BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25: Alma 17-22 (Draft)

Alma 17 begins with a chance meeting between Alma and the sons of Mosiah, and then we get a 14 year flashback. The sons of Mosiah (which either includes some who weren't his sons, or he had more sons than are previously named) are doing something which is easily perceived as hostile: group of armed (Alma 17:7) princes (remember who Mosiah was) enter enemy territory. A raiding party for glory and honor, perhaps?  This, perhaps, is why Mormon specifies that their weapons were for hunting (17:7) a … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 24: Alma 13-16

These chapters are the violent dénoument of the Ammonihah story. Grant Hardy cogently points out how this story with Alma/Amulek parallels an earlier story with Abinadi. Just as Abinadi reprised the role of Moses, so also Alma2 and Amulek at Ammonihah relive the same sort of trial that Abinadi underwent. There are significant common narrative elements, including prophets who start to leave when their words are rejected only to receive a directive to return and deliver a final warning; a dram … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 23: Alma 8-12

Once again, the lesson and chapter divisions cut across the 1830/original chapter divisions, breaking up logical units. In particular, today's chapter 12 extended into chapter 13:9,where it terminates appropriately with an "amen." Then a new section began in 13:10-15:19. It is after 13:10 that Alma transitions into speaking about Melchizedek and high priests, which I shall take up next week. (Teaser: I think Alma's invocation of high priests is a direct response to the objection that the tree of … [Read more...]

David O. McKay on Evolution and Reading Genesis

One part of my book on Genesis 1 (trying to finish this summer) addresses the question "Why can't we just believe what our Church leaders have said about Genesis 1?" Well, that presumes two things, first, that a unified interpretation of how to read Genesis has existed among them, and second, that such a unified interpretation (if it existed) had come about via revelation.I examine three Church presidents to demonstrate the variety of views. On one extreme is Brigham Young, and on the other s … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 22: Alma 5-7

Alma has divested himself of the judgeship to go on a mission of sorts, to his own people, and stir them up in the ways of remembrance. These three chapters were also individual units in the 1830, so let's look at what they contain.Alma 5- Preaching at Zarahemla, "according to Alma's own record" (5:2) which Mormon apparently has in his possession. This discourse ends rather abruptly.Alma 6- Summary of the aftermath of his preaching at Zarahemla, Alma's regulating the church, and travel s … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 21- Mosiah 29, Alma 1-4

Today we move into the Book of Alma.The stories of Alma Sr. and Alma Jr. are a major focus of the Book of Mormon; If we start in Mosiah 17, where Alma first appears, and count through the end of the Book of Alma, it's roughly 40% of the entire Book of Mormon, by wordcount. (I generated this using Bibleworks 10, though it is off by a bit, because my electronic text doesn't include original chapter or book headings. Total Book of Mormon count is roughly 267,000 and Mosiah 17-Alma is roughly … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 20: Mosiah 25-27, Alma 36

(Posted from the Middle of Nowhere, Michigan.)This lesson has us jump to Alma's retelling of his experience being unconscious for three days, in Alma 36. The story of Alma the Younger is actually told in three places, not just two: Mosiah 27:8-37 (roughly contemporary), Alma 36 (Alma jr. recounting to his son Helaman), and Alma 38:6-8 (Alma Jr. recounting to his son Shiblon.) See the chart here and the article reprinted here. During his time unconscious, Alma is shown a different perspec … [Read more...]

Scripture, Context, and Genres: Scattered Reading

I'm spending a lot of my time writing about the idea of "context" right now, both for my book and also for a BYU paper, tentatively accepted for the 2017 Sperry Symposium. Below are a few fun things I've turned up recently.In the past, I've used the idea of scripture as a collected edition, an anthology or library, to talk about both the presence of different genres in scripture and quiet fears about "slippery slope" interpretations (see here.) It's hardly a surprise, but recognizing the " … [Read more...]