Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Surely This Thing Leadeth into Captivity

Jared and his brother shy away from "anointing" a king.  There's a lot of curious detail in this passage.  To start with, why did the idea of a king bother them?  Had the institution of kingship been part of the temple apostasy they were fleeing?  Why does the record note, and Moroni include, the detail that the brother of Jared's line was initially looked at for the crown?  Did the recordkeepers think that the brother of Jared's descendants were the rightful kings?  Was there a disagreement on this point, and might that have to do with the absence of the brother of Jared's name from the record?  Did the Jaredites' background include an institution of compulsory kingship, slave-kings?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Twenty and Two Souls

Jared and the brother of Jared have twenty-two "friends."  The brother of Jared also has twenty-two sons and daughters.  It's curious that Moroni would think this detail was worth including in the redaction, it's curious that it's the same number, and curious that when you add Jared and his brother to the total, you get twenty-four, a number with cosmic (and therefore temple) associations.

And Jared has twelve children, of which four are sons; more cosmic numbers.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

To Walk Humbly Before the Lord

Ether 1-5 is a temple pericope.  In Ether 6, we get the history of the Jaredites, and promptly upon their arrival in the new world we are told that they were temple worshippers.  "Before the Lord" means that something happens in the temple (or otherwise where the Lord is present), and the progression towards the Holy of Holies through the temple is often described with the imagery of walking in paths (1 Nephi 8, for instance).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

In the Mouth of Three Witnesses

Moroni now prophesies about the three witnesses.  This may just be straight prophecy (telling the future), but given the temple context of the preceding chapters, I can't help but wonder if three witnesses had a role in the Worship of the Shalems.  Maybe the high priest had three principal angelic assistants when he came out as Melchizedek to administer the bread and wine, and those assistants were witnesses... maybe the three witnessed the various oaths of the ordinance... if something like this were the case, it might connect the calling of Peter, James, and John to Jesus' identity as Yahweh, the great heavenly high priest of Israel whose coming was foretold by the feast in the hekal.

Friday, July 27, 2012

By and By It Shall Be Wisdom

We have been told that the sealed portion of the plates contains fulsome temple visions, the greatest visions any prophet ever had.  Of course these visions will be shared when it is "wisdom in God."

Alma said the same thing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Unfolded in the Eyes of All the People

In a discussion of knowledge, belief, coming behind the veil, and what we will have to do to have access to the great visions of the brother of Jared, we are again put on notice that John's writings are temple writings.

Is this the Gospel?  Revelations?  I think both.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

He Commanded Me that I Should Seal Them

The brother of Jared's experience in Ether 3, his vision of the the Lord's hand and his entry behind the veil, is explicitly (mount "Shelem") and clearly a temple vision.  One of the things Moroni tells us is on the sealed portion of the golden plates is his record of "the very things which the brother of Jared saw." According to Moroni, no one's ever had greater visions than these.

When do we get to have them?  When we "become clean before the Lord," a description of the state of being pure in the temple.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

He Could Show Unto Him All Things

The end of the brother of Jared's initiatory experience on Mount Shelem is as provocative as the rest has been.  He is given the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord connects both with the translation of unknown languages and also with a vision of all the inhabitants the earth has ever had.

This jibes with Ammon's description of the UT to Limhi: they can translate, and "by them shall all things be revealed."  It suggests that the Jaredites, like the Nephites, made oracular use of the UT.

It also solidly roots the giving and use of the UT in the temple.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Treasure up the Things Which Ye Have Seen and Heard

The brother of Jared's shalem experience continues.  He is admitted into the Lord's presence (the Holy of Holies).  The Lord "ministers" unto him, as he ministered to the Nephites.

And we have this curious note: it is because of the brother of Jared's knowledge that he could not be kept from within the veil.

Moroni tells us he is only summarizing a longer account; the Lord tells the brother of Jared to "treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and show it to no man."

This last is provocative for two reasons:

1.  The language of laying up treasures comes from the Worship of the Shalems.

2. The commandment of silence appears to be laid on one man ("thou shalt not suffer"), perhaps indicating the leadership role of the brother of Jared.  But the remainder of the admonition is to a plural audience: "ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard."

This suggests that the brother of Jared led some set of his people through the Worship of the Shalems.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Shall Take Upon Me Flesh and Blood

On the mountain called "Shelem, because of its exceeding height" (did it reach to Heaven?),  the brother of Jared prays to the Lord.  His prayer starts with good basic temple doctrine: God is in the heavens, and man is fallen.  Nevertheless, man is urged to "call upon the Lord" to receive according to his desires (compare Matthew -- this is the language of the triple petition).

The Lord comes out through the veil.  He explicitly tells the brother of Jared that his coming forward through the veil is a prophecy of his taking on flesh and blood.  We have already seen that John and Alma both saw it the same way.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Is a Land Which Is Choice

Moroni breaks into the account to remind us why we have the Book of Mormon.  We live in a land of promise, and if "continue in [our] iniquities," we'll be swept away.

So what iniquities does the Book of Mormon warn against?  It's an account of two refugee peoples.  Both flee temple apostasies, and both struggle against and in the end succumb to false mysteries: secret combinations, Gadianton oaths.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Name of the Valley Was Nimrod

The beginning of Ether 2 has temple echoes.  The Jaredites gather up all creatures (echoing the creation), then they go into a valley (the valley of the shadow of death?  in traditions outside the bible Nimrod is a tyrant and a rebel against God, and Genesis gives us the curious notice that Nimrod was a hunter "before the Lord," a phrase which usually indicates the presence of God, as in a temple setting) and the brother of Jared speaks to the Lord behind a cloud (veil).  The refugees from the temple apostasy of the great tower had true temple guidance with them.

It's interesting that it's in this context that we are told they carried "deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Male and Female, of Every Kind

The Nephites often saw themselves as echoing the Israelite emigration from Egypt.  Though the Jaredites undertake a similar trek, they predate Moses... and they see themselves following in the footsteps of Noah.

Or was this language echoing the creation account that Moroni reports was on Ether's plates?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Go and Inquire of the Lord

This episode bears many of the hallmarks of the oracular use of the Urim & Thummim: the holy man, in a time of national (tribal) crisis, at the behest of the political leader goes apart into a holy place and "inquires of the Lord."  The only tags that are missing are an explicit statement about the gift of prophecy and about the brother of Jared being a high priest, but both may be implicit in the note that he was "mighty" and "highly favored of the Lord." Even the note that the Jaredites will go "down" is consistent with the possibility that the brother of Jared is inquiring of the Lord in a holy mountain or temple setting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

From the Great Tower

Lehi's exodus starts in a temple apostasy: the people in fine clothing in the great and spacious building are the priestly families in the Jerusalem temple, the "Jews" of Jerusalem who turned the glorious temple incense into mists of darkness, polluted the waters of the tree of life, and persecuted the prophets.  The chain of Lehi's righteous, record-keeping descendants ends in defeat by the people of the false mysteries, the Gadianton robbers.

Jared's exodus also begins in a temple apostasy: building a tower to heaven to take a name is temple rebellion, the theft of what should be given from above.  Will Jared's descendants also be destroyed by the false mysteries?  Sadly, I've read the end of this story before.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Suppose that the First Part of This Record

The twenty-four plates begin with an account of the creation of the world, Adam, et cetera.  Creation accounts are often ritual, and temple-rooted: e.g., Genesis 1, and the Enuma Elish.  Did Ether's record contain ritual and covenant texts?

Friday, July 13, 2012

The King of Heaven Shall Very Soon Shine Forth

In the Worship of the Shalems, the Lord comes forth from the Holy of Holies to clothe the shalems and administer the feast of bread and wine.  He is Melchizedek, the king of rightenousness and the shalem king, and the shalems have come through the valley of the shadow of death to reach him.  The moment of his coming is the light seen by those in darkness, in the shadow of death.  It is the shining forth of the King of Heaven.

This was the moment when the veil parted and the high priest came out in his robes.  The light from the Holy of Holies (which is where the evidence of the visionary men consistently places the light and the tree) shines forth behind him.  This was the visionary men's ritual prophecy of the Lord's earthly birth, when Yahweh would come in person to administer the feast of bread and wine to his followers.  This is the imagery John uses to report that the prophecy was fulfilled... and the people in darkness and the shadow of death didn't understand what they had witnessed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

It Shall Be Brought out of Darkness Unto Light

The image of a light shining into the darkness comes from the Worship of the Shalems; the temple veil parted, shining light into the darkness of the Hekal where the initiates stood as the high priest / Lord / Melchizedek came from the Holy of Holies to join them.

Isaiah shows us this image.

John uses the image of the light shining into the darkness to identify Jesus as the high priest, i.e., as Melchizedek and Yahweh who was to come.

Lehi exhorts his errant sons to come out of that darkness and into the light.

Moroni uses the light image to describe the coming forth of the BoM.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

And Shall Not Condemn It

Those who receive the Book of Mormon will know greater things.  That's because the BoM is all about preserving and communicating the mysteries of the Visionary Men, and the doctrines they teach and embody.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Behold, It Is the Hand of the Lord

Nephite civilization (as Moroni knows it) ends with the wicked punishing the wicked.  Moroni proclaims this to be the "hand" of the Lord.

"Robbers" survive along with "Lamanites."  These robbers might well have thought of themselves as Nephites, but initiates into the false mysteries of the Gadiantons, rather than the true mysteries of the Visionary Men.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Robert Smith compiles, and Bill Hamblin republishes, a short bibliography on the temple in the Book of Mormon.  Plain and Precious Things makes the list.

Late-night addendum: also reposted on the Temple Study blog, with links.

Therefore Repent

Mormon's final admonition echoes Nephi's, and the doctrine of Christ.  Repent, be baptized with fire and water, "lay hold upon the gospel of Christ" and follow "the example of our Savior."  Doing what we've seen the Lord do is equivalent to standing in the strait and narrow path and speaking with the tongues of angels in 2 Nephi 31-32.  3 Nephi 27 shows us that the "gospel" is the same thing as the "rock."

So Mormon, at the end, tells us to repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and approach the Lord in his temple.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

He Hath Brought to Pass the Redemption of the World

Mormon resolves the questions Alma has about the difference between individual and universal judgment by making the judgment day not only the day when the Lord will come out, but also the day that the entire world will become Shalems, dwelling in the kingdom and singing in the heavenly choir.  The two ordinances have always been joined, and symmetrical mirror images; here they are the same thing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

He Bringeth to Pass the Resurrection of the Dead

The resurrection is described in terms of the Worship of the Shalems: going up (one ascended into the temple) to stand before the judgment seat (the throne in the Holy of Holies upon the rock, where the Lord would reject some and admit others).

But universal resurrection happened on the Day of Atonement, Judgment Day.  I think this ambiguity is the source of the speculation Alma refers to, when he says that whether there's one resurrection or more, he doesn't know... notice that he refers to these things as "mysteries."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Know Ye

In addressing future remnants of his people, Mormon alludes to the twin ordinances of the Visionary Men.  You can't wait for salvation -- the Day of Atonement -- you have to "come unto repentance."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

O Ye Fair Ones

Mormon's elegiac poem to his people contrasts two possible meetings with Christ.  On the one hand, Christ "stood with open arms to receive them"; in other words, in the imagery of the Worship of the Shalems, he called them to meet him through the strait and narrow gate.  Instead of ascending like Shalems, though, the Nephites fell, out of grace and out of the temple.

It's still the case that their "mortal must put on immortality" (dressing imagery) and they must "stand before the judgment-seat of Christ," but now it won't be as disciples, coming unto the Lord in his house, but as sheep waiting to be assigned to one flock or the other.