Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More On Pre-Earth Life

A. F. J. Klijn states that the idea of preexistence comes from Judaism, where the idea of the heavenly robe "may be taken from the description of Adam and Eve in paradise."  Of course, he refers to the tradition that Adam's nature was like bright light before the Fall, even as the garment is a garment of light, but after the Fall Adam lost his preexistent glory.  J. Rendel Harris points out that the Odes of Solomon also contain the ideas of "the pre-existent soul that has to leave heaven for earth, and that of the unfallen creation of God, whose environment is changed from a coat of light to a coat of skins." The "garment of skins" became the "garment of light" possibly because the Hebrew [word for] (coat of skins) so closely resembles [Hebrew word] meaning "coat of light."  Even so, the Apocryphon of  James  tells us that when the spirit returns to its heavenly treasure it will become "as you were first, having clothed yourself, you become the first who will strip himself, and you shall become as you were before removing the garment."
The garment also represents the treasure laid up in heaven awaiting the soul's return, and, in this context, the glory of the resurrected body.  An ancient Christian writing known as the Ascension of  Isaiah  states, "The saints will come with the Lord with their garments which are now stored up in the seventh heaven, with the Lord will come those whose spirits are clothed upon."  The Book of Enoch is replete with references to garments. In connection with the resurrection the Book of Enoch says, "And the righteous and elect shall have risen from the earth, and ceased to be downcast in countenance. And they shall be clothed with garments of glory, and they shall be the garments of life from the Lord of Spirits."  The Manual of Discipline, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains a concept very similar to that of the Book of Enoch:
And as for the visitation of all who walk in this spirit [of truth] it shall be healing, great peace in a long life, and fruitfulness, together with every everlasting blessing and eternal joy in life without end, a crown of glory and a garment of majesty in unending light.
            (The Necessity of a Sinless Messiah by Ronald A. Heiner Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 22 (1982), Number 1 - Fall 1982, p.17-)

Compare the above with,

2 Ne 9:14
 14 Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness. (emphasis added).


MARTHA said...

So insightful.

Kristen said...

The class on Thursday night was superb. Thank you.