Genesis 1-2; Moses 2-3; Abraham 4-5 – “In the Beginning God Created the Heaven and the Earth”

Accounts of the Creation are designed to tell us who God and Christ are and who we are in relationship to them. The articles listed here delve into unique Latter-day Saint teachings about Creation accounts. 

 

Examining Six Key Concepts in Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Genesis 1:1,” Kevin L. Barney, BYU Studies 39, no. 3 (2000)

The author identifies concepts that Joseph Smith taught in the King Follett sermon: The creation was effected not “out of nothing,” but from preexisting matter. In the very beginning, there was a plurality of Gods. Among this plurality, there was a head God (or there were head Gods). These Gods met in a grand council. These Gods in council appointed one God over us. The idea of a plurality of Gods, which is most easily seen “at the beginning,” is found throughout the Bible. The article uses the Hebrew text and scholarly interpretations to discuss each of these concepts and show that although these ideas were unusual in 1844, each point now has scholarly support.

“The Latter-day Saint Reimaging of ‘the Breath of Life’ (Genesis 2:7),” Dana M. Pike, BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 2 

The creation accounts include the phrase “the breath of life.” This article explains how Latter-day Saints often use this phrase in a Restoration-oriented meaning about the embodiment of the first human’s premortal spirit and, by extension, the embodiment of all other people’s spirits. 

“Shards of Combat: How Did Satan Seek to Destroy the Agency of Man?” Philip L. Barlow, BYU Studies Quarterly 60, no. 3 

There are two predominant theories about the war in heaven and Satan’s assault on agency: That Satan would make it so that people could not commit sin, and that Satan proposed too little law and that people could be saved in their sins. Other possibilities include valuing security over freedom, a design to preempt full development of life on earth, and more. The author reviews these theories through Latter-day Saint history and discusses implications. 

“Is God Subject to or the Creator of Eternal Law?” James M. McLachlan, BYU Studies Quarterly 60, no. 3

The theory of creation ex nihilo protects God’s absolute power and the idea that God is not subject to law. Joseph Smith rejected creation ex nihilo and stated that there is something uncreated about the spirit of humans. The tradition that God is subject to eternal laws that either exist eternally or that emerge in Creation in relation to other eternal existences external to God is long and often defended in Latter-day Saint thought, but the idea that God decreed the laws from eternity is also present.

“The King Follett Discourse: Pinnacle or Peripheral?” James E. Faulconer and Susannah Morrison, BYU Studies Quarterly 60, no. 3 

Joseph Smith taught that intelligence is self-existent. This article reviews the history of ideas about individuals existing as independent agents prior to their creation as spirits.  

“The Creation: An Introduction to Our Relationship to God,”  Michael A. Goodman, Religious Educator
Teaching and learning about the Creation should be an awe-inspiring and spiritually edifying experience. It easily devolves, however, into much less. If we don’t follow the Lord’s pattern for sharing the Creation as found in the scriptures, we risk missing the powerful influence that learning of the Creation can have in the lives of our students.

“Book of Moses Essays,” Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and others, Book of Mormon Central 

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw has written extensively on the book of Moses. Here he presents short articles (along with audio files) that look in detail at the text. The authors look at symbolism, temple architecture, spiritual creation, science and creation, and more. The essays are listed in the Daily Reading Plan and the Bibliography for this Come, Follow Me lesson at Book of Mormon Central. We also recommend the videos and bibliographies presented at Book of Mormon Central’s website.  

“The Creation of Humankind, An Allegory? A Note on Abraham 5:7, 14-16,” Richard D. Draper, Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, FARMS 

How literally should we understand the creation of Adam from the dust of the earth? One of Joseph Smith’s sermons taught that “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit.” Brigham Young taught that this description is symbolic. 

 Many Latter-day Saints have viewed the account of the creation of Adam and Eve as allegoric, a symbol. 

“Joseph Smith Translating Genesis,” Kent P. Jackson, BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 4

This article explains the history of the Joseph Smith Translation, which is the foundation of unique Latter-day Saint texts of Moses and Abraham.