Korihor and the Defense of Secularism

Generally, Korihor is understood as a kind of anachronistic representation of secularism by many modern interpreters.  However, it is not at all clear that Korihor represents secularism.  Indeed, his confession notes that a religious experience is what motivated him.Secularism may be defined in various ways, and indeed has enjoyed a rigorous critical discussion over the past decade or so.  For the purposes of this post, I want to examine just two important ways for thinking about the se … [Read more...]

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Exploring the Iconic Nature of the Book of Mormon: Part IIb – The Fluid Nature of the Text of the Book of Mormon

I here continue my series of posts dealing with the iconic nature of the Book of Mormon (BoM). For my introduction to this series, see here. For the first half of the current section on textual criticism and the BoM, see here.In my last post I gave a brief description of the various manuscripts and editions of the BoM. I would now like to examine what I have found to be several very interesting textual variants in the BoM textual witnesses. As I stated in my last post, anyone interested in … [Read more...]

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Maimonides and a new Torah Scroll Controversy

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...]

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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...]

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The 2013 Adjustments to the Book of Mormon: Accuracy Delayed

This post is written by guest contributor, Grant Hardy.It is a weighty responsibility to decide how God’s word should be presented to the world, and the Church takes this charge very, very seriously. The recent adjustments to the official standard works include many welcome corrections to the headings of the Doctrine and Covenants, but otherwise the revisions are quite minimal. As Elder Neil L. Andersen explained, “members should not feel that they need to purchase a new set of scriptures . . … [Read more...]

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Approaching Antiquity: BYU Church History Symposium 2013

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...]

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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...]

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Peter, James, and … Lazarus?

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...]

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