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Relationship to Chapters 1-2. The relationship of Verses 1:28-31 to the rest of Chapters 1-2 is discussed at Chapters 1-2.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 1:28-31 include:
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- Abr 1:28: The records of the fathers. It is known from Moses 6:5 that records were kept from the time of Adam.
- Abr 1:28: Records and revelation as source material. This verse, tied inextricably to verse 31, provides Abraham's "project" for the book he writes. These verses together suggest that Abraham plans to write a record that concerns the nature of the heavens and its connection with the story of man from the beginning to Abraham's own time. Perhaps this raises a difficulty, however: in Abr 3:15, Abraham reports having been told that all these things (precisely the same things: the nature of the heavens and its connection with the story of man from the beginning to Abraham's own time) came by immediate revelation, whereas in these two verses all of this knowledge is predicated upon the records of the fathers, as they have come into the hands of Abraham.
- Since neither of these verses in any way denies that Abraham had such revelations personally, these verses essentially suggest that there were two elements that went into Abraham's recording the nature of the heavens and its connection with the story of man: Abraham drew on his personal revelatory experiences, and Abraham drew on the records of the fathers as he received them. The relation between these two sources (faith and knowledge, the two sources of the Book of Abraham within the limits of reason alone?) might be read in verses 28 and 31, then, in two ways. On the one hand, the records of the fathers might have been the primary source for the Book of Abraham, to which the prophet added his own revelatory insights. On the other hand, the revelatory experiences might have been the primary source for the Book of Abraham, to which the prophet added insights from the records of the fathers. This latter seems the better reading of these two on two accounts: in verse 31 here, Abraham claims he will "write some of these things upon" his record; moreover, the general flow of the Book of Abraham--as we now have it--certainly favors Abraham's own experience (see most especially Abr 2 and Abr 3).
- However, there may be a third way of reading these verses that transcends these two. It might be that the records of the fathers contained explicit accounts of the things Abraham had revealed to him, but that he could not ultimately understand those records until he had had the revelatory experiences. In other words, it might not have been possible for the fathers to work the interpretive key into the texts they wrote and which fell into the hands of Abraham: the key to the texts might well have been the experience of revelation that builds like a crescendo from the experiences right in this first chapter of Abraham. If this is a justified reading, then it seems that the records of the fathers might well have been precisely what pressed Abraham on to seek revelation: certainly profound, but uninterpretable, Abraham saw in the records a sort of call to seek further light and understanding; he heard a call to "translate" (if that word may be used here) the records of the fathers. This interpretation reads a sort of dialectical relation between the records of the fathers and the revelatory experiences of Abraham: they fueled each other, led to each other, interpreted each other, etc. This certainly seems to account for Abraham's complete lack of documentation (so far as we have the Book of Abraham): apparently he did not separate the task of reading the records from the experience of revelation. (For another scriptural account that does not seem to draw this distinction, see Alma 36, where Alma's moment of conversion is also the culmination of his reading of the story recorded in 1 Ne 1.)
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Abr 1:28-31: Records. Given that Abraham's father seemed to be a follower of other Gods (Abr 1:5-7), how might Abraham have come across these records?
- Abr 1:31: The fathers, even the patriarchs. Who is this referring to? Melchezidek? Noah? Enoch? Adam? Others? Why does he refer to them as both fathers and patriarchs?
- Abr 1:31: Therefore. What is the connection between these two items: 1) Abraham has the records of the fathers concerning the right of the Priesthood, 2) Abraham keeping a knowledge of the beginning of creation and of astronomy and writing those down for the benefit of his posterity? Why does Abraham join these two statements with therefore?
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Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.