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The Book of Enos, A Personal Essay

Enos is one of the most important of all of 
the books in the scriptures. It is unique. 
But it is seldom understood because readers 
do not appreciate what they are reading. 
Indeed, most readers think it is about 
this very long prayer that resulted in 
the remission of Enos’s sins. Not so. 
It is a personal essay that shows what 
a servant of the Lord did throughout 
his life for the remission of his sins. 

Must be, then, an important paradigm for 
all Melchizedek priesthood holders. Right?

The Book of Enos

A scholar has asked why and posited reasons for this book being so disjunctive.1 It is only twenty-seven verses, and the only verses that have repeated attention are the first eighteen. So it may seem, as the scholar thinks, like a puzzling book.

It is not puzzling. It is a careful composition that adds to the message of the earlier writings on the small plates. Enos is a doctrinal essay in the modern sense to the extent it begins with a thesis of sorts—the introduction—that Enos explicates by events from his life—the body of the work–is followed by a conclusion or restatement, if one will, of the thesis. But it is not a formal essay. Instead, it is a personal or informal essay because its intimacy speaks into the ear of the friends who read it.2A personal essay, by its nature, is something of an unmasking of the author because of the intimate details shared.

Reading Enos as a personal essay helps appreciate that it is more complex than the one-dimensional flow of a formal essay, so it is a mistake to presume that there is a thesis and conclusion presenting a singular point that is stated as initial matter and restated as a conclusion. After all, the writing style of the day requires viewing the center of the work as the important part, not the beginning and end, which tend to be more like personal confessions. Nor is this book to be viewed as a chronology within which doctrinal points are either scattered or implicit; rather, Enos selects events from his life to establish his central point. This book, therefore, must be considered altogether, giving greatest importance to the central points found in the center of the piece.

The affinity between this book and Paul’s pastoral epistles, those to Timothy and Titus, is remarkable even though they are written from different perspectives. Paul, who gives incidental information about his own ministry, tells Timothy and Titus what they should be doing as bishops of Ephesus and Crete, respectively, while Enos describes his life as a leader of the church. The pastoral epistles and Enos were written at the end, respectively, of Paul’s and Enos’ lives. Enos describes “wrestle . . . before God” that resulted in the remission of his sins,3and he says he expected to enter into his rest with the Savior and the Father after his death.4Paul encourages Timothy to “[f]ight [ἀγωνίζομαι or agōnizomai] the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses,”5and he says of himself,

I have fought a good fight [ἀγών or agōn], I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love [ἀγαπάο] his appearing.6

The Greek words used by Paul to describe the fight he exhorts for Timothy, ἀγωνίζομαι or agōnizomai, and his own struggle, ἀγών or agōn, denote, respectively, to be a competitor for a prize and a contest for a prize; these words were used in conjunction with the public games of the time. Paul’s use is figurative, like Enos’ wrestle before God. The figurative meaning of wrestle is like Paul’s fight, a struggle or contest.7Indeed, struggling is used to describe himself pouring out his whole soul, his prayers,8for the Nephites.9Likewise, Enos uses strugglings to describe his prayers for and work with the Lamanites.10Enos, then, describes his continual cries to the Lord for the Lamanites.11

Paul’s epistles to Timothy and Titus enjoin them to keep the gospel to save themselves and, then, preach, exhort, and rebuke to save others. The idea is that at the end of life their lives they may say, as did Paul, that they had fought the good fight or finished the contest/wrestle so that they could enter into the Lord’s rest, meaning obtain the blessings of the atonement. First Timothy, for example, requires prayers for all men,12and the main theme of 1 Timothy is following Christ to exaltation by shunning sin and following righteousness. Paul charges Timothy to be strong in Christ,13and to

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.14

The epistle to Titus is much the same, requiring Titus to rebuke those going astray with sharpness,15and make sure the saints live righteously.16Indeed, Titus is enjoined to preach Christ and His redemption, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.”17He tells Titus, “I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.”18Moreover, he tells Titus to reject an heretic that does not repent after being warned twice.19

The injunctions to and hopes for Timothy and Titus parallel what Enos included in his essay about his life. (1) He includes his prayer for his own soul while, strangely, out hunting beasts in the wilderness, an allusion begging for interpretation. His all-day-into-the-night prayer culminates in a voice saying “thy sins are [present tense] forgiven thee, and thou shalt be [future tense] blessed”;20this still future blessing even though Enos\’ guilt was swept away must be tied to the sacrifice yet to come of the Lord.21(2) Enos includes his prayer for the welfare of Nephites; he is told the will be blessed in accordance with their diligence in keeping the commandments.22(3) He includes his prayer that the Nephite record be preserved for the benefit of the Lamanites; he is told that this prayer will be granted because of his faith.23(4) Enos includes his teaching among the people, “prophesying of things to come” and testifying of the things he had heard and seen.24(5) Enos recounts the efforts made by the Nephites to restore—reactivate or minister to in the colloquialisms of today’s church—the Lamanites to the true faith,25efforts that failed because of the Lamanite lifestyle.26(6) Finally, Enos addresses the lifestyle of the Nephites, who,with many prophets among them, were kept in fear of the Lord by harsh preaching and reminding them of death, eternity, judgment, and the power of God.27

The six points identified in the preceding paragraph are shown in the adjacent text box. These six points are the central part of Enos’ writing, so they show that Enos’ essay is about his life-long wrestle, which is inseparable with keeping and teaching the gospel of Christ. Enos took care of himself, the Nephites, and worked to reclaim the recreant Lamanites; i.e., those who had broken with the faith.

The central points of Enos are three instances of prayer followed by three instances of teaching or, using the religious term, faithfulness.28The bookends of Enos’ writing are rejoicing in (1) the blessings the gospel and the nurture and admonition of the Lord, verse one, and (2) the anticipation of seeing the Savior, verse twenty-seven. The outcome of Enos’ life-long wrestle or life’s work is, of course, addressed at the beginning and end of the book: Enos’ sins were ultimately remitted and he at the end of his life as he looked toward his redemption. Enos’ exaltation, however, is not the central point. The main point is what Enos did to achieve his exaltation.

The book begs for likening because what Enos did is particular to him, but it presents a formula for all in the sense that his human experience is at least analogous to all human experience.29What Enos says, therefore, is pertinent, but it applicability to individuals requires likening. Enos was and what he did in this essay, so what he did is of particular importance to those seeking a remission of their sins. It is a paradigm for salvation.

Not much is known about Enos, but enough can be gathered to make the example of his life germane to his overriding point. He was Jacob’s son,30 so he was Lehi’s grandson and Nephi’s nephew. He probably did not know Nephi, but probably not possible his grandfather.31 Enos’ generation, then, was the first to live separated from and at war with the Lamanites. Enos was well educated; indeed, he describes his father as “a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord . . . .”32 Importantly, Enos succeeded his father as the keeper of the plates,33 and was, therefore, the head of the church. He was the priesthood leader of the Nephites. He led the people following Sherem’s attempts to discredit the notion of a future Christ who would redeem the world.34

Enos was probably about fifteen when he received the plates from Jacob,35 but he was not alone in his work of the ministry because he records that “there were exceedingly many prophets among us.”36 And he was human to the extent that he could feel frustrated: he described his own people as “stiffnecked . . . hard to understand.”37 Nonetheless, Enos was relentless; he never gave up.

Enos’ life can most easily be likened to the life of one holding the Melchizedek priesthood. The priesthood obligates one to teach and preach the gospel of remission of sins through the blood of Christ. This is a life-long obligation for one with the priesthood.38The priesthood holder must be particularly focused on recreants—the less active and those who have fallen away—and this focus must involve both assiduous prayer, points (1) through (3) in above text box, and struggling through the laborious work abbreviated in points (4) through (6): testifying, teaching, preaching, and prophesying. Sometimes the work has to be done with harshness and “exceeding great plainness of speech.”39 Indifference, lassitude, ennui, unkemptness, diversions, and sloth are antithetical to Enos’ example.40 Industry, productivity, mental exertions with resulting acceptance, and faithfulness conform to Enos’ paradigm.41

A less obvious comparison can be made with those who do not hold the priesthood by ordination. It is less obvious because it does not involve working with individuals outside the family. Women, for example, are not called upon to do church administration and the matter-of-course preaching and teaching incumbent upon a priesthood holder. Those who do not hold  priesthood by ordination, though, must profit from the self-converting and revelatory experience that attends Enos’ day-and-night prayer, an experience that is preparatory for either the ordained priesthood holder or the woman, who holds priesthood in her own right,42 rather than an end.

Enos is, perhaps, the most practical of all the books in the Book of Mormon so far as the proper discharge of priesthood responsibilities are concerned because Enos shows what he did; Moroni is another pragmatic book, but it is more procedural, like the church’s General Handbook of Instructions. The examples used by Enos are concrete, not esoteric or philosophic points; Enos shows what he did to magnify his calling.

There is considerable to be drawn from this book that goes beyond the general overview discussed in the foregoing paragraphs. Enos’ all-day-into-the-prayer receives considerable attention in the church; in fact, the account of this prayer gets six verses, the lengthiest example. It is appropriate. Little matters if one does not have their own life in order.

Enos says he is going to tell the reader about his wrestle “before I received a remission of my sins.”43He then says that his sins were forgiven after his prayer.44However, it is not until the end of the book that he says:

And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.45

This final statement is by one whose sins had been remitted. The resulting effect: a calling and election that was made sure. This remission happened only after a life of service and work. If, as seems to be the case, the remission about which Enos said he was writing at the beginning of the book did not come with the forgiveness after his prayer, these are different words after all, it is Enos’ entire life, not merely the epiphany of his early years, that worked the remission. There must be a differentiation between “thy sins are forgiven thee,” which happened after his prayer, and the remission of his sins, which happened on his deathbed. Forgiveness cannot be equated with remission.

This distinction merits a digression. Forgiveness, according to the dictionary, “implies the giving up not only of any claim to requital or retribution but also of any resentment or desire for revenge.”46Remit means “to release from the guilt or penalty of.”47Forgiveness is a term connoting personal feelings and relationships while remit is a legalistic term devoid of personality or feeling: it reflects payment of an obligation by a remittance that is made. The proper and consistent use of these terms allow a forgiveness by someone—even God, as in this instance—without a remission.48The remission of which Enos speaks comes at the end of his life and not in answer to the prayer of his youth, an order consistent with the broader view Enos intended that it was the life-long wrestle to obtain a remission of sins rather than the day and night in the wilderness that resulted in a forgiveness of his sins.

Forgiveness, ultimately, is only a stepping stone toward the goal of remission. Remission is the objective of a life-long effort, and it is attained when mortality is finished.49Baptism is always associated with remission of sins because baptism is the beginning step for one to participate in the atonement of the Savior, which will pay for or remit the sins of the repentant, but that does not mean that the neophyte is washed clean of his sins by baptism; rather, he has begun the path toward remission of sins, which comes when one keeps the commandments.

The first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins . . . .50

Appropriately, the last four substantive verses in the Book of Mormon, just before Moroni bids farewell, are about the necessity of living so that ones sins can be remitted because of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, which remission is part of the covenant of the Father.

And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, not the unclean thing. And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled. Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if you shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.51

Remission of sins is the ultimate goal, but forgiveness gives sustenance and hope. The Savior punctuated the watershed between forgiveness and remission of sins when He refused to condemn but did not remit the sins of the adulterous woman.52The Savior forgave in the sense that he had no desire for revenge or any resentment for the woman, but He did not remit her sins, telling her, instead, to reform her life, an achievement that would work the remission of her sins.53

There are references in the Book of Mormon to a remissions of one’s sins before the atoning blood of Christ had been shed and before, therefore, the sins could have been remitted.54There are also scriptures in the Book of Mormon that refer to remission of sins in a very general way, similar to the notion of forgiveness discussed above, but each of these scriptures is in a context that militates in favor of a more general or colloquial rather than parsed meaning.55

Enos’ Prayers. Enos’ experience was not something that just happened while Enos was out hunting one day. Enos reports that the things he had heard from his father, which are not shared, sunk deep into his heart.56He says his soul hungered. So he prayed. The answer to Enos was a voice in his mind, verse nine, a voice reassuring Enos that he was righteous and his sins were forgiven, not remitted.

There are some who really like this book because Enos is out hunting when he receives his epiphany. It is nice in their minds to think that it is all right for a prophet to go hunting, so it must be all right for them, as well. This may be a myopic and too literal view of the book. The exact phrase used by Enos is, “I went to hunt beasts in the forests.”57Trees are the classic symbols for a men, and a forest of trees symbolize a people. The Book of Mormon was written so that it was easy to understand, but there can be no doubt Enos was familiar with the traditional symbols used in the Old Testament; after all, Nephi uses the tree-of-life symbol, which is a pervasive metaphor in the Bible, and Jacob certainly taught his son the nuances of the tree typology. Moreover, Nephi rejoiced in the words of Isaiah even though he characterized these as “hard for many of my people to understand.”58Although Nephi says he did not teach his children “the manner of the Jews,”59he does say he made mention . . . concerning the judgments of God.”60

Would Enos have wasted space and effort in his writing to mention just incidentally that he was hunting for beasts in the forest when he received his epiphany? Or does Enos tell us something about his early predilections to be among the beasts—symbols of non-believers—of the forest, the forest being metaphor for a group of people like a group of non-believers—rather than those safely ensconced within the walls of the city, another metaphor?61 After All, Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was a cunning hunter while Jacob was a plan man living in tents.62

Enos prays for the Nephites after his epiphany, pouring out his whole soul to God for them. Enos had assuredly been taught by his father that faith—what one does because of one’s belief—is essential to a remission of sins and, what is the same thing, “I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments.”63 This equation of faith with diligence in keeping the commandments is fundamental to the overall theme of Enos. Faith is used colloquially by many as though it is a synonym for belief, but the scriptures make this common use inapt. Faith involves getting some knowledge and reaching an hypothesis that one believes sufficiently to comports one’s life to that hope.

Enos’ third prayer is for the Lamanites. He seems to have despaired of inciting them to repent, so asks that the records be preserved for the purpose of later conversion of the Lamanites. This is not a prayer that just happened to Enos, it was the same prayer “[t]hy fathers have . . . required of me . . .”,64 meaning, apparently, that the faith of Enos and his father was such that the Lord was required to do what was asked.

The point of this praying was praying for the right thing, the thing required of the Lord. The account of this prayer was written at the end of Enos’ life. His memory of it or what he chose to say about it was certainly affected by the purpose of his writing, which is remission of sins. Enos’ life-long work as the head of the church and the priesthood leader who, like Melchizedek, magnified his calling, was crying repentance. Hence, the request that the records be preserved for conversion of the Lamanites was an essential part of his unfulfilled ministry of conversion of his recreant relatives.

Preaching. Enos’ three prayers are followed by three examples of his preaching. He preaches to the Nephites, verse nineteen, to the Lamanites, verse twenty, and, again, to the Nephites. verses twenty-one through twenty-three. Verse nineteen refers to Enos’ preaching of things that were to come, an allusion to the advent of Christ and his redeeming sacrifice. The depravity of the Lamanites is highlighted in verse twenty and contrasted with the lifestyle of the Nephites in verse twenty-one. Notwithstanding the different lifestyles and the many prophets that were among the Nephites, though, it was still only the harshness of the teaching the kept the people living the commandments, the message of verses twenty-two and twenty-three. Enos’ preaching was a continual effort throughout his life.

Enos’ Wrestle. The bookends to Enos’ praying and preaching are the references to his wrestle or struggle throughout his life. This is labeled as his contest in text box ?, supra. Verse two and verses twenty-four through twenty-six are cognates and must be considered together to appreciate the nature of the wrestle.

Enos’ Rejoicing. The first and last verses of Enos present En os rejoicing over the gospel of Christ and the remission of sins to which he was entitled because of what he had done during his life.

 

I conclude this blog posting with the following picture I just took of the book of Enos. A friend and professional artist paid me the highest honor and compliment by writing out the book of Enos in 6th Century script on parchment using a quill pen. He gave this to me after asking what my favorite scripture was. I responded instantly, “Enos!”  His work hangs on the wall of my study and is one of my greatest treasures. It reminds me every time I look at it that I need to be like Enos. I want to meet him.

 

Endnotes

  1. The scholar is Rosalynde Welch. She was the host of a Sunday School lesson about Enos that was sponsored by Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought on Sunday, March 29, 2020. She presented her overview of this book, an overview that differs substantially from mine. She calls this book “a little bit of a puzzle.” She calls it disjunctive and gives these three reasons for thinking so. (1) The disjunction could be a function of his age and experience as he grew older and worked on this record at different times. (2) It could be a function of genre, meaning Enos was writing in different generic forms in the three disjointed portions of the book she identivies. (3) Perhaps, Enos employed assistants, so there are multiple consciousnesses in this book.

    The portion of her presentation where she makes these statements can be found at

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxGiNBj0jMM

  2. “Personal Essay. A kind of informal essay, with an intimate style, autobiographical content or interest, and an urbane conversational manner.” William Harom and Hugh C. C. Hugh, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1996), s.v. personal essay.
  3. Enos 1:2.
  4. Enos 1:27.
  5. 1 Timothy 6:12.
  6. 2 Timothy 4:7–8.
  7. The Greek words used by Paul ultimately resulted in the modern-day word agony. The Oxford English Dictionary notes the development of the meaning of the word as follows:

    The development of the senses in Gr. was:—1. A struggle for victory in the games; 2. Any struggle; 3. Mental struggle, anguish, e.g. Christ’s anguish in Gethsemane.

    Oxford English Dictionary, second edition on CD-ROM (v.4.0)(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) s.v. agony.

  8. Struggling is singular, suggesting just one prayer, but Enos 1:22–23 make it clear that the work with the Nephites was arduous and life-long and involved many prophets. Prayers must have been a continual part of this work, so the plural, prayers, is used here.
  9. Enos 1:10.
  10. Enos 1:11, 14.
  11. Enos 1:15. To cry in the context of his prayers for the Lamanites means to entreat, beg, beseech, implore, an importuning motivated by deep feelings and commitment.
  12. 1 Timothy 2:1ff.
  13. 2 Timothy 2:1.
  14. 2 Timothy 4:2.
  15. Titus 1:13.
  16. Titus 2.
  17. Titus 2:15.
  18. Titus 3:8.
  19. Titus 3:10.
  20. Enos 1:5.
  21. Enos 1:3–8.
  22. Enos 1:9–10.
  23. Enos 1:11–18.
  24. Enos 1:19. Prophecies about future events where anathema to the non-believers of the day. E.g., the teachings of Sherem in Jacob 7.
  25. Enos uses the words true faith when addressing the Lamanites because, as can be deduced from the writings of Jacob and others in the Book of Mormon, e.g., 3 Nephi 1:9ff, that the Lamanites were anti-Christ, like Sherem, who was bested in debate by Enos’ father.
  26. Enos 1:20.
  27. Enos 1:20–23.
  28. Alma 13 presents a discussion of the purpose of the Melchizedek priesthood, which involves the sort of things Enos did for his entire life. Enos’ faithfulness, what he did, may, therefore, be characterized as fulfilling or magnifying his priesthood.
  29. This likening is the essential characteristic of all personal essays. “At the core of the personal essay is the supposition that there is a certain unity to human experience. As Michael de Montaigne [AD 1533–1592], the great innovator and patron saint of the personal essayists, put it, ‘Every man has within himself the entire human condition.’ This meant that when he was telling about himself, he was talking, to some degree about all of us. The personal essay has an implicitly democratic bent, in the value it places on experience rather than status distinctions,. ‘And on the loftiest throne in the world we are still sitting only on our own rump,’ wrote Montaigne.” Lopate, Phillip, ed., The Art of the Personal Essay, An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, (New York: Doubleday, 1994) at xxiii.
  30. Jacob 7:27.
  31. It was after Lehi’s death that Nephi recounts the escape from Laman and Lemuel by Nephi and his family and the families of Zoram and Sam; Jacob and Joseph are mentioned without families of their own, so they were not yet born. 2 Nephi 5:6.
  32. Enos 1:1.
  33. Jacob 7:27.
  34. See Jacob 7.
  35. A time line will be presented in connection with the analysis of Jarom, Omni, and Words of Mormon. 
  36. Enos 1:22.
  37. Enos 1:22. 
  38. Cf. Alma 13. Melchizedek was so great because of his preaching redemption through repentance.
  39. Enos 1:23.
  40. See Enos 1:20.
  41. See Enos 1:21–23.
  42. Substantial arguments can be made that a woman holds her own priesthood just like a man holds his own priesthood in addition to being ordained to function as the Lord’s worker because of his ordination to the Melchizedek priesthood. This is the subject, perhaps, of another blog posting in the future.
  43. Enos 1:2.
  44. Enox 1:5.
  45. Enos 1:27.
  46. Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, 7th ed., s.v.forgive
  47. Id., s.v. remit.
  48. See Mosiah 4:3, 11, 12 (King Benjamin’s people receive a remission of their sins at a Yom-Kippur-like event and are enjoined to live so that they “retain a remission of [their] sins; a ritualistic remission of sins was inherent part of the Feast of the Tabernacles). Alma’s son, also named Alma, addressed the differences between the righteous and wicked, noting that the righteous retained a remission of their sins by the way they lived. Alma 4:14. But see Alma 38:8 (Alma describes his conversion saying it resulted in a remission of his sins).
  49. See Mosiah 15:11 (believers look forward to the Lord’s redemption for a remission of their sins); Alma 7:6 (look forward for a remission of sins); Alma 12:34 (repentant shall have claim for mercy and remission); Alma 38:8 (Alma’s death-bed declaration of conversion and remission).
  50. Moroni 8:25. This quote is only part of the larger poetic presentation from which this passage has been excerpted. The whole presentation is discussed in conjunction with Moroni 8.
  51. Moroni 10:30–33. The “covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins” is a reference to, quoting D&C 84:39, “the oath and covenant that belongeth to the [Melchizedek] priesthood.” The book of Hebrews presents the most complete explication of the relationship between Father’s oath-sealed covenant, έπαγγέλίω or epagelio, and last-will-and-testament-like promise/gift/covenant of the Savior, His διαθηκη or diathk. The significance and meaning of this oath and covenant is dealt with extensively in the Hebrews part of this exegesis, therefore, and not that part dealing with section eight-four of the Doctrine and Covenants.
  52. John 8:1–11.
  53. Paul explains that he “fought a good fight . . . finished my course . . . kept the faith” so that his exaltation was sure. 2 Timothy 4:7–8.
  54. E.g., Mosiah 13:3 (King Benjamin speaks of those believers that “might receive a remission of their sins”), Mosiah 15:11 (Abinidi says the heirs of the king of God are those that have a remission of their sins), Alma 4:14, 7:6, 12:34, 13:16 (Alma the Younger describes what must be done to retain a remission of sins), Alma 30:16 (Alma’s interaction with Korihor and his Sherem-like doctrine that the forward view of a remission of sins is the result of a “frenzied mind” because they believe things in the future that are not so).
  55. See, e.g., Alma 38:8, 3 Nephi 1:23, 3 Nephi 7:16, 3 Nephi 7:25.
  56. Enos 1:3.
  57. Id.
  58. 2 Nephi 25:1.
  59. 2 Nephi 25:2.
  60. Id.
  61. One cannot read or understand Isaiah without an appreciation of the symbols he used, which includes trees and beasts. Beasts are commonly used to describe bad people in the Bible. A reader schooled in the symbols found in the scriptures, in other words, must always consider whether a literal or figurative meaning is intended when it comes traditional symbols. Meaning is buried in the way the scriptures are written, the organizational structure of Enos shown in text box, supra, highlights this structural meaning, and meaning is always buried in the symbols or vehicles used to carry the meaning.
  62. Genesis 25:27. Nimrod is characterized as a mighty hunter before the Lord in Genesis 10:9 (KJV), but the JST simply says he was mighty hunter in the land. Cf. Proverbs 6:5, “Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.” (Italics in KJV.) Proverbs 12:27 characterizes the hunter as a slothful an or lazy, depending on the translation being read.
  63. Enos 1:10.
  64. Enos 1:18.

13 thoughts on “The Book of Enos, A Personal Essay

    • Author gravatar

      I’m surprised to see you mirror the latest narratives of the Church with respect to women and the priesthood. For a few years now the Brethren have been attempting to tell women in the Church that they have access to priesthood power even if they don’t hold the priesthood itself. You seem to be taking it a step further by implying that women in the Church “hold” the priesthood.

      I am not one who agitates for women to be ordained to the priesthood within the Church (although I’m unaware of any scriptural prohibition to do so). But I’m also not one who is comfortable with recent Church narratives that attempt to tell women that they have priesthood power even if in fact they have not been ordained with priesthood office.

      I agree that women in the Church benefit from the priesthood. So do children. So do non-members of the Church in some instances. But to equate in any way the power of the priesthood as it relates to men (who are ordained) and women (who are not ordained) is insulting. Women in the Church can call upon God for help. So can children. So can non-members. We all have the ability to exercise our faith and call upon the Lord. But that’s quite different than claiming that women in the Church “hold” the priesthood.

      You see, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say (as we do in the Church) that priesthood ordination is one of the most important markers in the life of a young man, and then claim that women (who are never ordained) hold priesthood power. We all hold the power to call upon the Lord. In fact, women might do a better job of that than men. But you either hold the priesthood, or you don’t.

      Side note: I don’t think the power of the priesthood is necessary for a father or a mother to lead their families in righteousness. I hope you agree since active Mormons constitute 1/1000 of the world’s population (assumes a 50% activity rate in the Church).

      • Author gravatar

        I hope I mirror the doctrine of the Church with respect to the meaning and power of the priesthood, lowercase priesthood. I am not so concerned with mirroring “the latest narratives of the Church,” as you put it on the subject. By narratives I gather you are referring to what one or another leader of he Church has said. I have adverted to the priesthood several times in this blog. For instance, in footnote four of “Operations of the Spirit, Part 8,” regarding D&C 11 and 50, I say:

        The nature of the priesthood and how it is to be used is beyond the scope of this essay. Section eleven, however, implies that the priesthood is the exercise of knowledge, and this point is made explicit in D&C 128 where the priesthood is explained as the power that comes from “knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of men . . . . the sealing and binding power, and, in one sense of the word, the keys of the kingdom, which consist in the key of knowledge.” What the priesthood is–without using the words power, act, Lord, or God–and the source of priesthood power will be the subject of a later blog,

        https://studyitout.com/operations-of-the-spirit-part-8-other-modern-day-revelations-dc-11-50/

        Footnote 31 of my blog on Isaiah 11 says this:

        Knowledge is described as the summum bonum of the priesthood in D&C 128:11–14, “This, therefore, is the sealing and binding power, and, in one sense of the word, the keys of the kingdom, which consist in the key of knowledge.” The nature of the priesthood is, again, beyond the scope of this paper, but it is worth noting that everyone has their own priesthood power if the exercise of knowledge is what priesthood is. This explains why there are different orders of the priesthood, like the one after the holy order of the Son of God, which must be different than the priesthood exercised by the Father or even women or, for that matter, the priesthood exercised by the Adversary. However, the performance of certain ordinances for salvation would require the delegated authority of the Lord’s priesthood, the Melchizedek priesthood.

        https://studyitout.com/isaiah-11-its-meaning/

        I was interested in Dallin Oaks’ talk at conference this last weekend because he talked about the priesthood. He has been the one leader who has talked about the priesthood on other occasions at general conference, as well. I see in him an evolution of his thought about the Priesthood (capital P) and the priesthood (lower case p. I have not read his talk, which I will, but I recall him coming pretty close to saying that women have the Priesthood, capital P, bestowed upon them when they are set apart to act as teachers, leaders, temple workers, missionaries, etc. I do not recall him or any other leader of the Church make such a bold statement, which I am not sure in my own mind is altogether right. Sounded like his attempt to reconcile how it is that women perform priesthood ordinances in temple. I need to sort through that more.

        Back to your comment. When I talk about women holding the priesthood I am talking about the lower case priesthood, which, to my present way of thinking, requires no ordination at all because it is inherent in each of us. I think our own priesthood, so to speak, is the priesthood that we will exercise in the eternities. You do, too, of course. After all, do you think the Father exercises a priesthood after the order of his Son, or do you think His priesthood, the Father’s, is his own. Same for Satan. The temple ordinance used to Satan’s apron as emblematic of Satan’s powers and priesthoods. Whose priesthood does Satan exercise. Satan’s own, right?

        What about priesthood in the home. Who is more likely to have more knowledge of what is afoot in the family, the mother or the father? If it is the mother with more knowledge, then, it seems to me, she has greater priesthood power in the home than the man. Can she give a mother’s blessing? Can she lay her hands on a sick child she has anointed with oil and give a blessing for recovery of health? Mothers’ blessings and anointings were common in the Church until the 1950s or so when Joseph Fielding Smith decided it was just inconsistent with his notion of Priesthood. (I have not always agreed with some of what Joseph Fielding Smith has said.) More importantly, does the Melchizedek Priesthood, that is Priesthood with a capital P, have any function in the home? Or is the exercise of Priesthood limited to the saving ordinances for which delegated authority is required: like baptism and the sacrament. The sacrament, in my view, does not include the preparation or passing of the sacrament, which are functions that were performed by women in the early days of the Church, until the 1910s or so when the Church started to have young men do this to keep the young men from being restless during the meetings.

        Being uncomfortable, as you say you are, with the notion that women hold the priesthood even when they have not been ordained seems and saying, “[T]o equate in any way the power of the priesthood as it relates to men (who are ordained) and women (who are not ordained) is insulting.” Insulting? Really? Sounds like many priesthood meetings I have attended where a priesthood holder declaims, jingoistically, that he is the priesthood leader for his family so his wife better do what he says. Such arrogant chauvinism seems to be counter to what the priesthood is supposed to be. “No power or influnence . . . only by gentleness, meekness and pure knowledge.”

        One last comment. The Levites, anciently, were caretakers of the temple. They did not officiate in the ordinances. It was only the certain descendants of Levi who did that, the priests. It was a great honor to be either a Levite or the one performing ordinances. It is still, to this day, a great honor to be ordained to the Priesthood to act as the Lord’s agent for ordinance work. So it is an important marker in in the life of a young man. It is an honor.

        Enough for now. I will post a blog on the priesthood sometime in the future.

        • Author gravatar

          If you are saying that someone (a woman who is a member of the Church) can “hold” the priesthood without being ordained to the priesthood, I would then ask whether or not a non-member of the Church can also “hold” the priesthood in the home? In other words, you seem to be drawing the line at Church membership, not priesthood ordination. That seems arbitrary.

          If you answer no, only Church members can “hold” the priesthood without being ordained, I wonder what that is based on. Where’s the doctrine that states that members of the Church (as opposed to ordained holders of the priesthood exclusively) “hold” the priesthood?

          If you answer yes, that a non-member can “hold” the priesthood without being ordained, then I guess anyone can. So what’s the big deal?

          And I notice how much you like to link knowledge with priesthood power. As someone who studies the scriptures every day that must work for you personally.

          • Author gravatar

            I see you are hung up on the difference between the words hold and have. And I do connect priesthood power with knowledge; after all, that is what D&C 128 does. So you ask, “What’s the big deal?” The big deal about having the Priesthood conferred and being ordained to an office is the delegation that individual who thereby holds the priesthood of the responsibility when called upon to do so to perform ordinances as the Lord’s agent. That’s a big deal. It may not be a big deal in the eternities when resurrected and exalted beings will be exercising their own priesthoods, like the Father exercises His, but it is certainly a big deal in this mortal life.

            My view of the priesthood as the exercise of the power of knowledge does not differentiate between a member of the Church and one who is not. After all, if Satan has great priesthood power, as we have been taught in the temple, anyone can. Right? Or was Satan ordained by God and given his priesthood by God to be God’s nemesis?

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              So you are basically saying that priesthood office corresponds specifically with ordinances? I can agree with that. Not sure how I feel about Satan (and Hitler and everyone else) having priesthood power. Why would priesthood power be extended to evil individuals? Just because Satan claimed it doesn’t mean he had it. I believe in the power of evil but not sure it has anything to do with the priesthood.

              Also, I have often wondered if we place much too much emphasis on ordinances within the Church. Is a bad marriage sealed in the temple automatically superior to a good civil marriage conducted at town hall? That’s probably a separate discussion.

            • Author gravatar

              You miss my point. I say, as does D&C 128, that priesthood is a synonym for priesthood. The exercise of knowledge is the exercise of priesthood. The power that comes from knowledge is the same as priesthood power. Hence we have this scripture, D&C 121:39–42

              We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority [the Priesthood], as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

              [Bolding added.]

              This scripture says the exercise of priesthood requires one to have knowledge to persuade. Isn’t this what this scripture says?

            • Author gravatar

              Was Satan actually given the priesthood, or did he simply make that claim? I could tell you I’m a lawyer and show you a fake law degree but without a license I can’t practice law.

            • Author gravatar

              Why do you presume Satan’s priesthood had to be given to him? And having a law degree or being admitted to the bar does not make you a lawyer.

        • Author gravatar

          If you are saying that someone (a woman who is a member of the Church) can “hold” the priesthood without being ordained to the priesthood, I would then ask whether or not a non-member of the Church can also “hold” the priesthood in the home? In other words, you seem to be drawing the line at Church membership, not priesthood ordination. That seems arbitrary.

          If you answer no, only Church members can “hold” the priesthood without being ordained, I wonder what that is based on. Where’s the doctrine that states that members of the Church (as opposed to ordained holders of the priesthood exclusively) “hold” the priesthood?

          If you answer yes, that a non-member can “hold” the priesthood without being ordained, then I guess anyone can. So what’s the big deal?

          And I notice how much you like to link knowledge with priesthood power. As someone who studies the scriptures every day that must work for you personally.

    • Author gravatar

      I believe we often allow ourselves to get “caught” on verbiage which is always a slippery slope. What is the priesthood and why does it exist is the question to me. The scriptures are given that we might learn principles and doctrines of eternity, not show who is more knowledgeable and learned. As we grow and develop and come to understand anything we discover how much more we do not know and understand. Knowledge, learning and understanding are all eternal. So the best we can do is “line upon line” study things out that our minds can expand to absorb more than the moment before. At this time we “discover” in a linear direction because we are finite; limited physically so we imagine we are “limited” mentally and spiritually also. I’m just saying we truly “learn” and “understand” when we free ourselves bias and falsely held ideas and concepts.

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      This may already be a forgotten discussion but here are my thoughts. The entire universe was created by and run according to natural law. These laws run everything physical, biological, economic and spiritual. Anyone with a knowledge of gravity, lift and drag can make an airplane fly and seemingly defy gravity. Knowledge is the understanding of the law and making it work for them. Regardless of righteous or unrighteous dominion you can make airplanes fly and use them for good or evil. One does not have to be a member of the church to understand how to use the blessings of faith, prayer or even the Holy Ghost. The more knowledge one gains the more power is available to him or her.
      Satan was one of the most knowledgeable spirits in the preexistence. When he was cast out of heaven, he came to earth with the benefit of all of his knowledge. We in possession of mortal bodies have to start over and relearn these principals on our own. His power comes from his superior knowledge. All mortals, both men and women, can and should draw on our knowledge of natural law for our benefit. We should all be working to gain more knowledge in all areas both physical and spiritual.
      The current discussion centers on our definition of Priesthood. The Doctrine and Covenants tells us that both the heavens and the earth and all things within were created by the authority of the Priesthood. Using this definition using natural law is using Priesthood power which is available to everyone; spirits, mortal, male and female. I don’t know if Satan was ordained to his position but he does act using natural law or by this definition priesthood power.
      The other definition of Priesthood is the power and authority to act in the name of God. This power is only granted from one having the authority through the laying on of hands and Priesthood ordinances. To use this power one must first have received it and secondly be living such that it hasn’t been withdrawn. The forces of evil who have not received it and who are unrighteous do not have access to this power. This function of the Priesthood Authority is given so that we mortals are not overwhelmed and destroyed the greater knowledge of Satan and his forces. This is the force that keeps the proving ground for us mortals neutral so that we have the freedom to choose for ourselves. When necessary it has been used to rebuke the powers of evil.
      Thus, we see that those who have specifically been given this form of Priesthood Authority have dominion over those acting solely by natural law. We also see this in functions of the Holy Ghost. The one of the functions of the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of the truth of all natural laws. This function is available to everyone. The Gift of the Holy Ghost provides those who have received it and are living worthy of It additional help not available to those who have been the recipient of this gift. We still have our agency and most of us who have been give the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Priesthood are not using these gits and powers to their fullest extent. As a result, we see unrighteous within the church and righteous living outside of the church. By definition this power can only be used to build up the kingdom of God.

      • Author gravatar

        Thank you for this comment. No, this discussion is not forgotten, nor should it be.

        Your comment and the others who have commented on the priesthood have provoked me. I am going to finish my essay on the priesthood (lower case) and the Priesthood (upper case) and post it in the next few weeks. I have just a few responses to your thoughts for now.

        I think you struggle too much to make the Priesthood some dominating and leveling power that allows us to overcome Satan’s great priesthood power. I do not think you are right about this idea because it leaves women subject to Satan’s power because they do not have the Priesthood. I simply am not persuaded (perhaps, I can be) that “Priesthood Authority is given so that we mortals are not overwhelmed and destroyed [by]the greater knowledge of Satan and his forces.” I struggle with this idea because it seems to offend the principle of free agency. The buffer between us and Satan is what we choose to believe, not the power of our knowledge as augmented by the Priesthood versus his.

        To avoid gnoseology–the philosophic theory of knowledge–and whether any of us mortals really can know something rather than believe things, I want to reword my last sentence, but it is hard because of the definition you and I have ascribed to the word “priesthood.” (The word “priesthood” should be in italics rather than quotes, but I do not know how to code that as I keyboard this comment; hence, the quote marks.) Here is how I want to reword it: The buffer between us and Satan is what we choose to believe and how out believe is augmented by how we feed our belief, our faithfulness to our belief: like going to Church, etc.

        You, also, say the Priesthood is a force, “This is the force that keeps the proving ground for us mortals neutral so that we have the freedom to choose for ourselves. When necessary it has been used to rebuke the powers of evil.” I do think of the Priesthood as any sort of force, “May the force be with you” is not a phrase I would use even though I am a Star Wars Fan.

        You lose your focus a little when you talk about the Holy Ghost, “The Gift of the Holy Ghost provides those who have received it and are living worthy of It additional help not available to those who have been the recipient of this gift.” I know most members of the Church think they have a special gift of the Holy Ghost, but I am not a believer in that notion. My studies of the operation of the Spirit–which is the subject of the first fifteen or so postings on this blog–militate against the idea that members of the Church have a blessing the Father’s other children do not.

        I appreciate your comment very much. You are thinking. Most in the Church do not.

    • Author gravatar

      I am looking forward to your additional writings on the priesthood. As you have indicated throughout your blog there are many meanings, operations and functions of the priesthood. Some of the discussion in this thread has centered on applying a singular definition to priesthood. My previous entry attempted to define two, there are more, very general categories or function of priesthood. The first, for which I should have use priesthood (lower case), governs our entire mortal sphere. This priesthood applies equally to everyone; male, female, righteous, unrighteous, member or nonmember. This gives everyone, with the knowledge to understand its use, the ability to exercise faith, to pray, to receive answers, to govern in their homes, to gain additional knowledge and even to receive confirmation of truth from the Holy Ghost. We can all grow in this priesthood power by gaining the knowledge of the laws that govern them. Again, the use of this priesthood is available to everyone who makes the effort to use it.

      My second category for which I should have used Priesthood (upper case) is the authority to govern the church and administer the saving ordinances. This Priesthood is not available to every one and is given by the laying on of hands. Priesthood ordinations pass the authority perform ordinances and functions within the church under the direction of those who have Priesthood Keys. This Priesthood also allows the holder to perform some Priesthood functions at his own discretion. When a person is set apart to any calling in the church, they are given Priesthood power and authority to act in that calling. This applies equally to those who hold and office in the Priesthood and those who do not.

      I look forward to your discussion of the authority of the Father, that of the Son, holders of the Priesthood and even the abilities of Satan to dissuade us from returning to the Father. Hopefully as we move away from a singular definition of priesthood (in general) we can better understand how it operates in different situations.

      As for the example of the Holy Ghost, It, the holy ghost, is a function and blessing of the priesthood (lower case) available to all of the Father’s children for use in all areas of knowledge and understanding. The word gift implies the giving of something that one does not currently possess. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is a function of the Priesthood (upper case) given or added upon those who take upon themselves the name of Christ and labor in His Kingdom. The Gift of the Holy Ghost, as in all of the saving ordinances are available to any of the Father’s children that meet the requirements set forth for their use by the Savior. Both the priesthood and the holy ghost (speaking in the general case) function differently in different situations. The Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Priesthood are value added functions to the operations of the holy ghost and the priesthood.

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