Mormonism and doctrine/Repudiated concepts/Adam-God theory/Ancient of Days
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The critics are here not asking a sincere question; they are trying to catch the LDS in a contradiction, since a previous question assumed that Adam-God theory was official Church doctrine. This question, then, is often posed insincerely.
The real question should be how do LDS justify their interpretation of Ancient of Days as Adam. LDS are not dependent upon biblical interpretation for a complete understanding of the meaning of this or any other term. Since LDS have a more expanded idea of Adam's role, it is not surprising that they interpret some verses differently.
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism notes:
- For Latter-day Saints, Adam stands as one of the noblest and greatest of all men. Information found in the scriptures and in declarations of latter-day apostles and prophets reveals details about Adam and his important roles in the pre-earth life, in Eden, in mortality, and in his postmortal life. They identify Adam by such names and titles as Michael (DC 27:11; DC 29:26), archangel (DC 88:112), and Ancient of Days (DC 138:38).
Joseph Smith is one source for this view of Adam:
- "‘Ancient of Days’ appears to be his title because he is ‘the first and oldest of all.'
The critics are also perhaps too confident in their ability to definitively interpret an isolated verse of scripture. This section of Daniel is written in Aramaic, while the rest of the Old Testament is in Hebrew. The phrase translated "Ancient of Days" (attiq yômîn) as one non-LDS source notes, "in reference to God...is unprecedented in the Hebrew texts." Thus, reading this phrase as referring to God (and, in the critics' reading, only God) relies on parallels from Canaanite myth and Baal imagery in, for example, the Ugaritic texts.  Latter-day Saints are pleased to have a more expanded view through the addition of revelatory insights.
Like many Christians, the LDS see many parallels between Christ (who is God) and Adam. Christ is even called, on occasion, the "second Adam." It is thus not surprising that DC 27:11 associates Adam with a divine title or status when resurrected and exalted—after all, LDS theology anticipates human deification, so God and Adam are not seen as totally "other" or "different" from each other. LDS would have no problem, then, in seeing Adam granted a type of divine title or epithet—they do not see this as necessarily an either/or situation.
This does not mean, however, that Adam and God are the same being, merely that they can ultimately share the same divine nature. Such a reading would be strange to creedal Christians who see God as completely different from His creation. Once again, the theological preconceptions with which we approach the Biblical text affects how we read it.
- [note] Arthur A. Bailey, "Adam," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:15–16. off-site off-site direct off-site
- [note] Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 167. ISBN 087579243X. off-site
- [note] Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, "Ancient of Days," in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, edited by David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 62. ISBN 0802824005.