Abraham 4-5 records the patriarch's vision of creation, unknown in the Bible but known to al-Tabari. And, though the Bible says nothing of a heavenly council that planned the creation of man, several ancient documents first published in the 20th century describe it.
Finally, Abraham's account describes creation as the "organization" of pre-existing materials, which contradicts traditional doctrines that God made the universe from nothing. But creation from nothing doesn't appear in the Bible. Ancient Jewish writings teach that God created the universe by forming preexistent matter. Christian thinkers, influenced by Greek philosophy, began to teach creation from nothing only in the second century.
It's amazing what Joseph Smith was able to pick up on the western frontier.
Daniel C. Peterson is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, where he also serves as editor in chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative. He is the founder of MormonScholarsTestify.org. He blogs daily at www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/.
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