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Arrington Lecturer Looks at 'Prophecy of Enoch as Restoration Blueprint'

Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012

Dr. Terryl Givens presents the 2012 Arrington Lecture

Dr. Terryl Givens provides the 18th Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Thursday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m., Logan LDS Tabernacle, 50 N. Main, Logan.

According to Terryl Givens, the Bostwick Chair of English and professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond (Virginia), the prophecy of Enoch “exerted an influence on the development of early Mormonism far out of proportion to its modest textual length.”

That is the premise for Given’s presentation at the 18th  Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Logan LDS Tabernacle, 50 N. Main Street, Logan. The free lecture, “The Prophecy of Enoch as Restoration Blueprint,” begins at 7 p.m. and is open to all.

The Book of Mormon facilitates in particularly powerful form the main engine of Mormonism’s lifeblood — continuing and personal revelation — while continuing to have negligible impact on the doctrinal foundations of the LDS Church, Givens writes in an abstract to his lecture.

Conversely, the prophecy of Enoch singlehandedly sowed the seeds of Mormonism’s most distinctive and vibrant doctrines, Givens continued in the abstract.

Philip Barlow, head of USU’s Religious Studies Program and holder of the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture, offered an explanation of the prophecy that originated in Joseph Smith’s prophetic translation of the Bible. He began the translation only two months after the Book of Mormon was published. Portions of that translation comprise the prophecy of Enoch that can be found in chapters 6 and 7 of The Book of Moses in The Pearl of Great Price, a scriptural volume from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Barlow said.

In those texts, God shows the biblical figure of Enoch the entire scope of human history and future, including the future coming of the Messiah and such travail and sin of humankind that — to Enoch’s astonishment — God weeps, Barlow said.

“In the process, God is revealed as a radical, even vulnerable God whose compassion entails suffering, whose children existed with him before the creation of the world and who, the narrative hints, are invited to become godly in a literal sense,” Barlow said. “Enoch responds by fashioning, over time, a perfected society, Zion, which is ultimately taken up into heaven.”

Givens, in his Arrington Lecture, explores Joseph Smith’s identification with the prophecy of Enoch.

“If the Book of Mormon lent Joseph his indispensable aura of prophetic authority, the prophecy of Enoch provided a personal role model to inspire him, and a blueprint to direct him,” Givens said in his lecture abstract.

The Arrington Mormon History Lecture is hosted by USU’s Special Collections and Archives and University Libraries. Special Collections houses the personal and historical collections of the late Leonard J. Arrington, renowned scholar of the American West. As part of his gift to the university, Arrington requested that the historical collection also become the focus for an annual lecture on an aspect of Mormon history. Honoring the request, the Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series was established in 1995. An associated writing competition is open to all university students in the state.

More information about the Arrington Collection, past lectures and rules for the Arrington Writing Awards are available online.

Related links:

Special Collections and Archives

Arrington Lecture/Collection

USU’s University Libraries

Writer: Patrick Williams, (435) 797-1354,

Contact: Brad Cole, (435) 797-8268,

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