BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 15: Mosiah 1-3

To open, we need some big picture structural discussion.Mosiah 1 is not Mosiah 1. In fact, it is Mosiah 3, and the first two chapters are missing. How do we know this?First, Book of Mormon books tend to be named after the first and major character, but Mosiah opens with... Benjamin, not his father Mosiah1.Second, books usually get some kind of intro, but Mosiah starts in media res- "AND now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 14: Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon

It's been a few weeks since my last post. First came General Conference; the next weekend, I was in Utah presenting at a conference, followed by a family reunion. My parents were in Salt Lake City for mission training before heading to Ghana, and all the maternal siblings came. Last weekend, well, the end of the semester is nigh and it's always a little apocalyptic and high-pressure.We often assert that the Book of Mormon is historical, and rightly so, in my view. But even so, it was c … [Read More...]

Joseph F. Smith on Evolution and Teaching in Church Schools

The general thrust of my research over the next few years will be science, religion, and history, centered around evolution and scriptural interpretation. I'll post various things from time to time. The following comes from The Juvenile Instructor, Vol XLVI No. 4 (April 1911): 208-9. BYU had just undergone a controversy of sorts about evolution, the nature of the Bible, and some other intertwined issues. See my post here. Writing in the Church's magazine, President Joseph F. Smith, in the 10th ye … [Read More...]

An Easter Post: Refugees, Mormons, and the Law of Moses

I only saw bits and pieces of the Women's Session of General Conference tonight, but got a teaser of the theme last night from Elder Oaks' visit to Claremont.The LDS Church has generally been very favorable to refugees and immigrants. There is good historical reason for this. As dramatized by video in the session today, LDS have institutional memory and family stories about the multiple times we too had to flee because of violence and death, leaving behind everything of value. We too were … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 13: Jacob 5-7

The previous lesson covered Jacob 1-4, and this one the lengthy allegory of the olive tree and its interpretation in chapters 5-6. This is understandable from a how-much-material-can-I-really-cover perspective, but there's a way in which this division obscures important things.Let me give some background that leads in. The Bible did not originally have chapter or verse divisions, and of course, these non-existent breaks were not numbered. The Hebrew Bible, however,  did have loose "para … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 12: Jacob 1-4

Jacob marks a distinct and important break of sorts in the Book of Mormon. Why? Unlike Nephi, Jacob did not grow up in Jerusalem. Born in a wilderness, the first eight or so years of his life were spent... we don't know. Maybe in captivity, maybe in the desert, definitely under duress and hardship. Point is, everything Jacob knows about Jews, Jerusalem, Hebrew, etc. he has learned from his family and whatever peoples they have encountered along the way. It's a socio-cultural-linguistic founder … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 11: 2Ne 31-33

These chapters are Nephi's literary swan song, his winding down. He's now in the position Lehi was in 2 Nephi 1-4, that is, old, preparing for his exit, and wanting to leave behind some words of guidance and distilled wisdom.... which makes for some interesting comparisons. Whereas Lehi spoke to his immediate children, Nephi speaks to his descendants and people. Notably, the closing arguments of Nephi's life as the basics of the Gospel. He pleads with people to repent (31:11, 13, 17), be b … [Read More...]

Ten Intro Books for Getting a Handle on the Early Chapters of Genesis

A friend recently asked for a list of books to read as an intro to the issues in Genesis 1-3 as well as the Moses and Abraham parallels.  I focused on the former, because there's not a whole lot dealing with the latter. I have a few chapters on it in my book, so I could write a separate post, if desired. When I taught my Institute class on Genesis a few years ago, I wrote a summary of each week. I treat Moses and Abraham briefly, here.The books below are generally introductary volumes from di … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 10: 2Ne 26-30

Not a lot of time today, so here's a short post, on Nephi's non-contextual application of the Isaiah chapters to his people.A note on 2 Nephi 26:29, wherein Nephi defines "priestcraft"- priestcrafts are that men 1) preach and 2) set themselves up for a light unto the world, that 3) they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Nephi's translated definition dovetails well with Webster's 1828, which says "The stratagems and frauds of priests; fraud or i … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 9: 2Ne 11-25

Last week was insane, and I didn't get a post up. Today I'm trying and failing to  catch up, so my offering this week is meager.First, a PSA. Someone asked me a question about the Amazon support links I post at the bottom. They had clicked on it and gone to Amazon looking for a special tick box or option that said "Benjamin the Scribe," because that's how some of Amazon's other programs work. I'm part of the Amazon Associates program, which means that there's nothing special you need to cl … [Read More...]