© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Old Testament
Week 3: The Creation
(Genesis 1–2; Moses 3–4; Abraham 4–5)
1) [SLIDE 2] Latter-day Saints have four primary sources on the creation:
a) These accounts are:
i) Genesis chapters 1–2.
ii) Moses chapters 2–3.
(1) This is Joseph Smith‘s translation of Genesis 1–2, which he completed in the
summer and early fall of 1830.
iii) Abraham chapters 4–5.
(1) This is a portion of the Book of Abraham, which was translated or revealed after
the Church purchased some Egyptian artifacts in 1835.
1

iv) The ritual drama portion of the temple endowment.
(1) This was revealed by Joseph Smith in May 1842 and has been revised several
times by Church leaders since then.
b) All four accounts follow the same basic outline, with a few subtle variations. Moses and
Abraham mostly add details not in the Genesis account, but don‘t change the sequence;
the endowment rearranges the creative steps and the days on which they occurred.
2

2) We‘re going to start off tonight by addressing one of the most common questions about the
creation: How do we square the scriptural accounts of the creation with what science tells
us about the formation of the solar system and the origin of life on earth?
a) The manner, sequence, and timeframe of the creation have been the subject of much
debate since the Enlightenment and the beginning of the Age of Reason in the 17th
century.
b) Dealing with this question may help us understand why the creation accounts in the
scriptures read the way they do.
c) [SLIDE 3] Latter-day Saints have held different views on science and the creation. One
possible way to express these is with a spectrum:
◄ scholarly traditional ►
“6 days” of
creation are
metaphorical
Earth created
in 6 “days” of
billions of years each
Earth created
in 6 “days” of
1,000 years each
Earth created
in 6 days of
24 hours each
i) Those on the right—at the traditional or fundamentalist end of the spectrum—take
the creation accounts literally: God created the earth in six 24-hour days, or in six
1,000-year periods.

1
We‘ll cover the origins of the Book of Abraham in greater detail in lesson 7.
2
The six days of creation in Genesis, Moses, and Abraham consist of (1) light, (2) sea and sky, (3) land and plants,
(4) heavenly bodies, (5) fish and birds, (6) land animals and man. In the temple endowment, the six periods of creation are
(1) the earth from unorganized matter, (2) separation of water and land, (3) separation of light and darkness, heavenly bodies,
(4) plants, (5) land animals, birds, fish, and insects, (6) man.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 2
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
(1) These individuals sometimes align themselves with a broader fundamentalist
Christian movement known as ―young-earth creationism‖ (YEC).
ii) Those on the left take a more scholarly approach, and agree with the findings of
science that the earth is very old
3
and, therefore, that the creation accounts are
metaphorical, symbolic, or even ―sacred myth.‖
4

iii) Note that this is a theological spectrum, which presumes that everyone represented
on this chart believes that God played some role in the creation of the earth—there is
no atheism here. Although individuals at the scholarly end may believe that God
takes a more ―hands-off‖ approach than those at the traditional end, God does play a
role in all of these explanations.
d) [SLIDE 4] The spectrum approach can also be used to describe various Latter-day Saint
views on the creation of human beings:
◄ scholarly traditional ►
God waits for
undirected
evolution to take
its course
God nurtures
and directs
human
evolution
“Creation science”/
“Intelligent Design”
(old earth,
punctuated creations)
Adam physically
born and
brought to
earth (“dust”
metaphorical)
Adam literally
created from the
dust of the earth
i) Those on the right side of the spectrum take the Genesis account literally: When the
scriptures say ―the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground‖ (Genesis 2:7; cf.
Moses 3:7; Abraham 5:7), they interpret that to mean that God made Adam‘s body by
gathering a pile of dirt.
5

ii) Moving to the left we find those who take the Genesis account figuratively, and see it
as a metaphor for another, ―hidden‖ divine creation account.
(1) Among Latter-day Saints, this is often expressed in the belief that Adam was
physically born and then brought to this earth.
6
In this view, Adam‘s creation ―of
dust‖ is metaphorical for the birth process (see Moses 6:59).
iii) Closer to the center are those who believe that God created plants, animals, and man
in their current form, fully developed, but that this took place periodically over
billions of years.
(1) This is the idea behind so-called ―creation science‖—recently renamed
―Intelligent Design Theory‖—which attempts to put creationism into an old-earth
context.
iv) Individuals on the left side of the spectrum accept that evolution is the best way to
explain the origins and diversity of life, that human beings are the result of
evolutionary development, and that God used evolution to create man by closely
directing it or at least ―kick-starting‖ it.

3
Modern scientists calculate the age of earth at 4.54 billion years. See http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html
4
Calling the creation accounts myth is not a dismissive or derogatory way of saying ―it never happened.‖ One definition of
myth is ―worldview cast in narrative form.‖ See Appendix 2: The Creation story as “divine myth,” page 13.
5
One example of a Latter-day Saint who accepted this is 19th-century LDS apostle Orson Pratt, who taught this in many
venues over a period of time. See, for example, ―The Pre-existence of Man,‖ The Seer 1/4 (April 1853), 57–58
(http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/18094).
6
This interpretation is found in Brigham Young‘s teaching that Adam was physically born of a mother and brought to this
earth, and that the Genesis account is allegorical, one of ―the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child.‖ Journal of
Discourses 2:6 (http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/2/1#6). See also JD 3:319; 7:285
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 3
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
v) Again, this is a theological spectrum—faithful, believing Latter-day Saints can be
found on all sides of this issue.
e) None of these interpretations are revealed and endorsed by the Church. All of them are
possibilities; we don‘t know yet which is correct.
7

i) [SLIDE 5] In response to the question, ―In just what manner did the mortal bodies
of Adam and Eve come into existence on this earth?‖, President Joseph F. Smith
wrote in an editorial in the Improvement Era, the Church‘s magazine for priesthood
quorums:
Of course, all are familiar with the statements in Genesis…[and] also in the Book of
Moses…and in the Book of Abraham…. [Abraham 5:7] reads: “And the Gods formed
man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the man’s spirit) and
put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a
living soul.”
These are the authentic statements of the scriptures, ancient and modern, and it
is best to rest with these, until the Lord shall see fit to give more light on the
subject. Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present
perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of
our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with
immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of
natural foods, in the process of time; whether they were born here in mortality, as
other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of
God.
8

ii) [SLIDE 6] In 1931—after an intense debate between general authorities on death
before the Fall and the existence of humans before Adam—the First Presidency of the
Church sent a memorandum to all of the General Authorities of the Church on the
matter, and concluded:
Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to
bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology,
archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the
souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm
of the Church…. Upon one thing we should all be able to agree, namely, that [the
First Presidency, writing in 1909] were right when they said: “Adam is the primal
parent of our race.”
9


7
In 1992 BYU prepared a packet to be used in science classes, entitled Evolution and the Origin of Man, that included
statements by the First Presidency on the subject of human evolution
(http://biology.byu.edu/DepartmentInfo/EvolutionandtheOriginofMan.aspx). William E. Evenson, then dean of the College of
Physical and Mathematical Sciences, wrote: ―If one included statements by LDS apostles in a handout on evolution, the range
of views would include some statements against evolution, some sympathetic to evolution and several shades of opinion in
between. We want to avoid the implication that a greater sense of unanimity or resolution of this topic exists than is actually
the case….‖ Evenson, ―Evolution packet defined,‖ BYU Daily Universe, 12 November 1992, 3
(http://www.sciencebysteve.net/wp-content/papers/EvolutionPacket.pdf). For a history of the packet itself, see Stephen Ott,
―An Explanation of the BYU Library Packet on Evolution,‖ Perspective 4/2 (Spring 2004), 30–37
(http://www.byui.edu/Documents/instructional_development/Perspective/V4n2/v4n2_ott_s.pdf).
8
―Priesthood Quorums‘ Table,‖ Improvement Era 13/6 (April 1910), 570
(http://archive.org/stream/improvementera1306unse#page/570). The article itself does not have a byline, but Joseph F.
Smith and Edward H. Anderson were co-editors of the Improvement Era and would have either written its unsigned content
or had someone write it with their approval.
9
First Presidency memorandum, 7 April 1931; quoted in Richard Sherlock, ―‗We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation
of the Discussion:‘ The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,‖ Dialogue 13/3 (Fall 1980), 70 (63–78)
(https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V13N03_65.pdf). See also the follow-up article by
Jeffrey E. Keller, ―Discussion Continued: The Sequel to the Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,‖ Dialogue 15/1 (Spring 1982), 79–
98 (https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V15N01_81.pdf).
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 4
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
f) While we need to read the scriptures carefully and closely, we also need to be careful not
to over-read them; that is, we should be very careful about extracting from them
information that they don't actually offer, and recognizing their limits.
i) Just as a Geiger counter can‘t tell you the temperature, and a thermometer can‘t tell
you the wind speed, we need to be certain that we don‘t try to get from the scriptures
information that they never intended to convey.
ii) [SLIDE 7] Elder James E. Talmage cautioned:
Let us not try to wrest the scriptures in an attempt to explain away what we can
not explain. The opening chapters of Genesis, and scriptures related thereto, were
never intended as a text-book of geology, archaeology, earth-science or man-
science…. We do not show reverence for the scriptures when we misapply them
through faulty interpretation.
10

iii) Having identified possible ways to interpret the creation accounts, let‘s look now at
what the texts say.
3) Genesis 1–2 and Hebrew cosmology.
a) To set the stage for our study of the creation, I‘m going to set forth the ancient Hebrew
understanding of cosmology.
i) Cosmology is the study of the origins and development of the universe. Throughout
the history of the world, each civilization has had an idea of what the universe looks
like and how it was made. This is the one envisioned by ancient Hebrews:
b) The writers of the Old Testament assumed a geocentric view of the universe.
11

i) [SLIDE 8] A geocentric view is one in which the earth is at the center, and all other
things revolve around it.
ii) Geocentrism was the view of virtually all other ancient cultures, including Near
Eastern cultures like the Sumerians, the Egyptians, and the Babylonians.
12

(1) [SLIDE 9] To anyone who stands and looks at the sky, it appears obvious that the
earth stays in one place while everything in the sky rises and sets each day.
13

(2) [SLIDE 10] To the ground-based observer, the world appears to be flat, and the
sky appears to be a dome.

The reference to 1909 is the First Presidency statement, ―The Origin of Man,‖ the full text of which is in the BYU evolution
packet (see footnote 7).
10
James E. Talmage, ―The Earth and Man,‖ address delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah, 9 August 1931.
Originally published in the Deseret News, Church Section, 21 November 1931, 7–8. Subsequently published as a pamphlet by
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931. Later published in The Instructor 100/12 (December 1965), 474–77
(http://archive.org/stream/instructor10012dese#page/n11); continued in 101/1 (January 1966), 9–15
(http://archive.org/stream/instructor1011dese#page/n10). Partially quoted in George A. Horton, Jr., ―A Prophet Looks at
Genesis,‖ Ensign, January 1986, 40 (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/01/a-prophet-looks-at-genesis).
11
See Appendix 1: Old Testament references to Hebrew cosmology, on page 12, for a list of scriptures on the ancient
Hebrew view of the universe.
12
This viewpoint is reflected in the name of the Mediterranean Sea, which derives from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning
―in the middle of earth.‖ This body of water was believed by Greeks and Romans to lie in the center of the world, between the
European and African continents.
13
The only exception to geocentrism in scripture is found in an aside made by Mormon: ―For surely it is the earth that
moveth and not the sun‖ (Helaman 12:14–15). There‘s no indication whether Mormon‘s belief was based on revelation or
personal deduction. It‘s not central to Mormon‘s argument, but simply tossed out, almost as a challenge to geocentrists. (If it
was a universal view among the Nephites, he may not have mentioned it.) Some ancient astronomers—notably the Greeks and
the Indians—speculated on the idea of a sun-centered universe, so the idea was not unique to the Nephites. And, strictly
speaking, Helaman 12 isn‘t correct: the sun is also moving in its galactic orbit, and our galaxy is part of an expanding universe.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 5
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
iii) [SLIDE 11] Geocentrism gradually gave way, in the 16th and 17th centuries, to a
heliocentric view—one in which the sun is at the center of the universe.
14

(1) The reason there was so much resistance from the Roman Catholic Church to
abandoning geocentrism is that it is taught in the Bible.
(2) Even though we‘ve known for 500 years that the earth is rotating, we still use
geocentric terms in our language, like ―the sun comes up in the morning‖ and
―the sun goes down at night.‖
c) [SLIDE 12] The ancient records Joseph Smith‘s translated also have a geocentric view:
i) The cosmology in the Book of Abraham explains that the moon and other celestial
bodies are ―above the earth‖ (Abraham 3:5, 17) and that the heavens are constructed
―one planet above another, until thou come nigh [near] unto Kolob…which Kolob is
set nigh unto the throne of God‖ (Abraham 3:9).
15

(1) The Lord revealed this system to Abraham in order to symbolically teach him
(and us) a spiritual principle that intelligences are graded—one spirit is more
intelligent than another, just as one celestial object is above another, and the
Lord is greater than all the intelligences, just as Kolob is above all the other
celestial bodies (Abraham 3:17–19).
ii) Moses was shown ―the earth, yea, even all of it‖ (Moses 1:27), but he also ―beheld
many lands; and each land was called earth‖ (Moses 1:29) and was told ―only an
account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you‖ (Moses 1:35; cf.
1:40).
(1) This corresponds with the Hebrew use of the word earth, which means ―land,‖
not ―the third planet from the sun.‖
(a) As a heliocentric view of the universe began to develop, the word earth was
redefined to refer to the planet on which we live.
(b) We need to be careful that we don‘t overlay our modern understanding on
ancient writings (the fallacy of presentism).
(i) This concept will also be important when we discuss the great flood of
Noah‘s time.
d) [SLIDE 13] Hebrew cosmology is not a scientific or modern view of the universe. It is
based on the predominant view of the universe that existed during the time the Old
Testament was written (just as our view of the universe is based on common
understanding today).
i) God understands the universe on a level we cannot comprehend, so he explains
things to us on a level we can comprehend. The model with the sun rising and setting
above the earth each day was something the Old Testament Hebrews understood, so
God used that model to teach important theological truths.

14
Heliocentrism itself has since given way to the understanding that our sun is one of up to 400 billion stars in our galaxy,
which is one of more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe. (That‘s approximately 10
24
stars.)
15
See John Gee, William J. Hamblin, and Daniel C. Peterson, ―‗And I Saw the Stars‘: The Book of Abraham and Ancient
Geocentric Astronomy,‖ in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, edited by John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Provo, Utah:
FARMS, 2005), 1–16 (http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=40&chapid=161). This interpretation of
Abraham 3 is very clear and makes the most sense to me. Others see Abraham 3 as supporting the modern scientific view of the
universe; see Michael D. Rhodes and J. Ward Moody, ―Astronomy and the Creation in the Book of Abraham,‖ in Astronomy,
Papyrus, and Covenant, 17–36 (http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=40&chapid=162).
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 6
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
ii) The revelations in scripture are not about science—they focus on the message of
salvation, and the story of individuals who encountered and responded to that
message.
iii) While God does reveal through the light of Christ truths about the physical sciences,
the scriptures aren‘t the forum for that message.
16

iv) So it should not bother us that God worked (and continues to work with) the
common beliefs and assumptions of human beings as we struggle to understand our
place in the cosmos. Eventually all of these things will be made known to us:
Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all
things—Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of
the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof. (D&C
101:32–33.)
v) In my opinion, we should not try to convert Biblical statements on the creation—or
those from modern revelation—into scientific statements.
4) With that introduction behind us, let‘s examine the creation narratives in Genesis, Moses,
and Abraham, and see what they have to tell us.
a) [SLIDE 14] All three narratives have two accounts of the creation:
i) The first, comprising Genesis 1:1–2:3, represents the creation taking place over six
days.
ii) The second, comprising Genesis 2:4–2:25, has some significant differences from the
first account:
Genesis 1:1–2:3 Genesis 2:4–2:25
Creation accomplished over six
creative periods called ―days.‖
No division of creation into units
of time.
Order of creation:
1. Light
2. Sea and sky
3. Land and plants
4. Heavenly bodies
5. Fish and birds
6. Land animals and man
Order of creation:
1. Heavens and earth
2. Water (mist)
3. Man
4. Garden of Eden
5. Land animals and birds
6. Woman
God is referred to only as ―God.‖ God is referred to by his personal
name, Jehovah (―the LORD‖).
iii) [SLIDE 15] Some Latter-day Saints have tried to reconcile these two accounts by
theorizing that one represents a ―spiritual‖ creation, while the other is a ―natural‖
creation—with natural interpreted to mean ―physical.‖
17


16
Latter-day Saints often say that there is no conflict between ―true science and true religion.‖ Unfortunately, it seems to
me that this phrase has all too often been used to subtly convey that science is mistaken, and, if it were correct, it would align
with the scriptures as we interpret them. Rather, I believe we should be willing to accept the truths of science that God has
revealed, and not be overly rigid with our personal interpretations of scripture.
17
One prominent supporter of this interpretation was Cleon Skousen; see The First 2000 Years (Bookcraft, 1953), 19–25.
Skousen quotes B.H. Roberts in defense of his belief (24). Joseph Fielding Smith rejected this interpretation; see Doctrines of
Salvation (Salt Lake City, Bookcraft, 1954), 1:75–76. Harold B. Lee also considered it merely a ―theory‖ of ―some learned men
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 7
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
(1) This is based on the comment in Moses 3:5, ―For I, the Lord God, created all
things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the
face of the earth.‖
(2) But the material starting in the second account doesn‘t parallel that in the first—
it‘s a completely different account.
(3) Genesis 2:4 starts with ―These are the generations….‖ This is a typical starting
phrase for a new narrative.
18

(4) Also note that Moses 3:5 doesn‘t say physically, it says naturally. This could be
taken to mean that they were created in a higher or perfect state before they
existed in a mortal, fallen state.
(a) Paul uses spiritual and natural in this exact way in 1 Corinthians 15:44.
19

(5) It seems to me that the difference between the two creation accounts is better
explained as the combining of two separate textual sources, as the Documentary
Hypothesis theorizes.
20

b) [SLIDE 16] One other point on the creative process: The Hebrew word translated create
(Hebrew ארב / bara’) always describes the divine activity of fashioning something new.
i) Note that that bara’ does not require creation ―out of nothing‖ (Latin ex nihilo)—
man is created from preexisting materials in Genesis 1:27.
21

ii) Abraham 4:1 uses the phrase ―organized and formed,‖ which captures the meaning
well.
iii) It also has the context of renewing—taking something bad and making it good (as
seen on day 1):
Create (bara’) in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me
(Psalm 51:10).
5) The first creation narrative.
a) [SLIDE 17] Day 1: The first creation narrative begins with chaos; specifically, a watery
chaos (Genesis 1:2–5; Moses 2:2–5; Abraham 4:2–5).
22

i) The creation started with a dark, shapeless, empty, chaotic, unorganized, watery
mass.
ii) God‘s first creative act was light. He did not eliminate darkness, but established a
boundary between light and dark.

in the Church‖; James B. Allen, ―Harold B. Lee: An Appreciation, Both Historical and Personal,‖ Dialogue 8/3–4 (1973), 16
(https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V08N0304_16.pdf).
18
See Genesis 10:1; 25:19; 36:1; Exodus 1:1; Deuteronomy 1:1.
19
―Now what is a spiritual body? It is one that is quickened by spirit and not by blood.‖ Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines
of Salvation 1:76; italics in the original.
20
See notes to lesson 2, pages 3–5 (https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/ot/week02).
21
Historically, no one in the ancient Near East believed in creation ex nihilo; for them, the opposite of creation was not
nothingness, but chaos. The doctrine of ex nihilo creation was a much later development. John Walton has recently
demonstrated that bara’ means ―to bring something into functional existence‖ or ―to assign a function to something.‖ In other
words, when you bara' something, you're assigning it a role within a system; not building it out of nothing. See John H.
Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity
Press, 2009), 38–46.
22
I am grateful to LDS scholar David Tayman for his kind permission in allowing me to use images from his blog
(http://improvementera.com) in the accompanying PowerPoint presentation.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 8
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
(1) This metaphor appears throughout scripture. Life on earth is portrayed as a
contest between good and evil, organization and chaos, light and dark.
23

b) [SLIDE 18] Day 2: On this day, God created a ―firmament in the midst of the waters
[to] divide the waters from the waters‖ (Genesis 1:6–8; Moses 2:6–8; Abraham 4:6–8).
i) The Hebrew word here
24
refers to a ―dome‖ or ―vault.‖
(1) The Book of Abraham calls it an ―expanse,‖
25
meaning something spread out.
26

ii) According to other Old Testament passages, the firmament is described as strong
and shiny.
27
To the ancients the sky seemed like a crystal or metallic dome.
iii) [SLIDE 19] This dome separated the waters below (the source of oceans and rivers)
from the waters above (the source of clouds and rain).
iv) There were openings in the dome—called ―the windows of heaven‖—through which
God could cast down rain or other blessings.
28

v) The firmament was called ―heaven‖ (Genesis 1:8).
(1) In the Old Testament the word ―heaven‖ in means either ―heaven‖ (the dwelling-
place of God
29
) or ―sky,‖ depending on the context. In the creation account, it
means ―sky‖ (this is the way it‘s rendered in many modern Bible translations).
30

c) Day 3: God caused the waters below to recede, creating dry land. He commanded
vegetation, plants, and trees to grow. (Genesis 1:9–13; Moses 2:9–13; Abraham 4:9–13.)
i) Here, again, the word earth means ―land,‖ not ―the planet earth.‖
ii) God has divided light from darkness (Genesis 1:4), the waters above from the waters
below (1:7), and the seas from the land (1:9), and now he has divided plant life so
that each type reproduced ―after his kind.‖ Each of these steps created order from
chaos.
d) [SLIDE 20] Day 4: God created ―lights in the firmament‖ (Genesis 1:14–19; Moses
2:14–19; Abraham 4:14–19).
31

i) These are the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars—the celestial bodies that
travel across the expanse of the sky each day.

23
The Gospel of John makes particular use of the contest between light and dark; see John 1:4–9; 3:19–21; 5:35; 8:12; 9:5;
11:9–10; 12:35–36, 46.
24
עיקך (raquia’). The King James Translators didn‘t know what to do with this word, so they punted and simply
Anglicized the Latin word firmamentum, which is the word used in the Vulgate Bible in this passage.
25
Abraham 4:6–8, 14–15, 17, 20.
26
―A spreading.‖ Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 ed., s.v. ―Expanse,‖ defs. 3 & 4
(http://archive.org/stream/americandictiona01websrich#page/704).
27
Job 37:18 refers to the skies poured out like a molten mirror, and Daniel 12:3 and Ezekiel 1:22 portray it as shiny.
28
See Genesis 7:11; 8:2; 2 Kings 7:2, 19; Malachi 3:10.
29
This is the origin of the ―heaven in the clouds‖ mythology (with angels sitting on clouds, playing harps, etc.). God was
thought to dwell above the firmament, so we talk about Elijah being taken ―up to heaven,‖ etc.
30
The firmament (עיקך / raquia’) is not the same as they sky (םימשה / shamayim). The expanse separates the waters
from the waters, creating a place for the sky to form.
31
This is another major indicator that the creation steps in Genesis 1:1–2:3 are not based on actual science. The first
creation account has earth created first, and the celestial bodies (sun, moon, stars) later. But our sun (and other stars) existed
long before the earth did, and the earth formed in orbit around the sun.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 9
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
ii) Most ancient civilizations believed the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies were
gods. The revealed creation account corrects this by teaching these objects were
created by God for the purposes of dividing day and night and marking out years and
seasonal celebrations.
32

e) [SLIDE 21] This is the complete Hebrew cosmological model.
i) The earth is a flat disk separated from the waters above by the firmament and from
the waters below by the foundations of earth.
ii) Beyond the firmament is the dwelling-place of God.
iii) Below the earth is Sheol (לואש), the dwelling-place of the spirits of the dead.
f) [SLIDE 22] Day 5: Next, God created creatures in the water and the air (Genesis 1:20–
23; Moses 2:20–23; Abraham 4:20–23).
i) This is the first stage of the creation where God ―blessed‖ his creations. The Hebrew
word translated ―blessed‖ (ךרביו / bawrak) means ―to enrich; to endow,‖ and in this
context probably refers to God‘s giving the animals the capacity to reproduce. He
then commanded them to fulfill this blessing.
g) Day 6: Finally, God created land creatures and humans (Genesis 1:24–31; Moses 2:24–
31; Abraham 4:24–31).
i) There are three groups of land animals here: wild (undomesticated) animals, cattle
(domesticated livestock), and things that creep or move close to the ground (such as
reptiles and rodents).
ii) [SLIDE 23] ―Make,‖ in verse 26, is a plural verb (Hebrew / n’sah), implying that
there are at least two individuals indicated in the Genesis story.
(1) This is explicit in both Moses 2:26 and Abraham 4:26.
(2) In its ancient Israelite context the plural typically refers to God and his heavenly
court,
33
which we discussed back in lesson one.
34

(3) The implication is that these others share in God‘s ―image‖ and ―likeness,‖ after
which they can pattern mankind.
iii) ―Replenish,‖ in verse 28, is better translated ―fill.‖
(1) The Hebrew word (ואלמו / mahlaw) does not carry the meaning of ―re-fill‖ (that
is to say, the earth was filled, then emptied, and now needs to be filled again). The
same word is correctly translated ―fill‖ in verse 22.
h) Day 7: Rest (Genesis 2:1–3; Moses 3:1–3; Abraham 5:1–3).
i) The word ―rested‖ (KJV) means ―ceased‖ (NET) or ―stopped.‖
(1) The Hebrew word is shabbat (תכשיו), from which we get our English word
Sabbath.

32
Notice here that God did not teach the ancient Hebrews quantum mechanics and relativity. Instead, he took their
existing beliefs (geocentrism) and corrected it only slightly so that they would worship the one true God.
33
See 1 Kings 22:19–22; Job 1:6–12; 2:1–6; Isaiah 6:1–8; see also Zechariah 3:1–10.
34
See notes to week 1, pages 8–9; http://scr.bi/LDSARCOT01n
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 10
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
(2) This verse was clearly written after the commandment to rest on the Sabbath,
and is used as an answer to the question ―why do we rest?‖
6) The second creation narrative.
a) [SLIDE 24] The second narrative opens with the first use in the Bible of the personal
name of God: Jehovah.
i) This word is made of four Hebrew letters: הוהי (YHWH).
(1) The word itself is sometimes known as the tetragrammaton (Greek
τετραγράμματον / ―having four letters‖).
(2) It appears about 6,600 times in the Hebrew text of the Bible, more than any other
name for God.
(3) It was probably pronounced ―Yahweh‖ anciently.
(a) I say ―probably‖ because we don‘t know for certain. Ancient Jews considered
the name too holy to say out loud, so, as they read the scriptures, when they
would come to the word, they wouldn‘t speak it. Instead they replaced it with
another Hebrew word: adonai (ינךא), which means ―lord.‖
(i) This practice was followed by the King James translators,
35
as well as in
most other English Bible translations.
36

1. So when you see the word ―LORD‖ in small capitals in your Bible, that‘s
an indication that the original Hebrew word there is Jehovah.
37

(4) The word YHWH derives from the verb ―to be,‖ so the name simply means, ―He is.‖
(5) The divine name was the basis for the names of many individuals in the Old
Testament, such as Isaiah (―Jehovah is salvation‖), Jeremiah (―Jehovah exalts‖),
and Jehoshaphat (―Jehovah is the judge‖).
ii) [SLIDE 25] Up until this point, and about 2,750 times overall throughout the Old
Testament, God is simply referred to as God.
(1) That Hebrew word is elohim (םיהלא), a plural noun which simply means ―gods.‖
(a) The creation account in the Book of Abraham translates it in the plural.
(b) Elohim sometimes refers to the gods of the nations that surrounded Israel,
38

but usually it refers to the God of Israel.
(c) The root of this word is el, and you‘ll see that combined with other words in
the Old Testament, such as el elyon (―Most High God‖)
39
and el shaddai
(―God Almighty‖).
40


35
The name is translated ―Jehovah‖ only four times in the KJV: Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4.
36
The most notable exception to this is the New World Translation of Jehovah‘s Witnesses, who translate the divine name
as ―Jehovah‖ throughout the Old Testament (and insert it into the New Testament) based on its importance in their theology.
See http://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/genesis/2/
37
The name/title ―Lord‖ appears throughout LDS scripture (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, etc.) as well,
but is not capitalized.
38
See, for example, Exodus 12:12; Leviticus 19:4; Deuteronomy 6:14; Isaiah 36:18–20.
39
See, for example, Genesis 14:18–22; Psalm 78:56; Daniel 3:26; 5:18, 21. Also elyon in Deuteronomy 32:8.
40
See, for example, Genesis 17:1; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3. The Lord told Moses at the burning bush, ―I appeared unto Abraham,
unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty [el shaddai], but by my name JEHOVAH [yhwy] was I not known to
them‖ (Exodus 6:3).
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 11
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
(d) It too appears as part of the names of individuals, including Gabriel
(―Strength of God‖), Michael (―Who is like God?‖), Daniel (―God‘s Judgment‖)
and Israel (―one who has struggled with God‖).
iii) [SLIDE 26] Latter-day Saints today use Elohim and Jehovah as name-titles to refer
to God the Father and Jesus Christ, respectively.
(1) However, our identification of Jesus as Jehovah is more of a ―rule of thumb‖ than
a hard and fast rule that can apply to every scriptural passage.
41

(a) [26.1] Take, for example, Psalm 110:1:
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine
enemies thy footstool.
(i) [26.2] In Hebrew the first ―LORD‖ (in small capitals) is Jehovah, and the
second ―Lord‖ (in lowercase) is adonai.
1. So here we have Jehovah saying to the Psalmist‘s lord (King David),
―Sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool‖
(NET).
(ii) The author of the New Testament book of Hebrews identified the first
Lord as the Father, and the second lord as Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:13; 8:1;
10:12–13; 12:2).
42

1. This means that, according to Hebrews, Jehovah in Psalm 110:1 should
be identified as God the Father.
(b) So while the majority of scriptural passages that mention Jehovah can rightly
be interpreted to mean Jesus Christ, we need to make sure we don‘t overstress
this rule, or require the early Latter-day Saints to interpret it the same way we
do today.
b) [SLIDE 27] In Genesis 2:7 human life is described as consisting of a body (made from
soil from the ground) and spirit (given by God). Together they are ―a living soul.‖
i) Compare D&C 88:15: ―And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.‖
ii) Moses 3:9 and 3:19 indicate that plants and animals, in addition to men, are also
―living souls.‖
43

c) Genesis 2:16 is the first time that the verb ―to command‖ (הוצ / tsavah) appears.
i) The main focus of the narrative is on keeping God‘s commandments. God created
humans with the capacity to obey him and then tested them ―to see if they will do all
things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them‖ (Abraham 3:25).

41
For more on the LDS usage of Jehovah, see Doctrine and Covenants lesson 22, pages 6–7
(https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/dc/week22).
42
In Hebrews 1:13 the writer rhetorically asks ―But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I
make thine enemies thy footstool?‖, with the intent of showing the Jesus is superior to the angels because God the Father told
him, and no one else, to sit at his right hand. See New Testament lesson 26, page 3
(https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/nt/week26).
43
This is supported by Hebrew, in which the word שפל (neh’fesh) is translated ―soul‖ in Genesis 2:7, but also ―creature‖ in
Genesis 1:21, 24; 2:19; 9:10–16, where it refers to animals.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 12
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
d) In Genesis 2:18 we come to the English phrase ―help meet.‖
i) It‘s unfortunate that this phrase has picked up the connotation of subservience in
English, because the Hebrew doesn‘t suggest a subordinate role.
(1) Sometimes the phrase is even incorrectly joined into a single noun—―helpmeet.‖
ii) In Hebrew the phrase literally means ―a helper according to the opposite‖ of the
man.
In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable
companion.” The woman would supply what the man was lacking in the design of
creation and logically it would follow that the man would supply what she was
lacking….
44

e) Genesis 2:20 is the first time the KJV translates ―Adam‖ as a proper name.
i) The Hebrew word (םדא / ’adam) has already appeared several times, starting in 1:26,
where is it translated ―man.‖
45

ii) The Hebrew word literally means ―mankind‖ or ―humankind‖ and is a play on words
from the word for ―ground‖ (adamah), from which man was created.
46

iii) I think this is significant, because it makes Adam a type or model that represents
each of us on our journey through life (a concept that is taught in the temple
endowment).
f) Genesis 2:21–22 describes the creation of Eve.
i) President Spencer W. Kimball taught that ―the story of the rib, of course, is
figurative.‖
47

ii) The Hebrew text does not mention a rib, but reads, ―and he took one from his sides.‖
That idea may fit better the explanation by the man that the woman is his flesh and
bone.
7) What do learn from the creation accounts, and how should we approach them?
a) [SLIDE 28] The scriptural view of creation is not in conflict with modern science; they
ask different questions than science and get different answers. The scriptures are only in
conflict with any worldview that asserts there is no Creator.
b) We don‘t know how the earth was made (D&C 101:32–33), but we do know that God
planned it and carried it out with the express purpose that it be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18).
i) Whatever method he used to create life, it did not appear here by accident or random
chance.
c) The Family Proclamation states, ―All human beings—male and female—are created in
the image of God,‖ and the Lord states in the creation accounts, ―It is not good that the
man should be alone‖ (Genesis 2:18; Moses 3:18; Abraham 5:14).
48


44
NET Bible (1st edition), Genesis 2:18, footnote (http://net.bible.org/#!bible/Gen+2:18).
45
It appears 552 times in the Old Testament, with the KJV rendering it ―man‖ or ―men‖ 529 times, and ―Adam‖ 13 times.
46
See also Adam interpreted as ―many‖ in Moses 1:34. This is an appropriate, if indirect, translation, because mankind is
numerous on the face of the earth.
47
Spencer W. Kimball, ―The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,‖ Ensign, March 1976, 71
(http://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/03/the-blessings-and-responsibilities-of-womanhood).
48
―The Family: A Proclamation to the World,‖ 23 September 1995 (http://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation).
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 13
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
i) Reproduction is more than a biological factor; it is a commandment, one that
―remains in force.‖
d) Men and women have been given dominion over the earth and animals, and, as
stewards, we are responsible for how we treat them (Proverbs 12:10; D&C 49:18–21; JST
Genesis 9:11).
8) [SLIDE 29] Next week:
a) The Fall, the telestial world, Cain and Abel (Genesis 3–4; Moses 4:1–6:9).
Appendix 1: Old Testament references to Hebrew cosmology
The following list contains examples of Old Testament references to ancient Hebrew view of
the cosmos. This list is representative, not comprehensive; many more references could be
cited in addition to those below.
1. The ―heaven of heavens,‖ God‘s heavenly seat above heaven (the sky) where he looks
down upon his creations:
 Deuteronomy 10:14.
 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18.
 Psalm 33:14.
 Ezekiel 1:26; 10:1 (God‘s throne is above the firmament).
 Nehemiah 9:6.
2. The firmament or expanse, the reflective dome that stretches out to cover the earth:
 Genesis 1:6–8, 14–17, 20.
 Job 37:18.
 Psalms 19:1; 104:2.
 Isaiah 40:22 (the sky is compared to a tent); 51:13.
 Ezekiel 1:22.
 Daniel 12:3.
 Zechariah 12:1.
3. The ―waters above the firmament‖ or ―waters above the heavens,‖ the ocean-like
expanse above the firmament, but below God:
 Genesis 1:7.
 Psalm 148:4.
 (See also Revelation 4:6; 15:2, where there is a ―sea of glass‖ before the throne of
God.)
4. The ―windows of heaven‖ or ―doors of heaven,‖ floodgates in the firmament that let
down rain or blessings from God:
 Genesis 7:11; 8:2.
 2 Kings 7:2, 19.
 Psalm 78:23.
 Isaiah 24:18.
 Malachi 3:10.
 (See also Genesis 28:10–19, where Jacob has a vision of a ladder going up into
heaven (the sky), through the ―gate of heaven.‖)
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 14
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
5. The earth stands still, while the sun, moon, and stars go around it:
49

 1 Chronicles 16:30; Psalms 93:1; 96:10 (the world is stable or established, so it
cannot move).
 Psalm 19:1–6 (the sun has a ―tabernacle‖ where it waits overnight).
6. The earth is a flat disk (or ―circle‖), with ―edges‖ or ―ends‖:
 Job 28:24.
 Psalms 72:8; 135:7.
 Isaiah 11:12; 40:22.
 Jeremiah 16:19.
 (See also Acts 13:47; Revelation 7:1; 20:8.)
7. The ―pillars of heaven‖ or ―foundations of heaven,‖ posts at the edge of the earth that
hold up the firmament:
 2 Samuel 22:8.
 Job 26:11.
8. The ―fountains of the deep‖ or ―the great deep‖ (abyss), the waters underneath the
earth:
 Genesis 7:11; 8:2.
 Psalm 24:1–2.
 Proverbs 8:28.
 Isaiah 51:10.
 Amos 7:4.
9. The ―pillars of earth‖ or ―foundations of the earth,‖ supports under the earth that keep it
above the waters of the great deep:
 1 Samuel 2:8.
 2 Samuel 22:16.
 Job 9:6; 38:4.
 Psalms 75:3; 82:5; 102:25; 104:5.
 Proverbs 8:29.
 Isaiah 24:18; 48:13; 51:13, 16.
 Jeremiah 31:37.
 Micah 6:2.
 Zechariah 12:1.
10. Sheol (translated ―hell,‖ ―grave,‖ or ―pit‖), the underworld realm of dead spirits:
 Numbers 16:30, 33.
 Deuteronomy 32:22.
 Job 7:9; 11:8.
 Psalms 30:3; 55:15.
 Proverbs 9:18; 15:24.
 Isaiah 14:9, 15.
 Ezekiel 31:16–17.
 See also Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 16:23; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:13.

49
This web page has (from a believer‘s perspective!) ―sixty-seven scriptural references which tell us that it is the sun and
not the earth that moves‖: http://www.fixedearth.com/sixty-seven%20references.htm
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: The Creation Week 3, Page 15
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Appendix 2: The Creation story as “divine myth”
The creation narratives in Genesis, Moses, Abraham, and the temple endowment are
mythological accounts. By that I mean they are stories with morals to tell, not documentary
history or science textbooks.
50

The accounts we read in ancient scripture were not written by people who were concerned with
historical accuracy in the way we are today. They were storytellers, and their stories were
designed to teach moral and theological principles. There may have been a historical basis for
many of these stories, but they were written according to the interpretations of the writers who
were not above embellishing them or molding them to suit a pedagogical purpose.
We see this repeatedly in the Book of Mormon. Mormon, the abridger of the Nephite history,
wasn‘t just writing history for history‘s sake; he wanted to send a message. So, quite often in
his narrative, he paused to tell us ―thus we see,‖ followed by the moral of the story.
51

This sort of thing still goes on today in our culture: Most children have heard about George
Washington and how, when he was a boy, he chopped down a cherry tree and then confessed to
the deed. ―I cannot tell a lie,‖ he reportedly said. Now, this story is pure myth—Washington
never did or said any such thing. The point of the story is to turn the ―father of our country‖
into a role model to demonstrate to children the importance of honesty. But no sane individual
would claim, because there was no cherry tree incident, that therefore George Washington was
a fictional character!
So it is with ancient scripture: We can affirm that there was a historical Adam without having
to literally accept everything the Bible says about him (that he was made from dirt, that God
took a rib out of his side to make Eve, etc.).
Likewise with the rest of creation in Genesis 1–2: I believe that the accounts present an
ancient, mythological view of the world, not a modern, scientific one. The earth was not created
in six literal days; the sky is not a solid dome that holds back the waters; etc. The scriptures are
telling a story with a moral (God is the creator; the creations are not gods), not revealing
science.

50
For a definition of the way I‘m using the word ―myth‖ here, see Encyclopedia Mythica, s.v. ―Mythology‖
(http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/mythology.html): ―A story of forgotten or vague origin, basically religious or
supernatural in nature, which seeks to explain or rationalize one or more aspects of the world or a society…. All myths are, at
some stage, actually believed to be true by the peoples of the societies that used or originated the myth. Our definition is thus
clearly distinguished from the use of the word myth in everyday speech which basically refers to any unreal or imaginary story.
A myth is also distinctly different from an allegory or parable which is a story deliberately made up to illustrate some moral
point but which has never been assumed to be true by anyone. Some myths describe some actual historical event, but have
been embellished and refashioned by various story tellers over time so that it is impossible to tell what really happened. In this
last aspect myths have a legendary and historical nature.‖
51
See, for example, Alma 28:13; 30:60; 42:14; 46:8; 50:19; Helaman 3:28; 12:3.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful