Category Archives: Scripture

How to Teach Yourself Hebrew from Scratch: Part II

Let’s assume at this point that you’re someone who took a year of Hebrew in school, but it was a long time ago.  Or,  you have worked through a grammar on your own. You’ve learned some basics, but you’re not quite ready to dive into Isaiah. What to do? Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Bible

“How Sweet is Your Love”: Finding Meaning in the Song of Solomon

Introductory Note: Some time ago here at FPR TT wrote a post concerning the Song of Solomon Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Bible, Doctrine, Mormon Studies, Scripture, Sexuality, Theology, Uncategorized

Christmas and Mary

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. Revelation 12:1-6
Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Bible, Feminism, Theology

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.

Continue reading

7 Comments

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

Reading the Christmas Stories: What is biblical criticism? Part 3

Hopefully you have all done what I suggested last time and made notes on both of the nativity stories. Below are my notes (sorry for the bad formatting, WordPress for some reason does not allow arbitrary css styles on html elements, so I just gave up and let wordpress format it as it saw fit).
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Bible

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.

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Bible, Bible, History, Scripture

Translation Styles and Book of Mormon Apologetics and Exegesis

For the past couple of days I have been reading An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Like most books or papers on the Book of Mormon I have read, it lacks a theory of Book of Mormon translation and suffers because of this lack. I would like to propose a rule for all future efforts at Book of Mormon apologetics, archaeology, or exegesis. The rule is that before you do anything you have to lay out your theory/explanation of the translation style used in translating the Book of Mormon. This means that before you attempt to explain something about the text you have to explain what kind of text you are working with.
Continue reading

61 Comments

Filed under Book of Mormon, Mormon Studies

Righteous Dissent?

Paul’s bitter dispute with Peter and James poses a problem for thinking about LDS notions of authority because it puts into tension church authority and moral and doctrinal issues. When true doctrine and church leadership are in conflict, how are we to make a choice between them? When our sense of what is moral conflicts with our leaders’ sense of what is moral, what are we supposed to do? Paul found himself in exactly this situation, and had to make a choice between his own sense of what was right and the views of his leaders who had been commissioned directly by Christ to take care of the church.
Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Bible, Doctrine, Leadership

The Bridal Chamber

The Gospel of Philip from the Nag Hammadi corpus contains some important passages about a kind of celestial marriage in the “bridal chamber.” It is not uncommon for Latter-day Saints to appeal to this text as evidence for a kind of parallel to Mormon notions of eternal marriage found in ancient Christianity. I hope to show that such a reading of this text is mistaken, and that appeals to the Gospel of Philip to butress Mormon apologetic aims are an example of the problem that much apologetic work faces, that of decontextualizing ancient material to produce systematic misreadings. Rather than an approval of a particular kind of ritual marriage that unites a mortal husband and wife together for eternity, the bridal chamber is best understood as BYU Prof. Gaye Strathern’s dissertation, “The Valentinian Bridal Chamber,” argues, “within the context of an ascetic lifestyle where the body and its passions were renounced in favor of a higher spiritual lifestyle” (i).
Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Extra-Biblical Literature, Mormon Studies, Sexuality, Theology

Back to Allegory?

When we moderns read any scripture we tend to read it only one way. We read it as history that is supposed to have some sort of theologically edifying meaning to us. This style of reading fits so well with our modes of thinking that it just seems the blatantly obvious way to read scripture. What could be more obvious than reading a book about the past, which we assert is true, as history?
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Bible