Abraham, Thrice-Great Hermes, and Plato

In my last post I wondered aloud whether Nephi Sails the Ship of State. Since the Republic itself has a sequel, I hope it won’t be too much if I offer another Platonic reading of some of our Judeo-Christian scripture.References to ‘intelligence’ and ‘intelligences’ in the D&C, Book of Abraham, and King Follett discourse have attracted and continue to attract a fair amount of attention. In the 19th and 20th centuries, not a few Mormons got themselves into trouble for attempting to explain wh … [Read more...]

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Nephi Sails the Ship of State?

The reception history of Plato’s Republic has obviously been extensive, from Cicero’s De re publica . . . to Augustine’s De civitate Dei . . . to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings . . .  One of the passages of common interest, perhaps not as famous as, say, the Cave but still well known, is the Ship of State (488a and following). Socrates represents the city-state as a ship, the governance of which is disputed among those on board. The owner of the ship is said to be unlearned in navigation if also s … [Read more...]

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Skunks in the Temple

Despite prohibition in the YMMIA handbook against the scout handclasp, swearing oaths, and the elaboration of rank advancement with ritual, the scout committee of the Pleasant Grove, Utah third ward instituted the Order of the Skunk Skull in 1937. Minutes from the first meeting record the number of attendants at 22 and list the names of some 18 scouts who took the oath of secrecy and drank “poison water from [the] ear of [a] deer.” There is a photograph of the meeting as well, showing the att … [Read more...]

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Baptism for the Dead and William Hone’s Apocryphal New Testament

The short:Given his ownership of William Hone’s controversial Apocryphal New Testament, Joseph Smith had access to a fair amount of ancient Christian literature, including texts that discuss the fate of deceased non-Christians.The long:William Hone was a London pamphleteer and bookseller whose name was in many circles synonymous with blasphemy. In 1820 he published a compilation of early Christian texts, with a brief preface and two appendices, the full title of which ran, The Apocryphal N … [Read more...]

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What to do with the JST…and the GNT

A lengthy volume, just published, on the Book of Moses has got me thinking about the Joseph Smith Translation again. Going on five years now, I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that there is no place for the Inspired Version in the study of the ancient world in general, textual criticism of the Bible in particular. If the JST is to be studied academically, it is within the context of the nineteenth century. Such have been my tortured thoughts.Of the various types of criticism of the … [Read more...]

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