Adam in Ancient Texts and the Restoration

Matthew Roper
August 2006

Adam in Ancient Texts and the Restoration

In several early revelations which now constitute the Latter-day Saints’ book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated accounts relating to the early biblical patriarchs including Adam. In contrast to other Christian denominations Latter-day Saint teachings about Adam go far beyond what is told in the biblical account. They relate how Adam after his fall, received a knowledge of the future redemption of God’s only Begotten Son and a knowledge, through the ministration of heavenly messengers, of the saving ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Other Latter-day revelations speak of the elevated role of Adam as head of the human family, not only as father of mortal progeny, but in his standing in the Priesthood. Adam, Joseph Smith taught, “was the first to hold spiritual blessings, to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the salvation of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven, and will continue to be revealed from henceforth.”1 Known through Latter-day revelation as Michael the archangel in his pre-mortal state, he is described in modern scripture as a “prince” whom God the Father entrusted with “the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of Holy One” or Jesus Christ.2 Other revelations name him the “ancient of days” spoken of in Daniel chapter 7.3 In his divinely appointed mission to restore the ancient Gospel and the blessings of the priesthood once held by ancient patriarchs, the Prophet Joseph Smith restored knowledge and authority pertaining to these truths to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On May 4, 1842 the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded that he instructed early priesthood leaders in the “principles and order of the priesthood,” which in addition to sacred priesthood ordinances included, “setting forth the order pertaining to the ancient of days” or Adam.4 Today, I would like to discuss the figure of the First Man (or Adam) in relation to ancient religious texts and the restoration. In what follows I will survey and identify key themes found in both revealed Latter-day Saint teachings and other ancient texts and beliefs about Adam in ancient Judaism, Christianity and subsequent religious and cultural heirs to those traditions. With a few exceptions, I will be drawing primarily upon religious texts that were rarely known, not easily accessible, or completely unknown during the lifetime of Joseph Smith.

Preexistence of the First Man

The account of the creation in the Latter-day Saint book Moses teaches the pre-mortal existence of the first man.

For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before the were naturally upon the face of the earth . . . . And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air . . . . And I the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.5

Here in Latter-day Scripture, Adam, the “first man” and in fact, “all the children of men” are said to have been created spiritually in heaven before they were created naturally upon the earth. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Adam, obtained the keys of the priesthood “in the Creation, before the world was formed.”6 Other Latter-day Prophets have taught that Adam assisted in the creation or organization of the earth out of unorganized material, “When father Adam came to assist in organizing the earth out of the crude material that was found,” taught Brigham Young, “an earth was made upon which the children of men could live.”7

Some recent scholarship has focused on evidence that the question of Adam’s pre-existence may have been a matter of some controversy in later Judaism. Here it is important to remember that ancient Judaism was not a monolithic religious entity, but consisted of a variety of competing and sometimes conflicting factions and groups which were often at religious and ideological odds with one another. The Talmud contains an interesting reference which states, “Our rabbi’s taught: Adam was created [last of all beings] on the eve of Sabbath. Why so? Lest the minim [i.e. heretics] should say: The Holy One, blessed be He, had a partner in His work of creation.”8 In his seminal study, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, Jarl Fossum notes that this statement from the Talmud reflects earlier controversy between competing factions of Judaism over the question of the First Man (Adam) and his role in the creation. More specifically, there were those, who later Jews considered heretics (minim) who held that Adam was God’s “associate” in the creation of the world. This earlier Jewish view of Adam may be reflected in an early midrash which claims that, “God took counsel with the souls of the righteous in creating the universe.” The Jewish proponent of this belief interpreted the passage in 1 Chronicle 4:23 which speaks of King Solomon’s workers in terms of God as the king of creation, where the pre-existent righteous are said to have been present with God when he oversaw their work under his direction.

These were the formers and those that dwelt among plantations and hedges; there they were with the King in his work” (1 Chron. iv.23). “These were the formers”: They are termed thus on account of the verse “Then Yhwh Elohim formed man (Gen. Ii.7) “And those that dwell among plantations” corresponds to “And the Lord planted a garden in the east” (Gen. ii.8). “And hedges” corresponds to “I have placed the sand for the bound of the sea” (Jer. v.22). “There they were with the King in his work”: With the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, sat the souls of the righteous, with whom he took counsel before creating the world.9

Concerning this passage Fossum states, “The midrash agrees with the rabbinic tradition that God in Gen. i.26 `took counsel’ with his agents. But it goes further than the expositions examined above in that it explicitly calls God’s agents `makers’,”formers’,with reference to Genesis ii.7.”10 We might also note that the pre-existent righteous with whom God takes counsel are also said to have been already present when God sets the bound of the sea, an event which occurs on the second day of creation in Genesis. Another midrash states, “Before the world was created, there was none to praise God and know Him. He created the angels and the holy Hayyot, the heavens and their host, and Adam as well. They all were to praise and glorify their Creator.”11

This tradition of a pre-existent First man (Adam) persisted in Greco-Roman times, where some Jews and Gnostic Christians associated the “light” mentioned in Genesis 1:3 with the pre-existent first man Adam. This seems to have been based on the fact that Greek word phos in the Septuagint for Genesis could mean both “light” and “man,” (a word play that is not found, however in the Hebrew). The Gospel of the Egyptians, one of the texts discovered at Nag Hammadi Egypt speaks of “The first man . . . through whom and to whom everything became, (and) without whom nothing became.”12 Fossum states, “In the so-called Nassene Homily summarized by Hyppolytus, the celestial Adamas is said to have brought the chaotic matter to rest in primordial times (see VI.viii.22). Furthermore, it is he who constantly rotates the universe in a circle (see VI.viii.34). Finally, he emits the world ocean which is surrounding the universe (see VI.viii.20).”13

Several so-called Jewish magical texts also portray the first man as pre-existent and as participating in the creation of the cosmos. In these texts Adam is addressed as “father of the world” a term which in Hellenistic times was synonymous with the creator of the world. He is also described as one who “filled the whole universe with air, who hung up the fire from the [heavenly] water and separated the earth from the water.”14 In another related text, the heavenly Adam is portrayed as possessing the “the powerful name” possessed by God in the creation.15 After surveying numerous early Jewish, Christian and Gnostic traditions about the heavenly man, Fossum concludes, “that when the rabbis had to maintain that Adam was created on the eve of the Sabbath, they were contending against a doctrine of a heavenly man who was pre-existent or had been brought into being on the first day of creation.” Although found in later Gnosticism, “this doctrine was of Jewish origin.”16

Recent scholarship suggests that some of these Jewish traditions about the Pre-existence of the first man may be traced to the book of Job. There, Job’s friend Eliphaz challenges the suffering man’s claims to wisdom, asking, “Are you the firstborn of the human race? Were you brought forth before the hills? Have you listened in the council of God? And do you limit wisdom to yourself? What do you know that we do not know?” (Job 15:7-9 NRSV). Eliphaz’ point is that Job cannot lay claim to such heavenly wisdom. Behind his sarcastic challenge, however, rests an understanding that the first man could indeed lay claim to such heavenly wisdom. Several elements in these verses lead to this conclusion,

First, in contrast to the Genesis account of the creation, the first man in Job is described in the text as having been born or brought forth rather than “created” (Genesis 1:27) or “formed”(Gen 2:7). In a recent study of the first man mythology in the Book of Job Dexter Callender notes, “In these words of Eliphaz, we learn that the first human was thought to have been born before the hills. The verbal root here is hwl which means `to dance or writhe’. It is used in connection with birth imagery, denoting writhing in travail; and hence can render the meaning `to bear or bring forth.'” The meaning of the verb is clear in the parallelism here with yld as in Isaiah 51:2. In other words, “The first human is described as having come into existence through natural means, that is through birth.”17 This usage points to an event which precedes the formation of man from the dust of the earth in Genesis 2:7.

Second, the first man in Job 15:7 is said to be born “before the hills,” a term which is also used of the personified figure of wisdom in Proverbs, where personified wisdom is said to have been possessed by God at the beginning, “before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth” (Proverbs 8:25). In the Genesis account of the creation man’s physical body is created on the sixth day, yet the hills and mountains do not appear until the division of the waters from the dry land on the second day of creation. This suggests a pre-mortal birth and existence for the first man mentioned in Job which precedes the creation of his body on earth and its placement in the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter 2.

Third, Eliphaz’ question, “Have you listened in the council of God?” is informed by a context which places the first man in God’s heavenly council where he has access to heavenly wisdom. “According to Eliphaz, the wisdom of the primordial human came as a result of his presence within the council of God, and the fact that he `listened.'”18 Callender observes that the use of the verbs in this passage may be, “alluding to a particular divine council [cf. Gen. 1:26] in which the plan of creation was revealed” or it may indicate continuing access, meaning “art thou wont to be a listener.”19

Fourth, in Job 38-41, the Lord lists various things that Job, as a mortal cannot possibly know, but which God does know by virtue of his wisdom as Creator. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:4-7). According to Herbert May, “The motif of the First Man, created before the earth appears in Job 15:7, 8 and is also found in Job 38:4-7. . . . In Job 38 the theme is wisdom and knowledge which Job, in contrast with God, does not have; he was not there (as First Man was there) when God laid the foundations of the earth and the members of God’s council (the morning stars, the sons of God) rejoiced.”20 In response to God’s question, Job, as an imperfect mortal would have to admit that he did not know, but the first man could have answered “yes,” since as one with associated with God at the creation he had access to divine wisdom about the creation of the earth. In fact, as Callender puts it, “The primal human . . . was present at the creation and by virtue of that fact possessed wisdom in its most intimate details. The divine speeches in [Job] chapters 38-41 make clear that the secrets of the universe lie within the primordium, the epoch of creation. As one who `was born then’, he knew the deepest and most esoteric of knowledge.”21 Thus, “In the world-view of the writer of Job and his audience the first human is an exalted being . . . . He is numbered among the sons of God.”22

Foreknowledge of God and the necessity for a Savior

Another theme found in the ancient literature on Adam is the teaching that God knew before hand that Adam would fall and in Christian literature, the idea that knowing before-hand of man’s future transgression, God would provide a Savior by which man could be saved. In a Coptic Christian work, the Discourse on the Abbaton, at the creation God sends an angel to retrieve clay from the earth to form man’s body. The earth objects, complaining of the wickedness that will be committed by man if he is created and placed upon the earth.

If thou takest me to Him, He will mould me into a form, and I shall become a man, and a living soul. And very many sins shall come forth from my heart (or, body), and many fornications, ans slanderous abuse, and jealousy, and hatred and contention shall come forth from his hand, and many murders and sheddings of blood shall come forth from his hand…. Let me stay here and go back to the ground and be quiet.23

In spite of the earth’s objections, the angel carries some clay to God for the formation of Adam’s body. After God creates Adam’s body, however, there is a discussion in heaven between the Father and the Son about what to do about man. According to this text

He left him lying for forty days and forty nights without putting breath into him. And he heaved sighs over him daily saying, “If I put breath into this [man], he must suffer many pains.” And I said unto my Father, “Put breath into him; I will be an advocate for him.” And my Father said unto Me, “If I put breath into him, My Beloved Son, Thou wilt be obliged to go down into the world, and to suffer many pains for him before Thou shalt have redeemed him, and made him come back to his primal state.” And I said unto my Father, “Put breath into him; I will be his advocate, and I will go down into the world, and will fulfil thy command.”24

It is clear from this text that God knows before-hand that man will transgress and that it is necessary to appoint an advocate for man, and that Jesus willingly offered to suffer the pains of man’s redemption, even before man was given life.

Adam in the Garden

Recent studies by Michael Stone, W. Lipscomb, Gary Anderson and others have focused on a set of Armenian Christian Adam and Eve texts. These texts were first published in Armenian in 1898 and only in English in the last several decades.25 These texts discuss the events which took place in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. In one of these entitled, Adam and Eve and the Incarnation, the serpent tells Eve, “God was a man like you. When he ate of the fruit of this tree he became God of all”26 In The History of the Creation and Transgression of Adam, the serpent states, “God was like you, because he had not eaten of that fruit, When he ate it, he attained the glory of divinity.” Speaking of devil’s words to Eve, Michael Stone, the editor and translator of the recently published Armenian and Georgian Adam and Eve texts observes, “The formulation in our text says not just that humans will become like God (gods)” but also that “God was himself originally human and became divine through eating the fruit.”27 This variation on the serpent’s words is also found in several later medieval Jewish texts about Adam and Eve.28 In the Transgression of Adam, after Eve partakes of the fruit, Adam asks her, “Why have you eaten the fruit?” Eve responds by saying, “The fruit is very sweet. Take and you taste, and notice the sweetness of this fruit” but Adam refuses, saying, ‘I cannot taste it.” According to this particular account Eve the begins to cry and beg Adam to eat and “do not separate me from you.” After some deliberation (three hours according to one account) Adam reasons, “It is better for me to die than to become separated and detached from this woman.” Then he partakes of the fruit as well.

These and other extra-canonical texts indicate that after the redemption of Christ that Adam would be taken to paradise and that after the resurrection he would be restored to his former inheritance which he had lost at the Fall. The significance here is that Adam’s restoration to his pre-mortal inheritance, where according to these texts he once reigned under God as a king and at God’s specific command was even worshiped by the angels, suggests a return to a state where he could again receive such adoration, a state clearly suggestive of deification. The theme of deification in fact is explicit in the Syriac Testament of Adam. There Adam explains to his son Seth that God would eventually fulfil Adam’s desire for deification. Just before being cast out of the Garden, the Lord tells him, “Adam, Adam, do not fear. You wanted to be a god; I will make you a god, not right now, but after the space of many years.”

For your sake I will taste death and enter into the house of the dead…. And after three days, while I am in the tomb, I will raise up the body I received from you. And I will set you at the right hand of my divinity, and I will make you a god just like you wanted.”*

Opposition and Agency

According to the Doctrine and Covenants, the devil was allowed to tempt Adam and Eve in order that they could become agents unto themselves, “for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet” (D&C 29:39; see also Moses 6:55). In the Discourse on Abbaton, Satan tells Eve, ye shall not surely die, but ye shall be like unto these gods, ye shall know the good and the evil, and ye shall [be able] to separate the sweet from the bitter.”29 After Adam and Eve partake of the fruit the Lord tells them that they will experience opposites during their mortality, “You shall hunger and you shall be sated and you shall be afflicted by bitterness then you shall eat of sweetness; you shall be tormented by heat and afflicted by cold; you shall be pauperized and become great; you shall grow fat and you will be weakened.”30 According to another text, their eyes being now opened, Adam identifies their antagonist: “It is that Lucifer… and so we will be henceforth and forever subject to hardships and numerous diseases.”31 In the Book of Moses Eve realizes after receiving further instruction in the plan of salvation, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth to the obedient” (Moses 5:11). The Book of Mormon indicates that the fall was a necessary pre-requisite for having children (2 Nephi 2:23). In this connection there is an interesting commentary in the Zohar relating to the curse placed upon Eve after partaking of the fruit.”Why,” says the Zohar, ” is the Serpent necessary in this connection? It is because it is he who opens the passage for the descent of souls into the world. For if he did not open the way, no soul would come down to animate man’s body in the world.”32

In the Conflict of Adam and Eve, first published in English in 1882, God repeatedly reminds Adam of the covenant God had made with him in the Garden of Eden, before he was driven out, that he would provide a Savior, the Word of God for them after 5500 years.

But God had before that made this covenant with our father Adam, in the same terms, ere he came out of the garden, [when he was] by the tree whereof Eve took [the fruit] and gave it him to eat. Inasmuch as, when our father Adam came out of the garden, he passed by that tree and saw how God had changed the appearance of it into another form, and how it withered. And as Adam went to it he feared, trembled and fell down; but God in his mercy lifted him up, and then made this covenant with him.33

In another text, the Lord reproves Adam for his disobedience. Adam desired to partake of the fruit of the tree of life in his sinful state, but the Lord informs him that he is forbidden to partake of it in his lifetime. Instead, he gives Adam a charge to obtain from sin: “Rather, when you go out of the Garden, guard yourself from slander, from harlotry, from adultery, from sorcery, from the love of money, from avarice and from all sins.” If he does this, he will eventually be able to partake from the tree of life after the resurrection from the dead.34

In the book of Moses when God commands Adam not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he adds, “nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee” (Moses 3:17). Other ancient texts related to Adam and Eve also address the question of man’s agency. In the Second Book of Enoch God says, “And I gave him his free will; and I pointed out to him the two ways – light and darkness. And I said to him, `This is good for you, but that is bad’; so that I might come to know whether he has love toward me or abhorrence, and so that it might become plain who among his race loves me.”35 In the Apocalypse of Shadrach, the prophet asks God, since he knew beforehand that man would transgress, why did he not force man to obey or “hold his foot” as it were by keeping him from transgression. God responds, `If I hold his foot, he says, `You have given me no grace in the world,’ and so I left him to his own desires because I loved him and thus I sent my righteous angels to watch him night and day.”36 While most Adam and Eve texts portray his choice to partake of the fruit as a mistake, the Christian Epistula Apostulorum seems to view that choice positively, “Adam was given power that he might choose what he wanted from the two [righteousness and sin]; and he chose the light and stretched out his hand and took (it) and left the darkness and withdrew from it. Likewise every man is given the ability to believe in the light.”

Adam and the Angels

Although not found in the Biblical account, Latter-day Saint scripture and other ancient texts tell how the first couple were visited by heavenly messengers sent from God. Alma taught that after the Fall of Adam and Eve, God, “sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold his glory” (Alma 12:29). The Prophet Mormon also taught that the Lord “sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing . . . .Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ” (Moroni 7:22-25). In the Doctrine and Covenants God states, “I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son. And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation–that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe” (D&C 29:42-43). The account of Adam and his family in the book of Moses recounts the ministration of other heavenly messengers as well (Moses 5:6). Not only angelic messengers, but God himself is said to have spoken to Adam directly. “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” (Moses 5:58).

The Penance of Adam says that after the fall, “angels came from God every day to speak to Adam and to instruct him for a period of nineteen days.”37 Some of these texts explain how Adam and Eve, finding themselves unprepared for mortal life were instructed by angels in how to deal with basic needs. In the History of the Repentance of Adam and Eve, five days after being cast out of the garden, “on the sixth day, the archangel Gabriel came to them at the command of God. And seeing Adam and Eve lamenting and weeping, he comforted them and told them to eat from the fruit of the earth, which was near to them.”38 The Jewish Life of Adam and Eve says, “The Lord God sent various seeds by the angel Michael and gave them to Adam and showed him how to work and till the ground so as to have produce by which they and all their generations might live.”39 In the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, an angel from God teaches Adam and Eve how to make garments out of animal skins. Adam and Eve, however do not know how to make clothing. “Then God sent his angel to show them how to work it out. And the angel said to Adam, `Go forth, and bring some palm thorns.’ Then Adam went out, and brought some, as the angel had commanded him. Then the angel began before them to work out the skins, after the manner of one who prepares a shirt. And he took the thorns and stuck them into the skins, before their eyes. Then the angel again stood up and prayed to God that the thorns in those skins should be hidden, so as to be, as it were, sewn with one thread. And so it was by God’s order; they became garments for Adam and Eve, and He clothed them withal.”40 The same text relates how angels also protected Adam and Eve from attempts by Satan and his angels to destroy them,41 and how angels taught the first couple how to prepare for marriage and then, at God’s command, marry them.42 In the Latin, Armenian and Georgian versions of the Life of Adam and Eve, angels also administer comfort to Adam and Eve. When Eve prepares to give birth for the very first time Adam, seeing her labor pains fears that she might die, “Adam prayed and spoke a plea to God on her behalf and the Lord hearkened to him. And behold twelve angels and two powers came from heaven.” One of the angels lays his hand on Eve and blesses her, saying, “Blessed are you, Eve, because of Adam, the elect one and servant of God, for his prayers are great before God and, because of him, God will deliver you.’43 After Cain murdered Abel the Lord comforted the first couple and sent them news of the future birth of Seth.44

Other texts relate how God sends angels teach and instruct and sometimes warn Adam and Eve. In the Life of Adam and Eve, when Eve has a dream where she sees Cain killing Abel, God sends an angel to Adam warning him to keep that mystery a secret and not tell Cain that they know of this.45 The Mandaean Book of John tells how God sent an angel to Adam to bring him knowledge of his heavenly home. “At the call of the Envoy Adam awoke, who was lying there. Adam, who was lying there awoke and went up to the Envoy: Come in peace, o Envoy, Ambassador of Life, who art come from the House of my Father” The messenger then tells Adam, who is lamenting his fallen state, to cheer up, reminding him of his beautiful heavenly throne which awaits him in heaven. “I have come and shall instruct thee, Adam, and redeem thee from this World. Hearken and hear and be instructed and ascend victoriously up to the Place of Light.’ Adam heard and became a believer.-Hail to him who hears after thee and who believes . . . . Adam gazed up full of hope and ascended.-Hail to him who after thee ascends.”46 In the the Conflict of Adam and Eve the Word of God, meaning Christ, often speaks to the first couple and when the devil wounds or attacks them, heals them and raises them from the brink of death.

The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan tells how the adversary frequently tried to destroy them. When he cannot kill them outright he seeks to deceive them by imitating the true angels sent from God. After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, “Satan came to the cave, clad in a garment of light, and girt about with a bright girdle. In his hands was a staff of light, and he looked most awful: but his face was pleasant and his speech was sweet.”47 On another occasion, “He gathered together his host, and came in appearance upon a cloud, intent on deceiving them.”48 In the Armenian Christian Penitence of Adam account Adam prays, “Make this enemy of mine distant from me, who desires to lead me astray, I who am searching for the light that I have lost.”49 In the Conflict of Adam and Eve, while they were worshiping God in prayer, Satan and his angels appear in light and radiance at the mouth of Adam’s cave. “He began by transforming his hosts; in his hands was a flashing fire, and they were in a great light.”50 Adam, who senses that something is wrong prayed to God, asking, “O Lord, is there in the world another God than Thou…. If they are of some other God than Thou, tell me; and if they are sent by Thee, inform me of the reason for which thou hast sent them.” An angel then appears to identify Satan and drive him away.51

Sometimes Adam and Eve are visited by three heavenly messengers. In the Apocalypse of Adam, the first couple are visited by three angels who awaken him and teach them about their origins and give them knowledge of the practice of baptism. Adam later passes on this knowledge to his son Seth and their descendants.52 These three angels are also found in the Mandaean Adam and Eve stories, where Manda dHaiye, a kind of angelic Redeemer figure, sends three kingly angelic messengers, called “uthras” to teach Adam and Eve the rituals which are necessary for this life and which will help them to ascend back to the place where God the “Great Life” dwells. Kurt Rudolph notes that the fundamental mission of these messengers of light to “instruct the faithful and redeem their souls.”53 The leader Manda dHaiye whose name means the “Son of the Life” and who personifies redemptive knowledge oversees the activities of the three, who in Mandaean traditions are called Hibil, Sitil and Anos. These three function under his direction and are said to have appeared to Adam and other notable prophet figures of the past to reveal saving knowledge and sacred Mandaean rituals. “They are,” to quote one authority “mythological figures who appear in particular generations and merely repeat the `primeval revelation’ made to Adam.”54 They reveal to each generation, what was first and originally revealed to Adam in the beginning.

The Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery testified that Peter James and John visited them and bestowed upon them the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. On October 18, 1840, while serving an apostolic mission in London, Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal,

We retired to rest in good season & I felt well in my mind & slept untill 12 at night. I awoke and meditated upon the things of God untill near 3 oclock & while forming a determination to warn the people of London & overcome the powers of Darkness by the assistance of God; A person appeared unto me which I considered was the Prince of Darkness or the Devel. He made war with me & attempted to take my life. He caught me by the throat & choked me nearly to death. He wounded me in my forhead. I also wounded him in a number of places in the head. As he was about to overcome me I prayed to the father in the name of Jesus for help. I then had power over him & he left me though much wounded. 3 personage dressed in white Came to me & prayed with me & I was immediately healed & delivered from all my troubles.55

In later descriptions of this episode President Woodruff indicated that these three angels were dressed in the “robes of immortal beings”56 or “temple clothing”57 although he did not know who they were.58

In the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, the Lord sends three angels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael to Adam and bestow upon him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. which Christ taught them were symbolic of God’s kingship, suffering and death.59 Later, in one of his many attempt to deceive Adam, Satan and two other devils disguise themselves as angels of God in imitation of the three holy angels who had previously brought Adam these gifts. On this occasion Adam incorrectly believed that these three were the same angels who visited him before. “Because, when they came to Adam the first time, there came upon him from them, peace and joy, through their bringing him good tokens; so Adam thought that they were come a second time to give him other tokens for him to rejoice withal . . . . So when Adam heard these words he believed them, and said to these angels, “Speak the word of God, that I may receive it.” And Satan said unto him, “Swear, and promise me that thou wilt receive it.” Then Adam said, “I know not how to swear and promise.” And Satan said to him, “Hold out thy hand, and put it inside my hand.” Then Adam held out his hand, and put it into Satan’s hand. In this story, Adam and Eve are not married yet. So when Satan commands Adam to have sexual relations with Eve, Adam realizes that these are not angel from God and says, “But God never spoke the words thou hast told me; and ye are not God’s angels, nor yet sent from Him. But ye are devils, come to me under the false appearance of angels. Away from me; ye cursed of God! And those devils fled from before Adam.”60

Testing Messengers

In the Manichaean Psalm Book, discovered in 1930, there is a hymn which recounts how God sends an angel to the “First Man” in order to bring him the good news of his redemption. “Gather and come o sons of man, and hear the Envoy that was sent with the news of the skies

. . . . Lo, the news-bearer has been sent with the news of the Land of Light to tell us the news of the skies. He was sent, he came hurrying and rejoicing to the First Man, that [he] might tell him the news. He came and knocked at the gates and cried, `Open quickly that I may tell you the news of [the skies]. Rise up, o First Man, open thy gates that are shut that I may tell thee the news. Rise up o beloved ones, that I may tell thee the news.”61 Before he is willing to receive the message, however, the First Man must be convinced that he is a true messenger, “Who art thou, for my doors are shut? Give a sign that I may open to thee and thou tell me the news.”62 Convinced that this is a true messenger from heaven, the First Man now excitedly asks, “Tell me the news. What does my Father do, the Father of the Lights? . . . . What do the Twelve Aeons do, whom I left surrounding the Father. Tell [me] the news”63 “What does the Mother of the Living do, whom I left, and her brethren also? Tell the news”64 The messenger responds, “Let us go, they await thee, they are on the border (?), they expect thee. Lo, God has wholly come: do thou call, he will answer thee. Lo, they that shall help thee await thee, their hands are spread to embrace thee.” The text the concludes, “They helped the First Man, he cried before him in joy . . . Great is the joy that there was, the First Man being in their midst, laden with garlands and palms . . . . May we be counted among those of the right hand and inherit our kingdom. Lo, this is the news. And may we live with our kinsmen from everlasting to everlasting.”65

Adam and the Ordinances

The Genesis account tells us very little about the lives of Adam and Eve after their expulsion from the garden. Latter-day Saint scripture, however, teaches that Adam also received authority from God to administer and participate in the ordinances of the Gospel. Alma taught that beginning with Adam, “priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to the Son for redemption” (Alma 13:2) and that it was through these priesthood ordinances that the children of God could become sanctified and enter into the Lord’s presence and rest (Alma 13:10-13). The Book of Moses relates that after being cast out of the garden that Adam and Eve began to till the earth, “And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord” (Moses 5:4). This was a regular practice for we are also told that, “Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God” (Moses 5:16). Similarly, in the Conflict of Adam and Eve, finding themselves in a world of hardship and danger, the first couple sought refuge in a cave, “Then Adam and Eve entered the cave, and stood praying, in their own tongue, unknown to us, but which they knew well.”66 According to this text they prayed daily and frequently, “After this Adam and Eve ceased not to stand in the cave, praying and weeping until the morning dawned upon them.67 A recently published Manichaean text discovered in Turfan China during the last century says that God appeared to Adam and taught him about Salvation and that he, “believed in the message” and that, “He eagerly accepted all the commandments, ordinances and seals of virtue, like a mighty hero; he put off the mortal body and was redeemed eternally. He was lifted up to Paradise, to the realms of the blessed.”68

Adam and Sacrifice and a foreknowledge of the Savior’s Redemption

In the book of Moses, after being shut out from God’s presence because of their transgression, God sometimes spoke to them by his own voice.

And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.. And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will (Moses 5:5-9).

According to the Jewish book of Jubilees, ” And on the day when Adam went out of the garden of Eden he offered a sweet-smelling sacrifice-frankincense, galbanum, stacte, and spices.”69 According to a second century Jewish text attributed to Rabbi Nathan, having been cast out of the garden into a world of darkness Adam rejoiced when he first saw the sun rise. To give thanks he offered sacrifice. “He arose and built altars and brought an ox whose horns extended beyond its hoofs; and he offered it up as a burnt offering . . . At that time three groups of ministering angels came down, and in their hands were lutes and lyres and all kinds of musical instruments. And they sang the song of praise with Adam.”70

The early Christian Conflict of Adam and Eve, portrays the first couple as completely unaccustomed to deal with the difficulties of life in a mortal condition. In their sorrow and fear at having been cast into a dark and perilous world they kill themselves. In this account, the Word of God (Christ) then comes and restores them to life and teaches them that they should not try to kill themselves again, but must learn to cope with their mortal condition and that all their self-inflicted injury will not save them or allow them to be restored to their former state of happiness in paradise.

Adam and Eve stood on their feet; and Adam said to Eve, “Gird thyself, and I will also gird myself.” And she girded herself as Adam told her. Then Adam and Eve took stones and placed them in the shape of an altar; and they took leaves from the trees outside the garden, with which they wiped, from the face of the rock, the blood they had spilled. But that which had dropped on the sand, they took together with the dust [wherewith it was mingled] and offered it upon the altar as an offering unto God. Then Adam and Eve stood under the altar and wept, thus entreating God, “Forgive us our trespass and our sin, and look upon us with Thine eye of mercy.”71

God is then said to have responded to their prayer.

Then came the Word of God to Adam, and said unto him, “O Adam, as thou hast shed thy blood, so will I shed My own blood when I become flesh of thy seed; and as thou didst die, O Adam, so also will I die. And as thou didst build an altar, so also will I make for thee an altar on the earth; and as thou didst offer thy blood upon it, so also will I offer My blood upon an altar on the earth. And as thou didst sue for forgiveness through that blood, so also will I make My blood forgiveness of sins, and blot out transgressions in it. And now, behold, I have accepted thy offering, O Adam, but the days of the covenant, wherein I have bound thee, are not fulfilled. When they are fulfilled, then will I bring thee back into the garden. Now, therefore, strengthen thy heart; and when sorrow comes upon thee, make Me an offering, and I will be favourable to thee” ….This, then, was the first offering Adam made unto God; and so it became his custom to do.72

On another occasion the Lord miraculously provides corn for Adam and Eve. In thanks for this heavenly gift

Adam and Eve took of the corn, and made of it an offering, and took it and offered it up on the mountain, the place where they had offered up their first offering of blood. And they offered this oblation again on the altar they had built at first. And they stood up and prayed, and besought the Lord saying, “Thus O God, when we were in the garden, did our praises go up to Thee like this offering…. But now, O God, accept this offering from us, and turn us not back, reft of thy mercy.”

In response to this act

God said to Adam and Eve, “Since ye have made this oblation and have offered it to Me, I shall make it my flesh, when I come down upon earth to save you; I shall cause it to be offered continually upon an altar, for forgiveness and for mercy, unto those who partake of it duly.” And God sent a bright fire upon the offering of Adam and Eve, and filled it with brightness, grace, and light; and the Holy Ghost came down upon that oblation…. And the souls of Adam and Eve were brightened, and their hearts were filled with joy and gladness and with the praises of God. And God said to Adam, “This shall be unto you a custom, to do so, when affliction and sorrow come upon you. . . . Adam rejoiced at these words which he heard from God; and he and Eve worshiped before the altar.73

Adam later makes it a practice to make offerings at the birth of his children and teaches them to continue this practice.74


The book of Moses teaches that angels taught Adam and Eve the Gospel. “And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent; 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” (Moses 5:14-15). After Adam has repented, the Lord tell him, “Behold, I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden” (Moses 6:53). There are many Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions which describe the repentance of Adam and Eve. In the Life of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman are sorrowful over their transgression and pray for God’s forgiveness while standing in the water of the Jordan river for many days.75 In the Conflict of Adam and Eve, the first couple frequently repent and ask God’s forgiveness.76 In Muslim traditions recorded by Al Kisai, God in heaven tells the angel Gabriel to inform Adam of the principle of repentance. “I have decreed that my mercy shall reach all who call upon me truly repentant of their sins and making humble entreaty. These are the words I have designated for Adam so that he may have repentance to lead him from darkness into light. Descend therefore to him, Gabriel, and give him my greetings. Wipe away his tears and teach him these words.” This text goes on to say,”Gabriel took the words from his Lord and, surrounded by his great light, descended with them to Adam.” After receiving the message from Gabriel Adam repents and is then told, “Peace be with you Adam. Your repentance has been accepted, and your transgression is forgiven.”77 “When Adam prayed with these words, he was told, `Adam, thou art truly my friend, for I have forgiven thee thy transgression. Ask and it shall be given thee.'”78 “When Adam spoke thus, his voice was carried to the distant horizons; and the earth, the mountains and the trees set up a great clamor saying, `Adam, God has given you relief and has blessed you through your repentance.'”79 “When Adam had accomplished his prostration he was told, `Lift up thy head.’ When he lifted up his face, the veil of light was raised, the gates of heaven were opened to him, and a voice cried out announcing repentance and absolution. `Adam,’ he was told, `God has accepted your repentance!'”80 On another occasion some of the angels chide Adam for having fallen from Paradise. “`Leave Adam alone!’ Gabriel said to the angels. `Censure him no more for his transgression, for God has erased his sins.’ . . . . Gabriel then struck the earth with his wings, and a spring gushed forth more redolent than musk and sweeter than honey. As Adam bathed himself in that water, he said, `Praise be to God for this water and for every condition. O God, purify me from my transgression and relieve me of my anxiety.’ Gabriel clothed him with two robes of heavenly brocade. To Eve God sent Michael, and he gave her the glad tidings of repentance and forgiveness and garbed her: She said, `Praise to God for his excellence and sanction.’ When she learned that her repentance had been accepted, she removed herself to the seashore and bathed herself and said, `Has not God accepted my repentance?”81 In another Mandaean document the heavenly messenger says, “I am the messenger of light, whom the Great One sent into this world. The true messenger (kustana) am I, in whom there is no falsehood, The true one (kustana), in whom there is no falsehood, in whom there is no imperfection or deficiency. I am the messenger of light. . . . Whoever repents, his soul shall not be cut off (from the light), and the lord will not cut him off (or: damn him).’ But the wicked ones, the liars, cut themselves off (from the light), for it was manifest to them, and they would not see, and they were called, and they would not listen or believe” (227-230).


Latter-day Saint scripture recounts how Adam was commanded by God to repent and be baptized.

And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. 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; 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.82

While the Bible gives no indication that Adam was ever baptized, other ancient Jewish, Christian and later Mandaean texts discuss his baptism. In some accounts Adam is baptized after death before he can enter paradise of heaven. In other accounts, as in the Latter-day Saint Book of Moses, Adam is baptized while in mortality. According to the early Syrian Father Ephraem, “In baptism Adam found again-that glory that was among the trees of Eden.-He went down, and received it out of the water;-he put it on, and went up and was adorned therein . . . Man fell in the midst of Paradise,-and in baptism compassion restored him . . . . They clothed themselves with leaves of necessity;-but the Merciful had pity on their beauty,-and instead of leaves of trees, -He clothed them with glory in the water”83 One interesting account can be found in the Canonical Prayerbook of the Mandaeans. In Mandaean teaching an Hibil-Ziwa, an uthra or angel was sent from God to teach Adam and baptize him. “This is the baptism wherewith Adam the first man was baptized by Hibil-Ziwa . . . . Any man who has strength thereto and who loveth his soul, let him come and go down into the jordan, be baptized, receive the pure sign, put on robes of radiant light and set a fresh wreath upon his head.’ And Adam descended into the jordan and submerged himself thrice.” When Adam came up out of the water the heavenly messnger took him by the right hand. “And he grasped his hand in kusta and seated him before him and recited the sealing prayers . . . . This is the limit) (end) of the baptism which came into this world, the (baptism) wherewith Hibil-Ziwa baptized Adam and first man and it was preserved in the ages for the elect righteous for it was written down in the scroll.”84 In Mandaean Book of Adam, called the Ginza an angel teaches Adam the way back to his heavenly home, “When he [Adam] heard this from him he was overjoyed. He himself had brought him hither and (now) he became his guide to the other world. He undressed him (and) clothed him with his garment, he escorted him, made him ascend, and set him up in the House of the Mighty (Life). He took him by the right hand and put him in charge of his own treasurers.”85

Adam and the Return Home

Among the Mandaeans the act of kushta (“truth”) was the exchange of right hands in a truthful oath and held great religious significance. In one of their books the heavenly beings state, “Consider the great sign which is called `the mighty kusta’…Any man who doth not recognize this sign and detracts from it’s noble distinction, alienates himself from us and we will not set him in our abode. But a man who hath recognized this, and who distinguisheth, knoweth, enquireth, and investigateth, and can tell the divine from trash…night from day, life from death, evil from good, sweet from bitter, and right from left, he hath discernment.”86 Both the Ginza, the Mandaean book of Adam and the Canonical Prayer-Book of the Mandaeans describes how, upon death, the soul, leaving behind her mortal body, will ascend to the heavenly world of Light from which she originally came. As she ascends through the heavenly spheres the soul must pass through a series of gates or “watch-houses” where the soul is detained and questioned and where the souls of the wicked and unprepared are punished. As it successfully passes each watch-house the soul dons a series of sacred vestments at each successful passage. “Garment on garment she putteth on, she arrayed herself in robe after robe . . . . She laugheth, rejoiceth, leapeth for joy, danceth, exulteth, and is overjoyed about the glorious splendor resting (upon her) and the glory that accrueth to her.”87 This text continues, “And on she went and reached Abathur’s house of detention, (Abathur), the Ancient, Lofty, Holy and Guarded one.” Abathur is a powerful angel who guards the entrance into paradise. “There his scales are set up and spirits and souls are questioned before him as to their names, their signs, their blessing, their baptism and everything that is therewith.”88 According to a Mandaean commentary, this portion of the liturgy refers to “the four ritual handclasps which Abatur seeks to exchange with the soul.”89 Each of these four are associated with separate ritual acts accompanied by a solemn oath, “The first Kusta is a precious kusta; it is the promise made at baptism . . . . The second kusta is a lofty kusta: it is the oath (taken at) coronation; no (earthly) king hath more majesty)! The third kusta is a loving one, it is the vow taken at espousal): there is no love like it. The fourth kusta is a powerful kusta for it traveleth to (the other) world. It came, it went, and it opened the door to the world. Every man who hath performed these kustas is thereby made perfect, he hath been put to the test by all the worlds and will rise upward and behold the Place of Light.”90 All this in Mandaean tradition was revealed to Adam by divine messengers sent from God to teach him. In the Ginza Manda Haiya tells how messengers were sent to Adam to reveal the proper way to worship.

When I installed Adam I appointed three uthras over him. I set myself at the head of the uthras whom I set over Adam and Eve. I stood before them and taught them wonderful hymns. I instructed them in the ritual books so that they might perform the masiqtas (after the manner) of the uthras. I taught them prayers so that they might be confirmed through the prayers of the Life. I said to them: `You are set up and confirmed in the place where the good are confirmed. Between the manas of light you shall be confirmed. I brought myself forward and instructed them, as a teacher does his pupils. I conversed with them and blessed them, and the blessing of the good ones shall rest upon them. Adam, his sons, and his generation shall behold the Place of Light.”91

In the book of Moses it says that through the ministry of God and angels, “all things were confirmed unto Adam by an holy ordinance” (Moses 5:58).

Latter-day revelation says, concerning Adam, that the Lord, established his feet, and set him upon high” (D&C 78:16). Early convert and pioneer Zebedee Coltrin described a vision he and others shared with the Prophet Joseph Smith in which they saw Adam and Eve exalted in heaven, “The heavens gradually opened, and they saw a golden throne, on a circular foundation, something like a light house, and on the throne were two ages personages, having white hair, and clothed in white garments. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind he ever saw. Joseph said, `They are our first parents, Adam and Eve.’ Adam was a broad-shouldered man, and Eve as a woman, was large in proportion.”92

The Colon Mani Codex, discovered in 1969, contains a series of previously unknown visions attributed to several of the early biblical patriarchs. The document quotes from a vision attributed to Adam in which an angel appears to Adam and leads causes him to ascend into heaven where he is exalted and glorified. Adam is told by the angel, “Therefore receive (and) write these things just as I reveal them to you on exceedingly clean papyrus which is unspoiled and which has not been harbored by worms.”93 Several scholars who have published studies of this codex believe that the name by which this angel identifies himself, Balsomas, may be based upon a Hebrew expression literally meaning “possessor of the (divine) Name,” making him the equivalent of the angel of the Lord in Exodus 23:20-23.94 This Adam text also says,

Moreover there were many other things which he revealed to him in the vision. Very great was the glory that surrounded him. He beheld […] angels an[d high offic]ials and mig[hty powers] … (5 lines lost) … Adam and was made superior to all the powers and angels of creation. Many other similar things to these are in his writings.95

In a recent study, John Reeves explains that the Adam text describes an “ascent experience” apparently facilitated by the angel in which Adam is taken up to the heavens where “a transformation of Adam’s human status is reported wherein he `was made superior to all the powers and angels,'” suggesting “a divine restoration to Adam of the position he enjoyed among the heavenly entities prior to his disobedience in the Garden.”96 Jarl Fossum has also published evidence from other Jewish texts for the idea “that Adam fell as a consequence of trying to become like God, but then repented and was raised by God and given the Divine Name.”97 This “hidden Name in Adam’s possession” was in these texts,”The Name possessed by the heavenly Man” and “is here represented as a cosmological power holding the universe together. . . . There can be no doubt that the `Hidden Name’ in Adam’s possession is . . . the Name peculiar to God which was generally kept secret.”98

In the Apocalypse of Paul, the apostle is shown and introduced to the prophets and saints who are in heaven, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, Jacob and his twelve sons, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Job, Noah, Elijah and Elisha, Zacharias and John the Baptist. Afterwards Paul says, “And I looked and saw another who surpassed them all, very beautiful. And I said to the angel: Who is this my lord? He said to me: This is Adam, the father of you all. When he came up to me, he greeted me with joy.”99 What is interesting is that the text describes Adam as surpassing the other prophets and saints in glory and beauty in his post-mortal state in heaven. The Wisdom of Solomon says that personified wisdom, “preserved the first formed father of the world [Adam], that was created alone, and brought him out of his fall, and gave him power to rule all things.”100 In the Life of Adam and Eve and the Book of the Rolls, God promises Adam that one day he will be restored to his former glory. On that day God says, “I will turn his sorrow into joy, Then he shall sit upon the throne of him who overthrew him.”101 The Book of the Rolls explains that before his fall, “Adam was king, priest, and prophet.”102 After his fall he is told, “Adam! Do not grieve, for I will restore thee to thine inheritance, out of which thy rebellion has brought thee.”103 That is, he will be restored as a king and a priest.

In the Testament of Abraham, the father of the faithful is taken before the gates of Paradise and Hell. There he sees two gates, a narrow one which leads to paradise and a broad gate which leads to the other place, “And outside the two gates of that place they saw a man seated on a golden throne. And the appearance of the man was terrifying, like, like the Master’s.” According to Abraham, whenever this glorious and enthroned figure saw men and women going through the broad gate he wept, but when he saw many other entering through the strait gate he rejoiced. In this text Abraham asked his angelic guide, “Who is this most wondrous man, who is adorned in such glory?” The angel informs Abraham, This is the first-formed Adam who is in such glory, and he looks at the world, since everyone has come from him.”104

In a recent study of the Testament of Abraham Phillip Munoa demonstrates that the enthroned figures of Abel and Adam portrayed in this text are influenced by the descriptions in Daniel chapter 7 and that Adam in the Testament of Abraham should be understood to represent the ancient of days, agreeing with Joseph Smith’s teaching that Adam was the “Ancient of Days” (D&C 27:11; 116:1). In this text we also see Adam not only glorified in his post-mortal state, but having a throne and sitting at the gate or entrance to Paradise. According to Heber C. Kimball, the Prophet spoke of a vision in which he saw Adam acting as a gate keeper at one of the heavenly gates. “He saw Adam open the gate of the Celestial City and admit the people one by one. He then saw Father Adam conduct them to the throne one by one, when they were crowned Kings and Priests of God.”105 According to Kimball,

He (Joseph) saw until they had accomplished their work, and arrived at the gate of the celestial city; there Father Adam stood and opened the gate to them, and as they entered he embraced them one by one and kissed them. He then led them to the throne of God, and then the Savior embraced each one of them and kissed them, and crowned each one of them in the presence of God. He saw that they all had beautiful heads of hair and all looked alike. The impression of the vision left on Brother Joseph’s mind was of so acute a nature, that he never could refrain from weeping while rehearsing it.106

Concluding Personal Reflections

Critics of Latter-day Saint Scripture and teachings have generally paid very little attention to the Book of Moses. Those who have condescended to comment on it have generally dismissed it as a shallow plagiarism of New Testament doctrines and themes if they do not ignore it altogether.107 Such dismissals show an unawareness on the part of these commentators of the often striking convergences between the Latter-day Saint scripture and the ancient world.108 Critics, skeptics and the disaffected have in my view greatly underestimated the revelations of Joseph Smith. Unfortunately, so have many members of the Church of Jesus Christ. I submit to you that the Latter-day revelations of ancient texts through the Prophet Joseph Smith are a treasure that we Latter-day Saints have yet to fully value and cherish. From the perspective of a believer we may survey the past as a series of dispensations. Each one gone before like a beautiful chandelier was once filled with wonderful light but is now broken and scattered. As we survey the past with its cycle of previous restorations and apostasies the careful observer may often detect broken pieces, imperfect, incomplete, but sometimes very beautiful in reflecting partial light and truth. Some may view those pieces as lucky coincidence or ignore them altogether, and they are certainly free to do so. Latter-day Saints may be justified in seeing such ancient convergences as reflecting, broken, but sometimes beautiful parts of a much larger and older story, now more fully illuminated by the Restoration.


1 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 167.

2 D&C 78:16

3 D&C 27:11; 116:1.

4 DHC 5:1-2.

5 Moses 3:5-7.

6 TPJS 157.

7 Brigham Young, JD 16:167; see also 3:319; and Heber C. Kimball in 10:235.

8 b.Sanh. 38a.

9 Genesis Rabba 8:7.

10 Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, 210.

11 Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 1:83.

12 James M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 212.

13 Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, 267.

14 PGM IV, 1170-1204, in Hans Dieter Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, *date*), 61.

15 PGM 1:195-219, in Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri , 8.

16 Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, 281.

17 Dexter E. Callender, Adam in Myth and History: Ancient Israelite Perspectives on the Primal Human (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2000), 141.

18 Callendar, Adam in Myth and History, 175.

19 Callender, Adam in Myth and History, 147. Citing Driver and Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job, 96.

20 Herbert G. May, “The King in the Garden of Eden.” In Israel’s Prophetic Heritage. Ed. B.W. Anderson and W. Harrelson (New York: Harper, 1962), 172-173.

21 Callender, Adam in Myth and History, 176.

22 Callender, Adam in Myth and History, 213.

23 Discourse on Abbaton, folio10b, in E. A. Wallis Budge, ed. And Translator, Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (London: Oxford University Press, 1914), 481. Here one is reminded of Enoch’s vision in the Latter-day Saints’ Book of Moses, “And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary because of the wickedness of my children, When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?” (Moses 7:48).

24 Discourse on Abbaton, folios 11b-12a, in Budge, Coptic Martyrdoms, 482.

25 W. Lowndes Lipscomb, The Armenian Apocryphal Adam Literature (University of Pennsylvania, 1990), 7.

26 Adam and Eve and the Incarnation, 4 (M5913), in Michael Stone, Armenian Apocrypha Relating to Adam and Eve (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 25.

27 Stone, Armenian Apocrypha Relating to Adam and Eve, 25.

28 “He well knows that if you eat thereof your eyes will be opened, and you will know how to create the world just as He.” Chronicles of Jerahmeel, 22:3, in M. Gaster, ed., The Chronicles of Jerahmeel; or, The Hebrew Bible Historiale (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1971), 47; “What he said, however, was that God ate of the tree and so built the world. `Therefore,’ he went on, `eat you of it and you shall create worlds.” Zohar, Genesis 36a, in Harry Sperling, ed., The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 134.

29 Discourse on Abbaton, folio 16b, in Budge, Coptic Martyrdoms, 485.

30 Gary A. Anderson and Michael Stone, ed., A Synopsis of the Books of Adam and Eve, second edition (Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1999), 65E.

31 Creation and Fall, 14, in Maire Herbert and Martin McNamara, Irush Biblical Apocrypha: Selected Texts in Translation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1989), 5.

32 Zohar 219b, in Sperling 4:248.

33 S. C. Malan, The Book of Adam and Eve, also called The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan (London: Williams and Northgate, 1882), 4. See also 5, 9, 22, 27, 42, 60.

34 The Penitence of Adam, 44:28, in Michael E. Stone, The Penitence of Adam (Lovanii: Aedibus E. Peters, 1981), 17.

35 2 Enoch 30:15, in James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1985), 1:152.

36 Apocalypse of Sedrach 8:1, in Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:611.

37 The Penance of Adam, 5, in Maire Herbert and Martin McNamara, eds., Irish Biblical Apocrypha: Selected Texts in Translation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1989), 9.

38 The History of the Repentance of Adam and Eve 27, in Lipscomb, The Armenian Apocryphal Adam Literature, 226.

39 The Life of Adam and Eve, 22, in Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha 2:266; Anderson and Stone, A Synopsis of the Books of Adam and Eve, 21E.

40 Malan, 57.

41 Malan, 11, 20, 47-50.

42 Malan, 90-91.

43 Anderson and Stone, A Synopsis of the Books of Adam and Eve, 23E-24E.

44 “Concerning the Good Tidings of Seth 1, in Lipscomb, The Armeinian Apocryphal Adam Literature, 276.

45 Anderson and Stone, A Synopsis of the Books of Adam and Eve, 27E-28E.

46 Book of John, 573-20, in Robert Haardt, Gnosis: Character and Testimony, J. F. Hendry translator (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 381.

47 Malan, 67-68.

48 Malan, 30.

49 The Penitence of Adam 17, in Michael E. Stone, ed., The Penitence of Adam, 5.

50 Malan, 28.

51. Malan, 28-29.

52 James M. Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library. Revised edition (San Francisco: harper &Row, 1988), 279-280.

53 Werner Foerster, Gnosis: A Selection of Gnostic Texts, McL. Wilson translator (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 136.

54 Foerster, Gnosis, 137.

55 Wilford Woodruff Journal, October 18, 1840, in Scott, Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983): 1:532.

56 “While I was praying, the door opened, and three messengers enterred and the room was filled with light equal to the blazing light of the sun at mid-day. Those messengers were all dressed in the robes of immortal beings. Who they were I know not. They laid hands upon me and my companion, and rebuked those evil powers, and we were saved. From that hour to this day, not only our lives were saved, but those powers were rebuked by the angels of God so that no Elder since has been tormented with them in London.” Wilford Woodruff, 5 October 1896, in Collected Discourse .5:199.

57 “Brother Smith and myself would have been killed, apparently, had not three holy messengers come into the room and filled the room with light. They were dressed in temple clothing. They laid their hands upon our heads and we were delivered, and that power was broken, so far as we were concerned.” Wilford Woodruff, 3 March 1889, in Collected Discourses 1:218.

58 “While praying, the door opened, the room was filled with light, and three messengers came in. Who they were I know not. They came and laid their hands upon us, and rebuked those powers, and thereby saved our lives.” Wilford Woodruff, 19 October 1896, in C.D.5:236.

59 Malan, 31-33.

60 Malan 84-87.

61 C.R.C. Allberry, A Manichaean Psalm-Book: Part II, 197.

62 Allberry, A Manichaean Psalm-Book, 198

63 Allberry, A Manichaean Psalm-Book, 198.

64 Allberry, A Minichaean Psalm-Book, 199.

65 Allberry, A Manichaean Psalm-Book, 202.

66 Malan, 6.

67 Malan, 17.

68 Hans-Joachim Klimkeit, Gnosis on the Silk Road: Gnostic Texts from Central Asia (Harper: 1993), 39.

69 Jubilees 3:27, in Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2:60.

70 Judah Goldin, translator, The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan (New York: Schocken, 1974), 14-15.

71 Malan, 23.

72 Malan 24-25.

73 Malan 81-82.

74 Malan, 92-94. 105.

75 Life of Adam and Eve, 6-9, in Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2:260.

76 Malan, 36, 87.

77 W. M. Thackston, Jr., editor and Translator, The Tales of the Prophets of al-Kisa’i (Boston: G.K. Hall & Company, 1978), 59.

78 Thackson, The Tales of the Prophets of al-Kisa’i, 60.

79 Thackson, The Tales of the Prophets of al-Kisa’i, 60.

80 Thackson, The Tales of the Prophets of al-Kisa’i, 60.

81 Thackson, The Tales of the Prophets of al-Kisa’i, 61.

82 Moses 6:64-68.

83 Ephraem of Syria, Hymns for the Feast of the Epiphany 12:1, 4, in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 13:282.

84 E. S. Drower, The Canonical Prayerbook of the Mansaeans (Leiden: Brill, 1959), 28-32.

85 Left Ginza 18, in Foerster, Gnosis, 201-202.

86 E. S. Drower, The Thousand and Twelve Questions (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1960), 254.

87 Drower, Canonical Prayerbook of the Mandaeans, 44.

88 Drower, Canonical Prayerbook of the Mandaeans, 45.

89 E. S. Drower, A Pair of Nasoraean Commentaries (Leiden: Brill, 1963), 35.

90 Drower, The Thousand and Twelve Questions, 255-256.

91 Foerster, Gnosis, 197-198.

92 Salt Lake School of the Prophets Minute Book 1883 (Palm Desert, California: ULC Press, 1981), 45.

93 John C. Reeves, Heralds of that Good Realm: Syro-Mesopotamian Gnosis and Jewish Traditions (Leiden, New York, Koln: Brill, 1996), 67.

94 Reeves, Heralds of that Good Realm, 71.

95 Reeves, Heralds of that Good Realm, 67.

96 Reeves, Herald of that Good Realm, 75.

97 Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, 296-297.

98 Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord, 285.

99 The Apocalypse of Paul, 51, in Edgard Hennecke, and Wilhelm Schneemelcher, eds., New Testament Apocrypha (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1965), 2:795.

100 Wisdom of Solomon 10:1-2.

101 Life of Adam and Eve, 47 in Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2:290.

102 Margaret Dunlop Gibson, editor and Translator, Apocrypha Arabica (London: C. J. Clay and Sons, 1901), 8.

103 Gibson, Apocrypha Arabica, 10.

104 Testament of Abraham 11:1-10, in Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:888.

105 Heber C. Kimball, 17 March 1861, in J.D.9:41.

106 Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888), 106.

107 See for example, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Flaws in the Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1991).

108 For two examples see Hugh Nibley, Enoch the Prophet (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1986); E. Douglas Clark, “A Prologue to Genesis: Moses 1 in Light of Jewish Traditions,” BYU Studies 45/1 (2006): 129-142.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *