Historical events as the basis of religious belief

I thought this was a nice quote relevant to the perils of choosing history as the site for the disclosure of divine purpose and will: “Von Rad also made the point, perhaps better than Noth, that the method of Albright and his students, which led to what was known as the ‘biblical theology movement’ (articulated especially by G. Ernest Wright, 1960; see von Rad 1961 for a rejoinder) prioritized the historical events as the basis of religious belief, valuing the… Read more

YHWH and his asherah

For those interested, I have posted an updated version of an article on the meaning of asherah in the inscriptions from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom on my personal website. Abstract: The meaning of asherah in the inscriptions from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom has been a focus of persistent discussion and debate, and still today the divergence in scholarly views is wide-ranging. The present paper aims to critically assess previous scholarship by examining each of the major proposals that have been… Read more

Daniel Peterson and Admitting Defeat

Some people just get a pass. It’s not right but it’s the way things are. Recently on our blog, Daniel Peterson’s piece in the Deseret News was noticed for its wholesale borrowing from unattributed sources that far exceeds the bounds of academic (and probably journalistic standards). Submitted as a student essay, this piece would have earned Peterson a trip to the dean/provost of students. Submitted to a peer reviewed journal, this piece would have garnered a swift rejection. Or had it… Read more

The Quest for the Historical (Mormon) Jesus

In the last three centuries of Jesus research, an important and powerful idea emerged that helped to frame the goals and limitations of the debate: the Jesus of “history” and the Christ of “faith” were not, and need not be, the same thing. The theological claims made about Jesus, like the idea that he atoned for the sins of the world, are simply outside the scope of historical analysis. Historical claims are bound by the rules of modern historiography, while theological… Read more

Too Close to Call? Daniel Peterson in the Deseret News

Recently, FPR bloggers have alleged that Daniel Peterson’s recent Deseret News column closely followed the author’s summary of a book he was reviewing, without attribution. At least one commenter has asked for more evidence of this claim. In response, I want to demonstrate the close relationship between Peterson’s review and the author’s work at a textual level. I present the two texts in a linked PDF below, one marked as written by Daniel Peterson [DCP] and the other by the author, Robert J. Hutchison [RJH] …. Read more

To the Editors of the Deseret News

Dear Sir / Ma’am: I was interested to read in your edition of Thursday, January 21st an article by Dr. Daniel C. Peterson about a book by James R. Hutchinson engaging various aspects of so-called Historical Jesus research. I was also interested to see that Peterson does not go much beyond the description of the book as found on Amazon; following it so closely that a link to Amazon would have saved column-inches and allowed Peterson to engage more robustly with… Read more

Mac and Cheese Apologetics

When I think of Mac and Cheese, I tend to think of the boxed product of tiny noodles and a cheese powder. I’ve eaten it many times in my life. It made many appearances on my plate as a child, and I have many positive associations with it. It was an expression of love from my parents, a part of American food culture, and no doubt satisfied my hunger and cravings many times. As I grew older, I became aware… Read more

The Invention of God

For those interested, I’ve posted a review of Thomas Römer’s The Invention of God (2015) on my personal blog. The book summarizes recent archaeological findings and biblical scholarship on how Israelite polytheism developed into Jewish monotheism: https://ryansthomas.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/review-of-thomas-romer-the-invention-of-god-2015/ Read more

On Maintaining Integrity in Difficult Circumstances

Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else; if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, as one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism. Joseph… Read more

Review of Brant A. Gardner, Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History

  I finally found time over the holidays to read Brant Gardner’s Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History, which he describes as an attempt to read the BoM “in history and as history” (p. 52). Publicized as the state of the art in BoM apologetics, I was curious to see what Gardner had to say about BoM historicity. As a part-time student of the historicity debates myself, I have written a number of articles here at… Read more