Examining Six Key Concepts in Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Genesis 1:1

Revelation often results after wrestling with ideas, and Joseph’s struggle with the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 seems to have yielded six concepts, which he expressed either in the King Follett Discourse or in a parallel discourse he gave on June 16, 1844.

When propounded in 1844, each of these six ideas was no doubt considered unusual or unorthodox by those of other religious traditions (as well as by certain Latter-day Saints and former Latter-day Saints), and some people would certainly consider these doctrines no less theologically heterodox today. Yet the first five concepts are widely acknowledged by current biblical scholars to be accurate expressions of religious belief among the Hebrews during the time of the patriarchs. The sixth concept, while still representing a minority view, has also received strong scholarly support in recent decades. This article reviews the writings of a wide array of Old Testament commentators with reference to each of these six points.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 39:3
Purchase this Issue