Dr. Einar C. Erickson
Ancient Document Mormon Scholar
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I am still a spirit, I have not been tabernacled in the flesh.

 

RECORDS OF EARLY DISPENSATIONS

INTRODUCTION

In my life time, since I was born in 1928, (Mandean BOOKS) and especially after 1945, Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi and others, have been found and translated. There have been more than 110 discoveries of documents and records written on nearly everything you can imagine; silk and animal skins, clay tablets to pieces of pottery and wooden slats, many have been translated and many more will be as scholars continue their evaluation of the treasures of past times. Logan has made a fairly exhaustive list of nearly all of such sources, 150 of them. (Logan pp. 345-373) We will refer to a few. The ancients prepared many books. The spiritual gift which “Adam put off, the same Enos and Enoch received. They made writing, (or books) antediluvian traditions were written down before the flood and preserved… of course the tradition of Enochic books transmitted to after the flood was ancient and widespread setting forth the existing things. …then in Armenian, into which language language the ancient Enoch literature seems never to have been translated.” (Anderson p.210)

A dead Sea Scroll expert wrote: “All these considerations, and many more, when we go over the records tell in my opinion of a gigantic effort of the most careful planning and preparation, so that the Elect [who are they] of the period of the Consummation, [the last days]. would be primed with everything they would need. Everything would be in the books nothing neglected and all of the books safely stored for their predestined purpose…. It would appear that [n the caves of the Khirbet Qumran area we have stumbled upon books designed for the faithful in the last great struggle with evil, books for the skilled to understand and not meant to be accessible before the time.” (Schonfield p. 139)                                                                                          

THE BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE

A book recorded in the Language of Adam, and maintained by “as many as called upon God,” who were “given…to write by the spirit of inspiration” (Moses 5:6). Enoch referred to a Book of remembrance that enabled his people to know Adam (Moses 6:45-46). Malachi spoke of a book of remembrance that was written for “them that feared the Lord” (Mal. 3:16). And a letter to W.W. Phelps written by Joseph Smith warned that ‘those whose names are not in the Book of Remembrance would find no inheritance in Zion.” (D&C 85:9; Largey p. 79)

The Book of the generations of Adam from Adam to Methuselah in Moses 6:6:8 contains the genealogical and historical summary of that time (Moses 6:25, and “ they kept a book of remembrance in the language of Adam.” (Moses 6:5-6; Largey p. 79)

Joseph Smith began the Book of Moses in 1830. The earliest work is labeled Old Testament Manuscript 1 (OT1). It includes the visions of Moses and a revision of Genesis and some historical data, housed in the archives of the Community of Christ, (CC). Further work by Joseph on the Old Testament was labeled 2 (OT2), included a revision of Moses 1:17, and the Book of Genesis with final textual corrections and readied for publication. When the CC published the Inspired Version in 1867 they used the 1 (OT1) documents so some of the Joseph’s work on Genesis was not included. (Largey p. 78)

GOSPEL DISPENSATIONS

“Gospel dispensation” is a phrase which has been in common use in Mormon literature from the time of Joseph Smith to the present…at least six of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants speak of them…. the Prophet described the various dispensations especially the “Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.” (Hunter p. 66) One of the early elders of the church and prolific writer was B.H. Roberts who thoroughly discussed the dispensations, of which there are seven in the eastern hemisphere and an unnumbered series of them in the western hemisphere of Jaredite and Nephite dispensations, defined dIspensation as: “one of the several systems of bodies of law in which different periods God has revealed His mind and will to man…the Gospel of Jesus Christ means the opening of the heavens to man…and dispensing to them the word of God.” (Roberts p. 37) Paul the Apostle wrote of the present and last dispensation: “God ...hath purposed himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both in heaven and which are on earth, even in him.” (Ephesians 1:10)   

The term ‘dispensation, came from the “Greek oikonomia, denoting the idea of stewardship and of ordering affairs of a household, “Dispensations” are also time periods in which the Lord placed on the earth the necessary knowledge and priesthood authority, to implement his Plan of Salvation for his children, first given to Adam. [The next was Enoch’s Dispensation, all were translated. (Moses 6:31) Most dispensations ended in Apostasy]. “From time to Time the Lord called new prophets and again revealed the plan.… Each new dispensation or period of restored truth presents men and women with a divine stewardship in performing the Lord’s work…. Prophets are stewards who preach and organize the work of redemption in each dispensation. [The restoration records of the Church] refer to seven Major dispensation named after the principal prophet of each: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus… and Joseph Smith who introduced the Dispensation of the fullness of times.” Ludlow pp. 388-389) The command was that the “gospel should be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (D&C133) The Dispensation of the fullness of Times will be the first to accomplish this. “Adam holds all the keys …whenever the gospel is revealed it is under the direction of Adam who is under Christ… All who hold keys will give a stewardship report to Adam and he, to Christ…. The Lord prepared Joseph Smith…by sending prophets from previous dispensations to confer their keys upon him… (D&C 110; 112:32; 125:20-21) Since the final dispensation is a culmination of all that has come before, Joseph Smith is revered as a preeminent figure under Jesus Christ. (D&C128:18; 135:3) … in each dispensation the same plan of redemption through the Savior has been given.” (Ludlow pp. 388-389) This present dispensation is the restoration of all things, that all others have had and more.  “In  the last dispensations, some ideals never before reached on the earth will be accomplished.” (Ludlow p. 390) So, ancient documents should confirm this.

ZOROASTRIANS RECORDS

In Persia, the very ancient Zoroastrians had a tradition of written records preserved and added to in time. “One of their distinguishing characteristics: for not only did Zoroastrians whisper their long prayers… but it was also in an actual “murmuring” that they transmitted to their disciples the texts of sacred books themselves which were not, until a very late period, committed to writing.” (Doresse p. 196) “Among the documents recovered from Egypt is No.31. The Interpretation of the Gnosis and some other works without titles…as is the case for document No. 16. This last concludes as follows: These revelations-- disclose them not to anyone who is in the flesh, for (he is) disembodied who reveled them to thee.” (Doresse p. 197) Angels and messengers, not yet having come to earth for a body, often brought messages in each dispensation. Today only Mormons believe that.

“In a great apocalypse; The Revelation of Adam to his son Seth in the 700th year…hear my words, my son Seth…the knowledge of the everlasting God: and ... the appearances of the eternal angels…we learned mortal things like Men. It was then that we knew the god who had created us… he dreamt that he saw “three men before me” of whom I could not bear the sight because they were not of the powers of this world now my son Seth, I will reveal to you the things that have been unveiled to me (1 Nephi 1:9-10). …[then] Adam imparted [by books] revelations to his son Seth, and showed him his greatness before the transgression and his going out of Paradise [Eden]… Seth welcomed the teaching of his father…  it was given to him to inscribe this wisdom in a book and to teach it…thanks to him for the first time in this world there was seen a book written in the name of the Most High. Seth bequeathed to his descendants the book thus written and that book was handed down even to Noah …In the time of the flood, Noah took with him into the ark the books [they were increasing in number] of these teachings, and when he came out of the ark he ordained in his turn that the generations that come after him were to repeat the many things and the holy mysteries written in the Book of Seth upon the Majesty of the Father and upon all the mysteries. Hence these books, these mysteries and this narrative were handed down even to our fathers, who welcomed them with joy and who passed them on to us and these books of the hidden mysteries [ordinances and doctrines] were placed in the Mountain of Victories …in a grotto; The Cave of Treasures…. Theodore Bar Konai in the eighth century, and Solomon of Basra in the thirteenth, still knew of such prophecies [books] … the Saviour foretold in them was endowed with the attributes of the Christ, (Moses 6:63)…:Listen, that I may reveal to you the prodigious mysteries concerning the great king who must come into the world, at the end of times …which will put an end to [evil]…a Child will be conceived ….in the womb of a virgin, without any man having  approached her. He will be like a tree …loaded with fruit standing upon a parched soil. The inhabitants of that land will oppose his growing up and will strive to uproot him …but will not be to do so. Then they will lay hands on him and will kill him on the gibbet. The earth and the heavens will weep… for his violent death and all the families of people will weep for him.  He will open the descent into the depths of the earth [the descent into the world of spirits] and from the depth, he will mount up on High…he is the child of the Word. … he will arise from my family…. Epiphanius 39.… in which it is said Christ Jesus is of the line of Seth…he was sent by the Mother of heaven to dwell among mankind.” (Doresse pp. 175-186; Largey p.250)

Abraham spoke of the “records of the fathers, even the patriarchs” which contained information relevant to the “right of the priesthood.” (Abraham 1:31) The “record also held in it “knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars as they were made known unto the fathers: (Ibid) For his posterity Abraham wanted “to delineate the chronology running back from himself to the beginning of the creation for the records have come into my hands, which I hold unto this present time.” [about 1950 BC] (Abraham 1:31) Including the Book of Remembrance and the Book of the Generations of Adam. (Largey p.25O)

“Here were amplifications of the Major episode of the Magj keeping watch for the rising for the star that was to guide them to Bethehem for the adoration of the Messiah…The Book of the Cave of Treasures, which enjoyed a prodigious diffusion. It puts all these revelations into the mouth of Adam as the first of a long series of prophets, who predict how the Magi will await the announcement of the Saviour, …and where the treasures are concealed which the Magi will carry to Bethlehem…. With the Book of the Cave we must class a great many other Testaments of Books of Adam preserved in Syriac, in Ethiopian, in Armenian. [I have been in Armenia and seen some of these documents], or in Arabic…. In these writings the name of Seth “identifies …. the …. depositary of the loftiest secrets …In the Unfinished Commentary on St. Mathew refers….  to Writing put under the name of Seth. In the Syric Chronicles from the Zuquin monastery near Armida, (finished in AD 774) the traditions about the Magi and the advent of the Savior are summed up…  in terms that remind one…. of the Cave of Treasures.” (Doresse pp. 184-185)

The Gospel and the restoration of doctrines in these latter days is full of treasures of knowledge and eternal things that resonate in the heart and mind.

 

                 BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

ANDERSON, Gary, Michael Stone, Johannes Tromp, Eds, Literature on Adam and Eve, Brill, Leiden, 2000

BIGELOW, Christopher Kimball, Jonathan Langford, Ed. Don L. Brugger.  The Latter-day Saint Encyclopedia. Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, Ca., 2010 

DORESS, Jean. The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, The Viking Press, New York,1960

HUNTER, Milton R., The Gospel through the Ages, Stevens and Wallis Inc. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1045

LARGEY, Dennis P., Ed.  Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah. 2017

LOGAN, Alstair H. B.; Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy, Hendrickson Publishers Peabody, Mass., 1996

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

ROBERTS, B.H., The Seventy’s Course in Theology, Second Year, Outline History of the Dispensations of the Gospel, Skeleton Publishing Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1908

SCHONFIELD, Hugh J., Secrets of the Dead Scrolls, Thomas Yuoseloff. Inc., New York, 1957

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
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