One of the aspects of scripture study as commonly practiced by LDS is the idea of applying the texts to ourselves. While we use Nephi’s term “likening” (1 Nephi 19:37) to refer to this, we haven’t really understood what Nephi means by it, which I’m not going to analyze here. What we do instead, typically, is to read the scriptures expecting to find one of two things: We look for simple models of modern standards of behavior (and then putting ourselves into… Read more

This weeks’s chapters are difficult and socially significant like last week’s, which makes them difficult to write on. My approach, therefore, will be to come at it from a few disconnected directions in which I ask questions I don’t really have good answers to. Before moving on, I strongly recommend you read Robert Alter’s literary translation and commentary on chapter 22 as well as my post on why all the chapters leading up to Genesis 22 are important for Genesis 22. What makes this… Read more

I suspect this lesson will be somewhat charged and sensitive, given the variety of experiences and views among LDS. And be aware, due to the nature of the text, some of the discussion below could be traumatic to people who have been sexually assaulted. Note also that  I do not consider what I write in these posts to be “how I would teach the lesson” as much as useful background, details, and resources; I don’t think I would use language… Read more

I taught this Gospel Doctrine lesson after the scheduled teacher was informed that his son was speaking in Primary. During that spontaneous teaching experience, I realized some things about the interconnectedness of the ten chapters leading up to Genesis 22. In particular, I want to clarify why Genesis 22 unrolls the way it does. Isaac isn’t the sacrifice there  just because “it’s the most horrific thing we can think of.” Abraham’s test goes far beyond that, but in order to… Read more

First, here’s a Spotify playlist of mine to put you in mind to read the Old Testament. It’s Middle Eastern, foreign, archaic, a little mystical and mysterious. It’s probably not anything like actual Israelite music, but it fits my preconceptions. Second, let’s establish some basic facts. (more…) Read more

A friend asked me about teaching youth about scripture study recently. I happened to have some notes I’d collected, so I wrote it up here. These are things I think LDS adults should know and model to the youth. I’ve grouped them under three logical, progressive headings. Now, I think the Church does a great job getting us to read scripture, and to apply scripture in spiritual and practical ways, but not always how to understand or interpret scripture very well. Do not misunderstand… Read more

Reading: Moses 8:19-30; Genesis 6:5-22; 7:1-10 Lesson manual (link) Since I first wrote this four years ago, it has been one of the most-popular, most-read posts, and one I refer people to often, because it was where I laid out my longest argument introducing people to the idea of genre in scripture. Since then, I’ve also talked about it in two podcasts with LDS perspectives (here on the Bible in general and here more specifically on Genesis 1); I also spoke about… Read more

Since we’re going to be talking about this topic a lot, I thought I’d throw up a post with some resources and thoughts. First, let’s get our vocabulary clear. The weekly shabbat or sabbath of Judaism meant a “ceasing” of certain activities and encouragement of others. This weekly sabbath was Saturdays. In the New Testament, Sunday became celebrated as “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day whereon Jesus was resurrected. Earliest Christian practice was probably mixed, but it appears that these Christians… Read more

Text: Moses 5:16-41; 6:26-63; 7:13, 17-47, 68-69 As always, time compels us to be selective in what we focus on. Today, it’s all about Cain. First off, we need to understand that Cain has nothing to do with Canaan. That association is an accident of English transliteration and pronunciation. They sound similar in English, but in Hebrew Cain/qayin (accent on first syllable) has no relation at all with Canaan/kena’an (kuh-nah-ahn, accent on middle syllable.) If there’s any descent of Cain in the Bible, it’s…… Read more

Let’s talk about origins. We seem to think origins are important; “where we came from” forms a part of our our identity, helps us understand ourselves. This is pretty deeply embedded and reinforced in our culture in a number of ways.  Superhero movies tend to begin with an origin story. Even Batman movies, as often as we’ve seen it and as much as we know it, typically begin by retelling the trauma of young Bruce seeing his parents shot. Jennifer… Read more

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