“Listen, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one.” Does the Bible Teach Radical Monotheism?

Deuteronomy 6.4-9, also known as the Shema because the first word of the passage in Hebrew is the imperative shĕma‘, meaning “Listen,” is probably one of the most well known passages in all of biblical literature. In Jewish tradition this passage is frequently recited as a prayer, a practice that goes back at least to the early rabbinic period [1]. The broader Judeo-Christian tradition, moreover, has often taken the first verse of this passage as a statement of Israel’s (and its own) radical mono … [Read more...]

Myth, Modernity, and Mormonism

The category of "myth" is arguably the most important for evaluating the Bible in the last few hundred years. The very earliest critics of the Bible employed the category of "myth" in evaluating the stories and histories recorded there. D. F. Strauss (Das Leben Jesu, 1835) employed the term for making sense of the life of Jesus, among the first to suggest that the gospels were not literal history.Besides the difficulty in identifying and defining myth, the most important interpretive problem … [Read more...]

The Divine Council

There has been serious discussion among Mormon scholars over the past several years regarding the divine council in the Hebrew Bible and its implications for Mormon thought. For instance, very recently Blake Ostler published his third volume of Exploring Mormon Thought, in which, among other issues, he discusses at length various aspects of the heavenly council in the Hebrew Bible and what their implications might be for Mormon theology. David Bokovoy, a Mormon PhD student studying at Brandeis … [Read more...]

Translation Styles and Book of Mormon Apologetics and Exegesis

For the past couple of days I have been reading An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Like most books or papers on the Book of Mormon I have read, it lacks a theory of Book of Mormon translation and suffers because of this lack. I would like to propose a rule for all future efforts at Book of Mormon apologetics, archaeology, or exegesis. The rule is that before you do anything you have to lay out your theory/explanation of the translation style used in translating the Book of … [Read more...]

The Bridal Chamber

The Gospel of Philip from the Nag Hammadi corpus contains some important passages about a kind of celestial marriage in the "bridal chamber." It is not uncommon for Latter-day Saints to appeal to this text as evidence for a kind of parallel to Mormon notions of eternal marriage found in ancient Christianity. I hope to show that such a reading of this text is mistaken, and that appeals to the Gospel of Philip to butress Mormon apologetic aims are an example of the problem that much apologetic … [Read more...]

Pick Romney….Please

  With the Olympics started it looks like all of the VP chatter will have to wait until after the Summer Olympics. The question had been whether or not McCain, or Obama, or both would announce there veep choice before the summer games. Alas, that was mostly wishful thinking on the part of us political junkies.  We Obama supporters (I have no idea as to whether this applies to anyone else at FPR, so I mean Obama supporters in general), are a bit concerned about the inability of the Democratic c … [Read more...]

Call for Papers

"Reconciliations and Reformulations": A Conference for LDS Graduate Students in Religious Studies Harvard University, February 20-21, 2009 http://faithandknowledge.orgMany Latter-day Saints experience their scholarship and their religion as clashing cultures, each with its competing values and contradictory conclusions. Religious studies students especially struggle to reconcile their faith and the knowledge they acquire in graduate school. The forms this reconciliation take--including the … [Read more...]

Anxiety and the Fall

Some years back for a course I was taking in psychiatry we were assigned to regularly visit a local mental hospital. The first and second floors were "day programs" and the third floor was the locked unit, for those not safe enough to be let out. I will never forget the intensity of the cigarette smoke: I've since learned that many schizophrenics self-medicate with nicotine. Also unforgettable was the look in the eyes of the many people wandering the bare rooms of the third floor. But for this … [Read more...]