Books, Homes, and Al-Jahiz

Living in New York for six years, I developed the habit of looking for new housing. New Yorkers are constantly on the hunt for a deal on a bigger place, a cheaper place, a better place. For comparison, we lived in a 700-ft2 apartment in Brooklyn for $1500/month and considered ourselves lucky. Now when visiting Utah, my wife and I and her family sometimes do the Parade of Homes in Salt Lake City, or St. George. Now, "Utah" is not always a good proxy for "Mormons," and the Parade of Homes even le … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 33: Helaman 1-5 Notes and Questions

Today's text includes a good bit of carry-over from the war chapters, while adding political intrigue and plots.First, note my old post at Times&Seasons Rough outlineHelaman 1- Pahoran1 dies. Election and assassination of Pahoran2 by his brother. Lamanite army, led by Coriantumr attacks capital, Zarahemla, takes it. Moronihah black holes the Lamanite army.Helaman 2 - Helaman2 becomes chief judge. We meet Gadianton, leader of Kishkumen’s band. Attempted assassination of Hel … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 32: Alma 53-63 “The War Chapters Part II”

Today we continue the war chapters, and get to read some military correspondence. I don't have any overarching, connecting commentary here, so I'll start with a rough outline and then individual verses.My very rough outline -Alma 53- Preparations for war. Helaman takes 2000 stripling warriors from Ammonites.Alma 54- Moroni receives letter from Ammoron, writes back, gets response. Prisoner exchange discussion.Alma 55- Takes prisoners by stratagem. (wine and Lamanite)Alma 56- … [Read more...]

Critical Scholarship and Faith at BYU, Brief Partial Summary and Thoughts

Several weeks ago, the Maxwell Institute's Studies in the Bible and Antiquity journal sponsored a small non-public conference  at BYU on the topic of "Critical Scholarship and Faith." If you're unsure why this is an issue for LDS, read Julie Smith's post "the next generation's faith crisis." I largely agree with her, and was thus quite excited to see this conference happen."Critical scholarship," of course, does not mean scholarship that finds fault or is nit-picky. Its use of "critical" is m … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 31: Alma 43-48 aka “The War Chapters I

As I've pointed out previously, the Book of Mormon moves at different paces in different places. We've spent the last two weeks making a slow section even slower, and that means that with today's chapters, we're forgetting something important. After six chapters of doctrinal exposition, we hit the famed "war chapters." Below, I quote from an old working paper of mine. (The entire paper with footnotes, a rough draft I quit working on ten years ago, is available here.)>>In the end of the … [Read more...]

David O. McKay, Genesis, and Evolution: Part 2.

In a previous post, I detailed President McKay's explicit, published, written approval of a very pro-evolution LDS magazine article. This served as evidence that President McKay did not understand Genesis 1 to prohibit an old earth, evolution, etc.Shortly after the 1954 publication of Joseph Fielding Smith’s Man, His Origin and Destiny, BYU History professor Richard D. Poll and his wife were invited to discuss the book with the author. Knowing that President McKay disagreed strongly with the … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 30: Alma 40-42, Three Generations of Repentance

These chapters (and 39) are all focused on Corianton, who gets quite the paternal talk. Assuming that these chapters aren't using Corianton merely as a framework to talk doctrine (i.e. why would this all be recorded, or is Mormon expanding it?), we can guess that Corianton hadn’t understood some things, such as the resurrection, justice, mercy, atonement.What do we know about Corianton?One thing is that he must have been relatively young, although what that means in a Nephite context, w … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 29: Alma 36-39 Notes and Suggestions

The Book of Mormon has a variable pace. Occasionally, we skip through decades or even hundreds of years on a single page. Other times, like today, Mormon's editing moves us into super slow motion, relatively speaking. What is probably only a few hours in real time for Alma to speak to his sons occupies six full chapters, which we slow down further by breaking it up into two weeks of study. This will be significant for understanding Alma 43 onwards, and I'll comment further … [Read more...]