Now You See Adam, Now You Don’t

A friend sent me a link to the transcription of a revelation Joseph Smith is said to have received 21 January 1836. In this vision he was shown the glory of the celestial kingdom, which he had learned some four years earlier was the highest level of heaven (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:50-70). He also tells us that he saw some of the residents of this kingdom:

The heavens were opened  upon us and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether  in the body or out I cannot tell,— I saw  the transcendant beauty of the gate that  enters, through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling  flames of fire, also the blasing throne of  God, whereon was seated the Father and  the Son,— I saw the beautiful streets of  that kingdom, which had the appearance  of being paved with gold— I saw father  Adam, and Abraham and Michael and my father and mother, my brother Alvin [Smith]  that has long since slept, and marvled  how it was that he had obtained this  an inheritance <in> this <that> kingdom, seeing that  he had departed this life, before the  Lord <had> set his hand to gather Israel <the  second time> and had not been baptized for the  remission of sins— [p. 136]

Careful readers will note something curious about this revelation: Adam and Michael are described as separate people whom Joseph Smith saw in the vision. Current church doctrine makes this an impossibility, as Michael is simply “the name by which Adam was known in the premortal life (Guide to the Scriptures, “Michael“). Indeed, in other revelations, Joseph Smith tells us that Michael is Adam (D&C 27:11D&C 107:53–57; D&C 128:21), so perhaps he was confused in this instance.

It’s a good thing that this revelation was not canonized until 1976, when the Correlation committee could revise it to be doctrinally correct, as follows:

 1 The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.

2 I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;

3 Also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.

4 I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold.

5 I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept;

6 And marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.

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One Response to Now You See Adam, Now You Don’t

  1. Odell says:

    Smith made this same error in describing having seen Elijah and Elias in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. The alleged vision is now canonized in LDS Doctrine and Covenants as Section 110. Unfortunately, Smith was unaware that Elijah and Elias are the same person, just expressed in different languages, in the same way Joseph and Jose are the same name, but in different languages.

    So how can it be? Adam and Michael are the same person, but described as two different beings by Smith; and Elijah and Elias are the same person, but described as two distinct beings by Smith.

    Putting on my non-existent apologist hat, I can offer a possible explanation.

    Adam and Elijah were both bipolar. Smith saw and understood their bipolar nature assigning a name, such as “Michael” for the manic cycles and “Adam” for the depressed cycles. This explanation also accounts for Smith’s use of Jehovah and Jesus as the same deity, Jehovah being the depressed “destroy the children and donkeys too” persona and Jesus being the “walk on water” manic being.

    However, pulling my head out of my …. hat, I simply think Joseph made it up on the fly.

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