Continuing my review of the Ang Aklatan…
We’re told three letters regarding Jesus Christ are included, but there appear to be only two and neither of them are written in the form of a letter.
The Gospel written by Angulu
Angulu was chosen of God at ten years of age, despite his father not being a believer in Christ. He’s told to go to Jerona. When he attains manhood at age twelve, he travels to Jerson. During the journey, he rests by the side of the stream Taborong and sees a rather Freudian vision of a rod of a tree sprouting up and a handmaiden taking hold of the rod. The rod of the tree divides a fertile land. A great tree, representing a prophet, arises out of the land, bearing fruit.
Angulu hears a woman singing and follows her voice. Her name is Kapu, the high priestess of the god Batala Me Kapal (the Great God who has created all things). She had a dream in which the Lord God said a prophet would come to her house and she should marry him. “And it came to pass that we I [sic] went in unto her and we were married; I being in my thirteenth year, and she being in her thirty-eighth year.” (Angulu 2)
They arrive in the land of Jerona and find many followers of God. A man named Bodan tells Angulu he will see the Lord.
When the Son of God comes, the sign of the King will appear amid the stars of the children of Judah. Pekil the prophet said the Almighty God shall be born of a young woman and there shall be a sign in the sky. (Pekil is apparently one of those people Gubir warned us about in The Journeys of Gubir and Jaresh 11 who will mistake the prophet who will save us from sin for a God.) The sign in the sky shall appear as the crown of the lion and will guide you to the place of his birth. His kingdom will be established for all eternity (I guess he hasn’t come yet, then.)
The prophesy then immediately comes true. They behold a sign: a star bringing light to the earth. They gather their gold to present to the King of Kings and head west. Some fishermen give them a ride at one point and they are blessed by having a different set of fishermen serve the King of the Jews in the future. Also, they catch more fish than they ever have before.
They travel for six years. Along the way, they meet another group carrying incense and another group carrying myrrh because of prophecies they received.
They arrive at Jerusalem and ask Herod where Christ will be born. He sends them to Bethlehem which is where the sign was leading them anyway. The sign appears as a fire by night and a cloud by day. Their group of at least twelve, including three kings, come to the house where Mary and Joseph dwell and give Jesus their precious gifts. (I’ve never thought of this before, but did these gifts make Jesus rich for the rest of his life? Is this why he never has to work?)
Mary recounts her visitation by the angel Gabriel when she was 13. She marries Joseph and the Holy Spirit comes upon her (I’m not clear from the wording if this is a virgin birth or not). When Mary was about to deliver, she and Joseph have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for taxation. Mary goes into labor while they’re traveling. They stop at a cave. Joseph finds a midwife, and when Jesus is born, the cave is lit up brighter than the midday sun.
Joseph finds an inn, but there’s no room, so the kindly innkeeper lets them stay in the manger. Because Christ will be like both a shepherd and a lamb metaphorically speaking, and angel instructs some shepherds to go to the manger. They tell Mary what the angel told them, then they tell “the inhabitants of all the land” about Jesus (which sounds like it would take a long time), then they return to bow down to the baby.
Jesus is circumcised and his foreskin is preserved in a jar of ointment (a detail first found in the Arabic Infancy Gospel). They take Jesus to the temple, offer him to the Lord, and give a sacrifice. Simeon, a man who was prophesied not to die until he had beheld the Lord, sees Mary carrying Jesus with a pillar of light shining down upon him. Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and asks the Lord to let him die in peace, but we aren’t told if he dies or not.
Mary and Joseph return to Bethlehem and reside in a house which is where the three kings find them. The three kings and their retinue then leave, taking a cloth that had clothed Jesus with them. An angel appears in a dream and tells them not to tell Herod or he’ll kill the child. They wonder if they should warn Mary and Joseph, but Suran the descendent of Suran prophecies that an angel will warn Mary and Joseph and they’ll go to Egypt where Jesus will heal many people. Then an angel will appear to Joseph and call them back. Jesus will grow up and preach to the people, but be put to death. He’ll then come back to life and visit the people of the islands. A star like the one before guides them back to their lands. (Were there three stars because there are three different groups?)
I got whiplash at this point, because we’re suddenly back to Bodan talking to Angulu in Chapter 3. Apparently, everything that happens between chapters 4-13 was Bodan telling Angulu his backstory, but this wasn’t made clear back in chapter 3. It also doesn’t make sense, because Bodan was talking about the star in future tense not past tense in chapter 4. In chapters 5 and 7, he says “myself, Bodan” and others traveled, which I took to mean Angulu, Bodan, and others, but in retrospect, I guess “myself, Bodan” just means Bodan.
Anyhoo, after four years, there is a great darkness and earthquakes, the sign that Jesus was put to death. Many believers are killed because of the wickedness of the people. The believers of Christ are gathered at a holy mountain. A light appears at the top of the mountain and Christ speaks to the people. He taught the Gospel and traveled the land speaking many things.
Jesus quotes a few things from the Gospel of Thomas starting with the Parable of the Assassin. He quotes from the canonical gospels a bit such as the Parable of the Weeds from Matthew 13 (with rice in place of wheat), and also mixes in some sayings I don’t recognize: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a lost gold piece. For many shall seek for it in all the world but they do ignore that gold which they do possess.” (Angulu 15) “If a man and a woman come together in a single house and they become one flesh, they shall cause the mountains to shake.” (Angulu 15) After a series of seemingly random sayings, The Gospel written by Angulu abruptly ends.
The Lesser Gospel written by Buka
Well, the title itself tells you it’s not that important. During the reign of King Linurang, earthquakes and darkness signal the death of Jesus has occurred. The darkness is so great, people aren’t even able to light fires.
Despite not being able to see, the wicked kill hundreds of believers during the darkness. A group of believers called the Warriors of the Darkness then slay the wicked. After three days, the darkness clears.
After a few years, they rebuild their cities. Jesus descends in a beam of light upon the top of mount Garakayo. He invites them to touch the holes in his hands and feet caused by the nails. He appoints twelve Warriors of Darkness to be leaders: Taletan, Buka, Angulu, Kiro, Saran, Dulak, Garek, Butulam, Shurakan, Bulakan, Rida, and Gil.
Jesus says in order to be saved they need to believe in him and be baptized (so belief alone isn’t enough). Of course, it’s easy for them to believe in him after watching him descend in a beam of light. He says he, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are as one, so kind of sounds like he’s calling himself a God contra Gubir.
“You must repent and be baptized in my name. And this is my doctrine, and the doors of death shall not prevail against he who has my rock as his foundation. And whoever shall make more or less than this and preach it as my doctrine, shall preach an evil.” (Buka 3) If preaching more than that is evil, why does Jesus keep saying more than this in the following chapters where he recounts the beatitudes as well as several other Gospel sayings?
Jesus then travels with the twelve throughout the land performing miracles such as healings and walking on water. Jesus says women are great as long as they obey their husbands: “You have done well for your women do have a voice and they do have strength, nevertheless they do follow that order which has been established, in that they do sustain their husbands.” (Buka 11) Jesus says those who followed him in Jerusalem didn’t understand women were equal to men. (I don’t think Jesus understands it either, to be honest.)
I’m not sure exactly what Jesus is asking us to do in this next sentence. Become cyborgs maybe? “And when you have replaced your eye with a new eye, and replaced your hand with a new hand, and replaced your foot with a new foot; only then shall you enter my Father’s kingdom.” (Buka 11)
Jesus then appoints twelve women: Seliam, Liwan, Torun, Sugo, Noriyu, Nolo, Mejaya, Kejave, Venaji, Nagariwa, Doyu, and Moturo. Jesus has to leave to visit other lands and other worlds. A beam of light lifts him back up to heaven. The twelve men and twelve women preach throughout the land. The entire land becomes united in Jesus. There were no more wars and not a poor man among them.
The Prophecy of the Prophetess Liwan is just one chapter long. Is this the third letter regarding Jesus Christ even though it doesn’t mention him? In the last days, when these writings are restored, there will be twelve women. There’s Ma, the one who dwells in water, Ora, the woman of light, Enajala who cares for others, Enajalaka the angel, Janava who will travel the world, Janama, Jama and Larana the three sisters who come from the city of much salt, Maraya, Gawanadalana, and Raba who come from distant lands, and Karasatana who also cares for others. These twelve women will proclaim the kingdom and be guided by the guy who brings forth this book we’re reading and do what he says.
The Book of The Strangers begins: “I, whose name is Maunea, do write the history of my people. And I know not if it is true or false.” At least he’s honest. God told his ancestor Elhia (Lehi from the Book of Mormon?) to leave his homeland. They traveled many years until them came to a great sea. God sent a boat down from heaven to carry them across the sea. (Why did God make Noah construct a boat when he could have just sent one down from heaven?) They arrive at a new land and intermingle with the tribes there.
The children of the son of Elhia (we’re not given their names) weren’t faithful. A righteous man (whose name we aren’t given but who is obviously meant to be Abinadi from Mosiah 17) preached to a king (the wicked king Noah). The king ordered him to be killed by flame, but the king gets killed by flame too (see Mosiah 19).
In chaper 3, there are vague mentions of a great teacher and warrior who is probably meant to be Moroni. In chapter 4, the stranger’s ancestor Haga (likely meant to be Hagoth from Alma 63) builds a large ship to escape the constant wars of the land. After many years, Haga the son of Haga took boats to find a land for himself. A storm pushed him off coarse and he wrecked upon an island and intermarried with the people there (this appears to be a reference to Shimlei 2 from the books of Nemenhah). His son marries a beautiful woman from a distant land, but she’s not a believer.
There is no chapter 5 (perhaps it will be revealed later?). In chapter 6, Maunea, who is not a believer, leaves by boat to find a land where he can be free. In chapter 7, Maunea encounters short, dark-skinned people on a new island who are very peaceful. They convert his people to worship Jesus.
The Song of Banali is a short poem expressing love of God. Not much to comment on here.
Selections from The Book of Namwaran
(We won’t get the rest of the Book of Namwaran until cities for believers have begun to be built.)
Namwaran was a righteous man who lived all his days in the City by the River. He knew the history of the Mahardika who haven’t been mentioned before and the words of Datara who also hasn’t been mentioned before. At 21, God calls him to preach to the people. “Now many people did become angered with the believers. For the believers did constantly send people to preach the gospel and the unbelievers did grow tired of the intrusions of the believers into their lives. And they would that the believers should let them alone.” (Namwaran 1) I think all of us can related to that. Who hasn’t wanted to be left alone by those who believe something different from us?
The unbelievers want to continue worshipping the religion of their parents, but this is bad. So God curses them with poverty and plagues and contentions. God further curses them with great heat. “And because of this great heat the skin of the people was darkened as they toiled in the heat of the day.” Wasn’t dark skin a blessing earlier? God said the curse will remain until the people return to Him. Because God cursed them, the people curse God. So God increases the curse upon the land and now it will last until the Lord returns.
The non-believers take up arms against the City by the River. Namwaran’s family is slain except for his nephew Ruman. He teaches Ruman that belief in Jesus alone isn’t enough, you must also obey the commandments.
Namwaran and Ruman spend many years learning the arts of battle. (Queue the training montage.) Namwaran gains a reputation as a great warrior. When he’s 28, the Chief of the Kingdom of Tundun asks Namwaran to defend his kingdom. They form an alliance between the cities of the believers and Tundun. The chief’s advisor offers his beautiful daughter Jydana to marry Namwaran.
Jydana isn’t into Namwaran at first, but after he returns to his land and sends her love letters, she starts to dig him. Jydana converts to the ways of Jesus. Namwaran baptizes her and builds a bamboo tabernacle to marry her in. Jydana (whose name is apparently now Jeydana) has a daughter and a son. Namwaran trains his army for many years and builds his home as a fortress. The believers in the City by the River start to be wicked.
Namwaran wars against the tribes successfully for many years then retires from the army because Tundun is now more established, but the number of believers is decreasing. Namwaran stores the words of God in a cave. God commands him to gather the records of the Mahardika. There are very few believers left in the land.
Namwaran finds the Record of the Ancients which contains the history of the world from the time of Adam. The record keeper will let him have the record only if he pays him a lot of gold. He borrows the money from a nearby Chief who is loyal to the Chief of Tundun and takes the record to the cave. Namwaran dies before he’s able to compile a book of all the records he gathered.
The Book of Ruman
Ruman finds Namwaran’s cave. It’s filled with treasure and records. He finds records from earlier in this book, as well as a record left by his unnamed father and a record of the previously unmentioned great warrior Danku. It takes him years to read all the records. He decides to compile only the most important books together into a single book. He makes copper sheets to write his record.
There are no more believers left in the land. Ruman writes to future generations. He tells them the importance of worshipping on the seventh day (Saturday?). Sacrament should include bread and wine (not the Mormon sacrament of bread and water). It’s a grave sin for an unbaptized person to partake of the sacrament. After sacrament, believers should remove their sandals and servants should wash their feet. This is followed by a great feast.
A tall, white man carrying a satchel approaches Ruman and says he’s John, Jesus’s disciple. (Why would a man from ancient Jerusalem be white?) John is over nine hundred years old at this point, but Jesus commanded him to stick around until the second coming.
John shows Ruman a scroll upon which he wrote a vision (the Book of Revelation) similar to the vision of Katalua. (This is the only time Katalua is mentioned. Either it wasn’t important enough to include or it will be revealed later.) John explains the crystal sea before God’s throne is the earth. The four creatures symbolize the creatures of all the earth. The 24 people who worship at the throne are two groups of twelve apostles. The seven seals represent periods of time. The rider on a white horse in the first seal is Jesus. The fifth seal is the time that begins with Jesus. The white garments symbolize the gospels. The seventh seal is the Sabbath of the earth. He gives similarly vague explanations for the rest of Revelation.
John addresses those future people who reject the Aklatan because John said nothing should be added to the Bible: “For I John approve these words, and he that shall hearken unto them shall not have plagues added unto him for they will not be adding unto my words, for I accept these words as if they are mine.” (Ruman 6) If you dismiss these words, you are committing a grave sin.
John appoints Ruman to remain upon the earth until his record should come forth. John leaves, then Paul shows up. Paul tells future people who might reject this book because of what he says about not accepting those who preach other gospels to accept it. “For behold I certify unto you, that the gospel which is preached from this book is of me is not after the ways of man.” (Ruman 7)
Ruman 8 gives a form of Moroni’s Promise from Moroni 10:3: “And those who shall pray unto God and ask Him, in faith, if this record is true, and if it be His will, the Spirit shall witness unto them the truthfulness of this record.” Also, “And I do also possess a vial containing earth from the place where Jesus first set foot upon these islands.” How’s that for proof? Dirt that Jesus stepped on should be enough to convince anybody.
He prophecies that this book will be shown to a man in a vision and he’ll translate it. “And it mattereth not if some may receive this record as a parable or if they receive it as a true account, for did not Jesus teach many truths in parables.[sic] For it mattereth not if it is true or a story, for what mattereth is that those who shall read it shall turn unto God, and Jesus their redeemer, and unite together in God’s Kingdom.” (Ruman 8) So, in the end, it doesn’t matter if the Aklatan is true or not as long as it brings people to Jesus.
We finish with the Rock of Ruman, just a paragraph long, which was not included on the copper sheets, but rather found written on a stone. It says 80 years have passed since Ruman hid up the record. He’s still alive, so John was right about him remaining on the face of the earth until the record comes forth. A descendant of Suran will discover the record and the whole world will know of Suran’s people.