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About David J. Larsen

David J. Larsen received his PhD from the University of St Andrews in Scotland with the dissertation, “The Royal Psalms in the Dead Sea Scrolls.” He also holds an MA degree in Biblical Theology from Marquette University and a BA in Near East Studies from Brigham Young University. His research interests include Jewish and Christian apocalyptic and mysticism, pseudepigrapha and apocryphal literature, royal/messianic themes in the Bible and in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and “ascent to heaven” traditions. He is the author of the blog heavenlyascents.com, where he explores topics in early Jewish and Christian mysticism, LDS theology, and other topics in religious studies. He currently lives in Springville, Utah with his wife, Marluce, and their five children.

Abraham and Jehovah

When reading the LDS Book of Abraham, readers’ attention is often drawn to the “Facsimiles” that accompany that book, which are a frequent source of wonder and awe to many.  While perhaps not as mesmerizing and mystifying as Facs. 2, the first facsimile has one figure in particular that begs for some analysis.

Larsen 1

 

In the narrative of the Abraham 1, we are told that this image is included by Abraham to illustrate the situation in which he found himself — about to be sacrificed by the priest of Elkanah/Pharaoh on the “bedstead” altar, which was like the one depicted.  His “fathers,” whom he had tried to convince to give up their idol worship, have turned him over to the idolatrous priest.  However, just before he is sacrificed (in a scene reminiscent of the sacrifice of Isaac), Abraham tells us that the Angel of the Lord’s presence comes to save him, unlooses his bands and (after an extended dialogue) smites the priest of Elkanah. What is particularly significant in this story is that the Angel of the Presence announces himself to be Jehovah – whom most Bible readers would not consider to be the oft-mentioned “Angel of the Presence” of the Old Testament.1 Continue reading


  1. However, Margaret Barker provides abundant evidence that this indeed was the ancient understanding, see her The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God (Louisville: W/JKP, 1992). 

“And There Are Many Kingdoms”: D&C 88 and the Hierarchy of Kingdoms

I recently had the opportunity to lead a discussion on the topic of Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 88 in which we delved into the subject of the multiple kingdoms of glory as they are described in that section. That discussion reminded me of some material I had posted on Heavenly Ascents a few years back.  I went back and reread that post and thought it would be nice to revisit it here.

D&C 88 discusses the idea that God has filled his Creation with various “kingdoms” that can be inhabited by his children. Verse 37 states:

37 And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. Continue reading

Ancient Affinities within the LDS Book of Enoch Part Two

Abstract: In this article, we will examine affinities between ancient extracanonical sources and a collection of modern revelations that Joseph Smith termed “extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch.” We build on the work of previous scholars, revisiting their findings with the benefit of subsequent scholarship. Following a perspective on the LDS canon and an introduction to the LDS Enoch revelations, we will focus on relevant passages in pseudepigrapha and LDS scripture within three episodes in the Mormon Enoch narrative: Enoch’s prophetic commission, Enoch’s encounters with the “gibborim,” and the weeping and exaltation of Enoch and his people. Continue reading

Ancient Affinities within the LDS Book of Enoch Part One

Abstract: In this article, we will examine affinities between ancient extracanonical sources and a collection of modern revelations that Joseph Smith termed “extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch.” We build on the work of previous scholars, revisiting their findings with the benefit of subsequent scholarship. Following a perspective on the LDS canon and an introduction to the LDS Enoch revelations, we will focus on relevant passages in pseudepigrapha and LDS scripture within three episodes in the Mormon Enoch narrative: Enoch’s prophetic commission, Enoch’s encounters with the “gibborim,” and the weeping and exaltation of Enoch and his people. Continue reading

Revisiting the Forgotten Voices of Weeping in Moses 7: A Comparison with Ancient Texts

Abstract: The LDS Book of Moses is remarkable in its depiction of the suffering of the wicked at the time of the Flood. According to this text, there are three parties directly involved in the weeping: God (Moses 7:28; cf. v. 29), the heavens (Moses 7:28, 37), and Enoch (Moses 7:41, 49). In addition, a fourth party, the earth, mourns—though does not weep—for her children (Moses 7:48–49). The passages that speak of the weeping God and the mourning earth have received the greatest share of attention by scholars. The purpose of this article is to round out the previous discussion so as to include new insights and ancient parallels to the two voices of weeping that have been largely forgotten—that of Enoch and that of the heavens.1  Continue reading


  1. An expanded and revised version of material contained in this study will appear as part of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen, Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel (Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, forthcoming, 2014). All translations from non-English sources are by the first author unless otherwise specifically noted.