I took occasion yesterday to read the paper “The Religion of the Fathers” in a slow and methodical fashion. It is sixty-nine pages, and I did not want to rush through it. I sat through four hours of listening as it was delivered a few weeks ago, now I wanted to read it to remember, confirm and verify the impressions I had when I first heard it but also to absorb the message more fully. Therefore, I sat still as I read, listening for the impressions of the spirit, seeking to know the Lord’s mind.
It took me six hours to read, ponder and look up many of the footnotes. It has the best defense of the Book of Abraham I have ever read. I had heard some of the history of the Egyptian dynasties explained before, but besides my own personal witness from the Lord that it is a valid record and is scripture, perhaps these three statements from the middle of the paper best conclude the matter for me that the opponents of the Book of Abraham have long been barking up the wrong tree.
The Book of Abraham did not Take Place in Egypt
1) “…the account clearly states that God told Abraham, “I show these things unto you before you go into Egypt.” Accordingly, nothing in the Book of Abraham took place in Egypt.“
2) “Willard Richards’ introduction that claims the book is ‘purporting to be the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt’ is demonstrably wrong from the text itself. Thirty-two times the Book of Abraham states otherwise. When nothing in the text reckons from Egypt, it is questionable how useful criticism is of the Book of Abraham from an Egyptological vantage point.”
3) “To be clear, because nothing in the Book of Abraham happened in Egypt, it is questionable how useful anything authentically Egyptian (if we are able to determine that) is to understand or to question that text.”
Clear and Precise Conclusive Declarations
I read many footnotes. As I noted in my post of a few days ago, I think this is one of the best papers we have received from Denver, second only in my mind to his paper on “Our Divine Parents,” which I continue to maintain should be canonized in our scriptures because it is so chock full of doctrine about the Family of God, with clear distinctions about the events in the Garden of Eden that remove so much confusion that has existed in the church for so many years among so many. It other words, it puts the Adam-God theorists on the defensive with the facts.
This paper, “The Religion of the Fathers” is similar in that it clarifies and refutes so many false understandings and long-held traditions. It also contains some of the strongest language I have heard or read to date condemning the institution that is promoting or promulgating the false traditions because they are without divine guidance or because they are so heavily invested in maintaining the narrative that every day becomes more and more shaky when compared to revealed truth.
So Much has Happened in the Last Seven Years
Here is an example from the very last pages of the paper:
“In 2014 God revoked the authority of the LDS hierarchy. In the ensuing few years that institution has continually stumbled into darkness and disarray, with their temples closed and services altogether interrupted for a year. They have voluntarily altered and abandoned parts of their temple rites. They have voluntarily chosen to destroy the original Salt Lake Temple and replace it with a modern substitute lacking the original symbolism and meaning.
“They have continually surrendered to popular opinion, and increasingly adopted the worldly agenda of accepting sexual confusion, political intolerance, and censorship of opinion. When viewed as trends, it becomes apparent the LDS church’s leadership is rapidly moving in a direction contrary to its original roots. In contrast, a small group has been repenting and returning to the original roots established by God through Joseph Smith.
By 2017 a more accurate version of the Book of Mormon was recovered, the JST Bible revisions were accurately published for the first time, the Lectures on Faith returned to the canon, additional scriptures added, and a new covenant with God was established. Overthrowing and returning are repeated cycles, and they are underway again today. But the overthrow and the returning are not yet complete. The overthrow will bring a full end to all nations and religions. But the returning will be determined by covenant-keeping.”
The Footnotes add so Much to the Paper
There are 391 footnotes in the paper, over a dozen in the above quote. Yes, I know it is standard practice to include footnotes in scholarly papers. My mother left me a collection of her scholarly papers that she labored over for weeks, even months later in life, as she deepened her understanding and testimony of modern scriptures that she was not exposed to in her youth. It is clear she solidified her thoughts as she wrote them out. I am grateful for the heritage she left me.
I hope to write a lot more about the wealth of information found in this paper, but for this short post, I want to focus on the very first footnote, one that I have glossed over for years in my writings but which I have long wanted to document, at least for myself for when someone asks me about it, and that is the identity of the individual who came to visit the Prophet Joseph Smith on the night of 21 September 1823. Was it the Angel Moroni or was it Nephi? How do we know?
Some References to the Angel as Nephi
Footnote one in the paper points out an example of falsehoods [that have] become apparent when compared with light and truth from God. Obvious mistakes such as misnaming angels (“Moroni” instead of “Nephi”) is listed as the very first example. Where did this mistake come from and when did it first appear? And is it important that we know if it was Moroni or Nephi? If so, why?
I think I first read about this in a blog post that was dated 10 December 2013. I had started reading material from Denver commencing January of 2012, so while he may have mentioned or taught this somewhere previously, this is the first time I can recall the explanation as to why it could not have been Moroni who visited Joseph that night: He was not yet resurrected. Moroni died some 400 years after the death of the Savior. “Moroni would have missed the resurrection at the time of Christ, and therefore would await the Second Coming for his resurrection.”
Mormon was Not Yet Resurrected
Nephi, son of Lehi, would have been among those who were resurrected at the time of the Savior’s resurrection, in which the record was amended at the Savior’s instruction to include this very fact – that many were resurrected and appeared to many. “Joseph Smith identified the angel who visited him, taught him, and gave him possession of the gold plates, as ‘Nephi’ and not Moroni. Joseph would not have mistaken who it was that visited him on September 21, 1823 and again each year for four years thereafter. If it was a resurrected personage, it is more likely Nephi, who died before the Lord’s resurrection, than Moroni, who lived after.”
In the Joseph Smith Papers, Histories, Vol. 1, we learn Joseph read and corrected his history: “…it suggests that JS [Joseph Smith] read aloud from Draft 2 in the large manuscript volume, directing editorial changes as he read.” (Id. at p. 201.) Here is how Draft 2 reads, describing the visit of the angel to him in his bedroom on the night of September 21, 1823: “When I first looked upon him, I was afraid, but the fear soon left me. He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi.” (Id. p. 222.)
One of the references: https://denversnuffer.com/2013/12/nephi/
Joseph Smith Corrected Oliver Cowdery
“Section 27 of the D&C mentions, ‘Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon’ (D&C 27: 5). However, the original transcript of the revelation did not contain any of these words. You can read the original in Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books, pp. 40-43. These words were added later, probably by Oliver Cowdery.”
“…the histories written by Joseph Smith naming the angel ‘Nephi’ came after the 1835 version of the D&C. He wrote these histories naming Nephi in 1838, 1839 and 1841. So, was the later naming of Nephi a correction of the earlier addition by Oliver Cowdery naming Moroni? Given the timing, it is possible this may be the case. Most of the references made to the visitor throughout the writings and talks of Joseph Smith refer to a ‘messenger’ or to an ‘angel’ and leave identity unresolved. You should know there is an uncertainty about this. You should be allowed to decide for yourself which you want to believe.”
You choose – Angel Moroni or Angel Nephi
Is it important that we know for certain who appeared on the night of the 21st of September 1823? Is it important if we know who it was that delivered the plates to Joseph four years later? It has not bothered me. I have continued to refer to the Angel Moroni that visited Joseph that night in most of what I have written over the past eight years since I read what Denver shared in the above linked posts. However, based on the emphasis of the first footnote in the paper on “The Religion of the Fathers,” I am more inclined to say it was Nephi who visited him and even more inclined to believe it was also Nephi who delivered the plates.
But does it matter? You believe what you like. I refuse to contend. I am not sure it matters. We have the Book of Mormon. We also now have a “more correct” copy of the Book of Mormon available. For me, it is enough to know that the Book of Mormon was brought forth by the power of God and angels were sent to deliver messages to Joseph as he commenced the work of the restoration in his day. This is a miraculous thing. God still sends us messengers. I heard one speak out in the desert of Northern Nevada just a few weeks ago.