Doctrines of the Book of Abraham

In our Institute class last night we began to study the Book of Abraham. The instructor covered the origins of the book in short order. None of the students had any questions about the papyri or the mummies or the translation process or the discovery of the fragments. Neither did I as I have written about this previously. The Book of Abraham contains much unique LDS doctrine.

Note the facsimile above. It is a print from a woodcut that Joseph asked an early member of the church to make. It has accompanied the Book of Abraham each time it has been printed. It is simply fascinating and depicts Abraham being sacrificed on the altar by the priest of the Pharaoh. He was saved by the angel.

Even though Abraham was in Chaldea, many miles away, the government and religion of Egypt were dominant in the civilized world at that time, about 2000 B.C. The world had been inundated by the flood some 400 years earlier so there were not a lot of people on the earth. One of the descendants of Ham, one of the sons of Noah, settled Egypt. The name Egypt signifies that which is forbidden. So the line of Cain had been preserved through Egyptus, the wife of Ham.

The early heavens were different

I have been anxious to reread the Book of Abraham so although we only covered chapter one last night, I moved ahead in my readings through chapters two and three. I stopped excitedly on chapter three, verse five because I read this in a different light than I have ever done before. First let me share the verse and then I will share why I was so excited when I read it. The exciting part for me has to do with what I learned as I recently reread the works of Anthony Larson.
And the Lord said unto me: The planet which is the lesser light, lesser than that which is to rule the day, even the night, is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years. (Abraham 3:5)
This is the Lord talking to Abraham. What is the planet which is referred to in this verse? What does He mean, "the lesser light?" Is he referring to some far-away planet or star? We can surmise that the greater light is the sun, but I believe the lesser light refers to a mini-star that used to reside above the Earth, roughly in the region of the North Pole. It was very close to the Earth and took up a large portion of the sky. "It standeth above the earth." That is very clear.

The cause of the great flood

This is fascinating stuff. What would have been the effects of having a large planet or mini-star standing above the earth? Were they somehow joined by some sort of electromagnetic pull or attraction? Did the larger planet revolve more slowly, perhaps according to the Lord's time? We know that a day with the Lord is a thousand years with man. Perhaps that can help explain why men lived so many hundreds of years back in the early days in the time of the patriarchs.

I wonder also if the planet was at one time very close - so close that the water of the earth was pulled up towards the north pole. Wouldn't that be a logical explanation for the cause of the great flood if the planet moved off to stand further away from the earth? All the water that was in the Northern regions of the earth would have come down and deluged civilization. The end result would be that the waters of the earth would be more like they are today.

And where did the city of Enoch go? Isn't it possible that when the Lord says he took it unto his bosom that he raised up a large portion of the earth and that it was also hovering about the earth for a little while? That would explain why the inhabitants of the earth tried to build the tower of Babel. They wanted to get to the city of Enoch that was just out of reach in the heavens. We read about that in Moses chapter seven in our institute class a few weeks ago. Fascinating stuff!

The works of Anthony Larson

The only person I have ever read that understands this is Anthony Larson. Perhaps you have heard of his books, the Prophecy trilogy. The Internet is an amazing thing. We can get to know people that we would never have been able to meet otherwise. I mentioned Anthony's books in a post back in January. He responded to my post and we began an email dialog that has been most rewarding. If you have not read the works of Anthony Larson, I highly recommend them.

I admit that the stuff I am proposing is not standard orthodox LDS teachings. As far as I know, my interpretation of Abraham 3:5 is not taught in seminary or institute classes. There is no way to prove these ideas but they make so much sense to me. I guess we may have to wait until the Lord chooses to reveal all things someday before we will know if it just might have been this way. I am indebted to Anthony Larson for proposing it, but I accept it as being what happened.

You can read more about Anthony and his amazing interpretations of the scriptures on his website. He offers free email newsletters and has a wealth of information that he is willing to share with anyone who is interested. He is no crackpot. I have read the majority of his stuff and find him to be completely rational and highly intelligent. I consider him a man ahead of his time. I believe we will see the day when his theories are proven correct and fully justified.

Summary and conclusion

What does any of this have to do with our salvation? Is knowing and understanding what is contained in the Pearl of Great Price critical to our happiness? You've got to admit that the contents of the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham are not understood or appreciated by any other church. They do not know of it or accept it if they do. Nevertheless, the doctrines in these scriptures are fundamental to our theology that adds so much to our lives.

I submit that the material found in the Pearl of Great Price is also not understood by the majority of the members of the LDS Church. There are some fundamental doctrines there that are found nowhere else in our scriptures. Most notably, the idea of the pre-earth life or our premortal existence and a more complete understanding of the creation of the world and the fall of Adam than what is found in the Bible. I for one am so grateful for additional revelation!


Jared said…
Tim--thanks for posting this material with the links. It's been years since I've paid attention to this subject. This makes me want to revisit the subject and the material I've collected and put in storage boxes.
Jared said…
Tim-remember Shoemake-Levy hitting Jupiter. NEO (near earth objects) and those objects that were once part of this earth are subjects explored in our doctrine, and apparently will be part of our future.

"On 1994 July 16-22, over twenty fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the planet Jupiter. The comet, discovered the previous year by astronomers Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy, was observed by astronomers at hundreds of observatories around the world as it crashed into Jupiter's southern hemisphere".
Bryce Haymond said…
Could not the "lesser light" be the moon? (cf. Moses 2:16)
Tim Malone said…

I'm glad you asked the question about the lesser light being the moon. I thought about including my comments here in the original post but didn't want to lengthen it out any more than it already was. Moses 2:16 seems to clearly indicate that the lesser light was identified as the moon, doesn't it?

I have always wondered what was the source of light referred to in the first day of creation when the sun and moon were not organized or placed in their orbits until the fourth day. "And God said: Let there be light; and there was light (Moses 2:3).

The moon does not emit light. It is not a source of light. It only reflects light. The moon could not have been the light that existed on day one of the creation. What was the source of that light? Could it have been a close-by miniature star?

Hugh Nibley referred to the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, which describes the "creation" of the primordial light in a somewhat fuller version than does the Book of Genesis. See chapter 25 for example.

The ancient Egyptians referred to Ra as the "Sun of Day" and Temu as the "Sun of Night." The Babylonians also held that there was a day-sun and a night-sun. I wonder why the Lord uses the phrase, "The evening and the morning were the first day." Why does the day seem to start in the evening? Why does the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) start on the evening of the day before?

There is a theory explored in Dave Talbot's The Saturn Myth which proposes that Saturn (Saturday) was once a dark star that went through a fissioning process, emitting light of a blue hue that was less bright than the sun but much brighter than the moon. It is also theorized that it went dark again put remained centrally poised about the North pole of the earth. He believes that Saturn is a failed star that has moved away.

Yes, I know this stuff is way out there. Joseph once taught that the sign of the coming of the Son of Man would be a planet overtaking the earth and positioning itself in a stationary location over the North Pole. Could that be the planet Saturn knocked out of it's orbit and returning to where it once was?

Parley P. Pratt believed that the Earth was once much larger and was comprised of many parts that have been broken off but that will return in the last days. He taught that the phrase "There shall be a new Heaven and a New Earth" could be interpreted to mean the heavens and earth of the last days will look just as they did when they were created.

"We believe that the earth will be renewed and receive it's paradisaical glory." That glory will include being enlarged to it's former size and receiving the presence of that source of light that was referred to as existing before the sun and the moon were created.

Joseph also shared with his bodyguard, Philo Dibble, a drawing that showed two spheres in close proximity to the earth and perfectly aligned at an angle. One was a portion of the Earth that had been broken off and contained the City of Enoch. Another portion broken off contained the Ten Tribes. But all of these things were beyond the scope of this essay which is why I didn't include them.

As I often conclude my essays when I write about this theoretical stuff, "is this important to our salvation?" No. Is it a central part of our doctrine? Of course not. It is fascinating to consider but there are so many other things we can be studying that will help us prepare for the return of the Lord to the Earth. It's just something that comes to my mind as I read in Abraham about the creation and when I attend the temple and ponder things there.

As always, thanks for stopping by and for your question about the lesser light being the moon. You may be right. After all, it does say that in Moses, doesn't it? I just like to think of it as the source of the light from the first day of creation. I'm one of the few people I know who thinks this way, two of the others being Anthony Larson and Dave Talbott.
Bryce Haymond said…
Thank you for your response. It is a very interesting theory.
Tim Malone said…
In case anyone is interested, I'll add two more points. Brigham Young said in JD 17:143 - "When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, it was near the throne of our Father in heaven. And when man fell...the earth fell into space, and took up its abode in this planetary system, and the sun became our light. ... This is the glory the earth came from."

My understanding of Brigham's statement is that there was another source of light besides our current sun. However, Brigham's statement adds another mystery. What was the Throne of our Heavenly Father to which he refers? Why are the Saturn stones on the Salt Lake temple placed above the Sun stones in the 1854 architectural drawings? And what is their relationship to Kolob as found in facsimile number two?

Just asking...
I am so glad to have found this because this is exactly the way I have always believed it to happen but never had evidence, Thank you so much for this!

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