere in the scriptures. The context used in the Book of Mormon corresponds most closely to that of the Book of Moses. First consider Moses 4:30: “For as I, the Lord God, liveth, even so my words cannot return void, for as they go forth out of my mouth they must be fulfilled.”
Similar language involving “void” is in Isaiah 55:11: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Now compare the use of “void” in Alma 12:22–23, 26:
Now Alma saith unto him:
This is the thing which I was about to explain.
Now we see that Adam did fall by partaking of the forbidden fruit,
according to the word of God.
And thus we see that by his fall
that all mankind became a lost and a fallen people.
And now behold, I say unto you that
if it had been possible for Adam
to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time
that there would have been no death
and the word would have been void,
making God a liar,
for he said: If thou eat, thou shalt surely die… .
And now behold, if it were possible
that our first parents could have went forth and partaken of the tree of life,
they would have been forever miserable,
having no preparatory state.
And thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated,
[Page 41]and the word of God would have been void,
taking none effect.
It is possible that Isaiah was the source behind the use of void in Alma 12 or may have provided the language for Joseph’s choice of wording in both Alma 12 and Moses 4:30. What is interesting, though, is that the concept of God’s word being voided in Moses 4 is in the specific context of the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Adam, just as it is in Alma 12.
The only other use of the word void in the Book of Mormon occurs later in the book of Alma, in chapter 42, and in a context even more closely aligned with the Book of Moses, specifically referring to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden:
Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee.
For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden
to till the ground from whence he was taken
—yea, he drove out the man—
and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden cherubims
and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the tree of life—
now we see that the man had became as God, knowing good and evil,
and lest he should put forth his hand
and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever,
that the Lord God placed cherubims and the flaming sword
that he should not partake of the fruit.
And thus we see that there was a time granted unto man to repent,
yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.
For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately
and partook of the tree of life,
he would have lived forever, according to the word of God,
having no space for repentance.
Yea, and also the word of God would have been void,
and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated. (Alma 42:2–5)
All three occurrences of void with respect to the word of God in the Book of Mormon involve the precise scene where it is present in the Book [Page 42]of Moses, and they come from Alma2, a keeper and careful student of the brass plates who discusses them explicitly (see Alma 37) and quotes from them several times (for example, Alma 33).
Parallel 50: Esteeming as Naught, Setting at Naught
Another potential connection between the brass plates and the Book of Moses involves the concept of “esteeming” scripture as a thing of “naught.” “Naught” and “nought” both occur in the King James Bible, but not in the context given in Moses 1:40–41:
And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak.
And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men — among as many as shall believe.
Now consider 1 Nephi 19:6–9, which mentions things which some men esteem of great worth that others set at naught and trample under their feet:
Nevertheless I do not write any thing upon plates
save it be that I think it be sacred… .
For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth,
both to the body and soul,
others set at naught and trample under their feet,
yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet.
I say trample under their feet,
but I would speak in other words:
they do set him at naught and hearken not to the voice of his counsels… .
And the world because of their iniquity shall judge him to be a thing of naught.
This passage begins with a reference to writing on plates, then follows in verse 10 with a reference to other prophets on the brass plates, specifically citing Zenoch, Zenos, and Neum, who made prophecies of the ministry and sufferings of Christ. Thus, it is interesting that as Nephi1 was thinking [Page 43]about the word of God as recorded on plates, right before quoting from the brass plates, he would use language similar to what is found in the Book of Moses and in the same context, esteeming the word of God as naught.
Strikingly similar to the predicted taking away of scripture in Moses 1:41, 2 Nephi 33:2–3 also uses “esteem” and “naught” in the context of taking away sacred writings:
But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit,
that it hath no place in them.
Wherefore, they cast many things away which are written
and esteem them as things of naught.
But I Nephi have written what I have written,
and I esteem it as of great worth and especially unto my people.
Once again, the connections to the Book of Moses come from one of the writers most reliant on the brass plates.
Parallel 51: Raising Up a Prophet to Restore Ancient Scripture
Moses 1:41, discussed in the previous section, also relates to 2 Nephi 3 and prophecies of Joseph and the Restoration, where we read of the work of a latter-day seer who will bring forth God’s word and restore a knowledge of God’s ancient covenants (see 2 Nephi 3:6–7, 12, 24). In that chapter, the Lord says He will “raise up” a seer to do this work of restoration, language also found in Moses 1:41. This seems to draw on Deuteronomy 18:15–18, where God tells Moses that He will “raise up” a prophet “like unto thee.” But the concept of “raising up” a prophet like Moses for the work of restoring scriptures is not found in the Bible, while it is found in both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses.
Parallel 52: The Workmanship of God’s Hands
Five times in the Book of Moses, the Lord mentions “the workmanship of mine hands” or “the workmanship of mine own hands,” which refers to human beings (Moses 1:4; 7:32, 36–37, 40). “Workmanship” occurs several times in the King James Bible but almost always refers to human craftsmanship. The closest parallel that the Bible has to the phrase in the Book of Moses is Paul’s statement that “we are his [God’s] workmanship,” but he doesn’t speak of hands (Ephesians 2:10). However, in Jacob 4:9, Jacob speaks of humans as the “workmanship of his [God’s] hands,” [Page 44]consistent with the Book of Moses and again coming from a writer known to have thoroughly studied the brass plates.
Parallel 53: (Men) Ordained … After the Order
In Psalm 110:4, in a scene apparently involving God the Father speaking to Jehovah, we read, “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Paul cites this passage several times as he describes the divine calling and role of Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 17, 21). The Book of Moses, like the Book of Mormon, does not speak of anyone being after the order of Melchizedek, but the order of God or His Son, and adds an expansive twist by showing that mortal men can likewise be called and ordained after this holy order:
And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch. (Moses 8:19)
Moses 6:67–68 is also relevant, where Adam, after being baptized, is told that he is also “after the order” of the Son of God and that through this means all men may become sons of God:
And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.
Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen.
These concepts are strongly present in the Book of Mormon. First consider 2 Nephi 6:2, where Jacob declares that he has been “ordained after the manner of his [God’s] holy order.” When Alma2 steps down as chief judge, Mormon writes that he “confined himself wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God” (Alma 4:20). Alma2 uses such language several times, most completely in Alma 13:1–2: “The Lord God ordained priests after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son… . And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son.” Related references are found in Alma 5:44; 6:1; 13:6–10, 14; 43:2; 49:30; and Helaman 8:18.
Interestingly, the wicked followers of Nehor stand in contrast to the true priesthood as they are said to be “after the order of the Nehors” (twice in Alma 21:4 and once in Alma 24:28) or “after the order of Nehor” (Alma 24:29). That the order was a faith, or counterfaith, is suggested in [Page 45]Alma 14:16, which states that a wicked judge in Ammonihah “was after the order and faith of Nehor.”
Parallel 54: Natural (Man, Eyes, Frame) vs. the Spiritual / the Spirit / Spirits
Reynolds’s original list of correlations included the contrast between temporal and spiritual that is found in both the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon, and Reynolds also noted that both texts discuss the “natural man.” A related contrast may also merit attention, that of nature and the natural man (or natural eyes or the natural frame) in contrast to the spiritual, including the Spirit or spirits.
After the encounter Moses had with the Lord in Moses 1, it took “many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man” (verse 10). He then observed that it was his “spiritual eyes” and not his “natural eyes” that beheld God, for “my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him” (verse 11). Shortly thereafter, verse 14 tells us that Moses could look upon Satan “in the natural man” since Satan lacked the intense glory that God bears. Here there are physical limits to what one can behold with the natural eyes.
Natural eyes are mentioned again in Moses 6:36, where we learn that they cannot see spirits, but Enoch as a seer could behold such spiritual things. This follows verse 35, where the Lord tells Enoch to “anoint thine eyes with clay, and wash them, and thou shalt see.” After following the Lord’s instructions, Enoch is able to see what the natural eyes cannot.
Another aspect of the contrast between the natural and the spiritual involves the Creation account in Moses 3, where the Lord declares that He “created all things … spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth” (verse 5) and again that “all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word” (verse 7). The distinction between spiritual and natural in the Creation is also made specifically regarding trees in Moses 3:9:
And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it. And it became also a living soul. For it was spiritual in the day that I created it.
[Page 46]This distinction between the natural and the spiritual may be reflected in King Benjamin’s speech when he contrasts the “natural man” with the spiritual “saint”:
For the natural man is an enemy to God
and has been from the fall of Adam and will be forever and ever
but if50 he yieldeth to the enticings of the Holy Spirit
and putteth off the natural man
and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord. (Mosiah 3:19)
The opposite of the natural man is one who yields to the Holy Spirit and thus becomes a saint.
Turning again to the eyes, seeing sacred, spiritual things, such as when Moses saw the Lord Himself, is an experience beyond the limitations of our natural eyes that also occurs in the Book of Mormon. When the brother of Jared had a divine encounter in Ether 3, “the veil was taken from off [his] eyes” (verse 6) and he was able to see the finger of the Lord as it would appear on His physical body. This majestic but fearful experience caused the brother of Jared to fall down, struck with fear that he should be smitten (see verses 6, 8, 19). But the Lord comforted Him and showed Himself more fully, telling the brother of Jared that because of his faith, he was redeemed from the Fall and brought back into the Lord’s presence, and that through Him, those who believe on Him shall become His sons and daughters (verses 13–14).
A related example occurs in the Book of Mormon when King Lamoni, after being taught the gospel by Ammon, turns to the Lord and has a spiritual encounter that overwhelms him physically, like the encounter of Moses that left him unconscious for many hours (see Alma 18:41–43 and Moses 1:9–10). As Lamoni was spiritually “carried away in God,” we read that his “natural frame” was overcome:
Now this was what Ammon desired,
for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God.
He knew that the dark veil of unbelief being cast away from his mind,
and the light which did light up his mind,
which was the light of the glory of God,
which was a marvelous light of his goodness
[Page 47]—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul,
the cloud of darkness having been dispelled,
and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul—
yea, he knew that this had overcame his natural frame
and he was carried away in God. (Alma 19:6)
Being overcome by the encounter with the glory and light of God not only caused Lamoni to be physically overcome but also caused fatigue or apparent unconsciousness in others in the Book of Mormon. After his first mentioned encounter with God, Lehi1 went home and “cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit” in 1 Nephi 1:7; Alma2 spent three days in unconsciousness after his encounter with an angel (see Alma 36:10); and several others also fell to the ground or became unconscious after experiencing the light and glory of God.
There is also a reference to the limited knowledge of heavenly things in the “natural man” in Alma 26:21 and a mention of the “natural frame” in Alma 41:4, in the context of the resurrection of the soul (see Alma 41:2). Also compare Alma 42:9–10, where a discussion contrasting the spiritual and temporal is followed by a statement that men are carnal, sensual, and devilish “by nature,” a phrase also used by King Benjamin in Mosiah 3:16 in discussing the Fall, shortly before he discusses the natural man in verse 19.
Natural and spiritual bodies are contrasted in Paul’s discussion of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:44, 46. In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul also mentions the “natural man” and states that he “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God[,] … neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The gap between spiritual knowledge and the abilities of the natural man is not unique to the Latter-day Saint scriptures, of course, but what seems to be unique is the contrast between seeing with the spiritual and with the natural eyes, including not just the physical limitations of the natural eyes but also the overwhelming physical impact on the natural frame that an encounter with Deity has. These themes and related language are shared in the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon.
Parallel 55: The Roles of a Seer
Building on the theme of natural vs. spiritual eyes, the role of a seer in the Book of Moses resonates with teachings in the Book of Mormon. In an act symbolic of washing or purifying the natural eyes so that they see that which is spiritual, the Lord instructs Enoch to anoint his eyes with clay and wash them so that he “shalt see” (Moses 6:35). As a result, he becomes a seer:
[Page 48]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 6:36)
In the Bible, the role and abilities of a seer are not easily distinguished from those of a prophet. In the Book of Moses, we gain additional perspective as we see Enoch, as a seer, being able to see spirits and invisible things, as well as seeing many future events and receiving great revelations (see Moses 6 and 7). Then after receiving this gift, Enoch also worked as a prophet in declaring the need for repentance, baptism, and faith in the Lord (see Moses 6:35–68; 7:1, 9–12) and worked as a leader who guided and gathered his people and established Zion (see Moses 7:13–19).
In the Book of Mormon, seers play similar roles. Mosiah 8:13–17 tells us that whoever is commanded to look into the divine “interpreters” (tools presumably like the Urim and Thummim or seer stones) is called a seer (see verse 13) and that seers are revelators who can know of things to come and “secret things” and “hidden things” (verse 17) so that they can bring to light that which would otherwise never be known (see verses 16–18).51 But the “secret things” and “hidden things” revealed by seers in the Book of Mormon are not limited to the things of heaven and the translation of once hidden records; they also include the “secret works” and “secret combinations” of the wicked.
Regarding how the Lord uses interpreters, the key tools of a seer in the Book of Mormon, to reveal these secret works, Alma2 explains:
For behold, the Lord saw that his people began to work in darkness
—yea, work secret murders and abominations—
therefore the Lord said
if they did not repent
they should be destroyed from off the face of the earth.
And the Lord said:
I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem
a stone which shall shine forth in darkness unto light,
that I may discover unto my people which serve me—
that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren,
[Page 49]yea, their secret works, their works of darkness,
their wickedness and abominations.
And now, my son, these directors were prepared
that the word of God might be fulfilled which he spake, saying:
I will bring forth out of darkness unto light
all their secret works and their abominations;
and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth.
And I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations,
unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.
And now, my son, we see that they did not repent;
therefore they have been destroyed.
And thus far the word of God has been fulfilled;
yea, their secret abominations have been brought out of darkness
and made known unto us. (Alma 37:22–26)
Thus, the role of seers can involve seeing “secret things” and “hidden things” to oppose the secret works of darkness and secret combinations that are condemned in the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon. Their role clearly includes using such vision to preach repentance, baptism, and faith in Christ. In both texts, the role of a seer is far greater than seeing the future alone.
Parallel 56: Perished in Their Sins
In Moses 7:1, Enoch states that while many have believed what Adam taught and have become sons of God, many others “have believed not, and have perished in their sins.” Abinadi, a student of the brass plates, speaks of “those that have perished in their sins” in Mosiah 15:26 (cf. Mosiah 13:28). The combination of perishing with “in their sins” is not found in the King James Bible, though those who sin shall perish according to Romans 2:12, the closest but still distant KJV parallel.
Parallel 57: Sins/Cursing Answered upon the Heads of Parents/Children
Moses 6:54 provides another possible link to the Book of Mormon regarding the responsibility for sin:
[Page 50]Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.
Moses 7:37 has a similar concept, along with other phrases connected to the Book of Mormon:
But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?
Related passages from the Book of Mormon follow:
Wherefore, if ye are cursed,
behold, I leave my blessing upon you,
that the cursing may be taken from you
and be answered upon the heads of your parents. (2 Nephi 4:6)
And we did magnify our office unto the Lord,
taking upon us the responsibility,
answering the sins of the people upon our own heads
if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence;
wherefore by laboring with our mights,
their blood might not come upon our garments;
otherwise their blood would come upon our garments
and we would not be found spotless at the last day. (Jacob 1:19)
Wherefore ye shall remember your children,
how that ye have grieved their hearts
because of the example that ye have sat before them;
and also remember that ye may because of your filthiness
bring your children unto destruction
and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day. (Jacob 3:10)
And I commanded you to do these things in the fear
of the Lord;
and I commanded you to do these things and that ye
have no king,
[Page 51]that if these people commit sins and iniquities,
they shall be answered upon their own heads.
For behold, I say unto you:
The sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings;
therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings. (Mosiah 29:30–31)
Also possibly relevant, blood coming upon the heads of the wicked occurs in 1 Nephi 22:13; Alma 60:10; and Mormon 8:40.
The closest concept in the King James Bible may be that of the scapegoat in Leviticus 16:21–22:
And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
Also relevant is 1 Kings 2:33:
Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever from the Lord.
The use of the verb “answer” in this context adds a unique element common to the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses.
Parallel 58: The Glory of God (and Its Relationship to Eternal Life)
In his discussion of the ancient literary elements in Moses 1, Mark J. Johnson sees the many references to glory in that chapter to be consistent with ancient authorship, and he states that “the predominance and preeminence of the word glory reveals Moses 1 to be doxological, that is, being a witness and praise to God’s glory.”52 In Moses 1, Moses uses the contrast between the glory of God that he experiences and Satan’s lack of glory to judge between God and Satan in a literary technique [Page 52]known as the “rîb disputation pattern” or the covenant (or prophetic) lawsuit.53 Indeed, the glory of God is an important theme in several chapters of the Book of Moses.
As it does in the Book of Moses, in the Bible the glory of God can temporarily come upon individuals such as Moses, but in the Book of Moses it also comes upon God’s covenant people in the city of Enoch and causes their enemies to fear (see Moses 7:17). Even more unlike the Old Testament, the glory of God is also described as something that the faithful may receive after this life:
That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory… .
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory. (Moses 6:59, 61)
A famous Book of Moses verse related to the glory of God is among those seen by Reynolds as possibly having an influence on the Book of Mormon:
For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)
In this case, Reynolds considered the phrase “eternal life,” which is also found in the New Testament, but showed that the Book of Moses’s usage of that phrase may be more relevant as a potential influence on the Book of Mormon. The use of the term glory in this context and in the previously mentioned context of humans entering into the glory of God in the next life may both serve as additional influences on the Book of Mormon.
A few verses in the Book of Mormon seem to reflect the message, if not some of the phrasing, of Moses 1:39, such as Alma2’s exultation in Alma 29:9:
I know that which the Lord hath commanded me,
and I glory in it.
I do not glory of myself,
[Page 53]but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me.
Yea, and this is my glory,
that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God
to bring some soul to repentance;
and this is my joy.
Likewise, in 2 Nephi 1:25, Lehi1 tells his rebellious sons that Nephi1 “hath not sought for power nor authority over you, but he hath sought the glory of God and your own eternal welfare.” Here, seeking the glory of God is linked to seeking the eternal welfare (or eternal life) of others.
Further, in the allegory of the olive tree, the Lord of the vineyard explains that he wishes for his olive trees to “be sufficiently strong that perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me, and I may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard” (Jacob 5:54). In other words, the work that represents the gathering of Israel and the saving of souls gives God glory. The work of redeeming humankind is His work and His glory. Jacob 5:72 reminds us that the work of the gathering in the Lord’s vineyard is indeed His work and His labor: “And it came to pass that the servants did go to it and labor with their mights, and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them.”
The concept of humans having a hope of the glory of God after this life is found in several Book of Mormon passages with various levels of affinity for the Book of Moses. Such passages often reflect entering into or receiving glory as a consequence of being redeemed by the Savior:
For for this intent have we written these things
that they may know that we knew of Christ,
and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming.
And not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory,
but also all the holy prophets which were before us. (Jacob 4:4)
Wherefore, beloved, be reconciled unto him
through the atonement of Christ his Only Begotten Son,
that ye may obtain a resurrection according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ
and be presented as the firstfruits of Christ unto God,
having faith and having obtained a good hope of glory in him
before he manifesteth himself in the flesh. (Jacob 4:11)
Teachings about the basics of the Atonement, the Resurrection, repentance, and faith in Christ are linked to the “hopes of glory” also [Page 54]found in Alma 22:14, where the teachings of the Nephite missionary Aaron to a Lamanite king are summarized:
And since man had fallen, he could not merit any thing of himself;
but the sufferings and death of Christ atoneth for their sins
through faith and repentance — etc.—
and that he breaketh the bands of death,
that the grave shall have no victory
and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory.
And Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.
Alma2 looks forward to his future resurrection, knowing that God “will raise [him] up at the last day to dwell with him in glory” (Alma 36:28). Regarding believers who were martyred in Ammonihah, Alma2 says that “the Lord receiveth them up unto himself in glory” (Alma 14:11). This glory of God shared with His children is associated with joy in Helaman 5:44 when Nephi2 and Lehi2, while in a Lamanite prison, had a miraculous experience that converted the surrounded Lamanites and filled them “with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.”
Finally, in a time of destruction and sorrow, Mormon comforts his son, Moroni, by telling him in Moroni 9:25 to “be faithful in Christ. And may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up. And may his sufferings and death and the shewing his body unto our fathers and his mercy and long-suffering and the hope of his glory and of eternal life rest in your mind forever.” The hope of God’s glory is linked to the gift of eternal life, bringing together two concepts also found in Moses 1:39.
The promise of entering into or partaking of God’s glory is a doctrine found to some degree in the New Testament, though it’s often underplayed or overlooked by those Christians who may fail to understand the real relationship between God and man and the magnitude of the gifts that God wishes to give to His children through His grace and love. Peter writes of God giving us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue,” so that we might be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3–4). Paul speaks of the “hope of the glory of God” that believers have due to the grace of Christ that they “access by faith” (Romans 5:2; cf. Colossians 1:27). He also speaks of “hope of his [God’s] calling, and … the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). But the Book of Mormon’s expansive teachings on the [Page 55]glory of God and eternal life for man would seem more closely aligned with the Book of Moses than with what is in the King James Bible.
Parallel 59: Weeping, Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth
Moses 1:22 reports that “Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” The Bible has a number of verses combining “weeping” with either “wailing” (Esther 4:3; Jeremiah 9:10; Ezekiel 27:31) or “gnashing” (Luke 13:28; Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30) or combining “wailing” and “gnashing” (Matthew 13:42, 50), but not all three as in Moses 1:22. In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 16:2 has all three verbs:
And then shall the wicked be cast out,
and they shall have cause to howl and weep and wail and gnash their teeth—
and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord.
Therefore the Lord redeemeth them not.
Interestingly, the verse that follows (Mosiah 16:3) has further Book of Moses connections, employing the phrase “carnal, sensual, and devilish” (discussed previously) and references to the actions of Satan.
Alma 40:13 also has all three verbs:
And then shall it come to pass, that
the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil
—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord;
for behold, they chose evil works rather than good;
therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them,
and take possession of their house—
and these shall be cast out into outer darkness;
there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth,
and this because of their own iniquity,
being led captive by the will of the devil.
Note that this verse also contains a previously discussed potential connection to the Book of Moses: the concept of being led captive by the will of the devil (see Moses 4:4).
On the other hand, the phrase “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth” derived from the related New Testament phrases has long been in use [Page 56]in English, arguably because of its pleasant meter,54 and thus its presence in the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon could have been the result of translating a phrase akin to “weeping and gnashing of teeth” into English.
Parallel 60: Satan Laughs and His Angels Rejoice
Now we’ll turn to one of the verses that motivated the current study. Moses 7:26 gives us a chilling glimpse into Satan’s power and attitude as seen by Enoch in a vision:
And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.
In the Book of Mormon, following the grim destruction of many cities among the Nephites near the time of the Crucifixion, the voice of the Lord exclaims, “Woe woe woe unto this people! Woe unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent, for the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people” (3 Nephi 9:2). This pairing of verbs does not appear to be in the Bible.
The existence of angels among Satan’s forces is found in many other Book of Mormon verses (see 2 Nephi 9:9, 16; Jacob 3:11; Mosiah 26:27; and Moroni 7:17) but is also evident in the New Testament (see Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9).
Parallel 61: The Lord Who Weeps and Grieves for Lost Souls
One of the most beloved and poignant passages in the Book of Moses involves Enoch’s surprise when he sees in Moses 7:28–40 that God weeps over the wicked.55 It is a brilliant and inspiring passage that is widely viewed as one of the most profound portions of our scriptures.
[Page 57]The concept of the God who weeps for sinful mortals may be reflected in the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees taken from the brass plates. While the allegory is not from Moses but rather from Zenos, the Lord’s feelings for humanity show an intriguing relationship with the account about Enoch’s experience.
In the allegory in Jacob 5, the work of the Lord in redeeming humankind is related to a vineyard featuring olive trees. The Lord seeks to help His trees bring forth good fruit. Eight times in this chapter, the Lord states that “it grieveth me” as he considers the future loss of the tree or trees He is nourishing (Jacob 5:7, 11, 13, 32, 46–47, 51, 66). The loss of human souls brings God grief. While the time of Zenos’s ministry is not known (likely to be between 1600 and 600 BC),56 it is possible that his writings preserved on the brass plates may have been informed in part by knowledge of something related to our Book of Moses or other related sources dealing with Enoch. Elements apparently common to Zenos and the Book of Moses may reflect a common genre or common concepts from an era well before Nephi1 (or may be because of chance, as is always a possibility).
The account of Noah in Genesis 6 also shows the Lord grieving over His creation, but not necessarily because men will suffer for their sins:
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (Genesis 6:5–6)
In this account Lord grieves that men had become wicked, but the text does not provide the insight of God’s love for His rebellious children and His pain at the misery sin will bring the wicked.
More relevant may be Luke 19:41, where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because of its impending destruction. The New Testament and the Book of Moses both bear witness of the compassionate nature of God, and it is possible that related material in the Book of Mormon could simply be expressions of God’s well-known compassion, though the repeated expression of God’s grief for losses in Israel from Jacob 5 resonates nicely with the weeping God of the Book of Moses who sorrows over the loss of human souls.
[Page 58]Parallel 62: All Things Witness of the Creation
As Enoch taught the gospel, he testified of the Creation:
And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me. (Moses 6:63)
The concept Enoch taught is similar to Alma2’s teaching when he responds to Korihor in Alma 30:
But behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true.
And ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true.
And will ye deny them?
Believest thou that these things are true? …
But Alma said unto him:
Thou hast had signs enough.
Will ye tempt your God?
Will ye say,
shew unto me a sign,
when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren
and also all the holy prophets?
The scriptures are laid before thee.
Yea, and all things denote there is a God;
yea, even the earth, and all things that is upon the face of it,
yea, and its motion,
yea, and also all the planets, which move in their regular form,
doth witness that there is a Supreme Creator. (Alma 30:41, 44)
A messianic discourse by Nephi2 in Helaman 8 also invokes a related argument. Interestingly, he begins by citing the miracles, power, and prophecies of Moses (see Helaman 8:11–16), and then he mentions the witness of other prophets from records likely on the brass plates (namely, Abraham, Zenos, Zenoch, Ezaias, Isaiah, and Jeremiah; see verses 17–20). Then in verses 23 and 24, he refers to the witness of the Creation:
And behold, he is God… .
[Page 59]And now, seeing ye know these things
and cannot deny them except ye shall lie,
therefore in this ye have sinned,
for ye have rejected all these things,
notwithstanding so many evidences which ye have received.
Yea, even ye have received all things
—both things in heaven and all things which are in the earth—
as a witness that they are true.
Perhaps also related is 2 Nephi 11:4, which declares that “all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world unto man are the typifying of him.”
The King James Bible uses “all things” many times, sometimes touching on the Creation, such as Nehemiah 9:6 which speaks of God having made the heavens and “the earth, and all things that are therein” or John’s declaration that “all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). But nothing in the Bible seems to directly offer the particular and beautiful teaching of “all things” in the Creation bearing witness of God.
Parallel 63: Power, Wisdom, Mercy, and Justice
In describing the “plan of salvation,” one of the key phrases originally noted by Reynolds, several significant nouns, including power, wisdom, mercy, and justice, occur together in Moses 6:61–62:
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.
Several Book of Mormon verses use portions of this grouping that are not found together in the King James Bible. Second Nephi 2:12 speaks of “the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power and the mercy and the justice of God.” 2 Nephi 11:5 says, “My soul delighteth in his grace and his justice and power and mercy, in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.” In Mosiah 5:15, King Benjamin exhorts his [Page 60]people to be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works” so that they “may have everlasting salvation and eternal life through the wisdom and power and justice and mercy of him who created all things in heaven and in earth.” Note that King Benjamin also refers to God’s creation of “all things,” a phrase that is used four times in Moses 6:61 right before the recitation of power, wisdom, mercy, and justice.
These Book of Mormon passages on salvation and their similar vocabulary to Moses 6:61–62 suggest a possible relationship between the two books and further favor the Book of Moses as the tentative source since it offers the more complete, extensive language from which slightly different portions may have been drawn by Book of Mormon authors.
Another relevant passage is Jacob 4:10, which tells us that God “counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” God’s role in counseling is also a Book of Moses theme (see Moses 7:35; cf. Moses 5:25; 6:28).
Parallel 64: Commanding the Earth and the Power of the Word
Jacob 4:10 in the previous section is part of a longer but still brief passage, Jacob 4:4–10, with several possible connections to the Book of Moses. Like the Book of Moses, this passage declares that the Nephites and earlier prophets “had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming” (Jacob 4:4). Verse 5 refers to the law of Moses and to Abraham, and then verse 6 speaks of commanding mountains, trees, or the waves after mentioning the writings of the prophets:
Wherefore we search the prophets,
and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy.
And having all these witnesses,
we obtain a hope and our faith becometh unshaken,
insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus
and the very trees obey us or the mountains or the waves of the sea.
This thought resumes in verse 9:
For behold, by the power of his word
man came upon the face of the earth,
which earth was created by the power of his word.
Wherefore if God being able to speak and the world was
and to speak and man was created,
O then why not able to command the earth,
[Page 61]or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it,
according to his will and pleasure?
The “workmanship of [God’s] hands” is a Book of Moses parallel discussed earlier in this study that strengthens the case that Jacob may have been influenced by something like the Book of Moses in this discourse.
This theme of commanding the earth through faith and the power of God’s word may relate to the account of Enoch, one of the ancient writings Jacob may have searched. According to Moses 7:13,
And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.
Through faith, God’s word can be spoken with miraculous power to command the earth, including mountains and rivers of water / waves of the sea. Thus, the theme of commanding the earth in Jacob 4:6, 9 seems to have strong connections with the account of Enoch in Moses 7:13. It is also significant in both Jacob 4 and Moses 7 that the commanding of the earth is associated with servants of God.
Jacob continues with verse 10, which uses the Book of Moses concept of God’s counsel plus the previously discussed elements of wisdom, justice, and mercy, again suggesting that Jacob has been influenced heavily by Book of Moses–related material in the brass plates in this discourse.
Commanding the earth can be viewed more broadly as an expression of the power of the word when spoken by servants of God. In Moses 7:13, it was Enoch speaking “the word of the Lord” that caused the earth to tremble, “and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.”
The Book of Mormon cites several examples of mortals having divine power in the words that they speak. Sometimes this is power to convert others, but other times more physically obvious miracles are indicated. The first Book of Mormon example of a physical miracle performed by a prophet using the power of the word is cited in a discussion of Moses:
Yea, and ye also know that Moses by his word
according to the power of God which was in him
smote the rock and there came forth water. (1 Nephi 17:29)
[Page 62]Jacob 4:6–9, as mentioned previously, shows how powerful the word of God’s servants was, and it reminds us that the Creation came by “the power of his [God’s] word,” so naturally God (or implicitly, God’s servants) should be able to “command the earth” according to God’s will (verse 9). Further, Ether 12:30 mentions a mountain that was moved by the faith of the brother of Jared in response to his verbal command, “Remove.”
Other forms of power in the word of God from humans include the power to shake the wicked or to convert the penitent. Lehi1, for example, explains that Nephi1’s alleged anger toward his wicked brothers was actually “the sharpness of the power of the word of God, which was in him” (2 Nephi 1:26). Sharpness and power in the word are mentioned in Words of Mormon 1:17, which states that King Benjamin and other “holy men in the land … did speak the word of God with power and with authority, and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people.” Accounts of preaching and missionary efforts often mention the power of the words from humans, such as the sons of Mosiah2 in their mission to the Lamanites: “By the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God to call on his name and confess their sins before him” (Alma 17:4).57
In contrast, the examples of divinely powerful words or language are typically attributed to the Lord in the Bible. For example, speaking of Christ, Luke 4:32 says, “They were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” Paul speaks of Christ in mentioning “the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). It is the word of God, not any mortal, that is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” in Hebrews 4:12. Moses, Elijah, and other prophets and apostles certainly performed miracles as directed by the Lord, with a relevant example being 1 Kings 17:16: “And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.” Christ also tells his disciples that with sufficient faith they can speak and cause miracles such as moving a mountain (see Matthew 17:20; 21:21), but this is done without using the wording in the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon. The Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon are more explicit in referring to the great power of the word or the language of mortal men, though that power, as indicated in Moses 7:13 and 1 Kings 17:16, is, of course, given by the Lord.
[Page 63]Parallel 65: Spreading Abominations and Works of Darkness
Moses 5:52 speaks of the Lord cursing Lamech and his followers who had covenanted with Satan, stating that “their works were abominations, and began to spread among all the sons of men.” This combination of abominations, works (of darkness), and the verb spread is also found in Helaman 6:28, which declares that it was Satan “which led on the people which came from that tower into this land which spread the works of darkness and abominations over all the face of the land until he dragged the people down to an entire destruction and to an everlasting hell.”
Ether 8:18–22 employs related words in a similar context, but these are spread over five verses.
Parallel 66: The “Powers of Heaven” and Heavenly Ascent and Descent
The term “powers of heaven” occurs in the New Testament, but only in the context of the troubles and fearsome signs of the last days. According to Matthew 24:29, the stars will fall from heaven and “the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”; Mark 13:25 says that “the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken”; and Luke 21:26 speaks of “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
In contrast, Moses 7:27 refers to the powers of heaven in the context of joyous interaction between heaven, earth, and Zion, with glorious angelic descent and the ascent of saints into the heavenly Zion:
And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father and Son; and the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.
The Book of Mormon captures some of this context in describing the future New Jerusalem and presence of divine power in the midst of gathered Israel, with Christ “in the midst” of the saints on earth:
And behold, this people will I establish in this land
unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob;
and it shall be a New Jerusalem.
And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people;
yea, even I will be in the midst of you. (3 Nephi 20:22)
In the next chapter, similar language involving the “powers of heaven” and divine descent is used in a prophecy indicating that the [Page 64]Gentiles who repent will be able to assist gathered Israel in building the New Jerusalem:
And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob,
and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come,
that they may build a city which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
And then shall they assist my people
that they may be gathered in
which are scattered upon all the face of the land,
in unto the New Jerusalem.
And then shall the powers of heaven58 come down among them;
and I also will be in the midst. (3 Nephi 21:23–25)
A related prophecy of a glorious descent (of the Lord) and glorious ascent (of saints) involves the Three Nephites with their access to the “powers of heaven” and the promise of future assumption into the kingdom of God:
Therefore more blessed are ye;
for ye shall never taste of death,
but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men,
even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father
when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.
And ye shall never endure the pains of death.
But when I shall come in my glory,
ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality.
And then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father. (3 Nephi 28:7–8)
The unshaken powers of heaven here bless humans and are associated with both heavenly descent and ascent. Zion is not explicitly present here, but “the kingdom of my Father” is given as the destination for the ascent.
[Page 65]Parallel 67: Salvation or Damnation by “a Firm Decree”
In Moses 5, we learn that the Lord was working to teach the gospel to humanity from the days of Adam and Eve, calling upon all people to repent. Verse 15 outlines the choice of salvation or damnation given to humankind and the need for repentance:
And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned; and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled.
Alma 9:24–25 employs similar language in a similar context:
For behold, the promises of the Lord are extended to the Lamanites,
but they are not unto you if ye transgress.
For hath not the Lord expressly promised and firmly decreed,
that if ye will rebel against him
that ye shall utterly be destroyed from off the face of the earth?
And now for this cause that ye may not be destroyed,
the Lord has sent his angel to visit many of his people,
declaring unto them that they must go forth
and cry mightily unto this people, saying:
Repent ye, repent ye,
for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand.
Alma2 again uses similar language in a similar context in his famous “O that I were an angel” speech:
I had not ought to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God,
for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desires,
whether it be unto death or unto life.
Yea, I know that he allotteth unto man,
yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable according to their wills,
whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. (Alma 29:4)
[Page 66]Alma2 uses both “firm” and “unalterable” to describe God’s decrees. Later in Alma 41:7–8, Alma2 uses “unalterable” instead of “firm” to describe God’s decrees related to our salvation or damnation.
A “firm decree” does occur in the King James Bible in Daniel 6:7 when leaders under King Darius set a trap to ensnare Daniel by convincing the king to issue a “firm decree” that “whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.” This is a decree of mortals, though, not a divine decree related to our eternal salvation or damnation.
Parallel 68: Angels Bearing Testimony
Enoch’s vision in Moses 7:27 teaches us about the role of angels:
And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father and Son; and the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.
In parallel 87, Moroni 7:29–31 is cited for its discussion of the role of angels. The role of “declaring” glad tidings in verse 31 is also associated with bearing testimony:
And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance,
and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father,
which he hath made unto the children of men,
to prepare the way among the children of men,
by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord,
that they may bear testimony of him. (Moroni 7:31)
The bearing of testimony mentioned is done by humans but is the result of the work of angels. This language is not found in the King James Bible.
Parallel 69: Residue of Men / the People + Angels Bearing Testimony
In the Book of Moses, the phrase “residue of the people” occurs three times in the same chapter, not far from the previously mentioned verse, Moses 7:27, with angels bearing testimony (see parallel 68). Two occurrences are shortly before verse 27 (verses 20, 22), and one occurs immediately after, in verse 28, part of the famous passage where Enoch sees God weeping for the wicked (see parallel 61):
[Page 67]And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains? (Moses 7:28)
The word “residue” in the context of angels and the bearing of testimony also occurs in Moroni 7:31–32. Moroni 7:31 (see parallel 68) describes the role of angels in helping mortals “bear testimony” of Christ. Then in verse 32, the result of this work is described:
And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way
that the residue of men may have faith in Christ,
that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts,
according to the power thereof;
and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants
which he hath made unto the children of men.
Parallel 70: Prepared from the Foundation of the World
Moses 5:57–58 explains that the Savior was “prepared from before the foundation of the world”:
For they would not hearken unto his voice, nor believe on his Only Begotten Son, even him whom he declared should come in the meridian of time, who was prepared from before the foundation of the world.
And thus the Gospel began to be preached.
These sentences bring closure to the story of how men were first taught about the plan of redemption, the Atonement of Christ, and the gospel that would teach the descendants of Adam and Eve that they could return to the presence of God by repenting, being baptized, and faithfully obeying His commandments. They refer back to the more expansive presentation of these teachings in verses 4–15. As the account of Adam’s immediate descendants next unfolds, we read of Enoch, who undertakes to teach the same plan of salvation through the Atonement of the Son of God, which was in effect “from the foundation of the world,” and the gospel of repentance as the only way they can return to dwell with God (Moses 6:54; see verses 48–68).
Matthew 25:34 speaks of “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” but not specifically of Christ or the Atonement. Revelation 13:8 speaks of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the [Page 68]world.” “The foundation(s) of the world” occurs in a total of twelve verses in the KJV Bible, but not with the specific language of Christ and His Atonement being prepared from the foundation of the world. Meanwhile, Isaiah 40:21 has “from the foundations of the earth,” which is relevant but still different and lacking words related to “prepared.” But the Book of Mormon abounds in this language.
Most of the Book of Mormon usages of this phrase refer explicitly to the Atonement of Jesus Christ as prepared from the foundation of the world in the plan of salvation/redemption and to the gospel it provides for the salvation of all humankind. The way of salvation is “prepared for all men from the foundation of the world” (1 Nephi 10:18). The Atonement of Christ was “prepared from the foundation of the world” in Mosiah 4:6–7. Redemption was “prepared from the foundation of the world” in Mosiah 15:19; 18:13; and Alma 12:30, as was “the plan of redemption” in Alma 18:39 and 22:13. In Alma 42:26, God’s “great and eternal purposes” involving mercy and justice were “prepared from the foundation of the world,” ultimately leading to “the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery.” In Ether 3:14, Christ declares that “I am he which was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people.”
The following excerpt from King Benjamin’s teachings (Mosiah 4:6– 8) is beautifully structured according to the principles now known as Hebrew rhetoric and exemplifies the pattern used in another nine passages in the Book of Mormon that present the plan of salvation, a pattern that includes the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His gospel as the way to salvation for all peoples who were prepared or in place “from the foundation of the world.”59 As displayed here, Benjamin presents a six-line chiasm beginning and ending with a reference to the Atonement “prepared from the foundation of the world,” with a preface focused on “the goodness of God” and a double conclusion stating the universality and uniqueness of the salvation it makes available in a pair of four-line chiasms:60
|I say unto you that|
|if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God|
|and his matchless power|
|and his wisdom|
|[Page 69]||and his patience|
|and his long-suffering towards the children of men,|
|A||and also the atonement which hath been prepared from the foundation of the world,|
|B||that thereby salvation might come to him|
|C||that should put his trust in the Lord|
|D||and should be diligent in keeping his commandments|
|C’||and continue in the faith, even unto the end of his life — I mean the life of the mortal body—|
|I say that|
|B’||this is the man that receiveth salvation|
|A’||through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world|
|i||for all mankind which ever was, ever since the fall of Adam,|
|ii||or which is|
|ii’||…or which ever shall be,|
|i’||…even unto the end of the world.|
|A||And this is the means whereby salvation cometh.|
|B||And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of;|
|B’||neither is there any conditions whereby man can be saved|
|A’||except the conditions which I have told you. (Mosiah 4:6–8)|
Alma 13:3 speaks of priesthood holders being “called and prepared from the foundation of the world” with a holy calling that was “prepared with and according to a preparatory redemption for such.” That result is made possible only by the preparation of Christ: “this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son which was prepared” (Alma 13:5). Then Alma 13:7 speaks of “the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world, or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things.”
Since several different gospel-related things, such as Christ Himself, redemption or salvation, and priesthood callings, are “prepared from the foundation of the world” in the Book of Mormon, one could argue that the intertextuality explored here may simply be a cultural linguistic artifact in which Joseph favored an expression that means little more than “from the beginning” or “from time immemorial.” However, the different things connected with “prepared from the foundation of the world” remain based in the Savior and His work of Atonement — even [Page 70]priesthood callings, which Alma 13:5 indicates were “in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son which was prepared” — making it logical that the basket of Book of Mormon concepts said to be “prepared from the foundation of the world” could plausibly be related to the teachings of Moses 5:57–58.
Parallel 71: Gathering from the Four Quarters of the Earth
Moses 7:62 has a prophecy given to Enoch about the future gathering of the elect:
And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.
This verse resonates in several previously discussed ways with the Book of Mormon and also has affinity to the Book of Mormon in its use of “bear testimony” (2 Nephi 27:13; Moroni 7:31) and the reference to future revelation, scripture, and the Restoration implied in “righteousness … out of heaven; and truth … out of the earth” (see Mormon 8:16, 26). Further, the phrase “gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth” has strong parallels to the Book of Mormon.
The first occurrence of related language is attributed to the brass plates, but from the prophet Zenos: “All the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in, saith the Lord, according to the words of the prophet Zenos, from the four quarters of the earth” (1 Nephi 19:16). Several other examples are found in the Book of Mormon: “He gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth” (1 Nephi 22:25); He will “gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob” (3 Nephi 5:24); “Then shall they be gathered in from the four quarters of the earth unto their own lands” (3 Nephi 5:26); and “Then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth” (3 Nephi 16:5). Finally, immediately following a prophecy about the future New Jerusalem in Ether 13:10, Moroni turns to the Jerusalem of old and the gathering from the four quarters of the earth:
[Page 71]And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old;
and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they,
for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb;
and they are they who were scattered and gathered in
from the four quarters of the earth and from the north countries
and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant
which God made with their father Abraham. (Ether 13:11)
In the King James Bible, “the four quarters of the earth” is not a common term, occurring only in Revelation 20:8 regarding the scope of Satan’s final deceptions before the battle of Gog and Magog. Isaiah 11:12, however, speaks of the gathering of Israel from the “four corners” of the earth, probably the closest KJV relationship to the gathering from the four quarters of the earth in Moses 7:62.
Parallel 72: Counsel + “Ye Yourselves”
Moses 6:43 has the phrase “Why counsel ye yourselves, and deny the God of heaven?” “Ye yourselves” occurs 10 times in the Bible and 8 times in the Book of Mormon, but in Jacob 4:10, it also occurs with three instances of “counsel”:
Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord,
but to take counsel from his hand.
For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth
in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.
The inclusion of wisdom, justice, and mercy, another previously discussed collocation from the Book of Moses, would seem to increase the probability that Jacob is being influenced by something related to the Book of Moses in this passage.
Parallel 73: Fearful Looking for the Fiery Indignation of the Wrath of God upon Them
In the King James Bible, “fiery indignation” occurs in Hebrews 10:26–27:
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
[Page 72]The Book of Moses uses this language as well and also uses a phrase similar to Paul’s “fearful looking”:
And it came to pass that Enoch continued his speech, saying: Behold, our father Adam taught these things, and many have believed and become the sons of God, and many have believed not, and have perished in their sins, and are looking forth with fear, in torment, for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God to be poured out upon them. (Moses 7:1; cf. “fire of mine indignation” in Moses 7:34).
Hebrews seems to be a plausible source for some of the language in this passage. However, this passage’s relationship to Alma 40:14 may raise other possibilities. That verse is shown here with the preceding verse, which contains previously discussed language also related to Book of Moses material:
And then shall it come to pass that
the spirits of the wicked, yea, which are evil
—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord,
for behold, they chose evil works rather than good;
therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them
and take possession of their house—
and these shall be cast out into outer darkness.
There shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth—
and this because of their own iniquity,
being led captive by the will of the devil.
Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked—
yea, in darkness, and a state of awful fearful looking for
of the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them.
Thus they remain in this state,
as well as the righteous in paradise,
until the time of their resurrection. (Alma 40:13–14)
The common elements of “fearful looking” / “looking forth in fear” and “the fiery indignation of the wrath of God … upon them” would seem to make the relationship of the wording in Moses 7:1 to the Book of Mormon stronger than it is to Hebrews 10:27. Could a common ancient source also have influenced Paul’s choice of words?
The possibility of Alma2 drawing on something related to the Book of Moses is amplified by the use of other shared concepts such as “weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth” (see parallel 59) and also “being led captive by the will of the devil” (see parallel 9). The concept of [Page 73]the misery that Satan brings (see parallel 44) also occurs in the following verse, Alma 40:15.
Parallel 74: Numerous upon … the Face of the Land
“The children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land” in Moses 6:15. This is a verse that we previously identified as a possible source of influence in the Book of Mormon for the concept of Satan raging in the hearts of men. Another possible relationship to this verse may be seen in Jarom 1:6, which speaks of the “numerous” Lamanites who “were scattered upon much of the face of the land” (cf. Jarom 1:8). Mormon 1:7 says, “The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.” Likewise, Mosiah 27:6 tells us that “the people began to be very numerous and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth.” Ether 7:11 relates how the Jaredite king Shule “did spread his kingdom upon all the face of the land, for the people had become exceedingly numerous.” “On/upon all the face of the land” also occurs in Alma 16:16; Helaman 11:32; and Helaman 16:22–23 (verse 23 uses another Book of Moses concept in the phrase “Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people” as discussed in parallel 45). First Nephi 22:3, a verse already noted by Reynolds for a possible relationship to the Book of Moses based on its discussion of “things both temporal and spiritual,” also has the phrase “scattered upon all the face of the earth,” as do 1 Nephi 10:12 and 13:39, and several other verses also speak of “all the face of the earth” or “all the face of the land.”
“Numerous” and “face” do not occur together in any verses of the King James Bible. On the other hand, the idea of people being numerous is simple and common, as is the concept of things being upon the “face” of the earth, so it is possible that “numerous upon … the face of the land” is simply Joseph’s translation of content expressing something about population density. Nevertheless, the precise language used could also point to a connection between the Book of Mormon and the brass plates.
The King James Bible does not have “face of the land” but does have “scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” in Genesis 11:4 in the context of the story of the scattering at the time of the tower of Babel (cf. Ezekiel 34:6). This is similar to many verses in the Book of Mormon with “scattered” combined with “upon the face of the earth/land.” “The face of the earth” (not land) occurs in several other KJV verses (see Exodus 33:16; Numbers 11:31; 12:3; Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 23:17; Jeremiah 8:2; 16:4; 25:26; Ezekiel 34:6; 38:20; 39:14; Amos 5:8; 9:6, 8; [Page 74]Acts 17:26). Verses that have similar wording but use “whole earth” include Daniel 8:5; Zechariah 5:3; and Luke 21:35). Also illustrating the use of “the land” in the context of rising population is Exodus 1:7: “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.”
On the other hand, “be numerous upon the face of the land” is close semantically to “multiply on the face of the earth” in Genesis 6:1. The intertextual connection between Moses and the Book of Mormon here could be merely on the level of the English wording and not necessarily clearly connected in the original languages. Indeed, the concept of numerous people in or on the land is rather mundane, and the wording could be the result of Joseph Smith translating instances of a common concept in similar ways. However, as noted previously, in light of the growing evidence of tight translation for the Book of Mormon, we will entertain the hypothesis of significant tight control.
If one accepts the suggestion that the specific language of “numerous” occurring with “face” or of “face of the land” in the Book of Mormon could derive from Book of Moses influence, then, in light of the multiple parallels Reynolds has found for Moses 6:15 and the additional ones discussed herein, it would seem that Moses 6:15 is composed almost entirely of phrases that appear to have influenced the Book of Mormon. Here is Moses 6:15, where terms noted in Reynolds’s original work are in bold and further discoveries reported herein are in italics:
And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power.
It could be that this verse or something similar was a well-known, influential passage on the brass plates. Such a cluster of Book of Mormon terms brought together into one verse may suggest that the Book of Moses verse was a source mined in multiple contexts in the Book of Mormon rather than disparate Book of Mormon phrases being suddenly brought together in high density.
Of itself, the evidence that “numerous upon all the face of the land” has influenced the Book of Mormon should be considered weak given the relatively nonunique simplicity of the phrases involved, but in light of the additional parallels apparent for other phrases in Moses 6:15, [Page 75]there may be a reasonable case that this verse and its wording has had significant impact on Book of Mormon writers, adding to the probability that apparent relationships to “numerous upon all the face of the land” may not be accidental.
Parallel 75: Record + (Baptism of) Fire and the Holy Ghost
Moses 6:66 describes Adam’s baptism and his receipt of the Holy Ghost, or his baptism by fire, and then makes an intriguing statement about the “record” of the Father and the Son:
And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever.
Baptism with fire and the Holy Ghost also occurs with “record” in 3 Nephi 11:35 as the Lord teaches the Nephites about baptism:
Verily verily I say unto you that this is my doctrine,
and I bear record of it from the Father.
And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also.
And unto him will the Father bear record of me,
for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
3 Nephi 19:14 also seems relevant:
And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire;
and it came down from heaven.
And the multitude did witness it and do bear record.
And angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.
Here the fire that encircles the crowd is similar to the fire that encircled a group of Lamanites in a miraculous prison scene in Helaman 5, which may be what the Lord later explains as a baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 9:20). An additional common element in 3 Nephi 19:14 is the fire coming “down from heaven,” somewhat parallel to the “voice out of heaven” from Moses 6:66.
The King James Bible lacks this parallel, though, of course, baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost is mentioned in the Gospels (see Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16).
Parallel 76: Caught Up/Away into an Exceedingly High Mountain
Our list of simple parallels concludes with a look at the very beginning of the Book of Moses, “at a time when Moses was caught up into an [Page 76]exceedingly high mountain” and had an encounter with the Lord (Moses 1:1). Similar language is used in Nephi1’s account to describe his extensive vision related to Lehi1’s dream and the tree of life:
For it came to pass that after I had desired
to know the things that my father had seen,
and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me,
wherefore as I sat pondering in mine heart,
I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord,
yea, into an exceeding high mountain,
a mountain which I never had before seen
and upon which I never had before sat my foot. (1 Nephi 11:1)
In Matthew 4:8, Satan “taketh” Christ “into an exceeding high mountain” and tempts Him, but the King James Bible does not speak of anyone being caught up or away into a mountain or mount.
Parallels 77–86: Compound Parallels
In several cases shown at the end of Table 3, there are compounded elements in which multiple elements in the Book of Moses are grouped together. For example, the first such “compound parallel” (parallel 77) is in 1 Nephi 14:7. This verse contains at least three of the parallels from Reynolds’s original list: (1) the description of Satan; (2) the concept of “eternal life” in Moses 1:39 (though found frequently in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, it is not used in the Old Testament); and (3) the combination of “temporal” and “spiritual” (Moses 6:63; cf. 1 Nephi 15:32; 22:3; Mosiah 2:41; Alma 7:23; 12:16; 37:43):
For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God,
that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men,
a work which shall be everlasting,
either on the one hand or on the other,
either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal
or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts
and the blindness of their minds,
unto their being brought down into captivity,
and also unto destruction both temporally and spiritually,
[Page 77]according to the captivity of the devil of which I have spoken. (1 Nephi 14:7)
Recall the key elements of Moses 4:4: “And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.”
In 1 Nephi 14:7, the devil and related concepts of deception (hardness of hearts, perhaps, as treated previously in discussing Satan’s dominion), blindness, and being delivered from captivity (vs. being brought into captivity) are included, as are the concept of “life eternal” and the pairing of “temporally” and “spiritually,” all with connections to the Book of Moses. Reynolds wrote that the first occurrence of “eternal life” (a Book of Moses concept not found in the Old Testament) was in 2 Nephi 2:27; “life eternal” is essentially equivalent.
This clustering of concepts in the writings of Nephi1 is also characteristic of his approach to Isaiah, where he pulls together verses from different portions of the text to bring out new meaning.61 While Isaiah 29:14, with its wording “marvellous work among this people,” is tied to the opening phrases of 1 Nephi 14:7, references to “work” and “life eternal” in 1 Nephi 14:7 could be building on the concepts in Moses 1:39 (“my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”).
In addition to the other Book of Moses concepts noted in this passage, the “hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds” might have some relationship. Satan’s blinding of men has been noted in Moses 4:4, and Satan’s influence on the hearts of men in Moses 6:15 was discussed previously in this study. Moses 6:27 has the Lord asking Enoch to tell the people that their “hearts have waxed hard” and “their eyes cannot see afar off,” a phrase suggestive of blindness.
The pairing of “hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds” (1 Nephi 14:7) may be a formulaic construction based on how Nephi1 and others use it elsewhere (see 1 Nephi 7:8 and 13:27; cf. Mosiah 11:29; Jarom 1:3; Alma 13:4; 48:3; 3 Nephi 2:1–2; 7:16; Ether 4:15; 15:19). However, related terms occur in John 12:40 (“He hath blinded [Page 78]their eyes, and hardened their heart”), which is quoting Isaiah 6:10, though the King James Version of Isaiah 6:10 has “make the heart of this people fat” instead of hard.
Similar observations can be made for the remaining compound groupings in parallels 78–85. The final compound parallel (86) merits more detailed explanation.
Parallel 86: Enoch and Samuel the Lamanite.
One further potential compound parallel to consider involves Samuel the Lamanite and Enoch. This, like some other parallels that could be proposed, involves themes and concepts in addition to a few parallels in language.
In Moses 6, Enoch is moved by the Spirit while journeying and is commanded to preach repentance (see verses 26–30). Indeed, “a voice from heaven” (the voice of the Lord) calls him to prophesy and preach repentance (verse 27) with the promise that “no man shall pierce thee” (verse 32), for he was preaching to a violent people guilty of devising murder and other sins (see verse 28). He is told to “open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance” (verse 32). Enoch went forth to fulfill this commission, crying “with a loud voice” while “standing upon the hills and the high places” as he testified against the people, “and all men were offended because of him” (verse 37). Though they were angry, he was protected, for “no man laid hands on him” out of fear (verse 39).
A similar pattern occurs in the Book of Mormon with Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 13. Samuel had come among the Nephites but had been rejected, and he was “about to return to his own land” (verse 2). His homeward journey was curtailed when “the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart” (verse 3). Because he was not allowed to enter the city, he “got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart” (verse 4). His preaching and prophesying continue in Helaman 14 and 15, and then in Helaman 16:2 we learn that the people were angry at him and sought to kill him: “They cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.” In other words, no man could pierce him with arrows as he preached and prophesied while standing upon a high place.
Common elements in these accounts include the prophet experiencing the following:
- [Page 79]receiving a prophetic charge while journeying or about to journey
- hearing the voice of the Lord
- being called to both preach and prophesy to a wicked people
- being promised that the Lord would give him utterance
- standing upon high places while preaching “with a loud voice” to the people
- offending the crowd and stirring them to anger but being protected from piercing by the power of God
The parallel of standing upon high places in fulfilling a prophetic commission may also be considered in light of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw’s scriptural exploration of what it means to “stand in holy places.”62
There are other candidates for compound parallels that can be proposed; those listed here are given as examples for consideration.
Parallels 87–97: Weaker Parallels to Consider
Several weaker parallels may also be considered. These are typically considered weaker because the parallels may involve wording that could simply reflect Joseph’s preferences rather than an underlying connection in the original languages or may involve minor mundane details, though the evidence for tight translation in the Book of Mormon may enhance the plausibility of some of these weaker proposed parallels. Some are considered weaker because similar but not exact biblical parallels may exist.
Parallel 87: Declared by Angels
Here we explore the particular wording associated with angels that “declare” the gospel. Here we must particularly consider the warning expressed in the introduction about the possibility of parallels relying on Joseph’s word choice in some cases. The act of “declaring” is similar to many other verbs expressing what is spoken, told, or said, and thus could be translated in a variety of ways.
Moses 5:58 describes how the Lord worked to preach the gospel among the children of Adam:
And thus 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.
[Page 80]For angels to “declare” gospel news may seem like a natural expression, but this language is not found in the King James Bible. Declare and the related declaration occur many times (55 times and 4 times, respectively), but apparently not from the mouth of angels. The closest parallel may be Revelation 10:7, which mentions an angel and also mentions what God has declared to His prophets. In the Book of Mormon, however, the verb declare is frequently used to describe what angels do. In Mosiah 3:2–4, an angel awakes King Benjamin and tell him that he has “come to declare … glad tidings of great joy” regarding the birth of Christ (verse 3), using “declare” twice more in verse 4. According to Alma 9:25, “The Lord hath sent his angel to visit many of his people, declaring unto them” that they must preach repentance in preparing for the coming of Christ. In Alma 13:21–25, “declare” is used 5 times to describe angels proclaiming the gospel and the coming of Christ:
And now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words unto them,
he stretched forth his hand unto them and cried with a mighty voice, saying:
Now is the time to repent,
for the day of salvation draweth nigh.
Yea, and the voice of the Lord by the mouth of angels
doth declare it unto all nations,
yea, doth declare it that they may have glad tidings of great joy.
Yea, and he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people,
yea, even to them that are scattered abroad upon the face of the earth;
wherefore they have come unto us.
And they are made known unto us in plain terms,
that we may understand, that we cannot err—
and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land.
Therefore we are thus highly favored,
for we have these glad tidings declared unto us in all parts of our vineyard.
For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land;
and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the [Page 81]children of men
for to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.
And now we only wait to hear the joyful news,
declared unto us by the mouth of angels,
of his coming;
for the time cometh,
we know not how soon.
Would to God that it might be in my day;
but let it be sooner or later,
in it I will rejoice.
In recounting his dramatic conversion story, Alma2 tells his son Shiblon that the Lord “sent his angel to declare unto me” that he must stop his efforts to destroy the faith of God’s people (Alma 38:7). To his son Corianton, he asks, “Is it not as easy at this time for the Lord to send his angel to declare those glad tidings unto us as unto our children or as after the time of his coming?” (Alma 39:19).
In Helaman 5:11, Helaman3’s words to his sons, Nephi2 and Lehi2, are quoted: “He hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.” Angels also declare glad tidings in Helaman 13:7 and 16:14. Moroni, in discussing the role and ministry of angels in Moroni 7:29–31, lists one role in verse 31 as “declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord.”
Not surprisingly, others before Joseph Smith used the verb declare to describe what angels may do. For example, the cleric George Whitefield (1714–1770) once opined that “perhaps, part of our entertainment in heaven will be, to hear the angels declare how many millions of times they have assisted and helped us.”63 But the concept of angels declaring the gospel message centuries or millennia before the coming of Christ is unlikely to be found in Joseph Smith’s environment, but it does occur with similar language in both the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon. But again, given the relatively nonunique nature of “declaring” itself, this parallel may be relatively weak.
[Page 82]Parallel 88: “For mine own purpose”
The phrase “for mine own purpose” occurs twice in the Book of Moses. Speaking of the scope of God’s creations, the Lord tells Moses, “For mine own purpose have I made these things” in Moses 1:31, and then He uses that phrase again in Moses 1:33, which also contains the Book of Mormon parallel involving “mine Only Begotten Son” (see parallel 20):
And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.
The word “purpose” occurs regularly in the Bible, and “own purpose” occurs in 2 Timothy 1:9: “according to his own purpose and grace.” Ephesians 1:11 has “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” However, “mine own purpose” does not occur. But the entire phrase “for mine own purpose” occurs three times in Jacob 5:
Nevertheless I know that the roots are good,
and for mine own purpose I have preserved them.
And because of their much strength
they have hitherto brought forth from the wild branches good fruit. (Jacob 5:36)
And this will I do that the tree may not perish,
that perhaps I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof for mine own purpose. (Jacob 5:53)
And, behold, the roots of the natural branches of the tree,
which I planted whithersoever I would are yet alive;
wherefore that I may preserve them also for mine own purpose,
I will take of the branches of this tree and I will graft them in unto them. (Jacob 5:54)
As mentioned earlier, Jacob 5 quotes from a brass plates account by a prophet named Zenos. Two other parallels to verses in Jacob 5 were previously discussed (see parallels 58 and 61). As previously noted, common elements from Zenos and a text related to the Book of Moses could be due to Zenos having access to something like the Book of Moses or due to both texts being influenced by earlier texts or cultural elements. Further, since “mine own purpose” is not a unique concept, but a common one that can be expressed in many ways, it could be an artifact of translation rather than an indication of ancient connections in the original texts, although [Page 83]the evidence for tight translation of at least the Book of Mormon may be helpful in evaluating this proposed parallel.
Parallel 89: Fulfilling Covenants
Moses 8:2 speaks of covenants being fulfilled:
And it came to pass that Methuselah, the son of Enoch, was not taken, that the covenants of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to Enoch; for he truly covenanted with Enoch that Noah should be of the fruit of his loins.
In the King James Bible, oaths, scriptures, statutes, judgments, counsel, petitions, desires, lusts, ministries, righteousness, the law, one’s will, periods of time, and the word of the Lord can be “fulfilled,” but that verb is apparently not associated with the word “covenants.” However, “fulfilled” is used to describe the Lord’s keeping of what He “promised” David (2 Chronicles 6:15; 1 Kings 8:24). But in the Book of Mormon, we frequently find an express association of “covenant” or “covenants” with “fulfill.” Examples include “preparing the way for the fulfilling of his [the Father’s] covenants” (1 Nephi 14:17); “the covenant [made with Abraham] which should be fulfilled in the latter days” (1 Nephi 15:18); “the Lord God will fulfill his covenants” (2 Nephi 6:12); “that my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men” (2 Nephi 10:15); and many more (see 3 Nephi 5:25; 10:7; 15:8; 20:12, 22, 27, 46; 21:4, 7; 29:1, 9; Mormon 5:14; Ether 13:11; and Moroni 7:31). The Book of Mormon clearly prefers the verb “fulfill” in its covenant-rich language.
Parallel 90: Peaceable Things of Immortal Glory/Heaven
The King James Bible uses the word “peaceable” or “peaceably” a number of times, but not with the direct connection to eternal life found in Moses 6. In verse 59, we read of being born again and enjoying “eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory,” and then verse 61 refers to “the peaceable things of immortal glory.” A related application of the word peaceable is found in Moroni 7:3:
Wherefore I would speak unto you that are of the church,
that are the peaceable followers of Christ,
and that have obtained a sufficient hope
by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord,
from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
[Page 84]Here the followers of Christ are “peaceable” and able to “enter into the rest of the Lord” in heaven, which, of course, is eternal life and immortal glory. Perhaps this represents a connection to the Book of Moses.
Parallel 91: For the Space of Many Hours
Moses 1:10 describes the time that Moses was overcome after his vision as lasting “for the space of many hours.” The same phrase of six words is found three times in the Book of Mormon, in 1 Nephi 8:8 and Helaman 14:21, 26. The New Testament has “the space of” plus a specific number of hours (Acts 5:7 and 19:34; Revelation 8:1) but lacks the initial “for” and the use of “many” in this phrase. The differences are minor, and the phrase is not doctrinally meaningful but is still consistent with a possible relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses.
Parallel 92: Joy through the Fall of Man
A passage that may have connections to the writings of Nephi1 is Moses 5:10:
And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
The potential for joy that comes because of the Fall is reflected in 2 Nephi 2:22–25:
And now behold, if Adam had not transgressed,
he would not have fallen,
but he would have remained in the garden of Eden;
and all things which were created must have remained
in the same state in which they were
after they were created.
And they must have remained forever and had no end,
and they would have had no children.
Wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence,
having no joy, for they knew no misery,
doing no good, for they knew no sin.
But behold, all things have been done
in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Adam fell that men might be,
and men are that they might have joy.
[Page 85]The phrase “in the flesh I shall see God” is also similar to 2 Nephi 9:4, which says, “In our bodies we shall see God.” A related KJV phrase is in Job 19:26: “In my flesh shall I see God.”
Parallel 93: Dwell in Safety Forever
In Moses 7:20, Enoch declares, “Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever.” This is similar to “dwell safely forever” in 2 Nephi 1:9, mentioned shortly before references to shaking off the chains of Satan, another Book of Moses element.
Parallel 94: Visions on the Mount + “Look”
Some language from Moses 7 may be employed in Nephi1’s description of his visions. Moses 7 has the following:
And it came to pass that I turned and went up on the mount; and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory;
And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations. (verses 3–4)
In 1 Nephi 18:3, we read that Nephi1 “did go into the mount oft” while at Bountiful and saw great things. In his earlier tree of life vision, in 1 Nephi 11:1, Nephi1 is caught away into a high mountain, and the Spirit shows him a vision (an angel later takes His place). Both the Spirit and the angel frequently use the command “Look!” For example, in 1 Nephi 11:8, “The Spirit said unto me: Look!”64
The Bible, of course, also provides the concept of prophets or Christ going to a mountain to commune with God (such as Moses going to Mount Sinai in Exodus, Elijah going to Mount Sinai in 1 Kings 19, and Christ going to the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17).
Parallel 95: Pierced by God’s Eye
God’s ability to “pierce” with his eye is another apparent commonality. Jacob 2:15 says, “O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!” This is similar to Moses 7:36, which says, “Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also.”
[Page 86]The word “pierce” occurs a few times in the Bible, but not in this context.
Parallel 96: Combinations with “full of grace and truth”
The phrase “full of grace and truth” in Moses 7:11, while found prominently in John 1, is also found in 2 Nephi 2:6 (among other verses), immediately after a verse with multiple connections to the Book of Moses. Verse 5 refers to the misery of wickedness (see Moses 7:37, 41), the contrast of temporal vs. spiritual things (see Moses 6:63), and perishing in sin (see Moses 7:1). It could be that an ancient version of the Book of Moses had the concept of the Messiah being “full of grace and truth,” which theoretically could have also directly or indirectly influenced John.
Parallel 97: The Lord Preserving His people (Particularly during Final Tribulations)
Moses 7:61 warns of great tribulations to come upon the earth in the last days but also states that the Lord will preserve his people:
And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve.
A similar scenario with related language is given in a prophecy of Nephi1:
For the time soon cometh that
the fullness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men,
for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power,
even if it so be that the fullness of his wrath must come,
and the righteous be preserved,
even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire.
Wherefore the righteous need not fear,
for thus, saith the prophet, they shall be saved,
even if it so be as by fire.
Behold, my brethren, I say unto you
that these things must shortly come;
yea, even blood and fire and vapor of smoke must come,
[Page 87]and it must needs be upon the face of this earth.
And it cometh unto men according to the flesh
if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel. (1 Nephi 22:16–18)
“Preserve” is a key verb used 20 times in Jacob 5, describing the Lord’s efforts to preserve the house of Israel and gather His people, and is used in each of the three verses in Jacob 5 that also use the parallel term “for mine own purpose” (see parallel 88). In the latter verses of the chapter, “preserve” is used in the context of the last days and the destruction of the wicked, particularly in verse 77: “And when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard, then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered; and the good will I preserve unto myself, and the bad will I cast away into its own place. And then cometh the season and the end; and my vineyard will I cause to be burned with fire.”
The Bible also uses “preserve” to describe God’s protections of individuals, families, and others, but here the context of the preservation during final tribulations before the Millennium suggests a possible connection between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses on this point.
The Density of Book of Moses Allusions in Nephi1’s Writings
Reynolds has noted that most of the connections to the Book of Moses come from Book of Mormon authors who were obviously familiar with the brass plates, including writers of the small plates of Nephi1 and Alma2, who spoke of and cited from the brass plates, as did Nephi1.65 A high proportion of the examples of language considered in this study are found in the writings of Nephi1 in particular. In Table 1, five of the eleven examples involve Nephi1’s writings (including times when he quotes Lehi1 or Jacob). In Table 2, 11 of the 22 examples involve passages from 1 and 2 Nephi. In the further cases listed in Table 3 (parallels 34 to 86, excluding the weaker examples), 23 of the 53 examples involve 1 and 2 Nephi. For example, 2 Nephi 2 has multiple phrases and concepts showing apparent connections to the Book of Moses, including the agency of man (see verses 4–5, 16, 26–29; cf. Moses 7:32), the multiple concepts in verse 5 (see parallel 96), the rebellion of Satan (see 2 Nephi 2:17–19), and so forth.
One further example of many that could be given occurs in 2 Nephi 11:4–5. After referring to the Law of Moses in vs. 4, Nephi1 [Page 88]mentions that “all things” given of God from the beginning unto man “are the typifying of him” (i.e., serve as types of Christ that bear record of him), possibly linking this verse to Moses 6:61 (parallel 62). Interestingly, concepts from adjacent verses in the Book of Moses are found in the next verse in the Book of Mormon. In vs. 5, Nephi1 mentions the “plan of deliverance,” a term synonymous with the “plan of salvation” in Moses 6:62 (parallel 13), and also cites God’s “justice and power and mercy,” a significant subset of the terms used in Moses 6:61 (parallel 63). Though Nephi1 is preparing to introduce us to words from Isaiah, it’s as if words related to the Book of Moses echo deeply in his thoughts.
Passages dense with connections to the Book of Moses are not unique to Nephi1. For example, the short passage of Alma 12:16–18 includes references to several concepts in the Book of Moses, including the contrast between temporal and spiritual things, the torment of the wicked, being chained, the captivity of Satan, being subjected according to Satan’s will, and redemption.
Are the Parallels Meaningful?
In offering nearly 100 parallels between the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon, apart from the extensive direct use of material from the King James Bible, we suggest that the large number of parallels and the density of passages in the Book of Moses with links to the Book of Mormon merit further consideration. This is particularly so given the lack of a similar relationship between the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon, the high ratio of Book of Moses content from Book of Mormon writers most familiar with the brass plates, and the multiple cases where a parallel, if real, would make the most sense as a one-way transmission from the Book of Moses to the Book of Mormon. At the same time, we recognize that in comparing two texts, there is always the possibility of finding parallels that are chance occurrences or that arise from other factors. Here we must be mindful of the phenomenon that Samuel Sandmel called “parallelomania.”66 Sandmel explains that similarities between two texts may be due to common sources or influences for both and must be considered in detail and in terms of context, etc., to determine if the parallel really points to a direct relationship. Benjamin McGuire has also discussed the problem of [Page 89]parallelomania in looking for influences on the Book of Mormon, which is often done to undermine its authenticity, unlike the current exercise.67
While there are pitfalls in considering parallels, they can be of great value, whether in the form of direct quotations, clear allusions, or, as Richard Hays refers to many of the Old Testament influences in the epistles of Paul, subtle “echoes” that may have many levels of “volume.”68
While the number of proposed parallels offered here is on the same order as the nearly 300 direct quotations in the New Testament from the Old Testament,69 the number of indirect allusions or “echoes” from the Old Testament is obviously larger. Yet having nearly one hundred proposed parallels, direct or indirect, from such a proposed source as short as the passages of the Book of Moses that are not quotations from Genesis, while clearly an unexpectedly large number, is only meaningful if individual examples carry meaning. We recognize that the quality of these parallels varies, yet we suggest that a noteworthy number offer unexpected or improbable parallels with a reasonable context and add meaning to some of the Book of Mormon passages that use them, consistent with a legitimate source of influence as opposed to random coincidences.
However, the problem of comparing our two texts is unlike the problem of comparing Paul to the Old Testament or Ancient Near East documents to the Bible, for here we have books that were both produced by Joseph Smith. One can always maintain that this is all we need to know to see that the parallels have no meaning apart from reflecting common authorship. But in comparing texts to determine if a relationship exists, [Page 90]scholars have repeatedly emphasized that details need to be considered.70 It is the details in this study that call for consideration of something more than just quoting the Book of Mormon in producing the Book of Moses. Did Joseph Smith produce the rich complex of parallels we have identified by working them into the Book of Mormon first and then providing backstories or apparent source material later in the Book of Moses to create some of the more intriguing parallels we consider? We feel the easy hypothesis that Joseph Smith was the fabricator of both texts cannot withstand scrutiny in light of the many details we discuss, even if he were a skilled author, and that the parallels collectively have significant meaning.
In considering what we have learned from Reynolds’s initial study and from further finds reported here, it is appropriate to reevaluate Reynolds’s original proposal that the brass plates may have contained a text similar to what Joseph Smith dictated as part of his work to develop an inspired “translation” of the Bible. Joseph did not indicate that the translation was based on any kind of ancient text, but that it was simply given through revelation. For decades, some Latter-day Saints have assumed that the Book of Moses reflects Joseph’s prophetic imagination as he reworked some Bible stories from Genesis to add inspiring or inspired concepts to flesh out his growing views on theology, while others point to other modern sources to attempt to explain some aspects of the Book of Moses through naturalistic influences.71 Without any claims from Joseph about [Page 91]the existence of an ancient urtext that he was restoring or translating, it is natural that many Latter-day Saints may have a casual attitude about the Book of Moses, viewing it as “good enough for modern scripture but not really an ancient text restored.” But we may need to reconsider that attitude if the Book of Moses, created well after the Book of Mormon was completed, has significant connections to the Book of Mormon that go beyond merely citing the Book of Mormon and show signs of a one-way relationship in which the Book of Mormon appears to be drawing on the Book of Moses and not the other way around.72
In fact, the strongest case for so-called “plagiarism” in the Book of Mormon, apart from the obvious and expected borrowing from the Bible, may be that of borrowing from the Book of Moses on the brass plates.