Isaiah 7:14 and Scriptural Hermeneutics

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isa 7:14, KJV) Isaiah 7.14 is one of three prophetic sign-acts in Isaiah chapters 7-8 in which Isaiah of Jerusalem associates or gives an ambiguous or multivalent ominous name to a child as a means of sharing the divine message to his contemporaries.  The historical context of these chapters is the Syrio-Ephraimite War. At this time Israel (the northern kingdom), A … [Read more...]

The Dumbing Down of Mormon Books, Made Easy!

A recent book review of Eric Shuster and Charles Sale's The Biblical Roots of Mormonism describes the book as "a 258-page overview of about 350 Latter-day Saint beliefs referenced in the Old and New Testament." On the face of it, the book sounds like an extended exercise in proof-texting. I've talked about a few potential problems with such easy "likening" elsewhere but I haven't read this particular book myself, so I can't comment on its quality. Instead, I want to focus on the rhetorical … [Read more...]

Scriptural Authority, Normativity, and Hermeneutics: Women and the Priesthood

Introduction [1] The Bible often privileges men as normative for what it means to be human, frequently considers women as inferior to men, and presents God in overwhelmingly male terms. For the contemporary believer who is committed to the full equality of men and women the problem is not simply one of reconciling isolated patriarchal, sexist, or misogynistic biblical passages with an egalitarian or feminist perspective, but the revelatory nature of the biblical text itself.  “How can a text th … [Read more...]

Research and Responsibility

Recent discussions about the influence a vague entity called "Correlation" has on various Bloggernaclers got me thinking about the problem of responsibility in research. I admit I'm personally less likely to blog about certain sensitive LDS issues. For example, there are elements of temple ritual I feel comfortable writing about and other elements I don't. I personally don't feel like my reticence is due to being trapped in the Panopticon. I admit I'm less likely to be flippant or brash about … [Read more...]

The Truth of Personal Narrative

Bart Ehrman has pointed out that the popular view of Paul and his conversion makes it difficult for historians to evaluate what actually happened to make him "turn around."  In the scriptural record Paul does not present himself as a guilt-ridden legalist whose realization that the law was impossible to keep led him to find forgiveness in Christ and motivated him to bring the good news of release to those burdened with guilt complexes like his own.  Ehrman calls this view "fiction" and " … [Read more...]

(Re)writing the Bible in Antiquity and Today

CANON The New Testament writers and early Church Fathers used the Septuagint (LXX) for proof texts and for personal and communal worship.  The LXX is based on the Old Greek translations of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures … [Read more...]

The Magical Connection between Mormonism and Early Christianity

What relationship does Mormonism have with early Christianity? I've considered this issue a bit in the past, but a recent thoughtful comment inspired me to take up the issue in a more systematic way. The Mormon mythos of origins suggest that Mormonism is a "restoration" of this ancient religion, though what exactly is restored is somewhat a matter of dispute. But, what is the role of the scholar in describing this relationship between Mormonism and ancient Christianity? How are we to compare … [Read more...]

My God Is Bigger Than Your God–Literally. Part VI

Although YHWH clearly was perceived by biblical authors in anthropomorphic terms, YHWH’s body was still different from regular human bodies.  For YHWH, like many other deities of the ancient Near East,[1] possessed massive size. … [Read more...]