Taught in All the Ways of God: Teaching as the Theme of Moses 6

by Matthew L. Bowen

Moses 5 records that an angel taught Adam and Eve the meaning of the sacrifices God had commanded them to make upon their departure from Eden (see Moses 5:5-12). Adam and Eve, in turn, taught their sons and daughters what they had been taught by God and his messengers: “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters” (Moses 5:12). The narrative then states that “Satan came among” Adam’s and Eve’s children, sowing doubt and disbelief in their parents’ teaching (Moses 5:13). The remainder of Moses 5 details the degree to which rebellion, rejection of parental teachings, and satanic secret combinations can amplify evil within the world. 

Against this backdrop, the theme of teaching unfolds in an even more pronounced way in Moses 6. This short study will examine how Adam’s righteous posterity act to preserve faith in their children by recording revelation in a “book of remembrance” and teaching their children from that book (the beginning of scripture). This scripture-based, parental teaching helps give rise to preachers of righteousness who teach and declare the doctrine of Christ. Enoch, through the enabling power of Christ’s atonement, emerges as the greatest of these preachers. Using Adam as his model, Enoch teaches his audience (and us) how the plan of salvation and the doctrine of Christ enable individuals to undergo spiritual rebirth and become sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ’s atonement (see Moses 6:48-68). Enoch’s teaching recalls God’s parental teaching of Adam and Eve and his commanding them to teach their children, thus extolling the value of teaching in general and parental teaching of the doctrine of Christ in particular.

“Their Children Were Taught to Read and Write”: The Origins of Scripture and Pedagogy

Perhaps to an even greater degree than in the book of Genesis, etiologies—or, “stories that tell how something came to be or came to have its definitive characteristics”[1]—abound in the Book of Moses (JST Genesis) text. The first movement of the creation account in Genesis 1–2:3/Moses 2–3:3 constitutes an etiology of how creation-by-stages gave rise to the Sabbath. The next movement in the creation narrative (Genesis 2:4-25; Moses 3:4-25) concludes with an etiological declaration of how the foregoing work of creation culminates in the divine joining together of a man (Adam) and a woman (Eve) and becomes the foundation for marriage and the nuclear family (see Genesis 2:24). This analysis accords with President Russell M. Nelson’s declaration, “Simply summarized, the earth was created that families might be.”[2]

Still later, the text offers an etiological explanation for Eve’s name (Hebrew ḥawwâ, = “life-giver”): “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve [ḥawwâ]; because she was the mother of all living [ʾēm kol ḥay]” (Genesis 3:20; Moses 4:26). Further examples of etiologies could be multiplied here. 

Moses 6 offers an etiology for the origin of scripture itself among the first people of a covenant lineage: “And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; and by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled” (Moses 6:5-6).

Enoch subsequently sheds more light on the nature of this sacred repository of revelation when he avers to those whom he is attempting to teach: “For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language” (Moses 6:46). Enoch’s statement further suggests that this was the book from which he himself was “taught to read and write” and received a knowledge of “all the ways of God” (Moses 6:6, 21, 41).

“Seth … Taught Enos in All the Ways of God”: Prophets Educating Prophets

The key to preserving Adam’s and Eve’s covenant lineage (as such) through Seth was parental teaching. In Moses 6:13, we learn that in the next generation, Seth faithfully carried out this parental teaching duty just as Adam and Eve had done: “Seth …  begat Enos, and prophesied in all his days, and taught his son Enos in the ways of God; wherefore Enos prophesied also.” 

The text makes a direct causal link between Seth’s having “taught” Enos “in the ways of God” and Enos becoming a prophet who also prophesied. In other words, the parental teaching that enabled Seth to “prophes[y] all his days” also enabled him to teach his son Enos “in the ways of God,” and Seth’s parental teaching, in turn, resulted in Enos becoming a prophet also. Both the scriptures and Latter-day Saint history are filled with examples of prophets along with righteous spouses whose sons and daughters followed in their footsteps in becoming mighty teachers (e.g., Lehi and Sariah and their son Nephi [cf. 1 Nephi 1:1]; Hyrum Smith and Mary Fielding Smith and their son Joseph F. Smith; President Thomas S. Monson and Francis Johnson Monson and their daughter Ann M. Dibb; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia Terry Holland and their son Elder Matthew Holland, etc.).

“And Jared Taught Enoch in All the Ways of God”: Enoch the Initiated

In Moses 6:21 we learn that “Jared taught Enoch in all the ways of God” (Moses 6:21). This datum appears to coincide with the Semitic/Hebrew meaning of Enoch’s name. Written in Hebrew as ḥănôk, Enoch’s name sounds identical (or nearly so) to the Hebrew passive participle of the verbal root ḥnk, “train up” “dedicate.”[3] In other words, to a speaker of ancient Hebrew ḥănôk would evoke the notion of someone specially taught— “trained up” or “initiated.”[4] The phrase “taught … in all the ways of God” suggests that Enoch was fully initiated into the mysteries of God—i.e., was fully familiar with what we would describe as temple rituals, and could train and initiate others. In other words, as one fully taught, he could fully teach others. 

The passive participle of ḥnk, of which Enoch (ḥănôk) is a homonym, is the first in one of the most significant parental teaching texts of the Hebrew Bible: “Train up [ḥănōk] a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Lehi had the value of his own parental teaching, the parental teaching of his sons to their children, and this very proverb in mind when he declared to the sons and daughters of Laman his firstborn: “But behold, my sons and my daughters [i.e., the sons and daughters of Laman], I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up [i.e., trained up < ḥnk] in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it” (2 Nephi 4:5). Lehi had faithfully taught his children, including Laman, the “way” that they should go. Laman, however, had not taught his children thus. Nephi wrote his entire small plates record, in no small measure as a treatise, on the “way” his children and the descendants of his brothers should go—i.e., the doctrine of Christ (see especially 2 Nephi 31:21). 

When Enoch later states, “And he said unto them: I came out from the land of Cainan, the land of my fathers, a land of righteousness unto this day. And my father taught me in all the ways of God” (Moses 6:41), we are reminded of Nephi’s autobiographical introduction: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days” (emphasis added). Nephi, whose name of Egyptian origin,[5] means “good,” “fine,” “goodly,”[6] playing on the meaning of his given name[7] to attribute its appropriateness to his goodly parents whose goodness was evident in what he had been taught. Enoch’s name—“trained up,” “initiated”—was appropriate (from an ancient Israelite perspective) for one “taught … in all the ways of God” by his father for the same reason.

“And Faith Was Taught unto the Children of Men”: The First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ

Moses 6 makes clear that the preachers of righteousness, who had been “taught … in the ways of God” by their parents, were part of the Lord’s organized program of reclaiming Adam’s and Eve’s wayward posterity as described at the end of Moses 5, even as secret combinations (organized evil) proliferated throughout the world: “And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Moses 5:58). The narrator states: “And they [Adam’s and Eve’s righteous posterity] were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men” (Moses 6:23).

The teaching of faith and the accompanying call to repentance here constitute what Noel B. Reynolds has described an example of merismus, a rhetorical device wherein a whole—in this case, the whole doctrine of Christ—is invoked by the mention of one or several of its constituent parts.[8] In other words, when a writer or speaker mentions two or more elements of the doctrine of Christ, that writer or speaker has the entirety of the doctrine of Christ in view. The implications of this observation for this passage are that the preachers of righteousness were teaching the entirety of the doctrine of Christ, and not just faith and repentance. This becomes even clearer as we examine the prophetic ministry of Enoch and we get a glimpse of his teaching the doctrine of Christ and the plan of salvation.

“Teach These Things Freely unto Your Children”: Enoch’s Teaching Method

Moses 6:48-68 preserves Enoch’s masterful sermon on the plan of salvation and the doctrine of Christ, which uses Adam as the model of a human being saved through the plan of salvation made operative through Christ’s atonement and obedience to the doctrine of Christ. This sermon begins with the Fall of Adam and concludes with Adam becoming a son of God and “one in” (or at-one with) him.

Enoch’s sermon brings us back full-circle to Moses 5:12, where it is recorded that Adam and Eve “made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” Part of Enoch’s teaching to his audience included the very words, evidently recorded in Adam’s “book of remembrance,” wherewith the Lord had commanded Adam and Eve to teach their children. In Moses 6:55 the Lord informs Adam that the physical and spiritual effects of the Fall, as part of a mortal probation in a telestial world, would inevitably pass to his children, but so would moral agency (see Moses 6:55-56). These two conditions constitute the basis for the Lord’s instruction to Adam and Eve to teach their children: “Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time. Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children …” (Moses 6:57-58). The Lord emphasized and even reemphasized they were to teach their children the doctrine of Christ, the nature of God, and about Jesus Christ himself.

Indeed, he even gave the specific content they were to teach their children. As the words of Moses 6:58-62 originally read in the OT1 manuscript of the Joseph Smith translation: 

I give unto you a commandment to teach these things freely unto your Children saying that <​in​> as were <​as much as they were​> born into the world by the fall which bringeth death by water & <​blood &​> the spirit which I have made & so became of dust a living soul even so ye must be born again of water & the spirit & cleansed by blood even the blood of mine only begotten into the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven that ye may be Sanctified from all sin & enjoy the words of eternal life in this world & eternal life in the world to come even immortal glory for by the water ye keep the commandment by the spirit ye are Justified & by the blood ye are Sanctified that in you is given the record of Heaven the comfrorter the Peacable things of immortal grory [glory] the truth of all things that which quickeneth all things which alive all things that which knoweth all things & hath all power according to wisdom mercy thruth <​justice​> & Judgement & now behold I say unto you this is the plan of salvation unto all men the blood of mine only begotten which shall come in the maridian of time.[9]

Not only were Adam and Eve to teach their children the doctrine of Christ, but this doctrine with its ordinances would enable all of Adam’s and Eve’s posterity to be “born again” through the Savior’s atoning blood “into the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (i.e., into the higher ordinances of the temple).[10] Moses 6 helps us to see that this was the divine rebirth into which Adam’s righteous posterity, including Enoch—“initiated,” “trained”—who could teach others “in all the ways of God” even as he had been taught. Enoch’s teaching proved so successful that he established a Zion people who were taken to heaven (see Moses 7).  


As we read closely, we see that teaching—and in particular, the parental teaching of the doctrine of Christ—constitutes the thematic core of Moses 6. This chapter helps us better appreciate the vital importance of the Lord’s commandment “to bring up your children in light and truth” (D&C 93:40). We better appreciate his counsel to the Saints given at Hiram, Ohio on November 1, 1831: “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” The righteous teaching and parenting illustrated in Moses 6 thus serves as a model for Latter-day Saint parents and families today who seek to establish Zion in their own homes and throughout the world.

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[1] Etiology derives from Greek aitia “cause” + logia sayings (i.e., as an account or discussion of something, and thus a study of something). Michael H. Floyd (“Etiology” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary of the Bible, 5 vols. [Nashville, TN: Abingdon 2007], 2:352), writes, “As a critical term applied to narrative, etiology refers to stories that tell how something came to be or came to have its definitive characteristics. In Scripture such stories are typically told about names of persons and places, rites and customs, ethnic identities and other natural phenomena.”

[2] Russell M. Nelson, “The Creation,” Ensign, May 2000, 85.

[3] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 334.

[4] See Book of Mormon Central, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, and Matthew L. Bowen, “The Teachings of Enoch: Enoch as a Teacher,” Book of Moses Essay #14 https://www.pearlofgreatpricecentral.org/the-teachings-of-enoch-enoch-as-a-teacher/

[5] John Gee, “A Note on the Name Nephi,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1/1 (1992): 189-91; John Gee, “Four Suggestions on the Origin of the Name Nephi,” in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, ed. John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2009), 1– 5.

[6] Cf. Raymond O. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Oxford: Griffith Institute, 1999), 131-32. See also Adolf Erman and Hermann Grapow, Wörterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprache (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1971), 2:252–63.

[7] Matthew L. Bowen, “Internal Textual Evidence for the Egyptian Origin of Nephi’s Name,” Insights 22/11 (2002): 2.

[8] Noel B. Reynolds, “Biblical Merismus in Book of Mormon Gospel References,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (2017) 26: 106–134.

[9] “Old Testament Revision 1,” p. 14, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed January 10, 2022, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/old-testament-revision-1/16.

[10] Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and Matthew L. Bowen, “‘By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified’: The Symbolic, Salvific, Interrelated, Additive, Retrospective, and Anticipatory Nature of the Ordinances of Spiritual Rebirth in John 3 and Moses 6,” in Sacred Time, Sacred Space, and Sacred Meaning (Proceedings of the Third Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 5 November 2016), ed. Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. Temple on Mount Zion 4 (Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2020, 83.


Matthew L. Bowen is an associate professor of Religious Education at Brigham Young University–Hawaii where he has taught since 2012. He holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he also earned an M.A (Biblical Studies). He previously earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Classical Studies (Greek emphasis) from Brigham Young University (Provo) and subsequently pursued post-Baccalaureate studies in Semitic languages, Egyptian, and Latin there. In addition to having taught at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, he has previously taught at the Catholic University of America and at Brigham Young University. Bowen is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles on scripture- and temple-related topics as well as the recent book Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture. With Aaron P. Schade, he is the coauthor of the newly released volume The Book of Moses: From the Ancient of Days to the Latter Days. Bowen grew up in Orem, Utah, and served a two-year mission in the California Roseville Mission. He and his wife, the former Suzanne Blattberg, are the parents of three children, Zachariah, Nathan, and Adele.

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