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Another question asked why Kolob is not mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, the only reference is in the Book of Abraham. Not even the Book of Mormon has any reference to it, as I understand.

This led to me to wonder when exactly Joseph Smith came to understand the doctrine of eternal progression along with identifying that there was a place called Kolob. The Book of Abraham was purportedly translated in 1835, whereas the Book of Mormon was published in 1830. So, was the doctrine of eternal progression something Joseph Smith learned from the Book of Abraham or was he already teaching that prior to the Book of Abraham translation? Did the teaching originate as a revelation to Joseph Smith prior to 1835 or did it come in response to the translation of the Book of Abraham?

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Another point of reason on how Joseph Smith did not write the Book of Mormon by him self. Who would write a book and not place in it his own beliefs, doctrinal interpretations and biases that differ from the norm. In a way to prove his different interpretations. There are very little new doctrines introduced in the Book of Mormon. Its purpose is mainly acting as another witness of the truths that are found in the Bible. –  Nelson Jan 15 at 19:50
    
@Nelson I'm not sure what this has to do with the question. There are certainly other explanations for that, though. –  Narnian Jan 15 at 20:23
    
@Nelson, Someone who was still developing his positions later on. Why don't "church fathers" like Augustine just put all their positions in one treatise? Why do they write so many books? –  david brainerd Jun 16 at 0:32
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2 Answers 2

This question is difficult to answer because eternal progression is hard to define. Consider this quote from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

The principle of eternal progression cannot be precisely defined or comprehended, yet it is fundamental to the LDS worldview. The phrase "eternal progression" first occurs in the discourses of Brigham Young. It embodies many concepts taught by Joseph Smith, especially in his king follett discourse.

If you mean specifically the potential for man to become like God, I can give a fairly specific answer.

A detailed revelation received April 1st, 1832 and recorded in D&C 76 increased Joseph Smith's understanding of the afterlife and man's potential to progress.

LDS Church History states that Joseph Smith and several other men were pondering the significance of John 5:29, which speaks of the resurrection, when he and Sidney Rigdon were shown a vision.

In the original record of the vision, Joseph Smith prefaced the revelation saying how it increased his understanding:

through the power of the spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlarged

This revelation, among other things, speaks of three degrees of glory that the dead will inherit in the afterlife. Of those who fully follow Christ's gospel, the record says:

58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—

59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Interestingly, this references earlier scripture. Possibly Ps. 82:6; John 10:34; or 1 Cor. 8:6.

In any case, this revelation increased Joseph Smiths understanding of eternal progression more than revelations and scripture prior to April 1832.

More specifically, Joseph Smith stated in his preface:

From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.


Regarding Kolob, the earliest reference to it in the Joseph Smith Papers project (which intends to publish all documents written by Joseph Smith) is from circa July to December 1835, the time when Joseph Smith began translation of the Book of Abraham.

Therefore, I think the idea of a place called Kolob was probably not known prior to the translation of the Book of Abraham.

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Something to remember when studying the LDS religion is to understand that Joseph Smith was taught and understood many teachings that he did not teach to the masses. Because of this i cannot answer when exactly Joseph Smith understood eternal progression, however, the King Follett Sermon https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/05/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng (sorry I could not find it in one link). This is the first time that Smith taught this doctrine to the Church as a whole.

http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Eternal_Progression Here is another link that defines eternal progression from an LDS perspective. I hope this helps.

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