Category Archives: History

The Divine Council

There has been serious discussion among Mormon scholars over the past several years regarding the divine council in the Hebrew Bible and its implications for Mormon thought. For instance, very recently Blake Ostler published his third volume of Exploring Mormon Thought, in which, among other issues, he discusses at length various aspects of the heavenly council in the Hebrew Bible and what their implications might be for Mormon theology. David Bokovoy, a Mormon PhD student studying at Brandeis University under noted biblical scholar Marc Brettler, also had a lengthy exchange with Evangelical scholar Mike Heiser in a recent issue of the FARMS Review that included serious discussion of the council motif. Moreover, this exchange itself was provoked by an even earlier essay by BYU Professor Daniel Peterson that included an analysis of the heavenly assembly and its relevance for Mormonism. Kevin Barney also mentions the topic in his article “Examing Six Key Concepts in Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Genesis 1:1″ for BYU studies. There has also been some discussion here at FPR regarding this topic. Given, then, the importance of this topic among Mormon scholars in recent years, I thought that in addition to pointing out these articles to those who might otherwise be unaware of them, I might also briefly describe the divine council as referred to in the Hebrew Bible, as well as some of its historical analogues. I invite any comments following that reader’s might feel to be of relevance to the divine council and/or its relationship to Mormon thought.

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Filed under Bible, History, Mormon Studies, Scripture, Theology, Uncategorized

Genesis 1-3 and The Documentary Hypothesis (again)

Here at FPR there have been several posts pertaining to the Documentary Hypothesis, a theory that many scholars utilize to explain the compositional history of the Torah. (There are also a few online sources for specifically Mormon audiences concerning the topic, such as Kevin Barney’s or John Sorensen’s articles in Dialogue.) There are many versions of this thesis, and I do not here intend to argue for any particular one (although it seems virtually unanimous among scholars that the Torah was certainly compiled from a variety of sources). Rather, in keeping with David Clark’s recent posts on biblical criticism, I intend to use the classic text book example of Genesis 1-3 as a case study to demonstrate that there are (at least two) separate sources redacted together in Genesis. I recommend reading these chapters both before and after reading my analysis. I invite your comments afterwards on anything you might feel is related.

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Filed under Bible, Bible, History, Scripture

The Promise of Genealogy

Genealogy is central to Mormon practice and identity. Coincidentally, genealogy is central to postmodern philosophy in the strain from Nietzsche to Foucault . This coincidence leads us to examine the relationship between these two understandings of genealogy. They are not as unrelated as they might initially appear.
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Filed under Doctrine, History, Theology

African American Spirituals and the Mormon Pioneers

In honor of the 161st anniversary of the Saints entering the Salt Lake Valley, I would like to explore the relationship between two of the most profound spiritual movements of the 19th century: ante-bellum African American spirituals and the rise of Mormonism. While the vast majority of work with regard to African Americans and early Mormonism has focused on the explicit role that African Americans played in Mormonism, and LDS attitudes to African Americans, I would like to examine some shared themes, narratives, and assumptions, especially in the period between Mormon migration and the beginning of the Civil War. At the outset, I acknowledge that such a comparison does not in any way entail an equality of suffering between Mormons and slaves, only some shared circumstances and themes expressed lyrically.
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Filed under LDS Church History, Mormon Culture, Theology

BYU Religion Dean on Premortal Life, Part I: Race and Nobility

Last week Terry Ball, Dean of the College of Religious Education, gave BYU’s weekly devotional address (mp3 file available here, Daily Universe report here). His talk raises many issues relevant to recent discussions here and elsewhere. My reaction to his talk will be divided into two posts: first, a discussion of some of the problematic themes that Ball raises, and second, an analysis of the way this Professor of Ancient Scripture handles scripture. Continue reading

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Filed under Bible, BYU, LDS Church History, Leadership, Speculation

Armaund Mauss Interview

No, not here. Over here.  Good stuff, go read it. (T&S had a similar interview in 2004, part one, part two.)

“For Mormons, living in a certain way is more important than believing in a certain way. We can infer much more about what or who a person is from what he does than from what he believes (or claims to believe) “

“Speaking differently to different audiences does not necessarily imply contradiction. We do it all the time. When we talk among our friends about what goes on in our families, we are not likely to provide the same details or explanations as if we were talking within the intimacy of the family circle.”

“It seems that for mainline Catholics and Protestants, all extra-biblical ideas are forgivable as long as they embrace a Trinitarian deity, but Mormons can’t be permitted their extra-biblical ideas and still be part of the Christian ‘family.'”

“Sociologists who have studied NRMs and their critics have long since realized that apostates are among the least reliable sources of information and understanding about a religion, since they always write in an exposé mode to vindicate their own change of feelings.”

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Filed under Doctrine, LDS Church History, Mormon Studies

Announcement: All-Blog Symposium on “Mormonism and Modernity”

As you may know, I am an advanced student at a local VCR repair school in South Dakota. Recently, I have been listening to a number of people, and a reading a number of books, on the issue of the VCR in modern life. Representatives from a number of VCR manufacturers are examining this technology in light of the contemporary technological, informational, political, and diverse age in which we live. These questions have got me thinking in a similar way about the conditions of modernity (and post-modernity if you wish) that relate to the way that religion is conceived, including Mormonism. Therefore, I hereby convoke an all-blog symposium to address the following topics over the course of the next 45 days. Prizes will be given to the best blog posts. To enter, simply give the link to your post in the comments on this thread. If you do not have your own blog, but would like to participate, you may submit your entry in the comments on this thread. The following topics are proposed:
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Filed under Doctrine, LDS Church History, Mormon Studies, Political Philosophy, Speculation