10 Reasons to be Excited about the Study of Religion at BYU

In the spirit of the 10 tidbits series at FPR, I offer (for once!) a positive outlook on Religious Studies at BYU. Good things (too) are happening in Provo! In no particular order, and with no pretensions of comprehensiveness: … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits: John

Prior post on gospels, with link to series intro. 1. Of the four canonical gospels, John was probably written last, in stages, over the end of the first century and beginning decades of the second century. By that time, Jesus still had not returned, as it was expected that he would soon (1 John 2:18, 28), and the Beloved Disciple appears to have died when chapter 21 was written/added in the final stage (John 21:23; compare D&C 7). 2. Scholars associated with the German school of the … [Read more...]

Ten [More] Tidbits from the Sermon on the Mount

1. Although this discourse opens by naming the disciples as the audience, at its conclusion the crowds are said to be listening and “astounded at his teaching” (7:28). 2. The first antithesis (5:21-26), against anger, requires disciples to maintain their relationships despite (or through) their frustrations and displeasure with others. 3. The KJV reads (5:22) “..whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…” The bolded phrase, which … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits About the Ten Commandments

1. Although commonly referred to as the "Ten Commandments," in the Hebrew Bible itself they are not so called; rather, they are referred to as the "ten words/sayings" (Exod 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4). Thus a better designation perhaps is that derived from the ancient Greek translation of the Bible, known as the Septuagint (LXX), from the 3rd or 2ndcentury B.C.E: the "Decalogue."  The word "Decalogue" comes into English via French and Old Latin from the Greek, deka meaning "ten," and logos (pl. … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits about the Sermon on the Mount

1. The Sermon on the Mount only appears in Matthew's gospel. In Luke, the sermon is given not on a mountain, but a "level place" (6:17), and is frequently referred to as the Sermon on the Plain. These two sermons share some material, but diverge greatly. Attempts at harmonization argue that Matthew and Luke record two different sermons, but most believe that the authors are working from shared sayings that have been put together in different ways. Most of what is in Matthew's Sermon is found … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits About Prophets and Prophecy in the Old Testament

1. The biblical, or so-called "canonical," prophets--those whom we tend to consider the prophets--in many instances (e.g., Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and Hosea) are not called prophets (Hebrew nabi') in the superscriptions to their books, or elsewhere, and indeed probably would have rejected this label for themselves. For instance, in a third person biographical narrative about Amos, he rejects the Bethel priest Amaziah's suggestion that he is a nabi' (See Amos 7:10-17; cf. Hosea 9:7; Micah 3). This … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits about the Gospels

Four years ago we launched a "Ten Tidbits" Series that sought to introduce some basic information about scriptural texts assumed by scholars, but not necessarily well known by Latter-day Saints. The goal was to introduce these points as the results of close readings that could lead to a more accurate understanding of the scriptural texts for LDS readers. I'd like to continue that series with a more focused look not at entire books of scripture, but smaller portions. Some of these points may … [Read more...]

Ten Tidbits about the Old Testament

This post joins the previous ones of similar title on the New Testament and Book of Mormon. I make no claims that these are the biggest nor the most tantalizing, but here are ten tidbits about the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) that receive little attention (in my experience) in Church settings. I'm intentionally leaving out the better known biggies, such as JEDP, two or three Isaiahs, or the fact that "history" in the modern sense wasn't an operative category for the authors of the Hebrew … [Read more...]