Joseph Smith and the Divine Council of the Gods

In 1844, Joseph Smith described the divine council of the gods in the last two sermons before his martyrdom:

“Thus the head God brought forth the gods in the grand council. … In the beginning, the head of the gods called a council of the gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it.”

“It read first, “In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods,” or, as others have translated it, “The head of the Gods called the Gods together.” The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods.”

The concepts of the plurality of gods and the divine council are evident in the Book of Mormon, Book of Moses, and Book of Abraham as well:

“I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all. And he said unto me: What desirest thou? And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof—…and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another. … And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11:9-15)

“And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 3:1-2)

“And the Gods said among themselves: On the seventh time we will end our work, which we have counseled; and we will rest on the seventh time from all our work which we have counseled.” (Abraham 5:2)

“According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal epresence and into his immortal rest.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:32)

This is amazing because Joseph Smith made these statements and produced these inspired texts long before scholars began to recognize the divine council scenes in the Old Testament. Now, in books by modern biblical scholars, you will find identical statements. Virtually all modern scholars of the Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern religion recognize that the ancients believed in a divine council of gods, ruled over by a single Most High God.

This is extraordinarily divergent from the beliefs of traditional Christianity. How did Joseph Smith recognize this? No scholar, Christian or Jewish, was contending for this concept in the early nineteenth century.

Those who have researched the divine council motif in ancient Near Eastern texts will immediately see how spot-on Joseph Smith was. It’s absolutely extraordinary.