Creation is one of the most fascinating aspects of mythology in many cultures – and this is especially true for those who look to religion to inform their beliefs. While many religions have some aspect of their beliefs come into question for resembling mythology more than history, Mormonism is one of the most controversial. One of the most questioned aspects of their religion is the belief in a star – or planet – called Kolob that is supposedly ‘closest to the throne of God.’ Much speculation has been made because of this strange claim. But first, what is Kolob? And why is it so controversial?
What is Kolob?
In Mormonism, Kolob is either a planet or a star that is thought to be the closest heavenly body to the throne of God. Because of its location, it is thought to be one of the most important and holy places in the universe. The problem? No one seems to be able to prove its existence despite the very specific description that was given to believers in the ‘Book of Mormon’ and the ‘Book of Abraham.’
As far as Kolob is concerned, there seem to be no straight answers. There are many debates about its existence – even inside the Mormon community. Though there are some that suggest the planet is, without a doubt, real. This is largely due to their belief in Joseph Smith’s ability to ‘see’ God’s divine will. There are others, however, who see Kolob as being a metaphorical creation that served to describe the holiness and power of Jesus Christ.
The theories that surround the mystical land of Kolob are quite literally endless – some believe the place can’t be found because it is located in a different galaxy. There are even others that are willing to go a step farther – saying Kolob can’t be located because it exists in an alternative reality or dimension. All of these speculations can be traced back to the cryptic musings and writings of one man’s interpretation of ancient texts – Joseph Smith.
Who Was Joseph Smith?
Joseph Smith was a religious leader who is known to have founded the Church of Latter Day Saints and to have written ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘The Book of Abraham.’ He was regarded as many to be a prophet that had been given a gift that allowed him to share new information that God wanted to spread among his followers on Earth.
Joseph Smith’s journey first began in 1817 when he and his family first moved to the burned-over district in New York – an area that was thought to be heavily influenced by the Second Great Awakening. During this time, Smith had a series of visions that helped to mold him into the leader he would become. One of these visions contained directions to a set of golden plates that was inscribed with the history of an ancient American civilization that had practiced the Judeo-Christian faith. He worked to translate the texts, which resulted in what is now known as, ‘The Book of Mormon.’ This translation was accomplished by his unique ability to use ‘seer stones’ – powerful stones known as Urim and Thummim that were known to be used by ancient Christian priests to understand the will of God. The book was published in 1830 when Smith was 24.
In the year 1835, a man named Michael Chandler brought pieces of papyri that were found with Egyptian mummies to Smith, hoping he would be able to translate the contents of the papyri as he had with the ancient golden plates. Shortly after viewing the papyri, Smith purchased them and used them to write the Book of Abraham. It is here, in the Book of Abraham, that Kolob is first mentioned.
How Was Joseph Smith Able to Translate the Texts?
Much of Smith’s fame and beliefs were developed in part thanks to his supposed gift of divination. His father was also gifted with divination and had a pair of seer stones that he used to ‘understand divine messages’, which were eventually passed down to Joseph. It was thought that these stones gave him the ability to understand what many men could not (especially since these stones had biblical credibility) and helped to establish him as a trusted authority. Although there were skeptics, there were more than enough believers to allow Smith to develop a respectable following. In fact, before he ever translated the Book of Mormon, Joseph and his father were often paid by locals to give mystical insights.
According to those who knew him, Smith was able to put the seer stones inside his top hat and put his face to the rim so that no light could get through and distract him from the message at hand. By this method, he was able to read the supernatural messages and translate ancient texts that very few others were able to understand.
Joseph Smith’s Papyri Texts
The papyri texts that Smith purchased from Chandler would supposedly give him great revelations as to the creation of the cosmos and God’s will for humanity. There are many theories that can be found in the texts, though the most criticized is without a doubt the existence of Kolob.
According to Smith, the papyri he purchased from Chandler contained Abraham’s writings from the time the prophet spent in Egypt. According to Smith’s translation, Abraham and a man named Methuselah (a man famed for living 969 years in the Hebrew bible) discovered the planet together by using a set of seer stones and some spectacles. After discovering the planet (or star) and discerning God’s will concerning Kolob, Abraham wrote his revelations on the papyri that was eventually sold to Smith. Although this claim is undoubted by the Mormon Church, many scholars today criticize this claim because it is now known that at least part of the papyri consisted of funerary texts.
What is Known of Kolob
Based on what is written in the Book of Abraham, we know that Kolob is either a planet or a star that is the closest heavenly body to the throne of God. Some who read the passages contained in this text are convinced that Kolob may actually be the throne of God. There is much speculation that is made from the vagueness of some of the texts with some believing that the writings are metaphorical – at least in part – and others leaning towards a literal translation.
The Greatness of Kolob
One of the first things that is noted of the planet Kolob is the sheer greatness of the heavenly body. This is first revealed in Abraham 3:2-3 which reads as follows:
“And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it; And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”
It is these verses that establish Kolob as being the holiest of all places in the universe. It is also discerned from these verses that Kolob’s might does not come from its own physical greatness, but because of its close proximity to the Lord. It is also understood that Kolob has power over all other heavenly bodies in the cosmos and was given that power by the Lord. In later verses (Abraham 3:16), we also discover that Kolob was the first of God’s creations. This is in part why it is so dear and holy to him.
The Time on Kolob
In addition to being shown to be one of the most fascinating creations of God, Kolob is also told to have a different perception of time than what is understood on Earth. In Abraham 3:4-7, it is revealed to the Church of Latter Day Saints that Kolob’s time is different because it rotates more slowly on its axis. One day on Kolob is said to be equivalent to 1,000 days on Earth.
This is one of the biggest points of criticism on the part of skeptics. They point out that according to our current understanding of math and science, time does not change in space. This part of the translation is often disregarded as being poorly written fiction resulting from Smith’s lack of astronomical understanding.
There are, however, other religions who seem to have a similar notion of time difference between God’s time and human time. In fact, in the Islamic texts it is written that Allah created the Angels on Wednesday, the Jinn on Thursday, and Humans on Friday. These days were not consecutive – but approximately 1,000 years apart from each other.
Furthermore, Abraham 3:9 explains that the time on Kolob is also the time by which God measures creation. It reads:
“…which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”
Many believers in the Church of Latter Day Saints use this passage to defend their religion. Because the time of Kolob is also the time of the Creator, it makes sense that the rules of this time are beyond human comprehension.
Why Can We Not See Kolob?
There are several possible explanations for why we may not be able to see Kolob. The reasons range from the possibility that Kolob is only metaphorical to some advanced and abstract scientific reasons that we aren’t capable of understanding yet.
Kolob is a Metaphor for Jesus Christ
Of all the reasons for why Kolob hasn’t yet been discovered or perceived by humans, the argument that it is a metaphorical example for Jesus Christ is considered to be the most logical and supported. It is thought that this may be why the system is described with Kolob governing over all other heavenly bodies. Additionally, this would explain why Kolob is so dear to God (God the Father bringing about the creation or manifestation of God the Son [Jesus Christ]).
Also, this explanation gives the whole of the Book of Abraham more room for credibility. Some of the claims that are made inside the pages of this book are much more plausible when they are put into metaphorical terms.
Kolob is in a Different Galaxy or Solar System
It has also been proposed that Kolob could simply be a star or planet that exists in another solar system or galaxy. This also makes room for the possibility that Kolob has already been discovered, but was given a different name and has not yet been understood by man.
Many who point towards this theory believe that Kolob could possibly exist as the star Sirius. There are many different planets and stars that have been proposed as possible candidates, but of all the suggestions Sirius and a star named Regulus are the most widely accepted possibilities.
Kolob is in a Different Realm
There are also those who believe that our inability to locate Kolob is more closely connected to the fall of man. It is thought that when Adam and Eve sinned, they were both physically and spiritually cast out of favor with the Lord. While many religions that have their roots in Judaism have acknowledged that Adam and Eve were forced out of the Garden of Eden, The Church of Latter Day Saints is the only religion to claim that the Earth was taken out of orbit in the realm where Kolob exists and put in its current position.
There are some in the ranks of the Latter Day Saints who believe that the Earth will be taken out of its current orbit in the Milky Way galaxy in the end times and placed near Kolob again.
Kolob is in a Different Reality
In perhaps the most interesting argument for why we have not yet discovered Kolob, a group of Mormon scholars have proposed the idea that Kolob may not just be in a different realm – it may be in a different reality entirely! While the idea of parallel worlds and alternative realities has yet to be disproved, it is indeed a stretch and highly criticized by many skeptics.