My last post was a product of where I was at in my research. As I’ve argued in previous posts, I see heavy Neoplatonic (particularly that of Proclus) influences on Mormonism, which become more pronounced in JS’s last years. The Book of Abraham and the King Follett are thoroughly Neoplatonic in their notions of pre-existence, references to intelligences, the nature of the creation, the rejection of creation ex nihilo, deification, hierarchy of gods, and that God was once human.
I found two things most striking about the King Follett Discourse. One I mentioned in the previous post: that he seemed to be referencing some extra-biblical text with the statement ?I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of anything that is not contained in the Bible. If I do, I think there are so many over-wise men here that they would cry ?treason? and put me to death. So I will go to the old Bible and turn commentator today.? [HC 6:307] The other was the fact that he reinterpreted Genesis 1:1 in a way that made it sound very much like Plato’s Timaeus: “The Head One of the Gods brought forth the Gods,” who then create. Here’s the passage:
When all the gods had come to birth… the author of the universe addressed them in these words:
“Gods, of gods whereof I am the maker and of the works the father” [he then tells them that the bond to Him is stronger than their previous bonds and that they now need to create humans] “turn according to your own nature to the making of living creatures, imitating my power in generating you. In so far as it is fitting that something in them should share the name of the immortals, being called divine and ruling over those who at any time are willing to follow after righteousness and after you–the part, having sown it as seed and made a beginning, I will hand over to you. For the rest, do you, weaving mortal to immortal, make living beings; bring them to birth, feed them and cause them to grow; and when they fail, receive them back again.” (Timaeus 41a-d).
That’s probably more than I needed to quote; my point is just that the idea of a head God “bringing forth” other gods and then proceeding with the creation is very Platonic.  So I thought it was striking that JS’s reconfiguration of Genesis 1:1 took this direction and that he seemed to be referencing having some other source that he considered authoritative that was not biblical. I couldn’t help but wonder if it weren’t a Neoplatonic text of some sort.
I had remembered hearing that Alexander Neibaur was into the Kabbalah: Jewish Neoplatonic mysticism. So when I mentioned this to my good friend Mark Ashurst-McGee over Christmas he pointed me to Lance Owens’s article. I didn’t get to it for a while because I’m swamped with other reading. On Saturday I tracked down my adviser at a conference and asked her what I needed to do before I left (I’m moving to Utah soon, my wife and kids have already left). She said I needed a simple, clear, and concise write-up explaining all this and that I wasn’t leaving until it was done. That stressed me out because I was supposed to me leaving in 2 weeks (my wife is eager for me to join her), had a lot to do, and didn’t know how to explain all that I had read in a simple, concise way. “Neibaur,” I thought/hoped.
That Monday I read Owens’s article. It was a godsend. My paper is now written and off to my adviser and I think I may make it out of here.
Mark also mentioned to me the critiques of the article, which I read and found unconvincing because of the following, which, to me, is beyond dispute.
1) Neibaur was into the Kabbalah. His article in Times and Seasons not only referenced Kabbalistic texts but discusses a very Neoplatonic idea, the transmigration of souls. Whether he had in his possession the books or not, any summary of them would likely have been Kabbalistic as well. Discussing transmigration demonstrates his Neoplatonic thought.
2) Neibaur was JS’s Hebrew tutor (also beyond dispute).
3) The King Follett Discourse is undeniably Neoplatonic (mentioned above) as is JS’s reading of Genesis 1:1, regardless of how we render the Hebrew he quoted. A Neoplatonic Hebrew teacher, a Neoplatonic Hebrew rendering.
4) Regardless of what degree JS had previously conceived of the ideas in the KFD prior to 1844, he could still have received more information. If he was already heading in this direction before Neibuar then Neibaur’s ideas would have been all that more more compelling to JS, like missing pieces to a puzzle.
If we believe the ideas taught in the KFD are True, does it matter where JS got them from? Do they become less true if they came from the Zohar? “Mormonism is truth,” JS told Isaac Galland “The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitations or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men.” 
And yet, ?I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of anything that is not contained in the Bible. If I do, I think there are so many over-wise men here that they would cry ?treason? and put me to death. So I will go to the old Bible and turn commentator today.? [HC 6:307]
 The Timaeus was a very important text, the only Platonic text to survive throughout the Middle Ages, and the text considered the most important (along with the Parmenides) by the Neoplatonists. Again, this was a living tradition that was expanded and tinkered with over thousands of years.
 Quoted in Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 394.