Jeffrey Bradshaw’s latest publication, “Could Joseph Smith Have Drawn On Ancient Manuscripts When He Translated the Story of Enoch?” at The Interpreter, offers some simply astonishing evidence for the ancient roots of portions of the Book of Moses. The publication begins with this overview:
Question: Some say that Joseph Smith drew on ancient stories
about Enoch not found in the Bible as he translated the chapters on
Enoch in Moses 6-7. How similar are the stories of Enoch in ancient
accounts to modern scripture? And could Joseph Smith have been aware of
Summary: Although an English translation of the Ethiopian book of 1 Enoch appeared
in 1821, the ancient manuscripts that are most relevant to the LDS
story of Enoch were not available during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. The
Qumran Book of Giants, discovered in 1948, contains striking
resemblances to Moses 6-7, ranging from general themes in the story line
to specific occurrences of rare expressions in corresponding contexts.
It would be thought remarkable if any nineteenth-century document were
to exhibit a similar density of close resemblances with this small
collection of ancient fragments, but to find such similarities in
appropriate contexts relating in each case to the story of Enoch is
That brief summary doesn’t convey just how extensive and surprising the parallels are, and how strong the case is that something remarkable is going on in the Book of Moses. Please read Bradshaw, to discover the surprisingly intricate correlations
that seem rather bizarre if Joseph were just making this up and drawing
upon his environment.
Since some of you have mentioned the thesis of Salvatore Cirillo, I’ll note that his work is addressed by Bradshaw. Here’s an excerpt related to Cirillo:
Could Joseph Smith have borrowed significant portions of his accounts of Enoch from other sources? In his 2010 master’s thesis from Durham University, Salvatore Cirillo cites and amplifies the arguments of Michael Quinn that the available evidence that Joseph Smith had access to published works related to 1 Enoch
has moved “beyond probability — to fact.” He sees no other explanation
than this for the substantial similarities that he finds between the
book of Moses and the pseudepigraphal Enoch literature.
However, after having reflected on the evidence with the more rigorous
approach of a seasoned historian about the availability of the 1821
English translation of 1 Enoch to the Prophet, Richard L. Bushman concluded differently: “It is scarcely conceivable that Joseph Smith knew of Laurence’s Enoch translation.”
Just as important, even if 1 Enoch had been available to the
Prophet, a study by LDS historian Jed Woodworth reveals that the
principal themes of “Laurence’s 105 translated chapters do not resemble
Joseph Smith’s Enoch in any obvious way.” Indeed, apart from the shared prominence of the Son of Man motif in 1 Enoch’s Book of the Parables and the book of Moses and one or two general themes in Enoch’s visions of Noah, little of great substance in common between 1 Enoch
and modern scripture. After careful study of the two works on Enoch,
Woodworth succinctly concluded: “Same name, different voice.”
Note that since Joseph Smith was aware that the biblical book of Jude quotes Enoch — more specifically 1 Enoch itself
— the most obvious thing he could have done to bolster his case for the
authenticity of the book of Moses (if he were a conscious deceiver)
would have been to include the relevant verses from Jude somewhere
within his revelations on Enoch. But this the Prophet did not do.
For such reasons, it is increasingly apparent that despite all the
spilled ink spent in looking for significant parallels to the Prophet’s
revelations on Enoch in 1 Enoch, the most striking resemblances are not found in that work, but rather in related pseudepigrapha such as 2 Enoch, 3 Enoch, and the Qumran Book of Giants.
As time passes, the Book of Moses has become increasingly remarkably rather than easier to explain away as a clumsy fraud. A fascinating text indeed.
Also consider the intriguing relationships between the Book of Moses and the Book of Mormon in the articles by Noel Reynolds and myself cited below. The relationships suggest that there is a connection between the Book of Moses and the brass plates used by several authors in the Book of Mormon, with a one-way relationship between the Book of Moses as an influence on the Book of Mormon.
- Jeff Lindsay, “‘Arise from the Dust’: Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 1: Tracks from the Book of Moses),” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 179-232.
- Noel Reynolds, “The Brass Plates Version of Genesis,” in John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, 27 March 1990, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 2:136–173.
- Kent P. Jackson, “History of the Book of Moses,” in The Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), 1–52.