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...]

Mormons, Evangelicals, Tradition, and Sunday School

  When it comes to frustrations with Gospel Doctrine class, one problem is that we don't pay a lot of attention to context, and we like to casually shoe-horn modern doctrinal concepts or concerns into any old bit of verse that seems to relate. This is really only made possible by ignoring context, and not reading. For example, I wrote this in 2007. I happened to be home once last year during a lesson on some chapters from Isaiah. The teacher did a decent job, but the comments all tended in one … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 18: Mosiah 12-17

It's been a busy week. I capped off the semester by editing an 11,000 word chapter of mine for a new Old Testament series out of BYU, then writing 13,000+words for my classes, and then a fellowship application due later today. So below is an intro, and I'll try to add more details later. I want to plug Book of Mormon Central for collating published scholarship on lessons- See here for today's links and summaries. What they have is partly based on my own old work.Most of today's chapters invo … [Read more...]

Stephen L. Richards on science, religion, questions, and General Authorities

On May 31, 1925, Elder Stephen L. Richards gave the baccalaureate sermon to the graduating class of BYU, which was quite small at the time. This was in the lead-up to the Scopes trial (which is why I'm reading it), and Richards, a lawyer, had been an Apostle for 15 years at this point. His address was printed in the Improvement Era in September, after the Scopes trial had concluded. (On which, see this great book.)That issue also eulogizes William Jennings Bryan (who had died suddenly right … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 17: Mosiah 7-11

I have an awful lot on my plate in the next week, so this is straight out of my previous notes. If I have time next week, I'll return and revise.First, a summary.Mosiah 7:1 Mosiah sends a much later follow-up team to the group that had gone in Omni  27-30 (Amaleki’s brother went with them), and then we start the account of the original group in Mos 9:1.Group 1 leaves (Omni 1:27-30/Mosiah 9:1). Zeniff isn’t the leader, but present. They see Lamanites, dispute among themselves, and kil … [Read more...]

May 4th is Not Just Star Wars Day…

Few Mormons, I think, know that May 4 is a significant day in LDS liturgical history.  … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 16: Mosiah 4-6

Once again, I'd remind you of the book on King Benjamin's speech (paper here), and the verse-by-verse commentary in it.I'll be adding my own bits which don't overlap, and happen to be, well, on quasi-controversial topics.First, on a general note, "wisdom" appears several times (2:17, 36; 4:6, 9, 27; 5:15). In the Old Testament, wisdom is a very specific technical term, referring to understanding how one should live a happy, successful life. We tend to think ALL scripture was written for t … [Read more...]