Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty-five: Joseph Smith, the Book of Job, and the Temple Endowment

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet

Evidence Twenty-five: 

Joseph Smith, the Book of Job, and the Temple Endowment©

I just finished reading a clear-eyed view of the book of Job, clearly and insightfully written. I am referring to Mack Sterling’s, “Job: An LDS Reading,” found in a recent publication of presentations given at a conference about the temple held in Provo, Utah in 2012.(1) Sterling sees the story of Job as a temple-text. He proposes that “the book of Job is a literary analogue of the temple endowment ritual.” (p. 99). For me the essay was enlightening and compelling.  

In its most simple outline the story of Job parallels that of the endowment in that Job starts out in the prologue to the story very much like Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden, in the presence of God experiencing great blessings, but with limited comprehension. Job experiences something of a personal fall from this paradisaical state into a dark and bitter world where he loses nearly everything and is beset by three “friends” who serve as opposition to his quest to return and meet God. His journey through the dreary wilderness is lonely, but he has “four great revelatory insights” that propel him forward in the quest, despite his own misunderstandings and doubts. He prepares to meet God by binding himself “in covenant fidelity” to God and withstanding a final onslaught by Elihu, who Sterling views as an emissary/symbol of Satan. Finally, Job penetrates the veil and enters into the presence of God and a transformed life.  

Sterling’s discussion of the details of the story and the pattern he finds and defines is clear, even masterful in my estimation. His view is comprehensive, covering the entire book with a unified theme and purpose which is the same as that taught in the endowment, as this conclusion conveys: “In my view,” Sterling writes, “the parallels and connections between Job and the endowment are powerful and sustained.” (p. 133)

In addition to this fundamental insight, I very much like the following which is compatible with the theme of this thread of “Why I Believe”:
I am unaware of any evidence that Joseph Smith used the book of Job in developing the temple endowment. I conclude that both result from revelation from the same divine mind. For me, finding such a close analogue of the endowment in the canon of scripture confirms the divine inspiration behind the endowment. I suggest that the book of Job can complement and amplify our understanding –and vice versa. In some aspects, the book of Job is a mirror image of the endowment, giving a fuller description of the darkness and bitterness of the world. (2)
One more interesting bit of evidence of the divine inspiration of Joseph Smith to add to the mix.

Thank God for Joseph Smith!

Let’s think together again, soon.


1.  Sterling, Mack C.  “Job: An LDS Reading.”  In Temple Insights: Proceedings of the Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference “The Temple on Mount Zion” 22 September 2012, edited by William J. Hamblin and David Rolph Seely, 99-143.  Temple on Mount Zion Series 2.  Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation / Eborn Books, 2014.

2.  Ibid, p. 135, emphasis added.

1 comment:

  1. why do we all get endowed? why do all males in gods true church in any dispenstaion get theprieshood?
    because we all have experience, we all suffer and excercise faith to come back to god.
    all male members are trying to get back to god, yearning for, striving. we are all adam or like adam,
    all are alike unto god, how glorious is this church, treating us all as equals.