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...]

Reading the Christmas Stories: What is biblical criticism? Part 3

Hopefully you have all done what I suggested last time and made notes on both of the nativity stories. Below are my notes (sorry for the bad formatting, Wordpress for some reason does not allow arbitrary css styles on html elements, so I just gave up and let wordpress format it as it saw fit). … [Read more...]

Genesis 1-3 and The Documentary Hypothesis (again)

As scholars have noted for some time, and as I shall argue here, there are quite clearly two creation stories that presently exist side by side in Genesis chapters one through three, and which derive from two different sources which have been edited or redacted together.[1] The first source is the account of creation found in Genesis 1.1-2.4a (or, as some scholars might argue, Genesis 1.1-2.3), and is typically known as “P” (which stands for “Priestly,” as it is believed to have been written and … [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...]

Righteous Dissent?

Paul's bitter dispute with Peter and James poses a problem for thinking about LDS notions of authority because it puts into tension church authority and moral and doctrinal issues. When true doctrine and church leadership are in conflict, how are we to make a choice between them? When our sense of what is moral conflicts with our leaders' sense of what is moral, what are we supposed to do? Paul found himself in exactly this situation, and had to make a choice between his own sense of what was … [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...]

Back to Allegory?

When we moderns read any scripture we tend to read it only one way. We read it as history that is supposed to have some sort of theologically edifying meaning to us. This style of reading fits so well with our modes of thinking that it just seems the blatantly obvious way to read scripture. What could be more obvious than reading a book about the past, which we assert is true, as history? … [Read more...]

Amateur Biblical Studies, Part 2

Here's the other five resources which I recommend for an amateur in biblical studies just getting started. … [Read more...]