Ancient Near East, Jeremiah, Divine Election, Biblical Studies


FRAGMENTS OF GOSPEL TRUTHS are often detected by Latter-day Saint scholars studying ancient texts, especially texts from the ancient Near East. This essay focuses on one example of this phenomenon. Divine election—the academic designation for the choosing of people by deity for position and opportunity in mortal life—is a claim that is well attested in ancient Near Eastern texts, including the Hebrew Bible.¹ Latter-day Saints correlate certain aspects of this concept with premortal foreordination and are familiar with a few key biblical passages, such as Jeremiah 1:5, that feature divine election. However, many Latter-day Saints are less familiar with the variety of divine election claims found in the Bible, with the vocabulary of these claims, and with the many different types of election claims found in nonbiblical texts from the ancient Near East.

Original Publication Citation

“Before Jeremiah Was: Divine Election in the Ancient Near East,” in A Witness for the Restoration: Essays in Honor of Robert J. Matthews, ed. by Kent P. Jackson and Andrew C. Skinner (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2007), 33-59. Available at:

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Religious Studies Center




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor