By Terry L Hutchinson
ANOTHER BOOK I WISH I’D WRITTEN
A Review of In God’s Image And Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, David J. Larsen, Interpreter Foundation & Eborn Books, 2014. $49.99.
Four years ago, I reviewed Jeffrey Bradshaw’s book, In God’s Image and Likeness: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses, on my daily radio program in St. George, Utah. I said it was a book I wish I’d written-not because of the wealth or fame it brought its author, but because it confirmed so much of my own thought and study that I found myself wishing I’d written such a book. Since then, Jeff Bradshaw has written a couple of other short books (Temple Themes in the Book of Moses, and Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,) as well as numerous articles for sources as varied as BYU Studies, Mormon Interpreter and this magazine.
Jeff is nothing if not prolific, since a mere four years after coming out with In God’s Image and Likeness, he (along with co-author David J. Larsen) have recently released In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah and the Tower of Babel (hereafter “Vol. 2“). This release caused a revision of the first volume and it is now titled In God’s Image And Likeness 1: Creation, Fall and the Story of Adam and Eve (hereafter “Vol. 1“). As much as I liked Vol, 1, I enjoyed Volume 2 even more!
There is much to recommend this volume. It’s published on the same luscious paper that permits color resolution on the pages as found in Vol. 1. Both books contain beautiful, full-color art to illustrate points as well as to introduce ideas springing from the art itself. A strong point of this volume is that it is about half the size of the first volume, which makes it far easier to read. The best news about Vol. 2 (other than its release) is that there will likely be other volumes covering the rest of Genesis, as well as the ancient prophets, Abraham, Melchizedek, Israel and Joseph.
As readers of these virtual pages will know, Jeffrey Bradshaw’s work deals with the temple, both ancient and modern. Topics discussed in Vol. 2 have been appearing in these pages for the last few years. Vol. 2 is co-published by the Mormon Interpreter Foundation, (of which Jeff is one of the founders) along with Eborn Books (the publisher of Vol. 1).
My grandfather, Ellis Christensen, was skeptical of scriptural commentaries, claiming they were like, “drinking from the stream after the horses had muddied the waters”. Therefore, I judge a commentary by how it opens new vistas of thought for me to consider, not the “answers” it gives me on what the scriptures mean. By that standard, both volumes of In God’s Image and Likeness succeed in ways I couldn’t comprehend until I read them. They confirmed some of my own thought, but they have opened doors for me to explore.
Moses, Genesis, Enoch, and the Tower of Babel
As the sub-title suggests, Vol. 2 provides a commentary about the portions of the Books of Moses and Genesis which deal with Enoch, Noah and the Tower of Babel. This takes us through Genesis 11. Early in the book, (p.4) the authors introduce a theme that runs throughout the first eleven chapters of Genesis and which receive a special emphasis in this volume. They quote Ronald Hendel, who indicates that the stories in these chapters present, “a series of . . . transgressions of boundaries,’ that had been set up in the beginning to separate mankind from the dwelling place of Divinity.” There is also a valuable explanation of how to read the scriptures (and Genesis in, particular) in a “literal” way, and how our “modern” view of that term is different than that of the “premoderns”, who were the primary audience for the scriptural authors (pp.8-10).
With that important foundation laid, the authors pick up their commentary where Vol. 1 left off-with Moses 6:13-68, the story of Enoch the Seer. Vol. 2 uses the same format as Vol. 1, in which each chapter provides an overview describing the arching themes of the material, a block of text of the scripture itself (with helpful annotations indicating where the pages of the pertinent commentary for each section can be found), the commentary running below the excerpt of the appropriate text and then a section called “Gleanings” which provides quotes from scholars or LDS Church leaders and others which apply to the topic. There are then Endnotes, which provide more extensive commentary or explanations than would be convenient in the footnotes. Its obvious that Jeff has become more focused since Vol. 1. While he still provides the thought-provoking material for which we readers are hungering, his work is leaner and exposes more muscular arguments, particularly in the Enoch and Noah material.
Enoch receives two chapters in the book, a full 160 pages, with the first chapter focusing on his call and the second telling the story of his City. It is in these two chapters (especially Chapter 7 on the City of Enoch) where co-author David J. Larsen makes his greatest contribution. Larsen is no stranger to the pages of Meridian magazine either, but I have benefitted most from David’s blog called Heavenly Ascents. Between his work on Vol. 2 and the completion of his Doctorate in Biblical Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, there haven’t been many new entries, but this book is worth the sacrifice. Jeff and David presented at BYU’s 2013 “Enoch and the Temple” conference with George W. Nickelsburg, the top 1 Enoch scholar in the world.
Nickelsburg’s two-volume Hermeneia Commentary is cited extensively, but not exclusively, as Larsen and Bradshaw quote from other Enoch scholars. In fact, there are few sources that Jeff and David have missed. I was familiar with much of the Enoch material they used but the Noah references were new to me and it was exciting to see so many new possibilities. The Reference Section of Vol. 2 is only 48 pages (as compared with 98 pages in Vol. 1), but it is almost worth the price of the book alone. Readers can browse through these sources to their hearts content and find an abundance of riches.
Although I’ve loved the story of Enoch since I was young, the most intriguing part of Vol.2 is the story of Noah, which is preceded by that of the Watchers. Vol.
1 contained an Excursus on the Watchers and this volume cites to that. Space considerations aside, that material should have been reprinted here, particularly on this topic, which is one of the most mysterious in all of the scriptures, even for Latter Day Saints.
The reason the Watchers are even relevant in the beginning of the story of Noah has to do with the meaning of the phrase “sons of God” found in Genesis 6:1-4. “1. AND it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2. That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
There are two main points of thought with regard to the “sons of God” as described here. The first involves a group of angels called “The Watchers”. There are many legends involving the Watchers, but the most common is that there were angels, led by Shemihazah and Azael, who came to earth to teach mankind. Once on earth, they were smitten by the beauty of the daughters of men and proceeded to mate with them. The offspring of these unions became the giants and heroes or “men of renown”. In a new book released shortly after Vol. 2, Genesis scholar John Day, writes, “One subject on which there is now widespread, though not universal agreement is the identity of the sons of God. It is now generally held that they denote God’s heavenly court, what were originally seen as gods but later, with the emergence of absolute monotheism, became regarded as angels.”. Day’s basis for this argument is the expansions of the Watchers legend from 1 Enoch 6-11 and Book of Jubilees 4:15, 5:1, which demonstrates that the wickedness which resulted in the Flood was caused by these wicked, fallen angels.
The more traditional interpretation, which has been argued since the days of the early Church fathers, is that the “sons of God” were the descendants of Seth (mortals) and that their union was with the daughters of Cain (mortals). Vol. 2 provides a reference to the wide variety of definitions in an endnote (M8-9, p. 244) and references the work of a few scholars, including an entire book on the subject. Scholars, of course, line up on both sides and the issue is a challenging one since much of the analysis often speculates on the motives of the “authors” of the writings themselves.
Hugh Nibley and the Watchers
LDS scholars, beginning with Hugh Nibley, have followed the traditional Christian definition of the Watchers as being holy men who married outside the covenant. Jeff and David follow this line of thinking and the provide an excellent summary of the options as well as sound scriptural reasoning for this along the lines presented by Nibley. (pp. 225-226). This is also where Jeff and David provide an excellent example of their intellectual honesty in this book. They report fully on their reasoning for the “sons of God” being righteous mortals, but when it comes to their reference to an April 1843 statement of Joseph Smith on the topic, they admit where their analysis would begin to grow too speculative (M8-9, p. 244).
What is fascinating about the supposed connection between the Watchers and Genesis 6:1-4 is that even Day admits that, “A strong case may be made that they were originally quite independent.” Day goes on to clarify this with the statement, “the current position of the sons of God and daughters of men immediately before the flood account is presumably not due to chance. It highlights the way things were going wrong prior to the flood. He then speculates that is the reason that 1 Enoch, Jubilees and Josephus, “felt the need to elaborate further the story . . . greatly magnifying the evil that resulted on the earth as a consequence, so as to make God’s sending of the flood more comprehensible.” In other words, the Genesis material was earlier than the 1 Enoch and Jubilees version of the Watchers’ story, a point Jeff makes in his recent BYU Studies article.
In fact, care must be taken in the study of difficult stories like the Watchers. It can lead to some strange conclusions. Subsequent to the release of Vol. 2, a collection of essays on The Watchers was released by Fortress Press, the publisher of the Hermeneia commentaries and noted New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright. One of the articles states that Cain was a giant and that he was the offspring of Satan’s seduction of Eve. This weird tale (really!) has mutant echoes in the early history of the Latter Day Saints. LDS Apostle David W. Patten had an experience which was quoted by President Spencer W. Kimball in his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, where Patten met a being who represented himself as Cain, but he was very large, “covered with hair, and had very dark skin.” Elder Patten rebuked him and he, “immediately departed”. It’s a sign of the effectiveness of Vol. 2’s commentary that I would prefer to leave this complex and speculative subject in their capable hands rather than attempt to explain it myself. They do a better job! Readers can be grateful that Jeff and David have sorted out such mythical nonsense to focus on the important spiritual.
Noah’s story is broken into four different chapters, each with its own focus on the idea of the Ark as a temple with its own temple symbolism and functions. The purpose of the authors is to find the temple parallels with Noah’s story as it relates to the Creation and Fall, as well as the rest of the story of Adam and Eve, since Noah and his sons (and their wives) begin humanity all over again after the cleansing.
The flood receives relatively scant coverage (24 pages for the entire chapter and only 6 for the commentary), but the view of the ark as a mobile sanctuary (or temple) inspires ideas. There is a reason the word for Noah’s ark is the same as that used for Moses’ basket in the scriptures (Fig. M-8-13, p. 214). Once the ark lands, then we’re back in full swing with a chapter describing the new creation and the new covenant. It is here where L. Michael Morales’ book provides the most emphasis, with its tales of how the holy mountain narratives precede the establishment of the sanctuary and often involve some trips through water (i.e. the rivers in the Garden of Eden, the Flood, the journey through the Red Sea).Morales receives a special thanks from the authors in the Acknowledgments.
The final Noah chapter (9) covers the story of the sin of Ham and his son, Canaan, which is the first of several seemingly odd stories in Genesis (Judah and Tamar anyone?) Jeff and David open an entire line of thinking about what really was going on.
Was Noah simply drunk? As indicated in these pages previously, there was a temple element to what happened. Joseph Smith said Noah “was not drunk, but in a vision.'” (p. 300, see fn.35) Scholars such as Morales, Gordon Wenham and Devorah Dimant all agree that Noah’s drinking as described here was likely of a religious ceremony. Amid all of this, the reader not only is receiving illumination and encountering new thoughts and ideas, but he is able to picture this through the magnificent art chosen by Jeff and David, some of which has appeared in these pages.
The next chapter discusses the sons of Noah and where they settled. This is where we learn where the nations of the earth came from after the Flood and, most significantly for the reader, we are introduced to Nimrod, who plays a major part in the final chapter of Vol. 2. We also begin seeing more Abraham material for the first time (Fig. G10-11, p. 350) since Nimrod, in some sources, is the arch-enemy of Abraham. Nimrod is also the father of Babylon, which is the great symbol in the scriptures for the world (not necessarily the earth).
The final chapter deals with the Tower of Babel, the confounding of the languages, the scattering and the gathering as well as the lineage from Shem to Abraham (where Vol. 3 will likely pick up). In addition to the Commentary, we are reminded of the theme of boundaries between man and God and how those can be overcome. Here there are also some valuable comments in the Gleanings from Andre LeCocque (p.427, fns. 1, 2, 5). There is also some light humor with Guy Deutscher and Elder Charles A. Didier saying that French was the language of heaven prior to Babel and with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf saying he has a strong suspicion it was German (p. 431, fns.29, 30 and 31 respectively).
Just as in Vol. 1, there is an annotated Bibliography, but Vol. 2 only provides one for the Enoch Pseudepigrapha, including the Book of the Giants and an annotated Bibliography on the Flood. These are far shorter than the massive undertaking we were provided in the first volume and one should check out pages 805-910 of that book for more information. There are only three Excursus in Vol. 2. The most intriguing describes what’s called the Song of Enoch. There are some interesting comments from LDS musical historian Michael Hicks about lyrics and music that were given by direct revelation. The Song of Enoch is contained in the Kirtland Revelation Book 2 and is sandwiched between D&C 88 and D&C 89 (p. 451).
As I said at the beginning, much of this book confirmed my own thoughts and feelings in such a way that I wish I’d written the book. There are naturally places where one can disagree with the authors and some of their conclusions. One cannot say, however, that they haven’t done their homework. We are in a golden age of Latter Day Saint scholarship with regard to the scriptures. Its not that our scholars are moving in the direction of the world, it is almost like the scholarly world is moving more towards us. We also have more options available to us for such discussions which provide for a range of “faithful” interpretations.
I recently have been working with friends who have been struggling with their testimonies over what I call the “external” issues of LDS history and doctrine. Those issues focus more on methods than on results. While we wrestle with those “external” challenges, we also read articles on the temple and its ancient roots as described by Jeff, David, Margaret Barker, Matt Brown and others. As we study, we recognize what I call the “internal” issues of the scriptures. Their majesty and beauty bring peace to the soul while they work to regain what they’ve forgotten. Books like In God’s Image and Likeness are worth far more than the money we pay for them. The time we spend rewards us by opening new vistas and understandings of the scriptures to our minds and hearts.
* Terry L. Hutchinson is a practicing attorney with an interest in LDS history and doctrine, as well as Biblical Law, particularly the Law of Moses. He has offices in Eastern Nevada and Southern Utah. He is married to the former JeNe Gifford and they have five children and four grandchildren. Since 1994, he has produced a twice-daily book review show on KDXU Radio in St. George, Utah. He has held many callings in the church and is currently an ordinance worker in the St. George, Temple.
. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Eborn Books), 2010.
. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Eborn Books), 2012.
. Visit www.templethemes.net/publications for a complete list.
. I’ll refer to him as “Jeff” not “Bradshaw” due to our having spent a couple of hours preparing and conducting my recent interview with him on the Open Mike radio program in St. George, Utah on March 10, 2014.
. In the brief time since the release of Vol. 2, Jeff has released two additional articles, (see “A Noah Like No Other Before: A look at the latest biblical film from an LDS perspective”, Deseret News, April 3, 2014) as well as a long (57 pages!) review of David Bokovoy’s new book, Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy, (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2014); see “Sorting Out the Sources” in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, Vol. 9 (2014), pp. 215-272. Take note also of Jeff’s range in reaching various audiences, from a newspaper to a peer-reviewed journal.
. Visit www.heavenlyascents.com
. Nickelsburg, George W.E., 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1Enoch, Chapters 1-36, 81-108, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2001); Nickelsburg, George W.E. & VanderKam, James, R., 1 Enoch 2: a Commentary on the book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-80, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2012). A short, but helpful review of vol. 1 from an LDS perspective is Welch, John W., “Enoch Translated”, FARMS Review, 16/1, pp. 413-417, 2004.
8. The most common citation of this would be Ginzburg, Lewis, Legends of the Bible, (Old Saybrook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, 1956), pp. 63-64, 68-70. This version is abridged from a multi-volume work published in the early 1900s.
. Day, John, From Creation to Babel: Studies in Genesis 1-11, (New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013) p. 77.
. Id., p. 78.
Wright, Archie T., The Origin of Evil Spirits, (Tbingen, Germany: Mohr Seibeck, 2009).
13. Id., p. 84-85.
. Himmelfarb, Martha, Between Temple and Torah, (Tbingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2013) pp. 81-85; Stuckenbruck, Loren C., “The Book of Jubilees and the Origin of Evil”, Enoch and the Mosaic Torah, eds. Gabriele Boccaccini and Giovanni Ibba, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2009), pp. 298-306.
. Nibley, Hugh, Enoch the Prophet, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol. 2, (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book & Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1986), p. 180.
. Day, From Creation to Babel, op. cit., pp. 85-86. See also, Peters, Dorothy M., Noah Traditions In the Dead Sea Scrolls: Conversations and Controversies of Antiquity, (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008), pp. 19-20.
. Day, From Creation to Babel, op. cit., pp.86-87.
. Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., “The LDS Story of Enoch as the Culminating Episode of a Temple Text”, BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol. 53:1, 2014, pp. 42-43, especially fn. 7.
. Harkins, Angela Kim, et. al. Eds., The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2014).
. Silviu N. Bunta, “Cain the Giant: Watchers Traditions in the Life of Adam and Eve,” Harkins, Angela Kim, et. al. Eds., The Watchers in Jewish and Christian Traditions, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2014), pp. 181-197.
. Kimball, Spencer W., The Miracle of Forgiveness, (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1969), pp. 127-128.
. Morales, L. Michael, The Tabernacle Pre-Figured: Cosmic Mountain Ideology in Genesis and Exodus, (Peeters: Leuven, Paris, Walpole, MA) (2012). This book is a testament to how far the temple studies from Margaret Barker and the Maxwell Institute, [previously the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS)] has reached into academia. There are many citations to BYU and FARMS publications in the book.