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Joseph Smith, Mormonism and Enochic Tradition

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Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley (1910-2005) claimed to have developed an argument, in two parts, that proved the bona fides of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith (1805-1844). First, Nibley compared Smith’s extract of the prophecy of Enoch, written in 1830-31, with the pseudeupigraphic 1 Enoch, written prior to the first century CE, and Nibley found numerous parallels. Second, in a seven point argument, Nibley denied that Smith had access to any material related to 1 Enoch, in particular citing a translation of 1 Enoch published by Richard Laurence in 1821. Therefore, without access and with parallels, Nibley concludes that divine inspiration is the only explanation for the substantial similarities between Smith's own account of Enoch in his Book of Moses and 1 Enoch. This thesis investigates that conclusion and reconsiders Nibley’s argument in light of new scholarship on early Mormonism, recent discoveries about Enochic material in America during the early 1800's, and the availability of those Enochic materials to Smith and his companions. I argue that Smith did in fact have access to 1 Enoch and a variety of other Enochic materials, that beyond parallels there are substantial similarities that further argue influence occurred, and that evident in the practices of early Mormonism are the affects of that Enochic influence.

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