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...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 28: Alma 32-34

First, the structure of the text. Alma 30-34 are really one unit, which we break up. In the 1830, they constitute one chapter (Alma XVI). Presumably, we're breaking these up because of their doctrinal nature.Today we cover Alma 32-34, which looks like thisin the rough big-picture outline. 32- Alma continues preaching at Antionum; "faith sermon" on the hill Onidah.33- Crowd's negative response; Alma continues his sermon.34- Amulek takes over, and preaches to the crowd on the hi … [Read More...]

A Note on Pioneer Day Talks, Sweetwater, and Tradition

I didn't grow up in Utah, and never heard of Pioneer Day until I was on my mission in France/Belgium. There, a PR event was organized for the Sesquicentennial that included a large parade with handcarts, historical garb, dancing, etc. It wasn't actually held on Pioneer Day, but a few weeks later in August. It had some Church News coverage, and a local member filmed and edited over an hour of video, all in French.-Related reading: Eric Eliason, "The Cultural Dynamics of Historical … [Read More...]

A Testimony Meeting Experiment

One of the things I've written about before is the problem of common, broad terminology, that allows us to speak, without expressing what we mean (if we even know ourselves). For example, what does "true" mean in an LDS context, e.g. "the church is true" or "the scriptures are true"? It can be a problem. See my old post here, for example.I've encountered two professors in the last year who make students think by requiring them to avoid certain words. In one non-BYU course on comparative r … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 27: Alma 30-31

These two chapters are loaded. First, we encounter the third member of the Unholy Trinity of antichrists in the Book of Mormon. First was Sherem (Jacob 7), then Nehor (Alma 1), now Korihor.I highly recommend this Ensign article on Korihor, "Countering Korihor's Philosophy." I first encountered I as a missionary, and was so impressed I wrote next to the Alma 30 chapter heading, "Ensign July 1992." (E. Lund's discussion is taken up further here.)This article introduces terms and concepts li … [Read More...]