Out of the Past

some of it anecdotal.’ he had to know what from the past had been lost in order to restore it. dealt with an ancient culture with a rich heritage that scholars are still trying to fully fathom. which he explained with self-assured confidence and considerable accuracy at a time when scholars knew little or nothing about their meaning.THINGS AS THEY ARE. I t’s evident from the abundance of information he bequeath the church that he had a profound understanding of the past. One could go on for pages. the other in the past. So. In fact. this was the question that prompted one of the early searches this author initiated into ancient history: Did Joseph Smith describe a world in the past that was in any way notably different from the one we know today? The search yielded a wealth of evidence. Joseph would have had something to say about it. indeed. in order to effect a ‘restoration. Given that fact. that. some of it direct. ancient history played a huge role in the prophet’s life and career. his entire journey as a modern prophet began because he sought for the original. The gold plates entrusted to him contained the ancient history of at least two migrations to the New World long before Columbus. The Egyptian papyri. listing his research into and exposure to the past. In fact. primitive church. WERE � ARE TO COME Out of the Past © 2006 Anthony E. Joseph knew of and taught . Larson Joseph Smith lived his life with one foot in the present. it would be natural to expect that if anything closely approximating what this author affirms about dramatic changes in the heavens and the earth occasioned by past planetary catastrophes. That is.

what Orson Hyde called “one grand constellation of worlds. and that if they could get a tower high enough they might get to heaven where the City of Enoch and the inhabitants thereof were located. to attain one of the starry planets. speaking of the Tower of Babel story. “But the Prophet Joseph Smith. amplified on this idea. “About the time of Abraham. we have the Philo Dibble illustration. one of the heavenly bodies. but to reach Zion. For example. presented to him by Joseph Smith. and that the city was within the first sphere above the earth. planets explains the follow- .” a concept that he undoubtedly learned from Joseph. which was then suspended in mid-air between heaven and earth. whose job it was to shed light upon the darkness of this generation. Philo Dibble’s illustration from Joseph Smith’s This picture of the ancient description of the planets very close together Earth with its companion and rotating in tandem. another Apostle.” Orson Pratt. “… the object of the people who built the Tower of Babel (was) to reach heaven. which gives us a virtual picture of Earth in a tandem arrangement with other planets that makes the above statements meaningful. Whitney said. … They thought that the City of Enoch was caught up a little ways from the earth. the Tower of Babel was built. is said to have declared that it was not their intention to reach heaven. This was Joseph’s vision of what the ancient heavens looked like. or one of the stars simply by piling brick upon brick and stone upon stone. moon. Apostle Orson F. This certainly is more reasonable. “… I cannot conceive how … a race of people … could cherish the idea that they could actually reach the sun.” Of course. saying.Out of the Past 3 about a very different heaven and earth than the one we see today. or at such a height as to render the project feasible.

and you will note how their eyes glaze over. Given the unbounded interest of their church’s founder in the past. Instead. Unlike our founder. temporal picture of the ancients’ world in order to more fully understand the perspective offered in their writings. And lds scholars have simply avoided quoting such observations because they don’t fit the “scientific” or “logical” worldview we embrace and are therefore an embarrassment or an enigma to them. the entire study of the gospel has become an exercise designed to give everything a spiritual meaning. we tend to spiritualize what we don’t understand.” a position diametrically opposed to our founding prophet’s perspective. substituting metaphysical or supernatural explanations to fill the gaps in our understanding.Out of the Past 4 ing statement by Apostle Orson Pratt: “The Prophet Joseph once in my hearing advanced his opinion that the Ten Tribes were separated from the Earth or a portion of the Earth was. Yet. So. as it turns out. the very information that mainstream. farfetched and implausible in light of the modern. Try suggesting to most modern Latter-day Saints that a thorough study of antiquity is necessary to understand the restored gospel. it can correctly be said that we Saints today live with both intellectual feet firmly planted in the present. broken off and that the Ten Tribes were taken away with it. their brain switches to the ‘off ’ mode and they start looking for the exit sign. Our motto seems to be. entirely ignoring the temporal side of all the scriptural accounts. they avoid them entirely. scientific model of our solar system. one must ask. We rarely strive for a contextual. by a miracle. “Forget the past. we mostly restrict ourselves to an analysis of their content for a spiritual message. lds scholars have an aversion to is actually what the Prophet believed.” Fast forward to the present. “What’s wrong with this picture?” . and that in the latter days it would be restored to the Earth or be let down in the polar regions. Hence. Even when studying the scriptures. They simply have not taken the time or made the effort to learn all that Joseph Smith taught. and we find that most Mormons today know nothing of such accounts because they seem extravagant.

com/ Your questions or comments are welcome: anthonyelarson@gmail.com/ For online classes.blogspot.Out of the Past 5 For more essays from this series: http://mormonprophecy. videos. newsletters and published books exploring this material in depth: http://www.com .mormonprophecy.