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Joseph Smith the Translator

 


by Sean Hahn

The average Mormon is probably unaware of the beliefs held by Joseph Smith regarding the nature of God and the creation account, as well as the hermeneutical weaknesses that underlie his position. A Christian apologist who is aware of these weaknesses and capable of demonstrating them succinctly, is in a better position to undermine the misplaced confidence of the Mormon in Joseph Smith and his teachings. The reader of this paper will understand the hermeneutical weaknesses of Joseph Smith particularly relating to who God is, and how creation occurred.

Our purposes will be accomplished by first demonstrating that Joseph Smith had a limited formal education as well as an insignificant amount of Biblical instruction and religious influence from his parents. Second, we shall review and comment on the claims by Joseph Smith and other Mormons regarding his "most unique and thorough education in spiritual matters ever given to man. . ."[1] Our third objective is to expose the weaknesses in his later efforts to engage in detailed Biblical hermeneutics[2] by examining his exegesis of Genesis 1:1.

HIS EARLY EDUCATION

An ironic feature of the personal history of Joseph Smith has to do with his early education. He was not able to obtain a formal education during the early nineteenth century due to the impoverished facilities of the New England educational system. Furthermore, his educational deficiency was compounded by the insufficient financial and economic circumstances of his parents.[3]  Several well known and respected Mormon leaders frequently characterized Joseph Smith as an "illiterate and unlearned boy."[4]  Others state that he "was scarcely in possession of an ordinary common school education."[5]  George A. Smith, a cousin of Joseph Smith, spoke of him as "a ploughboy, . . one who cultivated the earth, and had scarcely education enough to read his Bible."[6]  Joseph Smith made no attempt to hide his meager education and asserted in one of his revelations that the Lord preferred "the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations."[7]  A further irony is that Joseph Smith and his followers used the fact of his limited education to enhance his credibilities as a prophet. To prove his authenticity, Mormons will remark, "Considering that Joseph Smith was an unlearned youth, possessing the equivalent of only a fifth grade education, the only possible way he could have written the Book of Mormon and organized such an important church is by the inspiration of the Spirit of God?"

Fawn Brodie indicates in her biography of the "prophet" that the lack of academic endeavor on the part of Joseph Smith was similarly used to justify a lack of education on the part of his followers. For instance, "My source of learning," W.W. Phelps had written in the Messenger and Advocate, "and my manner of life, from my youth up, will exclude me from the fashionable pleasure of staining my communications, with the fancy colors of a freshman of Dartmouth, a sophomore of Harvard, or even a graduate of Yale; nothing but the clear stream of truth will answer the purpose of the men of God." The followers of Joseph Smith perceived him as the source of all wisdom often proclaiming, "Spring water tastes best right from the fountain."[8]  Anti-intellectualism was apparently accepted and promoted among Mormons as Joseph Smith encouraged his followers, "The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching."[9]

In addition to his meager secular education Joseph Smith also received an insignificant amount of Biblical instruction from his parents. Joseph and Lucy Smith, the parents of the "prophet," did not commit themselves to any denomination or profess real interest in a particular church during their twenty years together in New England. Religion for Lucy Smith was a highly personal experience separate from the accountability and discipline of church membership.[10]  Considering the contempt his parents felt towards the church, Fawn Brodie suggests in her biography of the "prophet," that the children of Joseph and Lucy Smith probably never learned to fear God.[11]  Therefore, the Biblical instruction Joseph Smith received did not come from his parents or any formal education, but rather as Dr. Andrus, Professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, declared Joseph Smith continued to be taught from his youth until his death from on high.[12]  Dr. Andrus goes on to say, "Therein he received the most unique and thorough education in spiritual matters ever given to man, with the exception of that which the Son of God received while in mortality."[13]

HIS SUBJECTIVE TRUTH SOURCES

Throughout the course of his life Joseph Smith claims he received repeated divine instructions from the visitation of angels,[14] Jesus Christ, and even God the Father.[15]  Moreover, he claims that many ancient apostles and prophets made their appearances communicating Gospel principles and instructions to him including Moses, Elias, Elijah,[16] John the Baptist, Peter, James, John[17]and even Adam.[18]  Obtaining this celestial knowledge and instruction, according to Joseph Smith, was superior to reading and comprehending all that was written from the days of Adam.[19]  He proclaimed, "Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was written on the subject."[20]  Former Mormon President D.H. Wells commented on the remarkable insight of Joseph Smith.

"It seemed to me that he advanced principles that neither he nor any other man could have obtained except from the source of all wisdom - the Lord Himself. I soon discovered that he was not what the world termed a well-read or an educated man; then where could he have got this knowledge and understanding, that so far surpassed all I had ever witnessed, unless it had come from Heaven?[21]

The highest source of truth for Joseph Smith was the subjective and personal experiences he allegedly encountered during his life. It seems that for Joseph Smith and others of this persuasion that "truth was received through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, personal illumination, or other purely subjective means. This line of thinking borders on mysticism and forces all truth into the realm of pure subjectivity, even to the point of absurdity or dementia. The inherent difficulty with this type of reasoning is the experience of one person is as valid as the experience of another and objective truth becomes practically superfluous."[22]  These "mystical experiences are self-authenticating and not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Since they do not arise from or depend on any rational process, they are invulnerable to any refutation by rational means."[23]  Moreover, this kind of thinking is antithetical to the clear and consistent teaching of the Bible.  "God is the originator of all truth and is the original Truth."[24]  Jesus proclaimed that He is the Truth[25] and that His word is truth,[26] therefore, "His word must be the standard by which we judge all things and the starting point of our thinking rather than seeking subjective experiences."[27]

HIS LATER ACADEMIC ENDEAVOR

In spite of his limited formal academic endeavor, Joseph Smith eventually developed a yearning for education later in his life. In March of 1833, Joseph Smith organized a School of the Prophets in Ohio for the instruction of his elders. Therein, the main emphasis of study, as indicated by Fawn Brodie, was his own revelations rather than a school of academic study.[28]  Louis Zucker, Professor Emeritus of English and Lecturer in Hebrew at the University of Utah has long been interested in Mormon-Jewish relations explains, "The next year, Joseph [Smith] was studying English grammar . . . and was teaching it at the school." He further explains, "In November of 1835, the Mormon high Elders were determined to study Hebrew in the coming months and while selecting a Hebrew teacher, the Mormons acquired several Hebrew books including a Hebrew Bible, Lexicon and Grammar."[29]  After locating a Hebrew instructor named Joshua Seixas, Joseph Smith spent the next two months anticipating his arrival and studying Hebrew. He began to show an increased interest in Hebrew during these two months as recorded in his journal,

"This day we commenced reading in our Hebrew Bibles with much success. It seems as if the Lord opens our minds in a marvelous manner, to understand His word in the original language; and my prayer is that God will speedily endow us with a knowledge of all languages and tongues. . ."[30]

 

On January sixth, 1836, the School of the Prophets was enlarged to include classes in Hebrew with the employment of Professor Joshua Seixas. His term of ten weeks included teaching approximately seventy Mormon students for two hours a day and five days a week. Professor Lewis Zucker states that, "Professor Seixas was undoubtedly well pleased with him as a Hebrew student and after his teaching term ended, Hebrew was never taught again to the Mormons in Kirkland."[31]  Commenting on the way in which Joseph Smith utilized his knowledge of Hebrew, Professor Lewis Zucker writes, "He used the Hebrew as he chose, as an artist, inside his frame of reference, in accordance with his taste, according to the effect he wanted to produce, as a fountain for theological innovations."[32]

Despite attempts by Joseph Smith to acquire academic knowledge late in his life these endeavors nevertheless appear to be ineffectual if one considers a close examination of his interpretation of Genesis 1:1. Rather than employ the legitimate insight yielded by a study of Hebrew grammar, Joseph Smith forces his own assumptions and presuppositions onto the text of Scripture. Thus Smith denies the clear and concise statements made in Genesis 1:1 regarding the identity of the Creator, and the origin of the world. He presented his ideas in a sermon entitled the King Follett Funeral Discourse, preached at the April conference of 1844, only a few months prior to his death. Approximately twenty thousand Mormons listened intently to the founding "prophet" expound upon and clarify the doctrines concerning the nature of God and the creation of the world.

God an Exalted Man

I will go back to the beginning, before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the design of God in relation to the human race, and why he interfaces with the affairs of man.

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,--I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form -- like yourselves in all the person, image and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.

These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.[33]

Meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures

I shall comment of the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment of the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible--Berosheit. I want to analyze the word. Baith--in, by, through and everything else. Rosh-- the head. Sheit--grammatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there. An old Jew without any authority added the word; he thought it too bad to begin to talk about the head! It read first, ‘The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods.’ That is the true meaning of the words. Baurau signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council. . . .

A Council of the Gods

. . . Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost; they account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and He is within me, and comprehends more than all the world: and I will associate myself with Him.

 

Meaning of the Word Create

You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing; and they will answer, ‘Doesn’t the Bible say He created the world?’ And they will infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now the word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship.[34] Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos - chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end. . . .[35]

Scriptural Interpretation

. . . I will show from the Hebrew Bible that I am correct, and the first word shows a plurality of Gods; and I want the apostates and learned men to come here and prove to the contrary, if they can. An un-learned boy must give you a little Hebrew. Berosheit baurau Eloheim ait aushamayeen vehau auraits, rendered by King James’ translators, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ I want to analyze the word Berosheit. Rosh, the head; Sheit, a grammatical termination; The Baith was not originally put there when the inspired man wrote it, but it has been since added by an old Jew. Baurau signifies to bring forth; Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God, in the singular number; and by adding the word heim, it renders it Gods. It read first, ‘In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods,’ or, as others have translated it, ‘The head of the Gods called the Gods together’.

In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through - Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, its sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods. All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth.

Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God and I say that is a strange God anyhow - three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. . . All are crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God - he would be a giant or a monster. . . .[36]

For the remainder of our discussion we will cross-examine and respond to only two assertions of Joseph Smith in his King Follett Funeral Discourse: 1) He denies the Christian doctrine that God created the world out of nothing, ex nihilo, and states that God merely organized the world from chaotic matter which has co-existed with Him from the beginning; and 2) Joseph Smith protests the Christian doctrine of monotheism, declaring that there exists a plurality of Gods, and further states that God was once a man. His assertions result partly from his understanding of the Hebrew grammar in Genesis 1:1 and also from his own presumptions. It is important to understand that his statements are very significant and fundamental to Mormon doctrine. A Christian apologist capable of exposing the amateurish and uncritical attempts made by Joseph Smith to exegete Genesis 1:1 will be able to challenge the unwarranted trust Mormons place in him as a true "prophet" of God.

"The interpretation given to [Genesis 1:1] rests on the traditional reading of tyviareB. (bere’shith) in the absolute: ‘In the beginning.’"[37] Joseph Smith translates the opening phrase in Genesis 1:1 as a construct[38] which subordinates verse one to verses two and three: When God set about to create the heavens and the earth, the world being then a formless waste . . . God said, "Let there be light." "The implication of reading the phrase as a construct is that verse one would then be a circumstantial clause and would no longer carry the traditional sense of "creation from nothing" (creatio ex nihilo)."[39]  This reading of the text presupposes that the earth preexisted in some unmaterial form or indigested mass prior to God performing the first act of creation. Therefore, according to this view, the first act of creation would be the command in verse three, "Let there be light." Those who defend this position argue that the absence of the article with tyviare (re’shith, "beginning") in verse one means that tyviareB. (bere’shith) cannot be read as an absolute ("in the beginning"); therefore, they conclude it must be read as a construct ("in beginning").

"In defense of the traditional view (that bere’shith is in the absolute), it can be said that re’shith, along with several other adverbials, does occur in the absolute without an article (e.g., Isa. 46:10; cf. Konig, Syntax, par. 294g). Thus the argument that the article must be with bere’shith for it to be absolute does not hold in every case."[40]  One reason for taking bere’shith in the absolute is that such would agree with the Septuagint which also translates the phrase jEn ajrch/' ("In the beginning . . .") in the absolute. Moreover, "In the beginning God . . ." affirms unequivocally the truth laid down throughout the whole of Scripture (e.g., John 1:1-3; Romans 4:17, Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2, 11:3; Psalms 33: 6,9; Amos 4:13; Isaiah 44:24 etc.)[41] that until God spoke, nothing existed.[42]  The idea that God used preexisting material to form the universe not only denies absolute creation but is entirely contrary to Biblical teaching.

Joseph Smith, however, is correct in stating that ~yhil{a/ (’Elohim) is plural, meaning literally "gods." The name’Elohim is based upon the singular and simpler form of the word God, lae (’El). This is the generic name or designation for God in the Old Testament; that is, it functions in language as our generic term ‘God’. ’El is often used almost interchangeably with the plural for ’Elohim (Cf. Ex 34:14; Ps. 18:31; Deut. 32:17, 21). This Hebrew plural form of God, indicated by the im ending, and is used over 2000 times in the Old Testament. The im ending found in Genesis 1:1 does not express a plurality of Gods as maintained by Joseph Smith. "The religion of the Old Testament and Judaism is monotheistic. . ."[43]  The ‘im’ ending in Hebrew functions as the indication of the ‘superlative idea;’ to be understood as the ‘plural of intensity’ or ‘plural of majesty.’ The equivalent in English is the ‘est’ ending on adjectives; i.e. great/greatest or high/highest. When the im ending is used in reference to God ’El, it serves to indicate His transcendence and superiority over all other (so-called) gods. "God is the God who really, and in the fullest sense of the word, is God."[44]

"God alone created the heavens and the earth. The sense of Genesis 1:1 is similar to the message in the Book of Jeremiah that Israel was to carry to all the nations: ‘Tell them this,’ Jeremiah said. ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens’ (Jeremiah 10:11). The statement in Genesis 1:1 is an affirmation that God alone is eternal and that all else owes its origin and existence to Him."[45]  "The work recorded in chapter one in a very outstanding way sets forth God’s mighty works of power and majesty. God’s omnipotence outshines all other attributes in this account."[46]

The use of the name Elohim in Genesis 1 clearly has reference to the True God who has power over, and is other than, the created order. This sovereignty is also alluded to in the ‘-im’ ending to this name for God. Much as a modern monarch might set forth his decrees with statements like, ‘We determine. . .’ or ‘It is our pleasure to announce. . .’ using the plural, not to indicate that his decisions are made by a committee, but that he, the sovereign, the majesty, has made them, so likewise this plural in Genesis 1:1 should be understood as indicating, not a plurality of gods as taught by Joseph Smith, but the Sovereign, Majestic and only true God." His interpretation of ’Elohim carelessly contradicts the consistent "monotheistic" testimony found throughout Scripture (i.e. Deut. 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6-8, 45:5-6, 45:22; Psalm 96:5, etc.).

Likewise, his understanding that God was once a man rests upon his incorrect interpretation of ‘Elohim and an improper inference of man being made in the image and likeness of God in Genesis 1:26. Joseph Smith infers from the true premise that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God, to his conclusion that therefore, God must exist in the image and form of a man. Commenting on Genesis 1:26 and man as the crown of creation, H.C. Leupold states,

". . . [this verse] sets forth the picture of a being that stands on a very high level, a creature of singular nobility and endowed with phenomenal powers and attributes, not a type of being that by its brute imperfections is seem to be on the same level with the animal world, but a being that towers high above all other creatures, their king and their crown."[47]

 

The phrase "image and likeness" aims to assert that man is to be closely patterned after his Maker. However, we cannot go to the extreme and assume that man has physical similarities to God. Since the being of God is an incorporeal spirit (John 4:24), and not contained by a physical body (Jeremiah 23:23-24), it would be incorrect to say that the body of man is patterned after the body of God. What may be correctly inferred from the phrase "image and likeness" are the qualities and characteristics that pre-fallen man received from God which separated him from the rest of His creation.  Such qualities would include: holiness, moral righteousness, obedience to reason, perfect intelligence, immortality of the soul, self consciousness, freedom of the will, correct use of moral capacities and dominion over the earth.  Moreover, the interpretation offered by Joseph Smith contradicts passages where Paul says that we (Christians) are being transformed into the image of God by the Gospel.  According to Paul, spiritual regeneration is the restoration of the image of God in man (Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:23).[48]  We conclude this section by observing the admonitions found in Hosea 11:9, "For I am God and not a man, the Holy one in your midst,"[49] and Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man. . ."  Furthermore, the people who thought that God was just like them received His rebuke in Psalm 50:21, ". . . You thought I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes."

One must also question the claim of Joseph Smith that the Hebrew word ar'B' (bara’) means to "organize." Bernhardt states the scope of the verb bara’ is greatly limited, being used exclusively to denote divine creation.[50]  A complete survey of the biblical use of bara’ reveals that the root bara’ has the basic meaning ‘to create,’ emphasizing the initiation of the object. The word is used only of the activity of God, and thus, a purely theological term. This distinctive use of the word is especially appropriate to the concept of creation by divine fiat. . . "[51]  As a special theological term, bara’ is used to express clearly the incomparability of the creative work of God in contrast to all secondary products and likeness made from already existing material by man."[52]

Whether or not God uses preexisting material when He creates, is not indicated from the word bara’ itself.  For example, in Genesis 1:27 God creates man in His image.  However it is vital to note that it is explained to us in Genesis 2:7 that God used preexisting material when He created man, "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."  In this instance it is clear that God used preexisting matter in His process of creating. H.C. Leupold states, "The verb bara’ describing God’s initial work of creation is correctly defined as expressing the origination of something great, new and ‘epoch-making,’ as only God can do it, whether it be in the realm of the physical or of the spiritual." He continues,

"The verb bara’ does not of itself and absolutely preclude the use of existing material; (cf. Isaiah 65:18) However, when no existing material is mentioned. . . no such material is implied. Consequently, this passage teaches creatio ex nihilo, ‘creation out of nothing,’ a doctrine otherwise also clearly taught by the Scriptures; Rom. 4:17; Heb. 11:3; cf. also Ps. 33:6,9; Amos 4:13. The verb is never used of other than DIVINE activity."[53]

 

Moreover, one might further inquire as to where Joseph Smith obtained his information that an ‘old Jew’ without authority added the preposition be to the word re’shith after it was written by the inspired man. According to the apparatus, found in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, there is no evidence found in any Hebrew manuscript to support his claim.  This type of fantastic claim is consistent with the character of Joseph Smith. In that, it is not subject to equitable examination or verification and appears to have allegedly come from "divine intuition," requiring ignorance to accept.

In summary, we quote Professor Louis Zucker commenting on the translation of Genesis 1:1 by Joseph Smith; "But Joseph, with audacious independence, changes the meaning of the first word, and takes the third word "Eloheem" as literally plural.  He ignores the rest of the verse, and the syntax he imposes on his artificial three-word statement is impossible."[54]  In full agreement with Professor Zucker, we assert that Joseph Smith demonstrates from his attempted exegesis of Genesis 1:1 that he understood very little about Hebrew grammar.  Therefore, we also conclude that the entire interpretation of Genesis 1:1 by Joseph Smith is based upon an improper exegesis of the text which blatantly contradicts foundational doctrines of the Bible.  Finally, it can be established that Joseph Smith approached the text of Scripture with his own personal agenda, consistently breaking rules of proper Biblical interpretation (i.e. failing to interpret Scripture with Scripture), and therefore his interpretation of Genesis 1:1 is reduced to mere subjective speculation, or as John Calvin would say, "buffoonery."



[1]Hyrum L. Andrus, Joseph Smith The Man And The Seer, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1979),          p. 69.

[2]For the reader who requires a definition of this term and further information see:  J.I. Packer, God Has Spoken, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993) or Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).

[3]Cf. Andrus, Joseph Smith The Man, p. 52

[4]Brigham Young, Journal Of Discourses, (London: F.D. Richards, 36, Islington, 1855), Vol.  XVIII p. 118, 210; Vol. XIX, p 28.

[5]Ibid. Vol. XII, p. 357; Vol. XVIII, p. 157; Vol. XVII, pp. 283-284.

[6]Ibid. Vol. VII, p. 111.

[7]Ibid. Vol. XII, p. 72.

[8]Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, (New York: Alfred A. Knopfp, 1993), p. 168.

[9]Joseph Smith, History of the Church, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), Vol. 4, p. 425.

[10]Cf. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, pp. 4-5.

[11]Ibid. p. 5.

[12]Cf. Andrus, Joseph Smith The Man,, p.69.

[13]Ibid. p. 69.

[14]Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 11-17

[15]Ibid., Vol. 1 p. 5

[16]Doctrine and Covenants, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 110:11-16

[17]Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 1,  pp. 39-41.

[18]Ibid. Vol. 5, p. 92; Vol. 2, p. 380.

[19]Cf. Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 50.

[20]Ibid. Vol. 6, p. 50.

[21]Young, Journal Of Discourses, Vol. XII, p. 72

[22]Cf. John F. MacArthur Jr., Reckless Faith, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1994), pp. 19-34

[23]Ibid. p. 27

[24]Cf. Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, (Atlanta, GA. American Vision; Texarcana, AR: Covenant Media Foundation, 1996), p. 24

[25]John 14:6

[26]John 17:17

[27]Cf. Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 25

[28]Cf. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, pp. 168-169;

In August of 1833, Mormon Apostle Parley Pratt similarly organized a school of the prophets in Missouri meeting once a week for instruction.  Concerning this school of the prophets, Elder Pratt remarks, “. . .we prayed, preached and prophesied, and exercised ourselves in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 400-01 fn.

[29]Cf. Louis C. Zucker, “Joseph Smith As A Student Of Hebrew,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,  Vol. 3:2 (Summer 1968), p. 42.

[30]Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 376.

[31]Cf. Zucker, “Joseph Smith As A Student Of Hebrew,” pp. 47, 53.

[32]Ibid. p. 53

[33]Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976)  pp. 345-46

[34]The argument set forth by Mormons to substantiate the eternality of matter is confirmed in many footnotes of the King Follett Funeral Discourse, of which one states:  “Robert Kennedy Duncan (1905), in his New Knowledge says: ‘Governing matter in all its varied forms, there is one great fundamental law which up to this time has been ironclad in its character.  This law, known as the law of the conservation of mass, states that no particle of matter, however small, may be created or destroyed.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot destroy a pin’s head.  We may smash that pin’s head, dissolve it in acid, burn it in the electric furnace, employ, in a word every annihilating agency, and yet that pin’s head persists in being.  Again, it is as uncreatable as it is indestructible.  In other words, we cannot create something out of nothing.  The material must first be furnished for every existing article. . .’ Note by Elder B.H. Roberts”  Ibid. pp. 351-52

[35]Ibid. pp. 348-52

[36]From a corresponding sermon Joseph Smith preached June 16, 1844 entitled “The Christian Godhead - Plurality of Gods,” whereby,  he contributed  further critical information, Ibid. pp. 371-72.

[37]John H. Sailhammer, “Genesis,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1979), p. 21

[38]When a Hebrew noun is in the construct, it indicates a genitival relationship with the following word.  (i.e., in translation, the word in construct is followed by the word “of ”).

[39]Sailhammer, “Genesis,” in The Expositer’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, p. 21

[40]Ibid. p 21

[41]We also mention the corresponding phrase found in the Greek New Testament appearing at the beginning of the Gospel of John,  jEn ajrch/'  (In the beginning), which clearly references to the “absolute” beginning.

[42]Cf. Derek Kidner, Genesis An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 43.

[43]Johannes Schneider, “God, Elohim,” in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology,  Vol. 2 Edited By Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther and Hans Bietenhard, Translated and Edited by Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1976), p. 67

[44]Johannes Schneider, “God, Elohim,” in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology,  Vol. 2 Edited By Lothar Coenen, Erich Beyreuther and Hans Bietenhard, Translated and Edited by Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1976), p. 67

[45]Cf. John H. Sailhammer, “Genesis,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, (Grand Rapids, Michigan:, 1979), p. 20

[46]H.C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, (Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1942), p. 40.

[47]Ibid. pp. 92-93

[48]Cf. Ibid.  pp. 88-90

[49]All quotations from the Bible will be from the “New American Standard Bible,” Updated Edition, (Anaheim, California: Foundations Publications: 1995)

[50]Karl-Heinz Bernhardt, “Bara,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Vol. II (edited by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1975), p. 246.

[51]Cf. Laird R. Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds.  “Theological Workbook Of The Old Testament,”  Vol. 2 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), p. 127.

[52]Karl-Heinz Bernhardt, Berlin, “Bara” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Vol. II (Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1975), p. 246.

[53]Cf. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, (Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1942), pp. 40-41.  Emphasis added

[54]Zucker, Joseph Smith As A Student Of Hebrew,  pp. 52-53.


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