Santa Claus is Canaanite! Really.

I've plugged Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) before, a great magazine (with pictures!) aimed at interested laypeople. It used to have a sister-magazine called Bible Review, but then they were folded together so that BAR now deals with texts, history, and archaeology of the Bible in a way non-scholars can profit from. It's scholarly, includes multiple perspectives, and the letters to the editor are illustrative and amusing. Worth subscribing to.One of my favorite articles was written by … [Read more...]

New/Forthcoming books of Interest

Update: Between now and Dec 5, get 5$ off any physical Amazon book order of 15$ or more. Details here.One of the things I love about the massive American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature conference is the football's field worth of booksellers with discounts, new books, preorders, and giveaways. A few recent and forthcoming popular books might be of interest to my readers. To be clear, I haven't read any of these yet, but I hope to. … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 45-46: Ether

A few general notes about the Book of Ether.First, unlike the other two Book of Mormon migratory peoples, the Jaredites (as we call them) are not Jews under the Law of Moses. Abraham>Isaac>Jacob (Israel)>>>>Moses. They're not even Israelite (also a late term) or Canaanite, but Mesopotamian. So they are operating under a different set of religious ideas, different language (Sumerian, Akkadian, something else? Hebrew isn't an option), different cultural background than the res … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 41: 3Ne 22-26

A couple of notes first. I'll be in San Antonio for the annual joint Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion meeting in late November, plus a few extra days with family. This is a massive, multi-day meeting with thousands of people and dozens of concurrent sessions, all day every day. It's a place to see lots of current scholarship and debate, meet people, do job interviews (not me, this time around), and also drool at the massive and discounted book section. Imagine a fo … [Read more...]

A Vague Post on Joseph Fielding Smith, Evolution, and Other Sides of His Story

People are multi-faceted and complex. It's very easy to develop an attitude of putting either a halo or a black hat on someone from one incident, one aspect of them, particularly when it's a historical figure. It can be hard to get a full picture of someone. Elder Maxwell once said that the tragedy of Elder McConkie was that he had the most fantastic sense of humor, and no one in the Church knew it. (See my old post here.)It's well known that Joseph Fielding Smith was strongly opposed to e … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 40: 3Ne 16, 20-30 (Rough post)

I'm on the road and having technical problems. So I'm posting this rough, now, and will try to clean up when I get home tonight or tomorrow morning.Outline3 Nephi 20- Miraculous production of bread and wine; Jesus interprets Isaiah. 3 Nephi 21- Jesus continues interpreting Isaiah. 3 Nephi 22- Jesus quotes Isaiah 54 3 Nephi 23 Jesus asks to see the records, to give them more. Rebukes Nephi. Tells them to include Samuel. 3 Nephi 24-25 Gives them Malachi. 3 Nephi 26- Mormon summarizes … [Read more...]

“Teaching Bible Stories”- History vs. Fiction in the Improvement Era

The Improvement Era in September 1925 ran a short article in the Editor's Table called  "Teaching Bible Stories." To set the stage a little, this was 14 years after the 1911 Crisis at BYU over evolution and how to read scripture (see here as well), and immediately after the 1925 Scopes Trial over teaching evolution. I included an excerpt and  little analysis here in the larger context of Elder Stephen Richards May 1925 address to BYU. I'd like to revisit it. Recently a number of communications h … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 39: 3Ne 17-19

These chapters constitute the end of Day 1 of Jesus' visit (ends in 19:3) and the beginning of Day 2 (19:4-26:15)Outline17- Jesus, moved by the people, stays longer than planned (or so the text appears to say). He addresses the multitude, heals people, prays.18- Bread and wine for sacrament, various instructions and teachings, then Jesus ascends into heaven.18:5-7, 10-16 to disciples ("administrative" instructions) 18:18-25 to multitude 18:27-35 back to disciples19- … [Read more...]