In the Book of Moses, “”Where Did the Names Mahaway and Mahujah Come From?”

In the Book of Moses, “”Where Did the Names Mahaway and Mahujah Come From?” October 23, 2020


Al-shams min Jabal Musa
A sunrise seen from the traditional Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa, or “Mount Moses”) in Egypt
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)


A new item — this one by , and  — appeared today in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:


“Where Did the Names Mahaway and Mahujah Come From? A Response to Colby Townsend’s “Returning to the Sources,” Part 2 of 2

Review of Colby Townsend, “Returning to the Sources: Integrating Textual Criticism in the Study of Early Mormon Texts and History,” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 10, no. 1 (2019): 55–85,

Abstract: In the present article, Part 2 of 2 of a set of articles supporting Colby Townsend’s efforts to raise awareness of the importance of textual criticism, we focus on his argument that Joseph Smith created the Book of Moses names Mahijah and Mahujah after seeing a table of name variants in the Hebrew text of Genesis 4:18 in a Bible commentary written by Adam Clarke. While we are not averse in principle to the general possibility that Joseph Smith may have relied on study aids as part of his translation of the Bible, we discuss why in this case such a conjecture raises more questions than it answers. We argue that a common ancient source for Mahujah and Mahijah in the Book of Moses and similar names in the Bible and an ancient Dead Sea Scrolls Enoch text named the Book of Giants cannot be ruled out. More broadly, we reiterate and expand upon arguments we have made elsewhere that the short and fragmentary Book of Giants, a work not discovered until 1948, contains much more dense and generally more pertinent resemblances to Moses 6‒7 than the much longer 1 Enoch, the only ancient Enoch text outside the Bible that was published and translated into English in Joseph Smith’s lifetime.




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