The Jacob (pseud)epigraphon in the book of Alma

I have no idea how many Mormons there are in biblical and related studies. It’s a very small percentage, I’m sure. But they and Mormonism were nicely included in the two volume reference work, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. A Mormon scholar wrote the entry on the Testament of Adam, and Mormons in general are listed on the back cover (easily accessible here) along with Christians, Jews, and Muslims, as ‘people of the book.’This was due entirely to the magnanimity of the editor, James Charle … [Read more...]

first-presidency-member statement on anti-intellectualism

Need some inspiration for school, whether you yourself are just starting out, returning for yet another year, or you are going to be teaching the next group of collegiate hopefuls?Look no further than Sidney Rigdon’s address to the Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute, 1844 (you can read the complete record of the NLLI here in Jones’ edition): Elder S Rigdon then took the floor and remarked that as it was getting late he did not feel as though he could deliver a Lecture and do justice to th … [Read more...]

From glass-looking to social science

In episode 24 of the Mysterious Cities of Gold, an ancient Mesoamerican manuscript is discovered inside a stone box underground. As explained during the mini-documentary that follows each episode, the real story adapted for the cartoon is that the find spot was an Indian burial at Palenque (and no manuscript was found; but you can virtually enter the tomb here).Now the discovery of the gold plates has always been my favorite Book of Mormon story. That the angel Moroni was also understood as … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits: John

Prior post on gospels, with link to series intro.1. Of the four canonical gospels, John was probably written last, in stages, over the end of the first century and beginning decades of the second century. By that time, Jesus still had not returned, as it was expected that he would soon (1 John 2:18, 28), and the Beloved Disciple appears to have died when chapter 21 was written/added in the final stage (John 21:23; compare D&C 7).2. Scholars associated with the German school of the … [Read more...]

Three Cheers for Old Joe and his Indian Bible

Because I can’t wait for August (I’m already on episode 11 of The Mysterious Cities of Gold, folks!) …The other month in a Huffington blog post mentioning Larry Echo Hawk, Tim Giago asks some tough questions: Is the Mormon Church stuck with an embarrassing book it cannot historically support? Will the Book of Mormon one day be rationalized as simply an allegory conceived and used by Joseph Smith, the founder, to inspire his followers? In the final analysis it all comes down to whether faith … [Read more...]

Announcing unofficial ([post] post) colonial Americas month

In preparation for the release of the new season of The Mysterious Cities of Gold, rumored to be out in September (in French only?), here's what I propose for August:Watch all 39 episodes of the original Mysterious Cities of Gold ... at least as many as possible. Read pertainent mini-volumes in the Oxford Very Short Introduction series, such as The Aztecs (2012; there is not one on Incas yet), The Conquistadors (2012), and The North American Indians (2010). Reread the Book of Mormon in … [Read more...]

A post prompted by another post

One of my fellow saints recently asked me what I think of the late Hugh Nibley's work. I began by saying that although I may have become disenchanted with his general approach, I continue to be impressed by how much he knew. Intimidated even. Next I mentioned some things I had picked up reading around in his biography, items that humanized him for me and made him someone I could still relate to, items such as his reluctance to take on the Book of Abraham academically and his breakdown/stroke and … [Read more...]


What does it mean to say that Joseph Smith or anyone else saw God, Jesus, angels, resurrected beings in visions? What can be claimed about deity from them? What kind of knowledge does the visionary possess and how is it acquired? Does it matter whether visions happen in the mind of the visionary while asleep, in a trance, unconscious? If not seen and heard with literal eyes and ears, must visions be discounted as non-factual, a-historical, un-true? … [Read more...]