Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reading Abraham 3:22-28 through new eyes

Abraham 3:22-28 is a narrative which clearly involves multiple persons. Yet readers often unwittingly place Christ into all roles simultaneously. The following is my attempt to identify and make sense of them all. I especially look at verse 27 differently now:

Verse 22, Abraham as narrator: Now the Lord [Jesus/Jehovah/God the Son] had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

Verse 23: And God [the Father, or "Head God"] saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: ["]These I will make my rulers["]; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he [the Lord or God?] said unto me: ["]Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born["] [on earth].

Verse 24: [Abraham as narrator] And there stood one [Lord Jesus] among them that was like unto God [God the Father], and he [the one like unto God/Jesus/God the Son] said unto those who were with him: [Jesus as narrator now] ["]We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

Verse 25: And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God [doesn't matter to me if here he's referring to himself in the future in the third person or the Father, either one works for me] shall command them;

Verse 26: And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.["]

Verse 27: [Abraham again, briefly, as narrator] And the Lord [Jesus/Jehovah] said: ["]Whom shall I send?["] [to be the first to experience the next estate] And one [Michael/Adam] answered like unto the Son of Man [Jesus, Son of Man or Son of God]: ["]Here am I, send me["]. And another [Lucifer] answered and said: ["]Here am I, send me["]. And the Lord [Jesus] said: ["]I will send the first.["]

Verse 28: And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

This reading seems to be more in line with the fact that God the Father delegates much of the responsibility for the work on this earth to the Son/Jesus, and that Jesus is usually the one giving all the revelations. It's also in line with Hugh Nibley's insight below (particularly the bolded part in the second paragraph):

"Our temple drama began like the book of Job, the Gospel of John, and Goethe's Faust, with the 'Prologue in Heaven.' In the temple today the prologue is spoken offstage, that is, in another world far removed from our present one. We hear the council in heaven discussing the plan to organize a world like other worlds that have been formed. They will 'take of these materials, and . . . will make an earth whereon these may dwell' (Abraham 3:24). The definite pronoun these plainly points to or indicates something, showing that the drama is in progress. Then they appoint two others from among those who stood 'among those that were spirits' (Abraham 3:23). Again the definite pronoun that calls our attention to parties who are not mentioned but are obviously indicated by gesture—these are stage directions.

"Things being thus decided, the Lord said 'Whom should I send?' Here we should note that thirty-three of the forty-two verses in Moses 1 begin with the word and. This in our narrative is the so-called wåw-conversive in Hebrew, which converts the past to a future tense, giving it the sense of stage direction: 'The Lord shall say.' To his question, 'one answered [or one shall answer] like unto the Son of Man,' obviously stepping forward: 'Here I am, send me' (Abraham 3:27). The action is clearly indicated, but why 'one like unto the Son of Man'? Why not simply the Son of Man? Because plainly this is not the real character but an impersonation of him, one taking his part: 'like the Son of Man'"
(Abraham's Temple Drama).

This reading also gives new insight to the fact that Michael (whose name in Hebrew means “Who is like God”) serves as a "type" of Christ, or shadow of things to come. And in my opinion, what a significant way to get this mortal drama kicked off!


Matt W. said...

In the Savior and The Serpent, by Alonzo Gaskill, he mentions that though we say we should see ourselves as Adam and Eve in the creation story, there are many reasons to See Eve as representative as all of us and Adam as representative of Christ.

Adam condescends to take upon himself death so that he can be with Eve.

Eve is the Mother of all living.

Eve Covenants to follow Adam, Adam covenants to follow God.

And so on.

Clean Cut said...

That's interesting, Matt. Certainly another way to see Adam/Michael as a "type" of Christ.

Jacob J said...

I read Nibley as saying something different than what you have described, although I can't tell which is the correct reading. I thought Nibley's point was that this is written as a script, so when it says "one like unto the Son of Man" the "like unto" indicates that it is an actor portraying the Son of Man in the play/drama. That is, I don't see his comment as supporting the idea that the one like unto is Michael/Adam, but that the one like unto the Son of Man is whoever is working in the temple that night portraying the Son of Man.

If that's true, then why doesn't it say "like unto" for every person since the whole thing is a script for the temple drama? That is what Nibley answers in the first paragraph, saying: "Again the definite pronoun that calls our attention to parties who are not mentioned but are obviously indicated by gesture—these are stage directions." All the people speaking from off-stage are just referred to as who they are, but when it comes to the first line spoken by a person on-stage it says the person is "like unto" the Son of Man because he is in constume, etc.

At least, that is what I thought Nibley was saying when I read the quote included in the post.

Jeff said...

Interesting attempt to re-interpret this. I would like to see someone try to do something with "one like unto the Son of Man" without adding the modern divine investment of authority / Jehovah-Christ interpretation on top of it, to see what it may have meant in the eyes of Abraham and/or the translator.

I won't attempt it right now, but I will say that "Son of Man" is an interesting phrase altogether, since in Hebrew it is literally either Son of Adam (Ben Adam) or Son of Enosh (Ben Enosh.) "Like unto" could imply not an immediate literal Son but a descendant of, perhaps in the sense as "the children of Israel" are used to represent all the Israelites, not just the twelve immediate sons of Israel himself.

I don't think removing the DVI doctrine from the reading would hurt the conclusion in any significant way, it would just make the "Lord God" identity return to its semitic understanding of Yahweh (the Father) Elohim; but it would make a different availability for the remaining characters to be juggled amongst those that are left.

At any rate, it's good to see someone apply their mind to understanding the what the Scriptures actually say instead of just taking the common impression at its face value. Keep it up!

DJB said...

Clean cut,

I have a different take on the "like unto the Son of Man" phrase. It is in the context of the BOA providing a deeper understanding of the symbolism underscoring the sacrifice offered by Abraham. Abraham, who had endured attempted human sacrifice as a young man at the hand of his father, was later asked by God to offer up his only son. We know this is symbolic of Heavenly Father and Christ.

The fact that Abraham had endured something very similar to what he was intending to inflict upon his son adds a great deal.

What if that "one like unto the Son of Man" was Christ and "the Son of Man" was Heavenly Father?


Clean Cut said...

DBJ/Fof, that is an interesting interpretation. However, who then is the "one like unto God"? Different person or same person as the "one like unto the Son of Man?" I guess in that case it would be the same person? Just another way of saying the same thing?

My only question is why Heavenly Father would be called "Son of Man". "Son" seems to always be reserved for the Son of God/Jesus. And the Father would be "Man of Holiness"--not Son of Man.

Clean Cut said...

I forgot to actually link the reference, so I'll just quote it here:

Son of Man:
"A title that Jesus Christ used when speaking of himself (Luke 9: 22; Luke 21: 36). It meant the Son of the Man of Holiness. Man of Holiness is one of the names of God the Father. When Jesus called himself the Son of Man, it was an open declaration of his divine relationship with the Father. This title is found frequently in the Gospels. Latter-day revelation confirms the special meaning and sacredness of this name of the Savior (D&C 45: 39; 49: 6, 22; 58: 65; Moses 6: 57)."

Clean Cut said...

I think we might gain some new insight by challenging the traditional linking of Abraham 3:27 and Moses 4:1-2.

It seems obvious that in the Moses scripture it is Jesus Christ who says “here am I, send me” in reference to being the Savior. But in the Abraham scripture it seems very possible that the “one like unto the Son of Man” is not the Son of Man himself, but one (Michael/Adam) answering like unto Jesus, saying “here am I, send me”. This is not in reference to becoming the Savior, but perhaps rather in reference to beginning the “second estate”, or earth life. In context, the verse directly preceding this discusses keeping the first and second estate.

Mark J said...

Here we go.

This line of reasoning stems from the idea that there has never been a question as to who the "Savior" would be - it was always Jehovah.

That being said, now we have the two accounts (NOT two different narratives of the same account) of Lucifer being rejected - one in Abraham and the other in Moses.

The Abraham account appears to be -indeed - Jehovah issuing the call "Whom shall I send". "Send" to do what? Perhaps, to assist in fulfilling what he had just said they would do in V. 26 and to be the one to be the first Man on the new world to get it all started. This would be a preeminent position - one to be highly favored and sought after. Michael (like unto the Son of Man)comes forward and volunteers folowed by Lucifer with Michael then being chosen. Lucifer was, of course angry for some reason. (perhaps thinking he was the elder of Michael and should be chosen before him - eerily similar to the Cain and Abel account).

The Moses account is Jehovah (of course, speaking as if he were the Father) instructing Moses, more fully, about Satan. The account is of Satan coming before the Father -this time without mention of the invitation "Whom shall I send" - but as if he were an interloper oversteppting his place entirely, offering his services to be "Thy Son" etc. etc.

Then Jehovah, whose position Satan was trying to supplant, replies as only he can do - Father "Thy will be done...." (Oh to have a valiant Son like that!!!)

The Apocryphal Gospel of Bartholomew contains an account of Satan telling Bartholomew how he (Satan) was created first and then Michael ... and how Michael comanded Satan to bow down and worship "the image of God" (Adam)... and how Satan would not do it because he considered himself preeminent to Adam and how Satan vowed to set his throne over against the throne of God and how Satan was cast out for this rebellion. (Whew)

Jason said...

Clean Cut, I've got to say I'm glad you put forward this theory. Before now I was always confused at that passage, when all the rest of the Pearl of Great Price was so clear and easy understand. As an additional support to your thought, consider a careful study of Revelation 12 in this context which seems to indicate that the war in heaven was not just between the Savior and Satan, but between Michael and Satan, or the dragon. Here the dragon and his angels prevailed not against Michael and was cast out, as was the case in Abr. 3:27-28

Colleen said...

I have nothing to add to your insights other then to say thankyou for studying and thinking, and pondering. I came out of my SS class wondering what the meaning of "like unto the Son of Man" was... and now I have more food for thought. It seems so obvious it is Michael speaking... given the history of Stan and Michael Rev 12:7-9. maybe not being chosen twice pushed him over the edge.