Monday, December 31, 2012

Wherefore, Holy Brethren

The "Apostle" is the sent one, which in the context of the Worship of the Shalems is the same thing as a high priest.  Those who share in the heavenly call are fellow hearers of the voice of the Lord, calling from the Holy of Holies.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Partakers of Flesh and Blood

There's a playful ambiguity in verse 14.  On the one hand, Jesus took a body of flesh and blood like any mortal.  On the other hand, the writer alludes to the feast of the flesh and blood of Melchizedek, the bread and wine eaten in the hekal.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Will Declare Thy Name

The writer continues with liturgical quotations.  Psalm 22 appears to be the collective cry of a congregation urging the Lord to appear to them.  That makes it a good complement to Isaiah 8, in which the Melchizedek priest who is the Lord is still hiding, but he -- the child of the Virgin -- will be a sign and a wonder for Israel.  This reminds us of Hebrews 2:4 and suggests what signs and wonders the writer is there referring to: the appearance of the Virgin's Son.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It Became Him

Christ leads God's other sons into "glory."  He is made "perfect through sufferings," and the word that means 'make perfect,' teleosai, comes from the same root that appears in Matthew 5:48.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Little Lower than the Angels

The writer quotes Psalm 8, identifying it as the testimony of someone "in a certain place" (Greek pou, somewhere).  This Psalm is about the exaltation of a man or men.  These men are created "lower than the angels," which in temple geography means that they rise from outside the temple, or perhaps are created in the first of the three rooms.  Nevertheless, God crowns and enthrones them -- they are exalted with God.  This is the Worship of the Shalems, and Hebrews uses this imagery to describe the exaltation of Jesus.

Monday, December 24, 2012

We Ought to Give the More Earnest Heed

The writer exhorts his audience to give heed to the things they have heard -- the "word spoken by angels" -- which have been confirmed by signs, wonders, miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, in view of the imminent judgment.  Since he's told us that angels are leitourgoi, ordinance priests, he imagines his readers in a temple context, preparing to meet the Lord at the veil.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

All Ministering Spirits

The mere angels are not anointed as Melchizedek-the king.  Here again is a quotation from Psalm 110.

The writer of Hebrews wants to make sure we don't miss what he's talking about.  The Son-Melchizedek-the Lord-the king and the angels are all "ministering spirits," leitourgika pneumata, sent forth to the service, diakonian, of those who will inherit salvation.  This is a straightforward statement that he is talking about priests in temple functions who will help worshippers through an ordinance in which they will inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thou, Lord, in the Beginning

The Melchizedek priest is the creator.  The Greek, both here and in Psalm 102, says not "in the beginning" but "according to dominions," showing again that the Melchizedek priest always acts by power, authority, and dominion (the Hebrew doesn't have this phrase at all).

Psalm 102, by the way, is a "prayer for the ptochos."  The ptochoi are the "poor in spirit" of Matthew 5.

The garments of the Melchizedek priest are eternal.  The garments of others are mortal, and will pass away.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let All the Angels of God Worship

Liturgical quotations continue.  Who worships the Son?  In Hebrews and the Greek of Psalm 97, the angeloi, angels.  In the Hebrew of Psalm 97, it's the "Gods," elohim.  In the Greek of Deuteronomy 32:43, the huioi theou, sons of God.  (This line is missing from the English translation and the Masoretic Hebrew, but it appears in Deuteronomy as discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.)

These are all the same thing.  The Worship of the Shalems ordinance is how one becomes the light, which is to say, the Son, and a teleios / shalem, like the Father.

The "angels" in verse 7 are parallel and equivalent to the "ministers," which in Greek are leitourgoi, priests who perform ordinances.  So we see for the umpteenth time that angels are priests.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thou Art My Son

Hebrews now launches into a series of Old Testament quotations, all of which have a temple ritual context.  It starts with the begetting of the Melchizedek priest, the king, with quotations from Psalms (in the Greek Old Testament the early Christians used, Psalm 110:3 also refers to begetting -- the "dew" of the Hebrew version may be anointing oil) and from Samuel.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A More Excellent Name

This verse further suggests a Worship of the Shalems context.  The "angels" are the priests acting beneath the Holy of Holies.  What distinguishes them from those who enter the Holy of Holies is possession of the Lord's name.

Monday, December 17, 2012

At Sundry Times and in Divers Manners

Hebrews starts with a distinction between God and the Son, and both are identified by their temple roles.  God speaks, as the unseen person behind the veil, in the Debir, which means "place of speech."  The Son is seen because he is the "image," he is the Word, and, as a Melchizedek priest, he acts in "power."  After purging our sins, the Son returns to the Debir to sit on the right hand of the Majesty.  The purging of sins may allude to the sacrifice of the Lord's goat (sheep) on the Day of Atonement, or the Shalem Feast of bread and wine, which are counterparts to each other in the counterpart ordinances.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Gods Had Not Appointed Unto Adam

The fact that Adam is to have a reckoning of time is corroboration that Kolob, with its reckoning, is not a planet as we understand it but a star-angel-priest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Seventh Time

Some think Abraham's use of "time" instead of "day" saves the creation account making a six day error by virtue of permitting each "time" to have lasted billions of years.  I think the book's use of "time" shows us that these are ritual directions, and we should imagine the "times" as intervals marked out by singing, or a ritual cry.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cloud of Darkness Having Been Dispelled

Nephi knows the "goodness and the mysteries of God."  The "mysteries" are God's sacred and private ordinances, of course, but what is the "goodness"?

Ammon seems to tell us that God's goodness is the "light" of "life," which is behind a "veil."  That makes the goodness of God the temple lamp.

Monday, December 10, 2012

They Shall Be Very Obedient

Abraham has this distinctive note, repeated twice (see verse 31), that the things and actors ordered within the temple will all be obedient.  First, it confirms our thinking that the lights are people, possessors of will.  Second, it suggests that the author of Abraham knew a time and place when the temple priests had not obeyed the Gods who put them in their stations.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Moving Creatures that Have Life

Now we see the fowl and the whales -- creatures of the waters.  We know that the fowl are associated with the food of the shalem feast; the Father "feeds" them.  Does this mean that the whales are associated with the drink?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Lights in the Expanse of Heaven

Following Abraham 3 with its equation of stars and intelligences, this sounds like an organization of priests in a ritual context.  I think the greater light is the Sun-the Lord-Melchizedek, who emerges from behind the veil.  Would this mean that the lesser light -- which also "rules" and therefore has authority -- is the Elias priest in the second room of the ordinance?  And stars are the other assisting priests?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Great Waters

The Abraham account is the most interesting of the three temple creation versions we have.  One interesting thing about it is this: the waters under the veil are called Great Waters rather than Seas.  This unavoidably reminds us of Nephi's name for the sea at Bountiful, Many Waters.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We Will Prove Them Herewith

We understand the first and second estate to refer to the pre-mortal and mortal existence, respectively.  That's fine, I think that's true.

We should see that this "proving" in two stages of trial and a stage of reward also corresponds to the Worship of the Shalems and movement forward into the temple, through two rooms of covenant making, trial, and teaching, and a third and glorious room of rest, the kingdom of heaven.

This would suggest that Satan's appearance would be in the first room of the Worship of the Shalems, since he "kept not his first estate."  And in fact, that's exactly where it is.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

These Two Facts Exist

What is a "fact"?  Ordinary English usage doesn't seem to work here, but a "fact," from Latin facio, can be a thing which is "made," a created object.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Revolution Was a Day

If these stars are priests, that suggests that Kolob is the Lord, who governs angels like Abraham.  I have no insight into the name, but I'll ruminate on it now... Hebrew and Egyptian possibilities, at least, are worth exploring.  The discussion of rotation reminds me of the "wheels" of Ezekiel 1, which move with and seem to correspond to the cherubim.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nearest Unto the Throne of God

Abraham has a vision of stars.  The lexicon of the visionary men suggests that these are angel-priests.  The use of the words "governing ones" and "order" tend to confirm that view.  Also, the final phrase of verse 3, "I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest," says that Abraham is standing on a star... which tells us that we're not being told facts about physical space, but about something else.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dwelt in Tents

Because they dwelt in tents, Abraham could say of his people "eternity was our covering and our rock and our salvation."  The rock and the salvation are the Worship of the Shalems and the Day of Atonement.  "Covering" is one way to understand the Hebrew root underlying the word we translate as "atone," "atonement."  "Eternity" is 'olam, the world, the cosmos, that which endures forever with God.

All this because they dwelt in tents.  What kinds of tents were these?  Were they the tents of the people of Shum?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I Will Bless Them Through Thy Name

If people who receive "this" [temple and priesthood] Gospel" are called after Abraham's name, that must mean that Abraham is a Melchizedek priest, who stands in for the Lord, whose name worshippers take on themselves.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas, the Temple Holiday

Christmas as a Temple Holiday

Review
Three rooms of the temple.  Incense altar, veil, strait and narrow gate, tree-lamp, table of bread, the rock, throne-chariot of God.  Worship of the Shalems is entry (Matthew 5-7, Genesis 14, Exodus 24, Psalms 23, Isaiah 40), covenant making, instruction in prayer and fasting, being led forward by a priest, the Lord-Melchizedek descends, feast of bread and wine followed by the song of JOY (1 Nephi 8:12, Job 38:7, Isaiah 12), worshipper is dressed by the Lord, meeting the Lord at the veil, entry into the Holy of Holies.  “PEACE” or “WORSHIP OF THE PEACEABLE ONES” is the name of the ordinance (Leviticus 7:11), and the Prince of Peace is the Lord who descends to officiate at the feast and dressing (Isaiah 9:6, Alma 13:18, Abraham 1:2).  Holy of Holies is a place of vision (1 Nephi 1, 1 Nephi 8, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1-2, Daniel 7, John 1 “come and see”). 
The New Testament Nativity narratives are full of the images of this temple worship.
Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)
Temple door faces east.  To come FROM THE EAST is to enter into the temple and ascend within it.  Stars and angels are both priests within the temple.  To FOLLOW A STAR is to be led within the temple by a priest (this is the scene of John 1, where John the Baptist leads his disciples forward and introduces Christ).  Magoi are themselves priests of some kind, in particular Persian astrologer-priests who interpret dreams.  The dream-interpreter and temple visionary Daniel was in charge of Babyon’s Magoi (Daniel 2:48).  GOLD covered all the temple furnishings, and the entire Holy of Holies (1 Kings 7); FRANKINCENSE topped the shewbread (Leviticus 24); MYRRH is in the anointing oil (Exodus 30).  The Lord who descended was THE KING (Melchizedek = king of righteousness) who was WORSHIPPED.  In 1 Kings 7, the rooms of the temple are “houses” – in the HOUSE, they FELL DOWN (compare with 1 Nephi 8:30).  BETHLEHEM = house of bread, and the second room of the temple was where worshippers ate the bread of the Lord.  The wise men experience JOY.  A DREAM (vision) warns them.
Shepherds (Luke 2:4-20)
BETHLEHEM again.  Mother DRESSES Jesus; “swaddling” clothes don’t necessarily mean “baby” clothes, they just mean loose clothes you wrap around someone (compare Job 38:9).  Jesus is laid in a phatne, which can mean a “stall,” but is also a “feed trough” (Isaiah 1:3 “crib”) – Jesus is dressed and that makes him FOOD (compare Isaiah 4:1, where the woman provides bread and clothing so that the man can be someone whose name can be taken by others).  SHEPHERDS are also priests (Psalms 23), and so are ANGELS.  These shepherds are faithfully watching their flock, so the shepherds in the field are faithful temple priests being taught by another priest within the temple, priests who waited for the Lord recognizing his arrival (story is the same as Matthew 2 and also John 1).  The babe is a SIGN (semeion), just like the Virgin and her children would be signs (semeia; Isaiah 8:18).  Angel-stars (and shepherds) SING in the temple (Isaiah 6:3, 1 Nephi 1:8-10), which is JOY, the song of the Lord’s coming (Isaiah 12).  PEACE on earth is the arrival of the Peaceable King, the Prince of Peace (Genesis 14, Isaiah 9). 
The folklore and practices of Christmas are also saturated with half-remembered temple images.
Extra-Scriptural Christmas Traditions
TREE OF LIGHT is the temple tree (Exodus 25, 1 Nephi 8).  CANDY CANES are the rod/staff of the Melchizedek priest (Psalms 23, 110, 1 Nephi 8).  GIFTS are the gifts of the magi, gifts brought to the altar (Matthew 5 = tithing of Genesis 14:20, Malachi 3:8-10), and the gifts you receive from the Lord (Matthew 7).  SINGING makes us part of the choir of angels, announcing the arrival of the Lord.  DECEMBER 25 is just after the moment of greatest darkness, and the return of the light (the winter solstice) = opening of the veil and the appearance of the Lord (John 1:5, Isaiah 9:2).  SANTA / FATHER CHRISTMAS is a dressed priestly figure who enters through the light of the house (John 8:12).  He lives at the top of the world and descends through the air to meet us, assisted by elves (1 Nephi 1:8-10) and riding in a SLEIGH (a chariot, like the throne of God in Ezekiel 1:4-28), pulled by eight REINDEER (the four cherubim in Ezekiel 1 have beast features and multiple faces).  JINGLE BELLS are the timbrels used in temple worship (Exodus 15:20, Psalms 149:3).

They Shall Bear This Ministry and Priesthood

Abraham has a royal marriage.  His seed has the priesthood.  His literal seed.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Dwell in Heaven

This verse is the self-description of the denizen of the temple.

Interestingly, the image of the Lord raising his hand over the sea and speaking to command it connects the two different versions of the parting of the Red Sea.  For Nephi, Moses speaks to the waters.  For Exodus, Moses stretches out his hand but doesn't speak.

We already know Moses as a temple figure.  One thing these verses together might suggest to us is that Nephi's reference to Moses speaking comes not from knowing a different version of Exodus, or some other text, but from knowing Moses as a character in a ritual temple drama.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Took Milcah to Wife

Milcah's name is interesting (she also appears in the parallel Genesis account).  Melekh (M-L-K) is a king, so Milcah (M-L-K-H) is a female, royal name.  This is only fair, since Sarah, "princess," is also a royal female.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Judge Executed Authority

Interesting how much this discussion of legal procedure tracks with this element in the Worship of the Shalems.  There are judges and officers, and in Matthew 5 an adversary -- an antidikos, the person opposite you in a lawsuit, or in Hebrew a satan.  In Alma 11 the passive voice formulation "he was complained of to the judge" hides the necessary counterparty, which in the narrative is of course Zeezrom.

So we see that the scene between Alma and Amulek on the one hand and Zeezrom on the other looks like a stop in the worship of the shalems, with Zeezrom playing the role of Satan.  No wonder Zeezrom is an expert in the "devices of the devil," and a "child of hell."

Amulek's response to Zeezrom is interesting.  Does his description of himself as "the righteous" mean that Alma has made him a Melchizedek priest?  Is he jolting the scene out of joint by telling the Satan Zeezrom that he's tempting the wrong person, trying to test the angel-priest rather than the initiates?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In My Hands

Amulek says angel-priests announce the Lord's coming with "equity and justice" in his hands.

In the Worship of the Shalems, initiates are taught to do eleemosyne (verse 1) and dikaiosyne (verse 2). These are both translated as "alms," but a better translation would be "equity" and "justice."  How do they do these things?  With both their hands (verse 3) and in secret (verse 4).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Being First Discovered by a Woman

A land that rises from the waters is a temple being founded.  See, for instance, the Song of the Sea and the Book of Moses.

Abraham is talking about a temple that was founded by a woman.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Partaker of the Blood of the Canaanites

This seems to tie Abraham into the Book of Moses, with its story of the people of Canaan upon whom a curse of blackness falls.

That tends to suggest that if Moses and Abraham both contain pseudonymous history, Moses is first and Abraham second.  I need to do a lot more exploration, but my intuition is that Moses contains an account of the righteous priests from Isaiah to Josiah's reforms, maybe including Lehi, and Abraham is an account of Josiah's time and a different migration.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Into a Strange Land

Abraham is directed by the Lord to flee an apostasy.  In this he is compared to Noah.

Is this a record of a righteous refugee into Egypt in Lehi's time?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

That You May Have a Knowledge of This Altar

Abraham is careful to point us at Facsimile No. 1 to make sure we have a "knowledge" of the altar on which the virgins were sacrificed.  The altar is a lion couch, which identifies the sacrifice and the cult in question with the tribe of Judah.

Is it possible that the Book of Abraham preserves writings from the time of Josiah's reforms?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Because of Their Virtue

Abraham lives in a time in which the righteous are sacrificed on altars for refusing to cooperate with the state religion.  This is exactly the sort of circumstance in which the visionary men write pseudonymous history.

The righteous in question are identified as "virgins," which may mean priestesses,  "daughters of Zion."      This echoes the reforms of Josiah.

"Potiphar's Hill" is a curious name.  It suggests a corrupted woman, a vengeful ruler, and a priestly innocent who flees leaving his clothing behind.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Having Turned from Their Righteousness

This is a visual image.  Abraham's people ceased to follow the Melchizedek priest behind the veil, or turned away when he presented the feast.  They do not hearken to the voice of God calling them from the Holy of Holies.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Appointment of God Unto the Fathers

We seriously need to study the word "seed."  Abraham here connects it with being ordained a priest.  "Raising up seed" connects a strange and hard to understand series of texts: Tamar and Judah, the widow of seven brothers, and the Nephites' whoredoms in Jacob's day.  The priesthood has to do with seed.

Lehi's party brought with them "seeds of every kind."  So did the Jaredites.  Might this be a reference to carrying a genealogical right to the priesthood in their midst?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Blessings of the Fathers

This verse is astonishingly clear.  The man writing under the name Abraham is a shalem, because he has had happiness (joy), peace, and rest.  He has followed Righteousness behind the veil.  He wants knowledge, instructions, and to keep the commandments.  He wants to be a prince of peace, a title whose only other possessors in ancient scripture are Melchizedek and the Lord.  He wants ordination in the higher order of temple priesthood.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Three Hundred Sixty and Five

Genesis seems to make Enoch a cosmic figure, with his age of 365 years, equal to the number of days in the solar calendar (also, this suggests that the Jews didn't always have a lunar calendar).

Moses changes the cosmic imagery.  Zion, the temple city, is cosmic, rather than the man Enoch.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Will I Send Down out of Heaven

Righteousness descends from heaven because it is the Melchizedek priest.  This verse sounds like Truth is the Elias priest, who meets Melchizedek's descent as a witness.

Together they gather people to be a Holy City and dress them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Mother of Men

There's a divine woman in the Holy of Holies with Enoch and God.  She is visualized as the earth.

Her 'rest' is what Enoch wants, and hopes will be achieved by the ministry of the Son of Man.

Monday, November 5, 2012

When Shall the Day of the Lord Come?

The Day of Atonement is the day the Melchizedek priest himself will be the sacrifice.

"Day of Vengeance" is a phrase used by Isaiah here, though it's translated as "visitation."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Man of Counsel

God tells Enoch his titles in the Holy of Holies.  They're all interesting.  In particular, I'm struck by the title "Man of Counsel."  If the linguistic background of the Book of Moses is Hebrew, then this title of God is ish etza, which can also mean 'husband of the tree.'

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

High and Lifted Up

Enoch is the Melchizedek priest.  Being in the "bosom" suggests that he is in the vestments of the Father and the Son.  He is the Word.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Had Not Place Among Them

Canaan and Cain are both cursed, and therefore marked as black.  If the Nephites had some version of the Book of Moses, that would help explain why blackness was the mark of the Lamanites' cursing.

Cain's sin, in the Book of Moses, is to be the first master of the secret combination.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Lord Came and Dwelt

The Lord dwelling among his people indicates a temple, as does their name, 'Zion,' and their location on the heights.  Dwelling in or with or preaching with 'righteousness' may suggest the presence of a Melchizedek priest.

Historic

This past weekend I attended the inaugural symposium of the Academy for Temple Studies.  Sunday night, I got invited to a behind-the-scenes pilot meeting with an astonishing array of talent, including several people who are my personal heroes.  Here's Dan Peterson's blog post.  I felt like I was the dog that someone had forgotten to put out, sitting on a chair in the living room, amazed at being treated like one of the humans and wondering how long it could last.  I'm a big, loud, brash guy, and I felt humbled.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Out of the Depth of the Sea

Enoch tells us that a land came out of the depth of the sea, causing enemies to flee.

This is not Atlantis, it's the vision of a new temple foundation being laid, as in Exodus 15 (read the whole chapter, but especially verses 8 and 17).

This tends to strengthen the notion that what's going on here is a war over the temple.  The people of Shum are thrown out by the Canaanites, but God gives them a new temple.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Which Dwelt in Tents

I don't think this conflict is about how some people turned black.

The fact that people peoples live in tents tells me that this is a vision of conflict about the temple, one kind of temple people against another kind of temple people.  The fact that the winners are named "Canaan," the pre-Israelite, pagan name of the land of Israel, and are cursed for, suggests to me that we're reading here loser's history, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1 Enoch, and -- I think -- Isaiah.

Enoch's people are the tent people of Shum.  Though they lose and are driven out, the winners are cursed.  Enoch will continue to preach, except to wicked Canaan.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I Saw the Lord

This is a classic shalem moment, written without the euphemisms and the code.  Enoch is clothed, the veil opens, and he enters to meet the Lord (Enoch goes up in these verses; the Lord doesn't come down).  So what follows is a vision in the Holy of Holies.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Get Ye Upon the Mount

The name of the mountain, Simeon, suggests that what Enoch will experience is hearing the Lord, since Simeon is Hebrew for the 'one who hears.'

Mount Simeon doesn't otherwise appear in scripture.  The name, along with the Hebrew-ish Mahujah and Mahijah that we've already seen, tends to suggest a Hebrew language background for the Book of Moses.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

He Bowed Himself to the Earth

Enoch hears the voice of the Lord from Heaven and bows himself to the earth "before the Lord."  This doesn't make a lot of sense if he's hearing a voice literally out of the sky, but is perfect temple geography -- the voice comes from behind the veil.  Naturally his commission requires that he "go forth."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sought Their Own Counsels

The holy of holies was supposed to be a place of light and visions.  Those who removed the light from the holy of holies were left looking for their own counsels in the dark.  This sounds like a critique of apostate temple cult post-Hezekiah, or post-Josiah.  Hmmn.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Prophesy Unto This People

The spiritual condition of the people in Enoch's day is described in a similar fashion to the spiritual condition of Isaiah's contemporaries.  Heart, ears, and eyes, in that order, fail to perceive.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Book of Remembrance Was Kept

For Adam and his children, writing is a temple art, connected with the priesthood.

Similarly, Nephi tells us about his literacy in connection with knowing the goodness and the mysteries of God.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites!

I read this with the kids tonight.  It seems like quite a straightforward description of what Jerusalem's priestly class has done with the Holy of Holies: barred it up so no one can go in, not even themselves.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

And Thus the Gospel

The Gospel... the good tidings... is the proper name of the teachings of angel-priests who come forth from the presence of God.  God also announces it with his own voice.  It is therefore the subject of temple ordinances, the Worship of the Shalems.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Among the Sons of Men

Moses 5 recounts the origin of secret combinations.  It''s curious that we're told that these things flourished only among men, and that women rejected them.  Obviously, that hasn't always been the case, given, for instance, the daughter of Jared's behavior.  So what exactly are we seeing here?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Am Also a Son of God

This description of Satan's role in an apparently temple setting, tempting men not to be believe and to become carnal and devilish, is the role Korihor ascribes to Satan.  Curious, unless Korihor knows this temple role.

Friday, October 5, 2012

As Thou Hast Fallen

This is a surprising verse.  Who here is saying that he is the Only Begotten -- the Holy Ghost or Adam?  Or both?

In either case, we appear to still be in the first room, because we see the redemption motif.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Firstlings of their Flocks

Adam and Eve are taught to offer blood sacrifices.  If this is the first room of the Worship of the Shalems, the angel who instructs them should be Moses.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

From the Way toward the Garden

Adam and Eve are now working their way back into God's presence.  They hear his voice, but it's through the cloud of the temple incense.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Adam Began to Till the Earth

Adam has "dominion" over the beasts.  This is arche, which is said in the Greek Psalm 110 to be possessed by the Melchizedek priests.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Same Which Was from the Beginning

We're at a disadvantage here because we only have the English text, but 'beginning' translates very interesting words.  In the Hebrew of Genesis it's bereishit, 'with / in the principal one,' which one of the Targums translates as 'with Wisdom.'  In the Greek of John 1 and Genesis 1 it's 'arche,' which also means 'dominion' or 'power.'  I wish we had the underlying Hebrew of these verses, because they could imply either that Jesus and Satan (the "accuser") are sons of the same mother, Wisdom, or that they are both priests.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

To Dress It, and to Keep It

To "dress" the Garden in the Hebrew of Genesis is le'avdah, to "work" or "service" it, 'avoda being the technical work for service in the temple.  Adam is a priest, placed in the temple to do temple work.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Became Into Four Heads

This river starts in Eden, then flows out of Eden to water the garden.  This implies a water that exists both in the Holy of Holies and also in the Hekal, split by the veil, which is what Moses 2 also tells us.  Somehow, the waters of the Holy of Holies were fourfold, corresponding to the four directions (and the four cherubim?).

We're told the names of the rivers and the lands to which they flow.  Also, we hear that the river Hiddekel flows east, and the Pison "compasseth" (surrounds) Havilah, where there are gold, bdellium, and onyx.  "Havilah" is strikingly reminiscent of "Eve" in Hebrew: CH-V-I-L-H and CH-V-H.  Did the river Pison surround the tree of life in the land of Eve?  The temple furnishings, including the ark, are gold; bdellium is a myrrh-like spice, but the only other mention of it in the Bible is in a comparison to manna, a pot of which was kept in the ark; the high priest wore two onyx stones in his breastplate.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that the river Pison encompassed the Holy of Holies.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spiritually, Before They Were Naturally

We know by now that the creation accounts of Genesis and Moses are rituals.  Moses clarifies that the rituals enact the spiritual creation of the world and its contents--the form, essence, design, or meaning of the world, and not its tangible substance.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

After Six Days

Tonight the kids and I read the account of the Mount of Transfiguration.  There's a lot to say about this, but tonight I noticed a particular detail.

The action begins with Jesus taking Peter, James, and John into a high mountain "after six days."

What else happens in and after six days?  In six days God creates the earth, and on the seventh -- after six days -- he rests.

Is that a picture of what Mormon is talking about when he says that the shalem followers of Christ "enter into the rest of the Lord"?  After six days -- after experiencing the creation -- they have an experience like the Mount of Transfiguration, with the preparatory prophet Elias, the three "tabernacles," the cloud, the voice of God, and the appearance of Jesus?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fowl Which May Fly

The fowls of the air are also part of both the creation and the Worship of the Shalems.  In the latter, whereas grass is clothed, the birds are fed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I, God, Made Two Great Lights

I'm not sure what to make of this, given the clear temple connections we've seen so far.

Might there have been separate lamps, one in the Debir and one in the Hekal?  Might this be part of the source of the confusion?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let the Earth Bring Forth Grass

The earth brings forth grass (as it does in Genesis).  This is provocative because in Isaiah 40, following the revelation of the "glory of the Lord" the shalems collectively compare themselves, and all flesh, to grass.  The self-humiliating comparison to grass is part of the Worship of the Shalems, connected with the appearance of the Lord and the shalems' clothing at his hands.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Darkness for Light


"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20)

I read this verse today and realized that this is the moment when the lamp of the holy of holies was moved into the hekal, switching light and darkness, and the bitter and sweet waters. Cf. Exodus 15 and 1 Nephi 8.

Book coming in October.

The Mystery of the Religion of the Gospel

Found this on Wikipedia today.  Made my hair stand on end.

Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–395), believed that the Prophet Esaias (Isaiah) ‘knew more perfectly than all others the mystery of the religion of the Gospel.’ Jerome (c. 342–420) also lauds the Prophet Esias, saying, ‘He was more of an Evangelist than a Prophet, because he described all of the Mysteries of the Church of Christ so vividly that you would assume he was not prophesying about the future, but rather was composing a history of past events.’

Let There Be a Firmament

The firmament I take to be the second occurrence in the creation narrative of the veil.  This suggests a division of the waters of the temple into waters in the Holy of Holies and waters in the Hekal.  This is striking in light of Nephi's vision, in which the flowing river is "living waters" and "a representation of the love of God" when beside the tree (i.e., in the Holy of Holies), but are "filthy" and the "depths of hell" when beside the mists of darkness (i.e., in the Hekal).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let There Be Light

The first thing God creates is light; he then divides it from the darkness.

I will omit the links, since I've posted them often, but John 1, Isaiah 9, Alma 5, 2 Nephi 1, 2 Nephi 31, 1 Nephi 8, Matthew 7, and other shalem texts teach us that the great lamp of the temple is in the Holy of Holies.  This image therefore suggests that the first and fundamental moment of creation is the placement of the lamp within the Holy of Holies, followed by the hanging of the veil.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Space of Many Hours

"The space of many hours" is a curious phrase.  It occurs in three contexts in the scriptures, all in temple situations.

Moses waits the space of many hours before Satan appears to tempt him.

Lehi travels the space of many hours in darkness before arriving at the tree of life.

In connection with Christ's appearance to the Nephites, Samuel prophesies "thunderings and lightnings" for the space of many hours.  Curiously, the account of his coming actually reports "silence" for the space of many hours.

These are all shalem texts, visions or prophecies or experiences whose reporting is shaped by the Worship of the Shalems.  Interesting.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Satan Came Tempting Him

Satan's temptation of Moses has a clearly-identified temple context.

Shouldn't we also see temple ritual in the temptation of Jesus?  When Matthew tells us that the temptation occurred in the "wilderness," the "holy city," a "pinnacle of the temple" and "an exceeding high mountain," shouldn't these hints all tell us that we're inside the temple?

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Will Show Thee the Workmanship of Mine Hands

If Moses has met God, he is entering the Holy of Holies.  This is preeminently a place of vision -- Nephi shows us not one, but two visions of the Holy of Holies in the first chapter of his record.  Sure enough, once God has pronounced Moses his son, he offers to show him visions.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Behold, Thou Art My Son

In the moment of seeing God, Moses is pronounced to be his son.

The Brother of Jared had the same experience.   For John, the "sons of God" are those who grasp Jesus (Greek elabon; received is a bad translation).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

He Saw God Face to Face

Moses saw God.

This is one of the promises made to those entering the Worship of the Shalems, and one of the blessings they received in the actual ordinance.  Nephi tells us that he, Jacob, and Isaiah all had this experience.  So did the Brother of Jared.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When Moses Was Caught Up

It's been a long time since I read the Pearl of Great Price.  It's striking to me as I start it again that the very first verse puts us on notice that we're going to be talking about temples... just like the first verse of the Book of Mormon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Yea, Greatly Afflicted

I noticed this while reading with my kids.

The fifth year of the reign of the judges ends.  Immediately, the people are afflicted and worry about judgment.  "Affliction" is what you feel on the Day of Atonement, the great holiday forecasting the Lord's judgments, which comes ten days after the start of the new year.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Awake, and Arise from the Dust, O Jerusalem

Mormon's final exhortation to us is pure shalem imagery: come unto Christ, laying hold upon every good gift (take Christ's hand and come through the veil); awake, arise, and put on our garments (Lehi made the same exhortations to his wayward sons); be "perfected" (i.e., a shalem) in Christ.

Moroni himself goes to "rest" in "paradise" (temple imagery).  How can he meet us at the judgment?  Is it because he is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, and his role is to stand in the Lord's stead at the veil where each shalem is judged?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

If It Be Wisdom

Moroni tells us that if we receive the Book of Mormon, we do so because it is "wisdom" in God... "wisdom" being a hot-button word common in temple texts.  His invitation to us is not to consult our feelings to see if we get warm fuzzies from the book, but to consider the Lord's mercy from the "creation of Adam" to our own day.  This strikes me, at the end of months of reading the Book of Mormon closely from a shalem perspective, as an invitation to compare the Book of Mormon record to our own temple experience.

If we have faith, the Holy Ghost will manifest to us the truth.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Whilst in This Tabernacle of Clay

Mormon exhorts Moroni to continued labor in shalem imagery.  Life in the body is a tabernacle of clay; faithful workers will rest in the kingdom of God.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When All the Saints Shall Dwell with God

Mormon repeats Nephi's doctrine of Christ, with his own twist on the final step of it: he preaches repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and dwelling with God.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

His Holy Child, Jesus

This is the only Book of Mormon appearance of this apparent title of Jesus, Holy Child.

The title also appears twice in the New Testament, both times in this collective prayer apparently led by Peter and John after their imprisonment and interrogation.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grasping the Word

I also taught the Elders yesterday.  Here's that lesson outline:


The Iron Rod
  • is the “word of God”, which leads to the tree (1 Nephi 11:25)
  • iron rod leads along strait and narrow path to the tree; catch hold, cling, hold fast: 1 Nephi 8:19-20, 24, 30

Is There A Rod in the Worship of the Shalems?
  • the shepherd has one: Psalm 23:4

Is the “word of God” the same as the “Word”?
  • John 1:1-12
  • vv.11-12 “received” is two different verbs; 2nd verb should be “grasped”
  • those who grasp the Word become the sons of God

The Brother of Jared at the Veil
  • Ether 3:1 they called the mount Shelem
  • Ether 3:6-16 veil removed, sees finger (hand), enters presence, become sons and daughters

Sermon on the Mount Revisited
  • Matthew 5:9: promised to become a child
  • Matthew 5:43-45: urged to behave worthily of being a child
  • Matthew 7:7-11: you are a child, asking for the heavenly gift

Grasping and Entering Imagery Elsewhere
  • Helaman 3:28-30 is Mormon’s commentary: lay hold on the word, strait and narrow course, kingdom of heaven
  • Moroni 7:3-4, mixed audience
  • 7:5 (cf. Matthew 7:15-20) Mormon is quoting from the Worship of the Shalems to cue in those who have ears to hear
  • 7:6-10 evil man gives an evil gift (cf. Matthew 5:21-24, Shalems bring their gift to the altar)
  • 7:12 all good things come from God
  • 7:22 good things come from God, in Christ: this is the doctrine of ministering angels
  • 7:19 lay hold of good things, become a child of Christ

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Helaman 5

Here is my outline for today's Sunday School lesson on Helaman 5.


Temple:
·       3 rooms: ulam, hekal (great and spacious building), debir (place of speaking)
·       incense altar, table/bread, lamp/tree – confusion about tables and tree
·       veil, ark, stone, 2 x 2 cherubim
·       Temple is UP

Temple Visions:
·       Isaiah 6: throne, seraphim, glory, smoke
·       Ezekiel 1-2: four living creatures, firmament, throne, voice of the Lord
·       Daniel 7: four great beasts, ancient of days sitting on a throne of fire, the Son of Man comes on clouds of heaven
·       1 Enoch 14: three rooms (outside, great house, greater house), God on a fiery throne
·       1 Nephi 1... twice: pillar on the rock; then, heavens open, throne of God, singing angels, one and twelve descending

Controversy:
·       Hezekiah removed Nehushtan
·       Josiah removed “grove,” killed and burned priests
·       1 Nephi 13: temple visions, “precious above all,” “plain and precious things” removed
·       WHAT IS LEFT IS FRAGMENTED, HARD TO UNDERSTAND OR IN CODE.  THIS IS WHAT NEPHI MEANS BY SAYING ISAIAH’S WORDS ARE PLAIN TO THOSE WH ARE FILLED WITH A SPIRIT OF PROPHECY, AND NEPHI WILL ALSO PROPHESY PLAINLY (2 N. 25:4)

Sermon on the Mount:
·       not a Sermon.  Luther thought it was Satanic.  scholars think a collection of sayings.
·       ORDINANCE: 3 chapters = 3 rooms
·       priests = angels: Mal 2:7, Alma 12-13 (called, foundation of the world, teach Christ’s redemption), Alma 29 wants to “go forth” as an angel teaching the plan of redemption, but God in his “wisdom” lets people know what he sees fit
·       WALK THROUGH ORDINANCE WITH MODEL, note: blessings (seeing God, children of God, kingdom of heaven) / prison break / shalems / dress / kingdom of heaven / rock / authority and astonishment
·       1 Nephi 8, Gen. 14 shalem king, Ps. 23, Lev. 7 and Exodus 24 worship of the shalems, Peace

Shalem Imagery in Scripture:
·       Nephi 4:30-35 shows rock, prison escape by redemption, straight path and gate of heaven, encircled in robe

Helaman 5:
·       vv. 5-13, endowment from the father: private, many things not written (cf. 1 N. 1:16, 8:29)
·       v. 18-19 authority (not in 3 Nephi... ??)
·       vv. 21 ff.:
o       jail (21-22)
o       encircled (23)
o       pillar of fire (24)
o       cloud of darkness (28)
o       voice (29) (cf. 3 Nephi 11:36 – hear the voice three times)
o       kingdom of heaven (32)
o       good tidings and fear (29, 34; cf. Luke 2:9-10)
o       Aminadab (vv. 35, 37-39ff) = “John”, angel priest guide
o       faces shine (36) (cf. Alma 40:25, Matthew 13:43)
o       repent, are encircled (41-43)
o       Nephi and Lehi come to them (44), they are dressed and feel joy (1 N. 8:12)
o       “peace” (47)
o       heavens open (48)
o       JAILBREAK STORY IS TOLD IN TERMS OF AN IRONY: THE PRISONERS ARE REALLY THE HIGH PRIESTS, AND THE JAILORS ARE REALLY THE INITIATES IN THE MIST, UNTIL THEY REPENT, AND BECOME CLOTHED, HAVE PEACE, SEE THE HEAVENS OPEN

Why Is Helaman Awesome?
·       It’s at the heart of the BoM theme – visionary men vs. Gadiantons
·       It’s genre fiction

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lay Hold Upon Every Good Thing

Mormon, preaching to a mixed audience of shalems and non-shalems, uses shalem imagery to communicate hidden layers to part of his audience.  All good things come from God.  They come from God in Christ.  Lay hold upon the good things, and you become a child of Christ.  This happens by faith (which is how the brother of Jared got through the veil) and the ministering of angels.

This same image is used by John.  As many as "took hold of" Jesus (elabon in Greek) became the sons of God.

This imagery shows us the shalem grasping the high priest after the order of Melchizedek to be pulled behind the veil and into the Holy of Holies.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Because of Your Peaceable Walk

The shalem followers of Christ, who must be the children of God (per Alma, John, and Ether, and see Matthew), walk in a shalem fashion among the "children of men"... the people who are not shalems.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Would Speak Unto You that Are of the Church

Moroni records an address of Mormon.  It is apparently given to a mixed audience, only some of whom are shalem ("peaceable") followers of Christ.  Hence, naturally, the talk is given at a "synagogue" rather than in the temple.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Save They Took Upon Them the Name of Christ

Read this verse carefully.  The clear implication is that the Nephites didn't take the name of Christ upon them at baptism, but that the taking of the name was a second step.  Moroni assures us that (in his day, presumably), the church only accepted new members who were serious; not only were they baptized, but they also took upon them the name of Christ (a covenant action that King Benjamin administered to his people at the temple).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bless and Sanctify This Bread

The shalems took upon them the name of Christ in the shalem feast.  This is a temple prayer, said "with the church" and not "in church."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In My Name, In Mighty Prayer

This sounds like an ordinance, because Christ lays his hands on his disciples and calls them by name.  What is "mighty prayer"?  It's what the children of God do together in private.  It's how Nephi prays in the presence of the Lord, drawing down ministering angels.  It's how Enos prayed.  It's how Alma prayed for the people of Ammonihah.  And it's what the disciples were engaged in after Christ's ministry among the Nephites that drew his return.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In a Secret Pass

The Jaredite nobles are devotees of the dark mysteries.  We know this because Gilead's "high priest" is "one of the secret combinations."

Friday, August 24, 2012

He Hid Himself in the Cavity

Ether hides "in the cavity of a rock," and creeps out at night to look around.

This might just be a cave.  On the other hand, it might be an evocation of the same imagery that underlies this passage in Isaiah.  The foundation stone in the holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple has a hole in it, that leads to a cave underneath.

Hiding in the cavity of a rock might therefore just mean a cave.  Or it might mean that Ether hid in a temple, a sanctuary.  Or maybe he hid in a cave, and Moroni means to evoke for us that his hiding place thereby became a sort of hallowed ground.

1 Nephi, John and Ether as Temple Texts

Bill Hamblin has a great article in the new Mormon Interpreter.

I should also point out that the Interpreter's inaugural article was David Bokovoy's essay about liturgical language in 1 Nephi and Ether.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

There Are They Who Were First

The temple context of Ether 13 and the New Jerusalem prophecy tells us that this famous couplet likely has a shalem, temple sense.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And the Holy Sanctuary of the Lord

The New Jerusalem of Ether / Moroni explicitly comes out of the temple.  It isn't a city that will descend from the sky, it's a city built on temple principles -- the practices of the temple, and the content of the oaths sworn by its visionaries.  Later the city is explicitly to be "built up."

Monday, August 20, 2012

After the Waters Had Receded

Ether's vision of the waters receding is a very old one.  It's a vision of creation that underlies the "Song of the Sea," which we have repurposed as a tale of the Lord defeating the Egyptians in Exodus 15.  The vision is a temple one: read Exodus 15 and notice the temple / holy mountain imagery in verses 13 and 18.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Then Will I Make Weak Things Become Strong

The foregoing thorough connection of faith with temple miracles changes the tenor of this famous verse.  we have to "come unto" the Lord and humble ourselves "before" him -- approach him humbly in his temple -- to have this promised blessing.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Behold It Was By Faith

Moroni continues his lecture on faith, listing miracles that happened as a result of it.  Since faith leads to obtaining the heavenly gift (the shalem experience at the veil), we shouldn't be surprised if there is a temple flavor to what Moroni reports... and there is.  Without going through it exhaustively, consider the list: priests of the order of Melchizedek were called; the law of Moses was received (on Mount Sinai, remember, a temple experience), and Christ also prepared a "more excellent way"; prison escapes and baptisms by fire; the three disciples are promised that they will not taste death, and the brother of Jared could not be kept from behind the veil, "for so great was his faith in God."

This last note is particularly interesting, since the earlier account clearly says that "because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil."  I don't think we've thought hard enough about the spiritual gifts of faith, hope, and knowledge.  They're clearly temple gifts.