Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: Acts 21-28

First of all, I've made a Facebook page for Benjamin the Scribe. I'm not sure what one does with such pages, but feel free to become a fan there.Second, I'm hunkering down to finish my Genesis book, in preparation for something new and big, that I hope to be able to announce in December, if all goes well. Fingers crossed.Third, a bunch of the New Testament books by N.T. Wright are for sale on Kindle right now, as part of a larger sale by Fortress Press which includes books by Wright, B … [Read more...]

SMPT Conference at BYU: Alma 32

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I'll be speaking tomorrow morning on BYU campus, as part of the conference of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology. The full schedule is here.My title is "Faith and Perfect Knowledge: Parsing Alma and the Hebrew Lexicon." I look at an Israelite conception of "faith" which has strong overtones of certainty as a background of Alma 32. Does Alma share this conception, that faith borders on certainty? If not, what does Alma mean by "faith" and what is its relationship to "perfect … [Read more...]

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 37: Hebrews

Hebrews is fun and different. Note that it comes at the end of Paul's letters, because way way back in the day, they were uncertain if it was one of Paul's letters.Authorship-With very rare exceptions, few think Paul wrote it anymore, although LDS tradition has been resilient. LDS have generally tended to take the position that Paul was its author, based on the fact that Joseph Smith consistently referred to the author of the epistle as Paul.  This assumes, however, that the Prophet sp … [Read more...]

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 36: Romans

Paul's letter to Romans "has been the most studied of the apostle's writings -- indisputably Paul's theological chef d'œuvre....With only slight exaggeration, one could claim that debates over the main ideas in Romans split Western Christianity.... [Nevertheless], for those who may have time to study in greater depth only one Pauline letter, Romans would not be my recommendation, even though it is the most important." So says eminent Catholic New Testament scholar Raymond Brown in his … [Read more...]

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 35: 2 Corinthians (updated)

2 Corinthians constitutes the first preserved "sequel" in Paul's letters.  In fact, Paul wrote three or possibly four letters to Corinth. Some scholars speculate 2 Corinthians is actually an edited copy of two letters smushed together, based on differing tone and structure. (There's a break in 2:14 that picks back up in 7:5). In fact, the whole thing is a bit confused. This is one of those letters that emphasizes the fact that we get only one side of the conversation, and have have to muddle thro … [Read more...]

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 34: 1 Corinthians 11-16

The latter half of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has a definite flow and organization to it. While our tendency is to zoom in on a single verse or even sentence, sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. So, start with an overview and then we’ll zoom in a little.We pick up Paul in chapter 11, where he regulates some issues about how the community should function, both relating to gender and the Lord’s Supper, which we call "the sacrament.” Then he moves on to a potentially more destruc … [Read more...]

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 33: 1 Corinthians 1-10

This week, we're all in one place, 1 Corinthians, which is a smorgasbord of interesting topics, conflict, and controversy. There is a lot to say, and as long as this is, I've left out plenty.First, I've uploaded a copy of the rough text (link now fixed) from my presentation at the BYU Conference on the New Testament a few weeks ago, "Christian Accommodation at Corinth." It's adapted from one of the groundwork chapters in my Genesis book.Second, some background from Jim Faulconer's New Tes … [Read more...]

Necessary background on grace, faith, works, law, justification for the coming LDS Gospel Doctrine discussions (updated)

Let me open by saying, this is a wide-ranging and complex subject, on which I am not an expert and may well prove to be wrong on this or that point. You may well quibble with some of what I've written, and I may be missing important nuances here or there, and it's a bit scattered and repetitive. Let's get those disclaimers out of the way.I have, however, read a bit, and I think sharing some of that can help our Gospel Doctrine classes, as we see these ideas pop up again and again in Paul, … [Read more...]