Blake kindly sent me his third book in his Exploring Mormon Thought series. I have the first two books on my shelf.
So far, I have read the preface and the first chapter of this third book.
Blake opens up with a clear, succinct ambition in his preface (dated February 9, 2008):
My project has been a rescue operation to save the heart of God’s revelation to the Hebrews from the Greek mind (ix).
He critiques “the tradition”. And what is it?
The tradition is defined by the commitment that there is only one possible being who is God because God created everything that is not God out of nothing (2).
Did the founding LDS prophet, Joseph Smith, accept “the tradition”?
Joseph Smith expressly rejected both the view of creation out of nothing in which this web of metaphysical commitments is grounded and the logical conclusion that follows that there can be at most one God who creates everything else. Thus, Joseph Smith rejected the tradition’s most foundational claim or what I shall refer to as “metaphysical monotheism” (2).
Joseph Smith clearly declared a number of propositions near the end of his life. Explained by Blake, here is the first religious claim: “The creation occurred by organizing the world not “from nothing” but from preexisting matter.”
In the first major section in chapter 1, “Creation by Organization of Matter”, Blake shares an excerpt from the preaching of Joseph in the King Follett Discourse:
The word ‘create’ came from the word BARA; it does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize, the same as a man would organize materials to build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos–chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. . . .
And in building groundwork or fortifying this audacious claim, Blake utilizes at least a dozen sources: (1) James Atwell – “An Egyptian Source for Genesis 1“, (2) E. A. Speiser and the Enuma elish, (3) Rashi, (4) Luis Stadelmann and his book The Hebrew Conception of the World, (5) Umberto Cassuto, (6) Harper’s Bible Commentary, (7) Bernhard Anderson, (8) Ronald Simkins, (9) Robert B. Coote and David Robert Ord and their book, In the Beginning: Creation and the Priestly History, (10) evangelical Paul Seely (and to think that Blake has on the same page an illustration from the book, God, Reason, and the Evangelicals: The Case Against Evangelical Rationalism by the famed University of Idaho philosophy professor Nicholas F. Gier), (11) Jon Levenson, and (12) ANE creation accounts.
Read Paul Copan.
Read Lehi’s Library. (To both FAIR and Lehi – Isn’t it James E. Atwell?)
And read The Yellow Dart with his ongoing series.