Who wrote Ether 3? Or, Why Mormons do not fear the Documentary Hypothesis

The story of the appearance of Jesus Christ to the brother of Jared is one of the highlights of the Book of Mormon.  Searching out who exactly the author or authors of this chapter are can be illuminating. Let’s take a look: I can see five authors – how many do you count?1. Moroni.The Book of Ether, we are told, is transcribed by Moroni on to plates. Ether 1:1 states: AND now I, Moroni, proceed to give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upo … [Read more...]

Breaking News: UVa Announces Chair in Mormon Studies

Today the University of Virginia is announcing the intent to establish the Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies, an endowed faculty position.This is a landmark event for a number of reasons. One is the prominence of the department choosing to establish this chair. As the UVA Religious Studies website points out, it has an excellent reputation:The department's undergraduate program has been rated by the Gorman Report as the best in the nation, and the department's graduate progra … [Read more...]

A/C and Retention

One fascinating tidbit that came out of between-sessions chatting at General Conference this weekend is that in Brazil there has been a marked improvement in convert retention since the chapels have added air conditioning and heating.While feasting upon the word has always had a physical as well as metaphysical component, I can't help but wonder what other moves might help retention. My vote would be to make the chapels more beautiful: almost no one is so struck by the magnificence of our … [Read more...]

Church Conflict per Among the Gentiles

New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson’s Among the Gentiles was published last year. It examines the relationship between Greco-Roman religion and early Christianity, focusing on the religious milieu into which Christianity emerged and eventually dominated. In this, Johnson takes an interesting approach, which he summarizes as follows: My concentration, however, is not specifically on social organization, myths, doctrines, or even rituals, but on the ways in which actual human beings show t … [Read more...]

Are Mormons Ready for an LDS Study Bible?

Short answer: No one to read it, no one to write it. So, sadly: no. … [Read more...]

Insights from Names of Deity

Rabbinic commentators have sought to better understand the nature of God by exploring the implications and origins of his name. Michael Fishbane writes in Rabbinic Myth and Mythmaking (Oxford University Press, 2003): In the context of an explanation of why the 'dry land' (yabashah) is called 'eretz ('earth') in Gen 1:10, we are told that the primordial earth was an obedient creation of God's, and ceased to extend when He 'said' so. This compliance is strikingly forumated by an exegetical play on … [Read more...]

The Halakic Jesus

John Meier's fourth volume of A Marginal Jew came out last spring, and is focused on placing the historical Jesus within the Jewish Law of his time. The title of his introductory chapter, "The Historical Jesus is the Halakic Jesus," is an excellent summary of his thesis, and as he says later, "The historical Jewish Jesus must be seen as a Jesus immersed in the halakic discussions, debates, and actual practice of 1st-century Palestinian Jews." The word halaka (Hebrew for "walking," "conduct," … [Read more...]

Corianton’s major sin was … (fill in the blank)

[Note: In analyzing the passage describing Corianton’s sins, I do not seek to undermine in any way the Church’s emphasis on sexual purity. The benefits of chastity are marvelous and ineffable.]I’d like to consider Alma 39:5:Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?Traditionally, “these things” has been interpreted to mean sexual sin. See quotes f … [Read more...]