27 October 2012

Revisiting the Forgotten Voices of Weeping in Moses 7: A Comparison with Ancient Texts

One of the most moving passages in the “extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch” included in the LDS Book of Moses describes weeping for the suffering of the wicked who were to perish in the Flood in chapter 7, verses 28-49.

According to this text, there are three parties directly involved in the weeping: God (Moses 7:28; cf. v. 29), the heavens (Moses 7:28, 37), and Enoch (Moses 7:41, 49). In addition, a fourth party, the earth, mourns—though does not weep—for her children (Moses 7:48–49).

Daniel Peterson has previously discussed the interplay among the members of this chorus of weeping voices, citing the arguments of non-LDS biblical scholar J.J.M. Roberts  that identify three similar voices within the laments of the book of Jeremiah: the feminine voice of the mother of the people (corresponding in the Book of Moses to the voice of the earth, the “mother of men”), the voice of the people (corresponding to Enoch), and the voice of God Himself.

Because of their eloquent rebuke of the idea of divine impassibility—the notion that God does not suffer pain or distress—the passages in Moses 7 that speak of the voice of the weeping God have received the greatest share of attention in LDS scholarship, eliciting the pioneering notices of Hugh Nibley, followed by lengthy articles by Eugene England and Peterson. Most recently, a book relating to the topic has been written by Terryl and Fiona Givens. In addition, with regard to the complaints of the earth described in Moses 7:48–49, valuable articles by Andrew Skinner  and Peterson, again following Nibley’s lead, discuss interesting parallels in ancient sources.

The purpose of this article is to round out the previous discussion so as to include two voices of weeping that have been largely forgotten by LDS scholarship—that of Enoch and that of the heavens.


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