Insights: An Ancient Window
The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
The more than 1500 people who attended the sixth annual F.A.R.M.S. Symposium were rewarded with a wealth of information about temples of the ancient world. Elder Marion D. Hanks set the tone for the day in his keynote address. He reflected on quiet, daily miracles that occur in the temple and the desire that David expressed in Psalm 27 to "dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord."
The second session of the symposium contained two presentation on temples in the Book of Mormon. Catherine Thomas described the temple-type experience of the Brother of Jared, who rejected a false religion, endured a period of probation, and had an endowment experience with the Lord at the cloud veil. John Welch discussed ten steps that can help us understand temples and temple worship in the Book of Mormon, such as learning how the Nephites understood and practiced the law of Moses. He discussed the temple content of 2 Nephi 5-10, Mosiah 2-5, Alma 12-13, and 3 Nephi 11-18.
In the third session Donald Parry illustrated how for the Israelites orienting themselves physically toward the temple helped them orient their hearts toward God spiritually. Stephen Ricks showed how the pattern of temple building in the ancient Near East was repeated in the building of the Kirtland temple. John Tvedtnes discussed priestly clothing in biblical times, showing how those garments symbolized a change from an earthly to a heavenly status.
After lunch, Hugh Nibley led the audience through a careful reading of D&C 109 to draw out the material related to the temple, especially as it answers the terrible question, "Is there anything after this life?"
The next session focused on temples in the New Testament. Daniel McKinlay examined the temple imagery in the epistles of Peter and demonstrated how recognizing that imagery helps us understand Peter‘s message. Catherine Thomas considered Paul’s challenge in Hebrews to come all the way up the holy mount and enter into the Lord’s rest. Jay Parry summarized the scriptural and noncanonical descriptions of the heavenly temple of which the earthly temples are copies, and he explored the significance this heavenly temple holds for the saints as a place of holiness, mediation, ratification, and revelation and as the saints’ ultimate goal.
In the last session John Lundquist posed the intriguing question "What Is Reality?" He showed how the temple has been the primary vehicle through which God has passed on to humankind knowledge concerning reality—specifically knowledge of where God lives, how one arrives there, and what life there is like. Brian Hauglid illustrated how and why the temple transcended chronological, or profane, time in the mind of ancient man, bringing him symbolically into the presence of the gods and letting him relive their creative acts and thus helping him learn to become a god himself. William Hamblin discussed one solution that the Jews found to an intolerable problem: how to fulfill the laws that required temple worship when they had no temple. He highlighted motifs found in the literature of Jewish mystics who believed that they could ascend to the heavenly temple and there fulfill the law.
The symposium papers will be published by F.A.R.M.S. in their entirety as soon as possible, along with several other papers that could not be presented because of time constraints. Audio tapes of the presentations are available now on the enclosed order form.
Of All Things, a book of quotations from Hugh Nibley compiled and edited by Gary Gillum, will be available again April 1 in a revised and expanded edition. Gillum has selected, from both published and unpublished writings, numerous quotations that illustrate Nibley’s considerable wit and wisdom, creating a wonderful introduction to Nibley’s life-long effort to make sense of the things of this world and the things of eternity.
Gillum has organized the quotes by themes, such as "Of the Temple," "Of Life’s Meaning," "Of the Pearl of Great Price," and "Of Our Society." Entries include cross-reference to the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, so that readers can follow ideas back to their source.
People who are already familiar with Nibley will enjoy this collection of some of his most compelling, intriguing, or amusing statements. Others will find this collection a very accessible way to discover why so many readers avidly follow Nibley’s work.
Of All Things may be ordered online.
"They [the early Saints] were searchers, engaging in eager speculation . . . , ever seeking like Adam and Abraham for ‘greater [light and] knowledge’ [Abr. 1:2]. We have been told that if we stop seeking we shall not only find no more but lose the treasures we already have. That is why it is not only advisable but urgent that we begin at last to pay attention to that astonishing outpouring of ancient writings which is the peculiar blessing of our generation."
"The gospel is one long shout of hallelujah."
"I would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of the Lord than mingle with the top brass in the tents of the wicked."
"If you take yourself seriously, you won’t take the gospel seriously and the other way around."
"We are commanded to be joyful because he has borne our sorrows. If we remain gloomy after what he did for us, it is because we do not accept what he did for us."
A one-hour TV special produced by the LDS Church Public Affairs Department showing highlights of the Dead Sea Scrolls conference, reported in the last two issues of INSIGHTS, will be featured on national TV on the VISN Showcase Saturday, March 13, at 7:00 p.m. MST, on the VISN/ACTS Cable Network. The program will also be broadcast on Monday, March 8, at 7:00 a.m. MST, and on Thursday, March 11, at 10:00 p.m. MST. VISN is an interfaith, national cable TV network that presents programs from a variety of religious perspectives, including weekly programs from the LDS Church.
The conference, "Unraveling the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls," was held November 20, 1992, at Stanford University’s Kresge Auditorium. Professor Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Professor Norman Golb, and Professor Stephen D. Ricks discussed the scrolls and their relationship to earliest Christianity and Judaism.
The conference was produced for VISN by F.A.R.M.S. in association with the South Bay Management Society, the Council of Churches of Santa Clara County, and others.
Videotapes of the complete three-and-one-half-hour conference plus a half-hour preconference interview with Hugh Nibley are now available online.
The name Zenock, from the Book of Mormon, and Tenoch, the Nahuatl name of a semi-legendary priest/leader of the Aztecs, may be linguistically related. The Book of Mormon refers five times to the Israelite prophet Zenock, spelled Zenoch in the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon [1 Nephi 19:10, c. 580 B.C.; Alma 33:15 and 34:7, c. 74 B.C.; Helaman 8:20, c. 23 B.C.; and 3 Nephi 10:16, c. A.D. 34]. Those passages remind the Nephites and the future readers of the Book of Mormon about the prophecies of Zenoch concerning Christ, which were contained in the scriptures that Lehi and his family brought with them from the Old World.
Given the prominence of these references to the prophet Zenoch, it would not be surprising if the name Zenoch was used among the Nephites and even among the mixed seed of the apostate Nephites that joined with the Lamanite peoples at the end of the Book of Mormon period and beyond.
It is possible that the name of Tenoch, whom Bancroft believes may have been one of the founders of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec city that was thriving at the time of the Spanish Conquest, was related to the name of Zenoch, the prophet of the old world. The Nahuatl name Tenoch may originally have been Tzenoch or Zenoch. Tz, z, t, and ts combinations are used in Mesoamerican languages, sometimes with one taking place of the other, depending on the region where it was used. For example, Tz combinations were used in Nahuatl. Tzihuacohuatl [also known as Tezihuaccoahutlutl] was a Nahua chief. The name of Zwanga, a Tarasco King, has also been spelled Tzihuanga. In the case of the name Zenoch, the shift to Tz, followed later by dropping the Z, would give us Tenoch.
Relationships between these letter combinations are also common in other languages of the world. For example, in French, ciel [siel], the word for "heaven," was at one time pronounced tsiel, and the name Charles [s¥arlz] was at one time pronounced ts¥arlz. The Hebrew z, with some explainable exceptions, tends to become the Uto-Aztecan t, though occasionally ts [or tz as written in Nahuatl].
Tenochtitlan today underlies a portion of Mexico City. This is in the same general area as remnants of Nephite civilization, at least according to the most likely theories. The migration of the Nephites from the land southward, which was probably in an area that eventually became predominantly Maya-speaking, to the land northward [Helaman 3], where Nahuatl dialects were probably spoken, might help account for a spelling change such as the shift from Zenoch to Tenoch.
Although much more research on names and languages will be necessary to establish this connection more firmly, it is conceivable that Zenoch, a name that would have been dear to the hearts of the Nephites, was passed on among their people and even beyond the end of their civilization.
Bibliography: On the identity of the name Tenoch, see Facts and Artifacts of Ancient Middle America, complied by Curt Muser [New York: Dutton, 1978], 155; for legends about Tenoch, see H. H. Bancroft, The Native Races [San Francisco: Bancroft, 1883]; for more on the apparent relationship between Hebrew and Uto-Aztecan, see Brian Stubbs, "Elements of Hebrew in Uto-Aztecan" [F.A.R.M.S., 1988].
Based on research by Diane E. Wirth.
In "The Formation of the Canon of the Old Testament," in Religion and Law: Biblical, Judaic, and Islamic Perspectives, [edited by Edwin Firmage, Bernard Weiss, and John Welch and published in 1990 by Eisenbrauns], David Noel Freedman discusses the legacy of Moses and his Torah to the Western world. This legacy, he believes, is "the merger of law and religion, the inseparable joint expression of the divine will, communicated by his prophet. If true religion involves the right relationship between humanity and deity, then the law is the way in which that relationship is defined and regulated." Freedman concludes his article by pointing out other examples in which law and religion are combined, drawing particular attention to Joseph Smith.
"Finally I call attention to the same sort of development in the history of Christianity. In diverse times and places, prophetic figures have appeared and communities devoted and dedicated to these leaders, seen as revealers and lawgivers, have arisen. Here I can mention that uniquely American phenomenon, Joseph Smith, who was the prophet-founder of a new society, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [popularly known as Mormons], and also its principal lawgiver. In an effort to maintain both contiguity and continuity with the past, the pattern of prophet-leader who is also lawgiver has been preserved in this community of faith, so there is a steady procession of ‘prophets’ who are empowered to modify existing laws or proclaim new ones. In self-reforming and self-renewing fashion, this structure reflects the dynamic association of religion and law, established initially by Moses with his Torah."
Such insights remind us that revealing the law of God is a function of the "prophet-like-Moses." This term applies to Jesus [3 Ne. 20:23; Moses 1:41; Deut. 18:15], but Freedman is right, the concept applies also to Joseph Smith and his successors [2 Ne. 3:8-9, D&C 103:16].
William J. Hamblin of the BYU History Department and member of the F.A.R.M.S. board examines some common weaknesses of anti-Mormon comments on the Book of Mormon in a new paper, "Basic Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon." The points he makes are sound and may prompt new lines of research for serious students of these subjects.
One of the common questions raised by anti-Mormon criticisms of the Book of Mormon involves the geographic setting of the Book of Mormon; some assume that it should be a fairly simple undertaking to locate Book of Mormon sites. Hamblin shows how difficult it is to reconstruct even biblical geography and he discusses the reasons why Book of Mormon geography is even more difficult.
Another basic problem is a false dichotomy between a supposed traditional teaching of the LDS Church and the geographical theories of modern Mormon scholars. Such an assumption about an official Church position on Book of Mormon geography oversimplifies matters, as Hamblin carefully shows, and elevates a widespread [though not universal] tradition into an official position of the Church—symptomatic of the slipshod and inadequate approach taken by much anti-Mormon writing—and obscures the real issues.
These criticisms of the Book of Mormon also operate from a poor understanding of the nature of archaeological evidence and proof. They misrepresent the certainty of biblical archaeology in an attempt to denigrate Book of Mormon archaeology. They ignore evidence that does support the Book of Mormon account and set up straw men that are easy to knock down, but do not address the text itself and fail to take note of other interpretations that fit better with the archaeological record.
This paper lays out issues that must be dealt with by all who address the geography and archaeology of the Book of Mormon. It should improve thinking and stimulate further research on these subjects. Copies are available for purchase online.