Barker's works have earned her recognition as an authority on the history and symbolism of the temple. This section discusses some of her observations of survival of the first temple traditions as evidenced by the Enoch literature preserved by the Christians and compares these traditions to the Book of Mormon.
Despite the efforts of the Deuteronomists, Barker finds much evidence that many in Palestine preserved the older teachings that the reformers suppressed. Indeed, she argues that the Book of Enoch, Isaiah, and Revelation share the same temple-based mythos, quite distinct from the Law-based Moses traditions. (This will be a point of emphasis in her forthcoming commentary on Isaiah.) We need to remember that not all of the Jews were taken to Babylon as exiles. 2 Kings 24:15—16 lists nobility, soldiers, and craftsmen, and notes that the poor were left behind. After Zedekiah rebelled, more were taken, and 2 Kings 25:12 again describes the poor of the land being left. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah record some of the tensions between these poor and those who returned from Babylon to build a temple with financial and political backing from Cyrus. But notice that those books record the tensions from the perspective of the returnees, at the expense of the people who remained behind. Richard Elliot Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? explores the traditions that Ezra, one of the returning exiles,1 was a redactor of the Old Testament text that has come down to us. In Barker's view, 1 Enoch preserves the perspective of those who remained, and who saw the returning exiles as apostates.2
Furthermore, she observes that the suppressed ideas center on the temple. In her books, she builds a picture of the preexilic religion centered on the old atonement rites in the temple.
Temple theology is the original context of the New Testament insofar as the hopes, beliefs, symbols and rituals of the temple shaped the lives of those who came to be called Christians. Temple theology knew of incarnation and atonement, the sons of God and the life of the age to come, the day of judgement, justification, salvation, the renewed covenant and the kingdom of God. When temple theology is presented, even in its barest outline, its striking relevance to the New Testament becomes clear.3
The relevance to the Book of Mormon is just as clear, particularly in light of recent studies that highlight the centrality of the temple in the Book of Mormon.4 When the themes of the day of judgment, incarnation, the sons of God, atonement, the kingdom of God, and the age to come appear in the Book of Mormon, they often do so in temple contexts.5 Concerning atonement in the Book of Mormon, Hugh Nibley writes:
The word atonement appears only once in the New Testament, but 127 times in the Old Testament. The reason for this is apparent when we note that of the 127 times, all but 5 are in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, where they explicitly describe the original rites of the tabernacle or temple on the Day of Atonement; moreover the sole appearance of the word in the New Testament is in the epistle to the Hebrews, explaining how those very rites are to be interpreted since the coming of Christ . . . atonement (including related terms, atone, atoned, atoneth, atoning) appear . . . 39 times in the Book of Mormon. This puts the Book of Mormon in the milieu of the old Hebrew rites before the destruction of Solomon's Temple.6
When the theme of atonement appears in the Book of Mormon, it typically does so in temple contexts.7 Barker writes:
It is widely agreed that the three autumn festivals of the postexilic period, (New Year, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles) were derived from an earlier royal festival held every autumn to celebrate the renewal of the year and the enthronement of the king. Nothing can be proved, but Isaiah 40—55 is thought to be based on the liturgies of this festival.8
Several studies have shown that King Benjamin's coronation discourse at the temple comprehensively combines the themes of the preexilic autumn festivals. Terrance Szink and John Welch write that
King Benjamin's speech was delivered in the fall, at the time of year when all ancient Israelites, including peoples of the Book of Mormon, would have been celebrating their great autumn festival season, which included many ancient elements that later became enduring parts of the Jewish holidays of Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Most of the known or surmised ancient elements of these festivals are represented in the text of the Book of Mormon. . . . Benjamin's speech contains numerous elements pertinent to the New Year holy day, the Day of Atonement observances, the Feast of Tabernacles and the sabbatical or jubilee year.9
Also, it should be of interest for the Isaiah problem that a text which many scholars ascribe to a second Isaiah writing during the exile is said to point back to the liturgy of a preexilic festival. (Keep this in mind when we come back to the Isaiah problem.)
In The Lost Prophet, Barker identifies several key themes from the first temple traditions that were preserved in the Enoch literature:
We can now add to our pattern of vision, knowledge, judgement, ascent and angelic status several more elements: the royal figure called "a son of man," the Eden temple setting with the river of life-giving water, the lamp representing both the presence of God and the Tree of Life whose fruits made man immortal (Genesis 3:22), and the clouds which took a son of man figure to heaven.10
This summary passage deserves a close look because these themes have conspicuous counterparts in the Book of Mormon, as will be shown below. I have already discussed vision in the previous section, so we will move on to each of the other themes.
Knowledge: Is Knowledge Good or Evil?
Now Wisdom in the Old Testament was regarded in two very different ways; the reformers were suspicious of Wisdom but the older religion of Israel seems to have recognised that Wisdom, i.e., the Spirit, transformed human beings and made them like God. Paul said the same thing in Romans 8:14—17: if the Spirit of God dwells in you, you are sons of God. The serpent in Eden was right; knowledge, that is, Wisdom did make human beings god-like. The problem was: was it a good thing for human beings to be god-like, to be sons of God? Those who reformed Israel's religion set themselves against all these ideas, and that is the real root of the difference between Christianity and Judaism. The Christians were not afraid to describe themselves as sons of God.11
This attitude is explicit in the Book of Mormon in the covenant discourse in Mosiah. Acting as king and as high priest, Benjamin asserts that "I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom,"12 and continues unfolding the temple mysteries.13 The mysteries culminate in a moment when the people have accepted the atoning blood of Christ,14 as a result of which Benjamin can say that "ye are born of him and have become his sons and daughters."15 Abinadi declares that the redeemed of the Son of God become "his seed . . . they are heirs of the kingdom of God."16 These doctrines also appear in the statements of the Lord in 3 Nephi 9:17 preparatory to his visit to the temple in Bountiful: "As many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God."17 Not only is the doctrine appropriate, but so are the covenant/temple contexts in which these teachings are given.
With respect to knowledge, the Lord's teaching in the Book of Mormon includes admonitions to study, that the multitude "prepare their minds."18 The sons of Mosiah are particularly good examples:
Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.19
Of the ancient wisdom, Barker writes what it was and how it could be corrupted:
Wisdom was . . . a body of knowledge and practices which gave power over creation when used in conjunction with supernatural forces. It was the essence of all that had been corrupted through pride and rebellion.20
The Book of Mormon tells the story of the brother of Jared, who gained great wisdom through his ascent experience and who demonstrated faith enough to remove a mountain.21 Likewise, the Book of Mormon contains conspicuous cautions about pride.22 Specifically, Nephi's brother Jacob says regarding knowledge, "to be learned is good, if they hearken unto the counsels of God."23 Not only is Jacob's sentiment here consistent with the angel mythology of Enoch, in which the fallen angels are those who pervert knowledge, but the whole passage is permeated with imagery, language, and divine titles from the temple background that Barker describes.24
The fallen angels are corruptors, a problem for the creation that requires a solution. The solution in the New Testament is the birth of the Messiah, but Barker believes that we require the additional context from the Enoch literature to show where wisdom and premortal existence come in:
One of the problems faced by New Testament scholars is how wisdom and pre-existence can relate to the idea of the virgin birth; but read in the light of the Enochic wisdom, this is no problem at all.25 The birth of a son of God would have marked the beginning of a new era, when the old decay and corruption were reversed, and wisdom in an uncorrupted form brought into creation. Thus sonship and obedience belong naturally together, since the agents of the first corruption were rebel sons of God. The evil spirits which they left to torment the earth were those which Jesus encountered in the miracles, who feared that they were being destroyed before the time (Matthew 8:29). It is these demons who recognized Jesus as the Son of God, and they knew that this affected them.26
In these matters, the Enoch texts restore a lost context to the New Testament. Barker also discusses significant losses from the Old Testament. She says
the question we cannot answer is: How is it that Jubilees and Job have an account of the creation which includes the angels, which Genesis does not mention, even though it does have an evil serpent figure of whose origin we are told nothing? Later traditions knew that an elaborate heavenly world had been created before the material world and this heaven was totally integrated with the earth.27
Correspondingly, the Book of Mormon includes information about the fallen angels and their role that is missing from the Genesis creation account.28
And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.29
The Book of Moses 3:5—7; 4:1—4, the Book of Abraham 3:22—28, 5:1—5, and the Doctrine and Covenants 29:36—40 contain information about the spirit creation preceding the physical creation. A spirit creation is also implicit in Alma 13:3. Many Book of Mormon passages refer to the devil and his angels in opposition to Christ.30 For example, Mormon explains
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.31
Barker notes "wisdom was not inherently evil, but became so with misuse."32 Jacob's caution against the abuse of knowledge comes with an endorsement of the value of gaining knowledge. "To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God."33 As Barker says, obedience and sonship go together.
Barker describes the ancient context of the judgment traditions in ways that illuminate the Book of Mormon:
The Enochic tradition has, however, a distinctive attitude to fertility which could throw light on the situation in the time of the monarchy. Fertility followed the destruction of the evil angels, and the establishment of the rule of the great Holy One. Perverted knowledge was removed from the earth. The pattern was judgement, true knowledge and then fertility (1 Enoch 10; 80.2—8). It derived, I believe, from the sequence of the autumn festival, where the renewal of fertility was bound up with the renewal of kingship after the enactment of the great judgement which gave rise to the biblical imagery of judgement as harvest.34 . . . In every case where Isaiah mentions fertility, it is in such a context of judgement.35
Even though the Book of Mormon never uses the word fertility, the idea is present in the covenant promise that through obedience, the Nephites should "prosper in the land." This phrase occurs thirty-five times in the Book of Mormon, clearly embodying fertility,36 and is consistently associated with judgment via the obligations of the covenant. In the case of Benjamin's discourse, we find all these ideas expressed during the autumn festival, during the renewal of kingship:
Therefore, as I said unto you that I had served you, walking with a clear conscience before God, even so I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I shall stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you. I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God. And moreover, I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might declare unto you that I can no longer be your teacher, nor your king; For even at this time, my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you; but the Lord God doth support me, and hath suffered me that I should speak unto you, and hath commanded me that I should declare unto you this day, that my son Mosiah is a king and a ruler over you. And now, my brethren, I would that ye should do as ye have hitherto done. As ye have kept my commandments, and also the commandments of my father, and have prospered, and have been kept from falling into the hands of your enemies, even so if ye shall keep the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him, ye shall prosper in the land, and your enemies shall have no power over you. But, O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit, which was spoken of by my father Mosiah. For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge.37
The allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5—6 also contains striking images of harvest as judgment:38
And when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard, then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered; and the good will I preserve unto myself, and the bad will I cast away into its own place. And then cometh the season and the end; and my vineyard will I cause to be burned with fire.39
In discussing the efforts of the sons of Mosiah among the Lamanites, Ammon says:
Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted. Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them. But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.40
The judgment themes in the Book of Mormon occur in the correct context. We will continue to see that each thread of agreement in these comparisons is woven into a fabric that touches the others.
Barker observes that the throne theophanies such as in Isaiah 6 were widespread in preexilic Israel. She cites evidence that the kings of Israel as well as the prophets participated in the heavenly ascent.41 Further, she shows that the imagery of the ascent used by Enoch, Ezekiel, and others was conditioned by the temple practices and symbols.
In the visionary texts . . . the holy of holies is vividly described, suggesting not only that the visionaries knew the holy of holies, but also that they had a particular interest in it. Isaiah saw the throne in the temple with heavenly beings beside it; Enoch entered a second house within the first house, a place of fire where there was a lofty throne surrounded by the hosts of heaven (1 Enoch 14). The undateable Similitudes of Enoch have the same setting: the throne of glory and the hosts of heaven. These images were memories of the cult of the first temple and it was the visionaries who kept the memory alive: Enoch is depicted as a priest, burning the incense of the sanctuary (Jubilees 4:25) and Ezekiel, who saw the chariot, was also a priest (Ezekiel 1:3).42
Accordingly, Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 1 turns out to be a perfect example of a throne theophany.43 Nephi too, claims this kind of experience:
Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the nighttime. And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me. And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.44
In his essay "The Meaning of the Atonement,"45 Hugh Nibley has shown that Nephi's Psalm is ripe with atonement imagery, which ties it closer to the temple.
3 Nephi 10—29 also places ascent in a temple context. The multitude begins in the darkness of the destruction that precedes a re-creation, encounters a messenger at the temple, who provides instruction and covenants through which some pass through a veiling cloud, and are transfigured in order to return to the presence of the Father. Ether 2:14; 3:1—21 describes the experience of the brother of Jared in a similar way.46
Remember too, King Benjamin's assertion that the words of his discourse were provided by an angel, with the implication that Benjamin, too, experienced the ascent prior to acting as the high priest during the atonement rites.47
Putting a context to this starting image of "ascent to heaven," Barker writes that
it makes a great deal of difference to our picture of the Messiah in the New Testament, if the name had formerly meant the anointed one who enjoyed the presence of God and had the status of an angel. In the pattern beginning to emerge, the vision of God was linked to knowledge, to judgement, to ascent, and to angelic status, and all these were linked to the anointed one. All these come through as a pattern in early Christian thought.
The ascent visions were associated with the temple and its rituals.48
The same association of ideas appears in the Book of Mormon. We have seen that ascent visions such as Lehi's conform to the details of an ancient pattern and have seen the connections to wisdom, judgment, angelic status, and the temple. Who is the anointed one who ascends to heaven? In her reconstruction of the role of the king in the first temple period, Barker suggests that the anointed one is the king, in his role as the high priest, who represents the Lord. Stephen D. Ricks describes the practice of anointing and consecration of kings and priests in the Book of Mormon:
Following Benjamin's [temple] address and the renewal of the covenant by the people, Benjamin "consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people" (Mosiah 6:3). In the Book of Mormon the verb to consecrate occurs mostly in connection with priests or teachers (see 2 Nephi 5:26; Mosiah 11:5; 23:17; Alma 4:4, 7; 5:3; 15:13; 23:4), but also appears in three instances in association with kings. (1) Benjamin says that he was "consecrated" to be king by his father (Mosiah 2:11), (2) Mosiah was "consecrated" by Benjamin his father (Mosiah 6:3), and (3) Amlici was "consecrate[d]" by his followers to be their king (Alma 2:9).
The verb to anoint is more commonly used in the Book of Mormon record with the setting apart of kings. Nephi "anointed" his successor (Jacob 1:9) . . . To anoint means to set apart by applying oil to the body, specifically the head, and to consecrate, a more general term, means to make holy. Consecrating could be done by anointing, but is not limited to it.49
That is, in the Book of Mormon, the kings and priests are anointed ones who report ascent experiences, and this ordinance occurs in association with the rituals of the temple. For example, Nephi's brother Jacob is an anointed one who has beheld the glory of the Lord,50 who teaches at the temple, using language suggestive of the Day of Atonement.
And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come . . . Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord. For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi. And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.51
Yet the clearest example of the anointed figure and ascent in the Book of Mormon is the Lord himself. His title Christ means "the anointed." The first use of "ascended" occurs in Abinadi's discourse:
And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.52
This passage touches on much of the pattern that Barker sees: Christ as the anointed, justice implying judgment, and the reference to "taking upon himself their iniquity," implying the high priestly function on the Day of Atonement. All but one of the subsequent references occur in the accounts of the resurrected Christ in 3 Nephi.53 We have already noted that the ascent experience appears in several places in the Book of Mormon, including the temple experience with the risen Lord in 3 Nephi 18.
And now I go unto the Father, because it is expedient that I should go unto the Father for your sakes . . . And it came to pass that when Jesus had touched them all, there came a cloud and overshadowed the multitude that they could not see Jesus. And while they were overshadowed he departed from them, and ascended into heaven. And the disciples saw and did bear record that he ascended again into heaven.54
Here we have the clouds and the ascent by the consecrated figure in the temple context.
The final reference to ascent is in Mormon's epistle included by Moroni,55 and that epistle touches on the ideas that Barker discusses in relation to "angelic status."
Angels permeate the Book of Mormon. The word angel appears eighty-five times in the text. The correlation with Barker is not just in the appearance of good and evil angels in the story, but in that Barker writes about the angels transitioning to human status (such as the change to Adam and Eve being represented by their being clothed in garments of skins) and the reverse, humans being transfigured to angelic status.56 Enoch and other writings describe how humans can become angels.
We find that acquiring angel status, i.e., eternal life, is symbolized by putting on white garments, and sometimes by anointing with oil, thus linking the angels to the royal figure. The righteous, says Enoch, will wear garments of glory, garments of life (1 Enoch 62:16).57
Barker cites a passage from 2 Enoch to show that the transformation that the white garments symbolize can actually occur:
'And I looked down,' he said, 'looking at myself, and I was as one of the glorious ones and there was no difference. And the terror and trembling went away from me and the Lord with his mouth summoned me and said: "Have courage Enoch; fear not to stand before my face to eternity."'58
Compare this with the passage describing the promise of the transformation of the three Nephites in 3 Nephi 28:6—17 and the subsequent transfiguration of the Nephite twelve. This passage combines ascent and angelic status in a temple setting:
And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one; And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me. And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he touched every one of them with his finger save it were the three who were to tarry, and then he departed. And behold, the heavens were opened, and they were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things. And it was forbidden them that they should utter; neither was it given unto them power that they could utter the things which they saw and heard; And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God.59
Notice too that the Book of Mormon frequently discusses white garments in connection with atonement and judgment.60
And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed. And, behold, they are righteous forever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God their garments are made white in his blood. And the angel said unto me: Look! And I looked, and beheld three generations pass away in righteousness; and their garments were white even like unto the Lamb of God. And the angel said unto me: These are made white in the blood of the Lamb, because of their faith in him.61
Likewise in Alma:
Now, as I said concerning the holy order of this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish; Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.62
Finally, during the appearance of Christ in the New World:
And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.63
The emphasis on the garments of glory and the explicit descriptions of the transformation of the three Nephites fits closely with the picture that Barker has constructed.
The Royal Figure Called the Son of Man
For Barker, the Son of Man sayings from the Book of Enoch illuminate the ways Jesus used the title in reference to himself. In The Lost Prophet, she writes:
In the Similitudes [of Enoch] we see three separate memories of the ancient ceremony of enthronement, with the angelic figure of the king acting as agent of God's judgement. It was ideas of the Son of Man like these which were in the minds of the New Testament writers as they wrote. We cannot say that the Similitudes were their source, because there is no proof of this, but the Son of Man imagery was so widely used, and in such a variety of ways, that it would be very difficult to imagine how Jesus could not have known it.64
Except in a quote from Isaiah, the phrase "Son of Man" does not appear in the Book of Mormon and does not seem to be a title there. However, the title does appear several times in the Enoch passages of our Book of Moses. Nibley writes:
In the Old Testament, the expression "Son of Man" is found only in four poetic passages, in which it is hardly more than an expression for an ordinary human. In the New Testament, it is not, as anyone would naturally expect, the unassuming title of one who would depict himself humbly as a common mortal "delicately and modestly," or even in "self-depreciation." For in all the occurrences of the title in the New Testament, it refers to the Lord in his capacity as the exalted one from on high whose real nature and glory are hidden from men. Aside from these occurrences, the title "Son of Man" is never used as a title in the intertestamental literature except in the Similitudes of Enoch. Here is a very neat test for Joseph Smith: the "Son of Man" title does not occur once in the Book of Mormon, either, and in the Pearl of Great Price it is confined to one brief section of the Book of Enoch where it is used no fewer than seven times—again the prophet is right on target.65
The Book of Mormon does show the Nephite kings and even some of the Lamanite kings enacting the appropriate Messianic roles, including Benjamin's apparent acting as the high priest during the atonement rites and King Lamoni (Alma 18:41—43; 19:1—16) prefiguring the death and ascent of the Messiah. Lamoni's story is particularly resonant in this connection. Nibley has suggested that the feast to which he had been summoned by his father, for which he was absent during his near-death conversion experience, would have been the Year Rite.66 This explains his father's extreme anger at his absence. And if so, it means that rather than attending a ritual dramatization of the descent of the king into the underworld, being mourned and sought by his consort, and then raised up again, Lamoni experienced the reality that the ritual depicted.
Edenic Temple Setting with a River of Life-Giving Water and a Tree of Life
Barker writes that
in the traditions of the ancient Near East there is 'a garden of paradise where a gardener supervises the Tree of Life growing at the Water of life . . . The Testament of Judah describes the Messiah as, 'This Branch of God Most High, And this fountain giving life unto all' (Testament of Judah 24:4). Note that the royal figure is both Tree and Fountain.67
Accordingly, in the Book of Mormon, in answer to a question about the meaning of the tree of life,68 Nephi is granted a vision of "the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!"69 After viewing this, Nephi realizes that (among other things) the tree represents "the love of God"70 along with the "fountain of living waters, or . . . the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God."71
Barker also observes several contrasts between the Mountain Eden of Ezekiel, which derives from the imagery of the first temple, with the Eden of Genesis as the Bible shows it.72 She also writes critically of the Bible garden story as an explanation of evil that asserts that "human disobedience is the cause of evil."73 She not only sees unanswered questions in the Bible story, such as its failure to explain the presence of the serpent, but serious problems for Christianity in its adoption.
How many people who come apart and need expert help are the victims of their own religious system, destroyed by the feelings of guilt, inadequacy and dependence which have been implanted by a religious upbringing? In women this is particularly so, as their status in society has for so long been determined by the 'Christian view' of their proper role.74
In contrast, she not only cites the story told in the Enoch books about the rebel angels and the fall from heaven as a theologically stronger account, but she also explains that the New Testament seems to assume the influence of the fallen angels. She believes that the fallen angel story "has only the remotest link to the Adam and Eve story."75 However, the Book of Mormon (and the books of Abraham and Moses, and the Latter-day Saint temple drama) weaves the fallen angel stories together with a variant Adam and Eve story, one which has a much stronger theodicy and a far more optimistic view of the potential of human kind in general and women in particular than the traditional Genesis account.76
And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.77
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.78
And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.79
Lehi's exposition in 2 Nephi 2 does not discuss the other fallen angels, but the Book of Mormon frequently refers to them in the context of judgment passages. For example, Samuel the Lamanite's prophecy of the signs of the coming of the Messiah includes these warnings:
And in the days of your poverty ye shall cry unto the Lord; and in vain shall ye cry, for your desolation is already come upon you, and your destruction is made sure; and then shall ye weep and howl in that day, saith the Lord of Hosts. And then shall ye lament, and say: O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God . . . Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days.80
Jacob's temple discourse on atonement includes a reference to the evil angels:
Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness. And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God. And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.81
Starting from similar understandings of the tree of life in the Book of Mormon and Barker, we here move to a different understanding of the Eden story. But we find that pursuing that divergence quickly leads us back to a shared picture.
A significant part of the Deuteronomist reform was the promotion of Jerusalem as the only cult center, the only temple.82 One of Alexander Campbell's criticisms of the Book of Mormon in 1831 was that it showed Nephi building a temple in the New World.83 Furthermore, subsequent generations built other temples in other cities.84 No Jew, Campbell and others claimed, would dream of building a temple outside of Jerusalem.85 Nibley has observed that the discoveries at Elephantine in Egypt showed that there were groups of Jews who neither believed nor acted as though Jerusalem was the only place a temple could be built.86 The Bible does record that other places had been shrines with temples. Steven St. Clair observes that
major cultic sites existed in the North at Shechem, Bethel, and Shiloh, among others. After the split between the two kingdoms, the Ephraimite King Jeroboam built alternate temples at Bethel and Dan, the extreme northern and southern limits of their territory. Thenceforth, the descendants of the northern Israelite tradition had a distrust of the temple at Jerusalem, and had no objection to the building of a temple at another site or the existence of more than one temple.87
Lehi's ancestry goes back to Joseph, which is one of many telling connections to the northern kingdom traditions.88
Barker's reconstruction of first temple themes in the Enoch texts agrees with the picture we find in the Book of Mormon. The timing of Lehi's departure from Jerusalem and the evidence associating the Nephites with the northern traditions accounts for both the presence of first temple themes and wisdom traditions in the Book of Mormon and for the temple building tradition among the Nephites.