06 January 2014

Science and the Book of Genesis Part 4

Lesson Four: There Is a Deep Relationship Between Genesis 1-11 and the Liturgy and Layout of Temples

The Latter-day Saints have four basic Creation stories. In contrast to versions of the Creation story that emphasize the planning process of the heavenly council or the work involved in setting the physical processes in motion, the companion accounts in Genesis and the book of Moses provide a structure and a vocabulary that seem deliberately designed to highlight temple themes.

Louis Ginzberg’s reconstruction of ancient Jewish sources is consistent with this overall idea, as well as with the proposal that Genesis 1 may have been used as part of Israelite temple liturgy:
God told the angels: On the first day of creation, I shall make the heavens and stretch them out; so will Israel raise up the tabernacle as the dwelling place of my Glory. On the second day I shall put a division between the terrestrial waters and the heavenly waters, so will [my servant Moses] hang up a veil in the tabernacle to divide the Holy Place and the Most Holy. On the third day I shall make the earth to put forth grass and herbs; so will he, in obedience to my commands, … prepare shewbread before me. On the fourth day I shall make the luminaries; so he will stretch out a golden candlestick [menorah] before me. On the fifth day I shall create the birds; so he will fashion the cherubim with outstretched wings. On the sixth day I shall create man; so will Israel set aside a man from the sons of Aaron as high priest for my service.
Carrying this idea forward to a later epoch, Exodus 40:33 describes how Moses completed the Tabernacle. The Hebrew text exactly parallels the account of how God finished Creation. Genesis Rabbah comments: “It is as if, on that day [i.e., the day the Tabernacle was raised in the wilderness], I actually created the world.” A number of scholars have found parallels in the layout of the Garden of Eden and that of Israelite sanctuaries. For example, Brother Donald W. Parry describes the correspondence between Israelite temple ritual and Adam and Eve’s journey through the Garden of Eden as follows:
Anciently, once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Adam’s eastward expulsion from the Garden was reversed when the high priest traveled west past the consuming fire of sacrifice and the purifying water of the laver, through the veil woven with images of cherubim. Thus, he returned to the original point of creation, where he poured out the atoning blood of the sacrifice, reestablishing the covenant relationship with God.
In modern temples, the posterity of Adam and Eve likewise trace the footsteps of their first parents both away from Eden and also in their subsequent journey of return and reunion.


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