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...]

New Testament Conference Announcement

As part of the New Testament Commentary Seminar, a conference will be held at BYU Friday July 29. A formal announcement, more information, and audio/video from previous conferences are available here at the Commentary homepage. Click here for a nice PDF. 4th Annual BYU New Testament Commentary Conference:  New Mormon Ideas about Mark and Hebrews Friday, July 29 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Hinckley Center Assembly Hall, Brigham Young University Public welcome, Admission free The Epistle to the Hebr … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 26: Alma 23-29

I did an Olympic-distance triathlon this morning, and it's left me pretty exhausted... body and mind alike. (I hit all my goals, ambitious things like "don't die" and "finish.")Historiography is the study of how history is written. For many people, history is simply "the facts about the past," but history and history-writing is, in fact, far more complex than that. The history writer inevitably shapes the story told, sometimes in obvious and explicit ways, other times not. In the Bible, sc … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 25: Alma 17-22 (Draft)

Alma 17 begins with a chance meeting between Alma and the sons of Mosiah, and then we get a 14 year flashback. The sons of Mosiah (which either includes some who weren't his sons, or he had more sons than are previously named) are doing something which is easily perceived as hostile: group of armed (Alma 17:7) princes (remember who Mosiah was) enter enemy territory. A raiding party for glory and honor, perhaps?  This, perhaps, is why Mormon specifies that their weapons were for hunting (17:7) a … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 24: Alma 13-16

These chapters are the violent dénoument of the Ammonihah story. Grant Hardy cogently points out how this story with Alma/Amulek parallels an earlier story with Abinadi. Just as Abinadi reprised the role of Moses, so also Alma2 and Amulek at Ammonihah relive the same sort of trial that Abinadi underwent. There are significant common narrative elements, including prophets who start to leave when their words are rejected only to receive a directive to return and deliver a final warning; a dram … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 23: Alma 8-12

Once again, the lesson and chapter divisions cut across the 1830/original chapter divisions, breaking up logical units. In particular, today's chapter 12 extended into chapter 13:9,where it terminates appropriately with an "amen." Then a new section began in 13:10-15:19. It is after 13:10 that Alma transitions into speaking about Melchizedek and high priests, which I shall take up next week. (Teaser: I think Alma's invocation of high priests is a direct response to the objection that the tree of … [Read More...]

David O. McKay on Evolution and Reading Genesis

One part of my book on Genesis 1 (trying to finish this summer) addresses the question "Why can't we just believe what our Church leaders have said about Genesis 1?" Well, that presumes two things, first, that a unified interpretation of how to read Genesis has existed among them, and second, that such a unified interpretation (if it existed) had come about via revelation.I examine three Church presidents to demonstrate the variety of views. On one extreme is Brigham Young, and on the other s … [Read More...]


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