Thursday, January 26, 2017

D&C 76

Verses 2, 9 - "Wisdom"

"Wisdom itself is represented in Proverbs 1–9 as a female person. Indeed, here and elsewhere in ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature, Wisdom appears as the wife of God, which can hardly fail to remind us of ancient Asherah. She may even have played a role in the creation: 'The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth,' says Proverbs 3:19. 'Like the symbol of the asherah, Wisdom is a female figure, providing life and nurturing.' In fact, as Steve A. Wiggins observes of Asherah herself, 'She is Wisdom, the first creature of God.'"

Peterson, Daniel C. "Nephi and His Asherah." Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 9/2 (2000): 16–25, 80–81.

Verse 7 - "Mysteries"

"In a recent and rather sensational work, Morton Smith demonstrates at length that the word mystery, as used by the first Christians, usually refers to ordinances. He duly notes that Judaism itself was an ancient 'mystery religion' in which the rites of circumcision and passover were 'mysteries,' and that such early and orthodox Christian writers as Clement of Alexandria 'think of Jesus as a ‘hierophant,’ a teacher of mysteries.' As Smith sums it up, 'This was the mystery of the kingdom—the mystery rite by which the kingdom was entered,' i.e., the ordinances of initiation."

Nibley, Hugh. The message of the Joseph Smith papyri: an Egyptian endowment. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 2005. 515.

Verse 10 - "Secret"

In the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament) the word from which "secret" (as in Amos 3:7) is often translated from the word סוד (sôd).

"In its broader sense the Hebrew term sôd (סוד) means a confidential discussion, a secret or plan, a circle of confidants, or council. Nearly all scholars now agree that sôd, when used in relationship to God, refers to the heavenly council/sôd of God, which humans may sometimes visit to learn divine mysteries or obtain a prophetic message to deliver to humankind. The celestial members of this council are variously called the 'host of heaven' (1 Kings 22:19), 'gods' or 'sons of God' (Ps. 82:1, 6), or 'Holy Ones.' Sôd can refer to either the divine council itself or to the deliberative secret results of that council—that is the secret plans of the council—which a prophet is sometimes permitted to learn or to reveal to humankind. Only those who are part of the divine sôd/council know the sôd/secret plan, and only those who are given explicit permission may reveal that sôd to humankind. ...

"Several passages in LDS scripture ... also describe the sôd of Yhwh (e.g., 1 Nephi 1:8–18; Abraham 3:22–23). I would like, however, to move one step further and suggest that we should understand the LDS Endowment as a ritual and dramatic participation in the sôd/divine council of God, through which God reveals to the covenanter his sôd/secret plan of salvation—the hidden meaning and purpose of creation and the cosmos. When we consider the Endowment drama in this way—remembering that in Isaiah the meeting place of the sôd of Yhwh is in the temple (Isa. 6:1)—the Endowment fits broadly in the biblical tradition of ritually observing or participating in “the council/sôd of Yhwh” described in these biblical texts."

Hamblin, William J. "The Sôd of YHWH and the Endowment." Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, 4 (2013): 147-154.

In conjunction with the last excerpt this statement provides additional understanding to LDS temple ordinances:

"As Moses' case demonstrates [from Moses 1], the actual endowment is not a mere representation but is the reality of coming into a heavenly presence and of being instructed in the things of eternity. In temples, we have a staged representation of the step-by-step ascent into the presence of the Eternal while we are yet alive. It is never suggested that we have died when we participate in these blessings. Rather, when we enter the celestial room, we pause to await the promptings and premonitions of the Comforter. And after a period of time, mostly of our own accord, we descend the stairs, and resume the clothing and walk of our earthly existence. But there should have been a change in us as there certainly was with Moses when he was caught up to celestial realms and saw and heard things unlawful to utter. The Book of Moses is what the Lord permitted him to write of his endowment experience."

Ehat, Andrew F. "Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord?" In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, Deseret Book Company, 1994, 48-62.

Verse 12, 19 - "Eyes were opened"

"The word 'mystery' (Gk mystērion) derives from the Gk verb myein, 'to close,' referring to the closing of the lips or the eyes. The 'closed' nature of the mystery religions may be interpreted in two ways. A person (Gk mystēs, pl. mystai) who had experienced the mystērion was required to maintain closed lips in order not to divulge the secret revealed at the private ceremony. Pledges of silence were intended to ensure that the holy secret would not be disclosed to profane outsiders ... An initiate into the mysteries also participated in the closing (and the subsequent opening) of the eyes. As people with closed eyes remain in darkness until they open their eyes to see the light, so the mystai whose eyes were opened moved from darkness to enlightenment, both literally and metaphorically. The contrast between closed and open eyes, between darkness and light, was accentuated within the initiatory ceremonies."

Meyer, M. W. (1992). Mystery Religions. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 4, p. 942). New York: Doubleday.

"The opening of the ears and eyes can mark the beginning of a ritual ceremony (as it expressly does in Mosiah 2:9) and can symbolize the commencement of an opening of the mysteries and a deeper understanding of what is truly being said and done. ... In opening the eyes and ears of the people, it may be compared functionally to an early Christian purificatory anointing of the eyes and ears 'that you might receive hearing ears of the mysteries of God.' Not all people are intended to hear and know the mysteries of God; only those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. For this reason, Jesus spoke parables to the masses in Palestine; yet to his disciples, it was given 'to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; ... blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear' (Matthew 13:11, 16). Their eyes and ears were opened."

Welch, John W. The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount, Deseret Book Company, 1990.

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