Barker's work as a whole invites us to reexplore the situation in Jerusalem before the exile, and to examine the conflicts that resulted from the exile and return, particularly as they relate to the transmission of sacred writings. The theme of suppressed traditions that reemerge with the rise of Christianity is a central theme in all of Barker's works. Who suppressed the traditions and when? What was suppressed and why? How does her picture of these suppressed traditions compare with what we have in the Book of Mormon? And what is different and why? To answer these questions, we have to look closely at the events that occurred before, during, and after the exile.
One key event for understanding the conflicts in Jerusalem before the exile was the discovery of the "Book of the Law" during a renovation of the Jerusalem temple during the reign of King Josiah.1 In our Bible, 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 give slightly differing accounts of the discovery of the Book of the Law and the partially violent, ten-year reform that Josiah launched in response to that discovery. Barker writes that during Josiah's reform
all the temple vessels associated with Baal, the goddess or the angels were removed. Priests who had burned incense at high places to the sun, the moon, the stars and host of heaven, i.e., to the angels, were deposed. The sacred tree symbol of the goddess was removed and burnt, and the places where the women wove robes for her were broken down. The king also removed horses and chariots dedicated to the sun and the roof altars of the upper chamber.2
Most scholars believe that the Book of the Law that was discovered included at least part of Deuteronomy. Hence Josiah's reform has been associated with the book of Deuteronomy. On the other hand, Barker observes that only the Deuteronomic version of the story, in 2 Kings, invites the association of Josiah's reform with Deuteronomy. The Chronicles account has the document discovered six years after the reform was underway. For her, a possible implication is that the Deuteronomist historians wanted Josiah's reform to be associated with the rediscovery of the Law.3 Still, the distinctive values associated with the book of Deuteronomy also characterize the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings to the extent that collectively they are called the Deuteronomist History. Richard Elliott Friedman's book Who Wrote the Bible? (a popular explanation of the Documentary Hypothesis) and William Doorly's Obsession With Justice: The Story of the Deuteronomists present arguments that the first edition of the Deuteronomist History was produced during Josiah's lifetime. Indeed, both Friedman and Doorly argue that an edition was produced specifically to celebrate King Josiah.4 Friedman cites the verse in 2 Kings 23:25 that says of Josiah, "there was no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to the law of Moses."5
Later Deuteronomist editors provided editing and additions to the original text after Josiah's unexpected death, and the subsequent events leading to the fall of Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah, the loss of the temple, the destruction of the monarchy, and the start of the Babylonian captivity.6 Recall that Jeremiah's writings preserve evidence of his conflicts with different groups of priests and scribes over sacred writings7 and with the populace over religious practices.8 Remember too that although there were versions of scriptural books in existence before the fall of Jerusalem, the final selection and editing of the canon as we have it in our Bible took place after the return from the exile.
Lehi would have been a contemporary of the events associated with Josiah's reform, either as a youth or a young man.9 It would be surprising if the early phases of the Deuteronomist reform, which left such a distinctive imprint on much of the Bible, did not make an equally profound impression on Lehi. Indeed, the conspicuous use of the Exodus theme in the Book of Mormon10 and the emphasis on Moses and on blessings or cursings depending on Israel's obedience to the Law are all consistent with the Deuteronomist program.11 Several LDS scholars have explored other distinctive Deuteronomist themes and influences throughout the Book of Mormon. In a recent article, Noel Reynolds observes that "Lehi's last address to his people appears to consciously invoke at least 14 important themes and situational similarities from the final address of Moses as recorded in Deuteronomy."12 Reynolds also refers to several unpublished studies that suggest Deuteronomic influence throughout the Book of Mormon.13 Taking an approach to Deuteronomic political themes, Alan Goff remarks that
The book of Mosiah carries on a complex conversation with the "Biblical Politeia." (Biblical scholars often call 1 Samuel the Biblical Politeia because it is the founding document of the Israelite monarchy, but most scholars recognize that the work of the Deuteronomistic historian—Joshua through 2 Kings and the book of Deuteronomy itself—is filled with a sophisticated discussion of politics. The first few books in the Book of Mormon—Mosiah and the first few chapters of Alma in particular—constantly allude to the Biblical Politeia in a way that directs the reader back to a biblical examination of human society. I propose, consequently, that we refer to Mosiah as the Book of Mormon Politeia to emphasize its dialectical relationship with the Deuteronomistic History.)"14
Mosiah 29 in the Book of Mormon describes how King Mosiah proposes to "newly arrange the affairs of this people" by appointing "judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God."15 This action overturns the transition to kingship from judges that occurred in 1 Samuel 8. Goff's fascinating studies of literary allusion and type-scene in the Book of Mormon most frequently point back to the stories in the Deuteronomist History.16 This awareness on the part of Book of Mormon authors of the Deuteronomist History, the main themes, subtleties of the law, the festivals, the politics, and the brilliant use of allusion and type-scenes is as it should be, given the time and place of origin it claims for itself, with Nephi beginning his account by referring to the first year of the reign of Zedekiah.17
John Welch of Brigham Young University recently suggested that the brass plates that Nephi acquired would plausibly fit as a royal set of scriptures commissioned during Josiah's reform.18 The discovery of a significant but lost writing would certainly raise awareness of the need to recover, read, and preserve the sacred records. It is noteworthy that the late seventh- to early sixth-century Middle East is associated with the rise of interest in writing on metal plates.19 Also, the oldest known Bible text, a priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24–26 written on a rolled-up strip of silver, actually comes from Jerusalem and dates to about 600 BC.20
All of this demonstrates that the Book of Mormon shows an appropriate interest in themes and sacred writings that emerge during Josiah's reform.
Barker credits the suppression of many significant ideas to the Deuteronomist Reform. The prominence of many Deuteronomist themes in the Book of Mormon might lead us to expect a contrast between her picture and ours. But remember that the discovery of the Book of the Law and the reemphasis on the Law in Israel pre-dates Lehi's departure and the fall of Jerusalem by as much as thirty-seven years. And there is evidence that the version of the Books of Moses on the plates of Laban differed in several respects from the Pentateuch as we have it in our Bible.21 We must closely examine the specific timing, themes, and circumstances involved in the work of the Deuteronomist school.
Barker treats the activities of the Deuteronomists from the discovery of the Book of the Law through the exile collectively because her concern is the final outcome of their effort, as she looks back from the time of the first Christians. Nevertheless, she usually discusses the work of the Deuteronomists as we have it more as a product of the exile than of Josiah's time.22 For our purposes, we should not imagine a single period of activity based on a static program. The first wave of activity came with Josiah's decade of reform, the composition of the Deuteronomist edition of the history, and the reemphasis on Moses and the Law in Israelite religion.23 This reform effort was interrupted by Josiah's death. Second Kings 24:35–37 records that Josiah's successor, Jehoiakim, reigned eleven years and "did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord." After Jehoiakim, Zedekiah reigned for eleven years, another king whom the Deuteronomists depict as doing evil in the sight of the Lord as Jehoiakim had done (2 Kings 24:19). The negative picture of these two kings in their writings does not imply royal support for scribal efforts during the period leading up to the exile. In their studies of the activities of the Deuteronomists, both William Doorly and Richard Friedman describe secondary waves of Deuteronomist editing and additions to the records to describe the death of Josiah and the fates of his successors, and to describe and interpret the situation in Jerusalem and into the exile. The successive waves of composition and editorial efforts attempt both to assert the values of the Deuteronomists and to reconcile those values with the crises caused by the death of Josiah, the fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple and the monarchy. Their effort involves variations on a theme, reacting to changing situations. William Doorly's book Obsession with Justice: The Story of the Deuteronomists surveys current scholarship on the Deuteronomists from the perspective of one who sees them as Israel's greatest theologians. Doorly's title summarizes one of the Deuteronomists' main themes: the notion of blessings for obedience and cursing for disobedience. Their equation of blessings with obedience also provides the fodder for the crisis that the Deuteronomists faced after the death of Josiah, their perfect king. Why wasn't he blessed? It also provides fodder for the crisis facing the exiles. Given that possession of the Promised Land was conditioned on obedience, what was the status of the exiles? Given that the king and the temple had been central to their faith, what were they to do when the monarchy and the temple had been destroyed?
If this model is accurate, much of the editorial program associated with the Deuteronomist school occurred after Lehi's group left.24 We shall see that it is in respect to the exilic efforts of the Deuteronomists that the Book of Mormon diverges from their efforts and matches closely with Barker's reconstruction.
The subtitle of Barker's first book is The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity. Barker spends much effort reconstructing a picture of the role of the monarchy and of the wisdom traditions in the rites and practices of the temple in the days of David and Solomon and Isaiah. Evidently, the king not only acted in the role of the high priest in the temple, but in that role, he represented the visible presence of Yahweh, the son of the Most High God, El.
Central to the myths was belief in the human manifestation of God. A human figure occupied the divine throne and came to bring judgement. The presence of the figure also brought renewed life and fertility. The human figure was probably once the king who was also the high priest.25
We get glimpses of the old royal cult in the Psalms. Barker says that the ancient kingmaking is described in Psalm 89:
"Of old thou didst speak in a vision to thy faithful one and say:
'I have set the crown upon one who is mighty,
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found David, my servant;
With my holy oil I have anointed him . . .'" (Psalm 89:19–20)
Psalm 2 has the king set on the Lord's holy hill and declared to be his son: "Today I have begotten you . . . I will make the nations your heritage . . . you shall break them with a rod of iron" (Psalm 2:7–9). It has also been suggested that Psalm 74 gives a glimpse of the kingmaking:
"Thou didst break the heads of the dragons on the waters;
Thou didst crush the heads of Leviathan" (Psalm 74:13–14)
The King then reestablished the cosmic covenant.26
This aspect of Israelite kingship appears in the Psalms but not in the histories of the Kings. Barker explains why.
The Deuteronomists had not favoured the monarchy, as can be seen from their surviving writings; they said that the wickedness of a king had caused the destruction of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:3).27 They were to reformulate Israel's religion in such a way that the monarch was no longer central to the cult. In addition, the exile of so many people to Babylon meant that they were physically separated from the temple which had been the centre of their life. These two circumstances combined to alter radically the perception of the presence of God in the temple. The events of history necessitated an idea of God not located in the one holy place, but rather of God travelling with his people, and the Deuteronomists rejected all the ancient anthropomorphisms of the royal cult. Theirs was to be a God whose voice was heard and obeyed, but who had no visible form.28
Clearly, this aspect of the Deuteronomist reform responds to the destruction of the monarchy and the loss of the temple. That dates these specific efforts to the exilic phase of the reform and this is where we see an immediate contrast with the picture in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon begins with Lehi's vision of an anthropomorphic God on the throne,29 and 2 Nephi shows Nephi building a temple and accepting kingship.30 Just as the presence of Deuteronomic themes is accounted for in Lehi's Jerusalem background and the story of the brass plates, so we shall see that the contrasts between the Book of Mormon picture and the final work of the Deuteronomists find a specific historical context in the exile.
The Deuteronomists suppressed the anthropomorphism of the older tradition and any idea of the visible presence of God was abandoned. There were two reasons for this: they were the heirs to the monotheism of the Second Isaiah who had identified El Elyon and Yahweh and therefore 'relocated' Yahweh in heaven rather than in the temple in Jerusalem; and they were constructing from the ruins of the monarchy a faith for Israel which no longer had the king at its centre and therefore no longer had his presence as a visible sign of Yahweh with his people. The old concept of a human form present in the temple was no longer tenable, and the ancient descriptions of theophanies derived from temple ceremonial were no longer acceptable. The Deuteronomists rewrote the tradition: "Then Yahweh spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words but saw no form; there was only a voice" (Deuteronomy 4:12). With this one should compare the contemporary Ezekiel, a temple priest who was able to describe "one like a man" on the fiery throne (Ezekiel 1:26), or the tradition that Moses was permitted to see the "form" of the Lord (Numbers 12:8).31
Notice that Barker here associates the development of monotheism with the Second Isaiah. This presents both interesting possibilities and the single most arresting tension in comparing her work with the Book of Mormon. On the one hand, the Book of Mormon prophets show much in common with the preexilic teachings on all these points. On the other hand, the Book of Mormon prophets quote several passages associated with the Second Isaiah, who, according to Barker's reading and the authorities she accepts, dates to the exile in Babylon.32 I shall return to this issue after first surveying the overall fit in the shared picture.
We should now look at Barker's view of what the Deuteronomists suppressed. She cites the "preface to Deuteronomy"—now chapter 4 of that book—as showing what this group set out to remove from the religion of Israel:
First, they were to have the Law instead of Wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:6). . . . [W]hat was the Wisdom which the Law replaced? Second, they were to think only of the formless voice of God sounding from the fire and giving the Law (Deuteronomy 19:12). Israel had long had a belief in the vision of God, when the glory had been visible on the throne in human form, surrounded by the heavenly hosts. What happened to the visions of God? And third, they were to leave the veneration of the host of heaven to peoples not chosen by Yahweh (Deuteronomy 4:19–20). Israel had long regarded Yahweh as the Lord of the hosts of heaven, but the title Yahweh of Hosts was not used by the Deuteronomists. What happened to the hosts, the angels?33
In her most recent book, Barker adds references to two other Deuteronomic proscriptions. The Jews were not to "enquire after secret things which belonged only to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29). Their duty was to obey the commandments bought down from Sinai and not to seek someone who would ascend to heaven for them to discover remote and hidden things (Deuteronomy 30:11)."34
Lehi's vision in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon contains most of the elements that these Deuteronomy passages explicitly reject.
And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God. And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day. And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament. And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read. And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.35
Lehi has the vision, sees God on a throne, sees the hosts of heaven, and reads from a heavenly book. Since these elements appear in spite of the deep affinity that the Book of Mormon shows for Deuteronomy, this reinforces Barker's association of these elements with the response of the Deuteronomist school to the exile. Barker writes that against the efforts of the Deuteronomists, "Many of the older traditions did survive, however, and can be traced in the apocalypses, texts preserved only by Christian hands."36 Notice that Latter-day Saint scholars have extensively compared Lehi's vision to visions in the apocalypses.37 They have shown that the affinity between Lehi's vision and the apocalypses and related biblical passages is deep and profound.
The Wisdom Tradition in Ancient Israel
The story of the acquisition of the brass plates shows the importance of the Law in the Book of Mormon, which might seem a contrast with Barker's picture, where the Law supplants wisdom.38 We should now ask, What is wisdom, and how do the Book of Mormon prophets depict wisdom in relation to the Law? We need to follow Barker in asking, What was the wisdom that the Law attempted to replace?
Daniel Peterson provides a useful description of "wisdom" literature:
Biblical scholars recognize a genre of writing, found both in the canonical scriptures (e.g., Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon) and beyond the canon, that they term "wisdom literature." Among the characteristics of this type of writing, not surprisingly, is the frequent use of the term wisdom. But also common to such literature, and very striking in texts from a Hebrew cultural background, is the absence of typically Israelite or Jewish themes, such as the promises to the patriarchs, the story of Moses and the exodus, the covenant at Sinai, and the divine promise to David. There is, however, a strong emphasis on the teaching of parents, and especially on the instruction of the father.39
Barker works to extend the standard definition, building a case that "wisdom was an older form of communication between God and his people. Wisdom was something which the Deuteronomists reformed. This possibility is crucial for my argument."40
Regarding the wisdom in Proverbs as it now appears, she observes that it "represent[s] neither threat nor contradiction to the Deuteronomic position."41 Therefore, she argues, "the reasons for the changes to wisdom must lie elsewhere, perhaps in those very aspects of wisdom which are no longer extant in the biblical texts as a result of the alterations."42 Barker's primary guide for reconstructing the lost traditions is the Book of Enoch, a book that originated in Jewish tradition, was used extensively, copied and preserved by the earliest Christians, but which fell into disrepute beginning in the second century.43 She traces the Enoch connections through many other texts, both back in time to Isaiah44 and forward to the New Testament.45 She observes that those who transmitted the Enoch text "kept a role for wisdom . . . they kept a tradition of the heavenly ascent and the vision of God, . . . they were astronomers46 who had a complex theology of heavenly hosts and angels."47 That is, the Enoch texts and others related to them describe the very things that the Deuteronomists attempted to suppress. The Enoch texts also appear to describe the returning exiles as apostate in passages that criticize a group that suppresses these particular themes.48
As Barker reviews the wisdom elements suppressed by the reformers, she again cites their reappearance in Christianity:
The reform of Josiah/the Deuteronomists, then, reconstructed as best we can from both biblical and non-biblical sources, seems to have been a time when more than pagan accretions were removed from the Jerusalem cult. Wisdom was eliminated, even though her presence was never forgotten, the heavenly ascent and the vision of God were abandoned, the hosts of heaven, the angels, were declared to be unfit for the chosen people, the ark (and the presence of Yahweh which it represented) was removed, and the role of the high priest was altered in that he was no longer the anointed. All of these features of the older cult were to appear in Christianity.49
The reappearance of these suppressed elements in Christianity stands behind Barker's fascination with them and underlies her insistence on their significance. And since these same themes reappear in Christianity, she concludes that "the simplest, and most likely idea of wisdom to underlie the New Testament is that of the Enoch tradition."50 She observes that
what Deuteronomy forbad and what the "reformers" removed is what exactly appears in works such as the Book of Revelation and 1 Enoch. These tell how certain chosen people ascended to heaven to learn secret things from the Lord, they tell of angels who were the host of heaven, and of the cherubim who were the graven images at the very heart of the temple in the holy of holies. Above all, they keep an honoured place for the goddess, Wisdom, and they describe visions of the Lord on the heavenly throne.51
With the understandable exception of the specific temple artifacts kept in the holy of holies, the ark of the covenant (which disappears from the Bible record after the time of King Manasseh,52 many decades before Lehi's group left) and the cherubim,53 all of these features of the older cult also appear in the Book of Mormon. As we have seen, the Book of Mormon begins with Lehi's ascent, the knowledge he gains, the hosts of angels, and the Lord on the throne.54 We shall see that Lehi's and Nephi's visions turn out to have extensive ties to the wisdom tradition and that the vision of Nephi shows much in common with Revelation and Enoch. We shall also observe that the temple is central to the Book of Mormon. This circumstance may bear on some criticisms of the Book of Mormon, particularly claims that it contains Christianized concepts that are out of place in preexilic Israel.55 Many preexilic ideas traveled with Lehi and his people, even though specific artifacts, such as the ark and cherubim, evidently did not.56
The final editors of the Old Testament as we have it came after the return from exile, probably at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the Chronicler.57 They had a different agenda than the Deuteronomists,58 but many of the writings that the succeeding groups had to work with had already passed through the hands of the Deuteronomists. Regarding the dominant interpretations of the Bible, Barker adds this comment:
The reforming Deuteronomists with their emphasis on history and law have evoked a sympathetic response in many modern scholars who have found there a religion after their own heart.59 Thus we have inherited a double distortion; the reformers edited much of what we now read in the Hebrew Bible, and modern interpreters with a similar cast of mind have told us what the whole of that Hebrew Bible was saying. The fact that most ancient readers of the texts read them very differently is seen as a puzzle.60
Barker attempts to solve the puzzle of the difference in reading by recovering the context in which ancient readers lived and thought.
Wisdom in the Book of Mormon
The word wisdom occurs fifty-five times in the Book of Mormon. Several places in the Book of Mormon include examples of the distinct genre of wisdom literature. Daniel Peterson's "Nephi and His Asherah" essay draws many connections between the Book of Mormon and wisdom literature, particularly, but not exclusively, in comparing Proverbs 1–9 to the vision of the tree of life.61 Peterson observes such elements as the shared concern with plain language versus flattering words, the association of justice and prosperity, wisdom as a "tree of life," the importance of staying on the right path, and the opposition to wisdom in the form of the whorish woman. Nibley cites Helaman 12 as a splendid example of the wisdom genre,62 and he often compares passages in the Enoch literature to the Book of Mormon.63 Book of Mormon authors consistently endorse the seeking and applying of wisdom.
O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!64
Notice here that the Book of Mormon also retains the feminine aspect of the ancient wisdom traditions and sides with those who would embrace wisdom.65 The picture in the Book of Mormon, then, strikes a balance between the Law and the wisdom traditions. The Law in the Book of Mormon never closes the door on revelation but rather promises more.66 The Law in the Book of Mormon is never seen as an end in itself, but as a type and shadow of Christ.67
Nephi and Barker's Reconstruction of the Ancient Wisdom
I believe this balance between the Law and wisdom comes from Nephi. This becomes evident as we look more closely at Barker's reconstruction of what the ancient wisdom was. Referring to the book of Daniel, Barker notes that "the text itself claims to be about a wise man who predicts the future, interprets dreams and functions at court."68 She observes that
Joseph, our only other canonical model [of a wise man], is very similar; he functions at court, interprets dreams and predicts the future . . . Daniel is sufficiently Judaized to observe the food laws, but how are we to explain his dealings with heavenly beings, and his use of an inexplicable mythology? The elaborate structures of the book suggest that it was using a known framework, and not constructing imagery as it went along, but there is no hint of such imagery in Proverbs, except in passages where the text is now corrupt. This suggests that the wisdom elements in the non-canonical apocalypses which have no obvious roots in the Old Testament may not be foreign accretions, but elements of an older wisdom which the reformers have purged.69
While Nephi does not interact with Zedekiah's court in the manner of Joseph or Daniel, he does accept kingship in the New World.70 Nephi also interprets dreams and predicts the future.71 Like Daniel, he shows commitment to the Law,72 has dealings with angels,73 recognizes the need to seek interpretation of symbols,74 and speaks of the need to understand the cultural context behind prophetic writing.75 Lehi discovers his descent from Joseph in the brass plates,76 and the Book of Mormon shows access to Joseph traditions that do not survive in the present Bible.77 What else might Nephi have in common with the wisdom tradition? Starting from the observations of the common ground between Daniel and Joseph, Barker attempts to fill in other details of the lost tradition:
This was a mythology of angels and of scenes of a great judgement . . .
The exaltation to the stars appears as the wise who turn many to righteousness shining like the stars for ever . . . The wise man has knowledge of God, is a child/servant of the Lord, has God as his father and, as God's son, will receive help (Wisdom 2:12ff). At the great judgement he will be exalted and take his place with the sons of God, the Holy Ones.78
The pattern of the "lost" tradition therefore included, as well as the angels and the great judgement, the stars and the foreign kings, the kingship of Yahweh, the Holy Ones, exaltation, sonship and wisdom.79
In Jubilees 4:17, . . . Enoch learns the forbidden art of writing and the calendrical calculations which 1 Enoch includes amongst the revealed secrets of heaven.80
Wisdom was the secrets of creation, learned in heaven and brought to earth, the recurring theme of the apocalypses. There must have been some way in which the king, and the wise men, "went" to heaven like the prophets in order to learn these secrets by listening in the council of God.81
Another of the angelic arts was metal-working, and we find wisdom attributed to a variety of craftsmen in the Old Testament . . . 1 Enoch 8 links this skill to the arts of war, and in Isaiah 10:13 we do find that the king of Assyria's military prowess is called wisdom. Job 28 implies that wisdom extended to the techniques of mining, damming and irrigation. Ezekiel 27:8–9 says that the navigators and shipwrights were also wise. The knowledge of mathematics required for these skills is also presupposed by the later astronomical material in 1 Enoch, and by the calendrical calculations.82
Beyond Nephi as a king, a dreamer, an interpreter of apocalyptic visions, a forth-teller who prophesies a great judgment to come,83 who claims personal knowledge of the mysteries of God,84 and who knows of both the heavenly hosts of angels and the fallen ones,85 he demonstrates his knowledge of writing,86 and his writings show extensive ties to the known and surmised wisdom literatures.87 He also demonstrates wisdom in relation to mining and metalworking,88 shipbuilding,89 navigation,90 and the arts of war.91 He is likely the source of the means of calendrical calculations that his descendants used to determine the holy days and the passage of years related to Lehi's 600-year prophecy of the Messiah.92 Nephi qualifies remarkably well as a representative of the wisdom tradition as Barker reconstructs it, but one who operates in harmony, rather than in conflict, with the Law. The harmony may be possible because of a preexilic understanding of the law. We will look at some other aspects of the treatment of wisdom/ knowledge in the Book of Mormon farther on.
Vision is the notion that human beings can see God. Barker contrasts the attitudes of those who accepted the notion of throne theophanies of an anthropomorphic God (such as in Isaiah 6 and Moses' face-to-face visions) with those Deuteronomic editors who insisted that such things were impossible and always had been.93 She cites the contradictory attitudes apparent in the Bible as we have it.
This can be demonstrated most easily by comparing Exodus 24:10 and Deuteronomy 4:12. The Exodus text describes the events on Mount Sinai; the elders saw the God of Israel on his throne, presumably in a vision. This is a vision of God exactly like that seen by Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1) and John (Revelation 4).94 The Deuteronomy text wants none of this, and emphasises that there was only a voice at Sinai. The presence of the Lord was not a vision to inspire them, but a voice giving commands that had to be obeyed.
This tension between the word and vision was also a tension between new and old, between the law-based religion and the temple-based religion. It can be traced all through the Bible.95
The Book of Mormon directly affirms the reality and importance of vision, starting, as we have seen, with Lehi's vision of the throne of God, and the "one descending out of heaven" and others like stars following him.96 This corresponds extraordinarily well to Barker's picture. Lehi's and Nephi's subsequent visions of the tree of life97 add more correlation, and this continues with Alma the younger,98 Lamoni,99 his queen,100 the servant Abish,101 the mixed multitude of Lehites who experienced the visit of the risen Lord,102 and later, Mormon103 and Moroni.104 Visions come to men and women, office holders and laypersons, believers and, at times, unbelievers. But the correlation between Barker's picture and the Book of Mormon goes beyond the belief in visions to include many interrelated notions.
The Lord and the Heavenly Hosts
In a sharp contrast with the Deuteronomists, the Book of Mormon not only often describes the vision of God in human form, but its prophets affirm the existence of the heavenly hosts. So a point of interest in the Book of Mormon is that the title "Lord of Hosts" occurs fifty-four times in the Book of Mormon. John Welch observes that
outside of numerous Book of Mormon occurrences of this phrase in passages that are quoted from Isaiah and Malachi, only Nephi, Jacob, [both quite early in the Nephite record] and Samuel [in the generation before the Lord's appearance] used this title. They usually did so in condemning or cursing the wicked. "A curse shall come upon the land, saith the Lord of Hosts . . . then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Helaman 13:17, 32).105
Both Lehi and Alma report visions of the hosts as "numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God."106 The heavenly manifestations of angels in Helaman 5:26–52 and 3 Nephi 17:15–24 also invite comparisons with the notion of heavenly hosts. Who were these hosts?
In the biblical texts that retain them, these are the sons of God mentioned in Genesis, Deuteronomy, Job, and the Psalms,107 those present at the divine council witnessed by Jeremiah and Amos,108 the good angels who serve God, those who come to fight on the Day of the Lord,109 and the fallen angels who oppose him.110
It is significant that the texts which deal with the kingship of Yahweh are also those which deal with the heavenly hosts and the angel mythology (Exodus 15:8; Numbers 23:21; Deuteronomy 33:5). In later texts the king and his Holy Ones appear in 1QapGen 2 and 1 Enoch 9:12; cf. Matthew 25. It is the king and his host of Holy Ones which gives us the title Lord of Hosts, common in Isaiah, but absent from the texts which describe Israel's early histories. If these histories were themselves early texts, this absence would be significant, and it would be possible to conclude that Isaiah had invented the title himself. But since the Deuteronomists have had a hand in the composition of these histories, the absence may be significant for another reason.111
Notice that Barker says the title "Lord of Hosts" does not appear in the Deuteronomist writings.112 We will consider the reasons for this circumstance.
The Monotheism of the Exilic Deuteronomists
Barker observes that the Deuteronomist theology, at least the Exilic school, was strictly monotheistic. Barker cites their application of Deuteronomy 4:19 in rejecting the hosts of heaven. She also cites parallel passages in Isaiah 37:17 and 2 Kings 19:15 as an example of the "relationship between Isaiah and the Deuteronomic editors" where "the D passage omits the title 'Lord of Hosts.'"113 She observes that "the idea of a procreator God with sons seems to have fallen out of favour among those who equated Yahweh and El. (Those who retained a belief in the sons of God, e.g., the Christians, as we shall see, were those who continued to distinguish between El and Yahweh, Father and Son. This cannot be coincidence.)"114 In her view, this distinction is key:
The Deuteronomists were fervent monotheists, which has led us to believe that all the Old Testament describes a strictly monotheistic religion. They also said that God could not be seen, only heard. There were, however, ancient traditions which said otherwise in each case; there was, as we shall see, a belief in a second divine being who could have human form and this became the basis of Christianity.115
The Book of Mormon expressly describes a belief in the second divine being. See 1 Nephi 10:17 and 11:6 for the first of several explicit indications,116 which occur in the context of the heavenly ascent practice of the older tradition. The Book of Mormon prophets also declare that this second divine being takes human form.117 Compare Barker's comment, "The vision of God and anthropomorphism are seen, time and again, as evidence of the older ways."118 We should discuss for a moment just how well that Book of Mormon theology reflects the older ways.
A Word about Book of Mormon Theology and Paradigms
Margaret Barker's work first came to my attention in quotations from The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God that were used as defenses of reading the Book of Mormon theology as consistent with contemporary Latter-day Saint Temple theology.119 What about the few passages in the Book of Mormon where someone says there is only one God or that the Father and Son are one?120 Context matters. Thomas Kuhn provides a comment about how a "reorientation by paradigm change" can be described as "'picking up the other end of the stick,' a process that involves 'handling the same bundle of data as before, but placing them in a new system of relations with one another by giving them a different framework.'"121 Readers of the Book of Mormon bring different paradigms that involve assumed contexts that influence decisions about which passages to take literally and which to take symbolically. And the context decision may come by default, based on the preconceptions of the reader, or by a decision about whether to read the Book of Mormon as a nineteenth-century text or an ancient text. Recall that Barker said it is "folly" to read the Bible in ignorance of the ancient context. May not the same apply to the Book of Mormon?
The evidence that the first Christians identified Jesus with the God of the Jews is overwhelming; it was their customary way of reading the Old Testament. The appearances of Yahweh or the angel of Yahweh were read as manifestations of the pre-existent Christ. The Son of God was their name for Yahweh. This can be seen clearly in the writings of Paul who applied several 'Lord' texts to Jesus. . . . Now Paul, though completely at home in the Greek world, claimed to have been the strictest of Jews, educated in Jerusalem and zealous for the traditions of his people. How is it that he, of all people, could distinguish between God and Lord as he did in 1 Corinthians, if this was not already a part of first century Jewish belief? He emphasized that this distinction was fundamental to his belief: "there is one God, the Father . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 8:6). This is, to say the least, a remarkable contradiction of Deuteronomy 6:4, if he understood that verse in the way that we do, as a statement of monotheism. If, on the other hand, it was a statement of the unity of Yahweh as the one inclusive summing up of all the heavenly powers, the 'elohim, then it would have been compatible with belief in God Most High also.122
If we take the Book of Mormon at face value and accept the time and place that it asserts for itself, read in light of Barker's work, the context presupposes a reading in which Jehovah is Jesus, the Son of the Most High. And that is what the Book of Mormon clearly says:
And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired.123
And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and said unto them: Behold, ye have heard the things which I taught before I ascended to my Father; therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day . . . Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.124
Nephi's discourse on the gospel in 2 Nephi 31:5–8 makes clear distinctions between the Father and the Son. Also, in 3 Nephi 11, we have the visit of the Son, being witnessed by the Father:
And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him. And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them. And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven. And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying: Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.125
With this in mind, Nephi's reference to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost as "one God" should be read in light of Jesus' explanation of the metaphor of oneness in 3 Nephi 19:23. They are one just as we should be one, the subject of the intercessory prayer in John 17. Abinadi's,126 Amulek's,127 and Ether's128 explanations of Jesus' roles as Father and Son should be read in light of Barker's observation that the Bible text describes
those called sons of El Elyon, sons of El or Elohim, all clearly heavenly beings, and there are those called sons of Yahweh or the Holy One who are human. This distinction is important for at least two reasons; Yahweh was one of the sons of El Elyon; and Jesus in the Gospels was described as a Son of El Elyon, God Most High.129
Those who covenant with Jehovah in the Book of Mormon are told that they can become his sons and daughters.130 So Jehovah/Jesus in the Book of Mormon is clearly described as God and as the Son of the Most High God. He clearly has roles as both Father (through covenants with mortals and as the creator) and Son.131 As the representative of the Father, he reveals the Father in his own person.132 (Since I am both a father and a son myself, I do not see this as a difficult concept.) Clearly, the Son is also a Father to the degree that he can say to Philip:
Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.133
Amulek's negative answer to Zeezrom as to whether there is more than one God,134 in the context of a discourse that also discusses the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,135 presumes the same implications of countering the diverse gods of idolatry as does Paul's remark in 1 Corinthians 8:4–6:
[W]e know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
These few Book of Mormon passages are only difficult for those who choose to make them so, frankly by picking up "the other end of the stick." Those who do so always presume a different set of interrelationships in the passages, and a difference in whether "oneness" can be a metaphor and whether a son can also be a father. They presume different contexts in which to read.
I am personally comfortable with the idea that there are differences of emphasis and opinion on the part of the prophetic writers. My own understanding changes over time, so I am not inclined to insist on perfect consistency from anyone else. Welch's article on divine titles in the Book of Mormon makes a well-reasoned case that the titles favored by different Book of Mormon prophets reflected their personal experiences and circumstances.136 Before reading Barker's work, I was inclined to accept suggestions that Abinadi, for example, might have had a different understanding than most Mormon readers do now. After reading Barker, I am inclined to say that the context that the Book of Mormon claims for itself, one rooted in preexilic understandings, presupposes the approach we should take. My reading has changed because of the context I now bring to the text. If these passages have been read differently by some in the early days of the Church or today, their readings are not binding.137
Whereas Barker looks to the exile to emphasize the suppression of materials from the canon by Deuteronomist reformers, Nephi looks ahead to the time when "many parts which are plain and most precious"138 are taken away, presumably by second-century Hellenistic Christians and Jews.139 At first glance, it may seem that Barker and Nephi differ on the timing, but remember that according to Barker, the materials suppressed by the Deuteronomists during the exile did survive in significant circles in Palestine until the time of the first Christians.
When the exiles returned, it was a time of divided loyalties. The new ideas from Babylon found their opponents formed from two strata of tradition. The southern restoration involved the rejection of the people of the north, and the rejection of certain elements in the south who retained links with the temple cult. They kept alive the older myths of Jerusalem. . . . In 1 Enoch and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs there is a curious mixture of pro-northern and old Jerusalem material which cannot be explained with an oversimple opponents-of-the-Jerusalem-Temple theory for the origin of the sectarian groups.140
John Sorenson and Steven St. Clair have noted that the Book of Mormon is pro-northern, favoring Joseph, ignoring Aaron, ignoring the Davidic covenant, referring negatively to David, Solomon, and the "Jews at Jerusalem."141 Two nonbiblical prophets cited in the Book of Mormon, Zenos and Zenock, are both probably northern kingdom prophets.142 And we are finding much evidence of old Jerusalem material in the course of this paper. So Nephi's focus on the apostasy that would occur after the death of the apostles, rather than on the efforts of the exilic reformers, is both historically plausible and consistent with Barker's picture. And while Barker does not use the term apostasy for what happened after the death of the apostles, she clearly insists that much significant knowledge was lost at that time, and only recently recovered.
Who distorted the tradition? Recent work on the transmission of the New Testament has shown convincingly that what is currently regarded as "orthodoxy" was constructed and imposed on the text by later scribes, "clarifying" difficult points and resolving theological problems. . . . It may be that those traditions which have been so confidently marginalized as alien to Christianity on the basis of the present New Testament text, were those very traditions which later authorities and their scribes set out to remove.143
What was assumed by the New Testament writers was a traditional understanding of the temple rituals and myths of atonement. When the rituals had ceased and the myths were no longer recognised for what they really were, the key to understanding the imagery of atonement was lost.144
Nephi includes a prophetic description of the Bible's transmission and value which, as it happens, compares to Barker's reconstruction.
The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles . . . Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the foundation of a great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.145
The picture is the same. Many writings of the earlier Jews and Christians were altered and suppressed.
The Authorship and Content of Revelation
Barker credits John as the principal author of many parts of the Book of Revelation, although she sees him as writing within a contemporary school of priestly oracles, writing in a long-standing tradition associated with the temple ascent. She notes that Revelation is the only New Testament book that explicitly claims divine inspiration,146 and she believes parts of Revelation originated with Jesus. For her, Revelation is early and central to Christianity rather than late and peripheral. So it is another point of interest that Revelation is central in Nephi's perspective of the writings that pass to the gentiles from the early Christians. Nephi closes his account of his apocalyptic147 vision by observing that "the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write" the remainder of the vision.148
Most of Barker's reading of Revelation concerns Jesus as the Lamb, the expectations of the tenth Jubilee, and the events in Palestine in response to the preaching of the gospel up to the destruction of Jerusalem. Much of Nephi's vision concerns the ministry of Jesus as the Lamb, the preaching of his apostles, and the response of the world to that preaching. Concerning the authorship and content of the book of Revelation, Nephi writes:
And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe. And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been. And he shall also write concerning the end of the world . . . And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.149
Barker agrees with Nephi that John's final chapters describe the end of the world. She writes
thus far, the Book of Revelation has been a reflection on history; the remaining chapters depict the future. . . . The vision of the future which forms the remaining chapters of Revelation depicts Wisdom returning to her city and the priests returning to the Garden of Eden.150
Again, the pictures run parallel. One difference with respect to John is that Barker does not accept the tradition that John the Beloved would tarry until the Lord came, something the Book of Mormon seems to accept.151 She sees John 21:22–23 as implicitly refuting the idea, although the language is ambiguous.152 But this difference on one point should not mask the overall fit, particularly since the description of the change that comes upon the three Nephites matches the transformation to angelic status that she expresses elsewhere.153
Plain, Precious, and Easy to the Understanding
Barker shows that Isaiah, Enoch, Ezekiel, and John in Revelation all write using the mythos of the first temple. She writes, "the Book of Revelation has many similarities to the prophecies of Ezekiel, not because there was a conscious imitation of the earlier prophet, but because both books were the product of temple priests (Ezekiel 1:3) and stood in the same tradition."154 Barker's method of reading is to approach the symbolism of Revelation in terms of what is known about temple ideas in first-century Palestine and to search widely through other Jewish writings which show familiarity with the same set of symbols.155 Indeed, she approximates Nephi's keys for understanding Isaiah in exploring the manner of prophecy among the Jews.156
I had long been puzzled at Nephi's description of John's book as "precious and easy to the understanding of all men." How is it that Nephi, writing about 600 years before John, can insist that John's vision would be "easy to the understanding?"
Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men.157
Consider Nephi's approach to Isaiah, based on his knowledge of the manner of prophesying among the Jews, plus his own "ascent" and knowledge of the wisdom traditions. Consider Nephi building a temple, and consecrating his brother Jacob as a temple priest. Nephi clearly knows the mythos of the First Temple. In this context, it makes perfect sense that a prophet from preexilic Jerusalem who has experienced the ascent and who knows the old temple traditions can declare that John's visions are plain.
Other Witnesses to the Vision
Barker writes that "the visions of Jesus had not been entrusted to John alone; others 'had' them."158 Barker relies on such other temple visions among both the biblical prophets and on recently discovered accounts to put her readings into context. This agrees with Nephi's prophecy:
And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see. But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them. And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.159
Nephi's vision and Barker's reconstruction run parallel to the end. For both, the primary author is John, but "others" have seen and written accounts that will come forth in the due time of the Lord.
In the final chapter of The Older Testament, Barker uses the book of Job as a test of her notions about what happened to the religion of Israel during the exile. Specifically, she sees the prose preface as describing a Job who simply accepts what is happening to him. What causes him to rebel is the arguments of the comforters, which Barker sees as representing exilic perspectives. "Job's rebellion was prompted not by suffering but by the explanation of suffering."160 She sees the poetic passages of Job as a debate between two systems of wisdom with similar standards of behavior, yet different standards as to what constitutes righteousness—satisfying cultic proprieties or meeting standards of social conduct—and different explanations for evil—the malice of heavenly beings or human disobedience. "One system makes man, by his own action, responsible for human suffering; the other attributes it to the movements within heaven."161
Rather than exclusively favoring "cultic proprieties" or claims of appropriate "social conduct," the Book of Mormon recognizes the legitimate claims that each set of standards holds for believers, and warns of the abuses possible at either extreme.162
With respect to the experience of adversity, consider that Nephi begins his own account by saying that he has "seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless having been favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God."163 This perspective presents an immediate contrast with the arguments of Job's comforters, and it continues throughout the Book of Mormon. There is a striking balance shown in the book of Mosiah in the stories of the communities of Alma at the Waters of Mormon and of Limhi's people. Both groups of people become captives, and both suffer. Yet the book of Mosiah expressly states that while Limhi's people understood their captivity as due to their own wickedness,164 Alma's people understood their captivity as a trial of faith.165 At the center of the book of Mosiah is the story of Abinadi, who stands as a type of the suffering innocent, one who faces his ordeal with the attitude that after he fulfills his mission, even death at the hands of his enemies "mattereth not . . . if it so be that I am saved."166 In the Book of Mormon, the innocent can suffer, even unto death,167 or can be rescued from ordeals by divine intervention.168 The wicked can appear to prosper, or they can face judgment for their crimes. The Book of Mormon gives attention to the suffering of innocents, suggesting divine perspectives that help understand those situations. It also includes stories of divine deliverance and protection, but not without poignant reminders that such protections may be delayed or even may not be forthcoming. Even though the Book of Mormon clearly links obedience with blessings and disobedience with cursing, it just as clearly illustrates other temporal circumstances and accounts for them in ways that contrast with the legalistic notions of Job's comforters.
Regarding the ultimate explanation for evil and suffering, as we have seen, the Book of Mormon shows affinities with the older traditions. Barker sketches the presence of the old ways that Job claims:
The friends know of the heavenly council, of a claim to true wisdom, and of the attempt to ascend into heaven. The way in which these are used suggests that they were a part of Job's own view, being turned against him. The friends claim for themselves another wisdom, and an ancient tradition, in a manner which shows that Job accepted neither. . . .
The heart of Job's dilemma is that there is only one God. He has been asked by the friends to reconcile the all too obvious evil in creation with his confidence in a God who will punish evil. The Job dialogue thus represents the struggles of a man coming to terms with monotheism, and being deprived of the more ancient polytheistic view.169
Compare this with Bruce Pritchett's discussion of Job in comparison to 2 Nephi 2:
The book of Job shows that Yahweh allowed Satan to afflict Job (Job 1:9–11) to test his righteousness. This idea that God allows affliction in order to test humanity is very similar to Lehi's teaching that there must be opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2:11–18, especially verse 16: "Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other [good and evil]"), and even the doctrine taught elsewhere in Mormon scripture that the primeval council decided, "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" (Abraham 3:25). In the book of Job, Job's righteousness appears through his suffering. Satan's premise, which God accepts, is that Job has not been sufficiently tested—therefore God allows Job's suffering. Likewise, Lehi's theology calls for opposition in order to make true righteousness possible.170
The Book of Mormon's explanation for the experience of adversity is akin to the older traditions of Israel.
The picture that Barker constructs of the reform of the religion of Israel by the exilic Deuteronomists, of the transmission of sacred records to the time of the earliest Christians and the subsequent losses, and of the significance of recent discoveries, is largely consistent with the picture in the Book of Mormon. Because the temple traditions were the focus of the reform efforts, we will next compare her picture of the temple traditions with the Book of Mormon.