Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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Treasures in the Heavens / Si on the map he found Mary! What tireless comings and goings and what constant concern with being in one place or another fill the pages of the Gospels! If we are not to think in terms of real time and place, why this persistent use of familiar words that suggest nothing else? Scholars have pointed out that it is impossible to take such formulaic expressions as "to visit the earth" and "he went and preached" (referring to the descensus) in any but the most literal sense.68 The insistence of our sources on depicting the hereafter in terms of "places" (topoi, the ma'man of the Dead Sea Scrolls) is a constant reminder that "heaven is not only a state but a place."69 True, it is so far away that our Sun "and all the world of men" look like nothing but a tiny speck of dust, "because of the vast distance at which it is removed"; but for all that it is still the same universe, and all made of the same basic materials.70 This preoccupation with locus assumes a plurality of worlds, and indeed in our "treasure" texts we often find "worlds," "earths," and "kosmoses" in the plural.71 It is only the Fallen Angels, in fact, led by the blind Samael, who insist: "We are alone and there is none beside us!"72 To the Sons of Light, on the other hand, there is opened up the grandiose vision of the "worlds" united in the common knowledge of Him who made them, exchanging joyful and affectionate messages as they "keep faith with one another" in the common Plan and "talk to each other . . . and establish concord, each contributing something of its own" to the common interest.73 The members of the vast complex are kept in perfect accord by the sustaining Word of God which reaches all alike, since it possesses "through the power of the Treasure" the capacity for traveling for unlimited distances with inexpressible speed.74 This Word is also the Son, who "has betaken himself to the numberless hidden worlds which have come to know him."75 The messages may also be borne by special messengers and inspectors, angels with special assignments and marvelous powers of getting around, who constantly go forth on their missions and return with their reports.76 With all its perfect unity and harmony, the system presents a scene not of monotonous uniformity but rather of endless and delightful variety: ". . . they are all different from each other, and He has not made one of them superfluous; hence each one has good things to exchange with its neighbors."77 At a new creation there is a reshuffling of elements, like the rearranging of notes in the musical scale to make a new composition;78 it is even suggested, as we have noted, that old worlds may be dismantled to supply stuff for the making of newer and better ones.79 Beginning with the very old Egyptian idea, recently examined by E. A. E. Reymond, that the creation of the world was really a re-creation by "transforming substances" that had already been used in the creation of other worlds,80 the Jewish and Christian apocryphal writers envisage a process by which the stuff of worlds is alternately organized into new stars and planets and when these have served their time, scrapped, decontaminated, and re-used in yet more new worlds. This "Urstoff" which is being constantly re-cycled is the Tohuwabohu of some Jewish teachers, according to Weiss, who saw the ultimate forms of matter in fire and ice.81 Likewise, according to the same authority, the world-holocaust of the Stoics was merely a necessary preparation for the making of new worlds from old materials.82 The whole thrust of Weiss' book is that until the early Christian Apologists we find no trace anywhere of a doctrine of