Through a series of dreams, Elisha M. Enoc translated the Aklatan from a set of copper sheets he discovered after having a vision. The Aklatan contains a record of the ancient history of the Philippines, Taiwan, and Borneo and Christ’s visitation to the ancient people of these islands, just as the Book of Mormon describes the ancient history of America and Christ’s visit to those people. While all the books of the Aklatan have been translated, not all have been published yet.
It was supposedly translated in 1987, but the first parts of it weren’t published until 2007. Thus its prediction of the World Trade Center attack in 2001 isn’t very impressive. Adherents claim the discovery of the Laguna Copperplate in 1989 proves it’s real, but again, it wasn’t published until 2007, so it’s more likely a prediction after the fact, like the references to Magellan and the Spanish conquest of the Philippines in The Life of Suran 10.
Like the Bible and Book of Mormon, the Aklatan is composed of several smaller books. It has more typos than you’d usually find in a published work. There are chapters, but verses aren’t numbered. Some chapters are only a paragraph long, while others go on for pages.
Compared with other Mormon apocrypha that I’ve been reading, it’s quite impressive in terms of length and scope. Long lists of genealogy are given, detailed geography, etc. It’s truly epic in the way the original Book of Mormon was.
We start with The Book of Visions which gives a history of the discovery and translation of the Aklatan. The author, who’s been a Catholic his whole life, sees a vision of copper plates hidden in a cave. He meets an American named Oleeha (such a stereotypical American name, am I right?) who was sent by God to help him translate the plates. The author is skeptical at first, but Christ comes to him in a dream, tells him he’ll establish a kingdom, quotes from the New Testament a bit, instructs him to publish this book (but not for twenty years), and tells him how to start spreading the word.
“And you shall not charge money for it save it be for the cost of publishing this book when the time shall come to do so.” (Visions 3)
“Now here is wisdom, do not appoint any man to be a leader who desires that position. For a man that desires power over others is a wicked and prideful man.” (Visions 3)
When the author protests that the Bible already contains all of Christ’s words, Christ responds: “It is true that the Bible does contain my word, it is good and pure, except for those errors which have been transmitted by the hands men [sic]. But behold I have spoken unto many nations and many people. And these too are my Word. […] And I have caused that the Bible should be made to preserve some of my Words. But there have been many things which are lost because they were not preserved therein because of the weakness of men. […] And he who sayeth, I shall only accept the Bible, doth follow the evil one and in doing so doth commit a grave sin.” (Visions 3)
Three men, who are possibly the three Nephites from the Book of Mormon, approach the author at a river, refuse to give their names, and say he needs to be baptized and given the priesthood. He objects that he was already baptized as an infant.
“They told me that baptism of infants was a tradition of the Catholic church, but did not come from the teachings of Christ in the Bible. They said that my prior baptism was not sufficient to manifest my faith in Christ, but rather I should be baptized of my own will.” (Visions 4)
The author then gets baptized Mormon-style, given the gift of the Holy Ghost, then light shines down on him and he begins speaking in tongues. The three men then give him the priesthood.
In a dream, Oleeha shows up at his house with the plates and tells him how to translate them. He wakes up and writes down what he translated in his dream. Thus he translates the copper plates without ever physically seeing them. After he finishes translating the plates, Oleeha shows up in real life, tells him which portions to include in the first publication, and tells him to wait twenty years before publishing it for some reason.
The next book, Selections from Ezekiel, is what it says on the tin: chapters 40 through 48 of Ezekiel copied directly from the King James Bible, (just like Joseph Smith copied the KJV version of Isaiah into the Book of Mormon). Unlike Visions, this book contains both chapter and verse numbers.
It’s basically an extended description of how the temple in Jerusalem should be built, how to offer animal sacrifices, how long the priest’s hair should be, etc. An introductory note says a temple based on these plans will be built at Banahaw, which is an active volcano in the Philippines. Are they planning on actually performing animal sacrifices? If not, why include the instructions on how to do so?
I don’t think I noticed this detail before that cherub have two faces, one of a man and one of a lion: “And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces; So that the face of a man was toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side; it was made through all the house round about.” (Selections from Ezekiel 2:18-19, compare Ezekiel 41:18-19)
The Life of Suran
After the story of how the plates were obtained and a hefty quote from Ezekiel, we’re finally ready to begin reading the plates themselves. In an introduction, Ruman tells us he’s writing the plates in a language he invented (just like the Book of Mormon is written in Reformed Egyptian) so his brethren won’t be able to read it, because they threatened to destroy anything having to do with the Gospel of Christ.
Suran worshipped multiple gods, but his uncle Ngameke tells him the secret of one God. He shares a record of their people who were descendants of Noah’s son Shem.
“Now the son of Shem was Arpaksad; and the son of Arpaksad was Salah; and the son of Salah was Eber; and the son of Eber was Peleg and Joktan. Now Joktan had thirteen sons who were Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, and Uzal, and Diklah, and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab.” (Suran 1)
Unless my counting is off, Joktan had twelve sons, not thirteen, but who am I to question Suran?
Ophir is the son who traveled to the Philipines and established a righteous branch of the children of God. After many years passed, they returned to the worship of false gods. After many more years, another tribe, that of Levi, arrived. Ngameke was the last righteous person left by Suran’s time.
Suran believes his uncle and takes up a belief in the God of Adam, Enoch, and Noah. He also believes a Messiah will come in the future. A voice tells him he was chosen to raise up a righteous people before he was born and gives him a crash course in the Mormon belief of the preexistence:
“And it did teach that all mankind was spiritually known, residing, in the realm of God prior to living here upon this world. And also that there was a time appointed when each man should come into this world to be born and live.” (Suran 2)
Ngameke baptizes Suran, appoints him to be king, prophet, and priest, and then dies.
Suran teaches his family the stories of Adam, Enoch, and Noah. There seems to be a reference to giants in Chapter 3: “And he taught them of Shem, the great king, and also of his descendants through his son Arpaksad. Those who did journey through the land of large men even until they did escape into the west and came unto these islands.” (Suran 3)
“And He [sic] did also teach unto them concerning those who has [sic] escaped captivity who were descended of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who is Israel, and Levi. Wherefore he taught them a history of those people who were led out of Jerusalem to preserve the lineage of Levi and that their ancestors were brought by the hand of the Lord to these islands.” (Suran 3)
He goes on to speak of the Messiah, including quotes from Isaiah. He knows the Messiah will be born of a virgin and crucified in Jerusalem, etc. Suran’s eldest son Ahkman believes, but his second son Shurak doubts. Suran’s wife Tinal, his youngest son Kodal and his daughter Gura also believe, but Suran himself has doubts.
“And Suran did appoint his sons to the Order of Levi. For he did appoint Ahkman after the Order of Gerson; and Shurak he did appoint after the Order of Kohath; and Kodal he did appoint after the Order of Merari. For it was a remnant of these which had been preserved upon these islands.” (Suran 5)
“Now at this time Suran thought he heard a voice cry from Heaven saying, Suran, your faith hath guided you, be now appointed a priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Suran 5)
Suran and his sons find more records left behind by Ngameke, including genealogy and a treasure map. They follow the map to a cave, their torches go out, but they see a light given off by stones brighter than fire. They find gold, silver, bronze, ancient records, fine swords, and other weapons. They decide to build the temple described by Ezekiel to house these treasures.
Chapter 6 tells us the descendants of Shem didn’t just journey through the land of large men (contra chapter 3) but were enslaved by them for a time.
The descendants of Shem only have to obey the law of Noah and are considered gentiles while the descendants of Levi have to obey the law of Moses: “But behold the seed of Ophir were not bound by that Law. For they were bound only by that law which was given unto their fathers through Shem. For they had not sinned like unto the children of Israel. Now behold because of this thing they were counted as Gentiles unto the descendants of Levi, which thing caused much contention in those days.” (Suran 8)
Chapter 10 predicts Magellan and the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Chapter 11 predicts the American Civil War, WWI, WWII, 9/11, and the Iraq War. I don’t remember this, but apparently, America fell after the Iraq War: “And one great bird did attack one of the mountains. And another great bird did attack another of the mountains. There was much fire and smoke and after a time three mountains fell. And there were two lesser birds. And one did attack a large house and another did attack the earth. […] Wherefore the leader of the nation of the eagle had gone to war with another nation. And it was caused that the people of the nation of the eagle should believe that the people of the other nation were their enemy. […] And it came to pass that I saw the fall of the nation of the eagle.” (Suran 11)
Stay tuned for the next part of this review…