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...]

Judah, Joseph, ‘Chastity’, and Authorial Intent

Most LDSs who have actually read Genesis 38 and 39 have undoubtedly had the thought, or heard the thought, that the juxtaposition of these two chapters teaches important lessons about chastity (see the OT SS manual, where this is made explicit). After all, in the former we have Judah's wicked sons, the second of which (Onan) 'spills his seed' and dies because of it, and then Judah himself is trapped by his penchant for a prostitute. In the latter, we have the righteous Joseph who, unwilling to … [Read more...]

Priesthood, Temple, and Semantics

Most people know that in our current arrangement, young men tend to receive the priesthood at age 12, when they are ordained to the office of Deacon in the Aaronic priesthood. This has been the case only since the 1880's or so, according to this fascinating Journal of Mormon History article. (That page it opens to isn't blank. You just have to scroll to see the text.) … [Read more...]

More on the New Perspective on Paul

There has been some interest in this topic on the LDS blogs recently. I think that as we enter into the debate, it is important that we not get sucked into a faith vs. works understanding of the NPP. I offer the following short piece which was written for another context which is why it lacks specific LDS reflections, but which in my view comments on a more up to date status questiones of the NPP. … [Read more...]