31 December 2009

The Book of Moses: The Most Surprising and Neglected Scripture

In 2005, the eminent Yale professor and Jewish literary scholar Harold Bloom called the book of Moses and the book of Abraham two of the “more surprising” and “neglected” works of LDS scripture. With the great spate of publications over the forty years since fragments of Egyptian papyri were rediscovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we have begun to see a remedy for the previous neglect of the book of Abraham. Now, gratefully, because of wider availability of the original manuscripts and new detailed studies of their contents, the book of Moses is also beginning to receive its due.

What did Professor Bloom find so “surprising” in the book of Moses? He said he was intrigued by the fact that many of its themes are “strikingly akin to ancient suggestions.” While expressing “no judgment, one way or the other, upon the authenticity” of LDS scripture, he found “enormous validity” in the way these writings “recapture... crucial elements in the archaic Jewish religion.... that had ceased to be available either to normative Judaism or to Christianity, and that survived only in esoteric traditions unlikely to have touched [Joseph] Smith directly.” In other words, Professor Bloom had no idea how Joseph Smith could have come up with, on his own, a modern book that resembles so closely ancient Jewish and Christian teachings...

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