The Book of Moses is an extract from Joseph Smith's inspired translation of the Bible and was originally recorded between June 1830 and March 1831 (source). It was published serially in church newspapers and later included in the 1851 edition (and later editions) of the Pearl of Great Price (source). The Book of Moses includes a great deal more about the Prophet Enoch than is found in today's bible (which gives us a mere 4 verses).

”And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Genesis 5:21-24

Writers in the New Testament allude to the Books of Enoch which were evidently very important to the ancient Jews and to the early church. Though they are not canononical, the 5 books of Enoch have now been translated into English. The first was translated in 1821 and could have conceivably been sourced by Joseph Smith in his writing of the Book of Moses but the other 4 volumes either hadn't been translated or hadn't even been discovered in 1851.

How might we account, other than by the supernatural means claimed by Joseph Smith, for the parallels and points of contact between these books separated by at least couple of millenia?

  1. Mahijah. The Book of Moses says that the wicked men who opposed Enoch and his preaching sent a man named Mahijah to confront Enoch and ask him questions. Here is the text:

39 And it came to pass when they heard him, no man laid hands on him; for fear came on all them that heard him; for he walked with God. 40 And there came a man unto him, whose name was Mahijah, and said unto him: Tell us plainly who thou art, and from whence thou comest?

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is a fragment of a document speaking of Enoch which states:

” [Thereupon] all the giants [and the nephilim] took fright and they summoned Mahujah and he came to them: And the giants asked him and sent him to Enoch […] saying to him: Go then […] and under pain of death you must […] and listen to his voice; and tell him that he is to explain to you and to interpret the dreams.” Dead Sea Scrolls 4QEnGiants 1:20

  1. In the Book of Moses, Enoch is shown the wickedness of mankind, and he weeps in sorrow

44 And as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren

In 2 Enoch, Enoch sees the wickedness of mankind and weeps

And I (Enoch) sighed and burst into tears, and I said concerning their disreputable depravity, Oh how miserable . 2 Enoch 41:1

  1. The Book of Moses claims that Enoch foretold that God’s people would be established in “Jerusalem:”

For there shall be my tabernacle and it shall be called Zion, a new Jerusalem. Moses 7:62.

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls and in a document called the Testament of Levi, it claims that Enoch prophesied that the chosen people would be called Jerusalem:

For the house which the Lord shall choose shall be called Jerusalem, as the Book of Enoch the Righteous maintains. Testament of Levi 10:4

(There's nothing amazing about Joseph Smith prophesying about Jerusalem in 1835 but to be able to accurately put those words into Enoch's mouth would be an incredible stroke of luck)

  1. The Book of Moses states that Enoch possessed writings from Adam and the other patriarchs:

    ”And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirits of inspiration….” The chapter describes the gospel as revealed to Adam. Moses 6: 5, 51-68

2 Enoch also includes...

"For I will give you an intercessor, Enoch; Michael, on account of your handwritings and the handwritings of your fathers–Adam and Seth. They will not be destroyed until the final age. For I have commanded my angels to guard them and to command the things of time to preserve the handwritings of your fathers so that they might not perish in the impending flood." 2 Enoch 33:11-12

  1. he Book of Moses claims that the animals roared and cried out during the ministry of Enoch:

    ”And …[Enoch] led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, … and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly. Moses 7:13

The Dead Sea Scroll fragment includes a very similar statement:

”Ohyah the enemy of Enoch) … by the strength of my power, [I had attacked] all flesh and I have made war with them . . . they live in holy abodes, and … they are more powerful than I. [Thereupon …] the roaring of the wild beasts came and the multitude of the wild animals began to cry out.” 4Q En Giants Frg 8

  1. these similarities involve very unique and even strange claims about Enoch. Others include:
    • God shows Enoch all the people that would inhabit the earth
    • God shows Enoch the pre-mortal existence of mankind
    • God calls Enoch to preach, even though he is young and intimidated by older men. The Book of Moses calls Enoch “but a lad.” The Dead Sea Scrolls fragment refers to Enoch as a “mere youth.”
    • Enoch is placed upon God’s throne by God Himself
    • The writings of Enoch will be preserved and restored at a later time
    • Enoch is clothed with glory
    • Enoch is shown in vision the saints resurrected

None of the parallels I chose came From 1 Enoch. I chose only those that were from the other four volumes, the ones completely unavailable to Joseph Smith. It doesn't matter that the Books of Enoch aren't canononical or even that they may be from a time much later than Enoch. It is sufficient that they are authentically ancient and unavailable to Joseph.

  • I am really, really bad at this formatting thing. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 2:48
  • "Plausible" is subjective, What's plausible to you may or may not be plausible to me and vice/versa. I hope you're not hoping for something personally convincing for you because that's not what this site is about. we're not here to convince you. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 4:10
  • No, I wasn't asking to be personally convinced. If you prefer we can change plausible to possible. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 4:23
  • 2
    There are some misconceptions in the question: Joseph Smith did not translate the complete Book of Abraham from papyrus in 1851. He was killed in 1844. Furthermore, the Pearl of Great Price is not one translation of ancient text, but a compilation of several holy texts of different origin and history. The Book of Abraham was translated from papyrus, the History of Joseph Smith and the Articles of Faith surely weren't. The Book of Moses is not claimed to be translated from any ancient papyrus. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 17:08
  • You are correct about the Book of Moses not coming from the papyrus. Other than that, all the rest of your comments about the rest of the Pearl of Great Price are irrelevant. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


The books of Enoch, even The Secrets of Enoch which you quote here, are not as isolated and rarely consumed as the question suggests. In Scripture and Scholarship in Early Modern England, “Og King of Bashan, Enoch and the Books of Enoch: Extra-Canonical Texts and Interpretations of Genesis 6:1-4,” Ariel Hessayon writes:

Far from being neglected, Enoch and the books under his name had preoccupied monks, chroniclers, rabbis, Kabbalists, Academicians, magicians, Catholic theologians, Protestant divines, Orientalists, sectarian and poets alike. So much so, that by the mid-eighteenth century the available evidence in Greek and Latin had been exhausted.

Indeed, in his article Joseph Smith, Mormonism and Enochic Tradition, Salvatore Cirillo exhausts several important responses to your question. For a more complete answer that is far beyond the scope of this site, please read his article in its entirety. The article specifically addresses your points 1 & 4, and addresses the others in general.

Firstly, Cirillo dedicates a significant amount of effort to describe the trade of books between Europe and the Americas at the time, especially those of the Enochic narritive, in order to provide a firm foundation for the remainder of the discussion of the purported similarities between the texts.

Secondly, Cirillo addresses claims by proponents of Smith’s testimony on the texts, namely Hugh Nibley and D. Michael Quinn. Cirillo definitively responds to Nibley's conclusion that the only possibility for the parallels is divine revelation in the face of his claim that Smith lacked access to the Enochic literature. He says of Quinn (parenthetical notes are Cirillo’s):

Quinn instead suggests that ‘independent discovery’ (the idea that coincidental development of the same or similar idea can occur from separate persons or groups unaware of the other‘s work) is the best possible explanation for the argument for parallels. However, this is an equally difficult argument to posit when the parallel evidence is coupled with possible access.

Cirillo continues to go on that Quinn, despite his Mormon faith, lists five ways the Enochic literature was made accessible to Smith:

  1. an advertisement for [Thomas Hartwell] Horne‘s book [An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures] in a Palmyra paper;
  2. another advertisement for Horne‘s book in a nearby Canandaigua bookstore;
  3. yet another advertisement indicating Horne‘s book was continuously on sale in Canandaigua;
  4. Horne‘s book told Palmyra‘s residents that the BE [Books of Enoch] was important; and
  5. an American printing of Laurence‘s 1En [First Book of Enoch] in 1828.

Quinn concludes that, Nibley understated the access of Palmyra‘s residents in the mid 1820s to information about the pseudeupigraphic Enoch.

As another point in his thesis, Cirillo exhibits Smith’s dependence on the documents in question using the legal standard of substantial similarity. He concludes,

Substantial similarities and influence as argued by the Stanford study both support this thesis‘ larger argument that Joseph Smith‘s EPE [Extract of the Prophecy of Enoch] was influenced by the BE [Books of Enoch]. Hugh Nibley‘s assumption that Smith‘s EPE was the result of independent and wholly divine revelation is not viable. There is clear evidence which favours access by Smith to materials related to the BE and, as this chapter has shown, there exists a degree of substantial similarities not easily dismissed as coincidence. The use of the Son of Man motif, the relationship of Enoch and Noah, and the accounts of the journey‘s to question Enoch between Mahijah, Mahaway, Methuselah and Noah, all establish enough substantial similarity to argue that Smith was influenced. That each of these ideas and there expressions was only available in the BE accounts at the time of Smith‘s writing is proof positive that influence did occur.

Aditionally, Joseph Smith, before the final publication of the completed Book of Moses in 1851 had access to the content of all of these texts in addition to a faithful convert to assist him in the rabbinically trained polyglot Alexander Neibaur. In Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection, Lance S. Owens writes:

By 1842 Joseph Smith most likely had touched the subject of Kabbalah in several ways and versions, even if such contacts remain beyond easy documentation. During Joseph's final years in Nauvoo, however, his connection with Kabbalah becomes more concrete. In the spring of 1841 there apparently arrived in Nauvoo an extraordinary library of Kabbalistic writings belonging to a European Jew and convert to Mormonism who evidently knew Kabbalah and its principal written works. This man, Alexander Neibaur, would soon become the prophet's friend and companion.

Later, he says:

Newel and Avery note in their biography of Emma Smith, "Through Alexander Neibaur, Joseph Smith had access to ancient Jewish rites called cabalism at the same time he claimed to be translating the papyri from the Egyptian mummies." That he not only knew something of Kabbalah, but apparently possessed a collection of original Jewish Kabbalistic works in Nauvoo, is however documented in material almost totally overlooked by Mormon historians.

And so an argument that the Enochic literature and other writings of Kabbalah and Hermeticism influenced Smith’s later writings is simpler to establish. As a whole, the manuscripts of Smith's dictations and writings used to compose the Book of Moses show "signs of subsequent correcting, editing and amending" and "are full of errors, omissions, and revisions." The Book of Moses was not published in its entirety until 1851, some seven years after his death. As far as the remaining two (4 & 5 Enoch) of the four other volumes you describe, perhaps you can edit your question to clarify exactly what texts you're talking about. Standard catalogues of biblical pseudepigrapha list only 1, 2, and 3 Enoch.

  • It's probably wise to read through the entire question, particularly the very last paragraph. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 3:12
  • @StephenGoodman A fair criticism, my apologies for not answering completely. I've edited my answer.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 20:41
  • An excellent edit, making for a far better and more complete answer. The Book of Moses was completed and published in 1831. 1 Enoch was available at that time. Thank you for the reference for 2 Enoch which I thought to be unavailable. 3, 4, and 5 Enoch were certainly unavailable. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 22:28
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    Better information from NoWay on 2 Enoch.... The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden is not an 1820 publication. It is an 1880 publication and the first part dealing with 1 Enoch is based on an 1820 book. 2 Enoch was not available until 1880. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 3:32
  • 1
    @StephenGoodman I said that the translation included in that book is from 1820, and meant to establish that the text was translated into English early enough for Smith to have access to it, but the remainder of the answer is meant to establish that dates of English translations are inconsequential given that Smith had the devotion of and open access to a rabbinically trained convert to Mormonism living within walking distance of his own home who moved there from the old world for the express purpose of assisting Smith, and these texts were indeed "available" to him through that convert.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 19:18

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