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Where was Eden?

Where is the Garden of God?

Why does it matter that LDS Scripture correctly locates Eden? For whom does the American Eden tradition pose a problem?

“Some prophets -- I say it respectfully – know more and have greater inspiration than others. Thus, If Brigham Young who was one of the greatest of the prophets, said something about Adam which is out of harmony with what is in the Book of Moses and in Section 78, it is the scripture that prevails. This is one of the reasons we call our scriptures The Standard Works. They are the standard of judgment and the measuring rod against which all doctrines and views are weighed, and it does not make one particle of difference whose views are involved. The scriptures always take precedence.”  (Apostle  Bruce R. McConkie, “Honest Seekers of Truth”, 1 July, 1980; see also STANDARD WORKS, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 764-765; and Dennis B. Horne, Bruce R. McConkie Highlights From His Life & Teachings, pp. 143-144)

 

Preface -The Sacred Name of the LORD Appearing in Genesis 2

Eden עֵדֶן has come to mean delight in Hebrew. In a more ancient Middle-Eastern language, "Eden" may actually mean or imply fruitful or fertile plain. (Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon, 4574, 5731, pp. 726-727)

Eden was the fertile plain or district in which lay the garden of the ETERNAL (JEHOVAH) Elohim - "the LORD God".

Curiously, the sacred name of the LORD does not appear in the creation account of Genesis 1. The ETERNAL name first appears in the Genesis 2 creation story - the chapter that tells how “the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden”.

The name of the LORD is spelled with four characters - symbols from an ancient Semitic Aleph-Bet . The names (or meanings) of these characters are:

Yod, Hilul, Vav, Hilul

These characters represent:

 Yod = Hand (forearm) = י

 Hey or Hilul = Person with arms upraised =ה

 Vav = Nail (Peg) = ו

On the right, in the list above, are the post-exilic Hebrew letters that replaced the more ancient pictorial symbols.

Here is the sacred name in ancient pictorial characters, read from right to left:

The Sacred Name

Tetragrammaton

An artistic depiction of the sacred name and the meaning of each letter  - by V. Coon  כּוּן

The ancient hallowed title “YHVH Elohim” is replaced with “LORD God” in the Authorized King James Bible translation (KJV). (Genesis 2:8) A similar substitution (“Lord God”) appears in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired English translation of Genesis. (Moses 3:8)

The title “YHVH Elohim” can be interpreted to mean “the ETERNAL God” or “the ETERNAL Gods”. The Prophet Joseph Smith understood that “Eloheim” is more than a title of God the Father - “Elohim” literally means “Gods” - plural. (History of the Church 6:475-476)

The sacred name YHVH (also called the Tetragrammaton) is conventionally pronounced “Jehovah”. This mispronunciation has become Standard English. The sacred name can be understood to mean “He will ever be”. The name is a third person version of the first person divine name revealed in Exodus 3:12-15  - the name translated “I will be” or “I AM” (KJV). The meanings of these sacred names imply one who is self-existent, endless and eternal. Hence the names of God, even the Father listed in LDS scripture: “Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.” (Moses 7:35; 6:57 ; see the note on the meaning of “Jehovah” found in the Authorized LDS Scripture Resource included in the Appendix of this article)

The ineffable title of deity, YHVH, is frequently and reverently replaced with the less sacred title, “Adonai”, “the LORD”, or as happens in Joseph Smith's English translation of scripture: “the Lord”.

The English Book of Moses obviously relies at least in part on the familiar, dignified, but in some cases inaccurate, King James Translation with its novel western conventions. The King James Bible served as a substrate for the Prophet’s inspired English translation.

The sacred name variously translated “Jehovah”, “Eternal”, "the LORD", or "GOD" is actually bestowed on more than one divine person. (Exodus 23:20-21, Numbers 6:27; see also 3 Nephi 27:27; 28:10) “The ETERNAL” is a name and description of the Elohim (Gods) - GOD. (Isaiah 44:6-8, Alma 11:44, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 109:4, 29, 33-34 - note that the Father is addressed as "Lord" and "Jehovah" in the Prophet's dedicatory prayer)

The interesting distinction between the KJV substitute titles "LORD God" and "Lord GOD", is that the latter replaces in translation the sacred title "Adonai YHVH". (Psalm 71:5, 16, Amos 3:7, Isaiah 3:15; 22:5, Jeremiah 44:26, Ezekiel 11:13 etc.)

"Adonai" is usually translated "the Lord" in the KJV, but the Hebraic expression is really plural possessive; meaning "my Lords". Likewise "Elohai" is literally "my Gods". (Hebrew Psalm 35:23) "the Lord GOD" therefore literally means "my Lords Jehovah" - again suggesting the unified plurality of the ETERNAL GOD. (Genesis 15:2, 8; 18:1-3, Deuteronomy 3:24, Joshua 7:7)

Jehovah”, or rather, "the Eternal" is one of the sacred names bestowed upon Messiah, the Son of God by the ETERNAL Father. (Jeremiah 23:5-6, Mosiah 15:3-5; 16:15, Alma 11:38-39, Moroni 10:4, Revelation 1:8, 11, Isaiah 48:12, ST John 8:24-28, 57-58) The Son acts in the Father’s name and does the same things that the Father does, and has done.

"The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power - to do what? ...what the Father did. The answer is obvious - in a manner to lay down His body and to take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible." (H.C. 6:305-306; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse, "Power of the Father and the Son", pg. 346)

The Son came in his Father's name. (ST John 5:17-21, 43) There are numerous instances in scripture, especially the Book of Mormon, where the son receives the father’s name. (E.g. Alma 63:11) Similarly, the titles of the Son of God came to him by way of his divine Parents. (Psalm 2:7; 110:1-5, Mark 12:35-37, Acts 2:34-36, Matthew 1:21-23)

In understanding these things, a simple answer to the prophet Agur’s riddle presents itself:

4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?  who hath gathered the wind in his fists?  who hath bound the waters in a garment?  who hath established all the ends of the earth?  what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4)

Early leadership of the Church, in fact, referred to God the Father as “The Great Eloheem Jehovah…” (See Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 6, 1845) According to the Book of Moses, the “Lord God”, or more authentically “Yhvh Elohim”, is clearly a title of the divine Parent(s) of the Savior. (Moses 3:18) The Prophet Joseph Smith directly addressed God the Father as "Jehovah", the "Mighty God of Jacob". (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 109:4, 42-51, 54-56, 67-68; consider 3 Nephi 20:12 and Isaiah 63:16)

The Son of God is therefore not the only divine person with the Eternal name, translated “Jehovah”. The Godhead, which includes the Son, is an everlasting Family of unified Gods. The Heavenly Family is presided over by the order of “El Elyon”, “the Most High God” - the God of Melchizedek, whose name is ETERNAL. (Hebrew Genesis 14:18-20, Psalm 83:18; 135:5, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 121:32)

Israelite scripture further describes the Most High as "El elohim YHVH", "The LORD God of gods". (Joshua 22:22) Even the faithfully recited "Sh'mah" of Jewish prayer, which emphasizes divine unity, nevertheless uses the plural possessive "Eloheynu", "our Gods". Translations tend to render the plural as singular. (Deuteronomy 6:4) But a plurality can in fact be "one". (Genesis 2:24; 11:6, Judges 6:16; 20:1, etc.)

It is true that evolving Judaism replaced the veneration of the ETERNAL Family (Godhead) with the worship of a single being. Before such theological innovation, the Israelites were not strictly monotheists. Many scholars class them as henotheists, but the original religion of Israel should properly be described as “Elohimism”. The Israelites were “Elohimists” – Hear O Israel the ETERNAL Elohim, the true Gods of the Universe, are one! (Genesis 3:5, 22, Exodus 22:28)  Are there any real elohim besides the ETERNAL God(s)? No, we know no other Elohim! (Isaiah 44:6, 8; 45:14, 18, 21)

GOD is a spirit (ST John 4:24) whose power and intelligence proceeds from the divine presence to fill the immensity of space. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 88:8-13) But GOD also dwells in a body or bodies as temples of divine intelligence. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 93:35) Therefore, whatever else GOD is, GOD is also a person or persons.

The Savior said, “…I am in the Father, and the Father in me…” (3 Nephi 9:15, ST John 14:11)

According to scripture, not only do parent and child relationships exist between separate and distinct persons of the ETERNAL Elohim (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 130:22), but each exalted person is a composite being consisting of a superposed parent (the presiding spirit, power, glory and intelligence) and a child (a beloved subordinate being of tabernacle). (See ST John 14:10-11, Mosiah 15:1-5, 3 Nephi 1:14; 9:15; 11:27, Ether 3:14, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 93:11-19. See also Lectures on Faith from the School of the Prophets at Kirtland, Ohio, Lecture V, 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants)

There is of course a sense in which godhood is relative. (Hebrew Genesis 17:7; 27:28-29, Exodus 7:1, see also JST) The presiding intelligence of an organism or body, for instance, may be considered "a god" over a universe of separate living parts - the entities that constitute the organism's assembly and microcosm. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 78:14, 1 Corinthians 12:11-14)

 

According to Scripture Where Was Eden?

Some time between June and October 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith gave the following inspired translation of (Genesis 2:8, 10-11, 13-14). The Prophet’s translation represents a first person divine communication to Moses:

8 And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there I put the man whom I had formed…

10 And I, the Lord God, caused a river to go out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

11 And I, the Lord God, called the name of the first Pison, and it compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where I, the Lord God, created much gold;…

13 And the name of the second river was called Gihon; the same that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

14 And the name of the third river was Hiddekel; that which goeth toward the east of Assyria.  And the fourth river was the Euphrates. (Moses 3:8, 10-11, 13-14)

Unlike the version recorded in Genesis, the Book of Moses translation presents the Eternal God speaking directly to his son Moses (“Mosheh” is a more accurate pronunciation of the Lawgiver’s name).

God explicitly tells Moses that he created the river which, beyond the garden, issued from four separate “heads” (Hebrew: “rashim”). God explicitly tells Moses that he named one of the four rivers, “Pison” (More accurately pronounced “Pishon” in Hebrew; see LDS Scripture Resource in the Appendix of this article).

As in Genesis, we are told, that this river “compasseth the whole land of Havilah…” God’s use of the present tense informs us that the river Pison was in existence in Moses’ day and Moses knew about the river. The word translated “compasseth” can mean “goes around”, “surrounds” or simply “borders”.

The Lexicon suggests that Havilah (“Havilah” pronounced “Khavilah”) may mean sand-land, or downs, or whirling sand. (B-D-B-G Lexicon, 2341, 2342, 2344 pp. 296-297) Alternately, LDS Scripture Resource (see this article’s Appendix) suggest: twist, whirl, circle. But it is most important to realize that Havilah is the name of more than one descendent of Noah, born after the Great Flood. (Genesis 10:7; 29) The Middle-Eastern land of Havilah was known to Moses. (Genesis 25:18)

The second river was named “Gihon” (“Gihon”). This river too was around in Moses’ day, for God told Moses that it was “the same that compasseth” (present tense) a renowned Middle-Eastern land. Unfortunately, the land associated with the river Gihon is dubiously translated “Ethiopia” in the King James Bible.

The name “Ethiopia” is not in the Hebrew text. “Ethiopia” is not the name God mentioned when speaking to Moses. By replacing the actual Middle Eastern name with the familiar word “Ethiopia”, the English translator made a presumptuous and arguably inconsistent substitution. Here the King James translator evidently followed the less authoritative Greek Septuagint, instead of transliterating the actual name. What is more, the KJV actually gives a correct transliteration of the name elsewhere. (See for instance Isaiah 11:11)

The actual name in Hebrew scripture is “Kush” not “Ethiopia”. “Kush” or “Cush” is the name of the son of Ham born after the Great Flood. LDS Scripture Resource acknowledges “Cush” as “…the name of the son of Ham and his territory…” (See this article’s Appendix)

Moses recognized the land of “Kush”. Its location was no mystery to him. The ancient land called “Kush” was not the same as the land we now call “Ethiopia”. Early on, descendents of “Kush” occupied lands not only in Africa, but near Mesopotamia. (Judges 3:8) Erroneously associating “Kush” exclusively with “Ethiopia” has misled many as to Eden’s location.

The third Edenic River known to Moses was “Hiddekel”. This famous Middle-Eastern river is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. (E.g. Daniel 10:4) Official LDS Scripture Resource points out that this Mesopotamian river is none other than the renowned Tigris. (See this article’s Appendix) The Book of Moses tells us that even in Moses day, this river “goeth toward the east of Assyria.”

The name “Assyria” is another English substitution. The actual Middle-Eastern name appearing in the Hebrew text is “Asshur” – the son of Shem born after the Flood. The Official LDS Scripture Resource notes that the Middle-Eastern country named “Asshur” came to be occupied by his descendents. (See this article’s Appendix)

The fourth river is called “Perat” in Hebrew. This other famous Middle-Eastern river is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. (E.g. Deuteronomy 1:7; 11:24, Joshua 1:4, 2 Samuel 8:3, 2 Kings 23:29 etc.) This river is none other than the mighty Euphrates of Mesopotamia.

Please note that the Book of Moses translation adds the definite article - “the Euphrates”. It should be clear then, that this fourth river not only reformed after the Great Flood, but that the famous “eastward” river to which God was directing Moses’ attention, was none other than “the Euphrates” - not another river of the same name, in an obscure land, in a distant past.

God plainly told Moses that Eden was “eastward”. Eastward with respect to where? With respect to where mortal Moses was, is one answer; with respect to where “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground” is another, equally valid answer. (Genesis 2:7-8)

The rivers of Mesopotamia endured numerous floods in ages past. It is interesting to note that the apocryphal Book of Jasher (Sefer ha-Yasher) mentions a flooding of the river Gihon that took place prior the Great Deluge. (Jasher 2:6)

So the rivers of Eden were definitely in Mesopotamia. Where, according to scripture, are the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman?

In translated scripture, “mountains” can just mean hills or hill country. (B-D-B-G Lexicon, 2042, pp. 249-251) There are plenty of hills (not impressive mountains) in the state of Missouri. This is important to know because LDS scripture indicates that “…the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and … the plains of Olaha Shinehah, or the land where Adam dwelt” reside in North America - in the state of Missouri. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 117:8)

But contrary to Mormon tradition, there is no explicit statement in LDS scripture placing “Eden” in North America – none whatsoever.

The following are the scriptural references to “Adam-ondi-Ahman” (the American land where Adam came to be): LDS Doctrine and Covenants 78:15-16; 107:53-57; 116:1; 117:8-11. The dates of these revelations range from1832 to 1838.

Scripture plainly indicates that Adam-ondi-Ahman was in North American while Eden was in Mesopotamia. How these scriptural facts are reconciled is another matter. They can be reconciled, but not in the way contrived by committee in the following footnote.

Concerning the Middle-Eastern lands and rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:8-14, Moses chapter 3, footnote 13a reads:

“In the area of Eden and Adam-ondi-Ahman there were rivers and lands that received names that were later attached to other lands and rivers. As to the location of Eden and its environs see D&C 117-8-9, Gen. 2:13”

The scriptures cited do not say that Eden was in America. The recent footnote is suggesting that the names of rivers and lands mentioned in Genesis 2 originated in antediluvian America. The footnote is, at best, a desperate attempt at reconciliation. It should be suspect on the basis of the English translation of Moses 3 alone; but its folly is clear to those who read Hebrew scripture. The footnote’s speciousness becomes apparent when utilizing LDS Scripture Resource (see this article’s Appendix).

While no doubt inserted with the best of intentions, footnote 13a of Moses chapter 3 ("Ethiopia") not only is erroneous, it poses an unnecessary obstacle in discussions with peoples outside the Church who understand the scriptural details.

Hebrew scripture plainly reveals what English translations mask, and which so few readers of translated scripture see; that the actual names of the lands associated with the Edenic rivers correspond to names of descendents born after the Great Flood. These were lands and rivers extant in Moses’ day. These lands and rivers were well known to Hebrew prophets. LDS scripture clearly places ancient Eden somewhere in the vicinity of “the Euphrates” and mighty Tigris rivers; in the neighborhood of the lands of “Kush”, “Havilah” and “Ashur”.

God was not trying to be ambiguous or to confuse his son Moses when he gave him geographic particulars about “a garden eastward in Eden”. The actual Hebrew names of the eastern lands near Eden are plainly those named after post-deluge descendents, and Moses and generations of Israelites understood this!

So how did the American Eden tradition and the ill-conceived attempt to reconcile it, come about? How could this have happened if the Prophet Joseph Smith first translated Genesis 2 as early as 1830?

 

Opinions of 19th Century Latter-day Saints and Antiquarians

The vast majority of early Mormons were not aware of the content of the Prophet’s inspired translation of KJV Genesis 2 – in which God tells Moses firsthand that Eden was “eastward” in the region of Mesopotamia. Excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible that featured in early Mormon periodicals (i.e. the Evening and Morning Star and the Times and Seasons) did not include his retranslation of KJV Genesis 2. The Saints didn’t know details of the Prophet’s inspired translation of KJV Genesis 2 until decades later.

The Prophet continued to revise his translation of Genesis up until the time of his martyrdom (1844). The prophetically authoritative account of Eden in the vicinity of Mesopotamia remained among the Prophet’s personally reworked manuscripts. His manuscripts came into the possession of his widow, Emma Smith. These manuscripts were the source for the 1867 publication of the RLDS Inspired Version of the Bible.  

It wasn’t until 1851 that the Prophet’s translation of KJV Genesis 2 was published. LDS Apostle Franklin D. Richards (Editor) published it in the Millennial Star under the title “The First Part of the Book of Genesis, Rendered by Joseph Smith, First Prophet, Seer and Revelator, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. (Robert J. Matthews, “How We Got the Book of Moses”)

The tradition that Eden was in North America was well entrenched in the minds of most Latter-day Saints, by the time the inspired translation of KJV Genesis 2 (Moses 3) was made available to the public. Rather than dismiss the American Eden tradition in favor of revealed scripture, Latter-days Saints attempted to reconcile, albeit erroneously, the apparent contradiction.

It is important to recognize that there is no known firsthand statement by Joseph Smith specifically placing Eden in North America. The tradition, however, appears to have settled in the minds of his close associated as early as the mid to late 1830s. An early Mormon hymn features the line:

“For in Adam-ondi-Ahman Zion rose where Eden was” (William W. Phelps, “Glorious Things Are Sung of Zion”, LDS Hymns, 48, 2nd verse)

The Prophet Brigham Young openly taught that Eden was in America:

“In the beginning, after this earth was prepared for man, the Lord commenced his work upon what is now called the American continent, where the Garden of Eden was made. In the days of Noah, in the days of the floating of the ark, he took the people to another part of the earth: the earth was divided, and there he set up his kingdom.” (Journal of Discourses 8:196)

“When he comes again, … he will appear first on the land where he commenced his work in the beginning, and planted the Garden of Eden, and that was done in the land of America.” (DISCOURSES of Brigham Young, pg. 122)

Brigham Young reportedly told Orson Hyde, “…for in Jackson County was the Garden of Eden. Joseph has declared this, and I am as much bound to believe that as to believe that Joseph was a prophet of God.” (John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, pg. 396)

Mark E. Peterson quoted President Wilford Woodruff who quoted Brigham Young as saying, "Joseph, the Prophet, told me that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri. When Adam was driven out he went to the place we now call Adam-ondi-Ahman. Daviess County, Missouri. There he built an altar and offered sacrifices." (Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of his Life and Labors, Bookcraft, p. 481; Mark E. Petersen, The Great Prologue, pg. 111)

Regarding the sacrifices performed by Adam in America, President John Taylor related:

“…it was stated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, in our hearing while standing on an elevated piece of ground or plateau near Adam-ondi-Ahman fn (Davis Co., Missouri,), where there were a number of rocks piled together, that the valley before us was the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman; or in other words, the valley where God talked with Adam, and where he gathered his righteous posterity(John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement, pp. 69-70)

But, the scriptural fact that Adam and many of his righteous posterity gathered to a land that would later be called America, does not mean that the Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve were expelled, was in America.

The American Adam idea was not unique to Mormonism. Early members of the Church were keenly aware of Josiah Priest’s 1833 American Antiquities and Discoveries in the West. Priest noted the opinion of the “celebrated antiquarian, Samuel L. Mitchell” of New York. This was the same Dr. Mitchell who, according to Martin Harris, performed the service of sanctioning the authenticity of a sample of characters copied from the Book of Mormon plates. (H.C. 1:20) It was Dr. Mitchell’s considerate opinion that Adam was created in ancient America. Priest explains:

“The celebrated antiquarian, Samuel L. Mitchell, late of NewYork, with other gentlemen, eminent for their knowledge of natural history, are even of the opinion, that America was the country where ADAM was created. In a letter to Governor De Witt Clinton, in which this philosopher argued the common origin of the people of America, and those of Asia, he says: " I avoid the opportunity which this grand conclusion affords me, of stating, that America was the cradle of the human race; of tracing its colonies westward over the Pacific Ocean, and beyond the sea of Kamschatka, to new settlements; of following the emigrants by land and water, until they reached Europe and Africa. I had no inclination to oppose the current opinions relative to the place of man's creation and dispersion. I thought it was scarcely worth the while to inform an European, that in coming to America, he had left the new world behind him, for the purpose of visiting the old." —American Antq. Society, p. 331.” (Josiah Priest, American Antiquities, 1833 Ed, pg. 129)

Priest however, disagreed with the idea that Eden was in America, arguing that it contradicted “the statement of Moses, in the Book of Genesis; …stating the names of the very rivers, arising out of the regions of country …”

Curiously, Priest was willing to concede the possibility that some of Adam’s ancient posterity settled in America:

“It is not impossible but America may have been the country where Noah built his ark, as directed by the Most High.

We know very well, when the mind refers to the subject of Noah's Ark, our thoughts are immediately associated with Mount Ararat, because it rested there, on the subsiding of the flood. But this circumstance precludes a possibility of its having been built there, if we allow the waters of the deluge to have had any current at all. It is said in Genesis, that the Ark floated, or was borne upon the waters above the earth, and also, that the ark "went upon the face of the waters.'' From which fact we imagine there must have been a current, or it could not have went upon the waters. Consequently, it went from the place where it was built, being obedient to the current of the waters.

Now, if it had been built any where in the country called Armenia, where the mountain Ararat is situated ; and as it is found the waters had a general eastern direction, the Ark in going on the face of the waters, would have, during the time the waters of the deluge prevailed, which was an hundred and fifty days, or five months, (that is, prevailed after the commencement of the deluge, till its greatest depth was effected;) gone in an eastern direction as far perhaps as the region of the islands of Japan, beyond China, east, a distance of about six thousand miles from Ararat, which would be at the rate of about forty miles a day, or if it had floated faster, would have carried it into the Pacific Ocean.

But if we may imagine it was erected in North America, or some where in the latitude of the State of New-York, or even farther west, the current of the deluge would have borne it easterly. And suppose it may have been carried at the rate of forty or fifty miles a day, would, during the time the waters prevailed, in which time, we may suppose, a current existed, have progressed as far as to Ararat; a distance of nearly six thousand miles from America, where it did actually rest-

More than sixteen hundred years had elapsed, when the ark was finished, and it may fairly be inferred, that as Noah was born about one thousand years after the creation of the world, that mankind had from necessity, arising from the pressure of population, gone very far away from the regions round about Eden; and the country where Noah was born may as well be supposed to have been America, as any other part of the earth; seeing there are indubitable signs of antediluvian population in many parts of it. Unite this circumstance with that of the ascertained current of the deluge from America, and with the fact of the ark's having rested in an easterly direction from this country, we come to a conclusion, that here, perhaps in the very State of New-York, the miraculous vessel was erected, and bore away, treasured in its enormous capacity, the progenitors of the human race renewed. So that if America have not the honor of being the country where Adam was created, as is believed by some, it has nevertheless the honor, as we suppose, of being the country where the ark was erected.” (Josiah Priest, American Antiquities, 1833 Ed, pp. 130-131)

Early Mormons, including Joseph Smith, would have been exposed to the views of Mitchell and  Priest. It is natural that some members of the early Church would favor Dr. Mitchell.

In 1863 Apostle Heber C. Kimball stated:

“We have been taught that our Father and God, from whom we sprang, called and appointed his servants to go and organize an earth, and, among the rest, he said to Adam, "You go along also and help all you can; you are going to inhabit it when it is organized, therefore go and assist in the good work." It reads in the Scriptures that the Lord did it, but the true rendering is, that the Almighty sent Jehovah and Michael to do the work. They were also instructed to plant every kind of vegetable, likewise the forest and the fruit trees, and they actually brought from heaven every variety of fruit, of the seeds of vegetables, the seeds of flowers, and planted them in this earth on which we dwell. And I will say more, the spot chosen for the garden of Eden was Jackson County, in the State of Missouri, where Independence now stands; it was occupied in the morn of creation by Adam and his associates who came with him for the express purpose of peopling this earth.

Father Adam was instructed to multiply and replenish the earth, to make it beautiful and glorious, to make it, in short, like unto the garden from which the seeds were brought to plant the garden of Eden. I might say much more upon this subject, but I will ask, has it not been imitated before you in your holy endowments so that you might understand how things were in the beginning of creation and cultivation of this earth? God the Father made Adam the Lord of this creation in the beginning, and if we are the Lords of this creation under Adam, ought we not to take a course to imitate our Father in heaven? Is not all this exhibited to us in our endowments? the earth made glorious and beautiful to look upon, representing everything which the Lord caused to be prepared and placed to adorn the earth. The Prophet Joseph frequently spoke of these things in the revelations which he gave, but the people generally did not understand them, but to those who did they were cheering, they had a tendency to gladden the heart and enlighten the mind.” (J. D. 10:235, Remarks by President Heber C. Kimball, delivered in Provo City, June 27, 1863, Reported by J. V. Long)

Did Joseph Smith express something favorable about Dr. Mitchell’s hypothesis in the presence of Brigham Young and others? If so, this evidently took place after the Prophet's inspired translation of KJV Genesis 2, placing Eden near Mesopotamia. Did Joseph say something about a paradisiacal garden and mankind’s first parents in America? Did he relate Isaiah’s prophesy of Zion’s wilderness becoming “like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD” to the American land called Zion? (Isaiah 51:3)

We do not know exactly what Joseph Smith said about such things, but he likely said something which Brigham Young and others interpreted as encouraging the belief that the ancient garden of our first parents was in America.

For whatever reasons, perhaps simply to avoid controversy, the inspired passages of Abraham 5:10-11 (revealed years later in the Nauvoo period) did not feature the geographic detail presented in Moses 3:10-15. (See “The Book of Abraham”, Times and Seasons, March 15, 1842, Volume 3, pg. 722)

Even so, Moses 3 rightly stands today as authoritative LDS scripture – a direct communication from God to Moses. Combined with Hebrew scripture, we have sufficient witness and grounds for placing Eden where Hebrew scripture says it was - in the vicinity of Mesopotamia.

We may consider that there was an edenic garden in Ancient America, but it was not the biblical “garden eastward in Eden.”

  

Resolving the LDS Eden Dilemma

Art thou the first man (Heb. “Adam”) that was born?” (Eliphaz the Temanite, Job 15:7)

It would seem  that the simplest solution to the Eden dilemma would to be accept LDS scripture over Mormon tradition. But is there a more excellent, scriptural way to resolve the problem? Do Brigham Young’s seemingly unscriptural pronouncements deserve re-examination?

“Adam” אָדָם is also translated “man”, “a man” “men”, or “mankind” in Holy Scripture.

The Savior quoted Hebrew scripture to his accusers who charged him with blaspheme saying, "...thou being a man, makest thyself God." (ST John 10:30-36) Scripture says:

6 I have said, Ye are gods (Heb. “elohim”); and all of you are children of the most High (Heb. “Elyon”).

7 But ye shall die like men (Heb. “Adam”), and fall like one of the princes (Heb. “sarim”). (Psalms 82:6 – 7, KJV; See also Exodus 22:28)

In light of the meanings of “Adam” the words of the Eternal Father in Moses 1:33-34 are better appreciated:

33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.

34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many. (Moses 1:33 - 34)

The word “Adam” is also related to the Hebrew words for ground, or land (“adamah”); red, (“adom”), as in blood, (“dam”). 

We learn from YehezqEl’s (Ezekiel’s) vision of the “Merkavah” (“Chariot” of God) that “Adam” is a description of God:

26 And above the firmament (expanse) that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man (Heb. “Adam”) above upon it. (Ezekiel 1:26, KJV; see also Daniel 7:9)

Translated into Hebrew, one of the titles of God the Father is “Adam Qodesh”, “Man of Holiness”:

57  …for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man … (Moses 6:57)

It is evident that many antediluvian terms survive in Hebrew including “Adam”. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 117:8)

The Messiah referred to himself as “Ben ha-Adam”, “the Son of Man”. (Hebrew Matthew 16:13-17, compare with Hebrew Psalm 80:17, and Aramaic “Bar Enash”, Daniel 7:13) Yet, the Savior did not like referring to himself as the son of even a great mortal man like David. (Matthew 22:41-46) It is evident that the Savior perceived an equivalency between the title “the Son of Man” (“Son of the Adam”) and “the Son of God”. (ST John 3:13; 8:17-18, 28, Matthew 26:63-64, Mark 14:61-63, Luke 22:69-70)

We may come to find greater meaning in the Book of Mormon verse:

17  ... I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)

The Genesis 1 creation account states:

26 And God (Heb. “Elohim”) said, Let us make (Heb. “we will make” – future tense) man (Heb. “Adam”) in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God (Heb. “Elohim”) created man (Heb. “ha-Adam”) in his own image, in the image of God (Heb. “Elohim”) created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26 – 27, KJV)

The divine unity and shared titles of the Elohim reconcile the declaration, "...we will make Adam in our image..." with later scripture that emphasizes the LORD (Jehovah) as creator:

24  Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; (Isaiah 44:24)

The Hebrew “Bereshit” translated “In the beginning” has no definite article. It can just as well be translated “In a beginning…” (Hebrew Genesis 1:1)

The Genesis 1 creation account is a declarative creation account. Generations of readers, reliant on translated Bibles, have misunderstood this. Genesis 1 simply tells us that during certain consecutively cycles of darkness and light each numbered and pronounced “day”, the Gods (Elohim) declared (announced in future tense) that certain things would come to pass. Yes, the account affirms that the things declared did in fact come to pass. Such things had already come to pass on worlds heretofore created (Ecclesiastes 1:10, 3:15); but it should not be assumed that all things that the Elohim declared during the days of the Genesis 1 council came into existence the instant or even on the day, the Gods declared them to be. The LORD tells us through his prophet Yesha’Yahu (Isaiah):

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:9 – 11, KJV)

The Apostle Paul reminds us that God “calleth those things that be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17, KJV)

Every creation of the Elohim does not spring into existence the instant it is declared. Genesis 1 was not intended to outline the exact physical history of our planet. Instructed in Hebrew scripture, Joseph Smith correctly perceived Genesis 1 as a declarative creation account issuing from the council of the Gods. (See Abraham 4:18, 20-21, 31; 5:3) The Elohim declare things to be, and in due course, their commands are fulfilled. (Psalm 139:15-16, Isaiah 66:8, Mark 4:26-28)

In fact, Psalm 104 gives a beautiful, cyclical creation account –showing that the creative acts of the Elohim are ongoing in nature. (See also LDS Doctrine and Covenants 29:31-33; 76:24, Isaiah 65:17-18)  Note especially the cycle of life referred to in verses 29 and 30 of Psalm 104 – that life returning to the dust, implies that things naturally born, are materially made “out of the ground”, as in Genesis 2:19.

Genesis 2:4 reads:

4 These are the generations of the heavens (Heb. “ha-shamayim”) and of the earth (Heb. “ha-aretz”) when they were created, in the day that the LORD God (Heb. YHVH Elohim”) made the earth (Heb. “eretz” = “land”, “a land”) and the heavens (Heb. “ha-shamayim” = “the skies” above a local land), (Genesis 2:4, KJV)

The Hebrew word “ha-shamayim”, “the heavens” can apply to the vastness of space – the cosmic domain of “fields” and high speed “particles”. It can also simply mean a local sky - an atmosphere and magnetosphere, which function as a veritable “rakiya”, “firmament”, or domelike expanse shielding the land from the harsh emanations of space. Thus the local “heavens” implied in the following explanation God gave to Moses:

38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come, and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. (Moses 1:38; see also Revelation 21:1, Hebrews 11:3)

Genesis 2, starting with verse 4 is actually a different creation account than the declarative creation account of Genesis 1. Genesis 2:5 tells us that various plants were created or existed before they were “ba-aretz” (“in the land”; translated “in the earth”, KJV).

In scripture, the word “ha-aretz”, translated “the land” or “the earth” (KJV) doesn’t necessarily take in a global frame of reference. It needn’t mean the whole planet as modern readers tend to interpret. Genesis 2:4-25 gives an earthly, local creation account in “the day” (singular) that the ETERNAL Elohim organized “the heavens” (local sky) and the land.

The ETERNAL Elohim had made a particular land empty and desolate “for the LORD God (Heb. “YHVH Elohim”) had not caused it to rain upon the earth (Heb. “ha-aretz” = “the land”), and there was not a man (Heb. “Adam”) to till (Heb. “la'avod” = “to work”) the ground (Heb. “ha-adamah” - feminine).” Even if the planet had a vapor canopy, there would still have been precipitation (rain) somewhere, and at various times on the surface. The “aretz”, “land” spoken of was in all likelihood geographically limited.

Moses had “beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were many inhabitants on the face thereof.” (Moses 1:29) Even though “ha-aretz”, (translated “the earth”) can apply to a whole planet, it can also simply refer to a local land on a given planet.

How did “Adam” come to be in the image of God?

The first verses of Genesis 5 read:

1 THIS is the book of the generations of Adam.  In the day that God (Heb. “Elohim”) created man (Heb. “Adam”), in the likeness of God (Heb. “Elohim”) made he him;

2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: (Genesis 5:1 – 3, KJV)

The genealogy in Luke, as translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, reads: “…Adam, who was formed of God, and the first man upon the earth.”  (Luke 3:45, footnote c) This does not negate the simple genealogical connection implied in the Gospel:

38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God. (Luke 3:38, KJV)

Scripture teaches that things born are nevertheless formed and created by God. (Isaiah 44:24) LDS scripture plainly teaches that Adam “was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed.” (Moses 6:22)

According to scripture, Adam was created from the dust of ground someplace outside of Eden, possibly some distance westward from Eden (i.e. America). (Genesis 2:7-8; 3:23, Moses 4:29) How exactly was Adam formed?

6 …there went up a mist (Heb. “ed”) from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground (Heb. “ha-adamah” - feminine).

7 And the LORD God (Heb. “YHVH Elohim”) formed (Heb. “yitzer” = “narrowly squeezed”) man (Heb. “ha-Adam”) of the dust of the ground (Heb. “ha-adamah” - feminine), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man (Heb. “ha-Adam”) became a living soul. (Genesis 2:6 – 7, KJV)

7 And I, the Lord God (Heb. “Yhvh Elohim”), formed (Heb. “yitzer” = “narrowly squeezed”) man (Heb. “ha-Adam”) from the dust of the ground (Heb. “ha-adamah” - feminine), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man (Heb. “ha-Adam”) became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth (Heb. “ha-aretz” = “the land”), the first man (Heb. “Adam”) also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word. (Moses 3:7)

There is Hebrew wordplay between the words for moistening mist, man and moistened ground. As with the creation of woman, who was “made” from a curved plank (translated “rib”) from a “Man” (Heb. “me-ish”) identified as “ha-Adam”, the descriptions are figurative and yet in some sense reproductively accurate. (Genesis 2:21-23, Song of Songs 4:12-13) Scripture tells us that “Adam” can mean male and female together in the day of creation. (Genesis 5:2, Moses 6:9) The same definition of “Adam” applies to parents. The Hebrew verse, “vayisgor basar tah’tenah” translated “…and closed up the flesh thereof” (Genesis 2:21, KJV) literally reads “and closed the flesh underneath her.”    

Scripture seems to suggest that Adam and his wife set the example in leaving father and mother - cleaving to each other in marriage:

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

The psalmist said:

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance (Heb. “gal’mi”) was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:13 - 16)

Verses 15 and 16 by themselves, give the impression that the psalmist was shaped and knit from amorphous substance underfoot. The fact is, through reproductive processes all living things of this planet are created from the dust of the earth. (Ecclesiastes 3:20; 12:7, Jacob 2:21, Mosiah 2:25, Moses 6:58-59, Abraham 5:7-9)

It is true that Adam was made from the soil, but not like a promethean mud doll. In answer to the biblical "chicken and the egg" conundrum: Yes, Adam in fact had a navel. This is suggested in LDS temple ordinances. To the  Greeks, Paul the Apostle plainly said it: “…we are the offspring of God…” (Acts 17:28-29)

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared:

“God has made certain decrees which are fixed and immovable; …it is a decree of the Lord that every tree, plant, and herb bearing seed should bring forth of its kind, and cannot come forth of after any other law or principal.” (H.C. 4:554, Genesis 1:11-12)

“…If …John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything else spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death of such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.” (H.C. 6:476, 1 Corinthians 15:44-49, Revelation 1:6)

The Prophet Brigham Young remarked:

“I believe in one God to us; as it is written, "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," and, "They were called Gods unto whom the word of God came.” (The Prophet Brigham Young referenced 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 and ST John 10:35)

Quoting “the 1st chapter of Genesis, 26th and 27th verses Brigham Young continued:

He created man, as we create our children; for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be. As the Apostle Paul has expressed it, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art or man's device." [Acts 17:28-29] There exist fixed laws and regulations by which the elements are fashioned to fulfill their destiny in all the varied kingdoms and orders of creation, and this process of creation is from everlasting to everlasting.” (J. D. 11:119-128, On the Personality of God—His Attributes—Eternal Life, etc Remarks by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, June 18, 1865. Reported by G. D. Watt.)

The Prophets certainly agree that “mankind” (Heb. “Adam”), was and is created indirectly from the dust; but it is equally clear that “Adam”, whom we call the first man, was not constructed like the clay “golem” of Medieval Jewish folklore. Brigham Young’s explains:

“Here let me state to all philosophers of every class upon the earth, When you tell me that father Adam was made as we make adobies from the earth, you tell me what I deem an idle tale. When you tell me that the beasts of the field were produced in that manner, you are speaking idle words devoid of meaning. There is no such thing in all the eternities where the Gods dwell. Mankind are here because they are the offspring of parents who were first brought here from another planet, and power was given them to propagate their species, and they were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth.” (J. D. 7:286, Remarks by President Brigham Young on Intelligence, Etc., delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, October 9, 1859. Reported by G. D. Watt)

On the familial relationship between “God our heavenly Father, or the great Elohiem” and “Adam and Eve”, President Young made the following carefully worded statements (some years after publicly announcing his understanding of the controversial Adam-God revelation):

“The world may in vain ask the question, "Who are we?" But the Gospel tells us that we are the sons and daughters of that God whom we serve. Some say, "We are the children of Adam and Eve." So we are, and they are the children of our Heavenly Father. We are all the children of Adam and Eve, and they and we are the offspring of Him who dwells in the heavens, the highest Intelligence that dwells anywhere that we have any knowledge of.” (J. D. 13:312, Discourse by President Brigham Young on Keeping the Commandments, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, April 17, 1870. Reported by David W. Evans)

“I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know. I told you a little last Sabbath about forgetting things.

There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or a daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you pray, pray to some other character.” (J. D. 4:216, “To Know God Is Eternal Life—God the Father of Our Spirits and Bodies—Things Created Spiritually First—Atonement by the Shedding of Blood”, A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 8, 1857)

“We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ our elder brother. We believe that God is a person of tabernacle, possessing in an infinitely higher degree all the perfections and qualifications of his mortal children. We believe that he made Adam after his own image and likeness, as Moses testifies; and in this belief we differ from the professedly Christian world, who declare that "His center is everywhere, but his circumference is nowhere." Their God has no body nor parts; our God possesses a body and parts, and was heard by Adam and Eve "Walking in the garden in the cool of the day." They say that their God has no passions; our God loves his good children and is "Angry with the wicked every day," "And him that loveth violence his soul hateth;" and he reveals his will as familiarly to his servants in all ages as I reveal my thoughts to you this evening.” (J. D. 10:230-231, “Advice to California Emigrants—The Principles of the Gospel, etc.”, Remarks by President Brigham Young, made on the Public Square, Great Salt Lake City, July 8, 1863, Reported by G. D. Watt; compare Genesis 3:8 and Moses 4:14)

In short, Adam is a son of God both spiritually and by birth - genealogically. What is more

Adam is a God and God is an Adam.

There is nothing in the above principle that contradicts LDS scripture. Why then did Apostle Orson Pratt, publicly oppose some of the things Brigham Young preached concerning Adam? Subsequent LDS Church leaders have essentially taken Elder Pratt’s position, notwithstanding the official declaration that the Lord will never permit the President of the Church to lead the Church astray. (Official Declaration - 1; See end of Appendix for reconciliation) The answer has to do with Brigham Young’s perspective. More interested in a vision of the cycles of worlds in eternity than in reconciling scriptural details, the Prophet Brigham Young, on occasion, did not distinguish between celestial beings (who came down to a North American paradise), and their progeny who became mortal through transgression.

Brigham Young's understanding of  Adam-God, though inspired, was incomplete.

The Apostle Paul admitted:

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:9 - 10)

The Prophet Brigham Young could have had Paul’s words in mind when he explained:

“Things were first created spiritually; the Father actually begat the spirits, and they were brought forth and lived with Him. Then He commenced the work of creating earthly tabernacles, precisely as He had been created in this flesh himself, by partaking of the course material that was organized and composed this earth, until His system was charged with it, consequently the tabernacles of His children were organized from the coarse materials of this earth

Whether you receive these things or not, I tell you them in simplicity. I lay them before you like a child, because they are perfectly simple. If you see and understand these things, it will be by the Spirit of God; you will receive them by no other spirit. No matter whether they are told to you like the thunderings of the Almighty, or by simple conversation; if you enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, it will tell you whether they are right or not.

My recollection is better with regard to my earthly father than it is in regard to my heavenly Father; but as to knowing of what species He is, and how He is organized, and with regard to His existence, I understand it in part as well as I understand the organization and existence of my earthly father. That is my opinion about it, and my opinion to me is just as good as yours is to you; and if you are of the same opinion you will be satisfied as I am.(J. D. 4:218, “To Know God Is Eternal Life—God the Father of Our Spirits and Bodies—Things Created Spiritually First—Atonement by the Shedding of Blood”, A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 8, 1857)

Brigham Young also admitted that he did not concertedly “look into the Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine & Covenants…to see whether they [his teachings] agreed with them or not.” He had faith that what he had “spoken by the power of God and the Holy Ghost” was the “truth” and Latter-day “scripture” and he had “no fears but that it will agree with all that has been revealed in every particular.” (Brigham Young, Deseret News, June 6, 1877)

But President Young also admitted that there were certain details regarding the Adam-God revelation that he personally did not care enough about to seek to reconcile with scripture. It is precisely in these details, and not the general principles he revealed that individuals like Apostle Orson Pratt, found scriptural discrepancies and took issue with the Prophet’s teachings.

The prophetess Eliza R. Snow, on the other hand decidedly defended and venerated Brigham Young relative to the Adam-God revelation:

“When Brigham Young proclaimed to the nations that Adam was our Father and God, and Eve, his partner, the Mother of a world -- both in a mortal and celestial sense—he made the most important revelation ever oracled to the race since the days of Adam himself.” (Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, 1877, pg. 196)

Upon later reflection, however, President Young lamented:

“…if guilt before my God and my brethren rests upon me in the least, it is in this one thing—that I have revealed too much concerning God and his kingdom, and the designs of our Father in heaven. If my skirts are stained in the least with wrong, it is because I have been too free in telling what God is, how he lives, the nature of his providences and designs in creating the world, in bringing forth the human family on the earth, his designs concerning them, &c. If I had, like Paul, said—"But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant," perhaps it would have been better for the people.” (J. D. 8:58-59, Remarks by President Brigham Young, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, May 20, 1860, Reported by G. D. Watt)

The Prophet Brigham Young repeatedly, and emphatically asserted that God and the Prophet Joseph Smith were the source of the Adam-God revelation. (Rodney Turner, The Position of Adam in Latter-day Saint Scripture and Theology – A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Religion of Brigham Young University, August 1958, pp. 47-50)

To this day, the Adam-God revelation is as a stunning, even blinding light, that some in the Church think best to cover or filter. Others seek to rightly divide the revelation in the prism of scripture - proving "all things; holding fast that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)

What is it that President Young left unsorted, mixed, or undivided in the Adam-God doctrine? Admittedly he cared more about conveying a general, eternal principle than sorting out and fitting scriptural details. (E.g. Moses 6:50-52)

The Prophet Brigham Young actually tells us what details he did not care to sort out:

“…you may continue and trace the human family back to Adam and Eve, and ask, "are we of the same species with Adam and Eve?" Yes, every person acknowledges this; this comes within the scope of our understanding.

But when we arrive at that point, a vail is dropt, and our knowledge is cut off. Were it not so, you could trace back your history to the Father of our spirits in the eternal world. He is a being of the same species as ourselves; He lives as we do, except the difference that we are earthly, and He is heavenly. He has been earthly, and is of precisely the same species of being that we are. Whether Adam is the personage that we should consider our heavenly Father, or not, is considerable of a mystery to a good many. I do not care for one moment how that is; it is no matter whether we are to consider Him our God, or whether His Father, or His Grandfather, for in either case we are of one species-of one family-and Jesus Christ is also of our species. (J. D. 4:217, “To Know God Is Eternal Life—God the Father of Our Spirits and Bodies—Things Created Spiritually First—Atonement by the Shedding of Blood”, A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 8, 1857)

President Young erred not so much in divine principle, but in sorting out who’s who. President Young confused divine persons who share the same titles. This is as forgivable as John the Revelator worshipfully mistaking divine persons (Revelation 19:10; 22:6-9), or the enlightened Daniel not completely understanding the details of visions he received. (Daniel 7:15-16)

What are the scripturally true and reconcilable points of the Adam-God teaching? (See this article’s Appendix for the famous sermon J. D. 1:50, “Adam, Our Father and Our God”, delivered by President Brigham Young, in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 9, 1852)

  1. “The Lord fills the immensity of space” in a spiritual sense.

  2. God the Father is a resurrected, celestial being, and “has a body, with parts the same as you and I have…”

  3. God the Father begat the spirits of all humans born on this earth.

  4. God then “organized” man’s physical body.

  5. MAN (ADAM) entered a garden in North America with a “celestial” body.

  6. Our Ancient Mother – the Mother of All LIVING (whose title is mispronounce “Eve”), is “one of” our Heavenly Father’s wives. She came with him into the garden in North America.

  7. Adam assisted in the organization of the earth.

  8. “Adam” held the title and description of “MICHAEL, the Archangel”, and “ANCIENT OF DAYS”.

  9. Celestial MAN (“Adam”) is “our Father and our God, and the only God with whom WE have to do.”

  10. Seed was brought to the earth “from another sphere.”

  11. The mortality of “Adam” and “Eve” resulted from the “effects” of eating forbidden fruit.

  12. Messiah is the literal son of the Father, and was not fathered by the Holy Ghost, though Ruah Elohim, the Spirit of God(s) was involved. (1 Nephi 11:19-20, Alma 7:10)

  13. God the Father is arguably “the first of the human family”.

  14. God the Father’s body was begotten in turn by his Father.

  15. God the Father physically “originated” the first earthly tabernacles of his offspring on this planet, by consuming “fruits of the earth.”

  16. This process of origination (reproduction) has continued “on in succession.”

  17. The Prophet Brigham Young boldly revealed important truths on the subject of Adam-God. Admittedly he did not explain every detail or, to use his words, “the whole truth”.

  18. The earth was organized by a presiding “quorum” of at least three distinct persons whom the Prophet simplistically identified by title of divine station: “Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael.”

  19. The Physical body of Messiah was begotten “by the same character that was in the garden… and who is our Father in Heaven.”

  20. These doctrines are not to be made light of or to be treated with indifference “for they will prove” one’s “salvation or damnation.”

The reader may want to compare the above doctrinal points from President Young’s sermon with Rodney Turner’s synopsis of Brigham Young’s Adam-God sermon: The Position of Adam in Latter-day Saint Scripture and Theology – A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Religion of Brigham Young University, August 1958, pp. 8-9

How specifically, is the blindingly bright Adam-God revelation reconciled through the prism of scripture?

א. There has always been a creator, that is, there have always been ETERNAL Elohim. From everlasting to everlasting – there have been, and will be, unified family councils of Gods, even GOD, with ETERNAL Parents presiding. (Psalm 90:2, Isaiah 9:6; 63:16, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 121:32, Moses 1:4)

Like the wave and particle duality of light and matter, GOD can be both omnipresent and personal. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-13)

ב. Our Heavenly Father was once a mortal man on another earth. As son and faithful heir, he magnified his callings in the Holy Priesthood after the eternal Order of the Son Ahman, also called “Malki-Tsedeq”, “King of Righteousness”, which divine title is implicitly masculine. (Job 1:6, Psalm 110:4, Isaiah 45:11-12, Hebrews 7:1-3, Alma 13:7, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 78:20, 107:1-5, Moses 6:65-68)

He rose from the dead to celestial glory. He progressed and became by degrees like his exalted Father in Heaven, that is, he personally became an answer to the ancient question “mi kha El?”, “who is like God?” which is what “Michael” means. (Exodus 15:11) 

At some point, with divine help, he became a godlike archangel, a presiding messenger, “kElohim”, “like God” possessing all of the authorities and keys of that calling. (Zechariah 12:8) He became a divine source for passing those titles on. He became “ADAM QODESH”, “MAN of HOLINESS”. He became one with the ETERNAL Elohim. ENDLESS and ETERNAL became his name. He and those to whom he was eternally sealed became potentially Adams or Eves to populate worlds. All that the Elohim possess was endowed upon him, including God’s very titles and names. (Revelation 3:21; 14:1; 21:7)

The Aramaic description “Atiq Yomin” translated “Ancient of days” (Daniel 7:9) does not in fact have a definite article. It is not the exclusive title of just one figure. It could just as well be translated “an ancient of days”. It is an appropriate description of the Father of all. (Isaiah 51:9, Ethiopic Enoch 31:5; 46:1; 47:3; 54:1; 59:1-3)

ג. On this planet, the Elohim planted a protected garden or preserve – a paradise in a fertile plain, in a “land” (“eretz”) we now call “North America”. This land, scripture tells us, is “choice above all other lands” to God. (2 Nephi 10:19)

To that garden our Heavenly Father personally came with our Exalted Mother. She who bears the sacred title HAVAH”, “LIVING” among other divine titles. (Moses 4:26) Could she be the divine companion known in Hebrew scripture as “Hokhmah”, the living personification of “Wisdom”? “Hokhmah” was before the world was. (Proverbs 8:1-36, Luke 7:35, Ecclesiasticus IV: 11, Septuagint)

She has said, “…whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the LORD (the ETERNAL).” (Proverbs 8:35) A Queen of Righteousness (Milkat-Ts'daqah) and Priestess to her husband, she ministers in eternity.The recognition due her was corrupted anciently into the idolatrous worship of “the Queen of Heaven”. (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-19, 25) Monotheism became preferable to perversions of her adoration.

Scripture says: “With the ancient is wisdom…” (Job 12:12) With the Ancient of Days is Hokhmah. “Havah”, which may be her other title, is mispronounced “Eve”. Hebrew scripture tells us that “Hokhmah” is “reshit”. ("first", "beginning", Hebrew Proverbs 4:7) We may therefore perceive in the first line of Genesis: “Bereshit bara Elohim et ha-shamayim v’et ha-aretz.”, “In Wisdom GOD (Gods) created the heaven (heavens) and the earth.” (Hebrew Genesis 1:1, see also 2 Nephi 2:24-25, Mosiah 8:20, Psalm 104:24)

Regarding the exalted titles of “Adam and Eve”, the Prophetess Eliza R. Snow seconded the teaching of Brigham Young:

“Adam and Eve are the names of the fathers and mothers of worlds.

Adam was not made out of a lump of clay, as we make a brick, nor was Eve taken as a rib-a bone-from his side. They came by generation…” (Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, 1877, pg. 180)

Consoling faithful women of the Church, the Prophet Brigham Young remarked:

“…Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring. You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations. You will become Eves to earths like this; and when you have assisted in peopling one earth, there are millions of earths still in the course of creation. And when they have endured a thousand million times longer than this earth, it is only as it were the beginning of your creations. Be faithful, and if you are not blest with children in this time, you will be hereafter. But I would not dare tell you all I know about these matters, though I know but little: still I am not a fool in the things of God…” (J.D. 8:208, “Source of Intelligence—Laws of the Gospel, etc”, Remarks by President Brigham Young, made in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, October 14, 1860, Reported by G. D. Watt)

According to the book of Moses, "Adam, who was the son of God" was actually created from the dust of this earth someplace beyond the Garden of Eden.  (Moses 3:7-8)  This agrees with the Book of Mormon which indicates that the bodies of both Adam and Eve came from the dust of this planet, at a location removed from the eastern garden. (Alma 42:2) Yet the Prophet Brigham Young boldly taught:

“Though we have it in history that our father Adam was made of the dust of this earth, and that he knew nothing about his God previous to being made here, yet it is not so; and when we learn the truth we shall see and understand that he helped to make this world, and was the chief manager in that operation.

He was the person who brought the animals and the seeds from other planets to this world, and brought a wife with him and stayed here. You may read and believe what you please as to what is found written in the Bible. Adam was made from the dust of an earth, but not from the dust of this earth. He was made as you and I are made, and no person was ever made upon any other principle.

Do you not suppose that he was acquainted with his associates, who came and helped to make this earth? Yes, they were just as familiar with each other as we are with our children and parents.”  (J.D. 3:319, A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 20, 1856)

Did Brigham Young (1801-1877) ever become aware of that portion of the Joseph Smith translation in which God personally made known to Moses, that Adam (who transgressed), was sent "forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken"? (Moses 4:28-30) The understanding  that Adam was born and raised in ancient America but later placed "eastward in Eden", accords with scripture.

The Joseph Smith Translation was published in its entirety in 1867. (Robert J. Matthews, “How We Got the Book of Moses”) This was many years after Brigham Young first announced his understanding of the Adam-God revelation. It is obvious from revealed scripture that Adam, who was sent forth from Eden to "till the ground from whence he was taken", is distinct from the exalted MAN (his Father) who descended into an American garden from another world. (Moses 6:51-52, see also Alma 42:2)

ד. Our ETERNAL Father and Mother, “ADAM QODESH” and HAVAH”, came into a prepared garden with resurrected, celestial bodies organized from the dust of another world. Their bodies were made of obedient, spiritual matter. They ate of the transplanted fruit of the garden and begat a son to whom was given the Father’s title and description “Adam”. His body was formed from the soil by way of the transplanted vegetation which his parents ate, and which the child continued to assimilate after birth. Thus God the Father personally came down as an exemplar to the eternal commandment: “Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) God in righteousness and holiness exemplifies those things he requires of his children. (Leviticus 19:2)

“Adam” like his Father, also became an answer to the divine question "Michael" = “Mi kha El?”, “Who is like God?” One in the image of God, knowing good and evil, and consistently choosing good - is a scriptural answer. (Genesis 3:22, Isaiah 7:14-15, Zechariah 12:8, Alma 13:2-3, Abraham 3:24)

As a spirit son of God, “Adam” had been given the title “MikhaEl”. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 78:16; 107:39-56, Abraham 3:22-27) As a pre-mortal spirit under divine direction, he assisted the Elohim in the work of creation, but upon entering the narrow door of birth, becoming as a little child, he had forgotten all.

As a child he was innocent not righteous. (2 Nephi 2:22-23) Later, being exposed by choice to good and evil in the dreary world, and learning to repent and consistently choose the good, he became righteous – as the Gods. (Genesis 3:22) He attained faith in, and knowledge of a Savior and progressed in the Order of the Son of God. (Moses 4:28; 5:59; 6:7-9, 21-23, 65-68) This occurred after he and his wife had left Father and Mother and had learned to prayerfully cleave to each other in the lone and dreary (blood stained) world. (Moses 3:24)

ה. Following Adam’s birth the Elohim planted a garden “eastward” in the region known to Moses and the Israelites as “Eden”. There they placed the immortal son of God “Adam”.  To “Adam” was brought a “woman” who truly came from “ADAM” - her parents. The son “Adam” called his wife Havah” , after his mother, “because she was the mother of all living”, and Adam anticipated that his wife would become in due course, a mother to all living. (Moses 4:26)

The inability of the terrestrial Adam and Eve to reproduce in the confines of Paradise must have had something to do with the immortal, terrestrial bodies they possessed. (2 Nephi 2:22-23, Moses 5:11) Indeed they, and not just their seed, were made a little less than the Elohim; as it is written:

4 What is man (Heb. “enash” = “mortal man”), that thou art mindful of him?  and the son of man (Heb. “ben-Adam”), that thou visitest him?

5 For thou hast made him a little lower (Heb. “m’at” = “less”) than the angels (Heb. “Elohim” = “Gods”), and hast crowned him with glory and honour. (Psalm 8:4 – 5, KJV. See also the Messianic interpretation of Hebrews 2:5-10)

ו. Adam the son of God transgressed, fell, and became a mortal being of flesh and blood. He entered the world where we now live and die.

Yeshua, who bares the prints of the nails (vavim, also translated "hooks" (KJV)Exodus 26:31-32, on which the full weight of the veil was hung; Hebrews 10:19-20), is the only begotten Son of God in mortality – begotten through a mortal Jewish mother.

Yeshua, Imanu-El is also God and Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45, Isaiah 7:14) He rose from mortality to immortality. He is a resurrected “Adam” of “quickening spirit”, having a tabernacle of flesh and bone (not blood) like his Father. (Luke 24:39, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 93:33) For corruptible “flesh and blood” cannot inherit immortal glory. (1 Corinthians 15:50) He is a Creator and Savior not only to this earth but to other worlds. (Hebrews 11:3, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:24)

The Apostle Paul’s Adam-God doctrine, espousing a “first man Adam” and a “last Adam ... the Lord from heaven”, holds to a limited, religious view of our world’s history, a view having a beginning and an end. (1 Corinthians 15:45-47) The Hebrew word “Adam” clearly applies to more than two individuals. Who you choose to call “the first man” or “the second man” depends on your point of view.

The Savior’s Father is “ADAM QODESH”. “MAN OF HOLINESS”, the same being who was in the garden of the Elohim in America; and who is the Father of the man that transgressed and was driven from the Mesopotamian Eden. Yeshua is literally, as he said, the Son of MAN, Ben ha-ADAM, meaning in one sense the Son of God - ADAM of Holiness. (Hebrew Matthew 16:13, 16)

The land where the man we usually think of as Adam was born is in the vicinity of Adam-ondi-Ahman; where mortal Adam later came to dwell. The plain of Eden, from which he was expelled as an adult, was, according to scripture, near Mesopotamia. The rivers of that land were famous to the Israelites. The names of lands in the region of Eden (as clearly recorded in Hebrew scripture) were named after descendents of Noah – post deluge.

Adam was sent out from the Garden of Eden “to till the ground from whence he was taken.” After partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, (Genesis 2:17) and before a “day” with God (~1000 years, Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8, Abraham 5:13) had passed, Adam the son of God physically died. Within those mortal centuries of probation, Adam made a pilgrimage as far as North America, to be near the place of his birth, to “till the ground” there and to commune with God.

You may choose to think of the man who transgressed and became mortal as the first man. Or you may choose to regard his Father, ADAM QODESH, as the First Father of the human family on this planet. If you think it's relative, you’re right. (See Abraham 1:3-4 )

ז. Brigham Young saw God our Heavenly Father as the first man (“Adam”) in an American garden which he (the LDS prophet) thought of as “Eden. Celestial Parents did descend to a garden in an abundantly watered fertile plain (an eden) in ancient North America. Courageous Brigham Young should be thanked, and recognized for being remarkably right about such things. But the American garden was not the garden of scripture "eastward in Eden". (Abraham 5:8)

It is unfortunate that discord arose between President Young and Apostle Orson Pratt over the subject of Adam-God. We should remember that there was also discord between some of the early brethren of the original church and the Apostle Paul. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 64:8) There has been discord among natural philosophers on the subject of whether light is a particle or a wave.

Brigham Young personally held to, and defended his (Joseph’s) blindingly bright revelation.

 Apostle Pratt insisted upon scriptural consistency, when it came to Adam-God.

Though Brigham Young admitted he was indifferent to certain details of who's who in sacred history, we can appreciate his extraordinary insights and eternal perspective.

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Ephesians 3:14 - 15)

  

Where is the Tree of Life?

7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7, see also Genesis 2:9)

On the subject of the word “paradise”  (Greek “paradeiso”, Luke 23:43), the Prophet Joseph Smith commented:

“…what is paradise? It is a modern word: it does not answer at all to the original word that Jesus made use of. Find the original of the word paradise. You may as easily find a needle in a haymow. Here is a chance for battle, ye learned men. There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was—This day thou shalt be with me in the world of spirits: then I will teach you all about it and answer your inquiries. And Peter says he went and preached to the world of spirits (spirits in prison, 1 Peter, 3rd chap. 19th verse), so that they who would receive it could have it answered by proxy by those who live on the earth, etc.” (H.C. 5:424-425; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 309)

Joseph Smith is correct, in that the Savior probably did not use the Greek word “paradeiso” (translated “paradise” in Luke 23:43, KJV) in answering the thief on the cross. We have no original texts of the New Testament in Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic. The Hebrew version of the word is “pardes” (Heb. Song of Songs 4:13). The word "pardes" is translated “orchard” and “forest” in the KJV. (Nehemiah 2:8) The original word for “paradise” was assimilated into Hebrew and Greek from Old Persian (Avestan) – the language of the Great Prophet Zarathustra. The Persian word “pairi-daeza” suggests a circumvallation, a walled-in park. Ancient Persian rulers made protected gardens or game preserves. These garden parks are the source of our modern English word “paradise”. Keep in mind that Eden took in a larger region in the Fertile Crescent than the confines of Paradise. Paradise or the Garden was "in Eden".

A Hebrew translation of the New Testament renders the Savior’s words to the malefactor: “... ha-yom tih’yeh imadi b’Gan Eden”, “... this day you will be with me in the Garden of Eden.” That "paradise", or "Gan Eden" is not the heavenly abode of the Savior's divine Father, is evidenced by his words on resurrection morning: "... I am not yet ascended to my Father..." (ST John 20:17)

The Septuagint, which influenced the Greek New Testament, actually uses the Greek word for paradise when referring to the Genesis Garden of Eden. Latter-day Saints may be surprised to learn that all New Testament references to “paradise” (i.e. Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:4, Revelation 2:7) refer to the Garden of Eden.

How can that be? How can the Tree of Life still be in the Garden (Paradise) of God, if Eden was on this earth?

Scripture seems to indicate (literally, figuratively or both) that the trees of Eden are in Sheol - the nether reaches – the world of the dead:

16 I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell (Heb. “Sheol”) with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.

17 They also went down into hell (Heb. “Sheol”) with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.

18 To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden?  yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword.  This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 31:16 – 18; note the Hebrew actually reads “Adonai YHVH”, translated “Lord GOD”)

The Prophet Joseph Smith further stated:

“There has been much said about the word hell, and the sectarian world have preached much about it, describing it to be a burning lake of fire and brimstone. But what is hell? It is another modern term, and is taken from hades…

Hades, the Greek, or Sheol, the Hebrew, these two significations mean a world of spirits. Hades, Sheol, paradise, spirits in prison, are all one: it is a world of spirits.  

The righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection.” (H.C. 5:425; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 310)

Regarding the trees of the Garden of Eden, the Book of Moses tells us:

9 And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it.  And it became also a living soul.  For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good for food.  And I, the Lord God, planted the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and also the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Moses 3:9)

How can the trees of the Garden of Eden still be in the sphere where God planted them, and yet be in the nether world – the world of spirits?

“Ruah רוּחַ is Hebrew for “Spirit”, but the same word can also mean “wind” or “breath”. The ancient word implies a living essence of a less tangible substance. (Genesis 1:2; 6:17; 8:1)

“Ruah” is a feminine Hebrew word. The following poetic line in Genesis 1:2 may therefore be translated:

 “…And the Ruah [Spirit, Wind, Breath; feminine] of Elohim [Gods, God; masculinegroups male and female combined are referred to in the masculine] brooded [hovered, gently moved; feminine] upon the face of the mayim [waters, water; masculine]:”

Scripture clearly teaches the existence of “spirit” beings. (2 Chronicles 18:20, Job 32:8, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 138:36-39) The fact that the Hebrew word for “spirit” is feminine, does not mean that all spirit personages are female. (1 Nephi 11:11; see also the Hebrew translation of ST John 14:26; 15:26) The Hebrew word for “arm” is also feminine, for example. The word “ghost” is a Gentile term that formerly meant spirit in general, but has come to almost exclusively mean disembodied spirit of the dead. (See OED)

The “Holy Ghost” (KJV) is the Spirit, Mind and Power of God ministered by way of spirit messenger(s). (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:86-88, See also Lectures on Faith from the School of the Prophets at Kirtland, Ohio, Lecture V, 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants)

Physical Science is now open to the possibility of the existence of forms of matter besides those we are familiar with. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 131:7-8) Some may suppose that an intangible world would of necessity have to be made of an entirely different kind of matter. But what if “tangibility” is  relative? In other words; what if things that feel “solid” to one are not solid to another?

Like the ancient Israelites, we might tend to generalize the idea of “spirit”, calling all living, moving things that are less tangible to us, “spirits”. But we should make allowance for different forms of matter, and the relativity of tangibility. An entire world may exist made of "ordinary" atomic matter, which we cannot see or touch. How could such a thing be?

Entities that make up material things demonstrate either wave or particle like attributes. For lack of a better word lets refer to these entities as “wavicles”. The subatomic wavicles of matter that compose our world are not “tangible” all the time. (Romans 1:20, Hebrews 11:3) Tangibility is a field effect between wavicles of matter. A person cannot typically walk through a “solid” wall as if the wall were not there, because a majority of the wavicles that make up the wall, and the person, interact (via local fields) in ways that prevent the aggregate of wavicles from completely passing each other. Even so, when a person touches a wall, an imperceptible percentage of wavicles of the wall and the person do in fact pass each other - but not enough to be noticed, or to prevent the wall from seeming “solid”. This brings us to briefly discuss a very real phenomenon known as “quantum tunneling”.

Imagine a river flowing into a “solid” wall and reemerging on the other side of the wall, but there is no detectable water in the wall. That would be quantum tunneling on a macroscopic scale - our scale. Where did the water go? Did it cease to exist and then reappear ex-nihilo (out of nothing) on the other side of the wall?

It’s a fact of nature that wavicles of matter on one side of a barrier can vanish and reappear on the other side of the barrier. We say the wavicles have “tunneled”, but we do not mean they have bored their way through like termites. The wavicles literally disappeared from our world and materialized on the other side of the “barrier”.

What is it about the wavicles that signals that they have become intangible relative to the barrier? The answer is curious. There is a mathematical token that signifies that a wavicle is in a state of quantum tunneling.

In the region where a wavicle is “tunneling” (i.e. has disappeared from our measurement realm), its momentum (mass times its velocity) is what mathematicians call “imaginary”. I prefer to say “i-ary” or “i-world”. That is to say, relative to our world, the wavicle’s momentum takes on a factor i = (-1)1/2. The mathematics of quantum mechanics actually predicts this. Incredibly, because the wavicle’s  momentum is “i-ary”, its kinetic energy is “negative” (relative to our world). (Shankar, Principles of Quantum Mechanics, pp. 174-175)

Mathematicians long ago decided to call the number (-1)1/2 the “imaginary number”. This is an unfortunate choice of words. The number i = (-1)1/2 was branded with the title “imaginary”, before mathematicians better understood what they were dealing with. The truth is, number i is no less existent, or no more make-believe than so called “real numbers”. The number i is just different compared to the numbers we typically use to describe things in our world. But i is not without application to the physical universe. Material things with i-world momentum and negative kinetic energy are just as palpable, just as corporeal relative to each other, as their “real world” counterparts.

In fact, whether or not a world is considered i-ary depends on your point of view. Inhabitants of the i-world, intangible to us, have just as much right to think of our world as the invisible, intangible one. They have the mathematical right to think of us and our material environment as “i-ary”.

Wavicles of matter are able to undergo a transformation that renders their relative momentum i-ary. Where do wavicles go when they disappear from our world? The quantum mechanical equations, I believe, whisper that vanished wavicles go someplace else – a realm which to us may be classified as i-world.

We are not necessarily talking about “other dimensions”. We are talking about different “corporealities”; that is, seemingly “three dimensional” physical worlds that are largely intangible to each other. Relative tangibility (or intangibility) is conveniently represented using the mathematical symbol i. 

A small percentage of wavicles of both worlds pop in and out of each other’s realm. Because of the nearly imperceptible amount of matter swapping between worlds, two separate but superposed worlds can be physically bound to each other in orbit around a common superposed star – a star that has a comparable gravitational presence in both corporealities. The fields of one world influence the visiting wavicles from the other world and visa versa. The influence takes place before the wavicles exit back to their home corporeality. The two superposed worlds become bound to each other by field interactions acting on the almost imperceptible amounts of matter that are momentarily present.

It may be that so called “dark matter” in our universe is "ordinary matter" that momentarily appears in our universe before disappearing - going back into its resident corporeality. Over vast extents of space the cumulative influence of this microcosmic phantom matter could be considerable. During the brief instants matter blinks into our universe, it interacts with fields in our universe, affecting the orbital mechanics of mighty tabernacles like the visible galaxies etc.

Earthly and Heavenly Tabernacles

Nebular Veils Shielding Outer Courts - by V. Coon  כּוּן

In other cases the existence of an intangible world may be far less evident. The orbital velocity of a planet can be nearly independent of the planet’s mass. The planet’s mass in this instance, is far less than the mass of the star she orbits. The physical presence of a superposed, resident “intangible” world may not be easily detected, or disclosed by orbital mechanics. In other words, two superposed earth’s, each mostly intangible to the other, could orbit as one around a superposed sun. Let us consider this to be the case with our earth - or should we say, earths?

Lets start by distinguishing the proposed corporealities that comprise our superposed planet:

“Tellus” is the world in which we now live. The other physical earth that is right here with us – but intangible to us, is “Terra”.

The name “Terra”, is of course Latin, for “earth”. “Tellus” (as in "tellurium") is also Latin for “earth”. As “celestial" (“heavenly”) and “terrestrial” (“earthly”) derive from Latin roots, it makes sense that the unique LDS term “telestial” should be Latin based too. We should understand that the improvised quasi-Latin term “telestial” has no more to do with things “stellar" that the Latin term “terrestrial” has to do with things “lunar”. Comparing “celestial”, “terrestrial”, and “telestial” bodies to the “sun”, “moon”, and “stars” is a relative comparison of “glory”, that has little to do with the Latin or quasi-Latin meanings. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:96-98, compare with 1 Corinthians 15:40-41)  

Terra is just as physical, just as tangible to her residents as “Tellus” is to us; but each world goes largely unnoticed by the other – even though they are both right here - superposed.

Both Terra and Tellus were organized by the Elohim, but don’t be so quick to think they have similar geological histories. Suffice to say, both deserve to be called “earth”.

Because tangibility is not an absolute or inexorable condition of “solid” and “liquid” matter, corporeal worlds can be tuned into or out of; sort of like changing the channels of a television or radio device; except in this case we are talking about “i-porting” between corporealities.

Here an explanation presents itself as to how the Tree of Life can still be in the “paradise” of the Elohim (Revelation 2:7) - how trees of the Garden of Eden could have remained “in the sphere" in which the Elohim long ago placed them. (Moses 3:9)

The explanation is simple: “Eden” was a fertile region of Mesopotamia exactly as scripture tells us. The region that was called “Eden” was more than a garden. Eden included parts of northern Mesopotamia. Within the fertile plane of Eden was a nexus or connection, made by the Elohim. The nexus bridged the worlds of Tellus and Terra .

Decision making matter composing the bodies of celestial beings must be very obedient to higher commands – even on subatomic levels. The Elohim are able to bodily (macroscopically) i-port between corporeal worlds. (Luke 24:30, 36-43, ST John 20:19) For the Elohim, passing between corporealities doesn’t mean death – only change, “i-change”, controlled by their supernal will.

This invites further discussion on the topic of celestial bodies: (1 Corinthians 15:39-40) Because Brigham Young, and other notable saints did not consistently differentiate between Father and son “Adam”, Mother and daughter “Eve”; because they did not fully subject the Adam-God revelation to the prism of revealed scripture, they naturally came to speculate that resurrected, celestial “Adams” and “Eves” would have to take on mortal flesh and blood over and over again in order to populate probationary planets. (Rodney Turner, The Position of Adam in Latter-day Saint Scripture and Theology – A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Religion of Brigham Young University, August 1958, pp. 31-33)

But scripture clearly teaches that Adam became mortal not by “partaking of the fruits of the earth” in general (as was later speculated by Brigham Young and others ibid), but by a singular act of transgression. (2 Nephi 2:22-23, Alma 42:3-6) Scripture indicates that partaking of materials of this earth doesn’t necessarily make a resurrected being mortal again. (Luke 24:41-42) Yes, terrestrial Adam and Eve were begotten by immortals, but this does not mean their terrestrial bodies were of the same order as the resurrected Elohim. (Psalm 8:4-6)

The idea that disobedient, mortal Adam and Eve could attain a resurrected celestial state without dying, contradicts the word of Elohim. (Genesis 2:17) LDS scripture tells us that Adam who transgressed in the Garden of Eden, in fact died. (Genesis 5:5, Moses 6:12, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22) The presumption that resurrected beings could repeatedly become mortal and die also runs contrary to scripture, “as it is appointed unto men once to die…” (Hebrews 9:27; see also Romans 6:9, Revelation 21:4, Mosiah 16:9, Alma 11:45)

On this earth, Messiah was the first to resurrect from a mortal state to immortal glory. (Acts 26:23, 2 Nephi 2:8, Alma 40:2) The fact that mortal Adam died, explains his presence among the disembodied spirits of the righteous, seen in vision. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 138:11-12, 35-39) Adam who fell, was father to the Anointed in a genealogical sense through the mortal ancestry of Miriam,  mother of Yeshua. The celestial, resurrected ADAM who is Abba to Ben ha-ADAM (the Son of MAN) is his glorified Eternal Father. These Adams, including Messiah, and an eternity of other celestial beings, are Elohim (Gods). The Savior’s words to Miriam (Mary, one of his wives; Hebrew Psalm 45:6-9) may therefore hold more than one level of meaning “…Hold me not…but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (JST ST John 20:17).

Before their transgression, terrestrial Adam and Eve had immortal bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:40, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 76:78; 88:30) Their divine celestial parents provided means whereby they could pass from the paradise of Terra to the edenic circumvallation of Tellus. It was one garden, bridging two worlds. Yes, the refuge of Eden was physically located in the region of Mesopotamia just as scripture indicates; but within Eden, there was a “way” to a terrestrial paradise in a separate corporeality – a garden that, according to scripture, is still there! Perhaps part of the region of what was once Eden is now beneath the waters of the Persian Gulf. This does not mean that the “nether” world at that locale is inundated. (Ethiopic Enoch 31)

Paradise Found

Possible location of the "garden eastwards in Eden" (Moses 3:8). The full extent of the Middle Eastern land of Eden is not defined.

“And a river went out of Eden [Mesopotamia] to water the garden; and from thence [beyond the garden] it was parted, and became into four heads.” (Genesis 2:10)

After their transgression, the persons we typically refer to as “Adam” and “Eve”, were driven from the garden into the dreary world of Tellus. They could still hear “the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them”, but “they saw him not; for they were shut out his presence.” (Moses 5:4) They were "cut of from the tree of life" (in Terra), and in physical death they would be "cut of from the face of the earth" (Tellus). (Alma 42:6).

Thus “Paradise”, where the Tree of Life still is, is one and the same as the “Garden of God” on the earth (Terra).

Paradise is physical, very real and very near. The earth of the Garden of God is not light years distant. She is superposed with this ancient struggling planet as an i-world companion. (2 Corinthians 12:3-4, Moses 7:38, 48-49, 57, 62-64) Beings with bodies of atomic matter as well as beings composed of “more fine”, “spirit” matter, participate in these worlds. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 131:7)

Scripture tells us there is a "Zion" in America and a "Zion" in the Middle East. Should we be surprised that man was raised in an American paradise before he was placed "eastward in Eden" - where he became mortal by transgression?

 

Special thanks to Sister Linda Thomas for her compilation of quotes relating to the Adam-God revelation. These quotes in combination with Brother Rodney Turner’s BYU Thesis (1958), signed by Sidney B. Sperry and Hugh Nibley, removes much uncertainly as to what the Prophet Brigham Young actually taught and understood on the subject.

Appendix:

From LDS SCRIPTURES, AUTHORIZED VERSION INCLUDING OFFICIAL STUDY AIDS (CD-ROM RESOURCE 1.0) Transliterated Hebrew | English:

The Eternal Name

Genesis 2 verse 11

Genesis 2 verses 12-13

Genesis 2 verse 14

 

Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, pg. 50

 Sermon by President Brigham Young,

“—Adam, Our Father and Our God”

A sermon delivered by President Brigham Young, in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 9, 1852.

"…

            The Lord fills the immensity of space. What saith the Psalm 1st? "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me." I was trying to think of the place where God is not, but it is impossible, unless you can find empty space; and there I believe He is not. If you can find such a place, it will become useful for a hiding place to those who wish to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord, in the great day of accounts. I will close this sermon, as I intend to preach another before I present the subject I more particularly wish to speak upon.

            My next sermon will be to both Saint and sinner. One thing has remained a mystery in this kingdom up to this day. It is in regard to the character of the well-beloved Son of God, upon which subject the Elders of Israel have conflicting views. Our God and Father in heaven, is a being of tabernacle, or, in other words, He has a body, with parts the same as you and I have; and is capable of showing forth His works to organized beings, as, for instance, in the world in which we live, it is the result of the knowledge and infinite wisdom that dwell in His organized body. His son Jesus Christ has become a personage of tabernacle, and has a body like his father. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Lord, and issues forth from Himself, and may properly be called God's minister to execute His will in immensity; being called to govern by His influence and power; but He is not a person of tabernacle as we are, and as our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are. The question has been, and is often, asked, who it was that begat the Son of the Virgin Mary. The infidel world have concluded that if what the Apostles wrote about his father and mother be true, and the present marriage discipline acknowledged by Christendom be correct, then Christians must believe that God is the father of an illegitimate son, in the person of Jesus Christ! The infidel fraternity teach that to their disciples. I will tell you how it is. Our Father in Heaven begat all the spirits that ever were, or ever will be, upon this earth; and they were born spirits in the eternal world. Then the Lord by His power and wisdom organized the mortal tabernacle of man. We were made first spiritual, and afterwards temporal.

            Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, and thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession. I could tell you much more about this; but were I to tell you the whole truth, blasphemy would be nothing to it, in the estimation of the superstitious and over-righteous of mankind. However, I have told you the truth as far as I have gone. I have heard men preach upon the divinity of Christ, and exhaust all the wisdom they possessed. All Scripturalists, and approved theologians who were considered exemplary for piety and education, have undertaken to expound on this subject, in every age of the Christian era; and after they have done all, they are obliged to conclude by exclaiming "great is the mystery of godliness," and tell nothing.

            It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in all heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

            Again, they will try to tell how the divinity of Jesus is joined to his humanity, and exhaust all their mental faculties, and wind up with this profound language, as describing the soul of man, "it is an immaterial substance!" What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation.

            I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon this subject, when I replied, to this idea—"if the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties."

            Treasure up these things in your hearts. In the Bible, you have read the things I have told you to-night; but you have not known what you did read. I have told you no more than you are conversant with; but what do the people in Christendom, with the Bible in their hands, know about this subject? Comparatively nothing.

…"

How are the canonized words of President Wilford Woodruff reconciled with the fact that President Brigham Young was allowed to communicate his speculative interpretations of the Adam-God revelation - for years?

Excerpt from President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)” (LDS Doctrine and Covenants OFFICIAL DECLARATION-1)

Members of the LDS Church often interpret President Woodruff's words (above) to mean that the Lord will never let the President of the Church mislead members of the Church. Does this mean that the President of the Church is infallible, that he is incapable of unintentionally saying things that are misleading or incorrect?

Notice that President Woodruff did not say that the Lord will not let the President of the Church mislead members. Instead, he said, “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray.” President Woodruff did not use the word let, he used the word “permit”. What does the word “permit” mean in this case? The word “permit” can mean allow or let, but it can also mean “consent to, give permission to, authorize”. President Woodruff followed up by explaining that it will never be in “the mind of God” (i.e. God’s will) for the President of the Church to lead the Church astray. In other words, the Lord (who is “a God of truth, and canst not lie”) will “never permit [authorize, consent to]” the President of the Church teaching something that misleads Church members. If it happens, you can be sure that it is not authorized by the Lord. President Woodruff went on to explain, “If I were to attempt that [to lead Church members astray], the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles [revelations (e.g. scriptures), places of revelation, persons giving revelations] of God, and from their duty.”

Church leaders (human beings) can say things that are partially inspired, inaccurate, even misleading, without intentionally trying to “lead the children of men astray”. If they consciously attempt to lead the Church astray, the Lord will remove them. Thus the Lord allowed President Brigham Young, for many years, to communicate partially inspired opinions.


Vincent Coon וִינְסֶנט כּוּן Copyright 2013

 

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