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Book of Abraham

The last lesson I taught the Priests in my ward I went over the history of the Book of Abraham. There are a host of arguments made against Joseph Smith, his translation and the authenticity of the Book of Abraham which rely upon ignorance to persuade.
 
The Book of Abraham is one of the strongest proofs of Joseph Smith’s credibility as a prophet who restored ancient knowledge and did so using the power of God.  But only if you have read enough to know the lay of the terrain.
 
I brought the following books with me to the class:
Abraham in Egypt (Nibley)
The Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Nibley)
Astronomy, Papyrus and Covenant (Hauglid)
An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Nibley)
One Eternal Round (Nibley)
The Blessings of Abraham (Clark)
Traditions About the Early Life of Abraham (Tvedtnes, Gee)
The Hor Book of Breathings (Rhodes)
A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri (Gee)
Vol. 2 of The History of the Church (Joseph Smith)
 
Critics of Joseph have provoked a tremendous effort to account for the Book of Abraham.  If you are interested in the topic, the results of that effort are worth reading. I find that all topics related to the restoration are interesting to me.
 
I’ve spent a few days with scholars with backgrounds in Egyptology. There is a great deal to learn about the earliest days of Egypt and the Egyptian influence on ancient Israel.  Many of our Psalms are taken directly from Egypt.  Abraham sojourned there, Joseph served there, the twelve tribes resided there, Moses was raised there in the royal courts, Jeremiah fled there, and Christ lived several years there.  Egypt was a repository of arcane knowledge which remains interesting to Latter-day Saints.

Zion is Not Yet

In response to a question I received earlier today about whether Zion presently exists in some form I responded:
 
“Zion has not begun in an organized city-form and could not do so at the moment. Some of what would be required to establish Zion may have been returned, but only in the most incipient form at present, and not such that it can stand on its own. If the hounds of hell have been released to balance things because of Zion’s “appearance” then it is wholly disproportionate at present. The evil is far more numerous, far more widely planted, far stronger, and securely fastened here than the tiniest shoots of a diminutive Zion. Even the idea of starting a small gathering is not possible at present.”
 
It was an interesting enough question I thought the answer worth posting.
 
I’ve been learning more over the last months about many things of interest to me. It is wonderful to have more time to study and meditate. The Gospel as restored through Joseph Smith contains a great deal more than we’ve chosen to respect and explore. This is a mixed blessing, of course. We neglect it at our peril. But we are still in recent enough time to the events that the record is with us. Wars, unrest, upheavals and destructions have not eliminated the libraries of material still available for our study. So, if we are interested, we can learn a great deal in our day.
 
It is foolish to trust your salvation to another. It is more foolish to trust anything to a committee or organization where compromises and agendas conflict with truth almost at every turn. History has no ego, but the purveyors of legacies who hope to mold history to support their agendas are always driven by ambition to trim, add, censor, reinterpret, and contradict. If religion matters, and if Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, then we ought to try and get as unfiltered an account as possible. Then, with what account you settle as true, you ought then to inquire of the Lord to see if He by revelation has something further to open to your view.
 
I’m amazed at how much the Lord would want us to know, if we only showed interest enough to make an inquiry, with real intent, having faith in Him. 
 
If the mammalian prophet from Puxatony (or Al Gore for that matter) can be trusted, things are going to be warmer soon. I’d like that. Trading light and warmth for dark and cold is an annual pilgrimage nature takes us through to remind us of eternal things.

Restoration and Apostasy

There really is no static position in nature.  The full moon of two nights ago is now replaced by the waning gibbous immediately as the light begins to be lost.  Nor does the half-moon last longer than a single night, followed by the waning crescent. When the moon’s light is altogether stricken, the new moon phase begins with the waxing crescent which is, at first, only a sliver. But it follows nightly through the waxing crescent, to the half moon, to the waxing gibbous, to the full moon.  Always in motion.  Always either growing or receding in light.

So also with the sun.  From solstice to equinox, to solstice to equinox, it grows, then dims.  Never static.  It is impossible to freeze the light.  It will grow or it will fade.

All things in nature testify of the truth.  This includes things in the “heavens” or sky above, as well as things on, in and under the earth. (Moses 6: 63.)

It is not possible for an individual, nor a collection of individuals, to remain static.  They are either involved with restoring truth or in apostasy from it; never merely “preserving” it.  Those who claim to merely preserve the truth given them are concealing the fact of their apostasy.  They are soothing their conscience.  Caretakers simply cannot exist.

All great truths are simple, and they are testified of in nature as well as in scripture.

Restoration and Apostasy

There really is no static position in nature.  The full moon of two nights ago is now replaced by the waning gibbous immediately as the light begins to be lost.  Nor does the half-moon last longer than a single night, followed by the waning crescent. When the moon’s light is altogether stricken, the new moon phase begins with the waxing crescent which is, at first, only a sliver. But it follows nightly through the waxing crescent, to the half moon, to the waxing gibbous, to the full moon.  Always in motion.  Always either growing or receding in light.

So also with the sun.  From solstice to equinox, to solstice to equinox, it grows, then dims.  Never static.  It is impossible to freeze the light.  It will grow or it will fade.

All things in nature testify of the truth.  This includes things in the “heavens” or sky above, as well as things on, in and under the earth. (Moses 6: 63.)

It is not possible for an individual, nor a collection of individuals, to remain static.  They are either involved with restoring truth or in apostasy from it; never merely “preserving” it.  Those who claim to merely preserve the truth given them are concealing the fact of their apostasy.  They are soothing their conscience.  Caretakers simply cannot exist.

All great truths are simple, and they are testified of in nature as well as in scripture.

The Battle

The battle we are all called upon to fight is not external.  Some people spend their time stirring people up to alarm them about carnal security.  They are trying to sell something.  There are fortunes being made by proponents of fear.  But the audience for such things are only being distracted from a much greater, more immediate battle.  Until the internal condition of the individual has been conquered and brought into alignment with heaven, there is no amount of political, social, economic or military security which will matter in the long run.

I think it more advisable to seek for and listen to the Lord, and secondarily those teachers who will convert you to the Lord; rather than any other advice or movement advocated by those promoting causes.  Teachers ought to point to Him.  Not to themselves.  No one but the Lord is coming to rescue you; and no group will be able to overcome error apart from Him.  Ultimately the battle we each face is the Lord’s.  We must cooperate with Him for Him to be able to win it.  When He does, however, the victory is ours for we are the ones who He redeems.

The path back to the Lord’s presence is an individual one.  It is not likely to be accomplished while in an audience.  There is no “support group” needed.  It is you.  What goes on inside you.  What you love most.  He will one day associate with a group in a city; but that group will be comprised of individuals who have previously met Him.

It surprises me how little discernment there is among those claiming to seek truth.  Many of them will take in ideas from foolish, vain and proud sources with as much enthusiasm as from a true one.  How is it that people cannot tell the difference between them?  Does not a true message sound much different from a false one?  Is merely associating some lesser virtue with a cause enough to have it distract?  What is more plain than the admonishment to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?

Updates on Writing

We’re close to getting the blog-book done.  Should go to the printer this week.  Then it’s up to them to get the process completed.  It now has a title: Removing the Condemnation.  It’s about 540 pages in length; without a word index.  The blog will remain up and you can use it as a word index.

All but one of the titles are now available on Kindle.  The last one (Eighteen Verses) should be up this week, as well.

I’m a few chapters into the new book.  It will be out this year, but I have no clue when.

I’m getting tired of the cold weather.  But it does allow me time to write, since there’s no temptation to spend much time outside.  Even skiing in this cold is less fun.

Religion in Rome

The following is taken from Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician, by Anthony Everitt:

“Religion was not so much a set of personal beliefs as precisely laid-down ways of living in harmony with the expectations of the gods. In fact, by the end of the Republic educated men believed less in the literal truth of the apparatus of religous doctrine than in a vaguer notion of the validity of tradition.”  (p. 55.)

How controlling are traditions.

They blind us to any view other than the one we’ve inherited and keep us from examining what, exactly, the source of the tradition was or what it was originally intended to accomplish.

Sacrifice of Isaac

There were ancient Jewish traditions which held that Abraham actually killed Isaac on the mount and the Lord brought Isaac back to life.  The reference in Hebrews 11: 17-19 seems to be based upon this earlier tradition; in contrast to the Genesis account (Gen. 22: 9-13.)

If Abraham actually slew Isaac, and Isaac was raised from the dead, the trial of Abraham and the test of Isaac is more analogous to Christ’s sacrifice than we imagine.

Hugh Nibley writes about these earlier traditions in Abraham in Egypt, pp. 329-344, 372-375.

We imagine the difficulties of the ancients to be less than they were.  Their faith was established through trial, sacrifice, obedience and consecration.  Not to the will of man or men, but to the will of God.  When men attempt to displace obedience to God into submission to the will of men, then it is not merely an error, it is idolatry. It is an abomination.

More often than not, obedience to God causes conflict with your fellow man.  It did not get these ancient Saints applause, position, praise or notice.

Books on Kindle

While all the books will become available on Kindle shortly, two of them are now available.  Both Ten Parables and Beloved Enos are now up.  I’m hoping that the rest will be there within the next ten days, but the process is somewhat complicated.