The Ensign Gets Scholarly. Kinda.

The January Ensign (not available on-line yet)  includes “The New Testament: The Historical Context” by BYU prof Thomas Wayment. PhD from Claremont, focused on textual criticism (as I recall), Wayment is one of the young movers and shakers at BYU. He co-authored Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament, which garnered all kinds of positive press from lds blogs.

The Ensign article includes several statements that represent long-time scholarly consensus but may not be well known to LDS (some more significant than others), as well as a few that cut the other direction. Let’s look at a few.

  1. Gospel = ‘”good news’ referring to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.” Often in the Church we use Gospel as an all-encompassing term for all doctrine, tradition, LDS culture, etc.
  2. The current canon of 27 books wasn’t fixed until the 4th century. [The first time we find our current canon is from Athanasius, c. 367 CE.]
  3. Mark and Luke are not Apostles like Matthew and John.
  4. Paul’s letters pre-date the Gospels.
  5. Hebrews is only traditionally ascribed to Paul.
  6. The authors of the New Testament were writing primarily for their contemporaries, not for those millennia later.

Only one assertion made in passing really struck me as incomplete.  I assume this results primarily  from the spatial and institutional constraint of writing in the Ensign.

  1. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John really wrote Matthew Mark, Luke and John. The writing of the Gospels is much more complicated, but Wayment himself has written about this elsewhere.

This is a great article, and I’ll be referencing it with my Gospel Doctrine classes. Is it a movement in a particular direction for the Ensign? I hope so.

Quotes of Note- Joseph Smith on Easter and Mormonism
The most important, most overlooked, most easy and most superlative tool in scripture study: Part 1
Marketing to the faithful
The most important, most overlooked, most easy and most superlative tool in scripture study: Part 2

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