Biblical Texts and Historicity

There's been quite a lot of concern reflected in comments in discussions here and elsewhere about whether the Old Testament contains reliable history, so I thought I would link to a valuable recent treatment of the issue by biblical scholar Marc Brettler in Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in the Ancient World (ed. Raaflaub; 2014), where an up-to-date bibliography can also be found:"No direct evidence explains why Israelites told and wrote history. No ancient Near Eastern historical t … [Read more...]

On Pseudonyms and Insults

Reflecting on the behavior of certain other co-bloggers at Patheos and their commenters on the question of pseudonyms, I was inspired to repost some ideas on this from last year. Let me share my observations about being a pseudonymous Mormon blogger for over a decade.  There is a common belief that bloggers who “hide” behind a pseudonym will abuse that position to do bad things.  My experience, however, has not born this out.  Instead, the pseudonymous blogger is often the target of rude treatme … [Read more...]

John Gee, Biblical Studies, and Credentials

John Gee has alleged that Biblical Studies degrees at elite universities do not require history or archeology. As evidence, he looks at the minimum course requirements, and in a few cases at general exam areas. The immediate implication of this claim is targeted at David Bokovoy, whose PhD is from Brandeis in Hebrew Bible--the first target of Gee's "analysis." The broader implication is that people with Biblical Studies degrees are less qualified to speak about the ancient world relevant to the … [Read more...]

Notes on John Gee’s Biblical Training

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The Anthon Transcript: Fulfillment of Prophecy, Reformed Egyptian, and the Evolution of a Story, Part III

The Evolution of a Story  (See Part I and Part II) In Part I I discussed Joseph Smith's reinterpretation of Isaiah 29 and the insertion of this reinterpretation into the prophetic narrative of 2 Nephi 27 and in Part II I identified Smith as the ultimate author and creator of the various transcripts of Book of Mormon Reformed Egyptian. A final element that has powerfully shaped the traditional understanding of the Anthon story is Smith’s official 1838 account itself. According to th … [Read more...]

Does the word “apology” appear in the scriptures?

Recently it has been suggested that the word apology does not appear in the scriptures as a reason for why Church leaders do not apologize. Of course, there are lots of things that church leaders do that are not in the scriptures, but is it really the case that the idea of offering an apology is a non-scriptural principle?If one searches the King James Version, the English word "apology" does not appear. The English word apology derives from the Greek word apologia, which does not mean to be … [Read more...]

Son of God

I was having a chat with the homies about Christological titles and since my response is longer than the original format allows, I will put it here. The crux of the matter concerns how the Synoptics deal with Jesus’ quotation of Ps 110:1. This quotation, which distinguishes the messiah from the son of David, appears in all three Gospels. From Mark 12:35-37 (NRSV): 35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, … [Read more...]

The Anthon Transcript: Fulfillment of Prophecy, Reformed Egyptian, and the Evolution of a Story, Part II

 Reformed Egyptian  (See Part I here) More problematic in terms of the credibility of Joseph Smith is the evidence of what is commonly known as the “Anthon Transcript,” an alleged transcription of characters taken from the plates of the Book of Mormon housed in the Community of Christ archives. The importance of this document for evaluating Joseph Smith’s claim to have translated an ancient Reformed Egyptian text can hardly be exaggerated. All indications are that the curiou … [Read more...]


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