What readers bring to texts

Last week we learned of the discovery of another example in an increasingly long line of forged memoirs: Margaret "Jones" Seltzer was discovered to have forged the story of her life as a gang-affiliated, drug-running youth in LA, when her sister saw her picture in the NY Times and ratted her out. Of the many journalists covering the incident and those like it,NPR's Scott Simon makes several points worth remembering (they've been made many times before) about the nature of genre in … [Read more...]

Neutrality, Stumbling Blocks, and the Path of Least Interference

A discussion begun over at BCC propelled a train of thought that has been chugging along in my mind for some time. Amri Brown's cousin, on being called as bishop, decided to give up Diet Coke: So, why, why is he giving up Diet Coke? He says it is because he never wants it to be a stumbling block to those in his ward. There are members of Church that do believe caffeine is against the Word of Wisdom and he doesn’t want that to get in the way of him being able to act as their bishop. ... He says t … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits about the Old Testament

This post joins the previous ones of similar title on the New Testament and Book of Mormon.I make no claims that these are the biggest nor the most tantalizing, but here are ten tidbits about the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) that receive little attention (in my experience) in Church settings. I'm intentionally leaving out the better known biggies, such as JEDP, two or three Isaiahs, or the fact that "history" in the modern sense wasn't an operative category for the authors of the Hebrew … [Read more...]

(Anti-)Intellectualism in the Church

A very good friend of mine, MantiHigh, wrote me recently to suggest that I include in some future post a discussion of some issues of (anti-)intellectualism arising in recent General Conference talks. I thought s/he spelled out things nicely, and in a different way than is usually done (I'm sure the commenters will let me know if I'm wrong.) In any case, with MantiHigh's permission, I copy the following for your discussion: Anti-intellectualism in the Church is a favorite concern of mine given … [Read more...]

Ancient Justification for Modern Practice

Kevin Barney's post over at BCC has me thinking about the ramifications of female Apostleship (capital A): What it would mean if we came to agree that the New Testament bore strong witness to there having been women in roles now held only by men?* The question, when placed within the larger framework of our penchant for finding ourselves in the past, presents an interesting dilemma: Could a future opening of the Priesthood to "all worthy persons (not just males)" find scriptural justification … [Read more...]

A Case for the DH, Part III: No New Covenant (not in Exod 34, anyway)

The evidence and discussion in parts I and II are more than just academic exercises and proofs of the DH, because they deal with a narrative that is central to some of the fundamental tenets of the Church: the "New Covenant" that we understand God to have made with the Israelites. In the compiled version of Exod 34, it appears that Moses went up the mountain a second time to get a new set of tablets. The first set, which was intended to include the decalogue and possibly the Covenant Code (Exod … [Read more...]

A Case for the Documentary Hypothesis, Part II: The Clincher

In part one of this post, I outlined "internal" reasons for dividing Exodus 34 into 3 sources: J, E, and P. All three of these sources continued earlier narratives related to Moses' ascension of the mount and could be teased out solely by reference to these earlier, separate, narratives. I'll review the verse divisions: J: 34:2-3, 4.2, 5b-27. E: 34:1, 4.1, 4.3, 5a, 28. P: 34:29-35.I'll also put them as they would have appeared in their original order, using the KJV and beginning with J: … [Read more...]

A Case for the Documentary Hypothesis, Part I: The Division of Exodus 34

HP's very recent post provides a good springboard for a discussion of the Documentary Hypothesis. Rather than introducing the hypothesis via a historical summary, which may be discussed in comments or a subsequent post, let me present a case study.In this multi-part post I propose to lay a source division of Exodus 34, the so-called "New Covenant". This chapter both exemplifies the issues and is relevant to an LDS audience, and thus is particularly fitting for this forum. I will outline the … [Read more...]


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