Hello! Shalom! Aloha! Mabuhay!

If this is your first visit to Modern Apocrypha, I have only two recommendations for continuing on with minimal confusion:

1) Please begin with the first introductory post (found HERE) and work your way forward. Almost all the posts on this blog flow chronologically and will make more sense with the background and context of previous ones. Jumping in anywhere might be disorienting.

2) Please read along in the texts posted off to the right. I try not to summarize too much in the commentary and discussion, and being at least somewhat familiar with what we're discussing or I'm commenting on will be most beneficial and edifying for all involved. Plus, going along with the theme of this blog, any hidden truths to be brought to light will be found within the text itself and not necessarily within my ramblings.

Okay, fine, three recommendations:

3) Please read with an open heart, mind, and spirit. See what truths you can find in these works--ones which speak to you. Namaste : )

Friday, May 30, 2014


I like how Elisha doesn't wait until he has a free day or a convenient time but leaves the very next morning to figure out if this is all real. Also, in traveling to the cave, he puts forth his best effort, working in faith, then is led by the Spirit the rest of the way as he hacks through the forest for three hours. It's also seems odd that he would have a strong feeling to leave after finding the cave; it seems that this experience was simply to confirm the reality of his vision and/or test his faith and not to recover the plates. His meeting with the American, Oleeha (more on him in the next post), also dissuades his skepticism. Except for these witnesses he would've gone away believing the whole situation was all a hoax or cruel trick played on him.

On top of this, Oleeha promises Elisha that there will come a time when the plates will be able to be tested. (In Ruman 8, the last chapter of the Aklatan, we learn that this will happen after their kingdom is established and temple built.) As an archaeologist, I find it fascinating that Oleeha would give such a promise. There is not a similar one (aside from vague generalizations about things coming to light in the future) that I can find recorded by Joseph Smith regarding the records he translated (though I swear there was something similar in an early section of the Doctrine & Covenants, but I can't find it). But it seems in this case, as in many others, that he is (and we are) to walk by faith for a time, then after a trial period of indeterminate length, a witness or proof of truth will come (see Ether 12:6).

We have some hint as to what these plates could look like in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, the earliest known written document from the Philippines. (You can find its Wikipedia page HERE.) Basically, it was an inscription dating to AD 900 written on a sheet of copper about the size of modern paper and describing the forgiveness of debts of certain individuals. It was found in 1989 (so a few years after Elisha's experiences in the Book of Visions), but it's importance wasn't realized until it made its way to the National Museum a few years later, where it was translated by Dutch anthropologist. Aside from the now-known fact that ancient Filipinos inscribed records on metal plates, as described with the Aklatan, the Laguna inscription records personal and place names that are also found in later books of the Aklatan (Buka, Namwaran, Tundun, etc.).

As another test of Elisha's faith (and with which to prove God as well), Oleeha asks him not to tell anyone of this for three months (autumnal equinox), and if nothing miraculous has happened by that time, he can do whatever he wants with the cave. (We'll see in Chapter 3, that God keeps his promise, and something miraculous does occur before that time.) This reminded me of Mary, the mother of Jesus, keeping and treasuring up her own miraculous experiences surrounding Jesus' birth and early life and pondering them in her heart until they were recorded at a much later date. Similarly, Boyd K. Packer taught:
I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others. I am ever mindful of Alma's words:
It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. (Alma 12:9)
I heard President Marion G. Romney once counsel mission presidents and their wives in Geneva, "I do not tell all I know; I have never told my wife all I know, for I found out that if I talked too lightly of sacred things, thereafter the Lord would not trust me."
We are, I believe, to keep these things and ponder them in our hearts, as Luke said Mary did of the supernal events that surrounded the birth of Jesus. (see Luke 2:19)
Oleeha ends his visit with Elisha with what seems to be a personal worthiness interview of sorts, asking about his faith in general and belief in Christ, specifically. He leaves saying God will show him how to find Elisha later on, just as He had shown him how to find Elisha at that time and how he'd known about Elisha's vision and search for the cave.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


With all of that introductory information out of the way, we're just going to jump right into the text of the Aklatan. It begins with the Book of Visions, a short history written by Elisha Enoc of how all of this came about, beginning some 28 years ago.

The first things to note in the Book of Visions are the dates, as the events described fall on or around solstices, equinoxes, and other important days of the year (or ones that Latter-day Saints would recognize as important). Cross-culturally, solstices and equinoxes, are especially bound up in and venerated for their symbolism of light and dark; life, death, and rebirth; transition and change; etc., following the changes in solar movement throughout the year. Throughout the world, lunar phases also have become established measures of time and tied to ritual performances and observances. Jewish, Mesoamerican, and other calendrical systems combine the solar and lunar, and the most special of days are celebrated at the intersection of the two. For instance, the Jewish Passover begins on the night of the first full moon following the vernal equinox. (Christian Easter, then, is the Sunday after.)
Parallels exist in LDS history, as well. Moroni's visits to Joseph Smith prior to receiving the golden plates occurred at the fall equinox of each year, the first coinciding with a full moon. People have also pointed to the symbolic importance of Joseph Smith's birth at the winter solstice--light coming into the world--and death just after the summer solstice--light leaving. However, nothing has been spelled out in scripture or modern revelation as to why God would work in this manner, aside from the assumption of His participation with the underlying symbolism mentioned above. There is also the flip side of this coin, that there exists such a thing as "God's astrology", which has been corrupted or lost through the millennia of human history. Such a view fits tangentially with the "foreknowledge of God and His plan", where events in world history and even individual lives correlate with the surrounding world (and even universe)--seasons, astronomical alignments, signs in nature, etc. In any case, it's fun to note the connections.

That being said, Elisha Enoc receives his vision of the record he will translate on Sunday, June 22, 1986, when the summer solstice coincides with a full moon (a time of maximum light at both day and night). He is visiting family in Dagupan, a relatively large city (current population > 165K) on the northwest coast of the large northern Philippine island of Luzon, and is shown the copper plates and their location, similar to the recorded experience of Joseph Smith. He relates that he has been a devout, believing Catholic all his life but has never had an experience like this and seems to doubt its reality until his family (who seem to be practicing Catholics, as well) accept his story and believe its divinity. Keep in mind his self-identification and description as a lifelong Catholic, as the story he will relate and record he will translate are very not-Catholic and actually fit more closely to LDS experience and theology than anything else.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Hello, everyone. Thanks for being patient during the brief hiatus. (It's been almost a month.) My excuse is that I was giving everyone time to finish their Aklatan reading assignment ; ) Actually, the real reason is that I acquired an updated version of  the text and have spent the past few weeks reading through the newly available material and transcribing it for the blog. (I also have been studying up on my history of the Philippines to get some context for these documents.) The Book of Ahkman is now complete, and the Gospel Written by Angulu is now available. Both are posted to the right in the sidebar. There's some pretty cool stuff contained in each, but we'll get there when we get there. Also, I think I forgot to mention it, but the posted books of the Aklatan are laid out in chronological order. You don't have to read them in order to catch the full spirit of the record, but it does make more sense that way. Happy reading!