Enochian Legend and the Book of Mormon
The most important points of contact come in the Enochian legend from the 13th, 14th, and 21st (I think) degrees of Royal Arch Freemasonry. The legend has Enoch constructing a stone vault in Mount Moriah complete with arches, a brass pillar with the creation account written on it, another pillar, spheres/globes on the pillars containing the maps of the universe that also acted as oracles, a stone lid, and most importantly a gold plate preserving the name of God, which had originally been given to Adam. The purpose of the vault was to preserve divine knowledge past the coming flood. According to the legend, in the time of King Solomon, the vault was uncovered, and on top of a pillar was was found a book, which had the entire Gospel of John written in it.
If the parallels with the Book of Mormon haven't hit you over the head yet, early accounts of Joseph retrieving the gold plates include the stone lid having "arches" and the artifacts being on "pillars" (See Bruno presentation linked below). The liahona was a sphere that gave directions. The brass plates contained the books of Moses, of which Genesis contains the creation account. Joseph Smith found the gold plates in a stone box in a hill and restored ancient knowledge. That hill's name is cuMORAH, which is readily seen as related to MORIAH. Also, according to Nick Frederick's work, Joseph Smith's revelations are highly intertextual with the Gospel of John, and it could be argued that the Gospel of John is central to the theological exposition of the text. In the Book of Moses, Enoch learns the name of God in the "language of Adam." Scholars have been exploring these connections for over half a century, and there is more than what I've listed here (one recent example: Cheryl Bruno Presentation, and there are many before her including mentions in The Refiner's Fire and the infamous address by Reed C. Durham).
While there is no official record of Joseph's membership in a lodge, his brother Hyrum was a member and his father was possibly a member. More importantly, Joseph lived in the geographic vicinity of Batavia, NY, where the anti-Freemason movement of 1830s-50s began. William Morgan, a disaffected Freemason, was kidnapped in 1826 after threatening to publish masonic secrets (his wife joined the church in 1834 and became a plural wife of Joseph Smith soon after). This was the crime of the decade, a hot topic of conversation and press, and spurred the anti-Freemason movement. It seems plausible that in an environment such as this Joseph could have been exposed to Freemasonry without becoming an official member.
Freemasonry and Archaic Language
Despite not knowing exactly how Smith became influenced by Freemasonry, the possibility that it deeply affected him demands consideration in light of the heavy overlap between the Enochian legend and many elements from Joseph Smith's life including the Book of Mormon text, the book of Moses, and his interactions with the Book of Mormon artifacts. Grammar may be another area of overlap. Granted, I'm not a linguist, but reading an 1853 exposition of Masonic ceremony published in NY (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433075953525;view=1up;seq=7 ), it quickly becomes clear that the English is archaic to the time period. Following are some examples that I could pick out.
A few examples from the Entered Apprentice (first) degree:
- "From whence came you?" p. 33
- "I did not so recieve it, neither can I so impart it." p. 36
- "What came you here to do?" p.38
- "Where was you first prepared to be made a mason?" "Where was you secondly prepared?" "How did you know this to be a door, you being hood-winked?" p. 40
- "How was you then disposed of?" p. 41
- "What was you next presented with?" p. 43
- "Finally, brethren, be ye of one mind..." p. 55
Archaic Language in Joseph's 1832 History
Finally, a small attestation that Joseph used archaic English in a non-revelatory setting can be found in the 1832 account of the first vision and coming forth of the Book of Mormon. After finishing the first vision account, Joseph switches from writing himself to dictating. At this point he begins to slip into scriptural language, including beholds, therefores, and it came to passes. The archaic grammar includes at least the following:
- "there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers"
- "and found where the plates was deposited"
- "I supposed it had been a dreem of Vision"
- "therefore thou was left unto temptation that thou mightest be made accquainted with the power of the advisary"
- "thou shalt obtain them"