Episode 157: D&C 57 – Section 77

May 6, 2017

Episodes

Episode 157: D&C 57 – Section 77

Let’s get spiritual! Joseph answers our questions about the Book of Revelation (the
bible one) by not answering anything.

Read about the 1876 addition to the D&C here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_and_Covenants#Sections_added_to_LDS_edition

Christopher Walken was the Archangel Gabriel in the movie The Prophecy.
Rot your brain with tribulation fan-fiction by reading the Left Behind series.

Smoke count – 2 (or however much you need to get spiritual)

Drink count – 3

Read along with us at JoelAKuhn.com/dc-compare

Support the show by becoming a Patron over at Patreon.com/MyBookofMormonPodcast
Drop me a line at comments@mybookofmormonpodcast.com
Podcastriarchal blessing: Sean S
Podcastriarchal music is Our Happy Life by Maps and Transit, edited for length

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3 Comments on “Episode 157: D&C 57 – Section 77”

  1. Gottfried TheHirsute Says:

    Ah, trying to understand the Book of Revelation – a tradition almost 2000 years old and still going strong!

    But let’s start with the “earth will exist for 7000 years” concept:

    James Ussher was the archbishop of the Church of Ireland in the early 17th century. His was not the first or only attempt to find the date of Creation by working backwards through all the genealogies and chronologies in the Bible, but is the best known (and still most generally accepted in Creationist circles) due to the dates being printed in the margins of many early editions of the King James Version (a feature that would later be added to the Book of Mormon chapter headings.) His method has flaws and assumptions, but was probably about as good as could be done with the information available at the time. The Wikipedia article provides good detailed information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ussher_chronology

    By conflating Ussher’s chronology with the concept of “one day of the Lord = 1000 years on Earth” and also the concept that the seven ‘days of Creation’ will be echoed by the earth itself, you come up with the earth existing for a total of 7000 years. Ussher set the date of Creation as October 23, 4004 BC (early in the morning, no less!). So working forward from that date and with the assumption that, since God rested on the seventh day, the last 1000 years will constitute the Millenium after Jesus’ Second Coming, the Apocalypse should occur in roughly the year 2000 AD (and Y2K ‘proved’ it, remember?) 😉

    Those of us who were LDS teenagers in the 1980’s remember how we were told that our spirits had been held in reserve to get mortal bodies in the Last Days because we had been the most valiant defenders of Christ’s Plan in the War in Heaven during the Pre-Existence – and it felt AWESOME! 🙂 Of course that meant that we had to work all the harder to be righteous because Satan was now pulling out all the stops before he ran out of time and Jesus showed up to kick his ass!

    Now, Revelation– *takes a deep breath*

    The Book of Revelation almost wasn’t included in the canon of the New Testament because of it’s similarity to Jewish Apocalyptic literature (and also that it was just too “far out” for many of the early Church leaders to accept), but it squeaked by on the assumption that John the Revelator and St. John the Beloved were one and the same person (which, according to almost all modern scholarship, they were not. Ooops.)

    As I said at the beginning, people have been trying to interpret and explain this book since before it was even in the Bible. I would have been disappointed if Joseph and Sidney HADN’T taken a swing at it! 😀 And by the way, Bryce, I think the explanation that you related from the class you took about each of the seven churches mentioned in the opening chapters being connected to each of the seven ‘days’ is a classic case of ‘overthinking’ on the part of whomever originated it.

    In all likelihood, prior to his exile on the island of Patmos, John the Revelator had been proselyting in Asia Minor (modern western Turkey). Congregations of Christians existed in the major cities and John, after visiting them in the course of his travels, decided – in the finest tradition of preachers – to tell them each where they were falling short in their righteousness. I think these letters can be taken at face value and there is no need to imbue them with eschatological meaning – the chapters of the actual ‘vision’ provide more than enough of that!

    As a side note, I’m lucky enough to have visited the sites of four of the seven cities mentioned: Pergamum, Smyrna (modern Izmir), Laodicea and Ephesus. For me, the mention of Pergamum (modern Bergama) being the “throne of Satan” was made real when I visited what is called the Red Basilica. This was a very large Roman temple dedicated to the worship of Isis, Serapis, Anubis, Horus and other Egyptian gods. The building is still impressive today, even in its ruined state. Imagine a handful of the followers of Jesus surreptitiously meeting in someone’s house (“church” in Revelation = “congregation” not “chapel”) in the shadow of this massive building with 30-foot tall statues, thronging with thousands of people and with priests performing rituals dressed in Egyptian garb. Throne of Satan indeed! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Basilica

    The best book that I’ve read on the subject of the Book of Revelation is “A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization” by Jonathan Kirsch. It discusses not only the text itself and how it came to be, but also the influence it had (and continues to have) on our culture in general. There’s an entire chapter on 19th century American denominations, mainly the Millerites, but there are a couple of mentions of Joseph Smith and early Mormon thought as well. And the writing style is such that you don’t have to be a theologian to enjoy it.

    For a purely LDS interpretation of Revelation, I recommend “Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator” by Richard D. Draper, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University (you can get a copy on Amazon very inexpensively. 🙂 ) In many ways, this book can be seen as an extension and expansion of what Joseph and Sidney started in Section 77 – simply explaining Revelation in terms of Mormon theology and belief. It was my “go-to” book for many years, until I learned what constituted actual biblical scholarship. But I’ll give Draper points for admitting in those places of the text where he can’t derive an interpretation from Biblical or Mormon writings that he doesn’t have a good answer or just simply doesn’t know, rather than making something up to fill the gap (ahem *Joseph* ahem…).

    That’s more than enough for now. I’ll let others dig into the “beasts,” the “sea of glass,” etc. 🙂

    Reply

  2. MarsGirl Says:

    Thank you for you enlightening commentary on this episode. I will confess that I have never completely read the Book of Revelations; it is too nonsensical for me. Maybe my reluctance to read this particular book goes back to my childhood and my reaction to the Southern Baptist preacher, Brother Stephens, who would preach hell fire and damnation from the pulpit on Sunday morning. I was terrified as a small child by the imagery Brother Stephens used to imbue his sermons with on the end of the world; I remember having nightmares as a result. I don’t think Joseph has made Revelations anymore understandable either in spite of his being the Prophet.

    Reply

  3. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    You would think the “latter-day saints” would be extremely interested in the Book of Revelation, but I think evangelical Christians have the Mormons beat when it comes to obsession with it. While I’m sure many individual Mormons are into it, the LDS church at the institutional level doesn’t seem to really talk about Revelation much. For one thing, Joseph Smith put the kibosh down on it, eventually, saying things like, “Declare the first principles, and let mysteries alone, lest ye be overthrown. Never meddle with the visions of beasts and subjects you do not understand.” It seems he was getting pretty sick of listening to all his underlings argue about what this beast represents, and what that beast represents. Not that HE was claiming not to understand it all, mind you. “The book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written.” Sure it is, Joseph, sure it is.

    Still, there’s that little matter of the two witnesses, which remains a fun topic of speculation for Mormons, and one of those signs of the times they’re keeping their eyes out for. Some think it will be two young missionaries, and there are probably teenage Mormons out there having wet dreams about getting called on a mission to Jerusalem, where Mormon proselytizing is not allowed, for now, but someday God will need the two most awesome missionaries of all time to fulfill this prophecy, shooting fire out of their mouths and all, literal or figurative fire, doesn’t matter, it’s still badass, and you never know if it might be you… The joke’s on them, though, because the LDS leaders have already reserved this plum witnessing assignment for themselves, as Bruce R McKonkie said, “No doubt they will be members of the Council of the Twelve or of the First Presidency of the Church.” No doubt, Bruce, no doubt.

    The “sea of glass” will show up again, right here in the D&C, with some amazing elaboration, so let’s wait on that…

    Reply

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