A Modicum of Modernism

This post arises from one of the issues raised in Nitsav’s Apologia. (Since it’s now, like, 130 comments long, I am sure we’ll never need any other identifier for that post.) At some point in the middle of all those comments, we got on to a discussion of how others handle the problematic issues raised by close study of the Bible, and from there to the modern Catholic approach to scripture. Since I come out of the Catholic intellectual tradition with respect to scripture, I decided I’d venture … [Read more...]

Eve Deceived

There has been a fair amount of discussion on the question of whether Eve was deceived or not, as Paul says in 1 Tim 2:14. Books have been written, vociferous posts have gone back and forth, and apostles have been quoted. I've heard well-meaning Mormons dismiss the 1 Tim 2:14 verse as the only verse that supported the idea that Eve was misled, suggesting that in this case Paul was mistaken. Instead, the perspective is put forward that we should interpret Eve's actions as courageous and done with … [Read more...]

Uzzah Killed For Blind Obedience

Let me start out by saying I’m a big, big fan of obedience. And I also see many instances where the scriptures teach we should not criticize our leaders. I’ve got no problem with that – IMHO our leaders deserve all the support we can give them. However, I think that we have been badly misinterpreting a story that is commonly used to support these concepts. The traditional Mormon interpretation of the story of Uzzah and the ark in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chr 13 is familiar to most of us: Uzzah reaches ou … [Read more...]

What you have to explain without the Documentary Hypothesis

Last year I tried to give sure-fire evidence from a single chapter in Exodus supporting the claim that the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible were arranged from multiple sources. One negative response to my three-part post came from Julie M. Smith over at Times and Seasons.* She said, essentially, that if this was the extent of the evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis, she’d lost her faith in what she’d been taught during her Master’s Degree in New Testament studies. In the discussion of her po … [Read more...]

The Record of John

Doctrine and Covenants 93:6-18 promises that if we are faithful, we shall receive the "fulness of the record of John." The context of this promise is somewhat strange. Jesus Christ is the first person narrator, who begins to quote John's testimony of Jesus. So, we have Jesus speaking in the first person quoting John speaking in the first person bearing testimony of Jesus in the third person. Okay, so that is kind of weird. But that is not all that is weird about this passage. It is not at … [Read more...]

BYU Religion Dean on Premortal Life, Part II: Scripture “Mastery”

This is part II of a post begun a week and a half ago in response to a devotional lecture given by Terry Ball, dean of the BYU college of religious education. That discussion centered on what I argued to be the problematic connection Ball makes between the pre-existence, Isaiah 28, and mortality. This post focuses on the scriptural aspects of his argument. … [Read more...]

Jesus and the Sabbath

Jesus is depicted in the Gospels as healing on the Sabbath. This healing frequently caused disputes between Jesus and his contemporaries. Why? There are a few options to explain these episodes.1. The popular view is that the Jews were evil and they didn't believe in healing people and used the Sabbath as an excuse to condemn Jesus. The problem with this view is that Jesus's opponents had no problem with the healing, only healing on the Sabbath. Jesus was free to heal six days of the week. … [Read more...]

BYU Religion Dean on Premortal Life, Part I: Race and Nobility

Last week Terry Ball, Dean of the College of Religious Education, gave BYU's weekly devotional address (mp3 file available here, Daily Universe report here). His talk raises many issues relevant to recent discussions here and elsewhere. My reaction to his talk will be divided into two posts: first, a discussion of some of the problematic themes that Ball raises, and second, an analysis of the way this Professor of Ancient Scripture handles scripture. … [Read more...]


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