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How would Joseph Smith have been able to create a “masterpiece” in the book of Enos which includes multiple wordplays?

The name Enos is a Hebrew poetic term for ‘man’ and the meaning of his name forms part of his own introduction (like Nephi):

Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it

In addition to this simple wordplay, Bowen notes:

The fact that ʾĕnôš is a poetic synonym of ʾîš (“man”) and shares the same plural form, ʾănāšîm, further helps us appreciate Enos’s sophisticated use of Genesis 32 and its wordplay. On one level, Enos’s “wrestle” enabled him to identify with his ancestor Jacob/Israel and with his own father Jacob. On still another level, the salient occurrence of ʾîš and ʾănāšîm in the pericope allowed ʾĕnôš to identify with Esau and the divine “man” (ʾîš) — the “men” (ʾănāšîm, “Enoses”) — with whom Jacob/ Israel “wrestled” and “struggled” and whom he eventually “embraced.”

Matthew L. Bowen – “I Kneeled Down Before My Maker”: Allusions to Esau in the Book of Enos

Matthew L. Bowen summarizes how the wordplays in the Book of Enos make it a masterpiece:

Enos’s writings begin with him as an Esau-like “man” wrestling a Jacob like “wrestle” before God (Enos 1:1-4). Enos initially describes himself in terms reminiscent of Esau — e.g., as one who “hunt[ed]” and “hungered.” They conclude with his “having been wrought upon by the power of God” (i.e., having been sanctified by Christ’s atonement which motivated him to testify of that atonement throughout his life; Enos 1:26). Enos further anticipates his “putting on” immortality (i.e., the divine nature) and becoming like God, this in preparation for “seeing his face with pleasure” (Genesis 1:27).

The Genesis 27 narrative, which describes Jacob obtaining the blessing intended for Esau by their father Isaac, creates a strong paronomastic link between the name Esau and the Hebrew verb ʿśh/ʿśy. Accordingly, Enos uses ʿśh/ʿśy-terminology (“Maker,” “how is it done?” “it shall be done unto them,” “wrought upon”) in describing his obtaining of a divine blessing, his Jacob-like transformation through the atonement, and the Lord’s keeping his covenant with Enos and his fathers.

Enos’s skillful adaptation and reworking of numerous details from the Jacob-Esau cycle to tell the story of his own divine “wrestle,” experiences with Christ’s atonement, subsequent spiritual “struggles,” and final sanctification through the Christ’s atonement makes his autobiography a short masterpiece. They further reveal Enos to have been a diligent reader of the scriptures and a faithful “man” who became a prophet of God worthy of the legacy of his father Jacob and his patriarchal ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Matthew L. Bowen – “I Kneeled Down Before My Maker”: Allusions to Esau in the Book of Enos

Would we expect Joseph Smith to be able to create a masterpiece like this?


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