Book of Moses Anachronisms — Rich Kelsey

Anachronisms in the Book of Moses

Anachronisms in the Book of Moses:

Did Joseph Smith act presumptuously when he set forth to correct[1] the Bible? Anachronisms found in the Book of Moses[2] will answer this question; because several words and terms which Joseph Smith added to Genesis are anachronistic.

An anachronism[3] is an error in chronology. An example of an anachronism in videos would be using modern helicopters instead of period-correct helicopters while recreating war scenes. Using modern-day helicopters for a war that ended in 1975, such as the Vietnam War, is a dead giveaway that this segment of the video is not actual, or realistic footage. Anachronisms in books are similar; if a character in a book supposedly from the 1970s is using modern words and terminologies, such as ‘smartphone,’ then we know that those sections of the book were not taken from any actual quotes of the character in question. The Book of Moses has anachronisms, and they are obvious!

Agency of man:

“Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him …” (Moses 4:3)

Agency” expresses man’s free will, or God-given ability to choose.“[4]

Agency of man” is and was often used by scholars discussing a doctrine called predestination; also known as Calvinism.

What are the odds that a doctrinal term[5] which was popular in Joseph Smith’s day would be among Moses’ lost record?

Neither the word “agency” nor the phrase “agency of man” is found in the Bible. 

Yet the phrase, “agency of man,” is found in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man …” (D&C 93:31)

Agents unto themselves:

“And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves …” (Book of Moses 6:56) 

The word “agents” and the phrase “agents unto themselves” cannot be found in the writings of Moses from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy. Neither has the term “agents unto themselves” been used by any other prophet, king, or apostle, in the entire Bible. There is no historical evidence that God’s people living during or before the time of Christ ever used this term.[6]

However, in Joseph Smith’s revelations, the phrase “agents unto themselves” is found three times:

● “And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves …” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:39)

● “For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves …” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:28)

● “… I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:17)

The phrase, “agents unto themselves” is an anachronism; it is out of place chronologically with Moses’ day.

Original guilt:

“Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children …” (Book of Moses 6:54)

The term “original guilt” is never used once in the Bible, but it was a popular term in Joseph Smith’s day. “Original guilt,” also known as “original sin,” is a doctrinal term which Joseph Smith and his contemporaries were familiar with.

The Book of Moses is full of explanations about controversial doctrines which were the subject of debate in Smith’s day, just like the Book of Mormon:

“This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. He decided all the great controversies… the fall of man, the atonement … even the question of free masonry …” (Millennial Harbinger, Vol. II, February 1831, p. 85)  

Secret Combinations:

“For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark …” (Book of Moses 5:51)

Neither the term, “secret combination;” nor the word “combination” can be found in the Bible. Yet, in the Book of Mormon we find the plural version of the term,

secret combinations

used thirteen times.[7] 

Also, as the Book of Moses was being written, Joseph Smith received a revelation containing the term “secret combinations:”

“And even now, let him that goeth to the east teach them that shall be converted to flee to the west, and this in consequence of that which is coming on the earth, and of secret combinations.” (February 9, 1831, D&C 42:64)

Secret combinations was a popular term in Joseph Smith’s day, it was used to describe the practices of Freemasonry:

“… at the time of the Book of Mormon’s publication the term ‘secret combinations‘ was used almost exclusively to refer to Freemasonry.” (Mormonism’s Anti-Masonick Bible, p. 18)

Joseph Smith’s father, Joseph Smith Sr., was a practicing member of a Masonic lodge in upstate New York. On May 7th 1818 when the young Smith was about to turn thirteen his father rose to the degree of Master Mason.[8] The Prophet himself sought[9] and achieved[10] the title of Master Mason[11] shortly before his death.

Master Mahan:

The non-biblical title “Master Mahan” is found twice in the Book of Moses:

● “And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan …” (Book of Moses 5:31)

● “For Lamech having entered into a covenant with Satan, after the manner of Cain, wherein he became Master Mahan, master of that great secret …” (Book of Moses 5:49)

In both passages, the title “Master Mahan” is connected to the knowledge of a great secret. Freemasonry contains a “great secret.”[12] The similarities between the titles and privileges of “Master Mahan” from the Book of Moses, and that of Master Mason from Freemasonry are noteworthy.

Meridian of time:

● “… even him whom he declared should come in the meridian of time, who was prepared from before the foundation of the world.” (Moses 5:57)

● “… the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.” (Moses 6:57)

● “… through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.”  (Moses 6:62)

● “And the Lord said: It shall be in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance.” (Moses 7:46)

Other revelations of Joseph Smith also contain the phrase “meridian of time:”

● “… after he came in the meridian of time …” (D&C, 20:26)

● “The same which came in the meridian of time unto mine own, and mine own received me not;” (D&C, 39:3)

The term Meridian can point to the midpoint in a day, high noon, when the sun is at the top of the earth’s circle of rotation. The word[13] stems from Latin meridianus and also from Middle French meridien where meri refers to center; in the way of a midpoint, and dien from the Latin word for “day.”

“The meridian of time has been defined by one LDS apostle as ‘the middle or high point of that portion of eternity which is considered to be mortal time.’” (MD, 1966, p. 486)

While found four times in the Book of Moses; neither the phrase “meridian of time,” nor the word “meridian” can be found in the entire Bible.[14] What is the likelihood that Moses used this doctrinal term in his original writings, only to have all four of those passages deleted by dishonest scribes?

If Joseph Smith’s New Translation[15] of Genesis is nothing more than a poorly crafted forgery with spurious content falsely attributed to an ancient holy man. Then none of the LDS teachings based on Moses’ supposed lost words have any basis in truth.

Other articles of interest:

Book of Moses Changes — Rich Kelsey

Joseph Smith Stone In Hat Routine — Rich Kelsey

■ LDS Urim and Thummim — Rich Kelsey

Full Article Index / LDS SERIES


[1] “… Joseph’s translation was more revelation than literal translation from one language into another.” (On-line Introduction to the Joseph Smith Translation @

[2] In 1851 Elder Franklin D. Richards created what we now call the Book of Moses by publishing Genesis excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation in his British Mission pamphlet, the Pearl of Great Price. (Kent P. Jackson, The Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), p. 1)

[3] Anach·ro·nism:

1: an error in chronology ; especially : a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other

2: a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place; especially: one from a former age that is incongruous in the present

3: the state or condition of being chronologically out of place

(Merriam — Webster / Dictionary / anachronism)

[4] “Agency is the ability God gives people to choose for themselves. This makes each person responsible for the decisions he or she makes …” (, 2009)

[5] “Calvinists deny that their scheme is a form of determinism and instead uphold the free agency and moral responsibility of the individual. They do, however, hold that the will is in bondage to sin and therefore unable to actualize its true freedom. Hence, an individual cannot choose to trust God because their will is enslaved to evil…” (Predestination, Wikipedia, 2009)

[6] Agent:

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin agent-, agens, from Latin, present participle of agere to drive, lead, act, do; akin to Old Norse aka to travel in a vehicle, Greek agein to drive, lead

Date: 15th century

(Merriam – Webster / Dictionary)


●  For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities; and the blood of those whom they murdered did cry unto the Lord their God for vengeance upon those who were their murderers; and thus the judgments of God did come upon these workers of darkness and secret combinations. (Alma, 37:30)

●  Yea, and cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe. (Alma, 37:31)

●  For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man. (Ether, 8:19)

●  And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not. (Ether, 8:22)

●  Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.  (Ether 14:10)

●  And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people. (Ether 14:10)

●  And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.  (2 Nephi, 9:9)

●  And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.  (2 Nephi, 26:22)

●  And it came to pass in the forty and ninth year of the reign of the judges, there was continual peace established in the land, all save it were the secret combinations which Gadianton the robber had established in the more settled parts of the land, which at that time were not known unto those who were at the head of government; therefore they were not destroyed out of the land. (Helaman. 3:23)

●  May the Lord preserve his people in righteousness and in holiness of heart, that they may cause to be felled to the earth all who shall seek to slay them because of power and secret combinations, even as this man hath been felled to the earth. (3 Nephi, 4:29)

●  And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness. (Mormon, 8:27)

●  And now I, Moroni, proceed with my record. Therefore, behold, it came to pass that because of the secret combinations of Akish and his friends, behold, they did overthrow the kingdom of Omer. (Ether 9:1)

●  Wherefore, it came to pass that in the first year that Ether dwelt in the cavity of a rock, there were many people who were slain by the sword of those secret combinations, fighting against Coriantumr that they might obtain the kingdom. (Ether 13:18)

[8] “[The Joseph Smith family] was a Masonic family which lived by and practiced the estimable and admirable tenets of Freemasonry. The father, Joseph Smith, Sr., was a documented member in upstate New York. He was raised to the degree of Master Mason on May 7, 1818 in Ontario Lodge No. 23 of Canandaigua, New York. An older son, Hyrum Smith, was a member of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112, Palmyra New York.” (The Mormon Church and Freemasonry (2001), Terry Chateau)

[9] “I officiated as grand chaplain at the installation of the Nauvoo Lodge of Free Masons, at the Grove near the Temple. Grand Master Jonas, of Columbus, being present, a large number of people assembled on the occasion. The day was exceedingly fine; all things were done in order, and universal satisfaction was manifested. In the evening I received the first degree in Freemasonry in the Nauvoo Lodge, assembled in my general business office.” (History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Deseret Book, 1978, Vol.4, Ch.32, p.550-1)

[10] “Smith was initiated as an Entered Apprentice Mason at the Nauvoo lodge on March 15, 1842. The next day, he was raised to the degree of Master Mason; the usual month-long wait between degrees was waived by the Grand Master of Illinois.” (Bushman 2005, p. 449)

[11] “…with uplifted hands they gave such signs of distress as would have commanded the interposition and benevolence of Savages or Pagans. They were both Masons in good standing. Ye brethren of ‘the mystic tie’ what think ye! Where is our good Master Joseph and Hyrum? Is there a pagan, heathen, or savage nation on the globe that would not be moved on this great occasion, as the trees of the forest are moved by a mighty wind? Joseph’s last exclamation was ‘O LORD MY GOD!’ ” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 585)

“When the enemy surrounded the jail, rushed up the stairway, and killed Hyrum Smith, Joseph stood at the open window, his martyr-cry being these words, ‘O Lord My God!’ This was not the beginning of a prayer, because Joseph Smith did not pray in that manner. This brave, young man who knew that death was near, started to repeat the distress signal of the Masons, expecting thereby to gain the protection its members are pledged to give a brother in distress.” (Mormonism and Masonry, by Mormon writer: E. Cecil McGavin, p. 17)

[12] “… the great secret of the mediaeval Masons consisted in the application of the principles of Geometry to the art of building by methods known only to themselves, and which they developed

in the Gothic style of architecture which they invented. This secret perished with the dissolution of the Operative Fraternity, or by its transmission into the Speculative Association.

Yet this Speculative Association, the Free and Accepted Masons of the present day, have retained the memory of their descent from these Operative Masons of the Middle Ages by a sacred preservation in their ritual of a reference to Geometry as the ‘fifth and noblest of the sciences and the one on which the superstructure of Masonry is founded.’

The retention in the ritual of the letter G, the earliest and the most extensively propagated of all the symbols of Speculative Masonry, is an ever-present and a loudly speaking testimony in every lodge that the brethren there congregated have not forgotten that the great secret of their predecessors was a geometrical one. Indeed, if there were no other proof that the mediaeval Freemasons did all their work according to certain principles of Geometry, the method of applying which was known only to themselves, and that therefore the science of Geometry was to them a most important and indispensable part of their Craft …” (The History of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey, William Singleton; 1898, p. 763)

[13] (Webster’s New Dictionary of the English Language, 2002 edition, author’s paraphrase)

[14] “The meridian of time has been defined by one LDS apostle as “the middle or high point of that portion of eternity which is considered to be mortal time” (MD, 1966, p. 486). It is the dispensation in which Jesus Christ lived in mortality. The term does not occur in the Bible, but is found in the Doctrine and Covenants (20:26; 39:3) and in the Book of Moses 5:57; 6:57; 6:62; 7:46). The word “meridian” suggests the middle. According to Old Testament genealogies, from the Fall of Adam to the time of Jesus Christ was approximately 4,000 years. It has been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus’ birth. The millennial reign will commence “in the beginning of the seventh thousand years” (D&C 77:12). After the Millennium there will be a “little season,” the exact length of which is not revealed, but it could be several hundred years. In the context of these events, the Lord’s mortal ministry took place near the meridian, or middle, of mortal time (DS 1:81)… MARSHALL T. BURTON” (BYU Studies, also found in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1992 edition)

[15] (Joseph Smith referred to it, the ‘New Translation.’ See Doctrine and Covenants 124:89; Times and Seasons 1, no. 9 (July 1840): 140. See also Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:341, 365; 4:164.)