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To Open the Last Dispensation: Moses Chapter 1

TitleTo Open the Last Dispensation: Moses Chapter 1
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsNibley, Hugh W.
Book TitleNibley on the Timely and the Timeless
PublisherReligious Studies Center, Brigham Young University
CityProvo, UT
KeywordsAbraham (Prophet); Adam (Prophet); Apocalypse of Abraham; Apocrypha; Combat of Adam; Deliverance; Early Church History; Moses (Prophet); Plan of Salvation; Prophet; Satan; Smith, Joseph, Jr.; Translation

After all these years, it comes as a surprise for me to learn that the book of Moses appeared in the same year as the publication of the Book of Mormon, the first chapter being delivered in the very month of its publication. And it is a totally different kind of book, in another style, from another world. It puts to rest the silly arguments about who really wrote the Book of Mormon, for whoever produced the book of Moses would have been even a greater genius. That first chapter is a composition of unsurpassed magnificence. And we have all overlooked it completely.

The Joseph Smith controversy is silly for the same reason the Shake­speare controversy is silly. Granted that a simple countryman could not have written the plays that go under the name of Will Shakespeare, who could? If that man is hard to imagine as their author, is it any easier to imagine a courtier, or a London wit, or a doctor of the schools, or, just for laughs, a committee of any of the above as the source of that mira­culous outpouring? Joseph Smith's achievement is of a different sort, but even more staggering: he challenged the whole world to fault him in his massive sacred history and an unprecedented corpus of apocalyptic books. He took all the initiative and did all the work, withholding noth­ing and claiming no immunity on religious or any other grounds; he spreads a thousand pages before us and asks us to find something wrong.

And after a century and a half with all that material to work on, the learned world comes up with nothing better than the old discredited Solomon Spaulding story it began with. What an astounding tribute to the achievement of the Prophet that after all this time and with all that evidence his enemies can do no better than that! Even more impressive is the positive evidence that is accumulating behind the book of Moses— which includes fragments from books of Adam, Noah, and Enoch; for in our day ancient books that bear those names are being seriously studied for the first time in modern history, and comparison with the Joseph Smith versions is impressing leading scholars in the field. But even without external witnesses, what a masterpiece we have in that first chapter of the book of Moses! Consider the below.