Dr. Einar C. Erickson
Ancient Document Mormon Scholar
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There is the lower group called the unredeemed and the second group ordinary Christians saved by faith, and the third group saved by knowledge with eternal bliss.


After fourteen years I have returned to the ancient documents and how they may confirm the restoration and its doctrines by the presence in them of fragments or even whole statements that show Joseph Smith restored ancient doctrines but and most of the them became lost because the church leaders forgot them or did away with them preserving very little, most in the first three centuries after Christ. One important document was the ACTS OF THOMAS , produced by the Ancient Syric Church.  During the interim period most of the documents in the monasteries of Syria have been microfilmed and becoming accessible. It will tale years fo mine them they are important because they are less contaminated by the Gnostic movement than others. So after reading this entry you may wish to go back and check the study entered into the web site 18th September 2004. There, from the Acts of Thomas   is a comparison of a sacramental prayer with the LDS prayers, they are almost a match. I will be referring to the Acts of Thomas often.


“…The sacramental beliefs and practices of the Pagan rivals of Christianity were adulterated forms of the true doctrine of Sacrament. Just as most of their other beliefs were altered forms of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But…the Pagan‘s sacraments date many years earlier than the birth of Jesus…true…but it is probable  that in one of the early  Gospels dispensations God revealed the ordinance of Sacrament to man even before the advent of Jesus of Nazareth in anticipation of the sacrifice to Christ would make for mortals. Yet it is true that practically all pf the tangible evidence has been lost to history.  We do know, however that such doctrines as the United Order have been revealed and lived three or four times during the certain periods when God’s children were unusually righteous. Could not the same thing have happened in regards to Sacrament?  “(Hunter pp. 238-239)

“The Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, called the, Inspired Version, suggests the foregoing conclusion to have been the case…when Father Abraham met the great High Priest Melchizedek on a certain occasion the Inspired Version states: “and Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine, and he broke bread and blest it, and he blest the wine, he being the priest of the most High God, and he gave to Abraham. (IV Genesis 14:1-40)  What interpretation could be given to this statement of the breaking and blessing of the bread and the blessing of wine by one holding the proper Priesthood and serving of these substances to a Church member other than the observance of the holy ordinance of sacrament? Therefore it seems that again we find the roots of paganism running back for generations in true Gospel revelation.“ (Hunter pp. 239)

During his life  Abraham had received the  gospel , was baptized to enter the covenant of salvation and received the Melchizedek Priesthood from Melchizedek himself, (D&C 84:14),  and covenants of exaltation (D&C 131:1-4; 132:19, 29) and was prepared to be the head of a dispensation after the death of Shem and Noah. (Bigelow p. 9)

“Others again say that Melchizedek (also  known as Adonizedek), was Abram’s ancestor Shem,  [D&C 138:41] and that he now taught Abram the duties of priesthood, particularly the  rules governing the shew-bread, wine-libation and burned-offerings. He also gave Abram the garments of skin made by God for Adam and Eve…All this Shem dId because God had appointed Abram his successor.”  (Graves p.147) The Temple going Mormon will know what is going on here, but a non-member or one not attending the Temple will have no clue.


Through revelations given the Prophet Joseph Smith the doctrine and  commandments of the sacrament were entered into Church History in April, 1830, (HC 1:64-70; D&C 20:75-79) , “It is expedient that the church meet together often  to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus." Any priest or elder may administer it. Any priesthood holder may prepare and pass it. An exact blessing which must be given word perfect, is provided in D&C 20, verse 77 for the bread and in 79 for the water. (Also Moroni 4:3; 5:2)


‘The Old English word “sacrament “ derives from Old French sacrament by way of Middle English, the Old French noun in turn is based on the Latin sacramentum, which denotes a sum deposited by the two parties to a suit….deposited in a sacred place….binding an agreement, oath of allegiance, or obligation. ….the word never occurs in the Bible….but it has come to have a major role in the practices of nearly all Christian denominations. …the definition of the seven sacraments for the Roman Catholic church came at the Fourth Lateran Council, convened  by Pope Innocent III in AD 1215….the reformers …rejecting most of the sacramental doctrines of the medieval church retained the notion of sacraments with respect to baptism and the Eucharist. In Latter-day Saint usage, sacrament does signify that ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ as a means by which worthy Saints may renew their covenants with their Redeemer and with ‘God the Father.’” (Mosiah 18:8-10; Macmillan p. 1243)  In the words of the sacramental prayer “we are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ.” Having a determination to serve him to the end. (D&C 20:37; Oaks p. 64)


When we look for prayers to bless the bread and the water (or wine) we find a huge variation in the Litergy. “The Orthodox Church of the present has inherited from the Byzantine era two things, known by the name of St. Chrysostom and St. Basil respectively.  Both comprise the whole service of the mass.” (Lietzmann p.1) The simple sacrament prayer uttered by Paul and by Christ at the Last Supper  were or used, said “sometimes at least….before the Last Supper when these actions were endued with the deepest, holiest  meaning.”  (Lietzmann p. xxi) Since then the prayers have proliferated so that each Christian group that has ever been formed had or have their own until now the prayers exceed 1100.  Lietzmann spent decades searching for these prayers and assembled what he found in his Book. The earliest forms refer to the “precise ritual of the oldest eucharist ….handed down to us. When in the text of the Church Orders…it is designated the Lord’s Supper, this is its ancient. Authentic name, appropriate to it from the beginning.” (Lietzmann p. 203) From Jewish practices “the cup came to be used in conjunction with the bread…commonly filled with wine….but the cup might be filled with water if there were any reason to refrain from wine.” (Lietzmann p. 203) In the early days of the LDS Church wine was used, then they changed to water. (D&C 27:2)     

Theologians transformed the symbolic nature of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper intro the dogma Transubstantiation, thereby introducing the notion that those who partake of the bread and wine Miraculously ingest the literal body and blood of Christ. …The LDS Church rejects this dogma and holds that the sacrament is to help the saints remember JESUS.” (Macmillon  p. 1244)

“Indeed the primal and continuous revelations can only be understood as preliminary stages explaining how an elect seed or race was preserved until the present era of decisive and final revelation as salvation, involving the end of this present age and the ultimate restoration of all things to their original status.” Logan p. 21)


The ancient Syrian church is a good source for ancient documents and will be referred to often in this series. In 1823,  J.C. Thilo prepared a commentary on the Acts of Thomas.  The Acts of Thomas is available in only one Syric document. It was translated by W. Wright  in 1871. Finally a thorough study, translation and commentary was prepared by  A.F.J. Klijn in 1962. Werner Foerster vol 1. made a further study published in 1972. It is these texts I will be referring to.  “And the  Apostle [Thomas] ordered his servant to place  near by. And they set alongside a bench which they found there and he spread a linen cloth over it and laid the bread of blessing on itbroke it and began to distribute it. (Foerster vol. 1,  p. 362; Klijn p. 90) Mygdonia had just been baptized and dressed again, Thomas “broke bread and took a cup of water, and made her a partaker of the body of Christ and of the cup of the Son of God.” (Foerster vol. 1,  p. 363  Sifur, a priest blessed it, and Vizen a deacon passed it. (Klijn  p. 134) This is the restored ceremony and procedure followed by every sacrament  in all Mormon churches every sunday or on  special days.  Bench, table and linen cloth along with the bread and water, and so on, is Mormon ritual. Joseph was told in a revelation that it  “mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when  ye shall partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory.” (D&C 27:2)


On an occasion Abraham was engaged in offering sacrifices an angel of the Lord was  with him. “Satan appears to Abraham who is sacrificing and commanded his obedience. Abraham perplexed, asks the angel ‘what is this my Lord?” and the angel tells him, “this is godlessness, this is Azazel  [satan]” Satan has threatened to possess the bodies of Abraham’s posterity, and the angel rebukes him “for God…hath  not permitted that the bodies of the righteous should be in thy hands.” He then casts Satan  out, telling him that God  has placed enmity between him and Abraham: “Depart from this man! Thou canst not lead him astray, because he is an enemy to thee and of those who follow thee.” (Apocalypse of Abraham in Nibley p. 14)


Of the Thirteen articles Faith that summarizes Mormon beliefs, the ninth Article says: “ We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal and believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”  We are living in the Last Days, Mormon’s expect they will receive a fullness through one revelation after another.



BIGELOW, Christopher K., Jonathan Langford, Ed.  Don Brugger, The Latter Day Saint Family Encyclopedia, Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, Calif., 2010

FOERSTER, Werner, Gnosis, vol. 2., Coptic and Mandean Sources, Oxford at the Clarendon6 Press, 1974

……………………………., Gnosis. vol. 1. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1974                    

GRAVES, R., & R. Patan, Hebrew Myths, 1968

KLIJN, A.F.J., The Acts of Thomas, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1972

LOGAN, Alastair. H. B., Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy, Hendrickson Pub., Peabody, Ms., 1996

LIETZMANN, Hans, Mass and the Lord’s, Supper, E. J. Drill, Leiden, 1979

LUDLOW, Daniel H., Ed.  Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Macmillom Publishing Co., New York,1992

HUNTER,  Milton R., The Gospel Through the Ages, Stevens and Wallis, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah. 1945

NIBLEY, Hugh, Abraham in Egypt, Deseret Book  Co., Salt Lake City, Utah. 1981

OAKS, Dallin H., His Holy Name, Bookcraft, Salt Laker City, Utah, 1998

SKINNER, Morris , Horse bones from Juke Box Cave., Frick Laboratory, American Museum of Natural History, New York, 1977



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