The Joseph Story in Genesis and the Documentary Hypothesis

A basic first step in grasping the meaning of a biblical text as it may have been intended to be understood by its original authors is to establish something of its literary history. Most biblical texts developed over a long period of time, beginning with the earliest forms of the texts that served particular ideological purposes in their original historical contexts, then undergoing a succession of various literary and editorial adaptations by scribes and priests for the purpose of creating new … [Read more...]

Things You Wouldn’t Think Might Go Together…

  About last Friday or so I was sitting under my rock reading from Ehrman’s and Holmes’ Text of the New Testament: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, which happens to be about textual criticism. I am not making this up – it was chapter 17, Wasserman’s essay on criteria.  So anyway, word filtered in that the Maxwell Institute had a new book collecting all the NT apocrypha and giving high quality pictures of the same, etc., etc.  And I thought to myself:  This is good news!  Textual criticism … [Read more...]

Maimonides and a new Torah Scroll Controversy

Photo: Alma Mater Studiorum Universita' Di Bologna

My ears perked up when I heard the news that Mauro Perani, professor of Hebrew at the University of Bologna, has found what he believes is the world’s oldest complete Torah scroll. Perani was updating the University library's Hebrew manuscript catalogue in February, when he realized the scroll had been wrongly dated by the last cataloguer in 1889.The 1889 cataloguer, a Jew named Leonello Modona, had described the letters in the scroll as "an Italian script, rather clumsy-looking, in which c … [Read more...]

An (Updated) Bible Dictionary?

Let me just say upfront that I don’t have a problem in theory with the idea of a Bible dictionary accompanying the LDS version of the scriptures as a study help for members. Reading the Bible in English (or any other modern language for that matter) for devotional purposes these days presents enormous interpretive challenges, as it represents a translation (in the LDS case, a largely 400 year old translation) of a heterogeneous anthology of ancient Israelite, Jewish, and Christian literature tha … [Read more...]

Approaching Antiquity: BYU Church History Symposium 2013

Joseph Smith

In case you haven't seen it, take a break from Wheat and Tares Apologizing and attend the BYU Church History Symposium on Joseph Smith's Study of the ancient world. Richard Bushman, Sam Brown, Matt Bowman, and many more! Looks to be, um, historic! … [Read more...]

Israel’s Past Without the Bible

It may come as a surprise to some that there are texts from ancient Israel, Judah, and its environs that are not found in the Bible. There are also a number of texts from (especially) ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia that make reference to Biblical persons, places, and events. Such epigraphic texts are important for many reasons. I want to discuss some aspects of why these texts are important in what follows, and to give some basic information with respect to some of the more prominent … [Read more...]

Peter, James, and … Lazarus?

P52_recto

I recently ran across a hypothesis promulgated anew by Ben Witherington III that attempts to deal with the main issues about the authorship and uniqueness of the fourth gospel.[1] There is much of interest in the problem and proposed solution. First, an overview of the problem and proposed solution, then, its implications for Latter-day Saints.The problem:Of crucial interest is the mention of a “beloved disciple” in this highly unique gospel. Since antiquity the author of this gospel, wh … [Read more...]

On the Malleability of Gold Plates: Mormonism and Modern Biblical Scholarship

book of enoch

From the time I first came to understand the nature of  pseudepigrapha, I felt comfortable with the idea that many of these extra-scriptural writings were written under assumed names. Somewhere I had picked up the idea that it was a common and accepted convention for works of antiquity to be attributed to someone famous. There are ancient books of Adam, of Enoch, of Abraham, all written by later authors under a prophetic moniker to give their writings authority and status. Even our book of P … [Read more...]


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