The Virtue of Pseudonymity

Blogs and bloggers are divided between those who use their real names, and those that don’t. At times, onymous bloggers see themselves as more courageous and even morally superior to those who “hide behind” anonymity. Other times, bloggers refuse to even engage an anonymous argument. Some bloggers may seek the cover of anonymity to make hurtful remarks, and others for personal or professional privacy. I believe that there is a third type of anonymity that both subverts modern notions of authorship as well as prioritizing the pure argument by stripping away claims to personal authority, both of which I regard as deeply pious acts.
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Creation in Genesis 1-3 (Part 4–The Heavenly Council)

Genesis 1.26-27 (NRSV) reads:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

When God proposes here in the plural to create man in his image, with whom is he talking? And with whom is God discussing when he says in later Genesis 3.22 (NRSV),”Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’”?

As biblical scholars such as Marc Brettler, Michael Coogan, and John Day have persuasively argued, this is yet another reference to the divine council in the Hebrew Bible. Continue reading

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King Benjamin Killed God

Jesus set up an impossible paradox when he explained that the two great commandments are to love God and to love one’s neighbor (though he was not the first to summarize the Law in such a way). The problem is that one simply cannot do both, as Jesus himself elsewhere noted that one cannot serve two masters.

King Benjamin saw the impossible tension between these two contradictory commandments and attempted to resolve it by collapsing them into one single ethical imperative. He said: “when ye are the in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mos 2:17). The attempt to equate the love of God and the love of neighbor as simply one ethical imperative elides the problem of having two competing duties. The problem (or promise, depending on your perspective) with such a position is that the duty to love God cannot possibly come into conflict with the duty to love one’s neighbor.
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Creation in Genesis 1-3 (Part 3–Comparing P & J)

Properly demarcating the two ancient Israelite creation accounts that exist in Genesis 1-3 is additionally important because it provides the opportunity to compare structural and grammatical parallels that exist (or do not exist) between them and to analyze their possible implications.  I have provided the following table of the first several verses of each account in order to facilitate comparison. Continue reading

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“Listen, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one.” Does the Bible Teach Radical Monotheism?

Deuteronomy 6.4-9, also known as the Shema because the first word of the passage in Hebrew is the imperative shĕma‘, meaning “Listen,” is probably one of the most well known passages in all of biblical literature. In Jewish tradition this passage is frequently recited as a prayer, a practice that goes back at least to the early rabbinic period [1]. The broader Judeo-Christian tradition, moreover, has often taken the first verse of this passage as a statement of Israel’s (and its own) radical monotheistic faith. This verse reads: “Listen, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one.” However, this common Judeo-Christian interpretation which claims that Israel maintained a radical monotheistic stance, or a belief that there is only one G/god in existence (in this case, Yahweh, the God of Israel), has been subject to severe criticism by modern biblical scholars.

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On Why None of You Should Go to Grad School

Our series on graduate application and study will continue in the future. In the meantime, this article is a must read for those considering it. (Hat tip: Stephen M.) My undergrad profs at BYU did a good job discouraging us, or at least, making us aware of the harsh realities that almost inevitably awaited. Is it the bravest and smartest or the most clueless and optimistically naive who persevere on to and through a PhD?

Edit: I should point out, the article is specifically about Humanities PhDs, and when I say “you” I mean LDS considering graduate school in ANES/Bible/theology, etc.

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Scripture Reading, Goals, and Motivation: a photo

Part iv of the Hebrew series is coming. In the meantime, here’s a picture with commentary of my little desk where I try to do a good bit of my reading. Continue reading

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