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 : )

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Now, on to this American, Oleeha. He's an important character and key in understanding Elisha's story, and so the big question is, "Who is he?" From an LDS perspective, he would be considered an angel of some sort, which literally and simply means a "messenger" (from the Greek angelos) from God. About ministering angels, Joseph Smith taught:
There are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it. (D&C 130:5)
So that narrows our search range for Oleeha down to about 100 billion people who have lived on Earth ; ) But it would seem that, from his interactions with Elisha, Oleeha is a physical, tangible being with spiritual gifts and power. Resurrected or translated individuals fit that description. (Although, I guess, Oleeha could still be a spirit since Elisha never really mentions him physically touching things aside from the copper plates in Visions 5. But even then, it turns out to be a visionary experience.) So, if that's the case, that gets our potential Oleeha's down into the thousands, maybe? Elisha describes him as an American based on his appearance (probably tall, white, European looking, etc.) and possibly also his speech or accent. The Philippines is definitely one of those places where Americans stick out in every conceivable way and, because of their historical presence, are easily recognizable as such. However, I can't think of any traditions of righteous Americans who are translated or already resurrected. Also, the name Oleeha is odd for an American of any period or region (at least I've never heard of anyone with that name or something similar), which makes me think it's a pseudonym of sorts to possibly mask his true identity, the knowledge of which would be, at best, irrelevant or, at worst, potentially detrimental to the work at hand. The last main piece of evidence in sorting out who Oleeha is, is that he has been given gifts to translate ancient records and has been sent to help Elisha in his translation work, which will take place in Visions 5.

So here's the working theory: all of these pieces of evidence together point to Oleeha being, in one form or another, Oliver Cowdery. (I'm not the originator of this idea--h/t captmoroni1981--but it's a fun one to chew on, so I'm gonna take it and run with it. A secondary hypothesis is that Oleeha is some other being who possesses the same knowledge, gifts, characteristics, and codename of Oliver Cowdery and acts in that same capacity for Elisha as Oliver did for Joseph Smith.) Let's explain.
First, the name. In the original 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, code names were used for people, places, etc. to protect them and the Church from their enemies. (You can check out all of them HERE and HERE. Joseph Smith had three, btw.) Oliver Cowdery's code name (seen in D&C 88 and 104) was Olihah, which when pronounced as an ancient, non-English word (which is what they were going for) is o-LEE-ha. Elisha's spelling of the name is phonetic, the D&C spelling, not so much. We don't know the derivation of this codename, but it's probably a play on Olea from Abraham 3 and/or Olaha from D&C 117, both meaning or relating to the moon.

Next, let's take a dive into Oliver's spiritual gifts (natural and gained) and God's method of translation, as described by the Lord in D&C 6, 8-9. We'll see that Oliver was indeed a special individual called to the work of bringing hidden things to light. (Did you catch the theme of this blog, there? ; )

D&C 6
v10-12: Oliver has a spiritual gift to know the mysteries of God via revelation and to bring others to the truth through it, but he should only tell believers of his gift of revelation.
v25-28: If he wants, he can be granted, like Joseph, the gift to translate records that contain much of the gospel but have been kept back because of wickedness. If he has righteous desires, he can assist in bringing to light, with this gift, hidden parts of scriptures. He and Joseph are given the keys of this gift of translation to bring to light this ministry.
v37: There seems to have been a visitation, or at least a vision, of Christ accompanying this revelation.

D&C 8
1-11: Oliver will receive knowledge of engravings of ancient records that contain parts of God's scriptures through the spirit of revelation, where the Spirit will tell both his mind and heart. This is his gift, and it will deliver him from his enemies. He also has another gift of "working with the sprout" (or rod), which has told him many things, and there's no other power except God that can cause this "thing of nature" to work for him. He shouldn't doubt this gift of God but hold it in his hands and do marvelous works, for it's of God, and no power can take it out of his hands. Whatever he asks by that means, knowledge will be granted. But he shouldn't do anything without faith, trifle with his gifts, or ask what he shouldn't, rather he should ask to know the mysteries of God and to translate all those ancient, sacred, hidden records.

This whole section refers to Oliver's talent with a divining rod of some sort--the "sprout" and "thing of nature"--which was later changed to "the gift of the rod" and then to "the gift of Aaron". (The original manuscript version can be found HERE.) It seems he used it during his attempt to translate, and the Lord is recognizing it and approving its use as a means of receiving revelation. (An article discussing this can be found HERE.) There is also a fun story from Anthon H. Lund's journal that Oliver's rod (or even a staff) was passed on to Brigham Young and was used to point out where the Salt Lake Temple should be built. Heber C. Kimball's biography also tells that he had been given a staff by Joseph Smith to guide him and help him receive revelation.

D&C 9
1-12: Oliver tried but didn't translate like he wanted to, so he needs to keep writing for Joseph until the Book of Mormon is complete, then he'll be given power to assist in translating other records. (Between June and Oct 1830, he served as Joseph's first scribe for his revision of the Bible--recording Moses 1 and Gen 1-4:18--but didn't participate in translation in any way.) He should be patient since it's not expedient for him to translate at the present time, for he was called to write for Joseph. He didn't continue to translate as he'd begun, and the privilege was taken. He didn't understand the process but supposed the answer would be given by only asking. Instead, he should study out the question in his mind (in this case the symbol or word to be translated) and ask if the answer's right. If it's right, his bosom will burn, and he'll feel it's right. If it's not right, he'll have no such feelings but a stupor of thought that will cause him to forget the wrong answer. One can't write what is sacred except it's given from God. If he'd known this, he could've translated, but it's not expedient for him to translate now. It was expedient when he commenced, but he feared (was afraid/anxious?), the time is past, and it's not expedient now. Joseph is given enough strength to make up the difference, but Oliver is not condemned. (We'll come back to this method of God's translation in our discussion of Visions 5.)

Reading these revelations in their historical context, we see that Oliver was an exceptional individual who played an integral part in the translation process of the Book of Mormon; he wasn't merely a schoolteacher who served as Joseph's scribe. He possessed spiritual gifts of revelation and working with a divining rod of sorts to receive answers from God. Most importantly to our discussion, he was given the keys of translation, and after failing to translate the Book of Mormon, was promised by the Lord that he would help translate other ancient, sacred, hidden records. In Visions 2, the American, Oleeha, says he has been given gifts to translate ancient records and was sent to assist in translating them just as we've seen with Oliver in D&C 6, 8-9. In Visions 5, he will instruct Elisha in God's method of translation, the same way Oliver learned it in D&C 9. Until an explanation comes along that better fits the evidence, Oliver as Oleeha works nicely.

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