LDS poster Maklelan at the CARM discussion board (*Update* and more recently at the MADB discussion board) cited an interesting ancient Jewish source that comments on the potentiality for man to rule over future Earths. Here are excerpts of it from the MADB posting:
The reprobates at CARM and elsewhere have long enjoyed pointing and giggling at the LDS idea of stewardship over other worlds as an element of exaltation. Without exception this argument is raised simply in an effort to make other people think “Ew, weird,” and to try to make Latter-day Saints stutter and equivocate to try to minimize the damage the idea may have on people previously unaware of it. What these “Christians” don’t know, and what many Latter-day Saints unfortunately also don’t know, is that this doctrine is not original to Joseph Smith or Mormonism. … If we travel all the way back to the fourth century we find the following:
The Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future call all of the pious by their names, and give them a cup of elixir of life in their hands so that they should live and endure forever. . . . And the Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future reveal to all the pious in the World to Come the Ineffable Name with which new heavens and a new earth can be created, so that all of them should be able to create new worlds. The Holy One, blessed be He, will give every pious three hundred and forty worlds in inheritance in the World to Come. . . . To all the pious the Holy One, blessed be He, will give a sign and a part in the goodly reward, and everlasting renown, glory and greatness and praise, a crown encompassed in holiness, and royalty, equal to those of all the pious in the World to Come. The sign will be the cup of life which the Holy One, blessed be He, will give to the Messiah and to the pious in the Future to Come.
Midrash Alpha beta diRabbi Akiba BhM 3:32
This is part of the Jerusalem Talmud, which was completed around 380 CE. This text was extant for some time before being abridged into the talmudic corpus. The doctrine is attributed to Rabbi Akiba, widely considered to be the most pious and orthodox of early rabbis. The text is no doubt pseudeponymous, but it derives from the same historical context as the early Christological debates. This doctrine is older than, or contemporary to, the formal doctrine of the Trinity.
This post is not intended to assert that this doctrine is true simply because it is found in the rabbinic texts. It is not intended to argue that this doctrine is a part of modern Judaism, either. It is simply intended to show that this conclusion was considered logical and pious enough to be attributed to one of the greatest rabbis of all time. It’s not weird, and it’s not unbiblical. It fits perfectly into the worldview of early Judaism and is not precluded or rejected in any Christian or Jewish literature that predates the 19th century CE. Latter-day Saints need not try to minimize the proliferation of this doctrine or feel at all defensive about it. It has chronological priority to the majority of the fundamental doctrines espoused by those who do the denigrating. Those who criticize it are simply ignorant of the history of the doctrine and need to spend more time with their Bibles and less time with Bob Betts and Walter Martin.