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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Dialogue: Vol 21 No 4
A Mormon Midrash?: LDS Creation Narratives Reconsidered
ARTICLES AND ESSAYS A Mormon Midrash? LDS Creation Narratives Reconsidered Anthony A. Hutchinson Latter-day Saints, with other groups in the Judeo-Christian tradition, accept as scripture the stories of creation found in Genesis 1-3 but are unique in accepting as scripture three other parallel versions of the same stories. These include chapters in the books of Moses and Abraham brought forth by Joseph Smith, Jr. Both of these works are currently published as separate parts of the Pearl of Great Price, the fourth of the Latter-day Saints' canonical works. Yet the book of Moses itself is only an edition of one part of a larger separate work, the Joseph Smith revision of the King James Version of the Bible (JST), which is accepted as quasi-canonical in the LDS Church but as scripture in the RLDS Church. The book of Abraham was produced between 1835 and 1840 as a separate effort and was published by Smith in 1842.1 In addition, the LDS Church accepts a fourth version of this material in its temple ceremony, which is not officially published or publicly recognized. Traditional Mormon belief sees these three texts — Moses/JST, Abraham, and the temple ceremony — ANTHONY A. HUTCHINSON is currently a U.S. foreign service officer living in the Far East, has an M.A. in classics from Brigham Young University, and is still trying to finish a doctoral dissertation in biblical studies at the Catholic University of America. He thanks David Wright, Lester Bush, Alexander DiLella, O.F.M., Lavina Fielding Anderson, and John Kselman, S.S., for editorial and substantive assistance, and Louis Midgley for vigorous criticism, in the preparation of this article. 1 These books are normally referred to in LDS writings as "The Book of Moses," "The Book of Abraham," and "The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST)." Though I follow here standard LDS usage in identifying the first two of these by "Moses" and "Abraham," I do so without intending thereby to suggest any connection between these books and various ancient texts similarly named. A more precise terminology would be "Joseph Smith Abraham" and "Joseph Smith Moses." I will also use "JST" here, although this usage has only recently been popularized by R. J. Matthews (1975, 12—13). I am reluctant to use this designation since Matthews' primary reason for using it is somewhat problematic: he identifies Smith's reworking of the King James Version (hereafter KJV) as a "translation" only because Joseph himself thus identified it. I feel this is misleading, since Smith himself used the term "translation" in ways very distinct from its normal modern usage (see Hutchinson 1985). A more precise terminology would be "JSR," i.e., Joseph Smith Revision (of the KJV).