When Souls Had Wings: What the Western Tradition Has to teach Us About Pre-Existence
by Terryl Givens
Mormons can be too quick to see all texts written previous to 1830 as potential proof texts, to see Jesus’ ministrations to Mary and Martha as foreshadowing the home teaching program, every sunken Mesoamerican hole in the ground as a baptismal font, and so on. We are too quick, in other words, to see these other systems and phenomena as deriving their value in proportion to their capacity to anticipate a Restoration that we treat as full and complete. It’s not, as prophets from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to President Kimball have reminded us.
Today I want to show how my own appreciation for and understanding of the pre-existence has been enriched, and broadened, by a comparative study of the idea and its myriad appearances in the history of philosophy, theology, and literature. What I have come to appreciate is this cardinal insight: If the restoration is not yet complete, then other traditions have much to teach us. Not by way of confirming, corroborating, or verifying the truths we already have. But by way of actually adding to the body of revealed doctrine we call precious and true. The Restoration is neither full nor complete. Brigham once said, in reference to the keys of resurrection, “This is one of the ordinances we can not receive here, and there are many more.”1 “It will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned” all the principles of the gospel, said Joseph.2 What if, instead of scrambling frantically to find explanations when Joseph appears to have borrowed from the masons, or Ethan Smith, or Tom Dick, we instead see another marvelous possibility of his actually practicing what he preached: As Brigham characterized his position, “If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.”3 It takes real humility and generosity of spirit to be taught. Our contemporary condescension in this regard was clearly foreign to a prophet who showed the world he could translate gold plates written in Reformed Egyptian, then hired a Jewish schoolmaster to teach him Hebrew.
So as a believing Latter-day Saint, what do I bring to the study of pre-existence? Only a very skeletal understanding of the principle as taught by Joseph. In some sense, my identity is eternal. And before I was born, I existed in a form that included the capacity to make decisions and covenants. Not much more than that. What is the value or the power of this kind of spiritual anthropology? It means I am a child of God, an eternal being. But what other value and power might a belief such as this embody? What might its persistence over time reveal about myriad other questions, longings, yearnings, riddles, and dilemmas, the belief responds to? What have I learned in this regard? The sheer bulk of the names who have espoused or taught or contemplated the doctrine has been a little astonishing, from the early rabbis and Church Fathers to Robert Frost and a recent Nobel Prize laureate. In the nineteenth century, the idea was promulgated by some of the most influential theologians and preachers of the day. The idea produced book length treatments, and book length refutations. It occupied debaters at the Concord School of Philosophy, and filled the pages of religious journals in ante-bellum America. It characterized whole schools of philosophy from the Cambridge Platonists to the American Transcendentalists, and appears in lesser known American and Russian philosophical treatments as well. It is associated with a number of European mystics, and European philosophers from Hume to Locke to Kant weighed in. Hardly a Romantic poet did not wax eloquent in its defense, Wordsworth only the best known among many. The sheer volume and brilliance and earnestness and tragic contexts of many of the participants awoke in me the suspicion that this is a doctrine whose stakes and appeal and potential for philosophical and cultural work, we have not even begun to appreciate. By philosophical and cultural work, I mean to indicate the approach Nietzsche so brilliantly exemplified in his Genealogy of Morals, when he asked, what do we discover if we don’t ask, are the categories Good and Evil, soul and conscience, true and transcendent, but rather, what function can these concepts be shown to serve historically; whom and what do they benefit, and what social and political dilemmas do they resolve? We seldom move beyond our excitement at finding reinforcement for our truth claims, to move to those interesting and vitally important questions.
We believe that the doctrine was known to Abraham, and presumably earlier. In the West, at least, the idea is not attested to with any clarity before Plato, though there are tantalizing hints in Mesopotamian texts.
According to one of that civilization’s creation narratives,
- the greatest of gods, gathered in a Council,
- To create Heaven and Earth.4
The world created by the gods of ancient Mesopotamia is a sphere that is peopled by the deities themselves, rather than by humans. The etymology and creation details of humanity’s origin provide one clear window into the emergence of the idea of a soul, and a panoply of threads that will weave in and out of subsequent mythologies of the soul’s origins and potential destiny. In the Mesopotamian narratives, humans enter the picture only because of discontent that arises from a peculiarly stratified society of gods that relegates some deities to second-class citizenship. An Akkadian poem,5 dating to 1646-1626 B.C., reveals the creation of mankind as arising out of the ensuing conflict.
The poem describes a situation in which gods of greater power relied upon gods of lesser power for all menial tasks associated with the world’s cultivation and maintenance. The lesser gods resent their exploitation, and eventually refuse to perform their tasks. The council of gods convenes to consider the problem, and Enki/…a proposes a brilliant solution: they would create a new race of humans, built of clay, to perform the undesirable tasks that provoked such heavenly strife. To animate this new creation, and make it capable of fulfilling work previously performed by gods, it is deemed necessary to infuse it with a divine element. This necessary ingredient, it is proposed, will come from a god. Not just any deity will suffice. Enki/…a chooses WÍ for the sacrifice, and takes care to stresses the particular reasons for selecting that god: “WÍ was picked, on the one hand, for his quality as a ‘god’ (ilu) and, on the other, because he was endowed with a ‘spirit’ (tÍmu).” The etymology of the resulting product reflects the theological reasoning behind this creation myth, writes BottÈro, since in Mesopotamian thought, “the name of a thing was indeed the thing itself”:
By adding to WÍ the mention of his divine nature, ilu, one obtained the Akkadian word for “human being”: (a)wÍlu, or awÓlu. And if one also joined to the name WÍ the reminder of his “spirit,” the combination gave (w)etem(m)u, which designated everything that remained of a person after death: “ghost.”
So the very word for human being encompasses the concept of a divinity from which it originates, and which constitutes part of its essential nature. And the immortal part of man similarly conjoins the ideas of divinity with the idea of spirit.
Taken together, these two terms reveal that very ambivalence about human origins that will haunt the entire history of pre-existence and inform critiques and debates from Tertullian to the present. In this Akkadian word for human being, we see human identity as a divine/human hybrid, with roots in the realm of gods themselves. But in the word for man’s post-mortal essence, we find, writes BottÈro, “a distant and pale shadow of divine immortality, so that he would never seek immortality further.” We find, then, in this Mesopotamian creation narrative, a tension between divine nature and human limitations, between portentous origins and dangerous presumption. And thus are clearly foreshadowed in this formula both the glories and the pathos of human aspirations toward the divine. The fall of Icharus and of Lucifer, the tragedy of Eden, the Faustian yearning for transcendence, can all be read as the playing out of this millennia-long contest between simple “apokatastasis,” or restoration on the one hand, and “vaulting ambition” and the path to perdition on the other. This early anthropology of the human condition explains the human striving for deification as both natural destiny and supreme blasphemy.
The council of the gods approved Enki/…a’s plan, and so it comes to pass, as one text summarizes, that “To leave the gods idle, in this place for happiness, Marduk created mankind.”6 The exact wording of the plan’s actual execution establishes a precedent not just for the kind of dualism that will develop in Judeo-Christianity, but also for a creation of spirit and body that lack perfect simultaneity. Conception, say the texts, occurs as a “deposit” of the divine substance is made into the “matrices” of the clay “prototype.”7
All the seeds for subsequent philosophical elaboration and theological controversy regarding the anthropology of the human soul are here. The spirit of man is specifically invoked as that which distinguishes him from other varieties in the created order of things, and makes him nearer the gods than all other beings. But the spark of divinity in his breast is simultaneously an invitation to theurgy, to seek out and return to his heavenly roots, even as it is a temptation to hubris, to step beyond his assigned link in the Great Chain of Being, and incur divine displeasure or even wrath. Sharing the very blood of the gods, man is both kin and threat. And the “deposit” that inaugurates life and guarantees immortality, precedes that life, having its origin in the heavens among the gods themselves. Such origins are portrayed here as simple myth, and the spirit or soul itself is not yet developed to the point of constituting the core identity of humankind. On the contrary, it is a vague shadow of selfhood. But it is a start.
The council of the gods, a common motif in Mesopotamian texts, will pass into the Ugaritic tradition and survive clearly in Hebraic religious texts. Eventually, in at least two traditions, human souls will even appear not as simple products of the deliberations of that council, but as actual participants in those councils.
As you know, traces of the assembly of gods motif is apparent in the Old Testament, as are intimations of pre-existence and foreordination of particular figures and lineages. (Jeremiah 1:5; Deut. 32:8-9). Meanwhile, Greece has been a hotbed of what may be an independent center of development of the idea. Plato’s theory of preexistence are the best known, and most influential. But so many and various are the ideas in the Hellenic world, that Plato’s student Aristotle decides it is time to take stock of them and evaluate their merits. In the process, he gives us a picture of a Hellenic world energetically divided among competing conceptions of human nature and the soul’s origins. Faced with a sprawling array of creative mythologies and what he sees as silly speculations on the subject, Aristotle passes them through the filter of Attic reasonableness and judges most of them sorely deficient.
The view we have just been examining, in company with most theories about the soul, involves the following absurdity: they all join the soul to a body, or place it in a body, without adding any specification of the reason of their union, or of the bodily conditions required for it. . . , as if it were possible, as in the Pythagorean myths, that any soul could be clothed upon with any body–an absurd view, for each body seems to have a form and shape of its own. . . . [A different] objection lies against the view expressed in the ‘Orphic’ poems; there it is said that the soul comes in from the whole when breathing takes place, being borne in upon the winds. Now this cannot take place in the case of . . . certain classes of animal, for not all classes of animal breathe. This fact has escaped the notice of the holders of this view.8
By the time of Christ, ideas about pre-existence are commonplace. The Mediterranean in the early Christian centuries is a very cosmopolitan place; the Hebrews, the Pythagoreans, the Orphics, the Platonists, the Stoics, and a slew of eastern influences, all feed into the mix, and all contribute myths, texts, and doctrines involving pre-mortal existence. So much so, that lines of transmission and influence become hopelessly intertwined and confused. So I will pass over that voluminous and fascinating material to jump ahead to a moment when the Christian church begins to try and sort out in systematic fashion just what the standing of these ideas is.
By the time of Augustine of Hippo (354-430), one of the most influential thinkers since Paul, there are four competing theories for the soul’s origin.
(1) they come into being by propagation [Traducianism]; (2) they are created individually for each person who is born [Creationism]; (3) they already exist somewhere and are sent by God into the bodies of those who are born ["sent" pre-existence]; (4) they sink into bodies by their own choice ["fallen" pre-existence]. It would be rash to affirm any of these. For the Catholic commentators on Scripture have not solved or shed light on this obscure and perplexing question; or if they have, I have not yet come across any such writing.9
At one of the major crossroads for the development of the Christian tradition, not one, but two theories of preexistence are in play. There would have been very good reason to believe, given the doctrinal maelstrom that was the early fifth century, that one version of the other would emerge as a victor in the contest for a successful spiritual genealogy. Here is why: Unfolding at this time in the Christian church are a number of pressing controversies, that touch on matters of essential human identity and human nature, human kind’s role in and responsibility for sin, God’s justice, the meaning and scope of grace–all these and more are contingent on the way the soul is conceived to originate. And as Augustine suggests, the scriptures are in this regard an insufficient guide and Church teaching unsettled.
Traducianism and Creationism are fraught with such problems, it is miraculous preexistence ever lost out. Consequently, theologians today continue to argue whether traducianism or creationism is the least problematic. For traducianism, you see, requires that to men and women is given the capacity to generate a human soul in every act of conception. That is a prerogative most would reserve to God. Creationism, on the other hand, requires that we hold not only that God is continuously involved in millions of instances of spirit creation, but that a spirit freshly made by a pure and perfect God is nonetheless tainted by the stain of Original Sin.
Another reason to choose the less problematic pre-existence theory, intimates Augustine, is that he cannot resist the appeal of a theory that solves the question of God’s all-to-apparent injustice:
But if, instead, souls that have been created elsewhere are not sent by the Lord God, but come to inhabit bodies by their own choice, it is quite easy to see that the ignorance and difficulty that result from their own wills are in no way to be blamed on their Creator since he is without fault even if he himself sends souls to dwell in bodies.10
Finally, the idea had the sanction of the most respected theologian and church father of his era, Origen (185-254), who wrote: “Everyone, therefore, of those who descend to the earth is, according to his deserts or to the position that he had there, ordained to be born in this world either in a different place, or in a different nation, or in a different occupation…”
My time is half over, so let me very briefly survey just a few of the more interesting arguments raised in the ensuing centuries to support, defend, or resurrect, the doctrine of pre-mortal existence.
1. The aesthetics of preexistence: D.P. Walker
I heard recently of an acquaintance who left the church. The explanation that filtered down to me was that it had something to do with the gospel’s inability to satisfy him aesthetically. That may strike some people as curious or trivial or absurd. It strikes me as one of the best reasons I have ever heard. I mean only that beauty is a valid criterion for our acceptance of the gospel, not that it was correctly applied in this case. After all, we are commanded to “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (I Chron 16:29).
And the Psalmist’s wrote devotedly, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 37:4).
So I found it particularly compelling when the influential religious scholar D. P. Walker pointed out the normative Christian conception of eternity is seriously lacking aesthetically, exhibiting as it does “arbitrary and asymmetrical features.” More specifically, he writes,
the Christians are perhaps at a real disadvantage in having two eternities [the heaven and hell inhabited by human souls] which have a beginning but no end. . . . Why not an aeternitas a parte ante instead of post (beings who have no beginning but an end)? or why not both? or why not a successive eternity with neither beginning nor end, as in the Neoplatonic scheme? To anyone thinking in Platonic terms the aeternitas a parte post would of course seem highly paradoxical; such a truncated, lop-sided eternity would be an absurdly inadequate image of the ideal, still eternity. This Christian scheme is, I suggest, untidy and inelegant.11
He stops short of actually claiming that this desire for an aesthetically more appealing scheme, a “tidier” metaphysics,” was the main motive behind resurrecting ideas of pre-existence in the 17th century. But, he insists, “it played an important part.”12
The problem with conventional Christian models may be aesthetic, but their implications are logically troubling as well. For the orthodox rendering of an asymmetrical eternity retains, he feels, retains “a disadvantage common to all Christian schemes, as compared with the Neoplatonic one. It is likely to lead to the basic, unanswerable question of theodicy: why did God create at all? In the Neoplatonic scheme this question does not arise.”13
2. Pre-existence and Theodicy: Beecher
The primary impetus behind Pre-existence, as far as I can make out, is not the shadowy intimations of a Wordsworth or the epistemological quandaries of a Plato. It is the drive for theodicy, the desire to reconcile the justice of God with the facts of human existence. Even Plato himself argued, in the Republic, that the premortality of a soul endowed with choice means we cannot blame the gods for our mortal condition. Origen’s famous espousal of pre-existence was absolutely predicated on the conception of a human fall, and would be recurrently invoked to make sense out of human suffering. Augustine, we jus saw, found this an attraction. But the most radical and influential resurrection of both theodicy and preexistence occurs in the nineteenth century, not at the hands of Joseph Smith, but by a man who was at one time the most promising member of the mid nineteenth century’s most prominent American family–the Beechers,. His father Lyman and his brother Charles were commanding figures in the era, one sister achieved fame as a suffragist, and the other as “the little lady who started a war” with her book on Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But it was Edward who, some family members thought, had the most promise. Why haven’t we heard of him? The explanation is succinctly and poignantly given by a descendent, as he handed over to Illinois College an unpublished biography of the preacher: I am about to send on to you at last the manuscript Life of Edward Beecher by his brother Charles. . . . It is none too rich in human interest, perhaps, being concerned overwhelmingly with Edward’s “spiritual” (theological) development and his belief in the pre-existence of the soul, an unfortunate excursion into the realms of heresy which apparently wrecked his career. Edward Beecher apparently became obsessed with the idea,” his descendent wrote, “and developed the delusion that he was born to be the “Copernicus of morals.”14 Well, he ended up being the Galileo instead. But his impassioned critique of Christian notions of depravity, original sin, and God’s tyrannical caprice, is a moving testament to the better nature so many in the age of reform exhibited. That Joseph Smith came to similar conclusions through prophecy rather than theology, may deprive us an appreciation for the majesty of the doctrine’s moral power and of the philosophical and theological bases others have erected under it.
He recorded his wrestle with God:
Pain, sickness, and death come on the human race antecedent to the development of reason. Such a constitution resembles punishment applied in anticipation of a crime. . . . [But calling total depravity] voluntary seems like removing a difficulty by language only. In short, original, native, entire depravity is a hard doctrine to be explained. . . . The question is, is not the present system a malevolent one? . . . Evil exists. If it does prove malevolence in God we are lost. . . . We cannot analyze the thing.15
Beecher continued to seek a resolution. And when he found it, it came as a “virtual revelation,” after his figurative “groping in some vast cathedral, in the gloom of midnight, vainly striving to comprehend its parts and relations, when suddenly before the vast arched window of the nave a glorious sun had suddenly burst forth.”16
The resultant vision was a paradigm shattering epiphany that Beecher wanted to share at once with his congregation and the world, but his cautious father urged restraint, and so did friends. Beecher kept the revelation to himself–for a quarter century. Then he threw caution to the wind and issued a four hundred page manifesto, the boldest and most detailed exposition of the doctrine of pre-existence in religious history.
Beecher called his work The Conflict of Ages; or, the Great Debate on the Moral Relations of God and Man. In it, he boldly asserted,
God, in the beginning, created a race of spiritual beings. These he constituted free-agents, and dealt by them, in all things, justly and honorably.
Beecher’s book landed like a bombshell. Most amazingly, reviewers almost universally agreed that, “it presents the scriptural doctrine concerning a kingdom of fallen spirits in a light much more rational, intelligible, and impressive.”(242, 228-33)
Another reviewer wrote, “Dr. Beecher’s “Conflict of Ages” has been honored with a remarkable degree of attention. It has been reviewed and re-reviewed in Newspapers, Magazine Articles, Courses of Lectures, and in book-form. …. It seems to have come down on pulpit and religious press like rain upon mown grass, as showers that water the earth in time of drought. The crop has been abundant.17
Still, the weight of tradition and prejudice overwhelmed both it and the man.
3. Kant, Berdyaev, and Human Dignity
Kant seems to have been the first to find an incongruity between the triviality, banality, and utter contingency of circumstances attendant upon much of human procreation, and a conception of the product thereby engendered as something majestic, touched with divinity, and endowed with immortality.
The contingency of conception, . . . depends upon opportunity, but besides this also on nourishment, on government, on its moods and caprices, even on vices, presents a great difficulty for the opinion of the eternal duration of a creature whose life has first begun under circumstances so trivial.
Or as he will conclude, with gentle understatement: “It certainly seems questionable to expect such a powerful effect from such inconsequential causes.”
Against this, however, you could propose a transcendental hypothesis: that all . . . has neither begun at birth nor will be ended through death; that if we could intuit the things and ourselves as they are we would see ourselves in a world of spiritual natures with which our only true community had not begun with birth nor would cease with bodily death.18
The Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev likewise found pre-existence a powerful remedy to alternative anthropologies that deprived the human soul of its due dignity. “Protestantism was bound to make its appearance,” he reasoned, “because there existed in the history of Christianity no positive religious anthropology, and the vacancy was filled by a false anthropology.”19 He would become perhaps the most impassioned philosophical defender of pre-existence in the twentieth century, as the most powerful means of recuperating a dignity denied by more orthodox conceptions of human origins.
If time permitted, I would review Wilhelm Benecke’s insight that pre-existence provides a necessary foundation for any claim to intuition of spiritual realities, the Transcendentalist’s use of preexistence to assert a new kind of authoritative discourse, Julius Muller’s elaborate defense of Pre-existence as the only salvation for any durable concept of human agency, or the argument of modern philosopher John McTaggart, as old as Aristotle, that whatever is free and accountable must be cause of itself, and a dozen others. But what they all have in common, is not simple reaffirmation of a truth taught by Joseph in relative nakedness and simplicity, but a very real power to enrich and expand our understanding of what we hold to be an eternal truth, and a stunning witness to the immense variety of theological, cultural, psychological and philosophical work the paradigm has been invoked to serve across the centuries.
I will conclude with a few observations on what I have learned about the demise of pre-existence.
One scholar has this to say about the Neoplatonic Christian bishop Synesius, and his conception of pre-mortal origins to the human soul: His “affirmation of the inherent divinity (and therefore immortality) of the human soul, which makes possible it return to the divine under its own power, is a clear indication of an essentially pagan faith.”20 That’s a somewhat astonishing, and revealing, claim. If the important qualifier “under its own power” be included, this is admittedly a Pagan, or at least a Pelagian, position. But the salvational self-reliance is certainly not a dominant feature in Synesius’ conception, and the best illustration the scholar cites of his claim is the bishop’s reference to that blessed one “who fleeing the devouring bark of matter and earth, rises us and with a leap of the spirit presses on his path to God.”21 Surely this sounds as much like any medieval mystic as it suggests a pagan or Pelagian. What then is it that is so threateningly “pagan” about pre-existence and human origination in the divine? The answer was given long ago by Tertullian, when he, like our modern scholar, revealed how drastically the construction of the Christian’s God’s sovereignty was departing from the Platonic God. In the Timaeus, Plato had written that “God was good, and the good can never have any jealousy of anything. And being free from jealousy, he desired that all things should be as like himself as they could be.”22
Tertullian objected, however, that to endow humankind with
so large an amount of divine quality as to put it on a par with God. [Plato] makes it unborn,. . ; he then adds that the soul is immortal, incorruptible, incorporeal–since he believed God to be the same–invisible, incapable of delineation, uniform, supreme, rational, and intellectual. What more could he attribute to the soul, if he wanted to call it God? We, however, who allow no appendage to God (in the sense of equality), by this very fact reckon the soul as very far below God: for we suppose it to be born.23
This, then, is how I perceive the demise of pre-existence. With the centering of grace in Christian theology, which occurs in the early 5th century, it became a specially dispensed gift that precluded most if not all capacity for self-elevation. With the focus on sin, inherited guilt, and depravity, in the face especially of Pelagian inroads, divine sparks and heavenly antecedents to the human personality were precluded. With creation ex nihilo a further necessary precondition of God’s sovereignty, pre-existence was increasingly, logically incompatible with a creator God. The coup de grace, however, occurs when Augustine determines that the concomitant to grace is a suprarational logic beyond our ken. The theodicy that he had been so intent on establishing was made to bow to the mysterious workings of God, rational resolution of the scandal of human pain and misery no longer required our attention or effort. In fact, in post-Augustinian thought, our perplexity in the absence of any theodicy becomes a sign, both of our abject humility and of God’s radically other sovereignty. The powerful engine that persistently urged a resolution of the problem of God’s justice has run out of gas. Human agency, so essential to human culpability, is no longer the desperately sought holy grail that it was, now that God’s justice resolves itself out of the orbit of human understanding and apologias. For all these reasons, pre-existence lost its most powerful allure.
Centuries later, when human possibilities found exuberant expression alongside Neoplatonic resurgence, the idea gained a new foothold (the 17th century). Later again, when the 19th century, the age of reform was ushered in with a new social conscience and a less powerful and less medieval church, and poets and intellectuals again turned to plumb the depths of Faustian yearning free of all imaginative constraints, the idea flourished once more (the age of Romanticism).
Noting the Pythagorean belief in pre-existence at the foundations of Western civilization, a Cambridge classical scholar writes, “however many readers . . . believe that their soul will survive death, rather few, I imagine, believe that it also pre-existed their birth. The religions that have shaped Western culture are so inhospitable to the idea of pre-existence that you probably reject the thought our of hand, for no good reason.”24 Of course, he then points out slyly, the same Pythagoras that taught the pre-mortality of the human soul also taught his followers to spit on their nail and hair clippings, to wash the left foot before the first, and that the sea consists of the tears of Cronus. That may be true. Unfortunately, it misses the fact that some beliefs meet a demise as definitive as their implausibility. And yet the critics of pre-existence, for hundreds of years, have found little to criticize in the doctrine other than its hint of a family resemblance between ourselves and the God who gave us life. I will end with one of those critics, whose argument does more to undermine himself than his target:
“There is something majestic in this conception of a fundamental justice woven into the very web of life, running through all things, and working itself out in everything that happens to us…. Yet surely it is much too crude and easy a solution.” (Interpreter’s Bible)
The doctrine of preexistence has persisted with astonishing tenacity across millennia and culture, a tribute in itself, if not to its truth, then to its powerful capacity to satisfy logical, moral, and even aesthetic imperatives of the human heart. Pre-existence, for that reason, may still have a bright future.
1 Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., reported by G. D. Watt et al. (Liverpool: F.D and S. W. Richards, et al., 1851-1886; reprint, Salt Lake City: np, 1974),, 15:137
2 Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., eds. James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, William W. Phelps, Willard Richards, George A. Smith and later, B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1902-1912; 2nd revised edition, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1951), 6:306-307.
3 Journal of Discourses, 13:335.
4 BottÈro, Religion, 86.
5 Akkadian is the earliest known Semitic language, spoken in Mesopotamia by the Assyrians and Babylonians. The poem was the Atrahasis.
6 By the end of the second millennium, Marduk had assumed position as head of the Mesopotamian pantheon of gods, and it was he who conceived the plan to create a subservient race. BottÈro, Religion, 31, 88.
7 BottÈro, Religion, 100-101.
8 Aristotle, De Anima I: iii: 14-17; v: 27-30.
9 Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will iii.21, trans. Thomas Williams (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993), 111.
10 Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will iii.20.
11 D. P. Walker, “Eternity and the Afterlife,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 27 (1964), 246.
12 Walker, 246-47.
13 Walker, 250.
14 John Beecher to President Hudson, 11 March 1950, letter introducing the manuscript copy of the Life of Edward Beecher. Original in Illinois State College.
15 “Life of Edward Beecher,” unpublished manuscript in Illinois State College Library.
16 Edward Beecher, The Conflict of Ages: or, the Great Debate on the Moral Relations of God and Man (Boston: Phillips, Sampson & Company, 1853).
17 “H.B.,” Review of “H.B.,” Review of The Divine Character Vindicated.” Universalist Quarterly and General Review (April 1855).
18 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 663-64.
19 Filosofiya svobody, 181. Cited in Matthew Spinka, “Berdyaev and Origen: A Comparison,” Church History 16.1 (March 1947), 15.
20 Jay Bregman, Synesius of Cyrene (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 34.
21 Synesius, Hymn 1, in Jay Bregman, Synesius of Cyrene (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 34.
22 Plato, Timaeus, in Plato in Twelve Volumes, trans. R. G. Bury (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929), 55.
23 Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul XXIV.
24 M. F. Burnyeat, “Other Lives,” London Review of Books 29.4 (22 February 2007).