July 2, 2018

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:36-40 KJV) I begin with this familiar passage because it bears directly on… Read more

June 29, 2018

I’ve finally had time to update some Old Testament posts, and run into some technical issues. Patheos is looking into it, and I hope to be caught-up soon. In the meantime, I had opportunity to record a podcast with LDS Missioncast. Although aimed at missionaries and pre-missionaries, I hope what I had to say will have some insight for everyone. We talked about the problem of proof-texting, or using a verse out of context to prove a point, and why… Read more

May 13, 2018

It was the last week of the semester, we got sick, and some other distracting things happened this week (see #3). Fortunately, if you missed my updated posts, thanks to #1, you can find my old ones easily. First, I’ve gone back and tagged a lot of my previous posts, so they can be accessed in groups. That is, scroll down to the bottom of a post, and you’ll see “select category” next to “select month.” Now that I’ve tagged many… Read more

May 5, 2018

These chapters are all about Balaam, Balaam’s talking donkey, God’s power, blessing and cursing. The manual chooses as subtitle “I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord” and describes its purpose as “to encourage class members to submit to God’s will without hesitation.” First off, I think without any parsing, that’s a dangerously overstated thing to say. And secondly, even when carefully parsed… I think it’s dangerously overstated. Why? (more…) Read more

May 5, 2018

The Book of Numbers takes its English name from the Greek Septuagint title, a description of the census-taking in its first four chapters. The Hebrew title is a bit more descriptive, bemidbar sinai, “in the wilderness of Sinai.” Note the time in 1:1. Two years have passed. In 14:29-33, God decrees that that generation, everyone over 20 will die in the wilderness and their children will suffer because of their unfaithfulness. (more…) Read more

May 3, 2018

I’ve had a bad bug for a week, but I’ll have some Gospel Doctrine updates soon. And as a side note, an intro volume I recommend is currently on Kindle sale. This post is a follow-up to my essay on the nature of prophetic knowledge.  Although I’ve quoted Stephen L. Richards at length before, it turns out I’ve never posted this important excerpt. Sustained as an Apostle in 1917, Richards wrote on occasion about science, religion, and General Authorities.  In… Read more

April 20, 2018

I was grateful for the invitation to speak at UVU’s Mormon Studies Conference on Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith in February. I spoke about how and why we’ve come to understand the creation chapters of Genesis certain ways, and then participated in a panel on evolution with two BYU biologists. You can watch my presentation here, with subtitles.  My slides aren’t visible, but you can download them here (pdf) to follow along. I won’t post my text, as it was messy… Read more

April 7, 2018

Insert here my usual gripe about how we’re trying to cover so much ground in so little time, but let’s talk about The Ten Commandments. It’s a common-knowledge topic, and everyone’s seen the film, so we all know everything about them, right? (more…) Read more

April 7, 2018

As we move into Exodus, time passes suddenly. We move away from the individual novella of Joseph to several hundred years later, just as we often do in the Book of Mormon. Just how long, we don’t actually know. Depending on how one calculates or what part  of the Bible one reads, it could be 430 years, 400 years, 4 “generations” (whatever that might mean) or much less time; Moses is the great-grandson of Levi, for example. The problem is… Read more

March 24, 2018

These chapters carry on the novella of Joseph in Egypt. It’s over 10 chapters, which is a lot of time and space to devote to one story about one person; creation occupies 3 chapters, by contrast. Why so much space? What makes this story so significant that it was told and retold, and eventually merited being written down? Is there anything of doctrinal value, from an LDS perspective? What, then, from the Israelite perspective?I don’t have a good concise answer for that,… Read more

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