(In Fun and Games)
Elden J. Watson
Everyone who has studied the accounts of the creation is aware of the numerous difficulties that accompany such a task. The creation has stymied students and scholars, priests and laymen for thousands of years, and a never ending succession of linguists, theologians and Rabbis have tried to wrest its secrets and plumb its depths. One of the frustrating aspects of this study is that the author of the biblical creation story (presumably Moses) is not attempting to be excessively literal in his descriptions, and seems to make little attempt to assist the reader in understanding his figurative representations. It is almost as though he either expects his readers to understand it before reading the account, or he expects his readers to not understand it after reading the account. So with all the difficulty in understanding it, why bother? Well, for one thing it's fun. As is apparent from the specific choices of and the numerous plays on words in the original Hebrew language, Moses had fun writing it, and since the original was written in the general spirit of "fun and games," it seems appropriate to approach an interpretation of it in a similar manner. This paper should therefore be read not as a scholarly study, but more of a thoughtful diversion into fun and interesting possibilities and peculiarities of the creation story, that are nevertheless well worth contemplating. We shall attempt to avoid most of the standard discussion that accompanies such a study, and deal mostly with those concepts and ideas which lead to fun and interesting aspects which are widely overlooked. Should whimsical side interests waylay us on occasion, enjoy the diversion until we can return to the main path of thought. Have fun and don't worry if the full development of some of the concepts are left as an exercise for the reader.
Because the Judaeo-Christian world has only that account of the creation found in Genesis (the same account which is in the Torah), and since the Latter-day saints have three additional accounts:
it seems that we should have four times as much fun studying it. It should also be apparent that someone considered it an important enough subject that he revealed three separate and otherwise unavailable accounts of the creation to Joseph Smith. The only other topic that seems important enough to have warranted four separate accounts is the life and ministry of our Savior. It is by import and not by accident that the two topics are intimately related. And if anyone still feels the topic is not worthy of deep and serious contemplation, perhaps they should inform the First Presidency of the Church so that it could be removed from temple ordinance work - it would probably save a lot of time.
Other Available Accounts of the Creation
The account of the creation as found in the Book of Moses was initially revealed to Joseph Smith in the summer of 1830.(1) Before it got to its present form, however, it went through two different revisions. Much of the original was published in Lectures on Faith, Lecture Two, and the first revision, which was begun in the fall of 1830 is still available in published form in Millennial Star 13:90-93 (which was duplicated in the Liverpool edition of The Pearl of Great Price published in 1851). The latest revision, which we have in our present edition of The Pearl of Great Price, was made between February and July of 1833.(2) Much additional information can be obtained by comparing these three accounts and determining just what it was that Joseph Smith felt needed revising. A careful comparison of the various revisions of the Book of Moses can reward the serious student with an insight into the learning process that Joseph Smith went through in preparation for his great work of restoration.
There is also a second biblical account of the creation found in the introduction to John's Gospel. This account has the unique feature of viewing the creation from the perspective of the meridian of time. Like each of the accounts of the Creation, John's rendition is fraught with both translation and interpretation problems. This is not so much because of poor translation, but rather because there is so much that cannot be translated. As a conclusion to this work we shall briefly examine John's account and suggest a few interpretations which may assist in understanding the creation story
THE PRE-MORTAL EXISTENCE
As an introduction, we will begin by examining Abraham's description of the vision he was shown of the pre-mortal existence. In order to appreciate Abraham's account, the student should ask himself where in the book of Abraham, the account of this vision ends. The answer is that it does not - whereas many readers of the Book of Abraham turn off all thoughts of the vision with the end of chapter three. The entire Abrahamic account of the creation is therefore from the perspective of the pre-mortal existence, viewing what was to take place in the future.
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; [Abr 3:22]
Lord - It proves interesting to observe carefully who is speaking and who is being spoken of throughout this account. The Lord here is apparently Jehovah, the revelator. It is he who generally reveals things to mankind.
Intelligence - The noun "intelligence" has come into great notoriety in the Church as representing that eternal entity which became clothed upon by a spirit body as it entered the pre-mortal existence stage of its progression. Unfortunately this concept was first introduced in the early 1900's. In Joseph Smith's day an intelligence was a spirit being.(3) So Abraham was shown the spirits which were organized before the creation of the world.
many - Since "many" is not "all," there must have been other spirits outside of this organized group which Abraham was shown. It is reasonable to suppose that Abraham saw those spirits which were organized specifically to come to this world.
Noble and Great Ones - The spirits of men were not equal. Based upon some criterion, some were greater, or nobler, than others.
And God saw these souls that they were good, and he [God] stood in the midst of them, and he [God] said: These I will make my rulers; for he [God] stood among those that were spirits, and he [God] saw that they were good; and he [the Lord] said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. [Abr 3:23]
God - It seems reasonable that we are seeing the beginning, perhaps even before Christ became God. If this is the case, "God" here refers to the Father.
these souls - Abraham is still referring to the noble and great ones. Here souls = intelligences = spirits. It is always best to try to understand from the context the concepts that the original author intended to convey. It is unreasonable to assume that a word has only one meaning.
good - Goodness is the criteria which determines their nobleness or greatness.
he [the Lord] - It was the Lord who was showing and explaining these things to Abraham, and it is not likely that the individual seen in the vision Abraham was shown would be speaking directly to Abraham
And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; and they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. [Abr 3:24-26]
one among them - i.e. one of the spirits.
like unto God - From the context of what is said, this is probably Jesus Christ: he appears to be the chief organizer. It is interesting however to note that the Hebrew word "Michael" translates into the phrase "like unto God," and curiously, it is possible that the reference here is to Michael.
the Lord their God - Jesus Christ, the savior.
estate - the condition or circumstances a person is in.
And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and at that day, many followed after him. [Abr. 3:27-28]
the Lord - in spite of traditional interpretations, the context here requires that this continue to be Jesus Christ (i.e. Jehovah, and not the Father) saying "Whom shall I send?" This is supported by the first verse of the next chapter, which begins "And then the Lord Said: Let us go down. And they went down..." The word "then" requires that "the Lord" who said "Whom shall I send?" in 3:28 be the same individual as "the Lord" in 4:1, who went down (with others) in the beginning to create the earth.
one...like unto the Son of Man - since "the Son of Man" is Jesus Christ = Jehovah, we suggest that the one like unto him is Michael, the archangel. What a strange idea; it doesn't fit our traditional views, but after we add a few more pretty pieces to the puzzle it yields virtually the same result as the traditional concept with perhaps a little better understanding of what took place, and seems more consistent with the literal interpretation of the scripture quoted. Has everyone noticed that the war in heaven was between Satan and Michael, not Satan and Christ:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [Rev 12:7]
After the millennium, when the forces of good and evil clash again, it will still be Michael leading the age old battle:
And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven. And the devil shall gather together his armies; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies. And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all. For Michael shall fight their battles, and shall overcome him who seeketh the throne of him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb. [D&C 88:112-115]
But this passage says that the devil is seeking the throne of the Lamb, who is Christ. How can fighting Michael gain him the throne of Christ? A very interesting account in the Books of Adam and Eve in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha has some material pertinent to that subject. Although not scriptural, and in spite of the translators not knowing that Michael and Adam are the same person, the author apparently had a good understanding of the situation. It is entitled "Satan's Account of his Expulsion from Heaven."
of his Expulsion from Heaven
And the devil sighed and said. "O Adam, all my enmity and envy and sorrow concern you, since because of you I am expelled and deprived of my glory which I had in the heavens in the midst of angels, and because of you I was cast out onto the earth." Adam answered, "What have I done to you, and what is my blame with you? Since you are neither harmed nor hurt by us, why do you pursue us?"
The devil replied, "Adam, what are you telling me? It is because of you that I have been thrown out of there. When you were created, I was cast out from the presence of God and was sent out from the fellowship of the angels. When God blew into you the breath of life and your countenance and likeness were made in the image of God, Michael brought you and made (us) worship [sustain] you in the sight of God, and the LORD God said, 'Behold Adam! I have made you in our image and likeness.'
And Michael went out and called all the angels, saying, 'Worship [sustain] the image of the LORD God, as the LORD God has instructed.' And Michael himself worshiped [sustained] first, and called me and said, "Worship [sustain] the image of God, Yahweh.' And I answered, 'I do not worship [sustain] Adam.' And when Michael kept forcing me to worship [sustain], I said to him, 'Why do you compel me? I will not worship [sustain] one inferior and subsequent to me. I am prior to him in creation; before he was made, I was already made. He ought to worship [sustain] me.'
When they heard this, other angels who were under me refused to worship [sustain] him. And Michael asserted, 'Worship [sustain] the image of God. But if now you will not worship [sustain], the LORD God will be wrathful with you.' And I said, 'If he be wrathful with me, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven and will be like the Most High.'
And the LORD God was angry with me and sent me with my angels out from our glory; and because of you, we were expelled into this world from our dwellings and have been cast onto the earth. And immediately we were made to grieve, since we had been deprived of so great glory. And we were pained to see you in such bliss of delights. So with deceit I assailed your wife and made you to be expelled through her from the joys of your bliss, as I have been expelled from my glory."(4)
Although describing the more traditional view of the conflict between Christ and Satan, note that President Brigham Young does verify that Lucifer was the second son and hence senior to Michael in the creation:
When the Father appointed Jesus Christ the first born to come and redeem the earth, there was contention got up. The second brother, Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, he wanted the honor to come and redeem the earth. But Christ was the appointed one. It was his right by appointment and birthright.(5)
The Doctrine and Covenants may also allude to this fact when it says:
And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil--for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; [D&C 29:36]
The Plan of Salvation was the Father's plan, not Christ's, and we suggest the following as a possible consideration: Christ was to send Adam to the earth and set up the situation whereby man could become mortal and subject to death, and by his own agency, fall from the presence of the Father. Christ was then to atone for the transgression of Adam, overcome death and mortality, and set up the situation whereby man by his own agency could return to the presence of the Father. Satan had another plan. He wanted to become the first man, (replacing Adam) but not transgress, and hence not be removed from the presence of the Father. This would save all men, but remove agency from the picture. Since there would be no fall there would be no need for an atonement, and hence Satan wanted the glory that would have been Christ's: he wanted to "set his throne above the stars of God ... be like the Most High." [Isa 14:13-14]
This view preserves a more literal interpretation of the scriptures than the traditional explanation, and yet arrives at the same results. If true, it gives a little more insight into the premortal existence conflict, explains why the war in heaven was between Michael and Lucifer, and may indicate that the war was what we would call political in nature. It is certainly a fun possibility that is not often considered, and hence deserves a place here.
The following biblical passages also relate to the war in heaven but are often overlooked:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [Rev 12:7-9]
And he [Christ] said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. [Luke 10:18]
...God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. [2Pet 2:4]
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. [Jude 6]
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? [Isaiah 14:12-17]
THE GENESIS OF CREATION
(or the Creation of Genesis?)
DAY 1 - THE COUNCIL IN HEAVEN
In the Beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Gen 1:1]
From the Hebrew, which reads from right to left and has no capitalization, this transliterates to beraysheeth bara eloheem aith hashamayim w'aith ha'aretz. Literally , one word at a time, this translates to "at the head" (i.e. in the beginning) "Gods" (the word is plural) "brought together" "~" "the heavens" (again plural) "and ~" "the earth." The "~" does not exist in English, but means that the word following is an object. Joseph Smith had a lot to say about this particular verse, but note that he was taught the eastern pronunciation instead of the one typically in use in the United States today. So you don't get confused by spelling, Joseph Smith's transliteration would be berosheit baurau eloheim ait haushamayeem veait hauauraits. Also, "baith" is the letter "b" which is the first letter in the Bible, and is a preposition which has lots of different meanings. Joseph says the following:
I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible - Berosheit. I want to analyze the word. Baith - in, by, through, and everything else. Rosh - the head. Sheit - grammatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there. An old Jew without any authority added the word; he thought it too bad to begin to talk about the head! It read first, "The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods." That is the true meaning of the words. Baurau signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council. [TPJS 348]
I want to analyze the word Berosheit. Rosh, the head; Sheit, a grammatical termination; the Baith was not originally put there when the inspired man wrote it, but it has been since added by an old Jew. Baurau signifies to bring forth; Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God, in the singular number; and by adding the word heim, it renders it Gods. It read first, "In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods," or, as others have translated it, "The head of the Gods called the Gods together." [TPJS 371]
Thus, as Joseph Smith would translate it, the first verse of the bible should read:
The Head (of the Gods) brought forth the gods of the heavens and of the earth (in the grand council).
gods - In the pre-mortal existence, prior to the war in heaven, all of those who belong to this earth were "gods, the sons of God," and we all participated in the grand council in heaven before the creation of this world. We also suggest as an interesting consideration that we are not here upon this earth in an attempt to become gods. We are "gods the sons of God" and what we are attempting to do is to retain that status. We do not have to achieve godhood, but just not foul up and abort our normal progression.
And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. [Gen 1:2]
without form and void - One of the greatest stumbling blocks of the bible scholars of the world: How can the earth be created in verse one and then be without form and void in verse two? Notice how simply Joseph Smith eliminates the entire problem by pointing out that verse one is not talking about the creation of the earth, but about the council in heaven, which as Moses informs us in verse two was before the creation of the earth.
We deviate briefly here to point out that contrary to a frequently expressed opinion, the account of the creation in Genesis Chapter 1 is not an account of the spirit creation. If verse one begins by talking about the grand council in heaven, then obviously our creation as spirits was long before that time. Genesis Chapter 1 is an account of the "physical but not mortal" creation. In order to not get confused later on it is important to realize that the scriptures speak of this creation as the "spiritual" (not "spirit") creation, where the word "spiritual" is in opposition to the word "temporal" (i.e. mortal) and in this context means "physical but not mortal." Now let's return to our examination of verse two.
and darkness was upon the face of the deep - The Book of Moses indicates that God "caused" darkness to come upon the face of the deep. A better choice of words might be that God "allowed" darkness to come upon the face of the deep. "The deep" (Hebrew: tehom) indicates the great depths of the ocean, the vast unfathomable (pun intended) quantities of water. But since we are speaking of the grand council in heaven and not the creation of the earth, (and since bodies of water are frequently used in scripture to denote large groups of people) may we suggest that the tehom represents the vast assemblage of pre-mortal spirits, and that the darkness was caused by the presentation of Satan's plan. The word "darkness" (Hebrew: choshek) means an absence of light, but it means much more: preferentially it means an absence of enlightenment, a mental darkness, a state of confusion, a lack of understanding. And then the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the assembled multitudes.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. [Gen 1:3]
light - (Hebrew: or) This light, which is certainly distinct from that light emitted by the luminaries which God will create on the fourth day, represents an enlightenment of the understanding, a dispelling of error and misrepresentation: i.e. the presentation of the Plan of Salvation.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. [Gen 1:4]
divided - The Book of Abraham [4:4] suggests that God "caused" the light to be divided from the darkness. The Hebrew usage, however, is curious indeed. A literal translation from the Hebrew would be that God divided "between the light and between the darkness," where the word "between" (Hebrew: behn) is a word which has intriguing possibilities. Originally the Old Testament was written in the old Hebrew which was written without vowels (newspapers are still written that way today). Where there was more than one possibility, determination of which word was intended was by context. In this instance bien (same consonants, different vowels) means "intelligence," to discern or perceive, or to understand. Hence, the last half of verse four could be translated "God separated the enlightened intelligences from the benighted intelligences."(6)
By following Joseph Smith's lead in verse one, and admittedly with an emphasis on fun and games, we have been able to find in the first five verses of the Old Testament:
and all this in a day's work.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. [Gen 1:5]
the evening and the morning - In the Hebrew mode of reckoning time, the day begins at sundown, hence the evening begins the first part of the day and the morning begins the latter portion of the day.
day - (Hebrew: yom) People are frequently worried as to whether the days of the creation represent actual days. In answer, the following is a complete list of the different expressions in our King James bible which have been translated from the Hebrew word yom:
Certainly the word yom is most commonly translated "day."
DAY 2 - CREATION OF THE HEAVENS
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. [Gen 1:6-8]
firmament - (Hebrew: rakeeah) There seems to be a tendency among bible scholars to relegate to the ancients a belief that the firmament was a solid dome whose edges rested upon the mountains and had the sun, moon and stars attached to its inner surface. Modern prophets and scholars have shunned this inconsistency. Joseph Smith taught that raukeeyang (his transliteration) signifies "expanse, or the firmament of the heavens."(7) Bruce R. McConkie further explained that, depending on context, it refers to either the atmospheric or sidreal heavens.(8)
heaven - (Hebrew: shamayim) The word is plural and should be "heavens." Again, this is a play on words with "waters" (Hebrew: mayim). The heavens are the shamayim [possibly = high waters]. At a large body of water one can see the waters meet the sky at the horizon. Moses may be alluding figuratively to bodies above the sky. Modern revelation may provide a similar analogy:
And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons; and their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets. [D&C 88:42-43]
Comprehend is used here in the sense of "all inclusive," and if we resolve this to a mathematical equation so it will be simpler to understand, we have:
heavens + earth = earth + all the planets
Dropping the earth from both sides of the equation we have:
heavens = all the planets
There is some indication that beings may reside temporarily on some of the other planets of our solar system - perhaps translated beings for example - what are they going to do, freeze to death? Note the following prophecy:
If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven [Heb. heavens], from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: [Deuteronomy 30:4]
In the 24th chapter of Matthew, in his prophecy of the last days, the Savior makes a similar comment:
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. [Matthew 24:31]
We therefore suggest that on the second day of creation, God created (or directed the creation of)
the planets which comprise our solar system.
DAY 3 - CREATION OF THE EARTH
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Following logically from Joseph Smith's lead in his unusual interpretation of verse one, it would seem that the earth was not created and sown with seeds until the third day of the creation story. Some have indicated at this point that this does not agree strictly with the account in the temple ceremony. But the temple account specifically says that the creative periods are represented, and a representation does not require unremitting historical accuracy. Others have complained that this does not agree with the bible account. May we remind you that this is the bible account. What this does not agree with is traditional interpretations of the bible account, but then what did you expect, and are you having fun yet?
DAY 4 - ORGANIZATION OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. [Gen 1:14-19]
It seems reasonable that God did not make all of the stars that are visible from this earth just for the benefit of this earth, nor is it probable that he made them on this one day. More likely is the interpretation that on the fourth day of the creation story he placed the earth and its associated heavens (the planets etc.) into their present locations (orbits) with respect to each other within the solar system. The stars then become the planets or heavens which pertain to this earth, most of which appear to be stars as seen from the earth.
DAY 5 - CREATION OF FISH AND FOWL
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. [Gen 1:20-23]
bring forth abundantly - In the Hebrew there is no indication that life was created from or in the waters. A more literal translation would be "Let the waters swarm with swarms, with living beings, and let birds fly above the earth in the face (the front, i.e. the side turned towards the earth) of the firmament."(9)
DAY 6a - CREATION OF ANIMALS
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. [Gen 1:24-25]
cattle - The Hebrew word includes not just cattle, but all the larger domesticated land animals.
creeping things - The smaller land animals, usually including worms, insects and reptiles.
beast of the earth - the freely roving wild animals.
DAY 6b - THE CREATION OF MAN
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [Gen 1:27-28]
These two verses contain the Mosaic representation of the origin of man, and we will be returning to them occasionally as we sort out some of the information they contain.
Eloheim - Why is it Plural?
The word "God" (Hebrew - eloheim) has the typical masculine plural "im" ending (cf. urim, thummim, cherubim etc.). In these verses it is particularly noticeable that the word is plural because of the "we" "us" and "our" used with it. And this is not the only place where eloheim requires the plural form. See for example Genesis 3:5 where in the construct, the plural participle "knowers of" (Hebrew - yodhe) modifies eloheim which must therefore be plural, and Genesis 11:7 where "let us descend" (Hebrew - nerdhah) and "let us confuse" (Hebrew - nabhlah) are both plural verbs. Hebrew scholars go to great lengths to try to show that eloheim is not really plural, but what they call a "plural form." Nevertheless, it is a pain in the neck to them and is never quite explained to their satisfaction. Also, it is fun to see the great Bible scholars contradict each other on the subject, when the answer is so simple. For example, the following is from Keil and Delitzsch:
The Plural "We" was regarded by the fathers and earlier theologians almost unanimously as indicative of the Trinity: modern commentators, on the contrary, regard it either as pluralis majestatis; or as an address by God to Himself, the subject and object being identical; or as communicative, an address to the spirits or angels who stand around the Deity and constitute His council. ... the last interpretation founders upon this rock: either it assumes without sufficient scriptural authority, and in fact in opposition to such distinct passages as chap. ii. 7, 22, Isa. xl. 13 seq., xliv. 24, that the spirits took part in the creation of man; or it reduces the plural to an empty phrase, inasmuch as God is made to summon the angels to cooperate in the creation of man, and then, instead of employing them, is represented as carrying out the work alone. Moreover, this view is irreconcilable with the words "in our image, after our likeness;" since man was created in the image of God alone (ver. 27, chap. v. 1), and not in the image of either the angels, or God and the angels. A likeness to the angels cannot be inferred from Heb. ii. 7, or from Luke xx. 36. Just as little ground is there for regarding the plural here and in other passages (iii.22, xi. 7; Isa. vi. 8, xli. 22) as reflexive, an appeal to self; since the singular is employed in such cases as these, even where God Himself is preparing for any particular work (cf. ii.18; Ps. xii. 5; Isa. xxxiii.10). No other explanation is left, therefore, than to regard it as pluralis majestatis.(10) ...
And on the other hand we have from Gesenius, the best known of all scholars of biblical Hebrew:
The Jewish grammarians call such plurals plur. virium or virtutum; later grammarians call them plur. excellentiae, magnitudinus or plur. maiestaticus. This last name may have been suggested by the we used by kings when speaking of themselves (cf. already I macc. 10:19, 11:31); and the plural used by God in Gn 1:26, 11:7, Is 6:8 has been incorrectly explained in this way. It is, however, either communicative (including the attendant angels; so at all events in Is 6:8, cf. also Gn 3:22), or according to others, an indication of the fullness of power and might implied in [eloheim] (see Dillmann on Gn 1:26); but it is best explained as a plural of self-deliberation. The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew.(11)
What the Bible scholars refuse to consider is that eloheim is plural because there is a plurality of gods, and that the context here refers to more than one personage. When we think of God we usually think of him as a male personage, our Heavenly Father. But Latter-day Saints know that we have a Heavenly Mother also.
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage); and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. [D&C 131:1-4]
So in order to achieve godhood an individual must have a spouse, and the word "God" should actually represent a god-pair. The word is therefore more appropriately plural, as it is in the Hebrew. We suggest that at, and prior to the time of Moses, it was the cultural norm to think of God in this dualistic sense.
Pre-Hebraic Palestine is full of Els (Eloheim) and Ba'als (Adonai, the Lord) and they all have consorts, at once wives, daughters and mothers - Asherath, Anat, Astarte, Ashtaroth.(12)
With this in mind it should be noted that in both Gen 1:26-27 and Gen 5:1-2 God is represented as creating man in his own image and likeness "male and female." But how can God create something in his own likeness "male and female" unless God is "male and female?"
The Creation of Adam
In verse 26 the word "create" (Hebrew - bara) in its root sense means to cut or carve, as in making a statue, or to produce something new. When it is people being produced, however, the proper translation is "to beget, whence bar, a son".(13) We are more familiar with the word in its Aramaic usage in the New Testament as in "Simeon bar Jonah" which means Simeon begotten by Jonah.
Bible translators, being unaware that God had any physical form whatever, did the best they could in making a proper translation according to their understanding. But knowing that God is an exalted man, we can make some improvements on their translations. The following is from Joseph Smith:
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,--I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form--like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of god, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another. [TPJS 345]
Verse 26 of Genesis may therefore be correctly retranslated as:
So God begat man in his own image, in the image of God begat he him, male and female begat he them.
We suggest then, that Adam and Eve were begotten, or born, in the Garden of Eden on this earth, on the sixth day of creation, to resurrected and exalted parents, our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Their bodies were physical, but not mortal: since the parents were both resurrected beings, the seeds of death were not present in the bodies of Adam and Eve and they would have lived forever had not something been done to initiate the fall. It may seem strange to some that Adam was born twice to the same set of parents, once in the premortal existence, as Michael, with a spirit body, and once in the Garden of Eden, as Adam, with a spiritual, or physical but not mortal body. In the process of procreation, the body of the mother forms within herself a body from those materials which are available to her body during the creative period. In the Celestial Kingdom this would be spirit matter, but in the Garden of Eden, while eating of the various fruits of the Garden, it would be the physical (but not mortal) matter of this earth. President Brigham Young taught:
We have not the power in the flesh to create and bring forth or produce a spirit; but we have the power to produce a temporal body. The germ of this, God has placed within us. And when our spirits receive our bodies, and through our faithfulness we are worthy to be crowned, we will then receive authority to produce both spirit and body. But these keys we cannot receive in the flesh.(14)
There are other scriptural indications that Adam was the son of God. In tracing the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Luke, in chapter 3, presents in a specific word pattern, 70 generations of father-son relationships, concluding, with no change in word pattern, in verses 37-38:
Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God. [Luke 3:38-39]
It should be noted that in the Inspired Version Joseph Smith reworded this to read "... who was formed of God, and the first man upon the earth." The reworded phrase does not change the intended meaning. The most explicit scriptural statement of the divine sonship of Adam is in the Book of Moses, as restored by Joseph Smith, where in describing the genealogy of the sons of Adam, Moses uses the following wording:
And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own image, and called his name Seth. ... Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begat Enos, ... And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan. ... And Cainan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel; ... And Mahalaleel lived sixty-five years, and begat Jared; ... And Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years and begat Enoch; ... And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed. [Moses 6:10-22]
Adam and Christ - Brothers
This would make Adam and Christ brothers, and in fact would make Adam the elder brother (in mortality). Since Christ was the firstborn in the spirit world, he holds the birthright: the right of the firstborn. Note that the younger brother (Christ) would be preferred before the Elder brother (Adam) in the spiritual sense. And because we are still having fun, we note with curiosity the unusual number of times in religious history where a younger brother is preferred before the elder, for example:
We feel certain that with a little thought the list could be extended, and this is in defiance of the historical tradition of the right of the firstborn. Also, since it was a son of God who transgressed the law and brought death into the world, would the laws of justice allow anyone less than a son of God to pay the penalty for death and bring eternal life? Knowledge of the close relationship between Christ and Adam also enriches the meaning of those scriptures which speak of Christ as the second Adam:
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from Heaven. [I Cor 15:45-47]
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. [Rom 5:12-18]
Dominion - Means absolute supremacy over. Adam's fall likely affected everything over which he held dominion.
The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Genesis 1:26, 27, 28. He had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel: he stands next in authority in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office and was the father of all living in this day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven. [TPJS 157]
Note that in verse 26 God says "Let them have dominion ... over all the earth." But in verse 28, God says:
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. [Gen 1:28]
Dominion was actually given over fish, fowl and over all living things, but the "dominion ... over all the earth," is missing. It is probable that complete dominion has not yet been given man. Of the winding up scene, Joseph Smith says,
The Son of Man stands before him [Adam] and there is given him glory and dominion. [TPJS 157]
Since you cannot give someone something they already have, the dominion given here must be something additional to the dominion given him in the garden on the sixth day of creation.
THE END OF THE 6TH DAY
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is life [breath], I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. [Gen 1:29-31]
It appears from the context that both man and animals were vegetarians before the fall.
Thus ends Chapter One in the King James version of the Bible, but Chapter One should continue through the next three verses.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. [Gen 2:1-3]
and all the host of them - Not only were the heavens and the earth finished, but all the host of them. A host is "any great number or multitude." All persons and creatures that ever would be born, or receive mortal bodies upon this earth were prepared by the end of the sixth day. Those who do not believe in the pre-mortal existence of man must believe that since God began his rest, (i.e. since the seventh day of creation) God has been making the spirits of men at an average rate possibly exceeding twenty per minute since the fall of Adam, for it is God who makes the spirits of men.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. [Ecc 12:7]
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits;, and live? [Heb 12:9]
We don't want to imply that there is something that God cannot do, but in our mind it hardly seems like a rest "from all his work."
THE SEVENTH DAY - THE THIRD CREATION
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. [Gen 2:4]
Bible scholars of the world have made (nearly) every possible explanation for why the creation story in Genesis two is (apparently) inconsistent with the creation story in Genesis one. We suggest that the major reason they appear inconsistant is that they are not describing the same creation.
There are three separate creations spoken of in scripture. The first is called the SPIRIT CREATION. In this creation we were all begotten sons and daughters of God and we lived with him in what we now call heaven, during our pre-mortal existence. We have no scriptural description of this creation. The second creation is called the SPIRITUAL CREATION. This is the creation which begins with the grand council in heaven and which is depicted in Genesis chapter one. It may be properly described as the "physical but not mortal" creation. The third creation was the MORTAL CREATION. We generally refer to this creation as the fall of Adam, but the scriptures sometimes refer to it as a separate creation. The main scriptural account of this creation begins in Genesis Chapter two verse four, which we are about to examine. In order to understand the sequence it is necessary to note that verses four through seven form an abstract, or overview, which is then detailed beginning in verse eight with the Lord planting the Garden of Eden, the four rivers flowing through it etc. Although in the scriptures the fun and games continue, We will conclude our present examination of Genesis with the first paragraph of chapter two.
The word generations (Hebrew - tholedoth) and in particular the phrase "these are the generations" occurs ten times in Genesis, usually in connection with a person whose descendants and their associated history are about to be described. It never talks about the creation (birth or origin) of the individual named, but is an account of what happened to them after their beginning. This, then, is not a description of the origin of the heavens and the earth, but an account of what happened to them after they were already in existence.
Two items are particularly important: First, we have changed time periods, and secondly, we have changed Gods!
We have just discussed six days (or periods of time) during which God (Hebrew - eloheim) created the heavens and the earth. We are now discussing a single time period ("the day" Hebrew - yom) during which the LORD God (Hebrew - yahweh eloheim) created the heavens and the earth.
The LORD God - yahweh eloheim
The LORD God is Jehovah, he who came to the earth in the meridian of time as Jesus Christ. In the next section we will suggest an etymology of the word Jehovah that will allow no other interpretation. It was Jehovah, Jesus Christ, the Savior, who in the garden of Eden gave Adam his agency.
The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; [Moses 7:32]
The Lord commanded Adam not to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, appending the words, "nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee;" [Moses 3:17] thereby giving Adam his choice.
It was therefore Christ who set up the situation in the beginning which brought death into the world, and which allowed man by the exercise of his own agency to fall from the presence of his God. The Lord sometimes speaks of this fall as a separate (mortal) creation, and hence Christ becomes the creator of the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them. Some have become confused when Christ speaks of himself as creating Adam.
Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. [D&C 29:34]
Others have questioned scriptural passages which refer to Christ as the Father:
And he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and said that he should take upon him the image of man, ... [Mosiah 7:27]
Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end; the first and the last; [Alma 11:38-39]
Members of the Church are quick to invoke the principle of divine investiture of authority, whereby Christ may speak as though he were his Father, but most of these instances are unnecessary devices. Christ really is the Eternal Father of the (temporal) heavens and the (temporal) earth, and everything (temporal) that is in them. Also, the Doctrine and Covenants testifies that Adam was created from the dust of the earth on the seventh day:
Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth ... [D&C 77:12]
But Adam was physically born to God (in the spiritual but not mortal creation) in the Garden of Eden on the sixth day. The Doctrine and Covenants is therefore not speaking of the physical, but of the mortal creation, by the LORD God, on the seventh day, for on the seventh day,
...the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. [Gen 2:5b]
What kind of man tills the ground? A mortal man.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. [Gen 2:6-7]
Christ really did create Adam: in mortality.
Since it was Christ who as Jehovah set up the conditions which resulted in the fall, all the laws of justice require that Christ also set up the situation which will abolish death and allow man by the exercise of his own agency to return to the presence of God. These two items constitute the major mission of the Savior.
For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal--First spiritual, secondly temporal, [i.e. transformed by the fall from a spiritual = 'physical but not mortal' state to a mortal state] which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, [i.e. transformed by the resurrection from a temporal = mortal to an eternal state] which is the last of my work--[D&C 29:31-32]
The Meaning of the Word "Jehovah"
The word "Jehovah" (Hebrew - Yahweh) is a form of the little used verb "to be," which may be translated "I am." In Hebrew usage, however, the verb "to be" is generally omitted. For example: "I am king" would be rendered in Hebrew simply "I king," and the Hebrew words "I king" may be translated into English equally well as "I am king," "I was king," or "I will be king." The construction "I am" was therefore not used in the sense which is the most common in English. After the word became a designation for God, it was virtually never used, and it even became sacrilege to speak the sacred name. At the time, written Hebrew contained no vowels, and the sacred name, referred to as the tetragrammaton, remained unspoken for so long that the true pronunciation became lost, and had to be reconstructed by scholars. Although there are several possible pronunciations, Yahweh is considered the most probable. In most cases the Hebrew word yahweh has been translated "LORD" (all upper case letters) in our King James version of the Bible. In a few instances it has been translated "GOD" (all upper case letters).
We suggest that it was a misuse or misunderstanding of the word Yahweh which ultimately gave rise to the prominent doctrine of monotheism. The primary difficulties may have arisen over a verse in Deutronomy and a series of verses in Isaiah which appeared to be proclaiming that Jehovah was the only God:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: [Deut 6:4]
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. ... Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. [Isa 44:6, 8b]
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: [Isa 45:5a]
Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. [Isa 45:21]
To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? ... Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, [Isa 46:5, 9]
We have presented earlier the concept that the ancients understood God to be a male-female, husband-wife God-pair, and we suggested that this was the reason behind the plurality of the word eloheim. However, there was an exception! In order for the plan of salvation to be perfect, it was necessary that the Savior be God from before the foundations of the world. Hence, he who would become Jesus Christ had to become a God in the pre-mortal existence, and without a spouse. Here was an eloheim, but without a companion, and the ancients did not even have a good word to express such a thing. He became a "singular" God, a "unique" God, an "I Am (alone)" God, a "yahweh eloheim." He declared that he was alone, that "beside me (not 'except for me,' but 'at my side,' 'on my level,' 'my equivalent') there is no God." It is interesting to note the following passage in Isaiah 44 verse 8, which is one of the few passages in the Old testament where the word "God" appears in its singular form in the Hebrew. (eloah = singular of eloheim).:
Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God (eloah) beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. [Isa 44:8]
Although knowledge can have many meanings, the word "know" (Hebrew - yada') here, is the same word which is sometimes used in the conjugal sense as it is in such passages as Genesis 4:1:
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. [Gen 4:1]
The Lord strongly emphasizes the point that his Godhood is unique and because of his position as the Savior, and that there is no one else like him.
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God (Hebrew - el) formed, neither shall thee be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God (el). [Isa 43:10-12]
To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? [Isa 46:5 see also 40:18 and 40:25]
The LORD was careful to discredit one of the Babylonian gods for whom some of the attributes of Jehovah was falsely claimed, and in so doing gave a scriptural indication of what was meant by "I am, and none else beside me," tying it directly to an unmarried condition.
Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, ... And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it. Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me: I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day,the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments. [Isa 47:1, 7-9, emphasis added]
Monotheism versus Polytheism
We suggest as a closing thought of the present digression, that the Hebrew people believed in and worshipped a unique God, a singular God, a yahweh eloheim, a God who had no consort, who was not married; in short - monotheism. Long after the true nature of the God they worshipped had been lost the tradition of monotheism remained. The Jewish people were proud of their monotheistic beliefs and proclaimed them loudly wherever they went. During the first three centuries after the death of Christ the Jewish emphasis on monotheistic belief, which was adopted by many of the early Christians, was the driving force in the development of the Christian concept of God. The resultant "Trinity" doctrine dominated Christian thought from approximately 400 AD to the early 1800's. Then, in the spring of 1820, a more correct understanding of the nature of deity was restored to the earth by the appearance of both God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, to a young man named Joseph Smith, in the state of New York.
THE MERIDIAN OF TIME - ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. [John 1:1-2]
In the Beginning - The wording is identical in the Greek with the Septuagent of Genesis 1:1, and this is the only example of this wording recurring in the New Testament. Beginning must refer to the period before the creation because in John's account, creation does not begin until verse 3.
was [the Word] - "Was" is in the imperfect (not aorist) tense. the aorist tense would imply a single action completed in the past, but the imperfect as we have here indicates an ongoing continuous state.
[was the] Word - The Joseph Smith translation, "In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son ..." implies that the "Word" (Greek - Logos) may be the gospel.
According to J. Philip Schaelling,(15) Logos is usually translated "word," but has many nuances and great depth. Logos is not the sounds that make the word, but the meaning (i.e. the inner thought of which the word is the outward form), but again not just the static thought, but the dynamic process behind, or accomplishment of the thought. It can refer to a word, a phrase, a discussion, or even a whole book. Dr. Hugh Nibley has translated John 1:1 as "In the beginning was the Logos [counsel, discussion], and the Logos was in the presence of God, and all things were done according to it." May we here suggest as a logical extension, "In the beginning was the Plan [of Salvation]".
and the Word was with [the] God - In speaking of the Godhead, the definite article preceding the word "God" usually has reference to God the Father, and "with," here implies accompaniment. This, then, is a strong reference that the plan of salvation did not originate with Christ, but was the Father's plan.
and the Word was God [Greek - God was the Word] - The word "God" (Greek - Theos) without the definite article would imply Jesus (i.e. Jesus was the Plan). The entire Plan of Salvation revolves around the Savior and his mission, and without him there would be no Plan. In a very real sense, then, the Savior is the Plan. As an interesting aside, some scholars are worried about the reference in John 10:33-36 that when the "Word [plan]" comes to men it makes them gods.
All things were made by him and without him was not any thing made that was made. [John 1:3]
There were three creations: Spirit, Spiritual and Mortal, and in the mortal sense, Christ really is the Father of heaven and earth and all things that in them are.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness comprehended it not. [John 1:4-5]
In him was life... (that which came to be in him was life) - In the Greek "was" now changes tense. It now means something which took place in the past but is still in effect at the time of speaking (life as we know it = mortality). This has reference to the fact that all things that Christ created have life in both the mortal sense (created in the garden of Eden) and in the immortal sense (created with the resurrection) in accordance with the "Plan."
and the life was the light of men - "Light" here is related to "let there be light" of Gen. 1, and refers to an enlightenment of independent understanding, available only through agency.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not - In the Greek, "shineth" is in the timeless present tense (continues to shine) while "comprehended" is in a tense used for an occurrence ending at a given point in time. The English usage of "comprehended" has also totally changed since its original translation in 1611. Originally it meant "to seize upon with hostile intent," or to "overcome." Therefore the intent of this verse was to explain that there was an attempt (a one time attempt in the past) to overcome the agency of man and the Plan of Salvation, but that it failed, and that the Plan continues onward, providing the way to exaltation, immortality and eternal life to all who will receive it.
2. Howard, Restoration Scriptures p72.
3. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, New York, 1828 (Foundation For American Christian Education reprint).
4. James H. Charlesworth, The Old testament Pseudepigrapha 2:262 (emphasis in original, words in brackets added)]
5. Wilford Woodruff Journals 4:45-46 (spelling corrected).
6. The Hebrew bien is verbal, but since no one knows what the Hebrew word for "an intelligence" would be, we can still have fun speculating.
7. Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2, Figure 4.
8. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine page 281.
9. Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 1:60.
10. Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 1:62.
11. E. Kautzsche ed., Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, Second English edition, Oxford, 1910, page 398 (par. 124 g) note 2.
12. A. E. Waite, The Holy Kabbalah, page xi.
13. Samuel P. Tregelles, Gesenius' Hebrew - Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, page 139.
14. Journal of Discourses 15:137.
15. Jackson and Millett, Studies in Scripture, 5:129-131. This source is relied upon heavily throughout this discussion of John.