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Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
Thursday, February 04 2010

The False and the True "Keeper of the Gate"

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In the Prophet Joseph Smith's teachings and revelations, Lucifer1 is described as "a son of the morning" and "an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God" who "rebelled. and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ."2 He was jealous,3 "selfish, ambitious, and striving to excel,"4 and "became Satan"5 as he wickedly sought that God should give him His "own power."6

Consistent with the Prophet's character sketch of this arch criminal and deceiver, William Blake's image of Lucifer emphasizes his original glory while subtly conveying his consuming ambition to usurp God's throne. Lucifer's overall appearance is inspired from the Latin Vulgate translation of Ezekiel 28:14 that sees him as the "cherub with extensive wingspan."7 The orb and scepter symbolize the power and authority from God given him before his fall from heaven.8

To highlight Lucifer's perversity, Blake has conspicuously reversed the hands in which the emblems of monarchy are normally held. For example, in British coronation ceremonies, the sword9 is meant to be held in the right hand so that it may be used "to stop the growth of iniquity, protect the Holy Church of God and defend widows and orphans."10 The Orb-a late replacement for the original symbolism of the incense offering of temple priests in Israel11-is to be held in the left hand in order to signify "the domination of Christ over the whole world."12

In this article, I will outline elements of what seems to be temple symbolism in Satan's efforts to provoke the Fall of Adam and Eve. As background for this interpretation, I summarize the episode of Adam's giving of names as presented in Islamic literature and suggest how this motif might relate to temple practices elsewhere in the ancient world. Following a brief examination of the differences between the programs of God and Satan during Adam and Eve's sojourn in the Garden, I will show how Satan's efforts to confuse and deceive them were a direct continuation of his failed attempt to dethrone God at the time of his first rebellion. Finally, I will contrast the actions of this false commissionaire13 to those of the true "keeper of the gate."14

The Giving of Names by Adam

Moses 3:19 tells the story of how Adam gave names to all the animals:

And out of the ground I, the Lord God, formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and commanded that they should come unto Adam, to see what he would call them; and they were also living souls; for I, God, breathed into them the breath of life, and commanded that whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that should be the name thereof.

The story of Adam's naming of the animals is curiously absent in the Qur'an. However, an intriguing related tradition appears in its place.15 As depicted in the illustration above, the story tells of how Adam, before the Fall and after having been given instruction by God, was directed to recite a series of secret names to the angels in order to convince them that he was worthy of the elevated status of priest and king that had been conferred upon him.16 Zilio-Grandi perceptively contrasts the Islamic and Old Testament accounts:

While in the Bible God lets Adam choose the names of things, in the Qur'an it is God who teaches-who reveals therefore-the names to Adam.. Extremely high value is attributed to knowledge. Indeed, it is not by obedience that the ability to represent God in the governance of the world is measured, but by knowledge.17

With respect to Adam's accomplishment before the Fall, Qur'an commentators themselves "dispute which particular names were involved; various theories [taking the position that] they were the names of all things animate and inanimate, the names of the angels, the names of his own descendants, or the names of God."18 Al-Mizan asserts that this was not a simple dictionary recital showing off the power of Adam's memory, but rather "something totally different from what we understand from the knowledge of names." 19 Alusi concludes that Adam's saying of these names is "in the end, like saying the names of God, for power concerns God Himself in His ruling of the world." 20

Additional evidence from Islamic sources connects the knowledge of names purportedly given to Adam to concepts that are associated elsewhere in the ancient world with temple practices. Though Islamic sources studiously avoid any reference to atonement rituals associated with the Jewish temple, a similar function is accorded to knowledge of certain words made known by God to Adam. Describing a separate incident that was said to have occurred after the Fall, Islamic writings recount that "Adam received (some) words from his Lord" 21 that enabled him to repent and return to good standing with God, so he could eventually go back to the Garden of Eden. 22 While Al-Mizan declines speculation about what specific words were revealed, it elaborates on their purpose:

It was this learning of the words that paved the way for the repentance of Adam. Probably, the words received at the time of repentance were related to the names taught to him in the beginning [i.e., before the Fall].. There must have been something in those names to wipe out every injustice, to erase every sin and to cure every spiritual and moral disease; .those names were sublime creations hidden from the heavens and the earth; they were intermediaries to convey the grace and bounties of Allàh to His creation; and no creature would be able to attain to its perfection without their assistance. 23

In the Qur'an, the means by which these "words" were meant to assist in the attainment of Adam's perfection is left unspecified. However, an exchange of sacred words is implied in the accounts of conversations between Muhammad and heavenly guardians during his "night journey" (isra), when he ascended on a golden ladder (mi'raj) to the highest heaven. 24 Moreover, the literature of mystical Judaism and Christian Gnosticism abounds with accounts of righteous prophets and sages who were taught how to advance past a series of celestial gatekeepers toward the presence of God by the memorization and use of sacred names and phrases. 25

Whether or not such accounts reflect echoes of actual rituals of heavenly ascent in some strands of Judaism and early Christianity is a matter of scholarly debate. 26 However, BYU professor John Gee has summarized evidence that the ritual theme of "getting past the gatekeeper" has a "long history" in Egyptian ritual. 27 Admitting that his exploratory approach of "run[ning] roughshod over several texts not normally associated" cannot prove but only suggest a common tradition, he nonetheless concludes "that it might be reasonable to suggest that the Egyptian traditions might have influenced both Jewish and Christian traditions. The presence of gatekeepers, stronger in some texts than others, indicates a temple initiation in the Egyptian texts and therefore suggests an initiation in the Jewish and Christian texts." "To say that the system represented in the texts was [merely] some form of 'magic' seems dubious and problematic." Referring to Egyptian ritual, Hugh Nibley observes:

The importance of knowing the names of things and giving those names when challenged is more than the mere idea of the password; it is, according to Derchain, nothing less than the logical source of "the entire mechanism of Egyptian mythology and liturgy"-namely, "the law which makes of the name a veritable attribute of the thing named." 28

Thus, what matters in such tests for knowledge is not only the name, but also the meanings that stand behind it. Likewise, in our time, Elder Dallin H. Oaks has emphasized that in the day of final judgment it will not be enough to merely go through the motions-the essential question is what we have ourselves become during our period of probation. 29 Hugh Nibley further elaborates, explaining that, for the same reason, the saving ordinances, as necessary as they are, in and of themselves "are mere forms. They do not exalt us; they merely prepare us to be ready in case we ever become eligible." 30

In the end, eligibility for entrance into the presence of God reflects the results of the process of sanctification, being predicated on the righteous exercise of agency coupled with the atoning power of Jesus Christ. 31 Speaking plainly on this topic, the Prophet declared that being "born again comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances" 32-with the understanding that the bestowal of these ordinances and keys will continue even in the next life. 33

Differences Between the Programs of God and Satan

The battle begun in the premortal councils and waged again in the Garden of Eden was a test of obedience for Adam and Eve. However, it should be remembered that the actual prize at stake was knowledge-the knowledge required for them to be saved and, ultimately, to be exalted. The Prophet taught that the "principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation," 34 therefore "anyone that cannot get knowledge to be saved will be damned." 35

This raises a question: Since salvation was to come through knowledge, why did Satan encourage-rather than prevent-the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge by Adam and Eve? Surprisingly, the scriptural story makes it evident that their transgression must have been as much an important part of the Devil's strategy as it was a central feature of the Father's plan. In this one respect, the programs of God and Satan seem to have had something in common.

However, the difference in intention between God and Satan became apparent when it was time for Adam and Eve to take the next step. 36 In this regard, the scriptures seem to suggest that the Adversary wanted Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life directly after they partook of the Tree of Knowledge-a danger that moved God to take immediate preventive action by the placement of the cherubim and the flaming sword.37 For had Adam and Eve eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Life at that time, "there would have been no death" and no "space granted unto man in which he might repent"-in other words no "probationary state" to prepare for a final judgment and resurrection.38

It is easy to see a parallel between Satan's initial proposal in the spirit world and his later strategy to "frustrate" the plan of salvation through his actions in Eden. Just as his defeated premortal scheme had proposed to provide a limited measure of "salvation" for all by precluding the opportunity for exaltation,39 so it seems that his unsuccessful scheme in the Garden was intended to impose an inferior form of immortality that would have forestalled the possibility of eternal life.40 Fortunately, however, because the Devil "knew not the mind of God," his efforts "to destroy the world"41 would be in vain: the result of his deceitful manipulations to get Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was co-opted 42 by God, and the risk of Adam and Eve's partaking immediately of the fruit of the Tree of Life was averted by the merciful placement of the cherubim and flaming sword.

The Father did intend-eventually-for Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Life, but not until they had learned through mortal experience to distinguish good from evil.43

With this understanding as a background, let us examine the story of the Fall in more detail.

Satan's Strategy for Confusion and Deception

The serpent is described as "subtle."44 The Hebrew term behind the word thus depicts it as shrewd, cunning, and crafty, but not as wise.45 "Subtle," in this context, also has to do with the ability to make something appear one way when it is actually another. Thus, it is not in the least out of character later for Satan both to disguise his identity and to distort the true nature of a situation in order to deceive.46

At the moment of temptation, Satan deliberately tries to confuse Eve. The Devil-and the scripture reader-know that there are two trees in the midst of the Garden, but only one of them is visible to Eve.47 Moreover, as Margaret Barker explains:

.he made the two trees seem identical: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would open her eyes, and she would be like God, knowing both good and evil. Almost the same was true of the Tree of Life, for Wisdom opened the eyes of those who ate her fruit, and as they became wise, they became divine.48

A second theme of confusion stems from Satan's efforts to mask his identity. The painting above shows the Tempter in the dual guise of a serpent and a woman whose hair and facial features exactly mirror those of Eve. This common form of medieval portrayal was not intended to assert that the woman was devilish, but rather to depict the Devil as trying to allay Eve's fears, deceptively appealing to her by appearing in a form that resembled her own.49

However, the more pertinent aspect of Satan's deceptive appearance to Eve in the Garden of Eden is the symbolism of the serpent itself. Of great significance here is the fact that the serpent is a frequently-used representation of Christ and his life-giving power.50 In the context of the temptation of Eve, BYU Professors Richard D. Draper, S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes conclude that Satan "has effectively come as the Messiah, offering a promise that only the Messiah can offer, for it is the Messiah who will control the powers of life and death and can promise life, not Satan."51 Not only has the Devil come in guise of the Holy One, he seems to have deliberately appeared, without authorization, at a most sacred place in the Garden of Eden.52 If it is true, as Ephrem the Syrian believed, that the Tree of Knowledge was a figure for "the veil for the sanctuary,"53 then Satan has positioned himself, in the extreme of sacrilegious effrontery, as the very "keeper of the gate." 54 Thus, in the apt words of BYU professor Catherine Thomas, Eve was induced to take the fruit "from the wrong hand, having listened to the wrong voice."55

The Forbidden Fruit as a Form of Knowledge

In the context of the story of Adam and Eve, it is difficult to conclude that the fruit offered by Satan to Eve was anything other than a form of knowledge. Consistent with this general idea, Islamic legend insists that the reason Satan was condemned was because of his claim that he would reveal a knowledge of certain things to Adam and Eve.56 In deceptive counterpoint to God's authentic teachings to Adam in the Islamic version of the naming episode, Satan is portrayed as recruiting his accomplice, the "fair and prudent" serpent, by promising that he would reveal to it "three mysterious words" which would "preserve [it] from sickness, age, and death."57 Having by this means won over the serpent, Satan then directly equates the effect of knowing these secret words with the eating of the forbidden fruit by promising the same protection from death to Eve, if she will but partake.58

The fifteenth-century Adamgirk asks: ". if a good secret [or mystery59] was in [the evil fruit], why did [God] say not to draw near?"60 and then answers its own question implicitly. Simply put, the gift by which Adam and Eve would "become divine,"61 and for which the Tree of Knowledge constituted a part of the approach, was, as yet, "an unattainable thing [t]hat was not in its time." 62 Though God intended Adam and Eve to advance in knowledge, the condemnation of Satan seems to have come because he had acted without authorization, in the realization that introducing the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge to Adam and Eve under circumstances of disobedience would bring the consequences of the Fall upon them, putting them in a position of vulnerability and danger.

Note that the knowledge itself was good-indeed it was absolutely necessary for their exaltation. However, some kinds of knowledge are reserved to be revealed by God Himself "in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will."63 As Joseph Smith taught:

That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. A parent may whip a child, and justly, too, because he stole an apple; whereas if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite; there would have been no stripes; all the pleasure of the apple would have been secured, all the misery of stealing lost. This principle will justly apply to all of God's dealings with His children. Everything that God gives us is lawful and right; and it is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations.64

By way of analogy to the situation of Adam and Eve and its setting in the temple-like layout of the Garden of Eden, recall that service in Israelite temples under conditions of worthiness was intended to sanctify the participants. However, as taught in Levitical laws of purity, doing the same "while defiled by sin, was to court unnecessary danger, perhaps even death."65

Hugh Nibley succinctly sums up the situation: "Satan disobeyed orders when he revealed certain secrets to Adam and Eve, not because they were not known and done in other worlds, but because he was not authorized in that time and place to convey them."66 Although Satan had "given the fruit to Adam and Eve, it was not his prerogative to do so-regardless of what had been done in other worlds. (When the time comes for such fruit, it will be given us legitimately.)"67

The True "Keeper of the Gate"

This work by Andrea da Firenze illustrates the descent of Jesus Christ, after His death and before His resurrection, into what is called in Roman Catholic tradition "Limbo."68 Limbo was described as a place reserved for the just who died before Jesus Christ came to earth (Limbo of the Patriarchs) and also-in the Augustinian tradition at least-for infants who died before they could receive baptism and be freed from "original sin" (Limbo of Infants).69 Here, in a depiction of an event called "The Harrowing of Hell,"70 Jesus Christ is shown carrying a Crusader's flag into the dominion of Death and Hell, whose broken gates are gaping wide.71 Satan, grasping a useless key, peers out from beneath the feet of the advancing Christ. Adam (recognizable here by his long white hair and beard) and Eve (at his arm) are shown as the first ones to be reclaimed by Christ, followed by Abel (carrying a lamb), and other notables including Abraham, David, and Solomon. As they are brought forth, Adam, Eve, and the other just souls are typically shown in depictions of this scene as being taken by the right hand72 or pulled by the wrist from the place of death,73 emphasizing their utter dependence on the sure and steady strength of the Savior for their escape.74 Nibley paraphrases the teaching of the Pistis Sophia, which emphasizes that "[u]ntil Christ came. no soul had gone through the ordinances in their completeness. It was He who opened the gates and the way of life."75

About this redemptive hour of unalloyed joy, Elder Neal A. Maxwell has written:

God's is a loving and redeeming hand which we are to acknowledge, for "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard."76 Even His children in the telestial kingdom receive "the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding." 77  He is an exceedingly generous God! .One later day, Jesus' hand will not give the faithful merely a quick, approving pat on the shoulder. Instead, both Nephi and Mormon tell of the special reunion and welcome at the entrance to His kingdom. There, we are assured, He is "the keeper of the gate. and He employeth no servant there."78 Those who reject Him will miss out on a special personal moment, because, as He laments, He has "stood with open arms to receive you."79 The unfaithful-along with the faithful-might have been "clasped in the arms of Jesus."80 The imagery of the holy temples and holy scriptures thus blend so beautifully, including things pertaining to sacred moments. This is the grand moment toward which we point and from which we should not be deflected. Hence, those who pass through their fiery trials81 and still acknowledge but trust His hand now will feel the clasp of His arms later!82

Meanwhile: "One cannot read very far in the scriptures without realizing how much God has concentrated on giving us guidance for the journey between the two gates"83 of baptism and celestial glory.


Satan deceived Adam and Eve by offering them fruit from the deceptively-described Tree of Knowledge and by enacting a cynically false impersonation of the Savior. Having protected them from the intended consequences of the Devil's plan of entrapment, God instead offers the first couple and all their posterity the real thing: the fruit of the Tree of Life, the atoning power of the Redeemer to sustain them through their mortal probation, and, ultimately, an everlasting endowment of His power and glory.


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1 The individual that modern believers call the "Devil" is known by many names: "Satan," "Lucifer," "Beelzebub," "the serpent," and others. These names were not always synonymous, however, and each carries different shades of meaning. "Lucifer," for example, refers to the morning or day star (Venus), an epithet applied to the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:12) and often interpreted typologically by Christians in reference to the fall from grace of one of God's primordial luminaries. In current LDS parlance, the name "Lucifer" is often used to refer to the Devil in his premortal role as one "in authority in the presence of God," as distinguished from the name "Satan," which describes the adversarial being he "became" subsequent to his being "thrust down" from heaven (D&C 76:25-29; Moses 4:1-4).

2 D&C 76:25-26, 28; see also Isaiah 14:4-23, Revelation 12:3-9, D&C 29:36-45, Abraham 3:27-28; cf. Daniel 8:10-12, Ezekiel 28:11-19, Luke 10:18, F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 29:4-5, p. 148; L. Ginzberg, Legends, 1:62-64, 5:84-86 n. 35.

3 Joseph Smith, cited retrospectively by George Laub (E. England, Laub, p. 28).

4 J. Smith, Jr., Words, 14 May 1843, p. 201.

5 Moses 4:4.

6 Moses 4:3.

7 Latin cherub extentus (R. Weber, Vulgata, Ezechiel 28:14, p. 1306), recalling the stretched out wings of the cherubim above the Ark (Exodus 25:20). See D. I. Block, Ezekiel 25-48, pp. 112-113; M. Greenberg, Ezekiel 21-37, pp. 583-584.

8 Cf. E. A. W. Budge, Rebellion, pp. 294-295.

9 "The association of swords with royal symbolism is found in many different cultural traditions. Swords are used in various cultures as symbols of investiture. The sword and the rod, for which it is a substitute, is also used as a mark of religious authority" (B. M. Wheeler, Mecca, p. 43).

10 B. Nichols, Coronation, p. 15.

11 L. M. Hilton, Hand. The garments and emblems of European kings resembled those of the Israelite high priest until the fashion of military dress eventually became the style (E. Tóth et al., Holy Crown, p. 63). Though they are often pictured with an orb in their cupped hand, "no such ensign as an orb existed until the 11th century," previous depictions having been entirely "symbolic" (E. Tóth et al., Holy Crown, p. 57).

12 B. Nichols, Coronation, p. 15. In another part of the coronation ceremony, the new monarch will hold the Scepter with the Cross in the right hand as an "ensign of power and justice" and the Rod with the Dove in the left as a "symbol of equity and mercy" (B. Nichols, Coronation, p. 18). Prior to all these ceremonies, the monarch is "divested of. robes" and "screen[ed]. from the general view" in order to be "imbued with grace" through the Archbishop's anointing with holy oil "on hand, breast and forehead" (B. Nichols, Coronation, p. 14). About ablutions and anointing of kings in other cultures, see S. D. Ricks et al., King, pp. 241-244, 254-255. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God's Image, pp. 661-662.

13 A commissionaire is a "uniformed door attendant at a hotel, theatre, or other building." There is a flavor of officiousness in the term, with the related idea that the authority of such officers too often inheres solely in their neatly-pressed uniform rather than in their person. All this fits Satan so well, his passionate insistence on being worshipped providing the sure sign of his insecurity (see, e.g., Moses 1:19, Matthew 4:9). The Devil "doth protest too much, methinks" (W. Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3:2:230, p. 1164).

14 2 Nephi 9:41.

15 J.-L. Monneret, Grands, p. 481 n. 12; cf. M. i. A. A. al-Kisa'i, Tales, p. 28; al-Tabari, Creation, 1:94-97, pp. 266-269; G. Weil, Legends, p. 22.

16 Qur'an 2:30-33; cf. the idea of the naming as a test for Adam (vs. Satan) in al-Tabari, Creation, 1:97, p. 269; M. J. B. bin Gorion et al., Mimekor, 3, 1:6-7; L. Ginzberg, Legends, 1:62-64, 5:84-86 n. 35; E. G. Mathews, Jr., Armenian, p. 148 and n. 35; J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 1, 17:4:2, p. 183; M.-A. Ouaknin et al., Rabbi Éliézer, 13, pp. 87-88.

17 I. Zilio-Grandi, Paradise, pp. 84, 87; cf. D&C 107:18-19, 130:18-19, 131:5-6. This is a theme often mentioned in the teachings of Joseph Smith.

18 Adam and Eve, Adam and Eve. Compare J. T. Townsend, Tanhuma, 6:12, 3:171.

19 A. a.-S. M. H. at-Tabataba'i, Al-Mizan, 1:163.

20 Cited in I. Zilio-Grandi, Paradise, pp. 86-87.

21 Qur'an 2:37.

22 A. I. A. I. M. I. I. al-Tha'labi, Lives, p. 59; cf. M. i. A. A. al-Kisa'i, Tales, p. 60.

23 A. a.-S. M. H. at-Tabataba'i, Al-Mizan, 1:188-189, 211.

24 J. M. Bradshaw, God's Image, p. 39.

25 See, e.g., C. R. A. Morray-Jones, Divine Names, passim. Such descriptions recall President Brigham Young's succinct definition of the modern endowment ordinance: "Your endowment is to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being able to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell" (B. Young, 6 April 1853 - B, p. 31).
The Coptic Discourse on Abbaton, which may have been influenced by texts of the same nature, explicitly associates "absolute authority" over the angels with a knowledge of their names (E. A. W. Budge, Cave, pp. 58-59; cf. Judges 13:17-18). Elsewhere, Josephus records that the Essenes were under a vow to preserve the names of the angels (F. Josephus, Wars, 2:8:7, p. 477). Truman G. Madsen proposes that the idea that the "proper use of the name YHWH constitutes a covenant between Israel and her God" may be the reason behind the third commandment (T. G. Madsen, Putting, p. 459). According to Schimmel, a scholar of Islamic mysticism: "The Hope of discovering the Greatest Name of God has inspired many a Sufi who dreamed of reaching the highest bliss in this world and the next by means of this blessed name" (A. Schimmel, Mystical, p. 25; cf. B. H. Porter et al., Names, pp. 510-512). Note that the dedicatory prayer for Solomon's temple stressed that it was not meant to be a residence for God, since He "lived in his 'dwelling place in heaven' but that the 'name of God' dwelt in the Temple" (W. J. Hamblin et al., Temple, p. 27; see also p. 182; 1 Kings 8:27-30). The meaning of the shout of the people at Christ's triumphal entry changes significantly when it is translated as "Blessed is he who comes with the Name of the Lord" (Matthew 21:9. "With" and "in'" are the same word in Hebrew-see discussion of this verse in M. Barker, Hidden, p. 44).

26 See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural.

27 J. Gee, Keeper, p. 235.

28 H. W. Nibley, Message 2005, p. 451; cf. B. H. Porter et al., Names, pp. 501-504. The significance of "being willing to take upon [us] the name of Jesus Christ" (D&C 20:77) in the ordinance of the sacrament takes on additional meaning in light of LDS temple ordinances (D. A. Bednar, Name; D. H. Oaks, Taking Upon Us; see also D&C 109:22, 26, 79).

29 D. H. Oaks, To Become, p. 32. See also J. E. Faulconer, Self-Image.

30 H. W. Nibley, Meaning of Temple, p. 26.

31 See Alma 42:15-26.

32 J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 2 July 1839, p. 162; cf. D&C 84:19-22.

33 S. W. Kimball, Potential; B. Young, BY 14 August 1872, pp. 136-139

34 J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 14 May 1843, p. 331; cf. D&C 130:18-19.

35 J. Smith, Jr., Words, 14 May 1843, p. 200, spelling and punctuation standardized.

36 Cf. T. Stordalen, Echoes, p. 231.

37 Moses 4:28-31; Alma 12:23, 42:2-3.

38 Alma 12:23-24.

39 See J. M. Bradshaw et al., Mormonism's Satan. If we can trust the accuracy of a retrospective summary of a discourse by the Prophet from the journal of George Laub, it may help to clarify some of the differences between Satan's premortal proposal and the Father's plan: "Jesus Christ. stated [that] He could save all those who did not sin against the Holy Ghost and they would obey the code of laws that was given" (J. Smith, Jr., cited in E. England, Laub, discourse apparently given 7 April 1844, p. 22, spelling and punctuation standardized). From this statement, it seems that the kind of salvation promised by Jesus Christ was that all men, except the sons of perdition, would be "resurrected to [at least] a telestial glory, escaping the second, i.e., spiritual death" (B. R. McConkie, Promised Messiah, pp. 271-275; cf. D&C 76:43-44, J. F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 434; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 10 March 1844, p. 339).
Satan, on the other hand, was reported in Laub's account of the Prophet's statement to have countered with an absurdly unconditional proposal: "Send me, I can save all, even those who sinned against the Holy Ghost" (see J. Smith, Jr., cited in E. England, Laub, discourse apparently given 7 April 1844, p. 22, spelling and punctuation standardized). Apparently trying to do away with the need for an atonement, Satan instead "sought. to redeem. all in their sins" (O. Pratt, 18 July 1880, p. 288; cf. S. J. Condie, Agency, p. 6, Helaman 5:10-11).
It is at the very least questionable whether or not such a "redemption" really would "save" anyone in any sense of the word worth caring about. Be that as it may, it is certain that without the empowering atonement, none could hope to ever attain the degree of righteousness and virtue required for exaltation-for, as President Brigham Young said, "if you undertake to save all, you must save them in unrighteousness and corruption" (B. Young, BY 30 October 1870, p. 282).

40 In LDS theology, "eternal life" is more than "immortality." It equates to "exaltation," the possibility of postmortal life as a gloriously resurrected being in the presence of God, coupled with the enjoyment of permanent family relationships.

41 Moses 4:6.

42 A good friend and careful reader suggested that I replace the obscure term "co-opt" with the more universally-understood word "preempt." I just couldn't get myself to do this. Since there is no real synonym for "co-opt," I admit that "preempt" would be the very best substitute I could imagine for this difficult sentence, if I were to have to choose another word. "Preempt" conveys perfectly the idea that God is acting to stop Satan short. But what would be lost in the substitution is the idea that God, in His allowing the Devil to carry out the first part of his designs, was afterward able to adopt Satan's strategy for His own use. That was, if I can be permitted to say it that way, perhaps the most "diabolically clever" aspect of God's strategy.

43 B. C. Hafen, Broken, p. 30.

44 Moses 4:5.

45 V. P. Hamilton, Genesis, pp. 187-188.

46 See below; also Moses 1:19; D&C 50:2-3; 52:14; 128:20; 129:8; cf. G. A. Anderson et al., Synopsis, 44:1-2a, p. 51E; R. Giorgi, Anges, pp. 85-88.

47 T. N. D. Mettinger, Eden, pp. 34-41.

48 M. Barker, Wisdom, p. 2.

49 J. O'Reilly, Iconography, p. 168. See also E. A. W. Budge, Cave, pp. 63-64.

50 Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-15; 2 Nephi 25:20; Alma 33:19; Helaman 8:14-15. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God's Image, pp. 247-248. For a comprehensive study of the ambivalent symbolism of the serpent, see J. H. Charlesworth, Serpent.

51 R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 43. See John 5:25-26; 2 Nephi 9:3-26.

52 Ibid., pp. 42, 150-151.

53 Ephrem the Syrian, Paradise, 3:5, p. 92. In this connection, recall that scripture and tradition amply attest of how a knowledge of eternity is available to those who are permitted to enter the heavenly veil (see, e.g., M. Barker, Boundary, pp. 215-217; M. Barker, Temple Theology, p. 28; H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, 10, p. 117; cf. J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 27 November 1832, 1:299).

54 2 Nephi 9:41. This, then, becomes a type for the scene to which Paul alludes in his description of events that were to precede the second coming of Christ: "for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, italics mine).

55 M. C. Thomas, Women, p. 53.

56 Recalling an Egyptian version of the story, which revolved around the presumption of the hero, Setne, "in taking the book of Knowledge, which was guarded by the endless serpent" (H. W. Nibley, Message 2005, p. 310), Nibley noted the fact that "a book of knowledge is certainly more logical than a tree of knowledge" (H. W. Nibley, Message 2005, p. 311). For a Jewish account of a book of knowledge given to Adam in Eden, see S. Savedow, Rezial, pp. 2-4.

57 G. Weil, Legends, p. 26. The Islamic account recalls an incident in the Gospel of Thomas (H. Koester et al., Thomas, 13, pp. 127-128), where "Jesus reveals three words" to Thomas which, Barker concludes, "must have been the three words of the secret Name" (M. Barker, Hidden, p. 42).


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