Gospel Doctrine lesson 18- Joshua


We are now out of the Pentateuch, into what's called the Deuteronomistic History, or DH.This refers to the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine 17: Deuteronomy


“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 our study of Deuteronomy. It illustrates two things. … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 16: Numbers 22-24, 31(updated)

Balaam, the donkey, and the angel

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 parsed... I think it's dangerously overstated. Why? … [Read more...]

Short Gospel Doctrine Lesson 15: Numbers 11-14, 21


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, "in the wilderness." … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lessons 14, 15: Podcasts!

Four years ago, when I was running the Mormon Portal, I started doing podcasts on Old Testament Sunday School lessons. They were a bit sporadic, but generally good and improved as time went on. Later podcasts also include a transcript.I'll be linking to them as part of the regular weekly post here. Alas, they are no longer available on iTunes and I shan't be making any new ones. They were time-consuming, and fun as it was, I just don't have the time.So before I get lesson 15 up, here … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 14- Exodus 15-20, 32-34.

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Back on track, after General Conference. Insert here my usual gripe about how we're trying to cover so much ground in so little time.So 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? … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 13: Exodus 1-3, 5-6, 11-14


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 know. Depending on how one calculates or what part  of the Bible one reads, it could be 480 years, 430 years, 400 years, 4 generations. The Bible isn't entirely consistent on the matter. The readings today presuppose that enough time has passed for Joseph's 70 relatives who came down to Egypt to grow … [Read more...]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 12: Genesis 40- the end


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. 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, but it's a good question to think about. … [Read more...]